Fool Me Once
I met Tommy during my senior year of college; with so little life experience outside of my textbooks, he easily swept me off my feet. Aside from playful summers when I stayed in Berkley to work and save up for the next school year, I was an absolute scholar. I had worked so hard to get to college, I was not about to let boys and partying ruin it. Plus my parents would have disowned me.
Tommy, he was supposed to be a one-night-stand, but he was too good to let go of, I knew that even after one night. I told myself that I was addicted to having sex with Tommy.
Who am I trying to kid? I am addicted to sex. Before Tommy and before I moved to New York City, I don’t even dare to count how many nameless rendezvous there have been. Tommy is still the greatest lover I have known to date, but Jake just gave him a run for his money. Too bad a one night stand is only supposed to last one night. Lovebug, fool me once…no time for you right now.
Although everyone seems to be rather at ease with waltzing in hungover or as close to the walk of shame as possible, I still work hard at pulling myself together to some resemblance of a responsible human being. Sylvia, my assistant, is ready for me when I arrive, black iced coffee in hand. The first time I turned up at work after a long night in a while.
Sylvia enters my office with Advil and water.
“There is a stash in my drawer and the coffee here is bad enough to sober any drunk.” She tells me. “Oh don’t be so embarrassed, this is just a part of living in New York City.”
Boy, is she on point? Most of my nights that were the most punishing were led by Jessica or Sylvia herself. Long and grueling hours leads to lots of cosmopolitans and champagne. Then there are shots, I thought shots were exclusive to college. Shamelessly, that is one thing that New Yorkers carried with them from college and mastered in their 20′s.
Sylvia is a hot red-head from Liverpool, hmmm, I wonder what Jake would think of her. I love her accent, and pretty much everything else about her. Especially when we are out and about, she attracts a lot of attention. I still am not sure if red is her true color, but it works so I don’t ask.
She is a transplant, here from our London office. I can not function without her. She knows the company inside and out and somehow manages to know ALL of the gossips, domestic and international. How she manages to know New York City so well is beyond me. She only arrived months before me. Again, it works in my favor so I don’t ask.
I am cruising through my punch list when Sylvia walks in with a beautiful vase of Peonies. My favorite flowers! They mark the movement of spring into summer. Only in bloom for a few months. My apartment is decorated with them.
Did Tommy send these? He never sends flowers, a fact about him I didn’t know until I left. I realized that he never sent or brought me flowers. It’s amazing when you break up with someone all the little things you start to nitpick to justify the break-up.
“Thank you again for an amazing night, J.”
For real? Did he just do this? How did he know? Racking my brain, I try to figure out if I told him at any point in the evening where I worked.
There isn’t another Valentina here so I am rather easy to track down. For that reason and the fact that once I leave work I make it a point to not talk about my job.
Then there is the fact that he sent me my favorite flowers, what are the chances of that? Then I look around my office, which like my apartment is filled with peonies during this time. That observant shit head that one is. Great, now I have to talk to him again and since he is my neighbor, the likelihood of running into him again is 99%.
“You must be one hell of a shag!”
“What? Stacy from Human Resources called me to tell me some guy called asking for your information so that he could send you flowers. You know the hopeless romantic that she is, she didn’t actually give him your info but told him to send it to the main receptionist and called me immediately once they arrived.”
Office gossip travels fast. “At least he is resourceful and smart. Although I still do not know how he even knew I worked here. I swear, I never uttered a word of it.”
“Well, it’s not like you will ever run into him again,” Sylvia stops mid-sentence once she catches the look on my face.
“B-A-B-E-S! Have you not learned anything I have taught you? Did you pick him up at a local bar? He isn’t a bartender, is he? Coz if he is, you will have to find yourself a new local spot.”
“No, worse, he is my neighbor.”
“What?!” I thought for sure she was going to ground me or something. The look on her face made me feel twelve.
“I guess you had better move. This gives a whole new meaning to the boy next door. Such a pity, I quite love your place. Oh, maybe we can swap apartments? I will be doing you a huge favor, you know?”
