Friday, May 1, 2020

My Ex's Wedding: Chapter 2

Alex

Way back when, I used to enjoy meals. 

The best part of the night would be hitting up a bar with the other guys from work and getting a greasy, fatty meal to wash down with a beer.  I used to have great metabolism and an impressive alcohol tolerance.  These days, my appetite is minimal, which is a good thing because I don’t burn calories by walking around anymore.  I’m usually lucky if I can finish half of what’s on my plate.

But that’s not what I hate most about meals.

Okay, imagine this:  You’re out with some of your friends.  You’re joking around with them, having a nice, normal conversation.  Then the food arrives.  And everyone starts digging in, but the problem is, you can’t move your arms.  So one of your friends who you were trying to have a conversation with like everything was normal now has to take your fork and start feeding you your food, bite by bite, like you’re an infant.  Pretending like it’s still normal and not painfully awkward.  While everyone in the restaurant stares at you like they’ve never seen anything so fucking fascinating.

Needless to say, I don’t go out much for meals anymore.

As usual, there’s no chair at my end of the table.  I steer my wheelchair into the open space, and my mother grabs the napkin off the table to tuck it into my collar.  The napkin is very much needed, especially since tonight is Dad’s turn to feed me.  I used to throw a shitfit if anyone referred to that napkin as a bib, but I’ve mellowed out since then.  Hell, sometimes I call it a bib myself.  That’s what it is, after all.

Tonight’s dinner is chicken and mashed potatoes—Mom’s specialty.  Three plates of food are set up on the dining room table, on the sky blue tablecloth.  My chicken has been pre-sliced into bite-sized pieces, so you could tell which place setting is mine even if the chair weren’t missing.

“Is Doug coming for dinner?” I ask Mom as she settles into the seat beside me. 

This is one of the two nights a week Doug usually comes to join us for dinner.  In the year after my injury, Doug actually moved in with us to help out, and commuted into the city every day.  But now he’s got his own place again, and just drives to Mineola twice a week to help with my bedtime routine and give my mother a break, since Dad’s got a bad back and can’t help me.  It’s a break for me too, because I’d rather have Doug helping me than anyone else—he’s the only one I can really joke around with about the whole thing.  He’s two years younger than me, and we’ve always been really close.  And it’s not like any of my friends stuck around after I got hurt.

“He’s having dinner with his girlfriend,” Mom says.  “But he said he’d come after.  For dessert.”

“Oh,” I say. 

And my mind is spinning.  A few months ago, Doug started dating a girl named Alyssa, and it looks like she’s gotten upgraded to “girlfriend” status.  Thanks to me, his love life hasn’t exactly been jumping the last several years, so I’m happy for him that he’s found someone he likes.  He deserves it.

But on the other hand, my thoughts are selfish.  What does it mean if Doug gets serious with Alyssa?  Does that mean he’s still going to come here twice a week to help me?  I can’t imagine she’d be okay with that indefinitely.

“Alex,” Mom interrupts my thoughts. 

I blink a few times and look up at her.  “Huh?”

“Alex, would you like to say grace?”

Mom’s gotten more religious as she’s gotten older.  Her devotion used to be something Doug and I used to tease her about, but it’s not funny anymore.  She takes it very seriously.  She doesn’t expect a lot from me, but she expects me to go to church with them every Sunday.

“Sure,” I say.  I lower my head and close my eyes.  “Bless us, Lord, for these gifts which we’re about to receive from your bounty.  In Christ’s name, we pray.  Amen.”

I open my eyes in time to see Mom cross herself.  I don’t cross myself for obvious reasons, and Dad doesn’t either, for less obvious reasons.

Dad spears a piece of chicken and holds it in front of my lips.  I lean forward just a bit to take a bite, and the fork scrapes the bridge of my mouth.  That’s par for the course when Dad feeds me—Mom never does that. 

“So how is Isabelle doing?” Mom asks me while Dad takes a bite of his own food. 

I turn my head to take a drink from the long straw that attaches to the water bottle on the side of my chair. I shouldn’t tell my parents what happened today—the outpouring of sympathy will be more than I can handle.  I should just tell them Isabelle stopped by to say hi and that’s it.

