Persephone

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CHAPTER FOURTEEN

I haven’t been home in days. I think three. But I haven’t been sober either, so it’s a blur. After Dexter passed out I got the fuck out of there.

Why did he have to ruin a good thing? Fucking asshole. We were having so much fun, and then starting what was going to be a beautiful arrangement of sex and debauchery… and then he drops the fucking L-bomb. What a dick. Who does that?

Now I don’t know what to do. When I don’t know what to do, I deal with it in—admittedly—destructive ways. I know at some point I’m going to have to come out of this haze and face reality.

Maybe. I mean I could just take off. He can have the fucking penthouse. Maybe he’ll just eventually leave when I don’t come back and move on somewhere else. Take his sexy ass and his golden eyes and go smother some other chick with his love.

That thought makes my blood boil and I groan.

I take a deep drag of the cigarette I’ve just remembered I have in my hand. My clothes are a mess. I’m sitting in an alleyway, ducked behind a dumpster. I can’t tell how awful I probably smell because the dumpster emanates the scent of rotted death.

What the fuck am I going to do?

A very, very small part of me thinks I should go talk to him. I mean he’s probably really pissed right now, that I did a nail and bail. Actually, I don’t know what he’s like right now. Was he pissed? Or is he just living it up in my penthouse, amused that he scared me away? It’s easier for me to think like that. Because then I kinda hate him a little.

Fuck.

I’m empty inside. This is fucking bullshit. I hate it. I hate everything.

I toss my cigarette and stagger to my feet, the bottom of my dress sticking to something on the ground. I thankfully still have my purse, and I dig through the garbage in there. I toss out crushed cigarette packs, condom wrappers, and a few receipts. My wallet is right at the bottom, and there’s still a wad of cash in there.

I wander out of the alley, trying to get my bearings. The street sign above me makes me laugh. I’m about a block away from Tantalize. Full circle, apparently.

I definitely am avoiding that place like the plague. But Marie lives down here, and the wad of keys in the bottom of my purse says that I can get into her apartment. If I’m lucky, she won’t be home.

I am, and she’s not. I know she wouldn’t judge me for the state I’m in. Marie has seen me in a pretty bad state. I wouldn’t say at my worst, but she’s seen me pretty fucked up. She gave me a key to her place years ago when I needed to hide from this drug dealer that had it out for me. Yeah, don’t ask about that one.

Point is, I don’t really want to have to explain this situation to her. She’d probably ask me a bunch of questions, especially since Dexter is somewhat of a legend around the bar. And if I ended up blurting out what happened, she would probably roll up a newspaper and smack me on the nose with it. Because normal people don’t fuck and run on a friend.

“I love you,” he whispers.

The sound of his husky after-sex voice haunts me. I shiver and resist the urge to smash something. This isn’t my apartment.

I use her shower and then stuff my clothes into a plastic bag, tossing them into the garbage. They aren’t saveable now. I flick through her closet and pick out a cute green mini and a set of strappy sandals. In her full-length mirror, I almost look human.

I don’t feel human. I don’t know what I feel anymore.

I scrawl out an IOU note and leave it on the kitchen counter, and then vacate before Marie shows up. As I hit the sidewalk, a bus pulls up. I board immediately. No need to shit where I work. I know what I need tonight, and I don’t want to be doing it anywhere near where I work or know anyone.

It’s full dark when I get off. I light a cigarette. I’ve been down to this end of town before, and it’s a grungefest. The store windows are grimy, where they’re not broken. The one place that actually has lights on it a bar on the corner, neon sign outside flickering as it takes its last dying breaths. There’s a cluster of people out front, passing a joint around.

“Evening,” I greet them, and pull a Tic-Tac container out of my purse. I give it a little jiggle, the bright pink pills inside near fluorescent under the gaudy sign. The guy to my left takes it and passes me the joint. I bogart it as they all swallow the adult candy, and then hand it back. The first guy takes it and then passes me a little baggie of bud that I stuff into my purse.

“Pleasure,” I say, and then head on into the bar. It’s dark. It’s dank. It matches my mood. I stand next to the bar, and watch. There’s a moderately attractive middle-aged man attempting to chat up a woman in a red dress that doesn’t particularly look like she’s interested. She continuously looks around them, as if searching for her friends to save her.

She turns her back to the bar, and the man quickly dumps some liquid into it. It’s a practiced sleight of hand, but I’m skilled at noticing these things.

The girl heads off to the bathroom and he stares after her helplessly, groaning into his beer. I head over and take the seat next to him. I wrap my hand around the spiked drink, and cross my legs, giving him full view of my stems.

“You’re a piece of shit,” I say.

His eyes widen in fear. He knows he’s caught. He glances at the drink. I love that moment, that moment when they don’t know what I’m going to do with it. Am I a cop? Am I going to arrest you? No. Jade might, later.

Right now?

I down the drink in three big gulps.

His brow furrows, confusion evident in his eyes.

“I have a pretty high tolerance to this stuff,” I say, and stand up. “As long as we’re not going up too many flights of stairs, you’ll be able to get me somewhere… private.”

He swallows hard, and I guess he’s weighing what he should do in this moment. If I were trying to entrap him, I wouldn’t have needed to go this far. Is it worth the risk? Should he take advantage?

Whatever internal battle he has ends, and he takes my arm. The edges of my vision flutter, my brain pulsing in my head, limbs bending like elastic bands as he leads me outside.

I don’t know how long it takes us to get to wherever he takes me. But I’m still lucid enough to elbow him in the face when he tries to kiss me.

When… when will I ever… learn?

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