the good the bad and the basic

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Chapter Nine

I got to the bar and Ollie was waiting for me on the back table, he already had a glass of wine for me, and a pint for him sat in front of him.

“You look nice,” he said.

“Thanks!” I said, surprised for the compliment, not like him after the rejection I received the other week.

“Listen, Janey. I’m sorry for being a bit of a dick the other night, I was not myself. I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“I was more confused than upset. How would you know if I was upset anyway.”

“You just seemed a bit off after then.” I obviously couldn’t tell him that the reason I was ‘off’ was because I was sleeping with a married man.

“Oh, well, yeah, rejection isn’t the nicest thing.”

“I wasn’t rejecting you, I just didn’t want you to get the wrong idea.”

“I wasn’t trying to sleep with you.” I said, raising my eyebrows and sipping my wine.

“I wouldn’t judge you if you were.” That’s a lie.

“I know you see me as easy or a slag or something. I don’t need to explain myself though, I’m not your usual type, take it or leave it.”

“I like you, I want to get to know you more, something more than casual.” He leaned forward. “That’s why I interrogated you, you’re a very interesting girl.”

I smiled. “And gorgeous?” I asked, testing my luck.

“Stunning,” he said, raising his glass to clink mine.

“I am kidding, it’s nice to have you around to talk to no matter where this goes, so, thank you.”

“So, how have you been?”

“Yeah, good, just been keeping busy with work. Trying to have more of an active social life, been spending time with Nina and Keria.”

“At the same time?”

“Course not, they would be at eachothers throats. I don’t know why they can’t get on.”

“I do.”

“Really?”

“Ninas jealous.”

“She has everything though?”

“Yeah but it doesn’t stop her being miserable. Kerias got the confidence. This all started at the christmas party a few years ago, Nina was kicking off over Keria grinding on her husband on the dancefloor. She was being a bit over dramatic I think, everyone was drunk and on top of each other, was innocent fun. I mean, Nina and Keria were very friendly, but after that party, Nina was gunning, I mean really gunning for Keria.”

“Hmm, they are a real clash, those two.” I was desperate to change the subject, aware my cheeks were turning pink. I didn’t think that Keira would flirt with Matt on purpose, she’s just outgoing, she’s so in love with her husband as well, she would never.

“How are you, what have you been doing?” I asked.

“Same old.”

We struggled through an hour of conversation, it didn’t feel natural the way it did with Matt. when I spoke to Matt on the phone we would laugh, go off on tangents and I would find myself telling him everything.

I snapped back to reality when I realised Ollie had his hand on my leg under the table.

I needed to push Matt out of my mind, he was a fantasy. I made him up in my mind to be this amazing kind, generous, funny lovely man. I had seen the reality from Nina crying into a cocktail, he just wanted sex, because, if he could treat Nina the way that she said he does, then he would not be treating me any better, ever.

Ollie was nice, he wanted more than sex. I was warming to him the more drinks we had, the conversation started to flow a little easier. Maybe the awkwardness was just something that we had to get past.

He kept one hand on my leg while he animatiadly told me stories of the rugby lads with the other.

We later got up to dance as a band came on to play, the bar got busier and we got closer. We ended up close singing along with my arms wrapped around his neck. I was feeling warm, fuzzy and happy as I danced about.

I stumbled home with my tray of chips in one hand and Ollie’s hand in the other. Chips were dotting the street behind me like I was leaving a tail of bread crumbs, or a tail of cheesy chips. Not the worst thing to lose some chips seeing as I was slowly gaining weight, I needed more walking and less sitting on my arse eating. I looked down guilty at my stomach.

“What’s wrong with you?” He asked, shoving me a bit.

“Just feeling a bit fat.” I admitted. I then kicked myself for letting my insecurities show, knowing full well that men were more attracted to confident women who owned their bodies, than the insecure ones of the same size. I couldn’t help the moaning though.

“You’re gorgeous,” he said, as he stood back dramatically to admire me. “You’re sexy, trust me.”

“Thanks.” I said sincerely.

“I’m a lucky man, a lot of lads are after you, you know?”

“Fucking who?” I asked, genuinely surprised.

“Pretty much everyone with a penis in the office, actually.”

“Piss off!”

“And the married ones are thinking about it. Thank god I snapped you up.” He laughed. Oh shit if only you knew, you hopefully will never know.

