I finally got my phone back.
Not that Thomas nor Travis had much say in the matter. Well, Thomas did. He personally had the phone delivered back to Pearl after transferring all data from the old device and onto my new phone. Thomas even went the extra mile to smash my old phone to the pavement, shattering the screen. It gave him the excuse he needed to get me onto his personal phone plan and off the employee plan.
A move that will have Pearl asking questions and potentially cause more drama between everyone.
Yesterday was also the first day Thomas left me at the house, and I don’t think if Valerie or Travis weren’t with me, he wouldn’t have left. He took Samuel with him to all his appointments, meetings, and a couple of interviews he had that day for the promo for Behind Closed Doors. Positive note, he was with Xayla and or Andrew and not alone. I don’t think he should be left alone with his thoughts. I know he’s still beyond pissed with everything that is happening, and I know he’s thinking of every way possible to seek out some kind of revenge. I just don’t want some poor sap who crosses Thomas on a bad day to be the recipient of his revenge.
God, I knew I shouldn’t have let him or Travis persuade me to stay home today. I should be with Thomas today, not hiding out at the house with Valerie and surrounded by security.
“Hey, girlie, whatcha reading?”
Turning my head, I shield my eyes from the sun and see Valerie making her way towards me. Her long blonde hair is braided over her shoulder, and it looks like she just got done doing yoga....or napping.
“Erm...mostly just staring at the pages now,” I tell her as she flops into the pool lounger beside me and reclines back with her hands over her head.
“Ah, this is the life,” She muses with a long-drawn-out breath. “But I’m not gonna lie; I’m missing my apartment and all of my paints.”
“Is Thomas still not letting you get supplies?”
I catch an eye roll from Valerie, “Nope! He says my only option is to allow Heather to go for me. But she doesn’t know the difference between oil and water-based paints. God, the horror. She’d bring me back oil-based paints and water-based brushes.”
Laughing, “Whatever will you do?”
“Right! Plus, I don’t think she likes me much.” Valerie says with a soft worrisome to her voice.
Eyeing her, “Why?”
She shrugs a shoulder, “Call it intuition. So, what’s on your mind?”
Looking down at my book again, I pause before looking out over the pool and immediately find the calming to the sound of the waterfall water crashing against the calmness of the motionless water below. “Everything, I guess.”
Valerie arches an amused brow, “You’re gonna have to be specific. It’s been a crazy five days.”
Giving her a tight smile, “Ya, again, I’m sorry about all of this.”
“Stop apologizing. I’ve already told you that I’m not forgiving you for anything because you have nothing to be forgiven for. That asshat Jamie does. Ohhhhh....the things I could do if only they were legal.” I watch Valerie tap her pointer finger to her chin as she starts to think. “Do you think Thomas will lend his legal team to get me off attempted murder charges?”
She looks at me with her innocent baby blues, “What? All I was gonna do is make sure he could never get it up. I mean....the one you’d have to worry about is Xayla. That girl was ready to kill him in that alleyway. If Travis hadn’t tackled that flea-infested sleazeball, Xayla would have, and we both know the shoes would have came off.”
Laughing, “Her and her shoes. When you first told me about her throwing shoes, I thought you were kidding. Until she chucked her heel at Thomas. The look on his face was priceless.”
Valerie doubles over laughing. “You want to know the best thing?” I look at her curiously. “I’m pretty sure that was the first time she’s thrown a shoe at Thomas. She’d always threaten him with it, but that day was the first time.”
My mouth flops open slightly. “You’re shitting me.”
Valerie shakes her head, “Nope. I’m just glad I was there to witness it too.” She says, recomposing herself. “So, in all seriousness. What’s weighing on your mind?”
Sighing, I look down at the page I’ve been staring at. I’ve read the same paragraph about fifty times. I’m sure I could recite it by memory at this point. “Make way, good people, in the King’s name!” cried he. “Open a passage, and, I promise ye, Mistress Prynne shall be set where man, woman, and child may have a fair sight of her brave apparel, from this time till an hour past meridian. A blessing on the righteous Colony of Massachusetts, where iniquity is dragged out into the sunshine! Come along, Madam Hester, and show your scarlet letter in the marketplace!”
