Jill had an early meeting today, so I drive myself to work. I park a ways from my office, figuring I’ll get a little exercise by walking. Okay, it’s not that far, but still. Baby steps.
The first thing I need to do when I get to my office is deal with the broken chair. I call maintenance, and they say they’ll be over in about an hour. I’m teaching a class in an hour, which is perfect, because I really don’t want to be there when they come by.
I expect to come back from my class to find a new chair in my office, but instead, the maintenance guy is just arriving. He’s a tall, skinny guy who is unlocking my office door when I approach. He looks up at me: “Dr. McDaniels?”
“Yes.” I look at his badge. “Thanks for coming, Chuck.”
He enters my office, where the broken chair is leaning up against a wall. He looks at the chair then over at me. I start to squirm. “I don’t think I can fix it,” he says. “But I can get you a new chair.”
“Okay,” I say.
“See,” he says, “these chairs aren’t mean to hold big heavy loads. But I can get you a more sturdy chair.”
I want to die. I want to crawl under my desk and die.
Chuck goes and gets me a big, “sturdy” chair. Apparently, I’ve gotten so big now that I can’t fit on ordinary furniture. No wonder my husband has no interest in having sex with me.
After Chuck is gone, I settle into my new chair somewhat gingerly. Despite his reassurances, I’m a little worried this one might break too. But it doesn’t even creak. I guess due to the obesity epidemic, manufacturers are building sturdier furniture.
I reach for my purse and pull out the diary that Riley gave me yesterday. It’s so surreal to see my own handwriting filling the pages, even though I have no memory of having written any of it. Some of it is ideas for my Jane Austin book, some of it is short poems, and some just single sentences on a page. Deep thoughts, I guess. I read one of them out loud:
Love is like war: easy to begin but very hard to stop.
The sentence sounds familiar and I see that I had attributed it to H. L. Mencken. Then underneath:
Love isn’t something you find. Love is something that finds you. –Loretta Young
Underneath my two quotes, I see an unfamiliar handwriting. The writing is in the same pen, apparently done at the same time, but is big and loopy. I imagine it must be Riley’s. He wrote:
I love you in Klingon is qamuSha.
I love you in Sindarin is Le melin.
I love you in binary is 011010010010000001101100011011110111011001100101 00100000011110010110111101110101.
And underneath, my own writing again:
I can’t help but smile a little bit. I flip a few more pages, now actively looking for Riley’s handwriting. It’s all over the book, actually. Apparently, he’d wrestled it away from me quite a few times. About midway through, I see he’s written a limerick about me:
There was once was a girl named Maggie
Whose pants were very baggie
She captured my heart
Stretched it apart
And now it’s much bigger and saggy
I had crossed out the word “baggie” and corrected the spelling to “baggy.” I’d then written “NOT FLATTERING” in big letters across the bottom of the page. And in Riley’s handwriting: “A++.” The plus signs on the grade he’d given himself were a little smeared, as if I’d attempted to wrench the pen away from him while he was writing.
Somehow my eyes start to tear up as I continue to flip through the pages. I had thought that Riley and I were just having a fling, but now I’m not so sure. Our little conversations on the pages of this book are that of two people who love each other very much. Riley adored me, and it’s clear that I cared about him very much too. I loved him.
I close the book, unable to read another sentence. I look out the window and see Riley working in his own office. His eyes are focused on the screen, not looking in my direction at all. On an impulse, I grab a sheet of paper and scribble in block print: COME OVER?
I hold it up in the window, my heart pounding in my chest. Please look up, Riley. Please.
And he does. His eyes lift and he sees the words written on my window. I see him nod, then the lights go out in his office.
I run a hand through my hair, smoothing it out with my fingers. I pull a compact out of my purse, checking my teeth for food. I don’t know why I’m doing this. I don’t know what I expect to happen when Riley comes over here. I just know that I need to see him.
Because I can’t stand it another second, I wrench open the door and there he is, his hand poised as if to knock. He looks up at me in surprise. “Maggie?”
“Riley…” I say.
We stare at each other for several seconds. I don’t know who makes the first move, but a second later, I’m in his arms, in his lap, and we’re making out like our life depends on it. I run my fingers through his short black hair, pulling his face closer to mine, even though I’m not sure if we can get any closer.
Riley pulls away for a second, gasping, “Out in hallway. Bad. Must. Get in your office.”
He’s not terribly articulate, but he’s making good sense. I stand up off his lap and back into my office. He grabs the doorway, propelling himself inside, then slams the door shut behind him.
Now that we’re safely inside the walls of my office, I fall back into his arms. We’re groping each other desperately, our lips locked as if we’ll die if they break contact. Riley’s hands seem to be everywhere: on my chest, on my back, in my hair, going up my thighs, like he wishes he could touch me everywhere at once.
I rip his own half-tucked shirt out of his pants and run my hand up his chest. It’s so different than Walt’s chest. Riley’s belly is less firm and he has a healthy layer of dark hair covering his chest, whereas Walt’s body is nearly hairless. I remember what he said about not being able to feel his lower body, so I bring my fingers up to the nipple line. He responds by gasping, “Oh, Maggie.”
I feel like I could kiss him forever, both of us grasping at each other hungrily. Something about being in Riley’s arms just feels right. I can’t explain it exactly. But I’ve never felt this way before in my life.
His hands lift off my body for a few seconds and I feel the two of us moving forward until his wheels bang against my desk. Riley grabs me and lifts me up onto the desk in a show of strength that surprises me. I’m not exactly light, after all, and he doesn’t even grunt when he lifts me. And now that I’m on the desk, he’s kissing my chest and my stomach, pushing me down.
On my back on the desk, staring up at the patterns on the ceiling, I get this dizzying sensation of déjà vu. I’ve done this before. But of course, Riley told me I’d done this before.