“She’s getting married,” I say.

Oh well.

“Married!” Mom cries.  “So soon?”

“It’s been over three years since we broke up,” I remind her.

“You expect the girl to become a nun, Carol?” Dad says.

“It seems soon to me,” Mom sniffs.

Dad has a spoonful of mashed potato waiting at my lips, slightly too far away.  I lean forward as much as my fused neck and the strap across my chest will allow me, and take a bite.  

“Well, who is she marrying?” Mom asks.  She’s always been a busybody—that’s one thing that hasn’t changed.

“Some guy from Goldman-Sachs.”

“Really? Did you know him?”

I swallow another sip of water.  I can’t think about Isabelle marrying Parker.  It blows my mind.  How could she?  How could he?  “Yeah, I knew him.”

“So they met through you?”

“I guess so.”

Mom is quiet for a moment, thinking this over.  “Is he nice, at least?”

“He’s…” I’m not sure how to answer the question, but I’m rescued by my father’s tendency to have food at my lips just when I want to talk.  I lean forward to take the food from the fork, but he pulls away too fast and mashed potatoes cascade all over my chin.

If that happened when Mom was feeding me, she would have wiped it away before I could say “boo.”  But Dad is clueless, so he just lets the food sit there.  Like I’m fine with having mashed potato all over my chin for the rest of the meal.

“Dad,” I say.  “Could you…?”

My father looks at me blankly.  To be fair, there isn’t a lot of food on my chin.  But it’s enough.  Doesn’t he realize that? Jesus.

“Oh, for God’s sake, Steve,” Mom says as she dabs at my chin with the napkin on my chest.  She gets it, at least.

Dad feeds me another bite of chicken, but I don’t have much of an appetite.  I can’t believe Isabelle is marrying Parker.  I can’t fucking believe it.  I knew they were dating, but… getting married?  That’s crazy. 

“Do you think Isabelle is making a mistake?” Mom asks me, vocalizing the question I can’t stop thinking about.

“It’s none of my business,” I mumble.

“I don’t know if that’s entirely true.”

“She’s not my fiancée anymore.”  I shake my head.  “She’s nothing to me.  If she wants to marry him…”

I can’t say those words without feeling a lump in my throat. 

Isabelle is making a mistake.

She has no idea what he’s really like.

This time a fork outright pokes me in the chin.  I look over at my father, who has apparently lost interest in the conversation and is trying to feed me while checking Yahoo News on his phone.  Mom’s eyes go wide, and she snatches the fork away from my father. 

“Give me that, Steve!” She dabs at my cheek while glaring at my father.  “Put that phone away.  I’m not going to tell you again.”

Dad sheepishly shoves his phone into his pocket.  “Sorry.”

Mom spears another piece of chicken and holds it out to me at exactly the right distance from my mouth. She’s very good at this, which makes sense given she’s fed me over half my meals over the last several years. 

“If you don’t think this man is right for Isabelle,” she says, “maybe you should say something to her.”

I almost laugh.  “No, thanks.”

“Well, why not?”

“She’s a big girl.  If she wants to marry him, then that’s her prerogative.”

“Don’t you care about her anymore?”

I blink a few times, surprised by her comment.  My mother knows the story between me and Isabelle better than almost anyone.  She knows how Isabelle tried to be there for me after my injury, even when I was an asshole with a capital A.  I mean, I’m not a big ball of sunshine now, but I was intolerable then.  I don’t even like to think about it.

Isabelle was the one who ended it with me, but I didn’t give her much of a choice. I’ll never forget the night it happened.  I was in rehab then, even though there wasn’t much rehab I could do when I was paralyzed from the shoulders down. Most it was learning to operate my power wheelchair, and my family learning to do my care.  Since Isabelle was my fiancée, she was getting the same training as my parents, but she lacked the confidence my mother had.  Any time a therapist instructed Isabelle on my care, she looked ill.  I always thought of Isabelle as a strong, confident woman.  She’d been hiking in the Alps and braved Siberia, but when it came to helping me in and out of bed, she choked.

