"What now?" He asked completely aware of my financial, emotional and relationship trouble.
"Fucking Adam." I said lowering my hands with a scowl. Caleb let out an exasperated sigh and sat back, settling in for the rant he knew was about to come. Steeling himself for the rise in my voice he asked cautiously.
"What did he do now?" I sighed and shook my head. My boyfriend of three years had been finding all kinds of excuses not to spend time with me or even be in the same room. He'd work late or pretend to forget something in another room when he walked into one that I was occupying. It had come to a point where he'd moved his stuff into the spare room. Finally, a week ago I confronted him and the truth hit me like a bus. It was a fucking Gina Linetti moment.
"He's been seeing his best friend for the last eight months." I dropped the bomb on Caleb and he snapped to attention, fury masking his gentle features. I knew I sounded off-handish with the statement and I really couldn't care anymore. I felt dead inside.
"You want to know the best part?" I asked as Caleb opened his mouth. He shut it and nodded looking at me warily. I gave a short bitter laugh before answering, the irony of the situation not lost on me.
"She's employed." He opened his mouth to say something and I held up my hand stopping him. I wasn't done. I could feel my emotions start slipping.
"As his assistant. At the job she got him." My voice started trembling and Caleb stood up to sit next to me.
"Oh wow." He put an arm around my shoulders and hugged me to him. I allowed him to draw me in. Suddenly he straightened and grabbed hold of my shoulders with both hands turning me to face him.
In the year and a half we worked together we had gotten close, being the only two who had something in common. We loved reading the same genre of books.
"I'm sorry I can't say more, Mel. I simply don't know what to say." He looked me in the eyes, searching for some sign of my previous distress. I shrugged and took a deep breath.
"I know, Cal. There's not much to say. " I said with a steady voice. I knew the fault was mine. I had not been the best girlfriend for at least two years of the three we've been together. I didn't seem to be able to hold on to a job and it made things difficult. When things looked to be going well, it was a matter of time before the shit hit the fan again.
My relationship with my parents wasn't the best, and neither pair would help out financially.
That is, while I was with Adam.
The financial strain made everything harder than it already was with insecurities and temper issues. Adam sat back and ignored me when we fought and that riled me up even more.
So finally it seemed I drove him into the arms of another woman.
Caleb looked at me a moment longer and gave me a shake to gain my attention.
"You deserve better. Someone out there will know how to handle that temper of yours properly." He said with a small grin and I gave a barking laugh. I highly doubted that. Not one of guys in my life have been able to handle my temper.
I sighed and looked at my hands on my lap.
"Is he keeping the place or is he moving out?" He asked, concern evident in his voice.
"He asked me to move out." I said softly. Adam knew the position that it put me in and he didn't care in the least. He'd shrugged and said that I needed to be out by the end if the week.
"Fucking bastard!" Caleb exclaimed and his fingers tightened on my shoulders. I winced at the slight pinch and he let me go.
"When?" He demanded and pulled his phone from his pocket.
"By Friday. But I have everything here already" I replied as he swiped the screen to unlock it, revealing a charming photo of him and his wife with their daughter.
"If you can babysit Leah once or twice a week, I'm sure Dinah won't have a problem with you staying in the house until you can get a job. And a new place." He added as he dailed her number. After a few moments of talk, his face fell and I knew she'd said no. He stuttered a vague argument before putting the phone back in his pocket.
"You don't have to say it. It's fine." I said before he could look at me. He gave me a sheepish smile and a shrug before helping me gather everything I'd come to him with.
I literally had a few suitcases of clothes, my run-down car and my electronics; phone, laptop and tablet. Everything else was claimed by Adam with the argument that he had paid for everything.
The walk to my car was quite an awkward one and I have Caleb an one-armed hug before getting in and driving away. I didn't want to call my mom, or my dad, so I drove to the nearest coffee shop and stopped outside. I reached over and switched on my laptop to see if I could get onto their WiFi and search for a cheap place to stay the night. I was in luck and found a small bed and breakfast that looked promising although cheap enough that I could stay a few nights before I had to worry about money. I shut my laptop and drove there.
The ten minute drive to the B&B felt like hours with thoughts of what I was going to do running through my head that when I got there I was so tired I could sleep for a week.
I parked in an open spot and left everything in my car as I locked it walking toward the entrance. The oak door was heavy when I pushed it open and a happy jingle let the front desk know someone was there.
An elderly woman of about sixty waddled around a corner to stand behind the desk with a sweet, grandmotherly smile on her face.
"Hello, dear! Come in, come in." Her voice was surprisingly husky for a woman her age and a warmth spread through me as I closed the door and walked into the foyer toward the desk.
The room was decorated in baby blues and egg shell whites with hints of violet scattered around here and there. The furniture was visibly antiques, the used kind, not the kind that they claim to be antique but you buy them new at a high end store. The woman's silvery white hair was up in curlers accentuating the grandmotherly façade.
She beckoned me in and looked me up and down as I stood in front of her.
"How can I help you today, deary?" She asked her hand already going to the visitor's book on the edge of the table.
