“This is Sebastian. You know the fucking drill.”
I sigh irately—one, for calling Sebastian twenty times already only to be led to voicemail, and two, for the voicemail’s existence in the first place. I make a mental note to tell him to change it whenever he feels comfortable with talking to me again.
“Hey, Sebastian. It’s me again. I know for a fact you’re ignoring me.” I play with a stray piece on my button up shirt and sigh. “I don’t blame you. I don’t know how many times I’ll have to apologize for you to forgive me, but I think we should talk first before that happens. Call me back.”
I hang up and vow not to call him back. It’s already 9:00PM, and I’ve been blowing up his phone since he left the conference today. Sarah isn’t talking to me, either; Lucas won’t contact me since Sebastian’s word is law for him.
Pedro sniffs at my feet. If I’ll be honest, it’s kind of annoying having him be so damn clingy to me all of the sudden. I’ve yet to ask Paul and Beth how babysitting him was, but whatever happened changed the little pup. Even though his clinginess is distracting, it’s the only company I have right now.
I sit down on my couch, the silence of my apartment taunting me. Pedro, as expected, sits next to me and lays his head on my thigh. I’ve tried not to let what happened today consume me, but I’ve failed horribly at that attempt. The mysterious number (Or Garrett’s unnamed minion) hasn’t contacted me at all since earlier today, and neither has Ingrid. I’ve always thought that Ingrid was the said minion carrying out his dirty work while playing the pity card, but her warning today and the clear unstable state of her mental psyche makes me contemplate what to even think of her.
I start on a late-night dinner to steer my mind in another direction. Chicken? Check. Pesto sauce? Check. Jasmine rice? Check.
Table for one, please.
The oven is preheated to 350 degrees as I prepare the chicken and boil the water for the rice. As my hands spread the pesto generously on the chicken, I hear my phone ring in the living room. My heart does infinite summer saults in my chest.
Quickly, I wash my hands and rush into the living room. I don’t care if Sebastian wants to talk calmly or scream at me for being the bane of his existence. I just need to talk to him.
To my surprise, it isn’t his caller ID on my phone. It’s no one’s caller ID, actually. Again—an unknown number.
I answer it anyway; what do I have to lose at this point?
“Hello?” I answer.
“Leslie,” A female—familiar female—voice answers back. I don’t know who this is; I don’t reply.
She scoffs like I’m wasting her time. “It’s Felicity. Felicity Felix?”
What the hell is Felicity Felix calling me for? I fear the worst.
“Um…why are you calling me?” I respond; a bit of rudeness laces my tone.
“Are you with Sebastian?” she asks me. Her voice sounds like she’s in a hurry.
At the sound of his name, I hold my head down as if she’s asking me in person. “No, I’m not. Why?”
“My manager who was told by my publicist who was told by my assistant said that you were with him at his house? At his party?”
So that’s why Sebastian isn’t answering his phone—he’s hosting a party. I have a feeling it was a spontaneous party thrown for the wrong reasons.
“Well whoever told you that is wrong. I’m not with him.”
Felicity chuckles. “Bullshit. Just fess up and admit that you’re with him. Is that redhead bitch with you, too? I never expected you to be the ‘three’s a party’ type but—”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. What redhead?”
Felicity is beyond agitated at this point. I don’t have the capacity to care about the fact that she still believes Sebastian and his dick are her responsibility. But whoever this ‘redhead’ is doesn’t ring a bell in my memory.
“Some slut named…Kelly? Claire?” She groans. “Fuck! Aren’t you his publicist? You should know this shit!”
“Look, Felicity. I don’t know who or what the hell you’re talking about.”
“Fine. I’ll just go over there myself. Lisa!” she screams. “Get my car!”
And then the call drops.
I throw my phone on the couch in the living room.
“Make your dinner, Leslie,” I tell myself. “Make your chicken and your rice. You aren’t Felicity Felix; you aren’t crazy. Just make your fucking dinner.”
The more I try and ease my growing curiosity and anger, the more curious and angry I grow. But I take a deep breath and walk back into the kitchen. My water is over-boiling at this point, so I add in my rice before putting the tray of chicken into the heated oven.