That night, Isabelle and I had plans to go to dinner in the cafeteria—yeah, it doesn’t get much more romantic than that.  She arrived in my room ten minutes late, and I didn’t have much else to do besides stare at the clock, so by that time she walked in the door, I was already fuming.  The first thing I said to her was, “You’re late.”

“Sorry,” she said, her pale cheeks flushing red.  She looked at me, lying in my bed. “I thought we were going downstairs to eat.”

“My neck was hurting so I got back in bed for a couple of hours,” I explained.  “If I knew you were going to be so late, I would have gotten someone to get me up.”

“Sorry,” she said again. 

And she just stood there.  Even though the fucking Hoyer lift was right next to my bed.  She was aware I couldn’t just leap out of bed anymore on my own—I needed help with that.  Was she going to make me say it?  Was I going to have to beg?  Was I going to have to spell out every little fucking thing for her from now on?

“You could get me up, you know,” I finally said.

“Oh,” she said again.  “Yes, well…”

“Or not.” I turned my head away.  “I know it’s a pain in the ass.  I don’t blame you.”

“No, I’ll do it,” Isabelle said quickly, so easily emotionally manipulated.

Being put in the sling still isn’t fun for me, but I hated it even more back then.  It’s not something I can help with at all.  I can’t do anything to make it easier for a caregiver to put me in the sling—I just have to lie there while someone else does the work.  Isabelle rolled me partially to the side to get one end of the sling under my back, then rolled me the other way to get it entirely under me. She sighed at least three times during this process, then another three times while lacing the pieces under my legs.  It was the sighing that got me.  Each sigh was a jab in my chest.  If everything was such a goddamn chore, why was she here? 

And then, once the sling was securely under my body, she couldn’t figure out the hooks.  The two lower ends of the sling went under either leg, each ending in a hook, but she couldn’t figure out how to attach the hooks to the lift above.  She’d done this a dozen times before, but each time, she acted like she was solving some elaborate puzzle. It wasn’t rocket science, believe me. I was trying to explain it to her, but she still couldn’t get it. I could see her hands starting to shake.

When it looked like she had gotten it right, she went to the side of the lift.  I waited patiently in the bed for my body to be lifted in the air, but something went wrong.  The hook securing my left leg came undone and my stomach lurched as I started to slip out of the sling when it lifted in the air.

“Isabelle!” I yelled.

She looked at me, baffled.

I was half hanging out of the sling, one leg suspended, the other loose.  My whole body was sliding to the left. Didn’t she realize I was about to fall?  “Put me back down,” I told her.

She pressed a button on the lift, but it lifted me higher. How could a woman who graduated summa cum laude not be able to work a simple lift? “Isabelle!” I yelled again. “What the fuck are you doing?”

“I’m just—”

“It’s the lower button,” I told her.  “The lower button goes down.  Are you a fucking moron?”

Isabelle stared at me for a moment.  I could see the tears gathering in her eyes, and I knew I’d gone too far. 

“I can’t do this anymore, Alex,” she whispered. 

“Listen,” I said quickly.  I didn’t want to have this conversation while I was suspended in the air, about to fall out of this fucking lift.  “I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t have—”

She shook her head vigorously.  “No, I’m sorry.  I can’t do this.”

And then she left me.  Suspended in the air, my left leg spasming as it hung from the sling, unsupported.

“Isabelle!” I shouted after her.  “Isabelle!  Are you fucking kidding me?  You’re fucking leaving me like this?”

Of course, she must have grabbed a nurse the second she left the room, because there was someone in there before I could scream out another sentence.  And the nurse got me down much faster than she ever could have.  But that didn’t mean I didn’t hate her for doing it to me.

I was angry for a long time about Isabelle, even though I knew deep down I drove her to it.  I told anyone who would listen that she was a heartless bitch who abandoned me in my hour of need.  But at the same time, I was relieved. I didn’t want her sticking around out of guilt, just because an hour before a mugger with a gun nearly killed me, she had agreed to be my wife. I wanted her to be with me because she wanted to be with me, but it was obvious that wasn’t the case anymore.

Do I still care about Isabelle after everything that’s happened between us?

Of course I do.

But it doesn’t change a thing.  She’s still going to marry Parker.

