TEXT ME, CUPID // Episode 1, Scene 6
CUTE, FAB IN THE SACK, NOT INTERESTED, ALSO, PSYCHIC
Friday, December 15
Being Senior Vice-President, Strategy at one of Canada’s largest banks had several disadvantages. For example, Will couldn’t, at a dinner party, answer the question, “And what do you do, Will?” with “I’m Senior Vice-President, Strategy” without sounding like a grade-A self-pretentious prick, and saying “I work in a bank” made the other guests visibly bored. Will usually compromised by saying “I’m a financial planner,” although, as he was discovering on the post-divorce dating circuit, that answer made a certain type of woman—a type that he didn’t think existed any longer, but, oh, it did, it did—perk up.
Other disadvantages included having to wear a suit and uncomfortable shoes to work. It was expected, and Will never bothered to fight it, not even with flamboyant ties and designer shirts. He shed the corporate suit as soon as he got home, replacing it with jeans and a T-shirt, although now that he was living alone, he usually just stripped down to his boxers and wandered around the apartment like that until it was time to go out again.
The advantages of being Senior Vice-President, Strategy at one of Canada’s largest banks meant that he could take two hours for lunch any time he wanted to—unless of course there was a client meeting scheduled at noon—and so he got to Weeds Cafe at 11:30. In plenty of time to assess the space, choose a table, and take the seat of power. Back to wall, eyes to the front of the room… when they weren’t pretending to be looking at his phone.
His heart was beating just a little faster than usual.
The bra, in the little gift bag he had bought that morning—he had slipped a thank you card into it and scribbled his phone number on it—was on the floor beside his chair.
She wasn’t going to show.
She was going to be late.
No, she wasn’t going to show at all.
He checked his phone. No messages on his app. He checked her profile. No activity on her profile since their last conversation.
A text from Amanda.
“You’ve hired my cleaning lady to do your apartment? Are you out of your mind, Will?”
What the fuck?
Whatever. Let it go, don’t think about Amanda.
Think about Florence.
Who was late.
Who wasn’t going to show.
Who… came through the door at 12:11, breathless.
“I’m so sorry,” she said, striding across the cafe towards him, breathing hard.
“Were you running?” he asked. His heart pounded.
“Walking very fast,” she said. Blushed over her freckles.
She was wearing a paint-splattered T-shirt over yoga pants and her hair was tied back into a messy pony tail. There was a smudge of something, paint or dust, under her left eye.
She looked… fucking hot.
“Nice suit,” she said.
“Do you mean it or are you being sarcastic?” he asked.
“Does it matter?” she asked. “My bra?”
“Coffee?” he asked, nodding his head towards the coffee bar.
“Coffee,” she agreed.
She didn’t sit down when she returned with a cup of steaming hot something—coffee or chocolate, he couldn’t tell—slathered in whipped cream. Instead, she stopped and stared.
“You’re in my seat,” she said.
“Place of control,” he agreed.
“Because you have my bra?” She laughed. Slid into the chair opposite him. “I don’t think so.”
“I feel sanguine,” Will said.
“Big word,” she mocked.
“I didn’t text you,” he said. “You messaged me.”
“I wanted my bra back.”
“Maybe you left it behind on purpose.”
She laughed. He reached for a hand—she withdrew it. Shook her head.
“Oh, Will,” she said. “I adore you. Really. You are so nice. And so cute. And so fucking phenomenal in bed—I won’t pretend otherwise. It was a fabulous night. I am still tingling. But I am so not for you, and you are so not for me. And also, I come here all the time, and the washroom is awful—it is the last place I ever want to have sex.”
“Florence,” he said. “I like you.”
“I know,” she said. “I’m cute. I’m hot. I’m fab in the sack. It doesn’t change anything.”
“You’re annoying. Obnoxious, actually. Everything you say makes me want to strangle you. But I like you. And…”
She put her hands on his in an abrupt gesture. “Will. Stop.”
He didn’t have a script, or a plan. She texted. He seized the opportunity… and again… fuck. Freckles. Tongue. A pink tongue that poked out of her little mouth over those crooked teeth and seemed to be the same colour as her lips and nipples. He wanted that tongue… in all sorts of ways, and places.
“I came at least in part, because… Will, you’re… I like you too,” she said. “And I’m really happy to see you again, actually. With clothes on.” She laughed. Was she nervous? She was. She was totally nervous. Will perked up. “But this will never work. You’re nice. I’m not. And… other things.”
“Tell me,” he said. “Tell me the other things.”
She stared at him and her face was beautiful and gentle and loving and he wanted to devour it.
She looked into his eyes so intently he felt… fuck. He was going to drag her into that washroom anyway…
Except why did she look so sad?
“Say it,” he said.
She shook her head.
“You don’t get to just drop me,” he said. “I feel—sitting here, looking at you—I feel all the reasons why we’re here, again. And why there should be a third meeting. So tell me. Tell me why there shouldn’t be one.”
She looked down at the table. Then the floor.
Raised her eyes up to his face.
When she spoke, the words were an assault.
“You’re an alcoholic.”
Coffee came spewing out his mouth and nose.
“Oh, Jesus, I’m sorry.” She grabbed napkins. Patted his tie and shirt with them. He pushed her away.
“I am not an alcoholic,” he said. So fucking angry. “I haven’t had a drink in six years. And before that…”
“Stuck on step one, are you?” she said. It wasn’t unkind, exactly.
“That’s not how it…” he started to say. Stopped. Felt his rage rise. Stared at her with something akin to hate. “And you know, how? Takes one to know one?” he demanded.
She flushed and looked away.
“You can think that if it makes you feel better,” she said. He looked at her. She was looking away and she looked tired and sad and broken.
“You were married to one,” he said finally. He recognized the look. He saw it in Amanda’s eyes one night—on their first wedding anniversary, after he… Well, he saw it. It sent him to AA. She didn’t have to say a word. He saw it all—in her eyes.
He didn’t see it again, not until six years ago.
“You were married to one,” he repeated.
“Two,” she said. Brought her eyes to his. “There won’t be a third. You understand?”
This, actually, he understood. He wanted to say things in his defence. Six years dry. Before that, more than that. Almost a decade. Well, nine, almost nine years. Fuck, he was dry… He realized… he realized. He had to see that look on Amanda’s face once, only once—the fear, the despair, the hopelessness. Bucket of cold water, and he knew what he had to do. And six years ago… One night. Only one night. Massive major fuck up, but…
“Is that why your wife left you?” Florence asked.
“Is that why your wife left you?” she repeated.
He reached below his chair and grabbed her bra out of the pretty gift bag that she was not going to get. Threw it at her. It narrowly missed her face, bumped off her shoulder and rolled onto the table.
“Here you go,” he said.
“Thanks,” she said. Then looked at him and in one smooth motion pulled her T-shirt off, unsnapped the front clasp on the pink bra her striptease revealed, shrugged it off and replaced it with the black lace one he threw at her. Pulled the T-shirt back on.
“I’ve missed it,” she said. The pink bra lay on the table between them.
“Good bye, Florence,” he said. Got up. Left the cafe.
She didn’t follow.
He didn’t hope that she would.
Yes, he did.
But she didn’t.
MERRY MESSY CHRISTMAS TO YOU!
MESSY CHRISTMAS is releasing in full on the blog on Wednesdays and Saturdays through November and December.
Check out the full RELEASE SCHEDULE & Table of Contents for links to published scenes.
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