In the shower I just let it all out. I cried. I slammed shampoo bottles down. I let the scorching water run down my back. First day at work and the family disasters just rolled in like it was nothing. Still angry I turned off the water and got out. I paced my room a few times before looking at my cell phone for the time. Eight forty five. Taylor sent me a text hoping my first day had gone well. I tossed it back on the bed without responding and pulled on sweats and an old tank top. Holes here and there. Stretched to hell. But soft and comfortable.
I picked up my phone again and scrolled through the names til I stopped on Neil’s. I just stared at the ten digits that appeared on my screen in a bold black font. I wouldn’t say it was late at night but, little did he know how upset I still was. How I was hurting while he probably fell asleep dreaming of boss man stuff. Hurting about everything. Johnathan. The club incident. The first day jitters at the office. Howie in the hospital. It was then I did the unexpected and hit the call button. My heart pounded hard waiting for the answer. It rang three times before that lush Irish tone filled my right ear.
“Loriena, hey.” my head spun a little as I responded.
“Neil, hey. Sorry if I woke you up. I just uh, I don’t know why I called actually.” Blush filled my face and burned my neck and chest. What an idiot. Who calls their boss when they do the humanly kind thing and offers to be a listening ear that absolutely no one takes them up on. Except me. I’m no one.
“Oh, that’s okay. How is your brother doing?” I relaxed a little as I could hear the genuine concern in his voice. I opened my bedroom door and sat on the second stair in the hallway. Resting my head on the banister.
“He is well. He has a huge black eye. Concussion. Nasty leg gash. Pulled a few muscles getting out of the truck before it exploded they think.”
“That’s really good to hear.” He paused and I could hear ice clink in a glass. “How are you doing?” I smiled and shook my head.
“That’s a loaded question right now.” he chuckled.
“You can tell me. Loreina, I don’t really consider myself your boss, plus the way we met has made me care for you. I consider us equals. If you’re not well; I need to know so I can help you. Help me. We cannot work in this life without the other.” Peace passed over me and I nodded before explaining myself.
“Honestly, I wake up terrified everyday he will be back for me. Sometimes in the middle of the night I wake up, thinking I smelled his thick, strong cologne. I felt him in the club last weekend. He whispered in my ear and was gone in the crowd before I could do anything. I’m worried he will come after those I love. I can’t let anyone else in. I can’t let him know about people I care for.” There was a long pause. “I’m sorry Neil that I told you. I shouldn’t have called.” I glanced at my phone. Eleven thirty three. Holy fuck. We had been talking for almost an hour now.
“No, it’s fine. Really. I live alone so it’s been nice chatting.” I wished him a good night, rather shortly and hung up.