Chapter 13 | Boiling Over
The plastic water bottle felt light in my hand as I lifted the opening to my lips, tilting it over a river of cold to stream straight down my throat. It was fifteen till 10 in the evening and I knew Valerie would arrive early, as she has been all week. While it seemed like I should be glad to have more time with her, I felt her behavior had grown odd.
In addition, I was still feeling a bit strange about the nonverbal interaction between her and Theo. I had spent some time to brush off those thoughts. It’s Theo. If there was anything, of course he would tell me.
I held my breath as I heard her keys jingling outside the door. We have been dating for quite awhile now and yet she still has this effect on me.
“Hey,” she greeted me in her sweet, almost melodic, voice.
“Hey, you’re home early again,” I stated as I made my way over to wrap my arms around her.
“Not glad to see me? Should I go out for a couple more hours?” She smiled and offered teasing eyes.
“No, I’m just surprised. You’ve been coming over just before 10 and I know for a fact that your clients usually ask for the appointments to start at that time.” The words burned my insides as I spoke them, but I held my composure.
I hated that she worked this job and I hated that my own possessiveness was starting to eat away at the promise I made her. She deserved to choose what she wanted to do and I shouldn’t have a say on that, especially because her profession was the reason we met.
“Well, lucky you. I’ve changed the schedule and they no longer own my nights.”
I had to admit, I enjoyed falling asleep with Valerie. Before this week, I used to fall asleep alone and wake up in the middle of the night finding her arms wrapped around me. It wasn’t the same.
“Oh? Then who owns your night?”
“You know who,” she teased as she held my hands and led me to the couch. She pressed her lips against my gently as her hands worked to undo my pants. I couldn’t think.
I let myself fall onto the couch, running my hands up and down her thighs as she got on her knees, wrapping them around my legs. I feel the dip in the cushions below me where her knees rested and I pulled her closer, making the weight shift slightly.
She paused, staring into my eyes. There was a twinkle in there that I knew was reserved just for me. This is it. These were the moments that reassured my jealous mind that she’s mine. More mine than anyone else’s.
But was that enough?
I nuzzled my face into her neck, leaving kisses. “Mmm,” I moaned, “you smell like lemons.”
“Do I?” Her voice sounded almost panicky.
“Yeah, babe. Is your client some kind of neat freak? You smell like cleaning supplies.”
“Uh, yeah,” she tucked her hair behind her ear, looking away, “He’s very strict on hygiene.”
There was something in her tone and in her behavior that caught my attention. I didn’t want to sound too suspicious, but I was sure she really was hiding something from me.
Could this perhaps have something to do with Theo?
Or am I overthinking this?
I shook the thought and pulled her in for a kiss, forcing myself to trust that she knew what she was doing.
“You missed a spot.”
I rolled my eyes as I swung my arm over to wipe at where Theo was pointing at on the surface of the kitchen counter. When I looked up, he was already staring into my eyes…
It was hot and cold with Theo for the past week. He had been sweet at one point and then strict the next second. I was having a hard time keeping up with his mood until I realized the less I spoke, the nicer he was. It was difficult holding in all the harsh words I had in mind. I really couldn’t stand his presence.
“Valerie,” he said as he laid down two cups of lemonade with strawberries to embellish the glasses. “Remember these?”
I stared out at the beautiful ocean horizon, soaking in my own disbelief that I’m spending the weekend in the Hamptons with Theo’s family. It all felt unreal. This so called “girlfriend experience” had gotten me more than I had hoped for. I was being paid to be girlfriend to the man I already considered myself the girlfriend to.
“Got you some lemonade,” I heard Theo come up from behind me. He wrapped his arms around me, offering me one of the lemonade glasses in his hands.
I held up the glass and turned my head to lift a brow at him. “Come on, babe. You can do better than this.”
“What do you mean?” he spoke through a chuckle.
“Fancy it up! Stick a strawberry or a lemon slice on it!” I teased.
“Alright, Alright! I’ll stick a useless fruit on the rim of the glass next time. Happy?” He grinned as he set the glass down on the railing and placed his hands on me. I shifted to get his hands away from the stiffness of my belly. It was barely noticeable, but I knew I should keep quiet about it. I wasn’t his girlfriend after all. I never will be.
“Yes,” I answered him plainly, “I remember. You don’t have to serve the help, you know.”
He shook his head, seemingly sad at my remark. “That’s not what you are and you know it. I thought you were starting to see why I made you do all this.”
“You’re a messy person and laundry detergents are hard to figure out because they look like coke?” The last time I saw him years ago, he was starting a pretty bad coke habit.
“What happened between us-Val-I’m sorry. I know I shouldn’t blame you. It was really your choice after all and I shouldn’t have gotten so mad at you.” He took a step closer, slipping his hand over mine which rested over the counter. I pulled away, taking two steps back, which prompted for him to take one huge step forward.
I fought the urge to cringe as I felt his warm breath fanning over my face. His scent was everywhere and it made me want to gag. Any other woman would fall for his charm, his seeming sincerity, but I’d faced it all and every time I thought of him, I was reminded of all the pain that I had to endure.
He reached his hands out toward me, cradling the back of my head and grabbing my waist. Within seconds, I was trapped in his embrace, iron tight and suffocating.
“Get off of me,” I spoke coldly, wriggling free of his grasp. He pulled me in again, this time, his grip was harder. I felt his fingers digging into my waist and his hands cutting off the circulation from my wrist.
“Why are you even with Alex? He’s a pathetic excuse of a man, a loser after losing the last girl who was unlucky enough to date him.”
“Theo, let go of me now,” I felt fingers growing numb and cold, bruises forming around my waist.
“You were mine first and that’s how it always should have been!”
His lips crashed against mine, slobbering over my face as I turned to scream at him. My mind scrambled for the right words before yelling, “I was never yours! You never really wanted me that way!”
With all my strength, I pressed against his chest, pushing him away. When that didn’t work, I combined it with a kick in his shin. Taking advantage of his loosened grip, I ran off with my purse and my dignity intact.
“Val?” Alex stood there, his eyes wide as he took in my outfit. Shit. I forgot to change out of my maid uniform.
But what is the point of lying anymore? I was exhausted keeping it from Alex.
“Are you okay?”
“No, I’m not,” I croaked as I fell into his arms with tears on my face.
“What is it, baby? You can tell me,” he cooed as his hand patted my back lightly. I felt my muscles slowly ease as my body molded up against his.
“I’ll tell you everything, Alex. I need to.” I sighed heavily as I tugged his shirt to lead him inside.