He got off the elevator, turned down the short hallway until he reached one of the doors that looked exactly like three other doors on this floor, then knocked.
The door was opened quickly, but his smile faded when he saw Maddie’s serious face.
“Hey baby!” he greeted her, but she already turned around to walk back in when he attempted to kiss her.
Not a good sign.
He followed her inside.
“Is … everything all right?” he asked carefully.
“I don’t know, Rett. Is it?” she answered testily.
In an attempt to diffuse whatever situation this was, he pulled her into an embrace and kissed her.
She returned the kiss.
So whatever this was about couldn’t be that bad then.
Wrong. Her mood went straight back to upset as they sat down.
“Did I say or do something to upset you, Maddie?” he tried the direct route.
“I don’t know, have you?” she replied oracle-like.
“Maddie, come on now. Just say what’s bothering you.” Rett wasn’t feeling the gameshow-style guesswork.
“Well, you are supposedly oh-so smart. Why don’t you figure it out then?”
“Not that kind of smart. I get logic. Which this isn’t. If I understood the inner workings of a woman, I’d have written a book and not have to worry about money for the rest of my life.” he quipped, but the joke backfired in the worst way.
“If I am so impossible, then why don’t we just call it quits. You can run home to little Miss Sunshine and I am sure she would be more than happy to make you feel better.” Maddie hissed.
Her usually cute face was a grimace now.
“What the hell? Where is this coming from?” Everett was annoyed now too.
“My brain. The one in my head, you know, the one you have NOT been thinking with of late.”
“What is going on here?” he was upset now as well. Why the insults?
“That’s what I’d like to know! Imagine my surprise yesterday when confronted with the fact that your secretary is still squatting at your place. How long exactly are ‘1 to 2 days max’ by YOUR calendar? Because either you follow a very different calendar system than I do, or her boobs blocked your view onto yours! Because those 1-2 days have come and gone days ago!”
He closed his eyes and exhaled.
Katie had warned him this might happen.
He told her she was wrong with a capital W.
“It is still just temporary. I cannot just send her out into the streets. And I have the room. And I thought I had a girlfriend who trusts me.” he tried to explain calmly.
“Oh, I trust you. It’s HER I don’t trust as far as I can throw her. And that would not be far for that Amazon!” Maddie was refering to Katie’s height, a solid 3 inches taller than her and almost Everett’s height in heels, while Maddie was on the shorter side.
“Hey, come on now. No need to kick someone already on the ground. She’s got it plenty rough as is…”
“Are you really that gullible? Or am I the gullible one here?” Maddie hissed.
“Why gullible? I am helping a friend. As you should whenever you can. Why is that so hard for you to comprehend?” he was done with calm now.
“Oh – I comprehend everything just fine. At least her intentions.”
“Who knows for sure, but they aren’t good. And all I know is that some random girl is living with my boyfriend, but I don’t recall you ever asking me to move in with you. Look around, this apartment is the pits, I got a mouse problem again, the frigging plumbing keeps breaking. But you do not see me moving in with MY boss now, do you?! No, I WORK for everything I have. Not much, but at least I got it fair and square! So I sit here in this dump, while my boyfriend’s secretary is living it up at his fancy place. Does not really seem fair, does it?”
“I …” as Everett scrambled for a response that would not make this into a full fledged fight, he was interrupted by an enthusiastic knock on the door, which was unlocked and opened. Seconds later, her parents where in the room. Friggin fantastic, Rett thought sarcastically. They were nice people, but annoying at times. Like right now, for example.
“Mom, dad! I told you to knock and wait for me to open…” Maddie protested.
“Tell your father… see, Cason, we could have walking into something very embarrassing, honey. We didn’t, did we?” her mother asked while greeting them with hugs for their daughter and handshake for Rett.
“Oh no, no. We were just … talking. Coffee anybody?” Maddie sounded like her old self.
Interesting how fast that mood could change, while Rett was fighting his own facial expression trying to fake a smile to not let on about the fight.
Luckily her parents’ arrival made it easier for him to leave after a reasonable amount of time.
Originally he had planned to spend the evening – and night – with her, but now really just wanted to get home.