“Vegetables. I forgot vegetables. I’ll settle for carrots tonight. Carrots, carrots…I could have sworn I bought carrots.”
Where are the carrots? I bought some at the grocery store, I know I did. Right before I was about to buy wine for Sebastian and I’s date, I bought carrots; before Sebastian told me he liked me, and before I kissed him; before we…before he…
I can’t believe myself, but at the same time, I can. I immediately turn off my stove and oven before grabbing my purse and leaving my apartment.
Driving to Sebastian’s house is definitely the easy part.
There isn’t much traffic tonight. Maybe it’s because I’m speeding—who knows?
I slowly cruise down his street, the lights on the sidewalk illuminating the road. I remember the security team at his gated estate; he most likely told them not to let me in. I’m willing to use any asset I have to allow me access—money, persuasion, cleavage, you name it.
To my surprise, there isn’t anyone guarding the gate; the gate is wide open, and loud, boisterous hip-hop can be heard from Sebastian’s house where I’m currently at. I swallow a knot deep in my throat before driving up to his drive way. A myriad of highly expensive cars are parked everywhere, and screams, laughter, cheering and other sounds are heard throughout his house. Such a difference from when I last came here; the silence and occupation of just Sebastian and I.
I get out of my car; the music seems ten times louder when I’m outside. I hold my purse close to me and tread lightly. Outside, there are a couple of people socializing and laughing. Their eyes lock onto me and follow me the closer I get to the entryways.
“You’re here for one thing,” I tell myself, but what ‘one thing’ is that, exactly?
The inside of the house is bright and crowded. Immediately, I know I’m completely out of my place. Everyone is tall, gorgeous and rich. I vaguely recognize some of the people walking around as well-known socialites.
“Excuse me. Sorry…excuse me.”
I feel like an idiot, pushing through everyone for some direction. Thankfully, they stop dancing and move out of the way when I ask them, but they stare at me passing through; I stand out like a sore thumb.
I spot a group of half-naked women surrounding three men who are thoroughly enjoying their company. Legs propped up on the coffee table and backs leaning against the couch, they’re obviously drunk out of their mind. The girls don’t seem to mind. They also don’t seem to mind that their breasts are out into the air, either.
The man in the middle—skinny, brown eyed gentleman with shaggy hair and a nose too big for his face—whispers something slow and sultry into the mocha-skinned woman who sits on his lap. It’s a bit farfetched, but I’m confident that this is Sebastian’s entourage that I’ve heard about—Trevor, Chris, and Franklin are their names, I believe. I just don’t remember who is who.
The middle man’s eyes flicker to me briefly, but quickly that flicker turns into a double-take.
“You lost, little mouse?” he yells to me over the music. The group of women—as well as the two from the entourage—laugh at his comment. I scowl at him; his smile immediately fades.
“I’m looking for Sebastian. Do you know where he is?”
“Check the courtyard,” he replies. “That’s his ‘thinking space.’”
He nods, turning his attention to the woman on his lap again as if I don’t exist. Going through the process of squeezing through everyone isn’t as bad as it was before, now that I know where Sebastian is; it’s obvious Felicity’s source was completely wrong.
With this loud music, it’s hard for me to even hear my own thoughts. But I know what I’ll say to Sebastian—I’ll apologize and explain everything from the beginning. No holding back. And if he wants to continue to trust me, that’s up to him. I have to accept my decision.
The courtyard isn’t nearly as crowded as the inside of the house. Even so, there are a small number of people hanging around; couples groping and making out on the chairs in the middle. But at the end of the courtyard by a palm tree, I see him sitting by himself having a smoke. My heart leaps in my chest, and I wonder what he’ll do when he sees me.
“Sebastian?” I say behind him, inching forward. He exhales smoke into the air and runs a hand through his hair, but doesn’t turn around.
“Sebastian,” I call out again. “It’s Leslie. Listen, I just—”
I touch his shoulder, but when he turns around, it isn’t who I think it is—no green eyes, no sharp nose, no chiseled features and definitely not the same lips, either.
“I’m sorry?” the man says.
I remove my hand from his shoulder; we both stare at each other awkwardly.
