Sunday, September 6, 2020

The Executive Book One: A Mad Holiday

Part 1:




It didn’t really feel like Christmas Day. I was in my own bed, but was having trouble recollecting the name of the young woman next to me. I saw the Tiffany necklace on her neck that I used to lure her over the night before. The necklace was never meant to be a gift for her, my assistant bought it for my ex-girlfriend. That was my own fault because I neglected to tell her I broke up with my girlfriend two days before Thanksgiving because she said we were “moving too fast” even though she had never seen the inside of my house. 

Speaking of my house, I slipped out of bed to find it hollow and empty. There was no Christmas tree, despite the eagerness of my assistant to come decorate. The only sign of celebration present was the half-empty bottle of Krug sitting on my coffee table. I glanced out of the front window to see her CLA250 next to my LC500. I don’t know if it was the sight of the Teutonic abomination in my driveway or the thousands of dollars of champagne I drank, but I had to find my toilet immediately. After my expensive vomit, I walked out to see my date standing outside the door. She was holding her Manolo Blahniks and the keys to the mini-Mercedes. 

She was headed to her parent’s for brunch and I let her go with a kiss on both cheeks. I quickly showered, dressed, and took a long swig from the last bottle of champagne that remained. I grabbed the keys to the low-slung Lexus and headed out the door. I took off out of my driveway into the deserted streets of Christmas Day. As I pulled into the parking garage at Publix, my phone began to ring. It was my secretary, Alania, I answered on the third ring. We wished each other a Merry Christmas in a cordial manner. She went on to tell me that she didn’t make it to Rhode Island for Christmas with her parents. At that moment her eagerness to come decorate my house crossed the front of my mind. I asked her what her plans were and before she could get the last word out I invited her to my house for dinner. 

As I bustled around the store picking out foods to cook, I thought about Alania. I tried not to think of her much because of the way she was so emotionally attached to me. But today it might be the only thing that keeps me from killing myself. At the register the young brunette behind the counter asked me if I was having a good Christmas. I was tempted to answer with a harsh “No.” But instead gave a nearly-robotic positive reply. She smiled sweetly as I handed her my platinum American Express. I slid the card back into my wallet and immediately grabbed my business card and handed it across to her with a suggestive “Merry Christmas” she put the card in pocket and pulled her hair behind her ear as I walked out of the store. 

The Lexus swam over the undulating pavement of South Blvd. as I cruised through South End. As I saw the NASCAR Hall of Fame begin to materialize my mind shifted and I turned on to the I-277 ramp. I was delirious, all I could think of was Christmas another year alone. I drove out of the city north along I-77, the treelines and apartments blurred as I passed. I ended up in Mooresville at the lake house we purchased around the time our daughter was born. My ex-wife, Camilla, didn’t want anything to do with it in the divorce, she was satisfied enough with half of the proceeds of the sale of our house in Quail Hollow. I decided to keep the lake house due to the soft housing market in 2008 and never let go. 




**********




I parked in the lower gravel driveway along the back of the house. I walked up and clicked the code on the keypad on the door. The house was cold, and the furniture was layered in a thick grey blanket of dust. The lower living room just contained an L-shaped leather couch, a coffee table, and an entertainment center containing an old plasma TV. I looked over at the door that opened to my daughter’s former bedroom. I saw a shadow move across the opening. As I slowly made my way to the doorframe I realized the silhouette belonged to my ex-wife, Camilla. She startled when she saw me standing in the door:

“The door code is still the same.”

“I never saw a reason to change it.”

She looked across at me and began to explain how she had an argument with her husband, the last of hundreds and how our daughter went to spend Christmas with her boyfriend’s family in Texas. She begins to sob and try to recollect memories we had in the house. I immediately stop her:

“You told me I was soulless and lacked anything resembling human empathy. You said those words in this very house.”

“I was angry. It was impossible to make you happy. I was tired, so damn tired.”

“Then you should’ve said that.”

“ The only reason I kept trying was that I could still keep seeing the man I married in you everyday.”