When he arrived, buried deep within his thoughts, he jumped when he heard someone’s voice greeting him.
“Sorry. Do you need a diaper change now or are you okay?” Katie smirked.
He labored up a smile
“Just still not used to someone being here, that’s all. Hi.”
“Hi. Uh oh. Your voice says happy, but your face says “trouble in paradise” …” Katie analyzed.
“More like the pits of hell.” he admitted.
“Oh jeeze. Sorry to hear. Wanna talk about it? I am not Doctor Phil, but sometimes I helps to bounce it off someone else.”
“Not much to say. Some unreasonable BS about … stuff.” he almost told her, but thought it would be better not to. No need to make her feel guilty.
“Stuff meaning me.” she said dryly.
“I didn’t say that.”
“Don’t have to. I get it. I need to get outta here. I’ll admit I got a bit lazy with my attempts to find something else and I shouldn’t have. It was just rude of me. In my defense, after 3 months of living in a rusty old car, it is incredibly hard to pass up this sweet crib though. Still I screwed up. Didn’t mean to cause you a fight with the girlfriend. I am sorry. Again. Should get that tattooed on the forehead ‘Rett, so sorry’.” she outlined the last words around her forehead.
It made him chuckle. He had been wrong all those years ago when he thought she was difficult to talk to. The exact opposite was true. He often told her too much. And he really did not want her to move out. But he also really did not want to have that same fight with Maddie again and again. Truth be told, if roles were reversed, he would not be happy had Maddie invited another dude to live with her. No matter the reason.
They sat down at the bar, since there were really not a lot of comfy places to sit, other than the loungers by the window which never seemed appropriate for general conversation. More for a single to relax in. Which ultimately was how this house was designed. Turned out it also made it hard to have people over.
Live and learn.
“Here, drink this.” she handed him a cup of coffee.
He took a big gulp and started coughing.
“What is that?! Drain cleaner?!”
“No, you wimp. Coffee with whiskey. Actually more the other way around. You looked like you could use it. Is it too strong? I don’t really drink whiskey, but you have it and it seemed appropriate…” she laughed.
“How about a little heads up next time?” he smirked, his eyes slightly watery from the coughing.
“He complains, but already plans on a next time.” she giggled.
He smirked, but then his face got serious when Katie continued, after climbing onto the bar stool next to him.
“So, she hates me still living here and gives you hell for it. Understandable. You think I could possible hang with your grandparents for a bit until I got the situation under control? Unless you think that would be weird.”
“Not weird, they adore you. And no, you can stay here. But I would really like to know why you won’t tell me WHY you are so desolate. I mean, obviously you feel that you can trust me. And you know a lot about me, probably more than I’d like. So, why not return the favor?”
She sighed, but smiled, although this was more a melancholic smile than the usual open one. How she could always be so upbeat in her situation was beyond him.
“Fine. You got a point and probably a right to know. I don’t know where to start though with the pity fest. Wanna ask me something?”
“For one, how can you always look so immaculate when you have been living in your car? I would have never guessed. You always looked like straight out of a fashion magazine.”
“Yeah, straight out of the tattered and torn edition from two years ago you find underneath the couch at the doctor’s office.” she laughed louder, which made him chuckle.
“Rett, I didn’t always live like this. I am one of those arrogant girls from the upper middle class. But unlike most, I found out the hard way that things can change in the blink of an eye. I once had dreams. Oh, boy did I have dreams. Idiotic ones, mostly though.”
“No dreams are idiotic.” Everett argued.
“Really? You think I should still go for marrying Chris Hemsworth one day?” she laughed again.
“So you like tall, blond and athletic?” he asked.
She doubled over, nearly sliding off the bar stool.
“THAT is what you took from the guilty confessions of a teenage girl’s mind? You are such a dude!”
“I always liked to think so.” he smiled.
She calmed down some, taking the cup from him and chugging down a healthy sip.
“So aside from planning on marrying unattainable movie stars, what happened?”
