Authors: Sadie Grubor
"Sit down. We will get the waitress." Ced motions to a young girl in a black vest.
I shake my head, adrenaline coursing through my body. "No, no, no. We need to go now."
"But you haven't eaten." Felicity eyes me curiously.
"What's going on?" Ced asks.
"I'll explain in the taxi. Let's go. We have to move, ladies."
Knowing I’m acting like a paranoid freak doesn't stop me from looking over my shoulder until we we're safely in the cab and pulling away from the hotel. As soon as I feel safe, my phone beeps.
You can't get rid of me that easily.
The number is unknown, but it's obvious the text came from
"Who's that?" Mercedes’ eyes move from my phone to my face.
"Remember how you guys said you wouldn't let me drink too much, you'd have my back, and nothing bad was going to happen? Blah, freaking blah." I narrow my eyes at both of them.
"Uh, yeah," Felicity mumbles.
"Yeah, well, this happened!" Shoving my left hand in their face, I let them register the gold band sitting on my ring finger.
"HOLY…" Felicity starts.
"SHIT!" Mercedes finishes.
"Yeah, exactly!" I growl.
"H-how?" Felicity asks, still staring at my hand. "We didn't see anyone around you."
I sigh and tell them what I remember of the night before, which isn’t much.
"So, you just took off this morning?" Felicity asks, her eyes bulging out of her head.
"What would you have done? A strange man telling me I can't get rid of him that easily…I mean, what sane person would do this? What if he’s going to kidnap me or something?" Putting my face into my hands, I huff.
"Well, technically, I wouldn't wake up with a man in my room."
I lift my head and glare at Felicity before dropping it back down.
"What?" She shrugs. "But, if I woke up married to a strange woman and married to the multimillionaire, why would I give that up? We should take you back to him. Think of the possibilities."
I snap my head up to look at her again.
She can't be serious
. Felicity and Mercedes break out in a fit of laughter, letting me know how unserious they are. Groaning, I drop my head back against the headrest of the seat.
"This is seriously
"Calm down," Ced encourages, patting my leg.
"We'll give Alfonso a call when we get back. He'll take care of the paperwork and filing." Felicity gives me a reassuring look. Alfonso, Felicity's older brother, is a lawyer and Mercedes’ long time crush.
"Ooohh, just make sure I'm working when he comes to deliver the papers." Mercedes’ face lights up as she bounces in her seat. "I definitely want to see his fine ass—"
"Ew! Stop, Ced. That's my brother." Felicity feigns gagging.
"We can make it a family affair." Mercedes winks at Felicity.
"Enough with the pseudo lesbianism, Ced. Can we please get back on topic?" I cover my face, shame and worry battling for dominate emotion.
The long plane ride back to Pennsylvania doesn't make me feel better. I thought the more distance between Damon Knyght and me, the better I would feel. Instead, last night starts to piece together like a mental jigsaw puzzle. Now the memory lingers and it’s all I can think about.
He made me slightly uncomfortable when he sat without asking, but the discomfort quickly changed when he introduced himself as Damon and we started to talk about ourselves. We both enjoyed and appreciated various types of music, reading classic books, as well as food. Though, he enjoyed eating food and I enjoyed making food. I also couldn't help but feel as if I had seen him before. It was like an odd form of déjà vu.
After mentioning that I was in a relationship with someone, his demeanor changed. He began questioning me. I wasn't comfortable with the questions, so I got up to excuse myself. He stopped me and apologized for being so rude. I smiled lightly, told him it was okay, and continued toward the ladies room.
When I emerged, I noticed he was no longer at our table. I found another drink waiting on me, courtesy of Mercedes, I'm sure. I tossed it back and after a second refill, he returned. The night turned into a blur of drinks, laughter, gambling, dancing, and then him convincing me to go to a casino with him; however, along the way, was the chapel. We ended up inside, getting married and purchasing the two gold bands there. His kiss was intense and deep, even in front of the few people at the little chapel. My body flooded with heat at the memory.
We skipped the casino and ended up in my hotel room. Just as the door shut, his hands were gripping the zipper on my dress and pulling it off my body. I giggled as I watched the green dress fly across the room.
He practically ripped his clothes from his body, stalking toward me. When he reached me, his shirt was off and his pants were sagging on his hips. He definitely was built. My hands roamed from the V of his hips and moved up, over his chest.
He devoured my lip as he pushed me back onto the bed and crawled over me. My underwear and bra were nothing for him, and soon found their way on the floor with my dress. There was an animalistic way about his actions, like he craved physical connection. Low rumbles emanated from deep within his chest when he licked or nipped at my skin, or as I licked or nipped his, especially when I fisted his hair in my hands.
The moment his pants were on the floor, I felt him push my legs further apart and climb between them. The swollen tip of his erection nudged at my entrance and he growled as he thrust into me.
"Condom," I panted out, but he didn't stop and I couldn't think straight.
It felt amazing. Never has anyone made me feel as if they were completely devouring my body.
"We're twenty minutes out of Pittsburgh International. We hope you enjoyed your flight with us today…" The pilot's announcement snapped me out of the memory replaying over and over in my head.
