I don’t know how it happens. It just does.
Lucas and I make out with each other nonstop the entire elevator ride up to his penthouse apartment in the Hollywood Hills. Then suddenly we’re inside his place and our clothes start coming off. And then suddenly we’re both completely nude on his balcony as we have our way with each other overlooking the entire glittering city of Los Angeles.
Everything about him feels good. I don’t want him to stop.
We fall asleep in his intensely comfortable California King bed, laying in the softest, silkiest sheets I’ve ever felt. I’m completely sober yet I still feel high on life… as if I’m levitating completely above the clouds.
I wake up in the morning to the sound of my phone vibrating. I sleepily reach over into my purse and see Tony’s name there on my screen as he’s calling me again. I look over to see Lucas still sound asleep in bed beside me.
What did I just do last night?
What’ve I just done?
I reject the call and lean up on the bed to collect myself and my thoughts. I rub my eyes with my fingertips and try to evaluate the situation.
It was obviously a moment of passion that meant absolutely nothing… because I already have feelings for someone else. And that someone is Tony. Tony is a really good guy with a really great heart and he’s the one I have feelings for, not Lucas.
To my defense, by the way, Tony hasn't even officially asked me to be his girlfriend yet. We never agreed to be exclusive or said we were an actual couple. Technically I didn’t even cheat because Tony isn’t my boyfriend.
Okay, I need to stop trying to justify my vulgar behavior. I’m such a slut. How could I do this?
But really how could I not? Lucas is literally everything I’m attracted to and then some. The sexual tension had been brewing between us since our very first conversation. I mean this was bound to happen at some point…
Tony was literally just hinting at the fact that he wanted to make things official with me once we saw each other again face to face. And then I go and do something like this?! How could I be so thoughtless?
And oh my goodness, what if what Kate said is actually true?! What if we go to work after all of this has gone down and Lucas starts ignoring me like he did to her… (and maybe to other girls in the office?) I have a hard time believing stories from someone like Kate because I feel like she’s manipulative but how can I trust Lucas when I barely know him either?!
Am I supposed to tell Tony I did this? Is it really any of his business if we’re not an official couple? I feel like all it is going to do is hurt him if I tell him. Honestly, it would be pointless to say anything to him about this at all...
Or is this just me trying to take the easy way out by avoiding accountability for my actions?
I quietly get dressed and slip out before Lucas wakes up so I can go home, take a shower, and try to regain a sense of normalcy before the work day begins.
I finally call Tony back while I’m sitting in my Uber on the way to the office.
“Nora?!” he loudly asks as soon he answers my call.
“Hey, I’m so sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner.”
“What the hell happened? Where were you?”
“We were so swamped with work last night that everyone had to stay overnight in the office to finish things up before our deadlines. I couldn’t peel away for a minute to talk, there were so many people around keeping tabs on productivity. I felt like I would be risking my job if I touched my phone.”
The way the lies are slithering through my lips so naturally is making me feel ill.
“I was so worried,” he tells me. “Is your boss going to be overworking you like this on a regular basis?”
“I really don’t think so, it was one of those one-off, super stressful nights. Nothing I couldn’t handle though.”
“I’m so proud of you for getting through that. I really wish I could have heard from you just to at least know you were okay.”
“I know... and I’m sorry. That will never happen again. I promise you.”
I arrive to work and head inside the building. I walk right past Kate without giving her the time of day. Too much on my mind to deal with her too.
I notice Lucas walk into the office a few minutes after me. He winks at me and then continues walking right on by.
Usually, he stops to exchange a few words with me but today, that is not the case. Is this the beginning of him ghosting me now that he's slept with me?
I decide to call my dad because I haven’t caught up with him in a while and frankly, any distraction right about now is welcomed.
“Hey, dearest daughter,” my dad says, answering the call after the second ring.
“Hey, dad. How are you doing? How’s work going?”
