Conflict Of Interest

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Chapter 21

My phone rings once again loudly on the table. I look down and see another missed call from Gage and my aunt Lena. I quietly sip my bourbon as I wait for Ophelia to get out of the shower. Speaking of the devil, walking in the room with a towel on her head and using a q-tip to clean her ears.

“Woot Woot! Ophelia Santori in a towel after a shower. How SCANDALOUS of you?” I say faking shock with a laugh.

“Isn’t it a little too early for alcohol?” she says giving me a deadpanned look.

“It’s 5:00 somewhere” I say

“Are you quoting Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett?” she asks

“Maybe I’ve just Gone Country” I say with a playful smirk and a shrug

I grab her soft pretzel and wave it around. “did you get a soft pretzel from down the street because I thought we were diet partners?” I say playfully and she snatches it from me.

“No, Ernie got it for me”

“That doorman hates me” I say

“No he doesn’t” she reasons with me and its my turn to give her a deadpanned look

“He knows everyone’s name, except mine. He calls me Ms. Thing and I don’t believe it is a term of endearment like in the fosters. He says it with disgust. I had an interview today, it went well. They want to partner with me. I finished my manuscript. Thanks to Holly from the TV show I got the building for my company. Mr. Thomas even wants to partner with me and the contractors come on Thursday” I say and Ophelia squeals.

“That’s great news, why are you day drinking if you aren’t celebrating? by your face and tone I can tell you’re hurt why?” she asks eyebrows knitting together in bemusement.

I slide my phone over to her and she reads the headline aloud.

“Most Eligible Bachelor of the year dumps aspiring writer for super model Bianca Black. The two were seen canoodling in the sand at the beach in Cali” She reads with a frown and I toast her with my bourbon downing the rest.

“I’m sure this is a lie who uses the word canoodling anymore anyways. What does Gage say?” she asks and I shrug

“I wouldn’t know I’ve been ignoring his calls, he’s called a whopping 7 no-” I stop myself as my phone goes off again name reading Gage “8 times this morning” I say setting my phone back down face to the counter.

“Dare you haven’t talked to him? You can’t ignore him forever” she reasons placing her hand on her hip and I shake my head.

“I don’t have the energy to deal with him, that’s different than ignoring” I say filling my glass back up to the top.

“Your supposed to leave a space at the top of the glass” she saying pointing to my glass

“Spaces are for lightweights” I mutter. My eyelashes feel like their vibrating. My lips feel tingly. “and I am buzzed ladies and gentlemen” I announce to the room of invisible people.

“Okay, I’m calling Gage” she says and I look at her threateningly

“You do that and I am throwing out your first addition 90210 DVD’s” I say glaring at her and she sighs.

“What do you want me to do you look terrible” she says and I shrug.

“I want you to let me wallow in self pity for my terrible situations and let me get drunk. Just for today, I will face my problems tomorrow” I say drunkenly and I end it giving her a pleading look.

“Fine, Fine” she says raising her hands in defense.

I nod getting up and dancing to a tune in my head. “La da da, La de de, doo doo doo” I giggle “doo doo” I giggle again before bursting out in laughter that quickly turns into tears. “I’m a mess” I say to myself crying. Ophelia comes and takes the drink out of my hand and sets it on the coffee table before embracing me in a tight hug. “I don’t know what to do. I want him, so bad but he hurt me. It hurt to watch him walk away, I don’t want to see that again. This is only the first time...what happens if we get into a bad argument will he walk away then too?” I say quietly sniffling.

“I don’t know. But love’s a gamble that every one plays eventually. Some win and some lose but giving in before even winning once? that’s something you will regret. Love isn’t easy Dare. It’s a nightmare, one many don’t come back from. It’s hard and messy. But it’s also beautiful. Loving someone with everything you have is what people yearn for. It’s what people fight for their entire life. Their entire lives people sit at that table gambling away every piece of themselves one roll at a time. They stay there and never win, some win on a bum draw, some bluff, and some win the jackpot. You found your jackpot, don’t lose it over a girl who is bluffing” she says and I look at her in bewilderment.

“Ever think about becoming a writer?” I ask and she smiles but shakes her head no.

“You told me that many years ago in high school without the you found your jackpot part. You used to tell me so this player was bluffing don’t worry keep playing you’ll find the jackpot eventually I have kept that with me forever. You just needed some of your own advice” she says with a shrug and I hug her again tighter.

I run into my room and shower, I change as quickly as possible and run back out. I grab my keys but Ope stops me at the door. “And where do you think you are going?” she says hands on hips. I take a deep breath.

“To see Gage” I whisper

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