“He changed, huh? He isn’t the same knight in shining armor you married now?”

Her face twisted as she hissed:

“Yeah, you’re right. You win.”

I rolled my eyes and turned to leave the room. She grabbed my arm and I shook off her grip. She blew past me and stood in the door frame in front of me. She stood steadfast with tears pouring from her eyes. She kissed me gently on the lips as I gave the slightest resistance. As she rested back on her heels she blurted out between sobs: 

“I’m sorry!”

I pushed past her and walked out the house towards the car. As I reached for the handle, Camilla storms out on the gravel and shouts:

“I didn’t want it to end, you just never fought for any of it! You just sulked and ran away. You never fought for me! You never fought for US!” 

“I wasn’t going to fight in front of our daughter. Plus, you made it very clear you were done. That there was nothing else to fight for. So yeah, you’re damn right, I didn’t fight for it anymore.”

“Don’t leave me like this.”

I chuckle.

“Remember when I said that?”

“I said I’m sorry.”

“That won’t fix 10 years of this. Look, if you’re still having a bad day tomorrow come to the house in Morrison. Merry Christmas.”

The traction control light flashed as the Lexus exited the gravel driveway. She was just standing there in the yard, staring into the shimmering water of the cove. I made my way quickly back into the city. By the afternoon, Southpark had woken up from its Christmas slumber. Sharon Road was blanketed in luxury cars headed to all the restaurants and bars. I turned into the gate from Morrison Boulevard into the shallow lots with mini-mansions covering them. I ran the Lexus down the alleyway behind my house and turned into the short driveway.

I pulled the Lexus into the middle garage space between my Ram 1500 and pristine SC400. Across the small, bricked drive sat a black 560SEC on body-colored AMG monoblock wheels. I stared at the Mercedes as I made my way into the house with my bag of groceries. As I laid the groceries out on the countertop, I asked Alexa to play my cool jazz playlist, and the speaker obliged. The room filled with the sounds of The Oscar Peterson Trio as I prepped the fresh vegetables and placed the pre-marinated ham in the oven. After a quick shower, shave, and change into a Robert Graham shirt, I made my way downstairs and finished preparing dinner.




**********




Just as the sun was setting Alania’s RC350 pulled onto the circular drive out front. I was slightly disappointed in her choice of a relaxed Alexander Wang mini dress as she walked through the door. The next hour passed in a boring haze. Time slowed back down as we sat on the couch in the living room while the jazz continued in the background. 

“I’ve worked for you for three years and watched you mope around during the holidays. I always wanted to cheer you up but I didn’t want to intrude. But, you know, you’ve always been very good to me. I always wondered.”

“Why do you care about me? Why care about anything? All that will do is hurt you.”

She looked at me puzzled:

“That’s not true.”

“But it is.”

“You’ve had just had too much happen to you to understand what you’re feeling.”

“See, that’s where you’re wrong. I know exactly what I’m feeling. But I’m afraid to think about any of them. I’m scared, Alania.”

We kissed roughly through soft moans until I felt the warm tear roll down her cheek. I pulled my face back to see her sobbing almost uncontrollably. The emotion was absolutely overwhelming, I couldn’t react for a solid 30 seconds, then I returned to cognisance and reacted the best way I knew how. I kissed her neck and listened to her breaths sharpen as she continued to cry. By the time I made it to her breasts the sobbing stopped and her clothes melted away. Two hours later after knocking over furniture in various rooms throughout the house. We collapsed on the rug in front of my fireplace. Her nude skin glowed in the light of the fire. My mind was pleased with the view, I still had something holding me back from being happy with myself.




Part 2:




Christmas Day 2008. The stucco on the house was still painted a generically-Mediterannian shade of reddish-beige. In the driveway sat a brand new Porsche 911 Turbo, the temporary license plate read “1/12/09” as it sat next to my two-year-old Range Rover. The Porsche was a $180,000 way of telling women that even though I was single in my late 30’s, there was nothing wrong with me. Specifically, it was a way to tell women under 25 that I could do life-changing things for them.