“OK, let’s see. I grew up, only child to a doctor and a nurse – funny huh and so much for no relationships at work. They had that very rule at the hospital where they both met. Yet, here I am – tadaaaa. Anyways, my parents met, fell in love, the whole Mayberry spiel. In a Steven King novel kinda way. His parents loved her, her parents loved him and everybody loved me, once I came along. I loved everything and everybody, was a good student, popular. You feel like puking yet? It’ll get better. When I was 15 I fell for the wrong boy. Mark Henderson. Boy was I crazy about him. And then he finally asked me out. And we made out. And he posted pictures of us kissing – hell knows where those came from probably a setup with his buddies – and lied about how far we went, putting all that on Simstagram and I ended up bullied so bad that it was not funny. Eventually, when all else failed, my parents moved us. Unfortunately, my dad hated his new hospital and my mom ended up cheating with a male nurse, eventually running away with him. She took me with her. And I hated that guy so so much. I went from beautiful house with the proverbial white picket fence – no really our house had a white fence – to living in a nasty, dirty, broken trailer in the desert, my entire life in shambles, serious trust issue to the power of three. Then he ended up drinking a lot, beating my mom, and cheating on her, eventually kicking her out. She crawled back to my dad, me in tow again, while he took her – us – back, he was never the same again as before. He used to be the best dad imaginable. Not anymore. Then my mom moved out, leaving me there with a miserable, broken man. She went to live with her parents. Cherry on top was when they all died in a car crash. My dad took it hard, started drinking, got into fights, went to jail many times, lost his job, found another. Took to gambling, got addicted to it – and pills, which he stole from the hospital where he worked. Then he misdiagnosed a patient, they died, he got in serious shit, never recovered and ended up committing suicide before they could send him to jail after all came out. I was 17 then. My paternal grandparents took me in, shortly after that my grandpa died. My grandma was very very sick. Instead of her taking care of me, I took care of her for as long as I could, inherited all the debts my father had, plus the medical bills my grandparents could not afford. I tried to help pay it all off. Got some jobs, was hit on all the time by the college boys, while I could eventually no longer make tuition. Which is where you and I met, and why I was such a bitch to you. Then I found a good assistant position, even C-level, I was so damn proud and tried so hard. But he just wanted me for other reasons. I dodged his advances best I could, until one time he cornered me and almost succeeded. I knelt him in the jewels, ran straight to HR, filed a police report – and ended up jobless, while he still has his. The rest you know. I read about you in my news feed, some spread about you opening your business, so I came crawling to you for a job, hoping you would remember me, but not the bitch-part, and either you did forget or you are the world’s most forgiving man, then soon after my grandma died leaving me even more debts – and here I am, drowning in the ridiculous reality which is my life. Now you know the deepest, darkest corners of my soul. Actually, there is one more dark and dirty secret: if I could not have Chris Hemsworth I was always willing to settle for Brad Pit, even though he is kinda old. And I need another drink now. Gimme that.” she took the mug and emptied it, shaking her head afterwards, grimacing.
“Wow.” Everett did not know what else to say to that.
“Need a tissue? Or a gun?” she joked grinning.
“I really am sorry to hear all that. But finally I got my explanation why you were so snarky when we first met.”
“And by snarky you mean ‘a bitch’? Just say it, I own that.” she laughed. How she could laugh after that story.
“No, I …didn’t.”
“Aww, you are too nice. And really a good guy. Which is why I feel so shitty about ruining your day. Hopefully not the relationship too. And if I didn’t, I really need to get out of here before it does happen. Trust me, that girl’s patience is running thin, Rett. And I do get it. If you were my boyfriend … hmmmm hmmm.” she chuckled, shaking her head.
“So if I were your boyfriend, hypothetically speaking of course, you would not trust me either?” Rett asked.
“It’s not you I wouldn’t trust.” she smiled, and winked at him.
“That’s exactly what Maddie said.”
“See. It’s like I know how women think. Almost as if I were one. And this is where I bid farewell for the night. After pouring out my dirty lil secrets to you I feel grimy and your shower is just too inviting. Good night Rett. See you tomorrow, same place, same time.” smiling she slid off the stool and left.