"Hello, Ma'am. Do you happen to have any vacancies for a few days? The website wasn't too clear on that." I inquired politely, hiding anything that might make her turn me away.
"Oh yes! I have three rooms available. How long would you be staying? We offer discount prices for stays more than three days." She answered with a sweet smile. I thought for a moment and mentally tried to calculate my bank balance. When I couldn't figure out what it was the last time I looked, I pulled out my phone and brought up my banking app. I looked at the red text across my phone screen and my heart sank.
My bank account was empty.
Tears welled up in my eyes and I blinked rapidly before turning my eyes to the woman. I cleared my throat.
"I apologize Ma'am. I see I don't have enough funds. I didn't mean to waste your time." Her eyes filled with pity as I turned to leave the reception area.
"Do you have anywhere to go?" Her voice followed me to the door. I paused and turned back to face her with a wry smile.
"No, Ma'am" I replied with a small shake of my head. She thought for a moment and then mentioned with a finger in the air that I had to wait. I sighed and walked back to the desk removing my car keys on the way.
I had just gotten a good clinking rhythm going when she appeared in front of me. She reached under the desk and I stepped back, suddenly wary of her, watching her walk around to me. She took me by the elbow and started steering me down a hallway I hadn't noticed before.
"We'll house you tonight. Free of charge." She said with a smile over her shoulder and my body sagged in relief for a brief moment before tensing up again.
"No complaints." She added sternly as I was about to open my mouth. I shut it again with a muttered thank you as I was led to a room. She unlocked the door and turned to me before opening it.
"There is WiFi. The room password is stuck on the TV. I'll order you something for dinner." I opened my mouth to tell her it wasn't necessary but the look on her face told me to shut up. So I did.
"Good. Now, what's your name?" She asked tenderly holding out the room key to me.
"Melina Lawson, Ma'am." I answered taking the key gingerly.
"Call me Mrs. Anderson." She said with a smile ushering me into the room. I walked passed her and into the cozy looking room with a thank you and she left me to my devices.
I put the keys down on the dresser by the door and walked to the bed to sit down. I sank onto the mattress as the realization of my situation washed over me.
The tidal wave of emotion crashed into me as tears rolled down my face. I'd put too much of my independence on a man and he'd ripped it away from me in a matter of minutes.
After I stopped crying I retrieved my suitcases from my car and carried them upstairs, knowing that tomorrow morning I would have to carry all three back down.
On my third trip up the stairs, I heard my name.
"Miss Lawson?" The elderly man looked at me with extremely kind eyes as I left my suitcase on the stairs to meet him. He was a tall man for his age. He reminded me of your typical television grandpa with kind eyes and a matching smile.
"Sir?" I answered coming to a halt in front if him.
"Mr. Anderson. Please." He insisted with a wave of his hand at my formality.
"I understand you're in quite the pickle?" He continued looking down at me and I nod looking at my shoes. A flyer made its way under my nose and my head snapped up to look at him questioningly.
"My grandson owns a club. I don't know exactly what the club is, but you're pretty enough to get a job as a waitress." He explained pushing the flyer into my hand. I glanced down at the black piece of paper with blood red writing and back at Mr. Anderson.
"Thank you, Mr. Anderson. I'll make sure to stop by tomorrow after check out." I smiled at him and he nodded.
"You can stay here until you get a job. You can pay back the fees then." He said and tears sprang to my eyes making them sting.
"Thank you so much! I don't deserve your kindness." I said in a thick voice. He smiled and patted my shoulder affectionately.
"You seem honest, according to my wife." He said as he retreated back into the door behind the desk. I rumpled up the flyer and stuffed it down the front of my shirt before jogging to my suitcase and trudging up the stairs with it.
I fell down on the bed after placing all three in the closet and taking out a weeks' worth of clothes and underwear. Some professional outfits for in case I get an interview and some casual. I really didn't need any man in my life right now, so I left my skirts and dresses, lace underwear and pushup bras in my suitcases.
I looked down at the uncomfortable feeling in my bra and saw the crumpled up flyer. Taking it out, I smoothed it over my knee and looked it over.
A simple black flyer with a bold red writing across the front. It looked professional enough for me to Google the name, EMBERS.
I pursed my lips at the loading screen and a red banner popped up across the black screen.
Are you over the age of 18?
I selected that I was and a black and white picture of a couple stretched across the top. A picture so hot it made me rethink leaving my sexy clothes packed away.
The woman was bound and suspended from the ceiling, completely naked, her nipples tight peaks on her flawless breasts. From the side it was possible to see the wetness between her thighs, a clear indication that she wanted that position.
The man took my breath away. His skin stretched across rows of muscle, the lighting defining the dips and rise of his six pack and the V leading to the open fly of his jeans. A real Christian Gray vibe, only so much hotter.
The name was written in flames exiting the woman's open mouth, the only colour in the photo.
"Jesus." I muttered scrolling down. I had read enough novels and seen enough photos to know this was a BDSM club. My knowledge was also enough to know that I was interested.
I wasn't looking for a relationship, so working there might just be enough to fulfill my unspoken fantasies.