Those were the thoughts I woke up to as a 47-year-old man living alone in a 5500 square foot house surrounded by families. Alania was long gone, she left late in the night after hours of silent, nude reflection. 

It was 9:30 and I had a text from my best friend Kendra to come meet her for lunch at Bulla. As much as I wanted to decline, I knew the drinks were good at Bulla and Kendra wouldn’t leave me alone until I agreed. After saying yes, I straightened all the furniture I fucked on the night before the maid’s arrival later that day. After a quick shower and a change into a tailored, navy blue suit, I grabbed the keys to the Benz. 

The Mercedes glided into one of the spaces in the plaza. It was chiseled square like the bricks of cocaine it’s original owner sold to pay for it. I walked into the restaurant straight past the hostess stand to the bar where Kendra was fingering the straw around her drink. Her eyes widened as she saw me cross the room. She gave me the normal exaggerated hug and kiss and we sat. 

After my first drink was downed she asked:

“Sooo how are you? And don’t lie.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Do you not remember last Christmas?”

“I thought we agreed last didn’t happen?”

“Was I that bad?” She giggled. 

“Stop it. Let’s focus on the part where I was on your couch bawling my eyes out instead of that.”

Kendra got the rise out of me she wanted, which in some perverse way cheered me up. We talked about dicks she was fucking and my latest art acquisitions. After one too many drinks Bailey, my ex, gets brought up and I go silent, limp even. I assure Kendra I’m okay but she looks uneasily at me. Once we’re outside she grabs me and asks again:

“Are you sure you’re okay? You have that look you get when you’re about to do something crazy.”

I ignored the question and mumbled a goodbye while getting into my car. Kendra stood there on the sidewalk staring with concern as I quickly drove off.




**********




The tires squeal as I turn onto Fairview Road. I remember the night we met at a show at the McColl Center for a local artist she happened to grow up with. She’s a 27-year-old schoolteacher with wealthy parents. She’s like a lot of young women in this city, powered by her soon-to-wane good looks, and looking for a way to look good forever. That’s what makes women like this good for me, I offer them opportunity and retain control. That’s the part about the breakup that really bothers me, the lack of control of the finality. I needed an answer and I needed it now. 

The Mercedes came to an abrupt halt in the driveway in front of her apartment near the Arboretum. I began to wonder why I was there, then the word control came to mind and I get out of the car. 

Bailey answered the door in nothing more than a T-shirt and wide eyes:

“Why are you here?”

I don’t answer as I push her through the doorframe and kiss her aggressively. Every time she tried to catch her breath and assemble words, I lightly slapped her face and continued pushing her towards the bedroom. Once we arrived in her bedroom I gently grabbed her throat for one more kiss before I tipped her back over the bed. She sat there, breathing heavily, staring up at me standing over her. Barely able to catch a breath, she lets out:

“I missed you.”

I got on my knees and felt her squirm as I spread her legs. I looked up at her eyes staring back down at mine. I gingerly ran my hands up the inside of her thighs and she laid her head back and went still. I went to work on her pussy and when she came, I reared my head back, face glistening, and hiss:

“You never get to say this is over ever again until I say so. Understood?”

She nodded almost cheerfully. 

“Good.”

I stood up and dropped my pants and I heard her inhale sharply. She let out a loud gasp as I entered her.




**********




An hour later, I was getting dressed, buckling my belt and throwing my jacket over my shoulder. She laid there on the bed, leering. I walked out of the apartment without a word and hopped in the Mercedes. 

It was late afternoon when I made it back to the Morrison house. I parked out front and walked into my maid-freshened home. I finally looked at my phone for the first time since the morning to see texts from Kendra warning me not to do anything stupid and begging me to call her. Before I could I bring myself to make the call, the phone rang. It’s Camilla my ex-wife. I let the phone ring three times before I picked up:

“Well hello.”

“Is the invitation to come by still open?”

