“Alright, Sis!” Tori was excited about Ethan Hart’s reply on Chatter, but me … I was completely shocked and even more surprised that he continued to answer each response I sent.
Tori and I stood huddled over the stove, squeezed together whispering and laughing as we cooked tuna melts. I forgot all about my bad day. I couldn’t think of anything else but that stupid website.
“What the hell are you two laughing about?” Brad dragged himself from the bedroom. An angry scowl on his unshaven face.
“Well, look. It is alive!” Tori quipped, taking my phone and tucking it into her pocket.
Brad Parks was tall, dark-haired and good-looking, yet when he got that look in his brown eyes, it sent shivers up and down my spine. That expression marred his handsome features and it seemed unnatural even though he wore it often.
“I wish you two would shut the hell up. You sound like a couple of teenagers.”
“Why? Because we’re laughing?” I snapped at him.
“Don’t start with me tonight,” he snarled and looked over my shoulder. “Again? Can’t you cook anything else?”
“This is what you eat for supper when you drink away the grocery money,” I spat, taking on an attitude far different from my normal.
“You better remember yourself.” He growled in my ear, then went to the living room and flopped into his recliner.
I gazed around the small apartment I shared with him. We appeared poorer than wandering gypsies. It was a dump. I owned only second-hand pots and pans, none of my dishes matched, and I detested the living room furnished with scraped up, mixed matched end tables, tattered hand me down chairs, and a yellow and brown plaid sofa Brad had found on the side of the road.
It was freezing cold in the winter, scorching in the summer, the rent cheaper than cheap, and we could barely scrape up enough to pay that since Brad squandered his unemployment check and stole most of what I earned.
I seethed as I ate my supper. I loved tuna but it was the third night I was eating it and I had no clue what we would eat the next day.
“I’m done.” He jutted out his plate after he’d finished and like a robot, I took it placing it under my own before I had a chance to eat my sandwich, and after I finished, I mindlessly wandered to the sink. “Bring me some tea.”
I turned off the faucet. That’s when it hit me. There I was, cleaning up after serving him as if I was his mother, my legs throbbing from overuse, while he’d sat home. He slept all day. Every day! And expected me to come home and act like some old fashioned TV housewife. I couldn’t take a break nor could I enjoy the company of my best friend and he had the nerve to ask me to refill his glass?
Tori joined me in the kitchen and I ignored him. Leaving him to sit in his recliner in the adjoining living room, quietly seething, darting warning glares with big wild eyes. He’d meant it as a prophetic hint of doom and it usually hung over me, stealing away my sense of comfort.
“Now,” he mouthed, shifting his eyes to Tori, who he obviously blamed for my insolence.
I narrowed my eyes, straightened my backbone, resentment coursing through like a lightning bolt. Who the hell was he to tell me I couldn’t spend time with my friends? He sure as hell spent plenty with his.
He sent another silent command and I pulled my jacket tighter around me and shivered, reminding him of the suffering I endured because of his deadbeat habits.
Brad slammed his hands on the arms of the recliner, pushed himself upright, and left it rocking violently as he vacated it. Oh, how he hated his faults thrown in his face. His footsteps shook the walls as he stormed to the door and slammed it behind him.
“I see I haven’t lost my touch,” Tori snickered. “Now that he’s gone – just in time.” She snatched the television remote from Brad’s chair, changed the channel, and flopped onto the worn sofa.
I left the soiled supper dishes in the sink. I felt particularly resentful that night. Just livid that I couldn’t stop thinking about all the ways Brad had wronged me.
“What did Ethan say?” Tori leaned against me, plopped my phone in my hand, and huddled close. Damn, I had almost forgotten about the sexy wrestler who’d given me a few moments of his time.
2Velvet Rose: Since we’re being honest. You’re pretty hot yourself.
Ethan’s last reply brought heat to my cheeks, quickened my heart rate, and kept me from closing my mouth for a very long moment.
