#40 Fight, flight or… freeze
Dshawn in a suit is one of the best sight I’ve ever seen. He’s ready for his very first appointment at the bank, ready to give a presentation about his business plan. I hope that it’s a woman who gets to decide if he gets the loan, because no woman in her right mind would not want to give than sexy godlike man anything and everything she owns.
“What do you think?” he asks, turning around so I can admire him from all angles. “Too formal? Lose the tie, maybe?”
“You’re perfect,” I tell him, surprised that my voice is husky. I was trying not to sound like my panties are wet, but of course I’m failing. He just looks so gorgeous.
“Are you sure?” he asks, still frowning a little. “I never wear a suit. I can’t believe you convinced me to buy one.”
“Oh, you’re going to be glad you did,” I tell him, giving up on trying to seem unaffected by the way he looks. He’s my boyfriend, it’s my right to ogle him, right? “No matter how your appointment goes, I’ll give you whatever you want when you come back home. It won’t be a loan, sadly, but I promise it will either be a great way to cheer you up or one hell of a celebration.”
He grins and strides over to the couch to pull me to my feet. “I’m going to hold you to that promise, you naughty girl.”
“Damn,” I breathe as he kisses my neck. “I’m going to need to take a shower soon or I won’t even make it until later today. Are you sure you can’t stay for ten mote minutes?”
He smirks, very pleased with himself. “Don’t you dare get yourself off, Shaughna. Not today. Your body is all mine. Just be patient.” His hands move over my breasts, which feels great even through my shirt.
“You’re mean!” I yell after him when he walks away. “Asshole!”
“Love you too!” he shouts back form the hallway, teasing me.
The minutes the words leave his mouth, my heart starts pounding and I can feel my pulse quicken. Panic surges up in me, but I push it back down. I have to learn to work through this if I want this relationship to go anywhere. He didn’t mean it, it was just a reflex, something you say to tease someone who is shouting that they hate you. If it had been Franny, Caroline or Aston yelling that they loved me, I would not be freaking out right now.
“I’m leaving!” Dshawn says from the hallway. “Be a good girl, will you? See you in an hour, maybe two.”
“Good luck!” I reply, happy with how calm I sound. No panic in my tone whatsoever, and I didn’t start hyperventilating. That’s progress.
Since I’ve got some time to kill, I call Caroline. She picks up after a few rings, and she sounds preoccupied when she asks me how I’m doing.
“Screw that, what’s going on with you?” I reply. “Why do you sound like your whole world just collapsed?”
“It was Annabel,” she says with a sigh. “She told Elise that Nathan is dating again and she’s threatening to tell her it’s me. And now she wants me to convince Nathan to go on a date with her to keep her quiet.”
“What?” I exclaim. “That stupid bitch needs to be taught a lesson.”
“I kinda feel bad for her,” Caroline admits. Of course she does, she is way too sweet for her own good. “I think that she’s very insecure. She’s 38 and still single, and she obviously thought that Nathan was interested in her, so she put all her faith in him and then he fell in love with me… That must suck for her. And she kept prattling about how she needs to show the bitches she works with that she can get a date. She’s got a charity event next week and she needs some eye candy to strut around with.”
“Yeah, that’s all very sad, but she’s still a crazy bitch,” I grunt. “You’re not just going to hand her Nathan, are you? Because if she is willing to blackmail you into getting him to go on a date with her, she won’t stop there. Where will she draw the line?”
“Exactly what I was thinking,” Caroline agrees. “Besides, it’s not like Nate will be eager to go anywhere with her. Listen, I think I may have a plan… but it’s crazy and stupid and it might not work.”
“My favorite kind of plan,” I say immediately. “Spit it out.”
She laughs. “I knew you’d be willing to help. I thought that maybe we could get her a date with someone who is interesting enough so she will lose interest in Nathan. Someone who looks good and knows how to make those bitches she works with jealous. Someone like-”
“-Aston,” I finish for her. Part of me feels bad for saying his name, knowing that Francesca is still sleeping with him, trying to ignore the fact that she’s falling for him while he is hooking up with other girls as well. “He would definitely be up for that. Well, if Annabel is hot, because he doesn’t do ugly.”
