Chapter Seventeen: Moment
The plane trip home was miserable, and to make matters worse, there was a baby wailing most of the trip. I felt as if at any point I could drop through the sky and not mind because I felt so numb. I just stared through my window into the vast black void, repeating the scene in my head of Damon touching and caressing me. What had I done wrong?
My apartment felt familiar yet when I placed my key into the door and opened it, the air felt stagnated. I instantly looked to where my laptop usually sat and thought of when Damon had helped me with my website. When I looked at the couch, I thought about when we sat and drank coffee together. His empty cup sat on the table. My own apartment now felt foreign. Around Damon I had changed. I had shown my vulnerable self and it had backfired.
Pudding was quick to start rubbing around my leg and meowing loudly. I dumped my bag near my small dining table and picked him up gratefully. I slid down to the floor, Pudding in my arms, and then rested my head against his soft fur, much to his despair. Eventually I made my way to my bed, trying to push the thoughts of Damon out of my mind. I was determined to focus only on my job at Candice—an ambition I should never have strayed from.
Four weeks went by and I found myself slowly recovering from his rejection. I didn’t hear a thing from him, something for which I found myself grateful. He had no place in my life. I tried to push away the memory of my time spent in the Bahamas, but when Cassidy first asked, I nearly broke down in tears. Holding myself together, I told her I didn’t want to talk about it.
Debra’s sly remarks washed over me as usual. As if knowing something went wrong, she was quick to jump on it, and brought Damon up every chance she got. “I think he would be a great model for our front cover next month. Could you have him drop by my office sometime soon?” she casually asked one week. I ignored her as best I could.
A new campaign was approaching and I hadn’t the nerve to confront Debra when she mentioned she couldn’t wait to see him there. She talked about him enthusiastically in front of both Cassidy and me. Cassidy only looked at me with sad eyes, as if she knew what had happened. She knew that Damon coming to such a stupid event was never going to happen. But I couldn’t face telling that to Debra—I couldn’t have her laugh at me. I knew she would find an indirect way to tell me I was never worth such a man. I did not need that reality rubbed in my face.
Although I had notice about the campaign, I lacked the energy to shop for it. Cassidy once again brought over clothes. She talked happily about her new boyfriend, who treated her well. I was happy for her; she was a very kind woman and she deserved nothing less.
She brought me a black dress which fitted nicer than her last one. “Maybe I have lost a little weight,” I said, looking at how the V-neck dress fitted my body. My hips were not as wide and my legs were slimmer. Cassidy fixed my hair into a nice bun, with falling tendrils that were teased to frame my face. The effect was feminine and classy.
“I worry about you. You haven’t been eating as much lately,” she said quietly. We now sat in my lounge. From my window I was watching the sun fall. I was tired of all the campaigns I had to dress nicely for. My drive for work began to plummet, even though it felt like it was all I had. The thought of moving back to Ithaca tempted me. Being with my sister and mother held a lot of appeal to me right now.
“Are you okay after Damon?”
Usually I would be defensive and say that I was fine. I had even avoided speaking to my sister over the past month so she would not know something was wrong. The incident had made me evaluate everything about myself. How could one escort singlehandedly pull me apart in such a way? It hurt so much that I feared I had fallen for him. I was embarrassed by what he had done to me—turning his back on me as I lay half-naked in a shed, leaving me alone in the darkness of a foreign place. I wished that he had chased me like I saw on the movies. But he was simply a man far too broken, and I had let myself fall for his charms. I wondered if I had done everything differently, if I had not kissed him, or provoked him, whether it may have been different now. Would we still be talking?
“I don’t know,” I replied honestly.
“Well,” Cassidy said sadly, walking around the couch and lightly teasing the curls of my hair at the front. “You look beautiful tonight, like always. Why don’t you try to enjoy yourself?”
I gave her a small smile in defeat. That seemed impossible. I did not want to share my time with the sponsors, and I certainly did not want to have to endure Debra’s company. Tonight, or any night.
“I will have to tell her tonight about Damon. She will only make my life hell until I explain,” I said. If it hadn’t been for her and her manipulative nature I would never have met Damon in the first place. And now I had proven right her earlier “concern”—that I was unable to attract a man.
“Are you sure you’re still happy to work at Candice?” Cassidy asked, resting her hand on mine. “You look so tired, and I don’t know, maybe the move might be good for you.” Cassidy and I had spoken at length about me moving back to Ithaca. I no longer had the strength and the motivation to keep working in a job that I now realized would lead me nowhere. Not whilst Debra was in charge, anyway.
“I’m just so tired,” I admitted.
She grabbed both of my shoulders, raising her big blue eyes at me. “Hey! You are Clover Granture. You are a beautiful, witty, clever woman.”
I smiled at her, and then looked over my shoulder to assess the time. “Well, I better go. Thank you for everything, Cassidy.”
“Anytime,” she said with an encouraging smile before giving me a light hug. She followed me into the elevator and walked me to my cab, letting me take the first one.
I looked out at the New York night life from my window in the taxi. The sparkle seemed to have gone. Everything around me lacked color. I no longer had the admiration I once had for city life. It had never really been within my grasp. I had devoted too much time and energy to work.