Everett exhaled and sunk into a hunch on the stool. Poor girl. That all sounded horrible. Not as horrible as the outlook of her leaving again though. This house had been a great idea on paper, and he was so excited to get his own place. But going from a house full of noisy siblings and two dogs to living all alone had been hard. Katie reminded him a lot of Natty, his sister and quasi best friend. Always upbeat with a lot of spunk. He himself had always been more on the serious side, and Natty had balanced him out. Now all alone it was hard not to become depressed.
So what options did he have? If he asked Katie to stay and against all odd she would agree, Maddie would eventually flip out. If she were to really go as far as breaking up with him was hard to say. He’d like to think no. He really did not want Katie to leave, but if she was set on it, there was nothing he could do. Could he really try to ask his grandparents to take her in? If they heard her story, he was certain they would, but would Katie agree? And would that appease Maddie?
He heard the wooden stairs creak and saw Katie peak around the corner.
“You alone?” she whispered.
“Of course.” he replied, like it was the silliest question ever.
She came up the rest of the stairs, smiling again, shrugging.
“Given past events, with you and your entourage, no telling.”
He noticed she was wearing his dark shirt again and had to smile. She noticed his looks and grinned.
“Yeah, I got lotion all over my pjs … so they are soaking in suds right now. Hope you didn’t mind. I washed this and was about to give it back to you .. but … you weren’t thinking of wearing it tonight, right?”
He shook his head, walking towards her, smiling.
“I know this is a shocker, but all I own is in that duffel bag, and since I am not Mary Poppins, my possessions are limited. I have mostly nice work clothes. Ya know, keeping up appearances. And something had to give, happened to be the casual wear.”
“No need to explain. I don’t mind it at all.” he said softly and meant it.
On some whim he pulled her into a hug and she let him.
It lasted barely a few seconds, when there was loud knocking on the glass by the front door. He let go and saw Maddie’s angry face looking in through the window in the twilight.
Oh no! Not this now. Really bad timing.
“Oh shit. This isn’t going to be pretty. Shall I stay or go to my ro… I mean, the guest room?”
“Just go. I’ll handle it.”
“Ok. Sorry – for the thousandth time.”
By that time Rett had reached and opened the door, Maddie rushed inside past him”Hey, where do you think you are going, you whore?!” she yelled at Katie, half way down the stairs, who froze in her tracks at the insult.
“Leave her be, it was my fault, I initiated…” he was interrupted by the hard slap Maddie administered, leaving him quiet and in shock, holding his now glowing red cheek.
Katie came up the stairs quickly now
“Hey lady, wait a minute…” she told Maddie
“Oh, I am just getting started. You are next, you snake!” she yelled at her.
“What the hell is YOUR problem, lady?” Katie did not seem so happy right now either.
“YOU are my problem. Weaseling your way into my man’s home – and bed!” she tried to slap Katie, who caught her wrist, turned it, making Maddie yelp, before she let go, leaving Maddie to rub her reddened wrist, when Katie laid into her.
“Not gonna happen. You are not going to slap respect into me, just like you cannot slap love into him. I get it, you are upset. I would be too, but you are beyond upset, you a totally cray cray. So go and take your cray cray elsewhere, bitch!”
“Bitch? And who are YOU to throw me out of MY boyfriend’s home? Rett, are you going to say something or what?”
“How should he? Usually he cannot even get a word in edgewise, and now he’s shell-shocked.”
“How dare you? And why are you in his clothes? Or should I be happy that you are wearing anything at all, even though, let’s be honest, it’s not much. Or was that the idea? I told you she was up to no good. She wants in your pants!”
Katie started laughing, hard … received very discombobulated looks from both Everett and Maddie.
“On that note, I am leaving you two.” Katie continued down the stairs again.
“So? Do you believe me now?” Maddie turned to Rett, her face still a grimace of anger.
“I told you, she did not do anything, I did. And I only hugged her Maddie, nothing else. A simple, innocent hug. That’s all.”
“Nothing else, of course nothing else, because I ruined the moment. Fine, if you want her, have her. We are done! Screw you! And her. Which is probably what you will be doing as soon as I leave anyway.”
“Leave me alone!” she pulled away from his attempt to hold on to her arm and ran out the door, slamming it shut. Everett didn’t bother running after her. What a nightmare.
“Umm, Rett…” he heard Katie’s voice behind him, when he turned, she was in her outerwear, the duffel bag slung across.
