“I’d like a chai,” I order, smiling to the café barista who was taking my order.
“One chai latte and a strong flat white?” she asks dryly, giving me a once over as she confirms the whole order.
“Yes please,” I smile and get out my bank card.
“Okay, $9.80,” she holds out her hand, impatient for me to hurry up. She pay-passes it for me and then it clicks in my head I wanted the Chai tea, not the latte.
“Oh, sorry, I meant Chai tea, is it okay if I –”
“Yep... next please,” she dismisses me and looks to the customer behind me so I have to move over.
I wait for them to be made and I frustratingly try to keep my emotions in check. I may have been in a cheeky mood this morning, but now I was really, really angry. I was impatient, frustrated and fed up with everything. Part of the reason was I wanted to apologise to Theo for being annoying this morning but I didn’t have the chance.
It’s not that I did anything wrong, so to speak, but I didn’t want there to be any sort of rift in our boss-employee status-quo. So I had to apologise for making one.
He had been in a meeting all morning since I got in and a couple of hours later he was still occupied. I hadn’t even said hello to him yet. Once I saw the shut door and muffled voices I knew he was busy.
I wanted to clear the air and I couldn’t and...
“Order for Wren,” one guy calls out and I go to pick up my drinks in a tray.
...this is how I was fixing it. The meeting had just ended, a couple of business guys had left the office and I followed for my lunch break. I wanted to head back now and give Theo this drink so I’d be able to clear the air.
I head back over to the office and waltz in happy as larry now that I can confront him about it, finally.
I see his office door is still closed but I decide to open it anyway.
“Theo!” I call out, grinning when I see him behind his desk, alone, thank god!
As I walk over with the hot drinks, he takes a while to glance up at me.
“I thought I’d get you a coffee,” I say quietly now, hoping he’ll acknowledge me, anytime now...
By smirking while he continues to read his computer screen.
“Thanks, sweet cheeks,” he murmurs.
“I thought I’d... um...”
“Apologise?” he asks it as I say it, both in complete unison.
“Yes,” I say, “I know I –”
“Not now, Wren, later,” he cuts me off, shortly. He still hasn’t looked at me.
“O-oh,” I blurt out, confused by him. I feel extremely upset all of a sudden as I reach down to give him his coffee. Now he looks up at me, slowly blinking, unfazed.
“We’ll discuss it tonight,” he adds, “I hope you don’t mind. I’ll fix that lock and be on my way.”
“Sounds awesome,” I nod and back up, feeling irked that I can’t apologise now, so I say, “I was just in a teasing mood, nothing personal, nothing funny, I swear.”
“...get back to work, sweety,” Theo glances back at his computer and I turn around with my chai tea, nearly dropping it as I see a familiar face poking her head into the office.
“Please, I need to talk to you. I really need to,” Cynthia hardly acknowledges me as she comes in, her eyes focused on her ex-fiance. I take a few steps forward as she comes in, as I go out.
“What do you want?” Theo seems surprised by her entrance.
“If you’re busy now, can I talk to you tonight? It’s an emergency...” it’s the last words I hear as I leave the office, not wanting to eaves drop.
But I do anyway.
Just outside the office door.
“What’s the emergency?” Theo asks back.
“I’ll let you know tonight, when I can take my time to explain,” Cynthia sounds close to tears and it makes me lose my appetite.
“Tonight then... just this once, doll face,” Theo gives in and my eyes nearly pop out of my head. What the fuck? I skitter away to my desk, my stomach churning.
I thought he had plans with me!
What about my endearment, sweet cheeks?
Did he give an endearment to every girl he met?
What about their relationship, over?
What about my lock he had to fix tonight?
Can you hear your own thoughts, Wren? You knew you shouldn’t get close to him. Stay away from him. He’ll break your heart if you’re not careful. If Cynthia wants him back, you’re doomed. Who could say no to someone with a body and face like her? She is a true sex goddess. Not you, you’re just an awkward shy virgin who hasn’t even been kissed and wears a high school nighty to bed. Your roommate is a cat. You’re the definition of the crazy cat lady. No wonder he is going to see her instead of you now that he has the other choice.
I’m nearly in tears as I type away, my negative spiral of self-doubt and self-pity were consuming me. It was ten times worse because of my damn hormones messing with my head.
The rest of the day at work, is absolute shit.
