He held up his hands. “Fine. Whatever. But we need to go to his place.”
I chewed my thumb nervously. “You have to fucking promise me that you won’t hit him.”
Will’s jaw jutted out. His eyes crackled with electricity and I knew that it would be a struggle for him not to beat the ever-loving shit out of Ben. I had half a mind to let him. “Whatever.”
“Natalie,” Jessica said in a small voice. “I really don’t think this is a good idea.”
“Why is that?” he snapped.
She kept her jaw rigid as she looked at Will. “You both are pissed off and you’ll do something stupid. Just call the police and let them handle it.”
“The police won’t be able to do shit. It takes days for an investigation like this.”
I nodded furiously. “Let’s go now.”
“Natalie, it’s a really bad idea!”
“Shut up!” I screamed.
She didn’t fucking understand. Everyone in my professional life would see these photos. I would be surprised if some of them hadn’t blocked me already. Will and I tore out of the apartment, a team of violent, angry energy. Jessica begged me to stop. To think.
I slammed the car door shut and for once, I didn’t argue when Will sat behind the steering wheel. He was completely focused on getting to Ben’s house.
“What’s the prick’s address?”
I punched it into the GPS and Will sped off, not even waiting for the GPS to calibrate. He lived in Oakland and it would be about half an hour to get there. I pounded my cell phone over and over again, but he wouldn’t pick up.
“Don’t call him. It’s better if he doesn’t know we’re coming.”
“That son of a bitch,” I kept repeating. “I can’t believe he would do something like this. It’s just so fucking childish.”
“I could. Did you read his emails?”
My eyes narrowed at Will. “Will, when we get there, I don’t want there to be a fight.”
His fingers tightened over the steering wheel.
“I just want him to grow up and take the photos down. That’s it!”
“What if he says no?”
I sputtered. “He has to. He’s a fucking lawyer. I don’t understand this at all. Ben’s not this stupid.”
“People do stupid things when they’re pissed off.”
My rage boiled all the way along the highway. I kept cycling through a list of fiery emotions: rage, disappointment, hurt, and betrayal. Did he really think plastering naked pictures of me all over LinkedIn would make him look good? He could lose his career over it. It was such a monumentally stupid thing to do.
The car screeched to a halt in front of Ben’s apartment and my chest felt like a drum. Will got out of the car, looking like he was out for blood. In his black leather jacket, he looked like a clichéd Italian mobster. The glare of the yellow lampposts made him look older. Harsher.
He bounded up the steps and pounded on the door before I could make it up there.
It was weird. He was definitely inside, but he wasn’t answering the door.
“Your car is out front! Open the door!”
I completely lost my head and slammed my body into the door, screaming as it flew open. It swung inside and I stumbled over the threshold. He left the door open?
I walked inside and behind me followed a very tense looking Will. His eyes darted down the unlit hall.
Swallowing hard, I walked toward the only lit room in the apartment: the kitchen. There was only the sound of the refrigerator quietly humming and our whispers to each other.
I half-expected to see a dead body, so I was almost relieved when I saw him quietly sitting at the kitchen table. The apartment looked bare without all of my kitchen appliances sitting on the counters. It looked unchanged from the moment I left him over nine months ago, as if preserving it would somehow lengthen the memories he had of me.
My ex-fiancé looked up at me, an unfathomable expression stirring in his eyes.
“What are you doing in my house?”
“I think you know what the fuck we’re doing here.”
The blonde man’s face twisted as Will stepped into the kitchen. They were polar opposites juxtaposed against each other. Light vs. Dark.
“The fucking photos, Ben. I just want them taken down. Take them down and leave me alone, and I won’t press charges.”
“The fuck you won’t!” Will burst out. “Remove them or I’ll remove your fucking balls and boil them in motor oil, you pathetic—”
Ben smiled back at me, unperturbed by the insults. He had an infuriating look of superiority on his face. “I’ve no idea what you’re talking about. You should be more worried about whether I’ll press charges against you.”
“That’s cute,” Will spat.
“Breaking and entering. Trespassing. Take your pick.”
My body went hollow. Oh, fuck. I didn’t dare look at Will; I just kept staring at Ben. Please just do the right thing.
Will lunged forward but I grabbed the back of his jacket and wrenched back.
“No! That’s just what he wants!” I turned back towards Ben. “The door was open, Ben. There was no break-in. Why are you being so childish about this?”
“Listen, fuckstick. Even if you took them down, I’ve got screen caps of them. I thought that you might pull some kind of bullshit. I bet if the cops traced the IP address for the last login on her profile, it would lead back here.”
Or maybe not.
Ben cocked his head, still wearing that smile that made me want to vomit. He was a lawyer. He was too smart to admit to anything.
“To be honest, I was curious about meeting you,” he said to Will. “After all, you’re the one replacing me. The more I looked into you, the more I really didn’t understand why Natalie would be into you.”
Will laughed harshly. “Is that all you’ve got?”
“You’re just a foul-mouthed, spoiled, rich boy with a body count. Three people died in that car accident.”
A ringing silence followed his words. He savored the pain on William’s face. For once, he didn’t have a retort. The disgust in Ben’s voice was somewhat justified, and that made me hate him even more. Why would he throw that in Will’s face?
“You’re unbelievable,” I told Ben. I tugged Will’s jacket. The look on his face scared me. He looked ready to pounce. “Let’s just go. Jessica was right, this was a waste of time.”