“Nice try Sylvia. I will just have to avoid going home for a while. Good thing there is enough work here to keep my late hours. In fact, with the launch of this App, I might as well bring a few suits and sleep here.”
“Only you can manage to land yourself in a position where you finally move into a fabulous apartment and now you have to hide out here.”
“He was just so hot, and he told me he lived in Paris,” okay, so I left out the part about him living in Paris part-time.
“Doesn’t matter how hot he is, a one-night-stand only works if he doesn’t know where to find you. At least it was at his place right?”
“No, because when Val fucks up, I fuck up all the way.”
“So, what was he like?”
“If I am going to help you put out this fire, I should at least know that it was a helluv a blaze.”
“More than a blaze, I am in so much trouble, Sylvia!”
“I don’t think half of what we did is legal, I may get dragged to a sexual harassment class for repeating it aloud.”
“That’s my girl, so, spill it.”
“No! Bad enough I keep replaying it all in my head.”
“Well, my therapist says to get things off your chest you should talk to someone.”
“You don’t see a therapist.”
“Worth a try. Well, maybe he will go quietly back to Paris?”
“He figured out where I work and sent me my favorite flowers.”
“Enough said, you are in deep shit.”
“I can’t think about all that now. I need to finish this punch list. Can you please order me sushi? I am working through lunch. And maybe two more Advils. All of a sudden I feel a headache coming on.”
Turning away from my desk, and the flowers, I hide in front of my computer.
By Friday night, with the punch list completed, Sylvia tempts me with drinks and dinner at her favorite hot spot. We walk into Bungalow 8, a nightclub in Chelsea, far enough from Brooklyn Heights to allow me to relax without watching the door. This place is great! With its palm trees and candlelit tables, it reminds me so much of California, for a minute I become homesick.
I order a bottle of Clos Du Mesnil 1995 to kick off our night of celebration. Sylvia orders an array of appetizers: seafood ceviche, lobster and mango rice paper salad rolls, tuna tartar, Moroccan Chicken skewers, creamy caviar spread, and crostini with herbed goat cheese.
This is yet one more thing I love about Sylvia and New York City, here, we eat. Californians like to look great in their bikinis so they don’t eat much, especially those from Southern California. At Berkeley I met so many of them; fun and fabulous, yet hungry women.
The best part of going out with Sylvia is, within minutes of our bottle of Clos Du Mesnil arriving a few nice looking young men arrive with it tripled in quantity. So after hours of food and many bottles of wine, a nice young stockbroker is picking up our tab and inviting me back to his place.
Some part of myself does want to say yes, but a strange part of me wants to go home. This part I did not like, only because I know why this part of me wants to go home. It’s the “good Gemini” side of me that is a hopeless romantic looking to run into Jake. The true romantic that is still reeling over the fact that he sent me flowers, he, actually sent me flowers. I suggest we share a cab home, not quite answering his attempt at getting me in bed.
I gladly thank the young stockbroker with a make-out session in the cab we share downtown.
“Thank you, for rounding out our evening,” I offer as we pull up to his apartment on Wall Street.
“This evening so does not have to end, you are an amazing kisser. What else are you good at?”
And there it is, the corny line that makes it easy for me to kick him out of the cab and move on. No matter how drunk I am, I still need a man to be sexy to turn me on.
It’s not just his looks and his money; it’s far from that. It’s the way he moves and the things he says so un-tryingly. Liquid gold needs to flow out of his mouth before these sweet like candy Gucci lips will entertain the rest of him. And this man had no game and was a faded kisser, well past his prime.
Jake, on the other hand, has a way with words. And his kiss, those yummy lips, and that chin dimple. Such a sexy man. Then the stunt with the flowers?
Oh dear Lord, please don’t let me run into him when this cab pulls up to my place. I am too drunk which equates to too weak. The last time I was this enchanted was with Tommy and I can not make this mistake again.