“Who was that, Saige?” Her mother asked when she got back in the house.
“That was Romy.” She proceeded to tell her a slightly embellished account of what Romy gave her as a cover story.
“Oh, my! Well, I hope she’s all right soon.”
“I’m sure she’ll be fine.”
“I’ve something to tell you,” her mother admitted. “I invited Ben over for dinner.”
“Mother!” Her tone was full of anger and disgust. “Why?”
“You two need to talk. I’ll even make myself scarce if you want to have some quality time.”
“Not comfortable with this conversation,” Saige walked away, hugging her arms to her sides. “I really wish you hadn’t done that, Mom. I’m trying to put my life back together. Seeing him is going to make it really hard for me.”
“Love isn’t easy,” was her mother’s harsh reply. “If you expect it to be, then I didn’t raise you right at all. Go get cleaned up. He’ll be here at six.”
Angry despite the fact she knew her mother was just trying to help, Saige stomped to her bedroom and got ready for Ben’s visit. She was determined to make him realize what it was he was missing out on and dressed accordingly. She chose a dark red silk top and matching pants that she had bought for their first Valentine’s Day. It clung in all the right places. As she recalled, she hadn’t worn it long and they never got out of the apartment for dinner.
She fixed her hair and makeup carefully and wore his favorite perfume. If she was going to be miserable, Ben could be too. She hadn’t forgotten that Ben had proposed the night she wore the red outfit. He bought her a ring a week later. It was pretty, simple and unassuming. He couldn’t afford fancy and she didn’t mind, but it was shortly after that they started having problems.
Taking the ring off, she put it in her pantie drawer. Slamming the dresser shut, she tried to put it out of her mind. If someone had asked her even earlier that day if she wanted Ben back, it would have been a resounding yes. Now, after spending time with Stan and Brodie, she realized how badly he treated her. She wasn’t at all sure she wanted him anymore. She had made up her mind to move on with her life.
Ben arrived promptly with a bottle of wine and more flowers. Her mother insisted that Saige answer the door. His anticipated reaction to the outfit made her smile to herself. He still liked it. She could see his interest in his expressive eyes. When he tried to kiss her, she leaned away, unsure how she felt about that contact yet. In the last couple of days, she’d kissed three different men and all of them left Ben in the dust.
“How have you been?” He asked
“Keeping busy. You?”
Ben nodded. “The same. Got some interviews next week. Here’s hoping,” he crossed his fingers, smiling shyly.
“Good luck,” she said sincerely. Despite their problems, she did wish him well.
“So, what have you been doing? You’ve been out a lot.”
Saige shrugged, curling her feet under her as she sat on the couch with a glass of wine. She didn’t owe him an explanation.
“This and that. Spent some time with Brodie and some of the folks from the office. You met Stan and the others on Brodie’s team, didn’t you?”
“Yeah. At the Christmas party.” He nodded, perching on the edge of a chair with his glass of wine. “So, Brodie, huh?” He tried to sound casual. “How’s he doing?”
“Still buff and gorgeous. Amazingly witty, erudite, clever. Did I leave out anything? Oh, charming and a hell of a kisser.”
A pained expression crossed his face. He set the glass down on the table, putting his head in his hands. “I can’t do this,” he murmured calmly. “I thought I could, but I can’t. You hate me so much and I know I deserve it…. You don’t know what it’s like for me, Saige.”
“Because you don’t tell me, Ben. You get angry and yell, but you don’t tell me why you’re upset. You think I’m having a thing with Brodie and that hurts.”
He didn’t have to say a word. His anguished look told her all she wanted to know.
“Ben, when in our relationship did you lose faith in me? Have I given you any reason not to believe me?”
“I don’t know and no. I didn’t really know until now that I had. Jealous, yeah. But any man in my position would be. I mean Brodie! Jesus, I can’t compete with a man like that.”
“You don’t have to!” She wanted to scream. “It was never a competition. What do you take me for, a slut? Where in my life did I turn into the kind of woman who would sleep with her boss? Did I make some huge metamorphosis that I don’t know about?”
“He’s got this rep….”
“Oh, the infamous rep! So what! Just because he’s a player doesn’t mean I got played. Did you boff every woman you worked with?”
“That’s a ridiculous question. Of course not.”
“Then why assume Brodie does?”
He said nothing, not meeting her eyes.
“Did I ever once compare you to him?”
“You remember his girlfriend, Amanda?”
“His ex, you mean. Resoundingly ex. What about her?”
“She told me once that she found you and Brodie in his office having sex. She said you two were having an affair and had been for some time.”
© 2012 Dellani Oakes