The night before I lay awake staring at the stucco ceiling wondering if I made the right choice. Clutching linen sheets up to my neck, eyes wide. Looking over at you, rumpled hair hiding your face, but not enough to hide your lips. Turning, staring up at stucco… When did this happen, when did I make the decision? Do I regret it? Do I want more? I think I’m afraid…afraid of the morning to come. What then? What happens then? I was warned about him. People whispered behind his back saying that he’s a rogue soldier. He makes no commitment to anyone. I was warned not to look into his eyes. Many women have fallen prey to him, at least that’s the rumor. Perhaps, for once in my safe pitiful life, I wanted to know what it felt like to do something wild. And he made it easy, coaxing me along. You see, I met him at a bar. Cliche, right?
I went there wearing my sexiest black dress…well one that wouldn’t garner laughter, and six-inch red stilettos. Did I mention my ankles nearly gave out on me? But I recovered. I don’t think anyone saw that minor hiccup. I put on my best sashay, head held high and scanned the room. I spot him, or rather he spots me. He’s staring right at me with a blank look in his eyes. Shoulders back. I keep count of my movements, heel toe, heel toe, left right, left right. I make it safely beside him. Leaning against the bar, I flick my hair just like I see in those hair commercials. But a few strands get caught in my eye. He stares at me with a slight grin. When he finally looks away, I swipe the strands from my eyes and lock them behind my ear. I extend my hand..
“Hi. My name is Jasmine.”
He takes my hand.
Before I can utter another word, two blondes wedge themselves between Ryan and I, nudging me out-of-the-way. We stare at each other, and I flush with embarrassment. I scamper away, finding the most secluded dim booth to tuck myself away in. Not long after my escape, a red-head slithers her way into my booth, crossing her runway legs with elegance. She leans over and says,
“You don’t want to get yourself tangled up with him.” She turns her head and I lean in the direction of Ryan, who’s watching, hawk-eyed at us. Red turns her attention back towards me. “I’m telling you this because I know how he is. You fall for him and smack!” She clapped her hands together. I look past her, my vision adjusting to Ryan. Those blondes are cackling away, but he seems not to notice. His gaze is still burning into my face. Red reaches over the table and cups my chin. I blink wildly as her face is mere inches from mine. “You seem like a nice girl. Do yourself a favor and leave here before it’s too late.”
Red slides from my booth and disappears into the thick crowd. Before I can process her information, Ryan stalks his was towards me. He stands, looming over me, as my eyes widen and confidence falters. I advert my eyes. He makes his home across from me and burns his gaze into my face.
What were you thinking? I silently chided myself. Ryan reached across and ran his thumb over my cheek. I snap to attention. Now I am weary on what to do. I wanted to bolt from the booth yet needed to stay, for more of his caresses.
“Do you want to leave?”
Be brave. There’s nothing to be afraid of…nothing. Head up, keep your head up and look him in the eyes.
“No.” My trembling voice rang of deceit.
Now look at what you’ve gotten yourself into, Jasmine! I scold myself.
He rises, takes my hand and lifts me from my seat.
Oh God, there’s no going back now girl! It’s now or never.
Here I lay looking up at the white stucco ceiling, now morning. I crawl out of bed, naked, careful not to make too much noise. I search for my clothes. Looking around the floor, on my knees, ducking my head under the bed, finding my panties. How’d they end up there anyway? I tip toe around to his side and find one candy red stiletto. I swing around and spot the other thrown across the other side of the room. My dress, where’s my dress!? I search and search until I see something black just under Ryan’s pillow.
I do my best to slowly pull my dress from under his pillow. He rustles and resettled himself and I free my garment. With my things in tow, I make my way to the door, turn the knob, steal a glance back, open the door a crack and slide through. I tiptoed down the hall and paused a beat and shimmied into my dress and panties. Now in the living area, I pass a full-length mirror and noticed my tousled bed hair. I smile brightly. I’ve never looked so good in my life! I turn and prance giving the mirror a show. For vanity’s sake, I peel away from my reflection and slide into my shoes, adjusting my balance.
Whoever said stilettos were comfortable, man were they wrong! I thought. After piecing myself together, I smooth back my hair and ready myself to find an exit to this place. Just as I find the front door, long, strong wiry arms clasp tightly around my waist.
I spin falling against the door.
“Where do you think you’re going?”
He leaned, steadied him arm against my exit. I look up at him, all over him.
“Where are your clothes? Dress yourself.”
He moved closer, pressing his naked body against mine. My breath catches.
