“...so we could go grab a drink?”
“Huh?” I blinked my eyes, tuning back in after having lost my gaze into the void for ... I don’t know, the past 15 minutes? I probably didn’t hear a word of what Hillary said.
This week just keeps getting worse and worse, I swear. I’ve had to deal with whiny authors that wouldn’t accept the royalty terms after having signed the goddamn contract, book fairs all over the fucking country demanding our presence, marketing breathing on my neck because we need to get ready for Summer sales, various departments complaining about scarce manpower because my damn employees have all decided to either get sick or pregnant or married all in the same fucking period, my uncle hassling me to be present at this or that board meeting because, “you’re a grown man, boy, time to take your responsibilities”.
Then if I’m a grown man, why the fuck do you still call me ‘boy’? Oh, right, to underline just how immature I am. Really subtle, uncle, really subtle.
Then Serene keeps hiding from me this mystery jerk she’s seeing, even though she promised she’d tell me soon, she keeps on delaying and now she’s also avoiding my calls but I can’t go see her because I’m too goddamn busy even to breathe.
My head’s been killing me because with all these thoughts I’m going nuts, yet Fitz has locked my alcohol cabinet, so I can’t get even one single drop of my nectar, and the damn blabbermouth even contacted my prison therapist so now I’m stuck with three sessions a week for which, obviously, I don’t have time nor will.
Right, I forgot to tell you the terms of my release. You see, I should have served 5 years for battery and assault, not 2, but my uncle’s lawyers did their job and got me a deal. I was already awestruck that they could so easily transform a charge for attempted murder into battery and assault, but when they got me released on good conduct I realized there is actually a reason why my uncle pays them that much.
Now I was saying, I was released on good conduct, but I need to abide by three essential terms.
1) No drinking. Always that belief my therapist has that ‘I’m not me when drunk’, which is seriously absurd because believe me, when I committed attempted murder-pardon me, when I committed battery and assault, I was a hundred percent sober, I can assure you.
2) Not getting anywhere near the person I “offended” with my crime. Actually, the restraining order forces me to stay at least 500 meters from him, which is utterly idiotic if you ask me. I mean, come on, I’ve got a bottomless trust fund and I’ve spent 2 years in jail, you think it would be that hard for me to hire an assassin? I can assure you I would even know where to find one but I wouldn’t need it because, I mean, I’m well trained myself. How do you think I was able to, along with other things, break four of his ribs, perforate his lungs and cause him a nearly fatal cranial trauma just with my bare hands?
3) Seeing my prison therapist every four months until the 5 five years of the initial sentence have expired, in order for him to “check on me”.
Now, you can easily guess I violated the first term more times than I could count, and since the second one is really pointless, the third one is essential. In the beginning I was supposed to stay in New York for the remaining 3 years of my sentence, but my uncle’s lawyers, again, did their job, so ...
To top it all off, Silvia is all cheerfully blissful, always texting that damn Chicago guy, happily in a relationship, always reminding me of how stupid I am for having let her go, always stabbing me right through my ribs without even knowing.
It’s not her fault, she’s happy and I’m happy for her, but ... I’m human too, and it’s obvious I can’t help not only regretting, but also sort of ... low-key hoping the guy will fuck it up soon enough.
It’s mean, I know, but there’s that side of me that really hopes he’ll screw up and she’ll have to seek a shoulder to cry on. Guess whose shoulder would be promptly ready?
I’m an awful person, yes, I know, thank you.
Ugh, if I survive this Friday I can say I’m evolving, because other times I’d have already lost it long ago, yet this whole time I endured. Must be that I’m getting older. I’m turning 29 next week after all.
Right, my birthday. What a blissful day that one always is, huh? Celebrating the day I was created to then be fucked up. Brilliant.
“Jake?” Hillary called, her barely covered boobs leaning in before her face somehow.
I’m starting to think I should demand a proper dress code in this office, this place looks more and more like high school, brimming with frenzy hormones. What the hell is with people? I understand that Spring is love season and shit, but Jeez, pull yourselves together.
Or maybe it’s me. I see love all around because I’m sick of it. It’s karma. The more I hate something, the more I’ll have to do with that something.