Ya, I haven’t gotten very far in my attempt to reread Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter.
“Thomas is talking about us potentially going to his lawyers to talk with them. I’m not sure it’s a good idea. I mean, he’s already facing charges here and in Indiana. Do you think it’s a good idea?” Because I’m scared that this will all blow up into something more, and I’m not sure I can handle anything more remarkable happening in my lifetime.
Valerie twists her lips off to the side, thinking long and hard before giving me any type of advice. “Honestly, yes. Ry, I think as much as it may pain and frighten you, I think it’s time that you officially take a stand.” I eye her with uncertainty. “Don’t give me those timid hazel puppy eyes. You are not the same woman from your High School years. And you need to make sure that the fleabag will remember you as the woman he shouldn’t have fucked with, not again. Not ever again.”
I don’t want Jamie to fuck with any other woman again because clearly, he hasn’t changed much. “I don’t want Jamie....” Valerie tsks and wags a finger at me. Holding my hands up, “The fleabag.” Valerie beams at me and urges me to continue. “I don’t want what happened to me to happen to another woman. Not with Jamie, not with Ralph, but I’m not sure how else to stop them. The law isn’t exactly on our side, or there are so many fucking loopholes sexual assault victims have to jump through. Then there is the scrutiny that typically follows. It feels like a never-ending cycle. But I want to put an end to that, or at least try to end the stigma that comes with being a survivor and speaking out.”
The sound of clapping startles me as I drop my book to the lounger I’m on. Valerie giggles out before stopping. “I’m so proud of you. No matter how hard things may get, just remember, we are here for you. You have a fucking awesome support system who’d go to bat for you in the dead of night. I mean, can you tell me how you befriended Allison Drake? Because having her in your corner is like having a fucking guard dog at your side. That fucking fleabag is toast.”
Shaking my head in amusement, “Told her off.” Valerie’s eyes go wide with shock as her mouth flops open. “That interview that Thomas had with her, the one he wanted, and Pearl didn’t. And I actually agreed with Pearl...”
“Ya, ya, I remember!” Valerie ushers me to stop explaining and finishing the deets before she explodes.
“Anyway, I bolted onto the stage just as they were disconnecting Thomas’s mic. Allison asked a question regarding Ralph Martin, and I told her that the interview was over. She ended up chasing us down the hall, wanting to talk, and I negotiated. Told her if she wanted to talk with me that she could only air the interview with Thomas that had to deal with his upcoming movie. Nothing else, and she agreed.”
“Holy, shit! You have some balls, girl.”
I can’t help but laugh. If I had any type of balls, I wouldn’t have frozen the moment I took one look at Jamie. It was like I was catapulted back in time, and I couldn’t escape.
“So,” Valerie says, pointing towards the book on the lounger, “What were you not reading?” Picking the book up, I show her the cover, and her lips go into the deepest frown I’ve seen on her face before. “Seriously, Ry? The Scarlet Letter? You couldn’t find something a little more uplifting and not full disappear and humiliation?”
“It fitted how I was feeling. Plus, after my apartment got destroyed, a lot of my books did too. I’m not really sure how this one survived. Maybe it’s a cruel cosmic sign.” I half-joke.
Valerie rolls her eyes before locking on the tall and masculine security guard making his rounds along the property. “I’m starting to think Thomas assigning Jonathan to my detail is a cruel cosmic sign,” Valerie says, practically drooling. “Do you think he has a girlfriend?”
Forcing myself to look away from my book, again, and away from the same paragraph, I’ve now read for the fifth and one time. I follow her gaze to Jonathan, who’s standing guard by the fence gate. “Don’t,” I warn. Valerie’s blues light up with a challenge that she somehow accepted before one is thrown onto the table. “You know Thomas will flip the fuck out.”
