New Horizons Ch. 39-44

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Author’s Note: And we’re finally at the end. Thank you, thank you, thank you. For your patience. Your support. And your encouragement. Even when Alex made you mad.


Chapter 39

Alex threw down the controller she was holding and didn’t even flinch as it clanged against the glass coffee table in front of her and fell to the floor. Usually overly violent and mindless video games helped to take her mind off whatever she was going through at any given moment. But right now, nothing was working to distract her.

Despite that, staring at a screen was better than doing anything else and it kept her from sleeping, which was when things got really bad. Alex couldn’t remember the last time she closed her eyes and didn’t see the devastated look on Quinn’s face right before she turned around and walked away from Alex outside the bar.

Alex had already made up every excuse for herself that she could think of— she was drunk at the time, Quinn pushed her too hard, that night was about more than them, she didn’t care that much anyway— but ultimately, she knew all her excuses were empty.

The fact was, she knew she fucked up and probably lost the best thing that had ever happened to her. Quinn leaving an envelope with her front desk, containing the diamond necklace Alex had gotten her, only solidified that thought. Quinn didn’t include a note with the envelope and upon receiving it, Alex shut it into a desk drawer that she didn’t plan on opening any time soon.

Alex knew she was a coward and should call Quinn, but she didn’t know what to say or how to apologize. And mainly, she didn’t know how to promise she wouldn’t do it again.

Quinn may be angry, but Alex knew it couldn’t compare with how she felt about herself. Alex had been on a road of self-loathing for a while, but how she treated Quinn that night made it almost hard to look in the mirror.

Instead of picking up the controller again, Alex leaned her head back and closed her eyes as she contemplated getting herself another drink from her bar. Not that drinking helped either— but it was better than just sitting there thinking about Quinn.

Alex only had her eyes closed for what felt like a moment when she could hear keys in her door. There was only one person who had access to her apartment like that so she braced herself for the tornado that was about to enter.

But Courtney didn’t enter like a tornado. When Alex opened her eyes, her friend was standing at the end of the couch, staring at her calmly with one, challenging eyebrow raised.

“What’re you doing here?” Alex asked, sitting up slightly so she could see Courtney better. “That key is meant for emergencies.”

“You’ve had your phone off for five days. I think that counts. Why haven’t you answered anything?” Courtney asked.

“My phone is dead,” Alex replied sullenly.

“Don’t be an ass, Alex,” Courtney responded and walked over to the couch so she could sit down next to the blonde. “I heard about the gala. I’m so sorry, babe. I can’t imagine how much that kind of betrayal from both of them must have hurt.”

Courtney gently placed her hand on Alex’s leg and the blonde could feel her friend’s eyes on her, but it felt easier to just look down at the controller on the floor in front of her. She didn’t know what to say about what her father and Janet did. But more than that, she found herself thinking about Quinn far more than whatever happened at Horizon.

“Have you spoken to anyone from the theater?” Courtney asked when it was obvious Alex wasn’t going to offer anything on the topic.

“No,” Alex replied in a quiet voice. “There’s no point. They made their decision and I no longer work for them.”

“I talked to Quinn,” Courtney said next.

Upon hearing Quinn’s name, Alex’s head finally snapped up to Courtney’s face.

“When?” she asked.

“The night of the gala. I called her yesterday too, but she didn’t pick up.”

“What did she say?”

Alex could feel her insides tighten in anticipation of hearing anything about Quinn and this was probably the first time she had felt anything other than numbness since the night of the gala.

“She didn’t stay on the phone long. She sounded like she was pretty choked up. But she said you needed to be alone and that it was over.”

Alex shifted her body away from Courtney so the red head’s hand dropped from her leg. She didn’t want to be touched when she felt like her heart was being painfully clenched. Alex was the one who had pushed Quinn away, but hearing Quinn’s own, final words through Courtney felt like a huge blow.

For five days Alex had sat on this couch replaying that night, but not allowing herself to really feel the devastation of losing Quinn. But with Courtney here by her side, confirming again that she had indeed fucked everything up, Alex finally let herself feel the pain she had put off for days.