“No, Katie, please don’t…” Oh no! Not that now too. Rett thought.
“I have to. I way overstayed my welcome and exactly what I was so afraid of happening, just happened. I gotta go. Now. Sorry about the shirt, don’t really have time or opportunity to wash it but I only had it on a few minutes if that makes anything better.”
“Don’t go. This is not about you. Not really.”
“You are my boss. And I REALLY need that job, I love that job and I REALLY want to keep it, so something has to give. I can find some place to stay the night. I have some money now, I’ll get a hotel. Well, motel. So no need to worry that purdy lil head of yours Mister. I’ll be okay. And you figure out how to fix things with Missy there. Get busy. Also – sounding like a broken record now – but thank you. So much. And for good measure: sorry. ”
She stepped towards the door but he took a step in front of it, blocking the way.
“Really? We are gonna do this now?” Katie gave him a pitiful look.
“I cannot let you just walk out into the dark. Stay at least for the night and go tomorrow.”
She shook her head.
“I am not moving.” he warned grinning.
“Rett, is this supposed to impress me now or something?”
“I can do this all night, Katie.”
“No you couldn’t. I can fix this right now, although I would sure hate to kneel my boss in the balls, but will. I AM leaving, Everett. Fair warning.” she tilted her head.
“You would never.” he said firmly.
“How certain are you?”
They grinned at each other, measuring the other up, when there was banging on the door Rett was leaning against.
In a reflex he opened. Maddie again.
“Oh good, you are finally leaving. Don’t let me keep you.” stepping aside she gestured out. Katie raised an eyebrow, a faint smile curling the corners of her mouth, as she crossed her arms, hunkering down instead of going.
“OK. We’ll make him decide then. Up to you now, Rett. Choose. Me or her. Can’t have both anymore. So take your pick. But this time it will be final. I will not take you back again.”
“Katie, please don’t do this now …” he told her.
“EXCUSE ME!? What did you just call me? For your information, I am MADDIE, KATIE would be that squatting man-stealing snake over there. But I guess I got my answer. You are an asshole!” She outright yelled at him, then ran down the stairs, before Everett could react.
“Oops. That was pretty bad there.” Katie commented.
He shot her an unhappy look as hissed
“No shit, Sherlock!”
“Ooh, look who finally found his sarcasm. Well, on that note, I bid you farewell too.”
He held on to her arm.
“You are not going to just leave me now, are you?”
“That is the plan. My plan is older than hers, and I always keep my word, so yeah, I am.”
“Please …” he begged.
“You will be okay. A night alone to lick your battle scars. The first break up is always the hardest. Spoiler alert: you WILL live.” she gently pat his cheek, smiling.
“So now you are a relationship expert, too?”
“Expert no. But I did not spent my delightful youth in a cloister, bossman. I had my heart broken before. It’s the shits, but even if I stayed, there is really nothing I could do or say to get your mind off it. Well, maybe there is something people sometimes do, and you are cute and all, but that ain’t gonna happen.”
She walked out now, he watched her hurry down the stairs in that quick, bouncy way as she always did. She tossed her duffel bag into the trunk of that rusty old car. It made strange noises, but did not start. She exited, and he went down the stairs to meet her.
“Say, you couldn’t find it in your heart to jump me?” he asked.
“I thought you said that wasn’t going to happen.” he joked.
“Ha ha. So NOW of all times you got jokes? Dirty ones too? Shitty timing I have to tell ya.”
“I got more. Wanna hear? Someone will be staying another night, or I will call and have that rust heap there towed off my property.” he grinned at her victoriously.
“Blackmail now too? So, in your infinite brilliance, how do you suggest I get into work tomorrow? Or are my services suddenly no longer needed?”
“I do have the answer. Tada – observe a fully functional BMW, your chariot into the mines tomorrow. It’s hard to miss, given it’s electric blue color. Comes complete with a friendly neighborhood driver.” grinning he pointed at his chest for the last words.
“One day, someone is going to see us together. Gossip like that at work is not easy to shake. You won’t be grinning then, bossman.”