“What a line!” Tori laughed. “It’s so generic. Well, answer him.” She urged with a nudge.
“I shouldn’t be doing this.” But, it was nice to read that comment and it meant, even more, coming from someone like Ethan Hart. He would never know just how much I needed it. Hell, I didn’t know I had needed it myself.
2Ethan Hart: Thank you.
So much time elapsed since my last reply. Surely, the man had forgotten, moved on or perhaps called it a night. He had performed that night and according to Tori, the stars left town as soon as the show ended and it ended late. It sounded exhausting.
2Velvet Rose: No need to thank me, darling. I’m sure you know how beautiful you are.
His reply came almost instantly. But I didn’t know how to respond? Me? A beauty? Yeah right. I didn’t think of myself that way. Plain. That was me. Nothing special. In fact, some days I wondered why I attempted at all.
My hair was blonde, not bombshell blonde, but pale, hay colored blonde. I’m barely taller than a midget, and my lips are too big. Maybe once upon a time, I had thought myself pretty, but every time I found just a little hint of confidence, someone always reminded me of my too pointy nose and how I am still barely chestier than a little boy.
My father was the first to point it out, then every single man thereafter. So, it had to be true. There had to be something wrong if my own father thought it. Right?
Deep breath. I would not tell that to a complete stranger. I wouldn’t tell how I feared I was, and always would be, nothing more than the one men settled for. It was a fear I’d never spoken aloud, not even to Tori.
2Velvet Rose: I was hoping you would reply again.
2Ethan Hart: I woke you?
2Velvet Rose: No. I’ve been waiting for you.
2Ethan Hart: Why?
2Velvet Rose: I’m not sure. Guess I was hoping to find out why you have been on my mind since I first saw your picture.
2Ethan Hart: I can’t answer that and honestly, I don’t believe you.
2Velvet Rose: LOL. Why is that?
2Ethan Hart: I’m sure you are an expert at saying all the right things to women. And they are nice to hear or read, but I know better.
2Velvet Rose: He’s not very sweet to you is he?
2Ethan Hart: Excuse me?
2Velvet Rose: I read your profile. You’re not single. I’m thinking or hoping there is a chance I could steal you away.
For some reason, his words struck me wrong. I wasn’t feeling honored or special anymore. It sounded too much like a fairy tale and I no longer thought that love could be just like some romantic fantasy, even though giving up hope, shot daggers through my heart.
2Ethan Hart: I’m not going to talk about my personal life with some strange guy on the internet and I’m not playing this kind of game with you.
“Okay, let’s not bash the celebrity.” Tori took the phone out of my hand. “He’s not the one you’re really mad at.”
“No,” I agreed. “But I can’t handle that right now.”
“It’s just a corny pickup line, Hill.”
I heard heavy footsteps trudging down the corridor outside my door. Brad was home again. He hadn’t been gone very long but it was long enough for him to get plastered.
I deleted my phone’s history, tossed it on the coffee table and pretended Tori’s movie held my interest.
“You’re still here?” Obviously displeased, Brad returned with wild eyes. “You’re such a freeloader.”
“And you’re an asshole.”
“Thank you.” Tori winked. “Three a.m. That counts as all night I think. See ya Monday, Hill.” Almost out the door, she stopped, tilted her head, and plucked my boyfriend’s lipstick-stained collar. “Looks like you guys have a lot to talk about.”
I crossed my arms over my bodice and accused him silently.
“Don’t look at me like that.” Ignoring the issue, as usual, Brad sat in the recliner, squeaking and squealing the old thing as he popped it out. “Get me a beer.”
“Get your own beer.”
I deserved better. Even if I was lacking outwardly. I’d never been the conceited type but I knew I had put all I had into making that man happy. I cooked, I cleaned, I worked and I massaged his body on demand until my wrists ached. I had been faithful, obedient and honest. And for what? For mean snaps and roaming eyes?