Groaning, I cover my face.
Great. No condom.
I take deep breaths to calm the heat coursing through my body as the memories and guilt assail me.
I can fix this. I will fix this.
First, I need to talk to Erik, which will be the end of our semi-relationship. When Erik and I first met, I thought I was ready to try a relationship again. Turns out, the little time and affection I could offer was not what Erik needed. I’ve tried ending it before and now, he sticks around as a friend who hopes for more.
Second, I need to arrange an appointment with Alfonso to get the annulment papers prepared, sent to Damon, and then filed.
Third, I will
never, ever, ever
return to Vegas.
When I arrive at my Pittsburgh apartment over the bakery, I pay the taxi driver and take my things to my room. After sending a quick text to let my father know I'm home, I climb into the shower. Clean, dry, and dressed in a pair of jeans and an oversized sweater, I take a brisk walk to the local pharmacy.
Nothing screams slut louder than mumbling my need for the morning after pill to the pharmacist. I receive a pitiful look from the technician when she hands over the white paper bag.
"Do you have any questions for the pharmacist?" she asks, patronizing me.
"No, thank you," I bite out through clenched teeth. I snatch the bag from her hand a bit too roughly and her eyes grow wide. She has the nerve to look stunned by my actions.
I pick up a bottle of water along the way to the register and pull out the pill instruction and FAQ sheet. As soon as I step from the pharmacy, I push the pill through the foil back, twist open the water, and take the medicine. Shoving the information papers deep into my messenger bag, I toss the remnants of the medicine package in a random garbage can.
As I enter my apartment, the voice of my little angel greets me.
"Momma!" Alex runs and wraps his arms around my legs.
Slipping my hands under his arms, I pull him to my chest and hold him close.
"Hey, baby, did you have fun with Grandpa?"
My eighteen-month-old son squeezes me tightly around my neck and nods.
"How was your trip?" My father smiles warmly as he walks up and kisses the side of my head.
How do you tell your father you got some strange and married a not-exactly-stranger? Hallmark doesn't make that card.
"Liv?" One bushy, brown brow raises over his left eye.
"It was nice. Really, it was. I'm just tired from the time difference." Forcing a smile, I push by him, hoping he doesn't pick up on my mood.
"Do you want me to stick around and keep an eye on my little guy so you can rest?"
"No, you don't have to do that. I'll be fine." I place Alex onto his feet again and he runs off toward his room.
"Are you sure?" He studies my face closely, just like he did when I was in trouble as a kid.
"I'll be fine, Dad."
"You seem a little shaken." He crosses his arms over his chest.
Closing the small space between us, I wrap him in a hug.
"I'm fine. I promise." I press a kiss to his cheek.
"If you say so, but you know you can tell me anything, right?" He pulls his head back to look down into my face.
"Of course." I force a smile, feeling horrible for not telling him what's going on.
"Alright, well, I'm gonna get going. I want to get back before dark. Call me if you need anything, okay?" He grabs his keys and jacket before turning back to look at me.
"I swear, I will." With one last hug, I send him on his way.
Sometimes I forget how quickly four in the morning arrives. Dressed in faded, food-color-stained jeans and an old Bon Jovi concert shirt, I make a cup of coffee and descend the stairs from my apartment to the bakery kitchen below. With Alex still sleeping, the baby monitor hangs from my back pocket.
My morning routine is almost always the same. Pull out pre-made dough from the fridge and get the ovens going. Before I begin gathering ingredients for the large standing mixers, I grab one of the many aprons hanging in my cubby. Today, I slip
May the yeast be with you
over my head, tie it at my back, and start prepping the worktable.
With the large floor mixer and two small table mixers running, I barely hear Mercedes come through the back door of the kitchen.
"Good morning," she sings.
"Hey, sunshine." Wiping flour on the rag over my shoulder, I lean against the stainless steel worktable and reach for a sip of coffee.
"Alex still sleeping?" Yawning and stretching her long, thin arms over her head, she makes her way toward her office.
I nod in response, glancing down at my watch. Almost five-thirty. The rest of the crew will be arriving soon. Placing my mug back down, I return to hand rolling the dough in front of me.
The mixers automatically shut down as I place trays filled with cinnamon rolls and croissants into the large refrigerator to be baked once an oven is free. And then comes cleaning up the first of many messes of the day.
"Morning, Liv." Sarah, one of my baking assistants, walks in. She hangs her personal items in her cubby and then grabs an apron and slips it over her head.
"Morning," I respond, wiping flour from the table.
"How was Vegas?" she asks as she pulls open one of the ovens to check on the trays of pastries and cookies.
"Yeah, fun is one way to describe it," Ced snorts, entering the kitchen with the appointment book in hand.
"Liv, you have three consultations today. Sarah, you have two, and…" Ced looks around the kitchen, "where's Emily?"
I shrug, sure that Emily, my head baker, will be in soon enough.
"Well, she has two as well." Closing the appointment book, she sets it on an empty shelf just outside her office. "What can I do to help?"
"Come help with the bagels," Sarah shouts over her shoulder, setting the large trays on her worktable.