“Who says you’ve snapped me up yet?” I teased. “And don’t you live in the opposite direction to the way we are walking?”

The last time someone walked me home it ended in disaster.

“I want you to be safe.”

“I will reward you with a drink at mine. But do not expect anything.” I should, I wanted to. I should make him think he has to work for it. I wanted someone in my bed though, I wanted some closeness.

We got to mine. As I put my keys into the door he slipped an arm around my waist and kissed me. Hmmm I liked this very much, it was exactly how I daydreamed it, maybe my fantasies would work out.

I opened the door and my fantasies disappeared and reality took its place.

“Fuck.” I stood paralised with my chips and keys.

“Jesus christ, someone broke in!” Ollie srided into the flat leaving me standing in the doorway.

How? I thought. I just opened the door with the keys.

The back door. I ran into the back of the flat, to the back door that opens out onto the little balcony and the steps down to the garden, the glass was smashed. That’s how they got in.

What did they take was the next question. I have no nice jewelry to steal. I ran into my bedroom and clothes ripped and cut covered the whole room like a blanket. What the fuck? The wardrobes were completely empty. I clawed at the clothes on my bed to reveal the laptop sitting where I left it.

Thank god. It was hardly top of the range, it was a refurb. But replacing it was an expense that I couldn’t afford, especially after my in the bath stoned shopping spree last night.

“You okay?” Ollie stood in the doorway.

“Er.” I was still looking around in confusion. I went into the living area. My books, candles and plants were smashed onto the floor, dirt and dust scattered everywhere. I went over to the now empty bookshelves to stare dumbly at them.

I turned around to see my sofa slashed. I looked down to see the dirt from my plants all over my rug. I looked up higher over to the kitchen cabinets. They were all empty with glass and crockery smashed all over the floor.

I felt a chill and went to pull back the curtains, remembering I never closed the curtains. Every piece of glass in the bay window was smashed. Ollie was swaying trying to call 911, he was trying to look sober by steadying himself on the kitchen table. I wanted to tell him that the 911 operators wouldn’t be able to see him, so there’s no point trying not to sway.

Actually I really needed to tell him that it was a waste of 911 and we should call 101, it’s not an emergency, the burglars have been and gone at this point.

He started to speak and I gave him the address. He asked if any valuables were missing and I told him I don’t have any, but all my stuff was broken and all of the windows smashed.

I went into the bathroom. I was pretty minimal when it came to beauty, but all I had was on the floor and the glass shower screen on the side of the bath was smashed. My lipstick was in the sink with the lid off and a message was written on the mirror with it. How fucking cliche.

Carry on and I will flood it or set it on fire next time.

I choked a little. She knows. Fuck. My life is over. This had to be Nina.

I grabbed some toilet roll and rubbed at the lipstick as aggressively as I could until my elbow was sore. I heard Ollies footsteps and dropped the toilet roll into the sink and backed away, my heart in my throat. I met him out in the hallway closing the door behind me.

“You okay?” he looked genuinely concerned.

“Er, I don’t know.”

“Police are on their way. After they leave do you want to stay with me?”

“Thanks, that will be great. I’ll need to bring some of my stuff so it doesn’t get nicked. And bugger off in the morning to get the windows sorted. Thank you, Ollie.”

The police were nearly no help, they just asked the obvious questions that I answered vaguely. They seemed confused that nothing was stolen. They would be back in the morning to ask if the neighbours had seen anything.

I didn’t need their help though I knew it was Nina. I didn’t tell them this though. I didn’t want them to judge me. I knew they wouldn’t believe it anyway. That would be a stupid idea. No one would ever look at a pretty, smart, rich, upper class business woman and think they would break into a little flat and do this.

Ollie was quiet and awkward, seemingly bored and fed up that he got involved with my stupid drama.

We got an uber back to him, me with a gym bag with my laptop, important paperwork and not much else. Anything worth nicking I had was too big to carry around. I never got round to, or had the money for, investing in expensive perfumes or watches. My little flat was my pride and joy and single valuable asset, and that was taken away from me. It seemed unfair, I didn’t steal her husband. I didn’t gain him, she had him and everything I had nothing.

The uber ride was awkward, we were silent and the drunken flirtation had disappeared.

Ollie was in a house share with a load of lads.

He had a very basic double room with the absolute minimum in there to survive, plus tv and playstation. The bed looked like it could have done with some fresh sheets, but I was in no position to comment and too numb to care about anything.