As the first tear hit her cheek, she could feel her friend’s arms come around her and she had no power but to sink into the göztepe escort embrace. Something about it felt so familiar and only moments later she realized that the last time she cried in Courtney’s arms like this was when her mom died.

“Shh. It’s ok. You’re ok,” Courtney said as she began rubbing her hands down Alex’s back.

After a few minutes of crying, Alex didn’t have anything left in her and she could feel her breathing finally evening out. As soon as she felt more composed, she pushed off of Courtney and attempted to wipe her wet face with her hands. A wave of embarrassment washed over her as she looked up and saw the pitying expression on her friend’s face.

“Sorry,” Alex said quickly.

“For what?” Courtney asked. “Showing some real, human emotion? Al, it’s ok to cry and to be vulnerable. Especially after what you’ve been through.”

“I’ll get us something to drink,” Alex said and stood up quickly so she could move into her kitchen where she grabbed a napkin and two glasses of wine.

She already had a bourbon before Courtney arrived, even if it was only mid-morning, but she needed an excuse to leave the room for a moment so she took her time pouring them both a drink and making sure she was more composed than she was a few minutes before.

Alex sat back down on the couch and put Courtney’s glass in front of her, but her friend didn’t reach for it. Instead, Courtney’s eyes were trained on Alex’s face as if studying her every expression.

“What happened with Quinn?” she finally asked Alex.

Alex took a sip of her drink and shrugged before setting it down next to Courtney’s untouched glass. When Alex remained silent once again, Courtney rolled her eyes and looked around the apartment.

“This is exactly where I thought I’d find you. Sitting in front of a video game with an empty glass of bourbon,” Courtney said.

“Apparently, you’re right about a lot of things these days,” Alex replied in the same sullen voice she had used when Courtney first arrived.

“What does that mean?” Courtney asked.

“You told her I’d push her away. You were right. I did.”

Alex didn’t say it with any bite in her tone. She wasn’t mad that Courtney had warned Quinn about that because ultimately her friend had been right and probably should have told Quinn to run as fast as she could before it was too late.

“Tell me what happened,” Courtney prodded again.

Alex knew her friend wouldn’t leave if she didn’t tell her, so she reached out and took another sip of wine before leaning back against the couch.

“What happened is that I’m an idiot. She told me she loved me and I returned her words in a really horrible way. And when she was walking away, I let her.”

“She told you she loves you?” Courtney asked softly.

“Yes, and then I accused her of badgering me into saying it back.”

Courtney’s face, which up until that moment, had been fairly passive, scrunched up for a moment, as if in pain.

“Ok, not the best. But Alex, do you love her?”

“Yes,” Alex said instantly. “I love her.”

Her feelings about Quinn had never been in question and it wasn’t until the night of the gala that she really understood how deep her own intimacy issues went. It was expressing to Quinn how she felt that was hard for her. She didn’t know how to get over her fear of saying those words.

“You were going through a lot that night. Maybe you didn’t say the right things, but Alex, she told you that she loves you. That means something.”

“No, it meant something. She told you herself. It’s over.”

“I heard her voice. She sounded heartbroken. This isn’t over. You just need to fix it.”

“I can’t!” Alex suddenly shouted from her spot on the couch.

She stood up, not able to keep sitting there anymore, but this time, she didn’t walk out of the room. She knew Courtney would just follow her. So instead, she walked over to her window and looked out at the city below so she could steady her breathing.

“I don’t know how to be what she needs me to be,” Alex finally said while continuing to look out the window. “I thought I had opened up to her, but it wasn’t enough. I don’t know how to give her any more than that.”

“Bull shit,” Courtney said from the couch, causing Alex to finally whip around so she could look at her friend. “That’s such bull shit, Alex.”

“You can go now,” Alex snapped back from the window.

“Oh, believe me, I will soon. This whole apartment reeks of self-pity. But first you’re going to listen to me.” Courtney stood up from the couch but didn’t move any closer to Alex. “You’re so fucking scared of everything. You’d rather push her away than break down some of your walls. But I don’t get it. You lose her either way.”

“How can I not be scared of losing her when the person I loved the most in this world left me?”

Alex could feel the tears she had just tempered begin to prick her eyes again, but she was too tired to stop them so when she closed her eyes, she let them slowly halkalı escort roll down her face.