***

“So how’s it going with Alyssa?”

Doug considers the question as he stretches my elbow to the limit of where it can go.  Before I was a quadriplegic, my elbow could extend fully, forming a straight line.  Not anymore.  At about forty-five degrees shy of that straight line, my elbow won’t go any further.  The doctor calls it a “contracture.”  I get stretched out every morning and night, as well as being on the maximum dose of a medication to prevent muscle tightness and Botox injections to loosen the muscles every three months, but it’s not enough. 

If it gets to the point where my elbows won’t go any straighter than a right angle, I’ll have to consider surgery.  But I don’t want to think about that.

“Things are good,” Doug finally says.

“Getting serious?” I ask.

He smiles shyly.  Doug was always close-mouthed when it came to talking about girls.  When we were teenagers, I used to brag about my sexual conquests, but Doug didn’t like to kiss and tell.  It was something I admired about him.  But then again, back then, I had a whole lot more to tell than he did.  Doug was a nice guy, but even though I’d never have said it to him, I always had it over him in looks, charisma, and even intelligence.  I usually had more girls than I knew what to do with.

Not so much anymore.

“So it’s serious?” I prompt him.

“I like her a lot,” he admits.  He holds my elbow at that forty-five degree angle.  I can see my wrist twitching, but I can’t control it.  “But it’s still early.  So… we’ll see.”

“You don’t have to race here if you’re out on a date with her.”

“It’s okay.”

“Really.  We can manage.  I don’t want to fuck up your love life.”

“Well,” Doug says thoughtfully, “what if I paid for someone to come here a few nights a week instead?”

I wince.  “I don’t want you to have to pay for my care.”

He moves on to my fingers, stretching them until they are very nearly straight.  “I can afford it.  I just got a huge bonus.”

Doug works at Goldman-Sachs, like I used to.  I was actually the one who got him the job.  So I know he does well financially.  Still.  I hate the idea of my little brother using his savings to pay for my care, which is not cheap.

“I told you, we’re fine,” I say.

He frowns as he stretches my fingers.  “Shit, you’re tight, Alex.  Are they stretching you every morning?”

“Yeah, although Sue isn’t the best at it.”

Sue is my weekend PCA.  She comes weekend mornings and Beverly comes on weekdays.  Bev is really good—reliable, efficient, and polite.  Also, she doesn’t have a job after mine, so she’s cool with staying an extra hour without putting it on the clock.  Sue is the opposite.  She cancels on me at least a third of the time and always seems ready to jet out the door the second she comes in.  I hate firing people, but when it comes to my personal care, I don’t fuck around. I need someone I can trust.  So Mom and I agreed the next time Sue is late or cancels, we’re going to ask the agency for someone new.

Doug picks up the one of the resting hand splints I wear to bed every night and slides it onto my stiff fingers.  With that splint, my hands would eventually end up in tight fists, impossible to clean and at high risk for skin breakdown.  So you better believe I wear those splints every night.

With my right hand secured in the splint, Doug moves to the other side to work on my left hand.  “You plugged in my chair, right?” I say.

Doug rolls his eyes.  Yes. Of course I did.”

“Well, you forgot that time.”

“Once! Two years ago!  Are you ever going to let me forget about it?”

“Not likely.”

Granted, he’s right.  He only forgot to charge my chair once in all the times he’s been helping me.  But my chair running out of juice is so unpleasant, I can’t help but do everything in my power to keep it from happening.  The last time the chair died midday, I was at the supermarket with my mother.  Well, we were together at the supermarket, but I was browsing the breakfast aisle, deciding if there was anything I wanted.  I had decided on a honey oat bar, and puffed into my control to go find my mother and… nothing.  My chair didn’t budge. 

After I called her several times without a response, I ended up having to flag down a shopper to go get the manager.  The manager was a kid barely out of high school judging by his sparse facial hair and healing acne, who looked at me like I was the world’s biggest freak as I explained the situation to him.  “My mother is somewhere in here,” I told him.  “If you could just help me find her…”

He ended up having to page her overhead.  Would the mother of Alex Warner please come to Aisle 5?  She knew right away what had happened and flipped my controls to manual.  The manager was nice enough to push my wheelchair back to the van because, between my weight and the engine, it’s not exactly light. And once I got home, Mom had to put me in my spare manual chair for the rest of the day while the power chair was charging.  Losing my mobility for the day—not fun.