“As long as the conversation is lighter than the last time we spoke.”

“I’ll see you around 7:00.”

I looked down at the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms on my wrist, it was 4:49. I ran my hand through my hair and sighed as I sat on my bed. I finally decided to call Kendra and face the annoyance. She answered on the first ring:

“Where are you?”

“Home.”

“I’m coming over.”

“Don’t.”

“What did you do?”

“I went to Bailey’s and Camilla is coming over.”

“What the fuck?”

“I didn’t tell you everything earlier but I saw Camilla yesterday. Please don’t act crazy about it.”

“Apparently you’re acting crazy enough for the both of us.” 

“I’m not sure what you want from me, but I’m okay and I’ll talk to you later.”

“I love you.”

*click*

I strip and head to my glass shower stall. As the walls began to fog I slid down the glass to the tiled floor and sobbed until the hot water ran out. I finally brought myself to and towelled off and looked out the window at the yard. The landscaping was pure and well manicured. Control. Not just allowing anything to happen to me. Control. 

I laid back across my bed and started scrolling the DuPont Registry on my phone. As I waited for a Ferrari 412 to load, the phone buzzed to alert me to a new text message. It was from a number I didn’t recognise, a quick glance and I had an idea:

Hey, it’s Shereena

Another buzz:

From Publix

It took me by surprise even though nothing should’ve surprised me at this point. I cautiously texted back lightly flirtatious small talk to test the water. I laid around texting like a teenaged boy with his crush until I realized it was 6:55. I jumped up and threw on a pair of brown chinos and a white Oxford. At 7:17, Camilla’s GLS550 pulled up. I answered the door with a glance instead of words. After she made herself oddly comfortable on my couch, I break the silence:

“Would you like a drink?”

“You know what I like.”

I chuckle lightly as I walk over to the bar and assemble a vodka cranberry.

“What’s so funny?”

“You.”

I look down at my phone and reply to a text from Shereena. Camilla cocks her head to the side and scoffs. I ignore it. 

“What were you up to before I came over?”

“Jacking off to internet porn and being alone.”

“Don’t be an ass” Pause. “I’ve heard what you like to do.”

“Excuse me? What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”

Oh you think I never heard about your secretary a few years back? Her fiancé didn’t like hearing what you did, huh? Or let’s go more recently to the fucking kindergarten teacher. What’s her name, Bailey isn’t it?”

I clenched my jaw and tried to shake off the jab before she started again:

“This why I called you soulless, this is who you really are-“

“You never knew who the fuck I was!” I pause to catch my breath. “You act like you don’t play the same part as them.”

“Fuck you.” She said through gritted teeth. 

I chuckle. 

“You got ahead of yourself not asking for anything in the divorce. You forget these things only last forever if you let them-“

“Shut u-“

You think men supporting you since college didn’t include you playing a part?”

She was crying by this point. I sat the drink down in front of her. It was time to take control of the conversation. Control. I sat next to her shaking form on the couch and placed my arm around her shoulder. 

“Listen, I’ll help you play your part. I’ll pay for the divorce lawyer.”

She backed away on the couch and stared in what at first I thought was shock but quickly realized was fear. I looked down and really thought about what was happening. Control. She looked at me like a scolded child. I was surprised at how little pressure it took for her to take an easy out. Her face was slathered in submission and defeat. She knew all about my type of girl because she was one of them all along. Then I noticed her breathing had sharpened and she was leering. I decided to push my luck. 

“Stand up.”

Her face was puzzled at first then she caught on. She slowly stood directly in front of me. She bit her bottom lip and my mind went to flashbacks of her form over the last 20 years. The command eased from my lips:

“Strip.”




Part 3:




I’m on the cold asphalt at Foreign Cars Italia standing in front of an Aston Martin DB11. It’s my preferred hue of Kopi Bronze. I looked down at my platinum 41mm Day-Date, it’s Friday the 28th. I’ve been ignoring texts from everyone: Alania “I miss you” Kendra “You need to talk to me” Bailey “I don’t know how to feel about what happened” and Camilla “We need to talk ASAP.” All that was irrelevant though because all that was on my mind was the $275,000 car in front of me. The salesman walked up:

“You ready to take it home?”

