“I have to do the decent thing once in a while. Just to keep you on your toes.” I give her a small smile that she doesn’t return.
And she still hasn’t fucking looked at me. What’s wrong with her? My heart begins to hammer in my chest as I run through all the possibilities. Is she sick? Did something happen to her mother? Was she mugged on the frigging subway?
Kate walks into her office and closes the door, leaving me standing on the outside. This is where men got the shitty end of the stick, people. When God gave Eve that extra rib? He should have given us something extra too. Like mental telepathy.
I once heard my mother tell my father that she shouldn’t have to explain why she was pissed. That if he didn’t already know what he’d done wrong, then he wasn’t really sorry for it. What the fuck does that even mean? Newsflash, ladies: We can’t read your thoughts. And frankly, I’m not entirely sure I’d want to. The female mind is a scary place to be.
Men? We don’t leave a lot of room for doubt: You’re a dick. You fucked my girlfriend. You killed my dog. I hate you. Direct. Clear. Unambiguous. You girls should try it sometime. It would bring us all one step closer to world peace.
I back away from Kate’s door. Looks like I won’t be finding out what her deal is any time soon.
Later that day, I sit in a café across from Matthew, not eating my sandwich.
“So, Alexandra get to you yet?”
He’s referring to the Thanksgiving Day Massacre—in case you’ve forgotten. I nod. “I got the call yesterday. Apparently I’ve committed myself to volunteer next month at the Geriatric Society of Manhattan.”
“It could’ve been worse.”
“Not really. Remember Steven’s Aunt Bernadette?”
Old women have a thing for me. And I don’t mean a pinch-my-cheek, pat-me-on-the-head kind of thing. I mean a grab-my-ass, rub-my-junk, why-don’t-you-push-my-wheelchair-into-the-broom-closet-so-we-can-get-nasty kind of thing.
It’s fucking disturbing.
Matthew’s now laughing his ass off. Thanks for the sympathy, man.
The bell above the door to the café jingles. I look up and decide that maybe God doesn’t hate me after all. Because Billy Dumbass Warren just walked in. His face, at any other time, would definitely put a dent in my good mood. But at this moment? He’s just the donkey dick I need to see. I’ll be nice.
I approach him. “Hey, man.”
He rolls his eyes. “What?”
“Listen, Billy, I was just wondering, is everything okay with Kate?”
He snarls, “Kate isn’t any of your fucking business.”
Let the record show, I’m trying. And he’s being a prick. Why am I not surprised?
“I see what you’re saying. But this morning, she really didn’t look well. Do you know why?”
“Kate is a big girl. She can take care of herself. She always does.”
“What are you talking about?”
And then it hits me. Like a bucket of ice-cold Gatorade after a football game.
“Did you do something to her?”
He doesn’t answer. He looks down. That’s all the answer I need. I grab him by the front of his shirt and pull him up quick. A second later, Matthew’s there telling me to calm down. I shake the jerk off just a little. “I asked you a question, motherfucker. Did you do something to Kate?”
He tells me to get my hands off him, and I shake him harder.
“We broke up! We broke the fuck up, all right?”
He means he broke up with her.
He pushes my hands off and shoves me. I let him. He straightens his shirt, glaring. But I just stand there. Stunned. His finger stabs my chest. “I’m out of here. You ever put your hands on me again, I’m laying you out, dickhead.”
And with that, he leaves. Matthew watches him go, then asks, “Drew, what the hell was that about?”
Ten years—almost eleven. She loved him. That’s what she said. Ten frigging years. And he dumped her.
“I have to go.”
“But you didn’t finish your sandwich.” Food’s important to Matthew.
“You have it. I have to get back to the office.”
I sprint out the door to…
Well, you know where I’m going.
Her office door is still closed. But I don’t knock. Quietly, I walk in. She’s sitting at her desk.
Have you ever been kicked in the stomach by a horse?
Me neither. But now I know what it feels like.
She looks so small behind that desk. Young and vulnerable and…lost. My voice is soft and careful. “Hey.”
Kate glances at me, surprised, and then she clears her throat and wipes her face, trying to pull it together. “What do you need, Drew?”
I don’t want to embarrass her, so I pretend not to notice the wetness that still clings to her cheekbones. “I was looking for that file…” Slowly, I step closer. “Do you…uh…have something in your eye?”
She plays along and wipes at her eyes again. “Yeah, it’s an eyelash or something.”
“You want me to take a look? Those eyelashes can be dangerous if left untreated.”
For the first time today, her eyes meet mine. They’re like two dark shining pools. “Okay.” Kate stands up, and I guide her toward the window. I put my hands on her cheeks, gently holding her face. Her beautiful tear-streaked face.
I’ve never wanted to do physical damage to someone as badly as I do Billy Warren in this moment. And I’m pretty sure I can get Matthew to help me bury whatever’s left of him in the backyard.
I wipe her tears away with my thumbs. “Got it.”
She smiles, even as more tears spring up. “Thanks.”
I’m done pretending now. I pull her in against my chest. She lets me. I put my arms around her and smooth the back of her hair with my hand. “Do you want me to talk to him? Was it…was it because of…me?”
