Dammit, she knows me all too well. She can probably hear it in my voice. Should I tell her? I decide to be truthful. “Yes.”
“Oh, hell. And do I even need to ask how the sex was?” she asks.
“It was amazing. I mean, I never even realized I’d never had an orgasm.” I manage to let out a laugh.
She laughs out loud. “Finally!”
“Okay, listen. I’m really sorry, but I don’t have much time. Do you want the sympathetic me to just listen, or do you want to hear what I really think?” she says.
“I…the honest you,” I cry, wiping another tear.
“Okay, here goes. You’re over-thinking this, Scarlett. Take a step back and look where you are. You’ve had a hot guy fuck your brains out, you’ve had your first of many orgasms to come, and you’re going to be a billionaire soon…”
“But…” Somehow in my crazy shit brain, I thought I could figure out how to keep both Michael and the deal. I don’t know what I was thinking.
“Sweetie, just keep your head on straight. If it’s meant to be between you two, it will all work out. And girl, with all that money, you never have to rely on a guy ever again.”
Okay. I’m going to go with that because she’s right. I just have to trust that everything will be alright in the end. I mean, there are billions of men out there. Michael can’t be the only one I’d ever fall in love with.
In love with? No, I’m not there yet. Wait, shit. I don’t know. I’m so confused. All I know is that I want so much more of him and that I don’t want it to end.
“You’re a strong woman, Scarlett, and any man would be the luckiest guy on earth if he ended up with you. He’s the idiot for not seeing that,” she says.
“But I’m like a slut,” I whine.
“Stop degrading yourself. You are not a slut in the least. What—you’ve had sex with like two guys ever?” she says.
True. I’m just awfulizing.
“You did the best you could under the circumstances given to you,” she says. “Not every daughter would have taken a lowly job like you did so she could keep her parents’ house and pay for her father’s chemo. That’s why you’re so amazing, Scarlett, and that’s why I look up to you so much.”
I pause. “You do?” I ask in disbelief.
“So much more than you know.”
I laugh a little. “How come you always know what to say?” I ask, feeling a little better just for having spoken to her for a few minutes.
She says, “Let’s just say I’ve been around the block a few times, and what I’ve found is that no matter how black everything looks, it all works out in the end.”
“Thanks.” I walk into the living room and sit down on the couch. “So what are you doing today?” I ask, feeling a little guilty for having dumped on her and not having taken the time to see how she’s doing.
“Well, I was going to tell you this earlier, but…my parents invited me home for a few days. I’ve been here since yesterday, and I’ll come back tomorrow.”
Last time she spoke to her parents, they said they never wanted to see Anne ever again because they thought she had been sleeping around when she became pregnant.
The justice system is so unfair sometimes. Instead of believing Anne, they let the guy who raped her and left her pregnant go. Not enough evidence, the jury said, and as far as they could tell, the sex had been consensual. Her parents inviting her home again is huge. I just hope she doesn’t end up brokenhearted again like she did before when they kicked her out.
“I’m sorry I’ve been such a dud friend that I didn’t ask earlier. Are they…treating you well?” I ask.
“Well, let’s just say it’s a start,” she says with a sigh.
I hear the struggle in her voice, as if she’s holding back the tears.
“I’m really happy for you, Anne. I hope it works out.” I’m just about to ask if she visited the family who adopted her daughter, but she speaks first.
“Well, we’re going to my uncle’s house in Orlando, so I have to run. But I’ll see you tomorrow, okay.”
“Okay. You’ll have to tell me all about it.”
“I promise,” she says.
“Hey, and thanks for listening.”
“Anytime. Merry Christmas.”
“To you, too.”
I hang up the phone and go upstairs. After I’ve washed and folded three loads of laundry, I can no longer put off reading the email from Michael to Samantha. I hop onto my bed and open the laptop, my heart pounding against my ribs.
Subject: Merry Christmas to you too!
Date: 12.25.2013 Time: 9:01 a.m.
I wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas, and if I don’t hear from you, a very Happy New Year.
Wow, that was tame. No sexual offers of anything? He really is bad at this hiring a stripper thing if that’s what he’s trying to do. Then a ridiculous thought comes to me. Should I write him back? Shit, why do I torture myself? I fall back into the pillows and press my palms to my still slightly swollen eyes. It would be very unwise to continue any contact with Michael, even with—hell—especially as Samantha. But oh… his hands on me, his intoxicating kisses, his dirty mouth.
I miss him.
All of him.
Maybe I can have the best of both worlds. Maybe I can just keep him a while longer, let Samantha string him on, and when the time comes to truly let him go, it won’t be as difficult or as sudden.
Subject: Merry Christmas Sexy!
Date: 12.25.2013 Time: 11:12 a.m.
Dear Mr. Manning,
I’m sorry I haven’t responded to your emails. I’ve been in the hospital, seeking treatment. But don’t worry, it’s nothing serious.
I hope this email finds you well. While in the hospital, I had a lot of time to reconsider your offer. I’d love to meet with you again. I too have been thinking about you, and I would love to meet you in The Sanctuary for a great time. I can come in today even, if you’d like and want to see me.