“They have seen you ride in my car before. Remember, we go to sites for meetings all the time and always take my car, since we both kinda do want to get back – like … ever. Which with that thing you call a car is a gamble at best. Also, my car is a means of transportation, not a love shack. Something to get from place A to place B, and I am pretty sure that is how most people see it, no matter who I drive around in it. I rest my case.” he nodded towards her car.
“Look Matlock, that’s different. But fine. I can admit defeat. Lead the way, bossman. Calling dibs on that shirt. And the washing machine and dryer. I kinda packed my wet stuff in a hurry. Ain’t gonna smell pretty if I don’t wash that again.”
“My shirt, guestroom and appliances shall be all yours for the night, Mylady.” he bowed gesturing towards the house.
They laughed going back up the stairs.
“Hey Rett …?”
“Let me guess: thank me for something or apologize – again?” he chuckled.
“Nah. Think there is a chance of another swig of that whiskey? I think we both need some right about now.”
“Bar and its contents are added to the list, Mylady. All yours.”
He smiled shaking his head, as he was shutting the door behind him.
“Would you and your lovely girlfriend require anything else, Sir? the waitress smiled at Everett and winked.
“NOT! HIS! GIRLFRIEND!!!!” Katie hissed at the waitress, visibly annoyed. That woman just would not learn.
“Very well, Miss. Call me if you need me. My name is Valerie.” she smiled, winked and left.
“If she knew what we have been calling her behind her back already, right Rett?”
“What? Yeah. What a bimbo.” Everett was only physically present, his mind was far away.
“I tell you what Rett. This place is fancy and delish and all, but this mistaken relationship shit every single time we come here would just never happen at a McDonald’s …. just saying.”
Walking around the corner from where he had found a parking spot downtown San Myshuno, a rarity. He was on his way to see Katie’s new apartment, she had not invited him yet, but he wanted to surprise her. The mere thought made him smile.
Suddenly he felt his eyes covered from behind, pulled away and turned to find Maddie smiling at him. He could only stare at her in surprise.
“Hey you! I knew you would finally come by to apologize. Aww, you brought me a rose. That is so sweet! Come here you! I missed you! Did you miss me too? Silly me, of course you did, you came all the way out here!”
She just took the rose out of his hands, smelled it.
Then she pulled a still very stunned Rett into her arms and kissed him.
She beamed at him, evidently very happy.
When he still just stood stiffly and silently, she just pulled him with her towards her apartment building.
She lived near here and erroneously thought he was coming to see her.
Everett felt paralyzed and just went with it.
He had been under the impression they were broken up, evidently they were still together, so he should not go see another woman – especially not with a red rose.
Even if it was just Katie.
No, pretty sure that would be inappropriate now.
“You look like a man who’s been through rough times lately.” Blaine grinned at Everett on the couch next to him. He was visiting his grandparents and they had coffee and cake together. His grandma had stepped out to deal with their dog Bandit.
“You have no idea.” he groaned.
“Is it work? Or the ladies?”
“Both.” Everett snorted a laugh.
Blaine nodded, sipping coffee. Silence fell between them for a few minutes, until Blaine said
“You know she is not the right one for ya, dontcha? That Maddie.”
Everett looked at his grandfather, smirking that lopsided smile. No use faking denial.
“I don’t know what to do, grandpa.”
“Take it from someone who knows: don’t make the mistake of chasing the wrong girl. And definitely don’t marry her. Definitely don’t wanna do that.” he shook his head to reiterate his own words.
“Huh?! I thought you love grandma!”
“Wasn’t talking about her, kid. She’s the one I should have married to begin with. A long, long time ago. I would have saved a lot of people from heartbreak if I had the balls to do the right thing when I should have. Turns out the right girl would stand with you even through the roughest times, even if you cannot even buy her a coffee from the gas station. And man, your grandmother sure loves her coffee. Anyway. So, I already tried it and don’t recommend. If I can teach you anything, let it be this.”
“Just how do I know who is the right and who is the wrong girl? I am so confused right now. What if we are both wrong and Maddie IS the right girl after all and I squander my chance with her? What if she is whatever grandma is to you?”
“She’s not. The end.” Blaine insisted.
“How can you be so sure?”
