Jessica asked me excitedly how the trip went, what Italy was like, if Will and I were a couple. I was more curious about what had been going on here, but at the same time I didn’t want to ask her about Ben. There was just so much crap in my life lately, and I wanted for once, to focus on the positive things.
I sank down on the couch habitually with my laptop sitting on my knees.
“I need to send an email telling Ben to back off.”
Jessica groaned sympathetically.
I’m really sorry about these past few weeks, but as you know, I’ve been busy working abroad. I was not trying to ignore you.
It’s over. I’ve realized that I really have moved on and I just don’t feel the same about you anymore. Please give me space and respect my boundaries. I don’t want to hear anymore about you visiting or calling my parents. I’ve also changed the locks on this apartment. I’m not angry with you, I’m just done.
I slid the laptop for Jessica to read and she nodded approvingly. I just wanted it to be straight to the point and I wanted him out of my life. I sent the email, hoping that he would read it and give up.
That would be too lucky.
I shut my phone off and watched TV with Jessica, gabbing happily about the new season of American Idol and laughing at the ridiculous auditions.
“What kind of pizza do you want?”
Thank God for online ordering. We were settling in for a girl’s night complete with margaritas and I was in charge of getting the pizza. I was too tired to go out, so I paid for delivery.
“Now, what should we watch? Rom-com or should we just nerd out on Gundam Wing?”
The anime cartoon was our favorite when we were children and it was fun to watch, especially with the horribly dubbed voice actors. Last time we watched it, I was reduced to tears of laughter and I really needed a laugh.
The pizza arrived and Jessica blended the margaritas, forgetting to place the top on the blender and getting green ice all over the counter. We scooped the remains into glasses and brought everything to the living room.
I jerked from my seat and Jessica’s widened eyes made a hot drop of fear slip down my throat.
“All right, I’m coming.”
The door was pounding so hard that the walls rattled.
“Open the fuck up!”
My heart lightened when I recognized the voice. “Will?” Relief washed over me. I was just glad that it wasn’t Ben. Annoyed, I yanked open the door. “What are you doing here? I told you—”
My voice stopped at his whitened, shaking face.
“I’ve been trying to call you for over an hour. Why the fuck didn’t you pick up your phone? There’s something you need to see right now.”
I stepped back as Will entered the apartment. He waved briefly at Jessica, who was halfway out of her seat.
The expression on his face was really starting to worry me. “Sorry, I turned it off. I just didn’t want to hear it ringing with Ben’s calls. What’s wrong?”
“I need to talk to you alone.”
I nodded, sharing a scared look with Jessica as we walked into my room. Will spun around as I closed the door and gently took my shoulders. His lips were shaking and he couldn’t seem to keep still.
“You’re starting to freak me out.”
“I’m sorry,” he apologized. “Just go to your LinkedIn profile right now. Ben did something to it.”
Blood roared in my ears. “What?” I immediately sank into my chair and grabbed my laptop. “What did he do?”
The deadly calm tone of his voice filled me with horror. Something was seriously wrong. I typed in the address. Enter.
My profile picture was gone. Instead there was a webcam shot of my breasts and naked torso, sitting on the same chair I was. It was me.
I scrolled downwards and saw a half a dozen more pasted crudely in my job descriptions. They were all naked pictures of me that I sent to Ben ages ago. Private, intimate photos that he was never supposed to keep. I attempted to login and was rebuffed. Sobbing, I entered a dozen different passwords, but Ben had locked me out of the account.
“That piece of shit! I cannot believe he did this! Where’s my fucking phone?”
Looking scared, Will backed away as I barged out of my room, sprinting past a bewildered Jessica, who turned around on Will.
“What did you do to her?”
Enraged, Will turned on Jessica. “I didn’t do shit. It was her psycho ex!” He grabbed me. “Natalie, forget it. He’s not going to answer the phone!”
He was right. It went straight to voicemail. I screamed a long line of obscenities, screaming so hard my throat was raw. Will finally wrenched it out of my hands and closed the phone.
I lunged for it. “What are you doing? Give it back!”
Will’s eyes wrinkled with sympathy.
“What the fuck is going on?” Jessica demanded.
On edge, Will spun towards her and snapped. “This isn’t any of your fucking business, so stay out of it.”
“She’s screaming! I think I deserve to know—”
He gritted his teeth, ignoring Jessica. He took my hand as I collapsed to the floor, crying.
“Everyone’s going to see: all of my old clients, my former employees, my colleagues. They will all get a notification that my profile was updated. He’s going to ruin me. That’s what he wants.”
Jessica marched into my bedroom before I could stop her. Will sprinted towards her and yanked her away from the computer, but not before she let out a horrified gasp.
“God fucking dammit, didn’t I tell you to mind your own business?” he roared at her.
Tears of rage filled her eyes and she didn’t object when Will pulled her out of the room. “Natalie, I’m so sorry.”
“Listen, Natalie. I know some guys I could hire to put a big scare into Ben.” He looked down at me, his eyes glittering strangely.
“What are you suggesting?” I said, openmouthed.
“A couple guys. A baseball bat. They’re professionals, Natalie.”
I leapt to my feet. “No! You’re not going to hire goons to beat up my ex. I don’t even want to know how you know these people.”
“He’d deserve it,” Jessica whispered.
“It would be really quick.”
I stared at them both in amazement. “He is a lawyer. Are you both insane?” I jabbed him in the chest.