“You’re not Sebastian,” I say stupidly.
“No, I’m…I’m Ethan?” he laughs. “I’m assuming I’m not who you’re looking for?”
That son-of-a-bitch entourage leech. He lied to me.
I apologize to Ethan for interrupting his smoke session and retreat back into the house. I’m furious; feeling like a fool tossed around from one place to another. I should have known Sebastian’s friend would lie for him if he needed to.
I’m back at square one. The three of them are still in the exact same spot they were in when I left. The middle-man sees me again and raises an eyebrow.
“He isn’t out there,” I snap at him. “Where is he?”
“How am I supposed to know?” he yells at me; it’s barely heard over the music. “I’m not his baby sitter.”
At this point, he stands up and nears me. The women stare quietly at us, but little do they know that I’m not intimidated by this man one bit.
“Who do you think you are?” he says down at me.
“Leslie King,” I reply angrily. “Sebastian’s publicist. Who are you?”
Trevor. That’s who he is.
Trevor pauses mid-sentence, looks behind him at the rest of his friends, then looks back at me. His friends slowly stand up and exchange even more secretive looks that test my patience.
“You’re Leslie?” Trevor asks.
“Yes, I’m Leslie.”
Trevor smiles uncomfortably. “I am so…sorry for being so rude. I’m a little drunk, if you can tell…”
“Yes, I can see that. Where is Sebastian?”
At this point, the rest of the entourage enters the group and introduces themselves drunkenly—Chris, a medium-height male with skin a few shades lighter than the mocha-skinned bombshell on the couch, and Franklin, who is a shy-looking blonde with glasses and bad posture. How they ended up becoming friends with Sebastian is beyond me.
“We don’t know where Sebastian is,” Chris yells to me like I’m hard of hearing. Franklin nervously sneaks a glance at Trevor, but Trevor—being the great liar he is—doesn’t dare look at him.
“Isn’t Sebastian your best friend? Shouldn’t you know?”
They shrug. All at the same damn time.
“So you lead me outside to the courtyard, telling me he’s there, and to my discovery he isn’t out there. I come back in here, tell you who I am, and suddenly you all have absolutely no idea where he is?” I place a frustrated hand on my hip. “You expect me to believe that bullshit? I graduated top of my class at Berkeley University, so you’re going to have to try a little harder in order to fool me!”
The three wombats stare at each other in an attempt to try and figure out a reply.
“Wow, Sebastian picked a firecracker this time,” Chris comments with a smirk and a nod. Trevor kicks him into silence.
“Give us a minute?” Trevor tells me, and with a hiccup, pushes his comrades into a huddle. The more they mumble unorderly amongst each other, the more I want to rip someone’s head off, preferably one of theirs. Even the bombshells on the couch look fed up with their bullshit. I look around and try to see if Felicity is here or looking for Sebastian, too. By now, she’s probably ripped his limbs apart for not inviting her to his party.
“I don’t know, Trevor, this isn’t a good idea.”
“I didn’t think she’d come here, Franklin. And besides, Sebastian will rip my dick off if she tells him I was an ass to her.”
“That’s your fault. Not ours.”
“Shut up, Chris!”
It takes them fifteen seconds to realize that I’m already walking up the staircase.
My feet ache in my heels with every step I take, and my head pounds painfully to the beat of the alternative music, but my instincts push me forward. I open every door on my way to Sebastian’s bedroom—one room, a couple is having sex on the love seat. In the theater room, a half-naked woman is snorting crack on the armrest with two other women next to her. The smell of marijuana and alcohol dancing around me makes my mood even worse.
“Leslie, I don’t think it’s a good idea to wander around Sebastian’s house like this!” Trevor says behind me. Franklin suddenly trips and falls on Trevor’s shoulder, making both of them tumble in the middle of the hallway. As Chris struggles to help them up, I push forward.
My hand trembles when I’m finally in front of Sebastian’s closed door. My head is spinning like an out-of-control carousel. I guess it’s my decision and risk whether or not I open the door. So I open it.
And what I see isn’t anything you can describe in words at first sight.
Five seconds. I stand in the doorway of Sebastian’s room for five seconds.
