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Authors: Annie Jocoby

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BOOK: Broken
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Chapter 15

When I got home that evening, I called Penelope. “Penelope,” I said. “Let’s have dinner tonight at the Tribeca Grill.”

“Sure. Do you want me to bring Amber, Missy, or Lance?”

“None of the above. Come alone.”

So, that evening, we met at the Tribeca Grill. She came in, looking her glorious self, every head in the place turning. She was dressed in thigh-high boots and a tight black mini-dress that she carried off extremely well. She sat down across from me, shedding her coat. “God, I need a cigarette. What a long fucking day. I swear to god, doing photo shoots for Calvin is like the ninth circle of hell.” She looked at the menu. “I’m gonna go with the New York Strip Steak, pan roasted wild mushrooms and sautéed spinach. A rare seared tuna appetizer. And a dirty martini as big as my head.”

When the waiter came around, I ordered for the two of us, me ordering the Seared Sea Scallops with the parmesan creamed escarole and apple roasted Brussels sprouts, and her getting what she just told me to order. And a scotch rocks for me.

I was going to need it.

“So, how’ve you been?” I asked her.

“I told you. Sometimes I hate what I do. Do you know how hard it is to sit still while people primp over you all fucking day long?” She shook her head. “We really should be getting hazard pay.”

“Yeah. Because being a top model is a lot like being a cop, a firefighter, or a soldier in a war.”

“I agree,” she said, completely not getting my sarcasm. “So, Amber was wanting to come over tomorrow night. She really has a thing for you. And me. And us.” She giggled. “For that matter, so does Lance.” Lance was a male model, of course, who had joined us in a few three-ways.

I was chomping at the bit to give her my speech, but I wanted to wait until after dinner. No use ruining a perfectly good Seared Sea Scallop.

So, I humored her. “Sure, let’s all get together sometime.”

“Not sometime. Tomorrow night,” she said as the tuna appetizer appeared. She took a tiny little bite, then pushed the plate aside.

“I teach. Remember?”

“Of course. You get off at 9. We do our usual late night.”

“Penelope. I’m working long hours at the office, in addition to my teaching. When do I sleep?”

“You’ll have plenty of time to sleep when you’re dead. In the meantime, you got me and Amber. And Lance. And Caroline. And any number of male and female models who would love to get into your pants and enjoy your beautiful, beautiful, enormous package.” She brought the olive to her mouth suggestively and licked it, while giving me the seductive look that she practically patented. “Besides, your Bank of America project can wait.”

“Chase.”

“Chase what?”

“I’m working on the new Chase building.”

“Chase, Bank of America. Whatever. Same difference.”

The temptation was strong to cut her loose right that very minute, and not wait until after dinner. At that very moment, she was very ugly to me. Extremely ugly. She resembled one of my Francis Bacon paintings of the hideous creatures, because her soul was so dark.

Funny how I didn’t see it before.

“So,” I said. “Ryan’s going to be in town in a couple of days.”

“Ryan. From the pictures?”

“One and the same.”

“Oh my god. That man is beautiful. Jesus fucking Christ, you have to get him to join us.”

“He’s married, remember? Happily married.”

“Married, schmarried. Tell him I’ll help him have the time of his fucking life while he’s here.” She shook her head. “He missed his calling. He could’ve made a fortune with that face.”

“I think he’s doing just fine.”

“Even so.” Then she got out her cell phone, and I immediately regretted even telling her about Ryan. “Amber. You’ll never guess who’s visiting Nick in a couple of days….Ryan. You remember seeing his pictures in Nick’s apartment?...Yeah….a four-way would not be out of the question.”

At that, I snatched the phone out of her hand. “Amber. This is Nick. Ryan is not interested in any kind of four-way.” And at that, I simply hung up.

Penelope was giving the stink-eye like she never did before. “You’re kind of an asshole, you know that?”

“So I’ve been told.”

I flagged down the waiter. “I need another scotch rocks. Make it a double.”

Penelope was staring at me in shock and awe. “Asshole. Did you bother to notice that I’m dry over here? Now I have to flag down the waiter for my drink.”

“I did notice. I just didn’t care.”

Her mouth just flew open in shock that I would be talking to her in that way. She was two seconds from making a scene, which would be embarrassing for me, because this was kind of a neighborhood restaurant for me. People knew me here. But, at the same time, bring it on, I thought. It would make what I had to do that much easier.