He brought me up a glass of water while I perched on the bed, I thanked him. I let tears roll down my cheeks at the realisation that I had fucked myself and lost everything, including my safe haven. He put his arm around me.

“Do you know who did it?” He asked for the third time, he realised how many times he asked and rephrased. “I mean, is there anyone that doesnt like you? Or like an ex? Stalking ex?”

“I don’t think so.”

He kissed me, I pushed him away apologising, he pulled me back into him in the bed and kissed me harder. I was exhausted and confused, I let him kiss me for a few seconds before turning around.

I was so confused. I had started the day ignoring calls from Matt, deciding he was manipulating Nina and having the resolution to not see him again. I had told myself to forget about Matt and put myself out there, I didn’t like this. I didn’t want to put myself out there. I actually didn’t really like Ollie that much, I just told myself I did for a distraction. I was probably using him the same way Matt was using me. Although, I didn’t really feel used by Matt, I just felt wanted. I wanted him right now, I wanted to be in his arms to feel safe and comfortable.

I woke up to Ollies hard on against my back and my phone alarm was ringing, my head was pounding and my mouth was dry.

I dressed calling the list of window companies on google, three attempts and I had someone coming today. I bought a security camera for the steps up to the back door that would connect to my phone, and a matching one for the hallway coming into the building.

I asked ollie if I could borrow his drill to put up the cameras while he was sleepily getting up, he offered to come round once they arrived and put them up for me.

He asked me if I would get back in bed. I politely declined and rushed off into an uber, thankful for not running into one of his housemates.

I checked my phone in the car. No messages from Nina

Matt: I think she knows.

No shit.

Me: Why do you say that?

Matt: Meet you at yours?

Obviously it would be a bad idea for him to come round, but I really wanted him to

Me: Yeah.

I was supposed to be upset with Matt and not speaking to him, I was convinced he was emotionally abusing Nina with his mind games. I didn’t know what to believe any more, and I was craving some safety and reassurance. I wanted to forget all the reasons I wanted to end it and just let it happen.

Nina had had no other contact than the mirror message. I knew she was probably waiting for me to say something first, knowing that it’s killing me.

When I got into the flat I didn’t know what to do first. I stank from the night before and looked like shit as well.

I sat on the top of the stairs and cried.

I knew I should shower and make myself look okay ish before Matt got here but all I wanted to do was cry. My pact to not see Matt and go out with other people was the last thing I was thinking of, it seemed so pointless I forgot about it entirely. I felt bad for Ollie, he was a nice boy. I hoped I could just drift away.

After ten minutes of what felt like ten hours of crying on the stairs I let Matt in. He did not look nervous or bored, like placid Ollie, when he saw the scene of my flat.

He asked me if the police had been round. I nodded sniffing.

He asked if I told the police I think it’s Nina, I shook my head.

He asked if I thought it could be anyone else. I shook my head again.

He told me he thought it was her. She was out between ten and twelve and came back sweaty as if she’d been to the gym.

He said that he saw her when he went to get something from the kitchen. I remembered why that was relevant, he wanted to assure me they live separately in the same house. Did I buy that? I didn’t really care anymore.

“This morning she was all dolled up. She told me she knew I was shagging you and we were as horrible as each other. She told me she was going to ruin my reputation and your life.”

“Shit.”

“I didn’t want to tell you because I didn’t want to scare you, but I think she’s already done that. I didn’t want you to go into work blind. I don’t think you should go in to work tomorrow. Maybe call the front desk a few days in a row ill and I can stay here with you if you want?”

“Stay with me?” as much as I fought it my heart was filled with hope. I felt vulnerable.

“Yeah. I mean it’s all my fault. And I want you to feel safe. Not that I’m that much use, but better than nothing”

“It is. Your fault.” I said surprisingly calmly. “I’m going to lose my job. How did she find out, for fucks sake?”

“A tabloid photographer was stalking some reality tv people the night we first, er, got close. They had some photos they showed Nina, and she’s seen my texts.”

“Photos?”

“Us kissing. I think they recognised me, I once worked with them a while ago. I’m not a very well known journalist so I doubt anything will be done with them, but you should know.”

I had tears falling down my face again. He held me close at the top of the stairs while he looked out onto the rubble of my flat.

“Am I worth this?” he asked.

“Depends if you stick around.” I answered truthfully.

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