“Yeah, yeah, close the reports and we’re done.” I stood, grabbing my leather jacket. “Great job and blah, blah. Go home.” I need a drink, damnit. I need a goddamn strong ass drink. Maybe more than one. Fitz can bark all he wants, but tonight I’m going to get my well deserved booze. And hey, in a bar it’s easy to find a fling, so you know how they say, kill two birds with one stone.
“Uh ... it’s four pm, Jake.” Hillary pointed out.
Shit. “Right.” I sighed, raking a hand over my face. I haven’t slept in 52 hours, I’m starting to lose beats, pretty obvious.
“You alright?” Hillary asked, moving closer.
“Like hell I am, but you flirting all day won’t help, Ms. Wick.”
She gasped theatrically. “I’m not-”
“Oh, please. You’ve been throwing yourself at me since day one. In other circumstances I would be gentle because hey, someday I might need a placebo, but goddamn, woman, give me a fucking break. If you need a man so badly, you can try with the rest of the dudes in this building, I’m pretty sure they’d die to have sex with you.”
Hillary gasped, glaring at me. “You can’t talk to me like that!”
“No? Then how come I just did?” I growled, kicking my desk when my migraine raised a notch higher. “Just ... go back to work, I need to be alone.” I barked.
“You can’t just treat me like that and then send me away! I’m not your bimbo, and-”
“Oh, for fuck’s sakes, just go!” I growled out, maybe too loud. Most certainly everybody heard me. Most certainly I let slip just a little bit of that monster that lurks beneath my armor. Most certainly, judging by the outraged way with which Hillary scuttled out of my office, I’ve either challenged a more determined suitor or angered a dangerous bull that’s gonna come back to bite me, but who the hell cares.
Dropping onto my chair, I leaned back, trying to ease the drilling in my head. It’s only four in the afternoon, I can’t get drunk yet and sex would be pretty pathetic right now, so there remains violence. I can always give a few punches to the bag, or hey, I can call in Trevor and see how payback feels like.
“Aaaaargh! I’m going insane!” I growled, slamming a fist onto my desk forcefully enough to make it screech, menacing to break down.
“What’s going on?”
“Ugh, not you.”
“What do you mean, not you?” Silvia questioned, coming closer, I could hear her steps nearing my desk. “What happened? Hillary left your office outraged, and we all heard you yell ... Jake?”
I leaned over my desk, dipping my head in my hands, trying to count to five before snapping. “My head is killing me.” Literally and figuratively, but a half lie is better than the whole truth.
“I think I have something for headaches, if you like.” She offered, weirdly mild.
“You sure? If the headache is so bad, then you should-”
“Ugh, believe me, Silvia, the headache is the least of my problems.” My stupid mouth.
3, 2, 1 ... “Jake, what’s wrong?” There you have it, pity. It was latched in her voice so tightly yet I bet she didn’t even notice.
Covering my face not to groan, I ordered flatly: “Nothing’s wrong. Go back to work, Ms. Banchi.”
“Mr. Watson, please.”
“You gotta be kidding me ...” Silvia snatched my hands away from my face, and forced me to look at her, so that I could notice her scowl. “What the hell is wrong with you? You’ve been a total jerk all week.”
“I am a jerk, you said once. Jerks do the jerks. Plain and simple.”
She rolled her eyes, letting go of my hands, evidently mad. “What is it?”
Mmh, let me think ... maybe it is that I was born on the wrong fucking planet? Or scratch that, maybe I shouldn’t have been born at all. Or maybe it’s the fact that every goddamn day on this Earth is a reminder of all the shit I’ve done to myself and to others. Or maybe hey, it’s that marvelous, amazing feeling of unrequited love that’s slowly killing my soul day by day.
“Bad day.” I grumbled, turning to my laptop instead.
“More like, bad week.” Silvia countered skeptically, leaning against my desk, right beside me, so goddamn tempting in her cute little outfit. When did simple jeans and shirt start being so sexy?
“Bad week, bad month, bad life.” Shit. I said that out loud, didn’t I?
I expected Silvia to give me a worried look, maybe feel pity, say some stupid sorry, yet ... no. Her countenance darkened the slightest, and her smile, which barely touched her lips, was bitter and sour. Her arms crossed over her chest, she seemed pensive. “They say music helps.”
