by LARA JADE
I woke up to sunlight practically blinding me. I groaned as I stretched and inhaled deeply before my eyes popped open. I looked at the empty side of the bed next to me and cursed to myself. How could I have been so stupid? Revealing my feelings like that and actually expecting Tom to be here in the morning. I laughed at how naïve I was as I began collecting my clothing. I got almost all my clothes on, I was just missing my shirt…
“On the microwave.”
I turned to see Tom with a bag and two coffee cups in a drink carrier.
“I told Rosemary you wouldn’t be in today,” he added as I took my shirt from the microwave and slid it back on.
“Thanks,” I replied as he handed me a coffee.
“Were you leaving?” he asked.
“I thought you did.”
“Just to pick up some food,” he responded. I looked him over and noticed he wore a suit today.
“Where are you going after this?”
“To work. I go back home to Kansas tomorrow morning,” he added.
“Here,” Tom said and handed me a card. “That’s my work, home, and cell number.”
“You’re just gonna leave?” I asked.
“I kinda have to, sweetheart. I’m not getting paid to bed you.”
“But…” I sat there not entirely sure what I was getting at.
"I’ll see you at the diner in the morning?” he asked. I nodded as he took his food to-go. I sighed and he came back in a minute later. “Forgot my case,” he said and grabbed a briefcase from the end of the bed. I watched him intently before he took a double take in my direction. His eyes raked up and down my body before he leaned over and pressed a kiss to my lips, his scruff scratching against my cheek. He left and I felt a sigh break from my lips intensely as I swiped the spare key card off the nightstand.
“You two what?!” Jena squealed as we sat in my old apartment.
“I know. I don’t really understand,” I admitted. I stopped back at my apartment to shower and change into clean clothes. I paid my rent I was late on and began packing some of my bags.
“I do. He used you!” she snapped. There wasn’t any trace of guilt in my body, which typically, there would be. “What’s the company name again?” she asked and pulled my laptop into her lap. I tossed her Tom’s business card and she began furiously typing away. “Think there’s a spot for a review where I can write ‘Tom is a pig’?” she sassed. “Wait- Wrightcraft Drafting. Architectural Company. CEO Tom Michael Wrightcraft,” She read. “Jazmine, you hooked up with a CEO of a family owned business… and he gave you his number.”
“Yes. But all his numbers are on the card, so who knows how many other women have it as well.”
“You can fifty shades his ass!”
“Jena, no!” I sighed and put my head in my hands.
“Surprise him! Tonight! Hell, see if he’ll take you with him! Get a fresh start Jaz!”
“You just wanted to trash him on his company site, now you want me to follow him?”
“You’ve been under Sam’s thumb since you were in school… Maybe Tom’s the one?” she smirked. I sat there and stared at the TV across my small apartment. “Did everything feel comfortable with Tom?”
“Yeah. There was no doubt in my mind. I was so pissed at him… but it vanished so fast…”
“Grab some burgers from the diner and surprise him. He won’t see it coming. Most women probably take what they get and leave. Most probably don’t surprise him with dinner and affection.”
I hesitated for a moment before grabbing my keys.
“What about my apartment. If Tom says yes to taking me with him-.”
“Just call me. Let me know and I can send you your things. My uncle owns this building, remember? You paid for your rent already. I’ll take care of everything else.”
I nodded and hugged her as I took my three bags down to my car. I tossed them in the backseat and ran to the diner. Rosemary looked at me in curiosity as I ordered two of Tom’s typical meal. I think Jason and Rosemary could tell who I was joining for dinner, but neither of them said anything.
I made it back to Tom’s motel room and thanked myself for taking the spare key card. I sat out the food and as I pulled out the last burger, the door opened. Tom walked in and held his phone to his ear.
“Yeah,” he answered the person on the other line. When he turned around, he noticed me and looked stunned. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Bye,” he finished his conversation and hung up.
“Surprise?” I smiled and motioned to the food like I was on a game show.
“You came back?” he asked removing his jacket and loosening his tie.
“Um… was I not supposed to?”
“No. No, I’m glad you’re here,” he said quickly. I shifted as he grabbed my hands in his. “I thought you hated me?”
“Well, you weren’t exactly my favorite being, but I think I’ve managed to forgive you.”
“Good,” he said and moved his hands to my waist before looking over the food on the table. “Double bacon burger?” he asked. I rolled my eyes and nodded.
He grinned like a child and grabbed the burger.
After we ate, Tom turned on the news and watched the stocks at the bottom of the screen with a notebook in his hand.
“Why are you staying in this dump if you own a drafting company?” I asked after a moment of silence.
“Why waste money on a high-end hotel when there’s a diner with a pretty waitress three minutes down the road from an exceptional motel?” he asked.
“Really?” I smirked.
I glanced in his eyes only to receive insane chills.
“C’mere,” he said and sat down his notebook. He opened his arms to me, and I crawled across the bed only to have him wrap me in his arms and pull me against his chest. Ten minutes passed and he turned off the TV, giving me his full attention.
“What?” I asked him.
“Nothing,” he sighed. I smiled and pushed my lips up to meet his. His hand cupped my face as his other arm wrapped around my waist and pulled me even closer to him. Our legs tangled together as my fingers ran through his hair. Tom pulled back and took a breath.“
"I don’t want to leave you tomorrow.”