“So I heard Isabelle came by,” Doug says.

I roll my head to the side to study his face.  “Did Mom tell you?”

“Hell yeah, she did.”

“She’s marrying Parker.”  When Doug doesn’t say anything.  “Did you know?”

He averts his eyes.  “Sort of.”

That means yes.  “Shit, Doug.  You could have warned me.”

“I didn’t want to upset you.”

“Yeah, because this was how I wanted to find out.”

“Well, who knew she’d show up like that?  What the hell is wrong with her?”  He sighs and lowers his voice. “Are you okay?” 

I shut my eyes, trying to forget the memory of Isabelle’s face this afternoon. “Yeah, it’s fine.  But I did something sort of stupid.”

Doug grins. “Well, that’s not too surprising, coming from you.”

This is when I would have slugged my brother in the arm back in the old days.  Instead, I just roll my eyes.  “She caught me off-guard, you know?  And that whole engagement story… so I ended up telling her I had a girlfriend.”

“Fake girlfriend? Nice.”

“Right, well… I figure I’m not getting any real action anymore.  May as well get some fake action.”

Doug’s putting pressure on my figures, which are refusing to go straight.  Why does my goddamn body have to be so stubborn?  “You could try online dating, you know.  I’ll help you set up an account if you want.”

“No, thanks,” I mutter.

The truth that I haven’t told Doug or my parents or anyone is that I set up an online dating account about six months ago.  I took a photo of myself using the camera on my computer. It didn’t show my whole wheelchair, but I couldn’t get a shot that didn’t show my headrest, although I was at least able to crop out the strap across my chest.  I thought I looked decent in the photo.  I mentioned my disability in my profile, but didn’t make a big thing about it.  I use a wheelchair to get around, is all I wrote.  I put up the profile without telling anyone in my family, knowing that when I got a date, I’d have to ‘fess up if I wanted to actually go on the date.  I’d need a ride, at the very least.  I’d probably want to be dressed in something other than my usual classy outfit of a T-shirt and sweatpants.

It ended up not being a problem.  I didn’t get one response to my profile.  And the women I tried messaging never responded.

If I told this to Doug, he’d try to be positive about the whole thing.  He’d point out it was only one dating site, and there are plenty of others out there.  I’m not the kind of loser who gives up after only one attempt.  I need to keep trying.

On the other hand, why would things be different on another dating site?

Anyway, fuck it.  Dating is a hassle I can’t even think about right now. 

“And Vegas,” I say, switching back to the topic that’s going to keep me awake tonight for sure.  “I can’t believe they’re getting married in Vegas.  Parker—okay, I can see it.  But Isabelle?  I’m shocked she’d agree to a Vegas wedding.”

“We’ve got our annual conference this year in Las Vegas,” Doug says.  “It’s two days before the wedding.  That’s probably why they did it that way.”

Right, the annual conference.  An excuse to socialize and get drunk off your ass in a whole different city.  I miss it. “Are you going?”

“To the wedding?” His eyes widen.  “No way.  I’d never do that to you, Alex.”

“Not the wedding,” I say.  “The conference.  Are you going?”

“Oh.” He shrugs.  “Well, yeah.  I have to.”

“Are you taking Alyssa?”

My brother’s face colors. “No.  It’s not that serious yet.”

Yet.

“Shit,” I sigh. “I just don’t get it. How could Isabelle marry Parker?  Why does he even want to marry her?”

Doug is quiet for a moment as he stretches my arm.  “Honestly, I think it’s some competitive thing with you.”

“With me?”

He shrugs.  “Well, yeah.  When you were at Goldman, he always wanted what you had.  He was insanely jealous of you.”

“You’re shitting me…”

He shakes his head.  “You were better at the job than he was.  You made more money—everyone knew it.  It drove Parker nuts.  And then you’re dating Isabelle, who looks like a supermodel, but had a lot of class—unlike all his bimbos.  He wanted Isabelle because you had her.  But…”

Doug is sliding the splint onto my left hand.  I watch him for a second, but when he doesn’t finish the sentence, I have to ask: “But what?”