My dad supported me from the very beginning when I told him I was flying to Los Angeles to pursue this dream. He grew a little wary when I told him I accepted a job offer and was planning to stay but he still remained supportive nonetheless.
“Things are the same as usual,” he tells me. “I’m busy working. Now I’m also busy missing you.”
“But even when I was there we didn’t get to spend much time.”
“I know. And I regret that. You’re my one and only little girl and you’re all grown up now, making moves in the big city. It’s still hard to believe sometimes.”
“I had to do something different, dad. After I lost that pageant I felt like my life had no meaning.”
“Why were you putting so much weight on that thing?” he asks me.
“I wanted to make you proud. It was the one thing I shared in common with mom that made me feel like I was really making you proud.”
“Win or lose, you’ve always made me proud,” he tells me. “And you know what else?”
“You’re mother, if she were still alive today, would be extremely proud of you and who you turned out to be.”
I feel my eyes start to tear up.
“Thank you, dad. That means more to me than you know.”
“She loved you, Nora. I just wish you could have gotten to know her better.”
After my dad and I end the call, I sit there pondering thoughts about my mother.
Who really remembers life before the age of 6? I’ve got these distant scattered memories of her picking me up off the ground and braiding my hair. Memories of her singing to me and sharing her food with me. The fact that I’m always able to get a much clear mental image of what she looks like whenever I’m getting ready to paint her must mean something.
If she were alive today she would be able to help with some words of wisdom... some motherly guidance about what I'm supposed to do now that I've just done what I did.
Around lunchtime, I pull out my phone to order a salad to be delivered to the office. As I’m scrolling through restaurant options, a hand reaches in front of me and pushes my phone down playfully.
I look up at Lucas and feel relieved that he’s finally interacting with me after ignoring me all morning.
“I’m trying to order my lunch,” I say to him with a smile on my face.
“Don’t order that. I’ll grab us something. Come on, we’ll go together.”
We head out to his car and drive a few minutes away to a popular cafe in the city. Before going inside, he grabs my hand in the car sending those buzzy, warm chills down my spine.
“About last night…” he says.
“What about it?” I ask.
“You left this morning without saying a word to me. Was I that bad? Because I highly doubt it based on the noises you were making.”
“I just… it’s hard to explain.”
“It’s not. Explain it to me, please. I actually feel a real connection with you and it kind of sucked when I woke up and saw that you just dipped.”
“I have someone… Back home.”
I wince my eyes tightly out of self-loathing as I wait for Lucas to go off on me.
He doesn’t say anything. I open my eyes slowly and look over at him. He appears to be totally… chill.
“You’re not pissed?” I ask.
“Not even slightly. I assumed you had someone back home when you lied about your dad being the one who was calling you. I assumed you had someone back home way before that though also… just based on the fact that you are out-of-this-world, unbelievably hot-- and there is no way you could be completely single, unattached to anyone, and fully available. The odds of that were totally unrealistic and I knew that going in.”
“So you knew I had someone… and you pursued me anyway?”
“Yes. Why wouldn’t I?”
“Because… that’s kind of shady.”
“Shadier than being the one who actually cheated on their significant other? All I did was help you cheat… I don’t feel guilty for that. I’m not the one dating that guy. I mean... you are.”
“Technically he and I aren’t even an official couple yet.”
“Wow. So all this stress over really nothing then?”
“It’s not 'really nothing.' I care about this guy.”
“Well... I care about you.”
I stare at him with huge eyes trying to figure out how to compartmentalize my feelings for two amazing guys at one time.
“What are we going to do about this?” he asks.
“I honestly don’t know. I guess… I just need to take some time to figure things out.”
“Can that start tomorrow?” he asks. “I really want you to come over again tonight.”
I agree to come to his house after work but this time, I make sure that my bases are covered with Tony. I FaceTime him letting him know that I’m calling it a night early so he doesn’t try to get a hold of me while I’m at Lucas’s place. Is this what the life of a double-crossing two-timer is like? I feel so shady and horrible about myself one minute but then exhilarated and thrilled the next.