But she didn’t make a scene. She flagged down the waiter for another martini, and then brought a mirror out of her purse and looked at it, studiously ignoring me while doing so. Then she brought out her phone and started looking at it, evidently texting somebody. Every so once in awhile, she smiled as she looked down at her phone.

Meanwhile, I just sat there, looking around the restaurant. How I wanted Scotty there sitting across me from instead of this…creature. Penelope wasn’t even human. She was some kind of physically-perfect evil cyborg coming back from the future to destroy me.

Finally, after three more scotches for me, and four more dirty martinis for her, our food arrived. Penelope looked at her food with disdain. She took a few bites, which is usually about how much food she can consume in any given meal, and then put the plate aside. “That’s all I can eat, unless I want to spend the rest of the evening gagging myself.”

I didn’t care. I dug into my food with gusto. I was going to finish my meal before lowering the boom. And lowering the boom was getting easier and easier to do.

Then I got an idea. I ordered from the waiter a Pistachio Crusted Swordfish, whipped potatoes and sautéed spinach to go. I’d get Charlie to drive it over to Scotty.

God knew that girl needed more full meals.

“Who is that for?” Penelope demanded after I placed my order.

“It’s for Scotty. My intern. She needs to eat more.”

“Since when do you go out of your way to send meals to your interns?”

“Since now.”

Her face softened. “Well, maybe Scotty can join us in one of our romps. What does she look like?”

“She’s beautiful. But she’s not like that. She’s a nice girl.”

“Well, I was going to be jealous of her, but not now. Because god knows you don’t like nice girls.”

“I like this one.”

“What are you saying?”

“Just a second.” I wanted to get that food on its way to Scotty before lowering the boom. All ducks had to be in a row. So, I flagged down the waiter and I gave him a hundred dollar bill. “That’s for you. Was wondering when that to-go order is going to be coming out.”

“It’ll be right up,” he said. And I knew that he was right about that.

And, sure enough, the food came out in the next two minutes. Then I called Charlie to come in and get the food to take to Scotty. I smiled when I imagined her face upon seeing the meal. Yeah, it was late, but I was quite sure that she would be more than appreciative of the gesture.

I sent Charlie on his way. And it was finally time to tell Penelope what I had been dying to tell her all evening.

“Penelope. We’ve had our fun. But it’s over. Sorry.”

Her mouth flew open and her eyes got wide. She looked like it was the very first time that she had ever been dumped, and, for all I knew, it
was
the first time. “What??” she said, “fuck you.”

“Been there, done that.”

“So, you brought me here to do this. You think that I won’t cause a scene because we’re in a public restaurant and Page Six will be all over that shit in a heartbeat?”

“Something like that.”

I called her bluff. She sat there, steaming, and giving me the look of death. She obviously was contemplating the possibility of making a scene. But I was betting that she would back down in the end.

I was right. She just got up and left without a word.

And I immediately felt 1,000 times lighter.

 

Chapter 16

Scotty

I rode the subway home from my first day at my internship with a song in my heart. I smiled to myself a secret smile while I listened to Bruno Mars, Muse and Eminem on my iPod. Today went extraordinarily well, even though I didn’t do much. The fact of the matter was that I got through today without feeling like I was going to fall apart. And I even let Nick touch me. Yeah, it was only my hand, and it was brief, but it was still a touch, and it was more than I had ever willingly let any guy touch me except for Jack. I felt, perhaps for the first time in my life, that I was going to be okay. Normal. At least there was a chance for me.

When I got home, Jack was waiting for me. He had found some candles somewhere in the apartment and they were lit, and there was even a bouquet of flowers on our tiny card table that served as our dining room eating place. “Scotty Marie!” he said, appearing from our tiny kitchen with an apron on. “Come on in. I made dinner for us both!”

Dinner turned out to be macaroni and cheese, but he made it special by adding baby hot dogs in with it, along with some frozen broccoli florets. “Aw, Jack, look at that. Thanks so much.”

“Well, I wanted to do something special for my little Scotch and Soda,” he said, as I set the table. “Here, I got some champagne. Martini and Rossi Asti Spumante.” He poured two champagne flutes, and we clinked glasses before digging in.

“So, tell me about your first day. Tell me everything. Don’t leave anything out.”

“Not much to tell. I made a lot of copies and met everybody,” I said as I sipped my champagne and ate the rather delicious mac and cheese deluxe. “There’s a woman there who I think that Nick might have been sleeping with at one point.”

“Uh, huh,” Jack said with a look. “Bet that won’t be happening anymore with you there. Bet that ho doesn’t know what hit her.”