Caroline chuckles softly. “Oh, she’s hot. I’ll send you a link to her Instagram profile in a moment. She is beautiful. Do you think she might go for Aston?”
I hesitate. “I’m not sure. She’s 38, right? Aston is hot and single, but he’s also a 28-year-old man-child. We may need to give her some more options.”
“A line-up!” Caroline exclaims. “That is genius. Absolutely genius. We’ll need three or four single guys, I think, and we can just line them up in front of her house and let her pick whoever she wants.”
“You need to make Nathan an option as well,” I say, already excited about this. I love crazy plans like this. This is just like when I confronted Jasmine. That wasn’t exactly fun, since I ended up hurting Joshua and he hasn’t talked to me since, but the plan itself is something I’m still rather proud of. I love dramatic stuff that feels like they belong in a romcom, as long it’s not something that affects my own life too much. I prefer the drama to be part of other people’s lives.
“The whole point is for her not to date Nathan,” Caroline argues. “I’m not just handing him over on a silver platter!”
“Of course not,” I scoff. “But if you don’t make him an option, she will pick him just to spite you. If you make it so that she can pick him, but it’s obvious that he doesn’t want her, while there is a whole line-up of available guys jumping at the chance to date her… That might tempt her.”
“We’re genius,” Caroline concludes. “We should start a service where people pay us to make stupid bitches that try to take your man disappear from the equation. This could totally work!”
“Yes,” I agree. “It totally could. I will work out the details, and I will get Aston and one other hot young guy to sign up for this. I don’t actually know any age-appropriate guys, so I’ll leave the 30-something and 40-something men up to you.”
“Nathan and Tiffany should be able to help me with that,” she agrees. “We’ll get her a wide assortment of hot guys and pray that she will pick one of them over Nathan.”
I agree that the plan is just crazy enough to work, but I have a feeling that this woman may not be willing to give up on Nathanial Storm just yet. Let’s hope I’m wrong.
When the front door opens and shuts again, I jump up from the couch and mute the reality show I was watching. The moment Dshawn walks in and throws his bag on the floor, looking like he doesn’t know what to do with himself, I know that he didn’t get that loan, just like I feared and expected.
“I’m too young, too inexperienced, and I don’t have any collateral to put up,” he grunts, taking off his tie and throwing it on the kitchen table. “I can’t believe I actually thought I had a shot.”
“It’s only the first try,” I say, already knowing that I won’t be able to cheer him up with those words. “We’ll get there.”
“I could just see on his face that I wasn’t going to get it, and the appointment had barely even started.” Dshawn shakes his head, obviously disappointed in himself. “I got so flustered and eager to prove him wrong that I completely butchered the presentation. Half of our amazing ideas didn’t even sound good anymore the way I stammered them out.” He kicks the leg of the dinner table. “Fuck!”
I flinch when the table rattles from the impact. Taking emotions out by kicking things isn’t something I feel comfortable with, even though I get that it’s a harmless way to release stress. I tend to get rattled when people get violent.
“Take off your suit, put on some sweats and sit down with me,” I tell Dshawn, reaching out to take his hand in mine. “We’ll go over every second of the meeting and adjust the business plan where we need to. We knew this was a long shot. We’ll get there in the end, Dshawn.”
He grunts and turns away, probably to head to the bedroom for a change of clothes, but he suddenly frowns and pauses. He raises his hand slowly, which freezes me up. People always take about fight or flight, but a lot of people have no idea that there is a third response to danger: freeze. When your body is in a situation where running away or fighting is not an option, you freeze until there is a way out. And even though rationally I know that I can fight or flight, my body still freezes, because it has been conditioned to know that when a man raises his hands and gets ready to strike you, it doesn’t matter if you run or hit him back. He will get you. The longer you try to escape him, the harder he will kick you down.
Dshawn’s hand moves down quickly, but it’s like I’m seeing it all in slow-motion. There is hurt and anger in his eyes and his hand is moving closer and closer to my face.
It’s Melchior all over again.
Author’s note: Cliffhanger!! Please comment your thoughts, I would love to hear your thoughts before you move on to the next chapter.