“Ehh, you two are dating, and no one has lost their shit.” She pauses for a moment. “Umm... scratch that. The person who’d lose her shit doesn’t know.”
I eye Valerie before returning to my book. “Scratch that. I don’t think it’s Thomas you’d have to worry about. It would be Travis.”
“Hmm, you think?” She asks with curiosity.
“Yupp, he has given strict orders that Jonathan is not to engage in your flirtatious behavior. His words, not mine.” I add for clarity because I don’t care who Valerie flirts with. As long as she doesn’t bring a murderer back with her, she can flirt with a llama for all I care. Though, at that point, we may need to have a serious discussion.
“That fucker. Well, he said that Jonathan couldn’t engage, but that doesn’t mean I can’t.” She says with a wide grin. “Oh, this will be so much fun. Do you want to take bets how long it will take until I break Jonathan?” I eye her. There is no way I’m taking that bet. She’ll break him before we shake hands in agreement to the terms. I saw how she worked her assets in New York, and now her sights are set on Jonathan. All though, with the look in her eyes, I think this may be more than just a flirting thing. “I mean to flirt back. Not do the deed or anything.”
Again, I eye her. “Right.”
“What?” She squeaks. “I don’t want to sleep with him.”
“And I’m a virgin.”
Valerie immediately snorts out with laughter, “If being born again means doing it in a garage, then by all means, you’re a virgin.”
I chuck my book at Valerie and watch it miss her as it sores to the edge of the concrete patio. Jonathan looks down to where the book has fallen and back towards us with a slightly arched brow. Swinging my legs over the lounger, I smack Valerie’s arm. “Not funny. You’re not supposed to bring that up. It didn’t happen. You didn’t see anything.”
Valerie bits her lip in amusement before bursting out into another fit of laughter. “Your face, though. Ohhh....I wish I had a camera to capture the look of horror on your face.”
Swatting at her arm again, “Would you stop it.”
“And Thomas, he just played it off like it’s happened before.”
I catch Jonathan making his way over to us with my book in hand. “That’s because it’s Thomas. We both know it’s happened to him before.”
“Uhh, ya. True.” Valerie admits.
“Is this yours?” Jonathan asks, waving the book in front of Valerie.
Valerie snaps her head up to Jonathan, and I swear, it’s like she’s forgotten how to speak. Her eyes have gone from amusement to a lost, dreamy girl. “Uh....I don’t read....no, I do read, I just...”
Laughing, “It’s my book, Jonathan. Thank you for bringing it back.”
“The Scarlett Letter, one of my favorite books that I read back in school.” He tells me as he walks between the two loungers and hands me the book.
Taking it from his hand, “And it fits with my past.”
“Ry,” Valerie protests.
Jonathan arches a harsh disbelieving brow. “I highly doubt that.”
“I know you know everything there is to know about me....”
“True,” Jonathan interrupts, “but I also know everything there is to know about Miss. Knox too.”
Oh, he can play too. I suck my lips between my teeth to keep my laugh muffled as Valerie lets out a choked cough of sorts.
“If you need me, ladies, I’ll be over there.” He points back towards the gate, his sights on Valerie as he speaks.
“Uhh....ummm....” She stutters.
Smiling at Jonathan, “Thanks.”
Jonathan returns my smile before returning a sultry, flirtatious smile back to Valerie. Oh, he can really play too. He leans down to Valerie’s ear, “If you’re gonna play the game, rule number one, don’t drool. It gives you away.” Jonathan whispers loud enough for me to hear. As he goes to stand back up, he wipes at the corner of Valerie’s mouth, and any composure she has left has melted into a puddle to the concrete below.
Watching Jonathan retake his post, I’m busting at the seams with pure amusement. “I think I’ll take that bet now.” Valerie flips me off, and I can no longer contain myself as giggles escape from my mouth. “Are you blushing?”
“No!” Valerie squeaks out. “I don’t blush.”
Oh, dear Valerie, there is a first for everything.