“Yeah, she’s hardly
a ho. She has a PhD from Stanford.”

“Piled higher and deeper,” Jack said dismissively. “She’s not better than you, so don’t even think that.”

“I never said she was. Anyhow, Nick doesn’t seem to like her that much, so I don’t think that it’s still going on.”

Jack was looking at me with a suspicious look on his face. “You have it bad for this guy, don’t you Scotty?”

“Who?”

“Nick.”

“Well, he’s gorgeous. Breathtakingly so. Wickedly intelligent.” Then I realized that my heart was racing just thinking about him. “Let’s change the subject,” I said, looking at my shaking hands. “Actually, it’s kinda on the same subject. I’m supposed to meet his friend from the Midwest.”

“When?”

“Wednesday. At
Nobu.

Jack gave me a look. “Girl. He’s got it bad for you, too.”

“Why, why, why do you say that?”

“Who is this guy to him?”

“His best friend from childhood. He said he’s somebody who means a lot to him.”

“His best friend? And he wants you guys to meet?” Jack gave his
bitch, please
look, as he got up to get some more mac and cheese for himself. “You want some more, love, while I’m up?”

“Sure,” I said. “So, what’s the big deal? They’re best friends, I’m his new intern. That’s why he wants us to meet.”

“Scotty. I love you. But you are very naïve when it comes to the menfolk of this world. There is no way that this man would invite you to meet his best friend unless he’s got a thing for you.”

“I don’t believe you,” I said. “He just wants his friend to assess my talent, and to make sure that I’m right for that position. That I won’t screw everything up.”

“Is his friend an architect?”

“He didn’t say, but probably not. Why?”

“Well, if this other guy isn’t an architect, then how would he know how to assess you? Besides, Nick has already assessed your architectural talent, which is why you’re there in the first place.”

“Well, he wants a second opinion.”

“Why are you avoiding this? Why are you lying to yourself?”

I said nothing for several minutes. “I need some more champagne,” I said. “And maybe something harder.”

“Coming up. What kind of cocktail can I make for you, love?”

“Screwdriver, if we got OJ.”

Jack got up and made a couple of screwdrivers, and sat back down. “Now, my Scotty, answer the question. Why are you lying to yourself about this guy?”

I felt tears coming to my eyes. “Because,” I said, as the tears flowed even harder, “if I thought for a second that he likes me, I’m
going to run. I can’t handle that. You know that. I just can’t handle being touched like that. Like Mr. Lucas. I mean, Nick touched my hands, and I thought that I couldn’t breathe. Just touching my hands. I’m such a fucking freak.”

Jack wrapped his arms around me and let me cry it out. “Scotty, you’re not a freak. You’re hurt. You had your adolescence stolen from you by that man. You can’t let him win, Scotty. If you go through life running from every man who shows interest in you, then you’ll never have a family. You’ll never be truly happy.”

“Yes. I can be happy. You and me. We can live together forever. We can even adopt a child together.”

“Scotty. I love you. But you know that I’m looking for the perfect guy. I want to get married one day and have a family of my own. I won’t always be there.” Then he hesitated. “That came out wrong. I will always be there. But I won’t always be sharing my day to day life with you. What are you going to do when I find Mr. Right and become a Junior League wife out in Connecticut?”

I started to panic. What he was saying was true. What was I going to do when I didn’t have him as my security blanket? Would I end up like my mother? Drunk all the time and trying to avoid life altogether?

“So, what can I do?”

“You have to try, Scotty. Baby steps. I think that this guy probably likes you as much as you like him. You have to give him a shot, Scotty. Take your shot at happiness.”

“So I guess that inviting you along to meet Nick and his friend is out of the question?” I actually was considering doing just that.

“You have to leave the nest. You have a broken wing, but it’s gonna heal. Broken wing, or no, you have to leave the nest without Jack the momma bird.”

I felt like crying again.

“Come on, Scotty, let’s take our mind off of this. You’re getting overwhelmed. Let’s watch a chick flick and pop some popcorn.”

“In our jammies?”

“Of course.”

“No tricks coming over?”

“No tricks tonight.”

“Cool,” I said. Then I went in to the bedroom to change into my pajamas with the feet, and joined Jack on the couch. He, too, had changed, into his boxer shorts and t-shirt. We popped some
popcorn, got out a blanket, and proceeded to find a movie on Netflix, which was our only major luxury.