When she opened her eyes again, Courtney was standing in front of her with a soft expression on her face.

“She died, babe. She didn’t leave you,” Courtney said. She then pulled her sleeve down over her hand and brought it up so she could wipe away some of the tears coating Alex’s face. “Your mom loved you so much. She wouldn’t want her death to do this to you. And we both know it’s not just Quinn you’ve pushed away.”

Alex looked up at her friend’s face again. “What do you mean?” she asked.

“Why did you quit acting, Al?”

Talking about Quinn was one thing because Alex could easily admit where she messed up. But she wasn’t going to go down this road again with Courtney. Performing had nothing to do with any of this. She turned around and moved back to the couch so she could sit down and grab her glass of wine.

“You know why,” she said before taking a sip. “And it has nothing to do with this.”

Courtney stood her ground and simply crossed her arms in front of her. “It has everything to do with this. One day you’ll need to stop using your father as an excuse.”

“How can you say that after what he just pulled?”

“He only pulled that because you allowed him to. You stayed at a theater that has never valued you. With a man who has never loved you the way you deserve to be loved. You stayed there, Alex. When you could go do anything. You know how many people would kill for your talent and money?”

Alex glared up at Courtney in her best effort to intimidate her friend, but she also knew that had never worked. Not with Courtney. The other woman knew Alex too well and wouldn’t let this go until she had said everything she came here to say.

“Quinn and performing are linked,” Courtney said, ignoring the look from Alex. “You’re so scared of losing the things you love that you don’t allow yourself to be happy at all.”

“When you’ve had the kind of rejection I’ve had, it’s hard to trust anything,” Alex argued.

“It’s not about rejection. You knew Quinn loves you and just couldn’t say it back. I tell you that I love you all the time. You never say it back. When’s the last time you told anyone that? You’re scared of feeling anything that might remind you of who you used to be.”

Before Alex could even respond, Courtney left the room and walked down the hall that would take her to Alex’s bedroom. Alex was too stunned by the words that had just come out of her friend’s mouth to follow or even really think about where Courtney had gone.

A minute later, Courtney was striding back into the room, holding Alex’s laptop open. She set it down on the table in front of them and when Alex looked down at the screen, she could see that Courtney had opened YouTube and found their production of A Streetcar Named Desire.

“Watch it,” Courtney said, pointing at the screen.

“Watching that will accomplish nothing. It was years ago,” Alex replied, refusing to even look at the screen in front of her.

“Watch it and then read the comments,” Courtney replied in a gentler voice, sitting back down next to Alex on the couch again. “Simon Anders’ opinion is wrong. You threw a dream away because he said you weren’t good enough. See how many people disagree with him. But I think that if you were honest with yourself, you’d realize you threw it away because of your mom too. Because you don’t want to lose one more thing. But Al, you’re the most talented person I’ve ever met. Doesn’t my opinion matter more than his? Doesn’t your mom’s? Doesn’t Quinn’s? He’s not a god. He can’t control every theater and casting director in this city.”

Alex was silent for a moment before looking at her friend again. “I don’t know what to do,” she whispered.

“Start here,” Courtney replied, pointing at the laptop. “Remember who you are. And then decide if you can open your heart up again.” Courtney moved closer to Alex so she could push some of the blonde’s hair behind her ear. “Not everyone leaves. But before you try to fix things with her, maybe try to fix things with yourself first.”

Alex lightly grabbed onto Courtney’s hand and squeezed. “When did you get so damn insightful?” she asked and gave her friend the first smile she had felt in days.

“Since I found my own reason not to be a fuck-up. Indirectly, you can thank Paige. And these, you don’t need,” Courtney said, picking up the wine glasses on the coffee table and taking them into the kitchen.

When she came back out, she leaned the front of her body against the couch but didn’t sit back down. “I’m going to go and let you think. I hope you watch that,” she said, pointing to the laptop again.

“Thank you for using your emergency key,” Alex replied in a small voice. She hadn’t even wanted Courtney there at first, but now she felt vulnerable at the idea of being alone again. “I’m sorry I’m such a mess.”