He moves to the foot of the bed so he can work on stretching out my legs.  “Nothing.  Never mind.”

What?”

“I said nothing.”

“I swear to God, Doug, don’t make me kick your ass.”

My brother smiles thinly.  “Okay, fine. Look, it’s not like it should be any surprise or anything like that.  But, you know, Parker still…”

Christ, just spit it out already.  “He still what?”

He lifts my bare leg, stretching the knee into full flexion.  “There are other women, okay?  He cheats on Isabelle.”

My mouth feels dry.  I hated to think of Isabelle being with that asshole, but knowing he’s a cheating asshole is just that much worse. 

“Are you sure?” I ask.

He snorts.  “Very sure.”

Well, great.

“It’s not your problem, Alex,” Doug says.  “I know how you must be feeling, but—”

“You don’t know what I’m feeling.”

“Okay, fine.  But look, this isn’t… I mean, you shouldn’t feel responsible.”

I stare up at the ceiling while my brother continues working on my leg.  As much as I love Doug and appreciate that he’s here to help me, I wish I could be alone right now.  That’s one of the hardest parts of my life now—the fact that there are times when I want to be alone and I just can’t. 

Doug is wrong.  I am responsible for this.  Maybe if I hadn’t been such a dickwad when I got hurt, Isabelle wouldn’t be marrying Parker right now.  I don’t have any delusions we’d still be together, but maybe if I hadn’t been the biggest asshole in the universe, she wouldn’t have fallen straight into his arms after we broke up.  I could have been better.  I know that.

I need to make this right.  Maybe my life is fucked, but I can still save Isabelle.

 

Nellie

The assholes have landed.  Table Seven.  Again.

I thought my sharp insults aimed at Chief Douchebag would discourage him.  It hasn’t.  If anything, my barbs have encouraged him.  He likes it.  It’s like some kind of freaky foreplay for him.  I think he purposely comes here during my shifts and requests one of my tables.

It’s a different group today, but I recognize the chief’s chiseled features right away.  It irritates me how physically attractive he is.  It’s not fair.  And by the way, it’s also not fair that his Armani suit probably would pay my rent for the next six months.  I don’t even want to think about it.  

“Wednesday!” Chief Douchebag’s face lights up in a grin when he sees me.  “I was hoping you’d be working tonight.”

“It’s your lucky day,” I say.

He winks at his friends.  “I’ll say.”

“So what would you like, Chief?” I ask him. 

“Your phone number,” he says.  “Or short of that, fifteen minutes out back with you.”

“Fifteen minutes?” I raise my eyebrows.  “I’d pegged you as more of a five-minute man.”

“You’ll never know till you try…”  He winks again, this time at me.  “And might I say, Wednesday, your tits are looking extra spectacular tonight.”

I give him a look.  “Eyes up here, buddy.”

He nudges the guy next to him and laughs.  “Hey, if you don’t want us looking, maybe you shouldn’t get them stuffed with silicone.”

“Hey!” I yelp.  “Watch your mouth.  These are real.”

“No fucking way.”

“Watch your language, bub.”

“Come on,” Chief Douchebag says.  “There’s no way in hell those babies are real.  I don’t believe it. I’d bet a million bucks.”

“I don’t care what you believe.”

I notice one of the guys at the table isn’t laughing along with the chief.  This guy is a lot more average-looking, but he has these nice gray eyes that are vaguely familiar somehow.  He leans forward and says to Chief Douchebag, “Hey, Parker, quit it.  You’re being an ass.”

“Shut up, Doug. She loves it.” The chief flashes me a thousand-watt grin.  “Don’t you, Wednesday?”

“Sure, I love it when guys insist my breasts are fakes. What’s not to like about that?”

“It’s a compliment,” he insists.  “I love silicone.”

Those gray eyes of the guy named Doug meet mine, and he has the grace to look embarrassed. Which helps.  A little.

