“See you!” she called to me before the door closed shut behind her.
And just like that, I was alone again. Alone in a big empty apartment with nothing but my thoughts. I looked around, contemplating the emptiness. I had had my fair share of girlfriends, but they rarely ever lasted. I was living a dream that every rich young bachelor craved. I had a wonderful apartment with a fantastic view, more money than I knew what to spend it on, and several beautiful cars waiting to be taken out for a joyride in the garage downstairs. But now it felt vacant, different. The warmth that Tia had brought along with her was gone, her absence for the day leaving my body and mind aching.
I wanted her here, I realized. Sure, to her, I was probably a temporary solution. It was a transactional relationship, with a few benefits on the side. She paid her rent, I gave her a place to stay. I gave her a job so that she could pay her rent on time. But I knew, deep down, that Tia was so much more than that. She challenged me. She didn’t shy away, didn’t just let me take what I wanted. I felt the need to impress her, felt the need to support her and encourage her. She wasn’t just a quick lay, wasn’t just another one of Molly’s friends that I could add to my score card. Tia was shaping up to be so much more than that.
I wandered back to my bedroom, aimlessly thinking about what it would be like to have Tia stay. I felt like a stupid teenager, wondering what it was we had between us. What was I to her? Were we just fuck buddies? Were we boyfriend-girlfriend now? I desperately needed to know. Because if it was the former, there was nothing I could do to stop Tia from leaving. She’d find her own place, eventually. She’d probably move out the moment she could afford to. She seemed like the type of woman who didn’t want to inconvenience anyone, even if I more than welcomed any inconvenience related to her.
I found myself rummaging through my closet, pulling out old shoeboxes filled with photographs and old childhood memorabilia. When I finally located the little blue velvet ring box that was tucked away beneath an old collection of softball cards, I swallowed hard. I opened the box to expose my grandmother’s wedding ring. She had given it to me a few months prior to her passing in the hopes that I could give it to my then girlfriend. It obviously didn’t work out between us, so I had shoved the ring away, believing full well that I had no use for it. I had never wanted to give it to anyone, never even considered marriage an option.
But the longer I stared at the ring, the easier it was to imagine it on Tia’s finger. It would glimmer on her hand, it would fit like a dream. It occurred to me just how much I was starting to want her, to keep her near me for as long as I could. I wondered if I was going crazy. Was I really falling that fast? This was all too sudden, too dramatically quick. I shoved the ring box back, hiding it away again. My stomach did a nervous little flip. I was shocked, confused.
But I also couldn’t deny the excitement that left my fingers and toes tingling.
Tia may very well be the one.
Terrance Peterson greeted me personally. Point, Peterson Holt & Tult. Harold couldn’t even be bothered to find the time to introduce himself on the first day. I was starting to like this place already. Alex looked a lot like his father. They had the same broad shoulders, the same square jaw. Albeit, Alex was a little softer looking, and significantly younger. Terrance Peterson stood out as a man of wisdom, grey streaks in his hair and beard a testament to his age and experience. I followed him around for the better part of the morning as he personally gave me a tour of the office.
“And this is my office,” he stated, opening the glass doors wide for me to enter. I marveled at the collection of first edition law books that decorated his shelves. Terrance gestured toward a free chair across from his mahogany desk. “Please, have a seat.”
I did what I was told, glancing the numerous award plaques hanging on Terrance’s walls. There were several picture frames on his desk which held family photos. I recognized Molly and Alex instantly, but they’re younger in the photos. I’d guess Molly was about eighteen in the picture, with Alex significantly more youthful in the image. His face has filled out a lot more, and his features are a lot more masculine and defined than they were.