“I get it more than anyone. You know that my mom was never around. But then I met haramidere escort you. And you made me believe that I’m something special. I believe that you are too. Trust the people that love you.”

Before Alex could even register what her body was doing, she was crawling over the couch and pulling Courtney into a hug. The arm of the couch was between their bodies, but she pressed in regardless.

“I don’t know what I’d do without you, Court,” she said into the other woman’s shoulder.

“See, that wasn’t so hard to say, was it?” Courtney said as she hugged Alex back.

Alex laughed before pulling her body back into her own space. “Actually, it was. But I said it. So… progress?”

“I think there’s hope for you,” Courtney replied. There was a beat of silence and it looked like Courtney had something else she wanted to say. “Her opening night is coming up. Will I see you there?” she finally asked Alex.

Alex knew exactly who “her” meant, but she was glad Courtney didn’t use Quinn’s name again since hearing that out loud seemed to do things to her body.

“Do you think she’d even want me there?” she asked back.

“There’s only one way to find out,” Courtney replied with a wink.

She then leaned in and placed a quick kiss on Alex’s cheek before moving towards the door.

“Watch the video, Alex,” she said a final time before leaving the apartment.

Alex let her body sink back down onto the couch when she heard the door close behind Courtney. She closed her eyes as her mind replayed some of her friend’s truth bombs.

There was so much to process, but the one thing she knew Courtney was right about was that she needed to fix whatever was going on with herself before she could fix anything with Quinn.

When she opened her eyes, they landed on the laptop still sitting on her coffee table and she knew what she needed to do. But she wasn’t going to do it in her apartment.

If she was ever going to break down some of her barriers, she needed to face what she hadn’t allowed herself to face since her mom died. Without letting herself change her mind, Alex rose from the couch so she could go change and visit a place she hadn’t seen in years.

Chapter 40

Despite living somewhere as expansive as New York City, Alex found that she rarely left midtown given that’s where Horizon and her apartment were located. Every now and then, Courtney would convince her to try out some trendy bar or restaurant in Brooklyn or another area of Manhattan, but her friend knew that Alex had no interest in anything on the Upper East Side.

As her car continued its way down Madison Avenue, she couldn’t even remember the last time she had been in this area. After her mom died, she had gone to their family house a few times for dinners with her father, but those soon fell off, much to the relief of them both.

“I can get out here,” Alex said to her driver as he turned on 69th street and headed down the block towards 5th Avenue. “I don’t know how long I’ll be so I’ll text you when I’m ready to go.”

Once her driver had completely stopped, Alex got out of the car and walked the handful of steps down the street until she came to the place her eyes would always recognize at once— her childhood home.

Alex had always liked the front of her parents’ Manhattan home. From the outside, it almost looked like a normal townhouse where someone would just occupy a floor of the building. It’s not until you’re inside that you’re suddenly hit with obscene opulence.

Because her parents didn’t just own one floor. They owned the entire building, which was six floors and 18 rooms. The few times growing up that Alex had friends over, she was always embarrassed. Her father’s taste could only be described as museum-chic and the entire house felt untouchable.

Even her bedroom felt formal. She had always envied the mess she came across in friends’ rooms with their toys and stuffed animals scattered about. Alex’s room featured a four-poster bed and a vanity set and looked more like the room of a Victorian socialite than a child.

Alex always knew how lucky she was and that ultimately, she couldn’t complain— especially when you walked just a few blocks uptown and saw how other people in Manhattan lived. But it didn’t change the fact that she wished she had grown up a little bit more like others she had met in school.

As she used her key and walked into the giant entryway of the house, she remembered all the ways her father had used money to appease her growing up instead of just telling her he loved her. A simple kind word from him would have gone further than another gift she didn’t need.

And it suddenly hit her that maybe the diamond necklace she had given to Quinn had made the brunette feel the same way. Alex had meant for it to be a sweet gesture but she could see now how it just appeared to be a substitute for real intimacy.

The house was dark as she made her way through the entryway and after she passed the long stairway, she took a moment to glance up at the high ceilings that went all the way to the third floor. She could tell by the lack of lights and sound that her father was out, which was what she was hoping for. She knew he was rarely home during the day so figured this was the best time to stop by. Simon Anders was the last person she wanted to see right now.

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