“I don’t know.”

“What’s wrong with it?”

“I like the Lexus more, and I’d have to get rid of it for this.”

“How long have we dealt with each other? Ten years? I’ll make sure you can keep the Lexus.”

“No you don’t get it, I have nowhere to put it.”

“I’m sure you have more than one house.”

“I have three, that doesn’t solve my problem.”

“Think about the women-“

“The Lexus is enough, plus the car isn’t what does it.”

“I’ll sell it to you cheaper than anybody on the east coast.”

My phone began to ring, it was my daughter, Kayla. I motioned that I needed to take the call:

“Hey sweetie. How are you?”

“Hey dad, I’m doing good. Merry Christmas I guess.”

“I hate I didn’t get to see you for Christmas. How’s, um, Texas been?”

“Fine, we were at Blake’s grandparents ranch so I’m sorry if I missed your calls.”

I pause a beat, relieved by the excuse for not calling:

“It’s okay hun, I’m just glad you’re alright.”

“So what’s up with you and mom?”

I nearly choke:

“What do you mean?”

“I didn’t even know you still owned the lake house. But you were both there at the same time apparently.”

“Nothing, pure coincidence.”

I pause and formulate a lie:

“We barely spoke to each other.”

“Both of you are being weird.”

In my mind I try to think of gentle ways of telling my 15-year-old daughter I fucked her mother completely raw across my house two days before. So like any good parent, I deflected:

“Have you decided on what you’re doing for spring break?”

“Um, no, why?”

“You can use the house at the beach. You and all your friends.”

“What!”

“Your mom says I have to be there. But I’ll stay in the guesthouse and leave you guys alone. Don’t make me regret this”

“Okay, that’s fair.”

“Love you, Kayla.”

“Love you too, dad.”

“Be safe.”

When I hung up the phone, I glanced at the salesman:

“You know what? I’ll take it. Deliver it to my house tomorrow.”




**********




Later that afternoon, I was leaning against the LC500 staring into the open garage bay where my SC400 sat. I remembered sitting on the fender in my Tommy Hilfiger shirt on campus at Chapel Hill in 1994. I was finishing up my five-year MBA program and had been with Camilla over a year. My dad purchased the Lexus for me after my Lotus Esprit broke down for the 20th time. I only wanted the Lotus in the first place because everybody on campus at Chapel Hill had the same black Porsche 944, so I decided to go a different route. I drove the SC daily until Kayla was born and I decided to buy an E320 wagon to keep her safe. 




**********




The sun had set, I was on my couch with Sade playing in the background. I was about to leave to pick up Shereena, but I needed a quick drink to stop the shakes. I had an 8:30 reservation at Fahrenheit that I swung at the last minute after texting Rocco Whalen. 

The LC eased into the driveway along Hawthorne Lane. I hopped out and buttoned my blazer to keep out the lightly chilled air. In the driveway sat two 3-Series and a G550. I didn’t know which belonged to which roommate, but something made me assume the big Teutonic box belonged to Shereena. She answered the door in a knee-length red dress that flattered her thin form, a form I had familiarised myself with through nudes sent throughout the past few days.

The small talk was all formalities on the way to the restaurant. Shereena was a student at Queens College and worked part-time because her dad begged her to at least see what having a job was like. Control. I scraped the nose of the Lexus pulling into the valet line at the base of the building. On the 21st floor, I was distracted by the fireplaces on the terrace as Shereena went over mundane details of her life. She was scarily alert when I went over my CV of upper-middle-class milestones. Control. Her eyes were wide when I told her about the fixtures at the beach house. Control. By the time I paid the check with the platinum American Express fate had already been sealed. 