“Don’t,” I suggested. He furrowed his brow as I kept talking. “Take me with you.”
“Wh-,” he began but he could tell I was dead serious.
“I’ll think about it,” Tom said. I nodded and looked down at the buttons on his shirt. I guess I’ll keep the fact that my car is out front with a bag of my things ready to go to myself. I laid my head on his chest and felt his hand rubbing up and down the length of my back. I wrapped my arms around him and closed my eyes, allowing myself to drift to sleep.
I should’ve known.
I woke up alone.
Any sign of Tom gone. His car included. No note, nothing. He did pay for the room. Which I guess was good. I got in my car and sat there for nearly an hour, just thinking about what was next. I walked into the diner and Rosemary eyed me carefully.
“Hello. How was last night?” she asked.
“Pointless,” I shrugged.
“Are you alright?”
“I’m fine,” I sighed and Daya watched me over the register as I walked behind the counter. Jason’s eyes wandered over my features and Mr. Martin’s did the same when I turned to face him. “Can you go about your own lives and not worry about mine? Please?” I asked and my voice cracked involuntarily. Rosemary walked over and pulled me into her arms, tears fell from my eyes as soon as she touched me.
“You need to talk to someone. Come on,” Rosemary sighed and walked me down to her little office. I sat next to her at her desk and she handed me a tissue. “What’s going on?”
I told her everything. From the moment I noticed Tom, to this morning.
“Why didn’t you tell us? I wouldn’t have pushed this so hard if I would’ve known… gosh, Jazmine I’m so sorry.”
“It’s not your fault. I should have known. He was manipulative… pretending to be my savior, and I fell for it.”
“At least you didn’t have sex-.”
I stayed silent.
“It was still something I would have never done with anyone other than Sam.”
“Well, maybe he’ll come back again… and you’ll get to tell him how you feel.”
“What? That I’m heartbroken because his dumbass played me and left me.”
“It was a last-minute suggestion, Jaz… Keep that in mind. He couldn’t just pick you up and leave.”
“Why not?” I whined.
“That’s not how that works. Sweetie, go home today. Relax and come back tomorrow, alright?” she asked. I nodded and walked out to my car. Then I realized, I had to face Sam to get my belongings… Well, the few I had at his house. I ignored the thought and drove down to a bar across town. I parked in the back lot and walked in the back door, making a beeline for the bar. I hopped up on a stool and when the bartender turned around, I took in a sharp breath. I was lost in an ocean of blue eyes…
“What can I get ya?” he asked, although I didn’t catch it. I sat there and knew I was staring… “Miss?”
“Oh… sorry… I just… you have really pretty eyes,” I blurted. He smiled and looked down at the countertop, a small laugh fell out. “God, I’m sorry that’s so weird,” I laughed lightly.
“No, no… I hear it, from my mother,” he said. I laughed again and he smiled at me.
“Do you want a drink, or just to stare in my eyes? I’m up for either ‘cause yours are nice as well.”
“Uh… I’ll just take a rum and coke,” I sighed.
“Sounds good. Do you come here often? I’ve never seen you,” he said.
“I don’t… haven’t been here since gosh… I don’t know when…” I sighed looking down at my hands that rested on the counter in front of me.
“I should probably ask for your ID,” he added. I nodded and reached into my jacket to hand it over to him. “Thanks,” he handed it back to me and sat my drink on a coaster in front of me.
“Are you new here, or?” I asked as I took a gulp of the drink.
“Not really… been working here for six months. Moved into town only three months ago however, apartments aren’t cheap around here,” he said.
“I know. Takes up almost two months of work for me.”
“Yeah, it’s ridiculous. I’m hoping I can find a roommate soon,” he sighed.
“They are a lot easier to afford with two people,” I nodded.
“You have a roommate?” he asked.
“Um, ex-boyfriend… well, ex as of two nights ago… I haven’t gone home,” I said.
“Why not?” he asked and leaned across the counter in front of me to keep our conversation from going beyond our ears.
“It’ll seem awful…” I said and shook my head, smiling at how ridiculous I was being. Sitting in a bar and spilling my sorrows to an attractive bartender.
“I’m not here to judge. I’m here to pour drinks.”
“Which means you also don’t have to listen to my issues,” I added and took another gulp.
“I would like to, if that means anything?”
“Well… Um, it’s a long story.”
“I work til two am… keep me entertained,” he smiled.
“I have dated this guy since I was in like middle school… and we had been broken up for a few months and I met another guy… but I didn’t get a good vibe from him. I ended up running back to my ex… but this other guy and I… there was something weird… I don’t know. We ended up making out and my boyfriend found out and he stormed off… I didn’t go home, I went home with the other guy and stayed with him for two nights… and then he left me,” I shrugged.
“Yeah, slut of the year. I know.”
“No, sounds like you were manipulated if you ask me,” he shrugged.
“I don’t know… I feel like manipulated isn’t the right term, but at the same time…” I shook my head and the bartender grabbed a pen and one of the order sheets and slid it across to me.
“That’s my number. If you want to talk again, hang out when I’m off the clock. Feel free. Sounds like you need someone to listen to you,” he said.
“Thanks,” I said. I took the paper and he grabbed my hand lightly, patting it.
“My name is Josh.”
“Well Jazmine, I hope to hear from you soon. Okay?” he asked. I nodded and he gave me a reassuring smile as he took the pen and pad down the bar to a man who sat down.