“Because you aren’t. If she were the one, you would sing a different tune, kid.”
“Why is this so hard then? I just cannot bring myself to end it with her.”
“Because you are thinking with the wrong head, kid. You do not want to give up surefire nookie until the next one comes around.”
“Grandpa! Seriously! What the hell?” Everett knew his grandpa was a straight shooter, but he was still his grandpa.
“What? Can’t bullshit the bullshitter, kid.” Blaine stated matter-of-factly.
Blaine’s wife walked in during the last part of the exchange.
“Blaine! Enough with the crudeness! Poor Rett!”
“Your poor Rett can’t get himself to keep his hands off his current girlfriend long enough to admit she is the wrong one. Men, right?”
“Blaine, stay out of this.”
“Why would I? Want him to have an Olivia before he goes for the Vik, too?”
“No. But it’s not your fight Blaine.”
“What is an Olivia, guys…. how about a memo over here?”
“Olivia was …” Viktoria began but Blaine cut her off, smiling gently.
“Let me, if I may? Olivia was my first wife.” he turned to his grandson for the last part.
“Oh right. I remember dad telling me once. The bitch, right?”
Blaine shook his head and told him
“Olivia wasn’t a bitch. Your dear ol’ grandpa was an asshole. So, don’t be an asshole, too, kid. Don’t repeat my mistakes. Do the right thing. Set Maddie free and go after …” now his wife cut him off.
“BLAINE! NO MORE!”
“Grandma, I want to hear what he has to say, please.”
“But you are not going to, sweetie. You need to find your own way.” she told him gently.
“You guys think I should go after Katie, don’t you?” Everett said.
“YES!” Blaine said, while his wife said at the same time
“No! We think you should find what makes you happy, and take your time so you can be sure it is what you want. You are so very young, baby. You have so much time.” she told him, when Blaine added grinning
“Yeah, but I don’t. Get that girl before I croak, will ya. I won’t live forever.”
“BLAINE! For heavens sake, you! I am going to spank you!” she was scolding him, trying to suppress a smile.
“Ooooh, kinky. I am game! Bedroom or shall we teach the kid some moves?” he said grinning as he pulled his wife onto his lap.
“Oh gawd grandpa, aren’t you two too old for that kinda stuff?” Everett chuckled.
“Tell ya what, Rett. Make ya a deal. One day, when you reach my ripe old age, you come to my grave and then tell me if you ever got tired of sex. Promise I will be eagerly listening.” he laughed.
“BLAINE CAMERON!” Viktoria tried, partially appalled, partially trying to suppress a laugh.
“What?!! He is 22 years old! I am sure he knows people have sex. Smart kid too, pretty sure he figured out that the stork did not bring his dad and aunt. He knows that we f..”
“BLAINE!” Rett’s grandmother yelled in horror, then just kissed him to shut him up, which Blaine responded to by tickling her.
Everett had to laugh as he got up. Those two.
“On that note, I’ll get going guys. Thanks for the coffee and cake grandma, excellent as always, and for the advise grandpa. At least I think I should thank you. Maybe I should go see a shrink now, not sure. Bye.” he joked as he was getting up.
Blaine only waved, now heatedly kissing on his wife, holding her fast.
“Rett, did you sign those contracts yet? I need to get them over to them before they close.”
“Yes Ma’am. Signed, sealed with a kiss and on your desk.” Everett joked.
“I am sure good old Bruce will appreciate that kiss from you. Might be the first action he got in decades.” she laughed. When nobody else was around, they often joked among themselves. In front of other employees they kept up a businesslike demeanor.
“I always said I go the extra mile for my clients. Hey, how’s your new place?”
“Great. Small but great. You should come by some time. I know you have the address, cos I put it in your address book myself.”
“Oh yeah, I got it. Just haven’t gotten around to it yet…”
‘Really Rett?! This was the best reply you could come up after she finally invited you? Could not think of anything lamer, you dumbass?!‘ he scolded himself in his mind.
After his failed attempt to surprise her, and his heart to heart with his grandfather, he had decided to try for more with her. He had met with Maddie and told her, as carefully and gently as he could that he did not see a future for them. She still flipped out badly, slapped him again, not once, but twice.