**********




Shereena was still at the house the next morning when the Aston arrived. I parked it in the middle of my circular driveway in front of the house, and had Shereena drape her figure over it as I snapped pictures with my phone. Her body perfectly matched the athletic form of the Aston. Her skin a light shade of bronze against the metallic brown of the car. 

As I pushed the DB11 towards Plaza-Midwood, I started to think about the situation. The girl- at my age she was a girl- in my passenger seat was less than half my age, the vehicle I was driving cost more than the median home price in the city. All of this made me uneasy, paranoid, and just plain sad. 




Part 4:




It was sometime after 1:00 in the afternoon on New Years Eve. I was sitting on the rooftop patio of the Peculiar Rabbit, looking over the neighbourhood. In fact, I could see Shereena’s house from here. Camilla was sitting across from me holding a drink, looking further off towards the skyline. I don’t think either Camilla or I knew why we were there and at that moment it didn’t matter. She turned her head away from the city with a sigh and looked at me:

“Did you ever care about me? When we were together. I mean why me?”

“What does that even mean? Of course I cared about you. I still do. Why?”

“Just wondering.”

We both looked off towards the skyline, the city was still beautiful under the low blanket of clouds. A bright light came on in my head:

“Let’s go.”

“Why now? We’ve barely finished our drinks.”

“I want to show you something.”

When we made it down to the curb and she saw the Aston, she scoffed:

“Please don’t tell me this is what you wanted to show me.”

“I’m not that sad, get in.”

The car played bass 12-cylinder notes as it cut its way through the empty parking garage. When we made it to the roof of the structure and came to a halt. Camilla’s eyes widened as she saw the close-up view of the skyline. During the day downtown’s structures had an artistic coldness. It was an oddly warm day, so both of us got out of the car and stood next to each other on the wall. We stared at the city as it moved below us until Camilla broke her silence:

“Did you ever love me? I mean did you ever truly feel anything for me?”

“Ugh Camilla, I still love you. I’m sorry if I’ve ever made you feel like I didn’t love you. I’m just not a very good person-“

“Please stop.” She spat out with a chuckle. “That was the single cheesiest thing you’ve ever said to me.”

“I actually meant that, I mean what do you want from me?”

“Just fuck me.”

I grabbed her neck and brought her face to mine and ferociously kissed her lips. Then I pushed Camilla towards the wall, bent her over and pulled her pants down as far as I could in a single motion and made my way inside her. I focused on the city as it flowed and her moans drowned out the sounds of town. Just as I felt the thrumming begin in my body telling me I was about to cum, I looked down to see a security vehicle closing in on the entrance to the garage. I rushed Camilla to dress, and we hopped back in the Aston and slid through the yellow-lighted garage. As we passed the security car on its way up, we broke into uncontrollable laughter. Her husband was still hiding in New York, so I decided to drive her home. As we passed the Harris Teeter on the corner of Queens and Providence, she realised where we were headed:

“Taking the long way?”

“I refuse to drive this on 77.”

“I can understand that.” Pause. “What Are you planning on doing with me?”

“Nothing. Dropping you off.”

“Wait. Why?”

“You don’t want to give your husband any reason to not honour your prenup do you?”

Camilla tenses up in her seat as the mood darkened. 

“This is going to be terrible isn’t it?”

“Yes.” A quick silence. “But I’ll be there for you as much as possible.”

“What worries me is that I believe you.”

I wanted her to believe this was an empty promise, so I wouldn’t disappoint her. The thought of me caring this much about anything scared me to death.




**********




New Year’s Eve 2010. It's 8:15 PM and I’m preparing for a trip in the morning. HR placed me on paid leave for 3 months after an outburst in the office before Christmas. There is a German escort walking naked through the house drinking champagne. A colleague from the office referred me to the service that supplied her. I was in a weird space, I recently received a generous promotion, and I had started my midlife crisis early. In the driveway sat a Ferrari 458, a Cayenne Turbo, and a CTS-V coupe. I told myself I was filling a void, but realistically I was just in a mania-induced spending spree. But at that moment all I had on my mind was getting away. The next day I was headed to a bed and breakfast in Connecticut owned by Kendra’s parents. It was a 10 hour drive and I was still awake, hoping the coke on my nightstand would help me survive the trip.