I can’t imagine the scumbag was very happy finding us in Kate’s office like he did last week—with her looking freshly fucked and all. And no, I haven’t gone insane. The last thing I want to do is help her get back with the asshole. But goddamn it, she’s killing me here.
One tear at a time.
She laughs into my chest. It sounds bitter. “It was me.” Kate looks up at me and smiles sadly. “I’m not the same girl he fell in love with.”
It must have been hard for her to hear those words. It’s the oldest guy trick in the book. The blame game: “It’s not me, honey. It’s you.”
She shakes her head. “He packed up all of his things and moved out on Saturday. He said a quick, clean break would be better. He’s staying with Dee-Dee until he can find his own place.”
She looks toward the windows for a moment, then sighs dejectedly. “It’s been coming for a while, I think. It really wasn’t a shock. For so long, my focus was on school…and then work. Everything else came second. I stopped…I couldn’t…give him what he needed.
“It’s just…Billy held my hand the day we buried my father. He taught me to drive a stick shift, and convinced me I was good enough to sing in front of actual people. Billy helped me fill out my college application and opened the acceptance letter for me because I was too nervous to look. When I was in the MBA program, he worked three jobs so I didn’t have to work at all. Billy was there the day I graduated, and he came with me when I wanted to move to New York. He’s always been such a huge part of my life. I don’t know who I’ll be without him.”
Women. No offense. But she doesn’t even realize what she just said. These are her accomplishments. Challenges she’s lived through. Shithead was just along for the ride. In the background. Like wallpaper. You can change the color of the walls anytime, and it might look different, but the room’s still the same.
“I know who you’ll be: Kate Brooks, Investment Banker Extraordinaire. You’re smart and funny, and you’re stubborn and gorgeous and…perfect. And you’ll still be perfect without him.”
Our eyes hold for a minute, and then I hold her against me again until her tears subside. Her voice is muffled as she whispers, “Thank you, Drew.”
It’s not until late that night, as I crawl between the cool sheets of my bed, that the ramifications of today’s events really hit me.
I sleep naked, by the way. You should try it. If you haven’t slept naked, you haven’t lived. But that’s beside the point.
The fact that hasn’t occurred to me until now is—Kate Brooks is single. Free. Available. The only real obstacle that stood between her and me and my office couch just shot himself in the foot. Holy shit. This is what Superman must have felt like when he turned back time and pulled Lois out of that car. It’s a do-over. A second shot. Recommencing lift off.
I fold my hands behind my head and settle back into my pillows with the biggest, brightest can’t-wait-for-tomorrow smile you have ever seen.
It’s been four days since I found out Dipshit broke up with Kate. That next day, she came into work looking like herself again. For all intents and purposes, she seemed completely over the moron. But Mackenzie caught a cold, so Alexandra had to reschedule our lunch for next week. With the weekend Kate had, it was probably for the best.
Oh yeah. Just one more little detail you should know: I haven’t gotten laid in twelve days.
Two hundred and eighty-eight sex-free hours. I can’t calculate the minutes—it’s too depressing. Remember all work and no play makes Drew a cranky boy? Well, at this point, Drew is practically a goddamn psychopath, okay?
Twelve days may not seem like a long time for you amateurs out there, but for a guy like me? It’s a frigging record. I haven’t had a drought like this since the winter of ninety-nine. That January, a massive blizzard blanketed the tri-state area with twenty-eight inches of snow. Only official vehicles were allowed on the roads, so I was stuck in the penthouse with my parents.
And I was seventeen. A year in a guy’s life when a light breeze is capable of giving him a boner. I spent so much time in the bathroom, my mother thought I had a virus. Finally, after the seventh day, I couldn’t take it anymore. I braved the elements and walked to Rebecca Whitehouse’s condo uptown. We humped like bunnies in the janitor’s closet of her parent’s building.
She was a nice girl.
Anyway, once again, I’ve been reduced to jerking off in the shower. It’s humiliating. I feel so dirty. Not that there’s anything wrong with a good rub and tug in the morning to start the day off right. Particularly if, like myself, last weekend’s typical Saturday score night had to be bypassed because of family-related holiday obligations. But if that’s the only action you’re getting? Well, that’s just…sad.
The reason behind my recent extended sexual famine? I blame Kate. It’s all her frigging fault.
Apparently, I’ve grown a conscience. I don’t know when it happened, I don’t know how it happened, but I am not happy about it.
If I could, I would squash that Jiminy Cricket fucker like the roach he is.
Because you know how some people have gay-dar? Well, I have dump-dar. That means I can pick out a recently dumped female a mile away. They’re easy pickings. All you have to tell them is that their ex is an idiot for letting them go, and they’ll be begging you to nail them.
Kate now falls into the aforementioned dumped category. Should be a sure thing, right?
Wrong. Here’s where Jiminy rears his ugly little bug head.
I can’t bring myself to make a move. The idea makes me feel like a goddamn predator. It’s hard to tell if she’s still raw. She doesn’t seem to be, but you never know. She could just be putting up a good front. And if she is—hurt and vulnerable—that’s not how I want her. When it happens for Kate and me, I want her ripping at my clothes, and her own for that matter, because she can’t wait a second longer to have me pounding into her. I want her moaning my name, scratching my back and screaming because of the sheer magnificence of it.