I press the send button and wait. He’ll never go for today. He’s got a bunch of family commitments. But maybe in a few days.
When there’s no reply, I head outside and check the mail. It’s been a while since I’ve emptied the mailbox, and I might have missed a few Christmas cards from our extended family. At the mailbox, I pick up a pile of letters and cards, and once back inside, I start to open them. Then I hear that ping, notifying me I’ve received an email. My stomach flutters.
I run upstairs as fast as I can, my heart in my throat, and sit down on my bed with the laptop on my lap.
Subject: Merry Christmas to you too!
Date: 12.25.2013 Time: 11:20 a.m.
I am pleasantly surprised and delighted to get an email from you. I must admit, I thought you’d never contact me, and I was quite upset thinking that I’d never have the chance to see you again.
Having said that, though, I do appreciate your willingness to see me. But I have moved on. I wish you the best of luck in the future, and I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,
I frown. Rejected? I smile. Could it be that by saying he’s moved on that he’s…? No. Don’t even think about it, Scarlett. I wish he had expounded on his email a little more.
Should I email him back? Invite him a little more…seductively? See if he really has moved on? Yes. Oh, God. I hate myself right now, but I need to know if Samantha is truly out of the picture or not.
Guiltily, I hit the reply button.
Subject: Merry Christmas!
Date: 12.25.2013 Time: 11:25 a.m.
I completely understand “moving on.” I have done it many times myself. I hope I didn’t do anything or say anything to upset you. I just thought we had such a wonderful time in The Sanctuary, and I can’t stop thinking about your strong, sensual hands gliding across my silky soft skin and caressing my body. Your touch sent me to another place, sent my head spinning and my heart beating so fast, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
Your mouth on mine felt so right, so raw and honest. And ever since that night, I can’t help touching myself whenever I think of you.
I thought maybe you had felt the same.
But of course I understand if you don’t want to meet again. Sometimes the best thing is to shut the door on the past and move on. If you change your mind, please email me. The offer is still open, and I’d still love for you to explore my body even further.
Holy Hell, just writing that email has me panting. I press send. I know I’m acting totally irrational, being a bitch even, but I can’t help it. My heart is hoping he’ll want the real me back, but I have to know if he truly means it. Will his actions line up with his words?
Not a second later, there’s a ping on my computer. Shit. I close my eyes and slowly breathe in and out a few times. I have to read it eventually. I stand up and pace around the room a little, the butterflies in my stomach multiplying a hundred times per second.
I just need to read it, dammit! I sit down by my laptop and start reading.
Subject: Meet me!
Date: 12.25.2013 Time: 11:29 a.m.
Samantha, meet me in The Black Chapel today. Noon.
Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! What the hell? Well, at least now I know. Now I know without a shadow of a doubt he doesn’t want me, and that if I ever were to marry him for anything other than the money, he wouldn’t be faithful to me. He’d cheat on me whenever a random stripper or a random woman would hit on him.
But crap, I didn’t think he’d actually want to meet me today on Christmas! Besides, now that I know he’s a serial cheater, the absolute last thing I want to do is to meet him. I wouldn’t be able to have him kiss me and fondle me and…touch…me…
Oh… Just thinking about his hands on me makes the space between my thighs wet. I am so messed up.
Screw this. I don’t have time to sit here and consider my bleeding heart at the moment—only act. I need to call Laila, tell her I’m working with Mr. Manning today and that she needs to open the club. I’m sure she’ll take me back in a second; it’s worth a butt load of money for her.
I bolt out the door, hop into my car, hit the gas, and speed through every street as if I had the devil tailgating me. While driving, I call Laila, and as I suspected, she is more than happy to accommodate my request of opening the strip club pronto. She doesn’t even ask why I changed my mind and want to work with Mr. Manning again. Maybe she knew all along that I would. Damn her and her intuition about everything. It’s like the woman knows every one of the girls working for her better than we know ourselves.
Once at The Black Chapel, I park right behind the building where I usually do. No time to look over my shoulder for Mrs. Manning’s spy, but I gather she’s approved of me anyway and has told whomever it was following me around—if there even was anyone—that he or she could stop. So why bother? In addition, Michael will be parking in front of the building so he won’t see my car.
The Black Chapel sign, usually a magenta neon blaring light, is turned off. There are no lights inside, and the place is as empty as a ghost town.
I glance around for one of Michael’s cars. I’m sure he has a bunch more vehicles that I have never seen, so any car driving by could be him, really. But it’s a quarter to noon, and he’s usually very punctual, never early or late.
Just in case that son of a bitch is early, I tuck myself inside the short passageway leading into the club to keep out of sight. It also helps keep me out of the sub-zero wind rippling against my not-warm-enough jacket.