I fetch the drinks for Table Seven.  I wish I could quit this job—I really do.  The tips are good, but it’s not worth dealing with grabby assholes.  I’ve had my butt grabbed twice on this shift alone.  And of course, I’m supposed to just grin and take it. 

I can’t give up this job though.  I need this job bad. This and my weekend bartending gig just barely pay my rent.  I’m not excited about being homeless.  The curb outside my building does not look comfortable to sleep on.

I return with six drinks balanced on my tray.  Chief Douchebag got a Guinness in a long, tall glass, which I plunk in front of him unceremoniously.  I distribute the other drinks with a comely smile, hoping to salvage my tips.  Not that the chief has ever stiffed me.  Actually, he’s a very generous tipper.  It’s his one saving grace.

“Hey, Wednesday,” Chief Douchebag says to me.  “We took a vote while you were gone and it’s unanimous—we all think you’ve got fakes.”

“Shut the fuck up, Parker,” the gray-eyed guy snaps at him.  His eyes meet mine briefly.  “That’s not true.”

“Don’t lie, Doug.” The chief looks up at me, blinking his baby blue eyes.  Damn, I think this guy’s eyelashes might be longer than mine.  “You know, we could clear this up really easily.”

I roll my eyes at him. “Could we?”

“We sure could.” His grin spreads ear-to-ear.  “You just have to let me touch them.”

“I’ll pass,” I snap at him.

“Oh, come on… just a quick feel…”

“Parker.” It’s that guy Doug again.  “Just quit it.”

Chief Douchebag whips his head around to glare at Doug.  He’s still smiling, but there’s an edge to his expression that’s disturbing.  I can’t imagine what it must be like to work with this guy.  I bet it’s frightening.  I bet he’d sell out any one of the guys at this table for a nickel.

“Get the stick out of your ass, Doug,” the chief hisses.  “I swear to God, you’re worse than fucking Alex was.”

Again, something tugs at the back of my brain.  A memory.  I almost catch it, but it’s gone.  There’s too much going on right in front of me and the television mounted on the wall is too loud. 

“Anyway.” The chief has turned his attention back to me, his face softening back into his usual charming smile.  “So where were we?  You were letting me touch your tits, right?”

“No,” I say patiently. “I was going to ask if you were ready to order food.”

They are, thank God.  I take their orders all around, although I can’t say any of them are looking anywhere but at my breasts.  Thanks, Chief.

“All right,” I tell them.  “I’ll put your orders in right away.”

“Hang on a minute, Wednesday,” Chief Douchebag says.

I pause, my notepad with their orders in my left hand.  Before I know what’s happening, I feel the weight of the chief’s large hand on my right breast.  And it’s not just a quick grab.  He’s got his hand firmly planted there, and he squeezes until I let out a yelp that makes all his coworkers burst into laughter.  Well, all but one—that guy with the gray eyes.

“Maybe they are real,” Chief Douchebag concedes with a grin.

It’s not like what happens next is a well-thought-out plan.  It’s not like I told my brain to grab Chief Douchebag’s Guinness off the table.  And if I had been thinking at all about the consequences, I definitely wouldn’t have thrown the content of the glass in his face.

Actually, I didn’t so much throw it in his face as pour it over his head. 

The laughter stops for a split second.  And then it returns, about five times louder than it was before.  I have this feeling that while every guy at this table thought Chief Douchebag was funny, they probably hated him even more.  It’s hard to believe anyone could genuinely like the guy.

The chief is literally covered in beer—it’s dripping from his eyelashes, flattening his golden hair, and it’s all over his expensive white dress shirt.  Wow, there was a lot of beer in that glass.  For a moment, he doesn’t look so handsome anymore.  He looks as ugly on the outside as he is on the inside.  And the look of growing fury on his face doesn’t make him any more attractive.  He was willing to laugh off my barbs, but it’s clear I went too far.

I am so fired.

To be continued....

3 comments:

  1. I love this story! Can't wait for more.

    I've barely been visiting her because of the lack of new content but I'll definitely be back for more of this. Thank you

    ReplyDelete
  2. I always love your writing and characters. A great chapter as usual. And the book has already been pre-ordered on Amazon.
    A huge thank-you and a virtual hug.

    ReplyDelete