8.20pm, I’m watching the bachelor on T.V, half way through the first episode where by a bunch of girls get jealous that Richie gave Alex the white rose. It gave her power to take him away at any time during the cocktail parties before one girl got sent home each week.
Tall, blonde, beautiful Alex.
Just like Cynthia.
Argh. It’s like if I was at that cocktail party, I’d be that chick saying ‘well this isn’t for me’ and I’d go home the first day, while Cynthia was ogled by Theo and only Theo.
As I think this I stare at my broken lock for the thousandth time and wonder when Theo will get here.
You know he is never coming. You’re a side order, Cynthia is the fucking red wine Theo is obsessed with drinking every damn meal. You’re garlic bread, optional. So get use to it!
“Mr. Fox, will you marry me?” I ask, smiling as he is curled up on my leg and I give him a pat.
I eventually get up, decide to turn off the television and lie in bed and cry myself to sleep; why would I do that? Because I’m pathetic, lonely and unwanted.
This happened to me once a month, just before my period came, I had one day where all my negative and unhealthiest feelings consumed me no matter what. Certain things could make me feel worse. Sometimes nothing could happen and I’d still be consumed in a black-pit of self-turmoil.
I usually avoided people when that happened. I should have stayed home today and called in sick.
I’ve just fallen flat on my face in my bed, letting the sobs out – when an alarm suddenly goes off.
The sprinklers in the ceiling start going and I suddenly jump to my feet, running to my balcony to see if I can see smoke while Mr. Fox is startled into wakefulness.
When I glance up I see a billow of smoke coming out a window much higher up the building.
“Oh my god!” I rush over to grab my mobile phone, I wrap Mr. Fox up in a blanket and then I’m out of there. I hold him to my chest as I head down the fire escape exit along with everyone else. I was still in my ‘sleepy’ nightgown and wet from the sprinklers but I couldn’t care less.
I was completely shaken out of my self-pity party now, survival mode kicked in.
I make it safely outside onto the street along with everyone else.
When I look up, I can see the fire, but luckily it hadn’t spread to any other part of the building, just one window, one place. Hopefully whoever was inside had made it out alive.
I can hear fire engines coming closer and Mr. Fox freaks out and tries to claw free of the blanket. I hold him tighter to make sure he doesn’t escape.
I fumble for my phone, I instantly call Theo, hoping he is close by.
He answers on the first ring.
“There’s a fire in someone’s apartment, I’m outside, can you –”
“I’ll be there,” he hangs up in the next instant and a feeling of relief floods me.
Everyone from the apartment that is spilling out onto the road, sticks by me. It isn’t long before Theo shows up, approximately 10 minutes later.
I see him straight away because he pulls up in his noticeable Vanquish, right in front of the crowd. He beeps twice and I run over, holding Mr. Fox tightly.
I open the door and hop in.
Everyone is staring at me like I was just picked up by some famous celebrity.
I’m blushing because of it and I relax when I shut the door and buckle up.
“Are you okay?” Theo asks and I can’t help but look at him suspiciously. I wonder what happened between him and Cynthia tonight? Was she still at his place? Was she even at his place?
“It wasn’t my apartment, so yeah,” I nod, speaking shortly, “Thanks.”
Theo nods, but doesn’t reply. I let out a shaky breath as he drives me to his place. The whole ride is completely in silence. For once I don’t want it to be so.
When we get out of the car, I hold Mr. Fox close to me again as we take the elevator up to his penthouse. I’m holding my breath, expecting to see Cynthia when he opens the door.
When I walk in, she’s not here.
I sigh and let Mr. Fox go, so he can explore. He looks timid and worried at first, but slowly ventures out into the kitchen area.
Theo passes by me, still dressed well despite the hour.
“I’ll run you a hot bath, sweet cheeks, you’re wet and shivering,” he says it simply as he walks by. I open my mouth to protest, but I don’t really want to as he walks off into the bathroom, leaving the door open.
I wander into his living area where I sit on the long sleek black couch.
I stare out the window towards the sea.
I guess I was staying overnight, again.
I could never get a break from him. Maybe yesterday I would have been excited, but right now I could only think about Cynthia.
“Come on, sweet cheeks –” Theo calls out from the bathroom door.
“Don’t call me that,” I snap back, before I think further than the feeling in my gut that made me annoyed that he also had a nickname for Cynthia.
Theo comes round the couch and I look up at him as he reaches down and grabs my arm.