“Where are you going?” he asked again.
“Home.” I say.
“You’re sneaking out like a burglar.”
“Are too.” He smiled lazily.
“I… I just didn’t want to wake you.”
“Mmm. Is that so? Tell me. Are you embarrassed?”
“I.. I don’t..know what you mean. I have n-nothing to be embarrassed over.”
Jasmine, could you get any worse at lying? I advert my eyes from his and pray to get out of here with as much dignity as I can muster.
“Look at me.”
“I really should go.” Still not meeting his gaze.
“You know,” he traces a finger down my throat, “you’re exactly who I imagined you to be.”
“What!?” I ask confused, meeting his eyes now.
“You’re one of the good girls. You’re not used to this. One night stands I mean. When you walked into the bar last night, I could tell it was your first time. It’s not a place you belong. And I saw you almost trip as you were walking in.” He smiled.
I flushed in utter embarrassment. I thought no one saw me!
“Not only do you not belong in bars, high heels don’t suit you, nor do short slinky dressed. And you don’t have to pretend to be sexy. You’ve obviously watched way too many commercials.”
My mouth drops and is set in an O. I can do nothing but stare, and he’s chuckling. Chuckling! At. Me!
“I’ve seen pictures of you and imagine my surprise, you fall right into my lap. It really is a coincidence.”
“P-pictures?” I stutter.
“Pictures. I’ve had you thoroughly checked out. I only want the best working for me.” He walks through the kitchen, grabs a small glass, and fills it with orange juice.
“Work.. uh.. wha…?” Nothing is making sense.
He stalks back, settles himself in front of me, tips his glass to his lips and pulls it’s fruity contents into his mouth.
“I guess there’s no other way to say this, so, I’m Ryan Lochlan, your boss. You sent your resume to my company approximately two weeks ago. You do remember that, yes? I looked over your profile. You fit exactly what I’m looking for. I hope you won’t disappoint me. You begin working for me today, at nine a.m. sharp.”
Dots, black dots! They’re everywhere! Oh God! I slept with the boss! A boss I didn’t even know I had! I begin making my descent down the door to the floor and stared, in sheer shock and horror. Ryan squatted, rested his glass on the floor and cupped my heated face. “Everything is going to be okay. Don’t freak out on me. I understand the situation we’re in.”
“Y-you knew w-who I was and you still s-slept with me?” This is an outrage! A pure outrage!
‘I didn’t think things would progress this far.” he looked at me with apologetic eyes.
“I was duped! You led me on!”
“I led you on? Come on sweetheart, you walked right into that bar with the intention of seducing. Let’s not put all of this on me.”
“How can you…how can you be so calm about this!? I- my job- what am I going to do? I can’t work for you!”
I stalked from one end of the house to the other having a conversation with myself. Back and forth, back and forth. I kick my shoes off and ruffle my hair. This went on for say, I don’t know, fifteen minutes. Long enough for Ryan to shake me back into reality.
“There’s no need to get worked up. I’m not going to fire you.”
“Do you bring all the girls back to your lair? Huh? Do you?” I continue stalking back and forth in front of him.
“Lair? Isn’t that a bit harsh?” he smirked. “Sweetheart.”
“Don’t sweetheart me!” I rustle my hair and begin to cry.
Ryan grabs me and folds me into his body. I cry against his chest.”I should have listened to Red. She warned me about you.”
“The red-haired woman at my booth?”
“Ah, Amelia. Whatever she said was a lie, you can trust me on that one. She just didn’t know when to let go.”
“See, you do bring all the women to your lair.” I look up at him with tear rimmed eyes. He looked down at me and said,
“She never made it to my home. Home, not lair.” He pointed out.
“Yeah? Well, how does she know-”
“Amelia doesn’t know anything, especially about me. And honestly, you’re the only woman who has been in this house.”
I shoot him a doubtful look. “Scouts honor.”
“You approximately have an hour and a half to ready yourself for work. Do you want to spend more time on this nonsense? Hmm?”
“Are you really, after everything you’ve said, going to keep me on the clock?”
“Yes. I run a tight ship. Just because we slept together doesn’t mean you get extra privileges.”
My mouth formed an O again. He can’t be serious.
“That isn’t fair.”
“Life’s not fair. However, I’ll grant this exception. I’ll let you slide this one time if you give me and hour of your time before you leave of course.”
He stares at me and it finally registers.
“You can’t be serious!”
“Can’t I?” he raises an eyebrow. “Come to me.”