He pushes my billowy dress up above my panties and I feel his lips on the inside of my thighs. I can hardly stand it. I’m dripping wet by the time he pulls down my panties. He teases me for a few more seconds, his mouth drawing ever closer to my pussy. And when his tongue finally gets where I want it to go, it’s too incredible for words. I feel tears rising in my eyes as I gasp for breath. I try to hold out, try to make it last as long as possible, but it’s like trying to stop a moving freight train. I press my fist into my mouth, stifling the sound of my screams as I cum harder than I ever have in my life.
I can’t quite move for a few minutes afterwards. Riley wheels around the side of the desk so he can stroke my hair and kiss my lips. He gazes into my eyes. “Good?”
“Are you fucking kidding me?”
He grins. “I was getting worried I wasn’t ever going to get to do that again.”
I reach out and touch his face. “I’m sorry about… well, everything, I guess.”
“So…” He takes my hand in his. “Do you remember…?”
I shake my head no. “I don’t. But I read that diary and… even though I can’t remember still, it brought back… emotions.”
Riley’s brows knit together. “So you still don’t remember anything?”
He nods, clearly disappointed. “That’s okay. I mean, it’s not your fault.” He kisses me on the forehead. “Hey, let me take you out to lunch, okay?”
Sex followed by lunch. My two favorite things.
Riley won’t tell me where we’re going at first. We stroll side by side, joking around a lot as we shoot frequent meaningful glances back and forth. When we leave the confines of campus, my interest is piqued. And it’s still several blocks before we come across the restaurant that I instantly know Riley planned to take me to.
How do I know this? Because the restaurant is called Maureen’s.
“My computer password,” I gasp, when I see the name of the restaurant.
He nods. “We used to come here a couple of times a week. Great food, no students. Just you and me.”
He grabs my hand for a second when he says that. Even though he has to take it back in order to wheel his chair again.
By the way the staff greets us, it’s pretty clear we were frequent fliers at Maureen’s. They give us a table all the way in the back, and the hostess pulls away a chair for Riley without asking. Our waitress, a pretty girl whose nametag says Julia, asks us, “The usual?”
I raise my eyebrows at Riley. “The usual?”
“We came here a lot,” he says.
“Let me look at the menu,” I tell Julia.
I scan the menu, looking at the lunch sandwiches. Riley doesn’t look, apparently already having memorized the menu items. By the time Julia returns with water glasses for us, I’ve decided on a sandwich. “I’ll have a coffee with one cream and one sugar, and the turkey and brie sandwich.”
Julia gets a really confused look on her face. I’m equally confused until Riley leans forward and whispers to me: “That’s your usual.”
“I’ll have a roast beef sandwich,” Riley says, “and a cup of coffee, black.”
I stare across the table at him while Julia goes to fetch our drinks. “I didn’t know you drink your coffee black. You always bring it for me, so… I guess I never heard you order a coffee.”
“I like it that way,” he says. “Nice and bitter.”
“I like things that are a little bit sweet,” I say. “But not too sweet.”
“I can be a little bit sweet,” Riley volunteers. “But not too sweet.”
I laugh. For the first time since my accident, I feel really happy. I don’t feel so lost anymore. Even though my memory is gone, I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be.
Julia comes out with our coffees. They’re cool enough that I’m able to take a sip right away, and I see they’ve made it perfect. “I love the artwork on the walls in this place,” Riley says.
I look around, taking in the paintings hung up around the restaurant. They’re real paintings, not just posters. My eyes catch on one across from us, which is a painting of an elderly couple watching the sunset. I can’t stop looking at it.
“That’s my favorite too,” he says.
I take another sip of my coffee. Damn, this is good coffee. I can see why we used to come here all the time and I made it my computer password. I could drink like five cups of this every day.
Even though it’s dark in Maureen’s, as I lower the cup from my lips, I see something floating around in the drink. At first I think it’s a marshmallow or something. But who puts marshmallows in coffee? I peer at it closer. “What’s this?”
“What’s what?” Riley asks.
I grab a spoon and scoop out the thing that was floating around in my drink. It’s tan and oblong, about a centimeter long. As I stare at it on my spoon, it’s very obvious what I’m looking at. “It’s a pill!”
I look up at Riley. His face is very pale. No, not just pale—guilty.
“How did this get in my drink, Riley?” I say.
He shakes his head slowly. “I… I have no idea.”
He’s lying. He’s clearly lying. “You have no idea,” I repeat. “Okay, then maybe we should call Julia over here and ask her why the staff of Maureen’s is trying to drug me.”
He lowers his eyes. “No, don’t. Okay, fine. I put it in there. When you were looking at the paintings.”
Are you kidding me? I get this horrible sinking feeling in my stomach. For some reason, Riley put a pill in my drink today. And then I remember… he’s been giving me coffee every single day, maybe for months. And I’ve been drinking it up, without even questioning what was in there. Oh God. Oh God.
“What is this?” I practically spit at him. “Are you trying to… to drug me into falling in love with you?”
Riley flashes me a half-smile. “Is it working?”
I feel a surge of rage rise up in my chest. Before I can stop myself, I grab my cup of tainted coffee and throw the contents right in his face. Again.
It was pretty full and Riley gets completely drenched. He blinks his eyes several times in surprise, but seriously, he had to know he had this coming.
“I’m getting the fuck out of here,” I say, grabbing my jacket and my purse off the back of my seat. “I can’t even believe I trusted you.”
“Maggie, wait!” he cries, still wiping coffee from his face with a napkin.
But I’m out of there. I leave the restaurant, running and running, feeling like I can’t trust anyone anymore. My husband is cheating on me and my lover is poisoning me. It’s a pretty bad day.
To be continued?