In five seconds, I take in as much as I can so I can understand what it is that I see. There’s a kilo of cocaine on the bedside table, a fraction of the white powder scattered on a silver platter next to a few razors. A layer of marijuana smoke clouds the room in a fog that is so strong you can’t help but hold your breath. In addition to the cocaine and the weed, there’s also a couple of bottles of Smirnoff on the ground, one bottle of Chardonnay laying empty in pieces underneath the bed, and colorful tablets spilled on the ground and on the table by the couches.
My eyes move up to the bed, where Sebastian hasn’t realized that I’ve entered yet. Felicity was right about the redhead—she’s here, and she’s stark naked with a sheen of sweat on her fair skin. Her hips move back and forth on top of Sebastian, her moans amplified out into the hallway. And Sebastian stares up at her with the coldest, distant, most blood-shot eyes I’ve ever seen on him. He pushes her deeper into him, making her scream louder, and sits up with a small baggie in his hand. He empties out a small amount of cocaine from the baggie onto her chest that he licks off thoroughly, making her giggle in her intoxicated haze.
It isn’t until her breast is in his mouth that they both decide to look at the door.
I can’t move. I can’t speak. I close my eyes, shutting them tight, wishing that this is all just a horrible dream, but my eyes open to the fact still in front of me. Sebastian takes her tit out of his mouth and stares at me like a guilty child.
“Shit,” he mutters, only the redhead isn’t guilty at all from the smug smile on her lips. It doesn’t help that she’s stunning, either; absolutely stunning, with breasts almost the size of mine paired with her small frame. Fuck.
Footsteps shuffle in behind me, and when Chris, Trevor and Franklin see everything, they’re at a loss for words that Chris, once again, ends with his commentary.
“Holy fuck,” he whispers in awe. And as if this couldn’t get any worse, another woman exits out of the bathroom in nothing but a flimsy red thong on. I know her; how am I so damn stupid?
Felicity laughs, a joint of marijuana in her hand, and after taking a hit of it, exhales the smoke in the air and continues laughing.
“You actually fell for the call?” she asks, almost rhetorically. “God, I’m better than I thought, aren’t I?”
Sebastian shuts his eyes and leans back on the pillow. I don’t know if it’s out of guilt or the fact that he’s high out of his mind.
“Claire, this is Leslie,” Felicity introduces. “Leslie, this is Claire.”
“Hi, Leslie,” Claire, the redhead, says in a teasing tone. “You’re actually pretty cute. We have room for one more, if you’re interested? I know Sebastian would love it; he has a soft spot for you, I hear.”
The fact that Claire is still on top of him while saying this to me makes this all worse than I could have ever imagined. But somehow, I don’t cry; I’m not sad. I’m angry; betrayed; foolish.
Brushing her cascading blonde hair away from her face, Felicity walks over to the kilo platter and helps herself before laughing with Claire. That’s when I slam the door, as if it’s going to erase everything I just saw. I need to get out of here. I need to leave before I scream.
Trevor tries to call after me, but I’m rushing down the staircase so quickly his voice is irrelevant. The only thing I want to do is disappear underneath my blankets with my dog. That’s all I want to do right now. As I quicken out of the house, I can’t help but hate Sebastian despite knowing why he did all of this—because of me and my lies, my big mouth and my untrustworthiness.
“Leslie!” Sebastian yells behind me. Hearing his voice makes every fiber of my being fill with anger and hate.
“Leslie, stop!” He yells after me again. I’m a few feet away from my car, and once I’m inside my vehicle I know I can lock him and everything else away and out. But right when I open the car door, he closes it with one movement of his hand.
And that’s when I slap him.
The hit is loud enough for everyone to gasp and curse at us and our spectacle. It was also hard enough to leave a cut on Sebastian’s lip. He presses his hand against his mouth, clenching his jaw but keeping his composure. I wish I could say the same for myself.
“Is this your way of getting revenge?” I ask him. “Is this your way of getting back at me!?”
He doesn’t have an answer; that manages to fuel my anger. I want him to talk to me, to say something and explain why he does this to himself?