The next day after her invitation, a Saturday, he went to visit Katie at her new place. She had been there for about 2 weeks now. He inhaled deeply, when the door downstairs was opened as two people exited, so he slipped inside. Found her apartment and knocked. He could not help but smile. His heart was beating fast. He had no idea what was gonna happen, no plan, he was going to wing it. See where the situation took them. Naturally he had hopes and ideas, but remembered his grandmother’s words ‘don’t rush it’.
The door was opened and his smile widened, as did hers.
“Rett! What a surprise. Was beginning to think I needed to issue you a written invitation. Come on in.”
He smiled, and followed her in, about to pull out the rose he had tucked into the inside pocket of his coat and give it to her in some gallant way when he saw another man on her couch. His smile faded. The rose remained where it was.
“Rett, this is David. Dave, my wonderful boss Everett Cameron.”
Boss? He wasn’t even introduced as a ‘friend’? Politely he shook the guy’s hand, forcing a smile.
He only stayed briefly. His good mood was gone and he didn’t feel like sticking around to admire her boyfriend or date or whoever the hell this was, while all he was to her was her ‘boss’.
On his way back to the car he reached into the pocket of his coat, pulled out the rose and simply dropped it to the ground. Fallen, only to probably eventually be recklessly trampled into the ground by someone, much like his feelings just had.
He had almost made a gigantic fool of himself.
His mood was at a low and remained that way. Even at work. Eventually Katie had enough.
Towards the end of the work day, she entered his office, closed the door behind her and just stood there till he looked up at her from his desk work.
“Yes?” he asked, sounding annoyed.
“So what is with you?” she asked, crossing the room.
“I am busy.”
“Hello? I am your assistant. Everything you work on, I would know about and you are not THAT busy. So out with it.” she sat down in one of the guest chairs across the desk from him.
“It’s nothing. If you are done, why don’t you go home. I’ll finish up here.”
“Nice try. No, wait, that was a lie. It was a shitty try. So unless you are going through early onset male menopause, I want to hear why your mood is worse that that of the grumpy guys from the Muppet Show. Talk!”
“It’s nothing. Does not concern you. Just go home to your new boyfriend. David.” Everett snapped, purposely over-annunciating the name, before realizing that was way too obvious.
“So that’s it. You can have a crazy girlfriend, but I am supposed to get people I talk to approved by you first or what?!” she was getting upset now too. No more smile. She looked angry. He had never seen her so angry.
“People you talk to? Pretty sure you did more than just ‘talk’. I bend over backwards to help you out, all I ever hear from you is ‘Oh Everett you are such a good friend, such a nice guy, blah blah’, I wind up losing my own girlfriend in the process, once she is gone you cannot wait to ditch me – but okay, I even help you find an apartment – even co-signing for it because your credit history is shit, and when I come see you you already have a new dude at the ready and I am downgraded to just ‘the boss’!”
“Are you even listening to yourself?! First of all, since when is ‘boss’ a downgrade?! Secondly, what was I supposed to introduce you as? My BFF? My lover? My bruh from da block? Neither would be true. And I just knew that taking you up on YOUR offer to co-sign would come back and bite me in the ass sooner or later. I had hopes you would be different. But you are not. Just like everybody else in my life, always telling me to ask for help and when I do, suddenly you own me. I hate that so much, I’ll frigging cancel the lease and find something else. A park bench is better than owing YOU any more than I already do. I did not ditch you either, I said all along that I was moving out as soon as I could and you breaking up with that wicked witch from San Myshuno is really not a fucking surprise, not to anybody with a functioning brain stem. While this is NONE of your business, David is my new NEIGHBOR! And it was none of his beeswax who you really were, so boss was fine in my book. And lastly …”
Her volume had progressively increased but was interrupted by the phone persistently ringing until she finally picked up his line, her tone still more angry than business-appropriate
“EVERETT CAMERON’S OFFICE, THIS IS KATIE, HOW MAY I …. oh, hi…. yeah, no no, you’re not interrupting. Was just kinda noisy in here for a moment. He is right here.”
She held the receiver inches from his face so he took it
She stomped off while he answered.