“Oooh, this one looks good,” I said. “Let’s watch
Dear John.
Isn’t that a Nicholas Sparks?”

“It is,” he said, “Sounds like a winner.”

So, we watched the movie.

But, around 9, the door buzzed.

Jack paused the movie and got up to answer the buzzer. “Yes?” He looked at me, and shrugged. “You expecting anybody, Scotty?”

I shook my head.

“Who? Charlie?”

My heart started to race. “Charlie? That’s Nick’s driver.” Was Nick coming up? “How do I look?” I asked anxiously.

“Beautiful, as usual,” he said, as he buzzed the guy up.

In about two minutes, Charlie was at the door. Jack opened it up, then walked into the hallway. About five minutes later, he came back in with a package.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Not sure.”

“Was Nick out there? Is he going to come up?”

“No, Charlie said that Nick wasn’t with him.”

To my private dismay, I felt really disappointed.

It was then that I realized how much I really needed to see Nick. How much I wanted to be near him.

Jack brought the package to the coffee table, and took out a plastic container that had food in it. “Hmmm. Looks like some fish, potatoes and spinach. And some very tasty bread and butter.”

“Huh. Where did that come from?”

“Duh. Scotty, this food is from Nick. Obviously. You still think that boy doesn’t have it bad for you?”

“He feels sorry for me. He knows that I don’t eat a lot.”

“He’s taking care of you. Like a boyfriend would do. And, I have to say, I’m impressed with this guy already.” He looked at me and smirked. “Sure wish I had a boy who cared enough about me to send me food like that.”

I was in awe. Nobody had ever done that for me.

“Well, girl,” Jack said. “Looks like you got another dinner to eat.”

“We do. We’re gonna share.”

“You need it more than me, god knows. I gotta drop a few pounds if I ever hope to catch me a Wall Street type who’s gonna make me a Junior League wife.”

“Don’t be silly, you look amazeballs. Now, I’m going to get two plates out and split this. It looks scrumptious.”

I got up and got out two plates and split the food evenly between us. “Oh, this is heavenly,” I said, biting into the fish.

Jack looked hurt. “Is it better than the mac and cheese?”

“No, of course not. Close second, though.”

“Shut up,” Jack said playfully. “You’re right, this is delicioso.”

“Hell, yeah it is. This is probably the best meal I’ve had in a long time. Except for your mac and cheese, of course.”

Jack looked at me. “Girl. Your face is beet red. You’re really blushing.”

“What? Stop. I am not.”

Jack started laughing. “You are too. Scotty, I said it before, I’ll say it again. You like a boy.”

I threw a piece of bread at him. “Shut up!” I said, but I wasn’t serious.

“Scotty and Nick, sitting in a tree. K-i-s-s-i-n-g. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage.”

I couldn’t help but start to laugh at him, as he turned around and put his hands behind his neck as he pretended to make out with somebody else. “Quit,” I said, laughing so hard there were tears coming down my face. “I can’t breathe.”

“Well, girl? You still doubt how this guy is feeling about you?”

“He feels sorry for me. That’s all.”

“Feels sorry for you, my ass. News flash – men don’t do this for just anybody. Looks like you got a good one there.”

I got quiet. “Let’s finish our movie,” I said. “I’m finally full.”

“You gonna call him and say thank you?”

“I don’t have his cell number. But I’ll leave a message for him at the office tomorrow.” Tomorrow was a full day of classes for me, so I didn’t intern.

“Well, you better. I’m gonna make sure you do.”

“I will.”

So, I did the dishes, and settled back in with Jack to finish the movie. Then I went to bed – I got the actual bed that night, and Jack slept on the hide-a-bed.

However, I couldn’t sleep. All I could do, all night long, was think about Nick.

Perhaps Jack was right. Baby steps. Assuming that Nick did like me, perhaps I could slowly learn to trust him. But did I need to open up to him, so that he understands why he has to go slow with me? That would probably drive him screaming into the night. He had to understand that I’m different, though. Would he have the patience for me and my special needs?

No. Of course not. He was beautiful, apparently wealthy and extremely intelligent. He could have anybody. He wouldn’t want me, the stray puppy in the back of the cage who was so afraid of everyone that she just cowers and bites anyone who tries to come near. He’s going to want the happy and sweet puppy who doesn’t have issues.

All night long, I tossed and turned and obsessed. But, the fact that I was obsessing was a good sign, because I never got close enough to anybody to obsess like this.

Maybe I was already making baby steps.

 

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