I push hard into his chest, making him stagger back into the pavement and lose his balance, slamming into one of the archways of his house. He tries to stand up straight, but the countless shit in his bloodstream keeps him from doing so.
“Talk to me!”
“I-It isn’t a big deal,” he slurs. “C’mon, baby. You don’t need to scream at me. I forgive you.”
Nothing is registering in his brain from how gone he is. He’s like a zombie with the select ability to speak.
“You’re full of shit, Sebastian. Get away from me.”
Apparently, ‘no’ means ‘yes’ to him, because despite not wanting him near me, he stalks towards me anyway, saying anything but an explanation or apology, and grabs my arms.
“Just kiss me; we can forget this happened. Just kiss me, for fuck sakes.”
“Get away from me!” I shout at him, but regardless of how hard I try to squeeze out of his grip, it only gets stronger. I push my hands into his bare chest, claw my nails into his face, shout into his ear, but he keeps holding onto me, using his strength and height to his advantage. It isn’t until someone grabs him and pulls him off of me that I can finally breathe, and when I do, I begin to cry uncontrollably.
“I tell you that I’ll be here in an hour and you use that time to act like a fucking douchebag!?”
I recognize that voice—Claude, Sebastian’s cousin. Why is he here? God, I honestly don’t care. I just want to go home.
Claude, believe it or not, is taller and stronger than Sebastian, so it isn’t hard for him to contain his hold around Sebastian’s body.
“That’s my girl, Claude!” he screams at him. “She’s my girl, just let me…goddammit!”
I can’t stop crying. I try to convince myself that this is only because of what happened earlier today, but I can’t allow that to justify any of this; my anger won’t let me. My heartache won’t let me.
A couple of girls try to console me as Claude and Trevor try to calm down Sebastian’s erratic behavior. Sebastian goes from ranting that I’m “his” and that he’s “sorry” to screaming that I ruined everything; that I lied to him and broke is heart, and never cared about him and his feelings. And even though people are now realizing how out of control this is, I flee as quickly as I can. I get into my car and drive off away from the scene, tears falling down my face non-stop, my hands shaking around the steering wheel, my breathing patchy arrhythmic. Knowing that I can’t drive safely any longer, I pull into the nearest McDonalds parking lot and bawl my fucking eyes out. It registers slowly in my head everything Sebastian has done in one night, and as I replay walking in on him and Claire, Felicity’s deception, and his drunken hold around me, I realize the monster that still dwells within him, and how easily it’s tempted. But what he doesn’t understand is that there’s a monster in me, too. And there are times when I can’t control it—one of those instances was this afternoon.
The other instance is now.
I change my gears to drive and speed down the street in a fury-induced caprice. Cars are honking, the lights are blurring, and I don’t come into my senses until I’ve parked in front of Ingrid’s publishing firm thirty minutes later. I get out of the car and stomp to the door. The receptionist looks startled at my entrance.
“Where is Ingrid Jefferson? Is she here?”
“Um…she’s about to leave—”
All I need is one minute. I brush past the receptionist into the working area and scan the place until my eyes land on Ingrid at her cubicle, packing things into her bag. I walk over to her and pull Sebastian’s journal out of my purse; Ingrid doesn’t even have a second to realize what’s going on until I slam the journal on her desk.
“Here! You want the journal back, here you have it. I’m done with him.”
Her eyes are wide with confusion and fear. She sees the tears on my face and questions it.
“What happened?” she asks quietly so no one else will hear.
“You were right,” I answer. “You were right and I was wrong to get my feelings tangled up with this and I just…just take it.”
The pity on Ingrid’s face makes me embarrassed to be here. Reluctantly, she puts the journal securely in her bag.
“I’ll burn it when I get home,” she tells me. “So no one else gets hurts by it. I should have done it in the beginning instead of giving it to you. I’m so sorry.”
“It isn’t my problem anymore. I don’t give a fuck what you do with it, just keep it far away from me.”
She understands, asking me with her eyes again if I’m sure. And I know the monster in me has never been more sure of anything. Sebastian and his life has been like a drug I needed to survive, only now I’m realizing how destructive he is to himself and everyone that loves him.
I just wish I’m strong enough to quit completely.