I frowned. “To relax?”
“No, to drown thoughts. The louder the music, the lower the echo of your thoughts.”
Huh. “You seem to speak out of experience.”
She cracked a small bittersweet smile again. “You seem to think I’m a regular girl.”
Silvia stood straight, shaking her head the slightest, and headed to the door. For once I was more focused on her words than on her ass swaying. “Still waters run deep, didn’t you hear?”
Huh. Well, I didn’t see that one coming.
“But it’s your birthday!” Serene burst my eardrums for the fifth time.
I rolled my eyes. “I don’t care.”
“You’re turning 29.”
“Yes, I can count, sis.”
“But you have to celebrate!”
“Why? Who established that birthdays must be mandatorily celebrated?” What’s there to celebrate in one more day on this wretched Earth? What’s there to celebrate when your life has been nothing but a heinous nightmare?
Yes, yes, I know, I’m in a wimpy whiny mood. I’ll fix it soon enough, don’t worry.
“We didn’t get to celebrate the past 10 ones!” Serene whined. “I want to spend my brother’s birthday with him, not wondering where the heck he is.”
Ouch. That’s a low blow. You see, before getting arrested, I travelled. I left after graduating college just because my trust fund would be unfrozen only once I’d turn 21 and because Serene was too little. I travelled around the world, and funnily enough, I went to Italy even. I think I might gotten to a 25 miles away from my angel with horns. Ah, if only ...
Nah, if only nothing. Italy was my first journey, so I was 21, which means that Silvia was 16. My moronic self probably wouldn’t have cared, but there are laws, you know ... huh, said the ex convict.
Truth be told, laws have never been my favorite thing. I’ve broken more than a few of them, I won’t deny it. Going from disorderly conduct to attempted murder-sorry, again, battery and assault, with an interlude of illegal street fighting and assisted suicide, this last one wasn’t the first time I went to jail, it’s just that it was longer and it actually stained my record real bad.
I’ve done a lot of shit in my life, as you can tell. A lot of bad, bad, bad shit. Still think you like me?
“Pebbles, you know what’s my take on birthdays.” I reminded her when she wouldn’t quit whining that I have to celebrate.
“Okay not a party, but at least ... just the two of us?” She did that pouty voice that somehow is always able to play with my weakest heartstrings. Ugh, see? Love is weakness.
“I’d love that, Pebbles, but ...” But my birthday brims with haunting memories, heavy anniversaries fall that day and ... wait a minute. It’s too soon to tell you about that.
Sorry, not sorry.
“But pleaaaase?” Serene whined. “Pretty pleaaaase? I’ll come over and we can stay indoors, watch movies, whatever ... I just don’t want you to spend another birthday on your own.”
“Why not? It’s fine with me.” The thing about my birthday is that I’m not in shape to be with people, but leaving me alone with myself is way more, more dangerous, so I can easily guess who put my sister up to this. Fitz knows damn well she’s my weakest point, the one girl that can actually maneuver me.
“Come oooooon ...” Serene whined and whined and whined, until I just tuned her out while I dug my every hidden spot in search of booze. Not finding any, I put on my shoes and went out.
By the time I reached my usual grocery store my sister wasn’t done whining. Good thing I’d plugged my earphones on. That allowed me to hear my sister yet focus on ravaging the alcohol shelf.
I know, I know, I really shouldn’t ... but to hell with it. I grabbed most brands I usually drink, but also peanuts, chips and other junk food, if that makes you feel any better.
When she realized I wasn’t listening, Serene gave out a loud shriek that killed the rest of what remained of my eardrums. “What?!” I snapped, tired.
“You’re ignoring me!”
“That’s because you’re being a pain in the ass.”
“Jakeeeeey!” She dragged the last syllable on so long I recalled just how maddening she can be when in pestering mood.
“Serene, it’s a no. No arguing.” I’ve got no reason to celebrate my birth, given that it’s only brought misery upon myself and the people around me, don’t you think?
You’re probably saying, if I don’t know what happened, I can’t exactly judge. You’re right, I guess ... ok, fine. Read it. Read my story. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.