Maddie hurried out into the night air, shivering a little. She hadn't worn a jacket, so even though the LA night was far from truly being cold, the breeze hit her arms and ignited her goose flesh.
She hurried down the stairs, remembering how Chimney had questioned her. His gaze had been unwavering, and he'd been oddly serious. She'd rarely seen him without a smile on his face.
She shoved her purse strap further up on her arm, biting her lip as she dug inside it to grab her keys.
She spun around, and Chimney stood there, hands in his jacket pockets. "Yeah, I have an early morning," she stammered. She couldn't be standing here talking to him. Not when she knew what she knew, not when she was not at all ready to tell him her news. She needed time to figure out what she was going to say, what she wanted.
"Funny, I could have sworn Buck said you were off, and that's why you agreed to come," he said, and still, no smile.
"I am," she said. "But I have an early morning anyway."
"Good for you being productive on your day off," he said. She nodded, turning to go again, but he spoke. "Do you have something to tell me, Maddie?"
She froze, her hand clutching her keys so tightly they were digging into her tender skin. "What do you mean?" She said, slowly turning back to face him. The breeze picked up, and she shivered again, hands going to rub her arms.
Without a word, Chimney shrugged out of his jacket, stepped closer, and placed it around her shoulders. His eyebrow hiked as he looked at her.
"I don't have anything to tell you," she said slowly.
Chimney nodded. "Well, let me walk you to your car," he said. "I know that street parking here can be difficult and you don't need to go that alone."
"Well, I'm fine," she said. "Buck already offered."
"Buck is too drunk to realize what you said," Chimney shrugged. "Or he would have insisted on walking you down."
She ducked her head. "I'm fine," she whispered, not knowing what else to say. She desperately wanted out of this conversation, she had no idea what to say to him. Not yet.
"Are we okay?" He finally asked, and her head snapped up. There was a note of something new in his voice; vulnerability, perhaps.
"We're fine," she said. "Why wouldn't we be?"
He tilted his head. "I mean, we haven't really seen each other since...you know."
She flushed again. "We're fine, we're great," she repeated. "We're friends. Just friends. We just had a moment."
"If it wasn't a big deal then you wouldn't be avoiding me," he said softly.
"I'm not avoiding you," she insisted. "I just didn't know what to say."
"You didn't have to sneak out," he said. "And it would have been less weird if you hadn't."
"I didn't know what to say," she repeated lamely. "I'm sorry."
"No, you don't have to apologize," he said. "That's not what I'm looking for, I just…I just wish it wasn't like this," he gestured lamely to the space between them. "I thought it would be normal, that we could just return to being friends. And I'm sad, I guess."
Maddie bit her lip. She knew she should say something, offer something. She really liked Chimney, she always had, and yes, there had always been some sort of spark between them, but she'd only divorced Doug a few months ago. She'd had a one night stand just to purge him from her system...and she'd picked the wrong guy. Chimney deserved better than that, and she shouldn't have used him.
"I'm sorry," she repeated. "I shouldn't have done that to you."
"Maddie, I'm an adult," he said. "I made a choice, and I know that. I just want to know if this is it. If you want me to follow your lead and just avoid you from now on, that's one thing. I can respect it 100% if that's what you're asking. But you haven't even texted since it happened."
"I didn't mean to ghost," she said. "I really didn't, it's just complicated. You deserved better than to be my rebound, Chim."
He nodded. "I get it," he said. "I know that that's all it was. I'm not holding that against you. I just wanted to know what's up. And now I think I do. I'll back off, Maddie. Have a good life. You can return the jacket through Buck, I don't want you getting cold."
She stood there as Chimney walked away, hands still in his pockets, and she suddenly hated herself. She wanted to say something, to go after him. She picked up one foot, tried to force it forward, but a force greater than she seemed to hold her back physically, and she fell back. "Wait," she finally said, but he was too far away. She looked around her, tears in her eyes. It wasn't too late, she knew. It wasn't too late to run after him, to explain. If she talked to him now, this evening, then she could fix it. It would only get harder from here out.
But she didn't move. She waited until she heard his car start with a low hum, and saw his headlights through the shrubbery. And then, only after she was sure he'd driven away, did she walk to her car, holding his jacket tightly around her.
What was she supposed to say, after all? Hey. I know we only had a one night stand, but I'm pregnant with your child. I know it wasn't the plan. I didn't mean to fuck you over like this. I'm sorry. What do we do now? Do you even want kids? I can't believe I put you in this position. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.
The words echoed in her mind, slamming into her, learned from years of practice with Doug. When you did something bad, you apologized. You said the words over and over while he yelled at you. And then you wept.
She didn't know what else to say.