**********




New Year’s Eve 1988. It’s 11:42 PM. The house party I’m attending is full of people. Kendra was standing beside me with a red solo cup in her hand. I was already drunk off of whatever was in the punch. The party was thrown by one of my classmates at Providence Day. Kendra had moved here last school year from a private school in Connecticut. She quietly became my best friend, confidant, and at times assistant. She always knew where I was, what I was doing, what my dick tasted like, and who else was tasting it. That openness usually made everything comfortable between us, but tonight at this party I elected to go to at the last minute something easy awry. Things went wrong about 10 minutes ago when I walked out of the bathroom upstairs with some girl, Jessica, or something like that. For some reason I lied to Kendra and told her we were taking lines, even though it was obvious we just had sex. To make matters worse I didn’t realise I left Kendra in a party full of unfamiliar people for a half hour. Love Is All That Matters by the Human League begins to play and I walk away from the wall and dance until the ball drops on the 65-inch projection television. By 12:45 I’ve said of my goodbyes and approach Kendra to leave. As we strolled down the street to my car no words were exchanged and when I went to put my arm around her to block out the cold, she moved away. I unlocked the passenger door and opened it and she slammed it back shut and stood in front of me, arms folded:

“Why did you lie to me?” 

“I don’t know.”

“Why did you lie to me?”

“I don’t know, it’s what I do I guess.”

“No. It’s not what you do to me. You don’t ever fucking lie to me.” She glared at me briefly. “Now or ever again.” She grabbed my face. “Do you hear me?”

I moved close to her and brought my face in for a kiss, then stopped myself and stated:

“I’ll never lie to you again.”

“Good.” She kissed my lips gently. “It’s cold, let's go.”




**********




It was sometime around 1:00 AM, Kendra’s Civic sat next to the Aston in the driveway. She was laying on my couch, naked, beading with sweat. I was in the kitchen, naked, grabbing an Orangina from the fridge. Kendra peeked over the couch as I returned:

“I’m surprised you called me.”

“I finally got over myself this afternoon after I saw Camilla.”

“That’s cute.”

“Look at us, two lonely ass people on New Years. We haven’t changed since high school.”

“Nah, you did.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing.”

“Answer one thing for me, hun?”

“Anything, dear.”

“Do you resent me falling in love with Camilla?” A pause. “And yes I mean everything else that question implies.”

“Remember that Billy Joel song you used to play endlessly?”

“What, Leave A Tender Moment Alone?”

Yeah that one. You should probably heed the lyrics. Don’t ruin this. But to answer your question, no I never resented Camilla. Ever. I was happy to see you love and be loved.” She pauses. “Now come fuck me again before you ask another dumb question.”




**********




New Year’s Eve 2001. 8:45 PM. Me and Camilla are in the master bedroom of a moderately sized two-story in Quail Hollow. Camilla was still getting ready for the party at my director's estate in Waxhaw. I was in my Brioni tuxedo waiting with a gin and tonic. Every time Camilla walked in and out of the room in her sequinned dress, I was totally captivated. Life was too simple, and I had this unending itch to fuck it up. 




**********




The next morning. The last thing on my mind was it being the first day of 2019. It was sometime around 9:00 and Kendra was on the other side of the bed on FaceTime with her mother. I rolled over and placed my face next to hers on the screen. We greeted each other into the new year and exchanged our normal gratitudes. The fact I was in bed with her daughter wasn’t even strange. I thought back to the month I spent in her home recovering from the trainwreck my life had become. I remember the first of many times Kendra’s mother told me she wished I married her daughter. There were quite a few times over the last 10 years I wish it had. But it wasn’t wasted time, I finally figured out what the fuck I’m doing. 2019 might be my year. Plus, I can’t imagine things getting much worse. 




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