“I don’t care if you’re angry, Wren, you’re having this hot bath so you don’t get sick,” Theo stands me up and I jerk my arm out of his grasp.
I want to think of something witty to say, instead I say the first emotional, illogical thought that comes to mind.
“Maybe I don’t want a bath, Theo!” I snap again.
“Maybe...” Theo gets in quick, his eyes glaring at me as he reaches out a hand to put a finger under my chin, lifting it up, “...you don’t have a choice this time, sweet cheeks.”
I stop breathing.
There it was.
His first move.
His eyes are unfazed as he stares me down, daring me to question it.
I want to say so much but I don’t know where to begin. All I know is I feel oddly relieved.
“Thank you,” I blurt instead, giving in, I turn and walk past him towards the bathroom.
Um, Wren, why did you say thank you? What was there to thank? All he said was you have no choice.
Shut up, conscious, Theo knows what I mean. Well I don’t even really know why I said it...
I stop just outside the bathroom and turn to see Theo trailing behind me silently.
I’m almost shocked I didn’t realise he was following me.
“Theo?” I ask, I put up a hand, almost to touch his chest, but I decide not to at the last minute, dropping my hand to my side, “Can Mr. Fox join me? He likes the sound of the running water.”
Theo’s mouth perks up, but I’m pretty sure he looks confused rather than anything else.
“In your bath?” he asks.
“No,” I shake my head, smacking my palm to my forehead, “No, I didn’t mean that... he usually jumps on the rim of the bath and sits there. He sometimes dunks his paw in but...”
Shut up, Wren.
“If I can catch him... but let me show you where the towels are first,” Theo gives in and I smile awkwardly.
“Thanks... um, how... was your night?” I ask, as I head towards the bath and Theo heads towards a cabinet.
“Try asking that again more directly, don’t be afraid,” Theo answers simply and I stare at his back, confused as he picks up some towels for me. Could he never make it easy for me to have a conversation with him? Ever?
I just stay silent and wait for him to turn around.
“Ask it again,” he repeats, walking over, he puts the towels next to the bath.
“I just asked how your night was –”
“That’s not what you really wanted to ask,” Theo scolds me, not breaking his gaze from mine. Eventually he shakes his head to himself and says, “I’ll give you a chance this time, sweet cheeks... Cynthia and I are still separated. I went out to dinner with her, worried that there was an emergency. There wasn’t. I won’t be seeing her ever again and neither will you. Hop in the bath, I’ll grab Fox.”
"Mr. Fox,” I correct him as he walks out.
And then my thinking begins to take its toll on me again. I had to hop in the bath, before he went to get Mr. Fox? B-but, he’d see me naked that way. And what did he mean, he’d give me a chance this time?
He was confusing but he also made me... excited. Argh, stupid hormones!
Eventually he comes back, looking defeated.
“He’s hiding under the couch,” Theo admits he can’t get him, “Why aren’t you in the bath yet? You’re still shivering, Wren.”
“Can you shut the door first –?” I ask, exasperated. Until I realise what he is about to say next.
“There’s no door,” Theo shrugs, “Sorry, sweet cheeks, it’s the design, you’ll have to deal with that.”
“Oh, r-ight, okay, um,” I turn to the bath and grab the bottom of my ‘sleepy’ nightgown. I’m going to pull it over my head when I glance over my shoulder to see if he’s gone to do his own thing.
He is still in the door way.
“Go away,” I blurt out, hoping he’ll get the hint.
Theo pauses, carefully considers his next move and then he slowly shakes his head.
“No,” he answers me, “Get in.”
“Not until you go,” I repeat. Theo leans on the door frame, crossing his arms over his chest.
“I’m waiting, sweet cheeks,” he answers, pausing to wait for me to respond, I don’t, so he continues, “... I will punish you,” Theo slowly looks me up and down, “... nice nightgown... how old are you, ten? I have to tie up a ten-year-old, do I?”
My jaw drops.
“Y-you... ah, um,” I’m literally shaking in my metaphorical boots for so many different reasons, “I’m 23,” I answer nervously.
Theo rolls his eyes.
"Relax, I know, Wren, I’m only teasing,” Theo waits for me to react.
He smirks at my dropped jaw and he turns, finally leaving me in my semi-private peace to dwell on my slightly mind-blown brain.
The bastard was getting back at me for this morning!
That big shit!
Oh, he’s good.
There was just one problem.
I didn’t know if that was just teasing about punishing me...
...or if he half meant it...