*read all of the chapters for Swipe Right – The Chronicles of an Unpaid Prostitute in order here
I sat in the waiting area of Ben Davis’s office Monday morning. I’d received an email over the weekend asking for a meeting and here I was. It would be interesting; I remembered how nervous I was at the presentation and the phone call afterward. Maybe we needed a fresh start. He was just another person and he seemed decent on the phone. And we had to work together, he was my new client which meant it didn’t really matter how I felt about him.
I arrived to the office early and brought his assistant, Val, a coffee. Luckily she was there and we were finally able to meet in person. We’d talked so many times on the phone and via email it was nice to be able to put a face to the voice. She was young, about my age, fun, bubbly, even for a nine o’clock meeting. “You are a life saver, Maddie. I didn’t have time to stop by the coffee shop on the way in. I owe you.”
“No, it was my pleasure. I’m just happy that we are finally getting together.”
“Same, it’s so nice to actually talk to you in person.”
Before we could chat any further the man himself walked through the door. With barely a smile he breezed through. “Maddie, good morning. I’ll be right with you. Val,” he greeted with a nod. He was formal, young, more attractive than I thought or remembered but he was clearly all business, almost stuffy. I looked over a Val with silent questions. She shook her head with a smile.
“Is he always so chipper?” I whispered.
She clamped her lips together to stop from laughing. “Usually only on Monday mornings.”
Of course. “I wonder what karma I’m paying for now,” I muttered.
“Maddie, please, come on in,” he beckoned from his office.
I sat on the edge of one of the chairs in front of his large desk. I looked around, his office was damn gorgeous. I would eventually need to get the name of his interior designer. Looking back to Ben, I was tense and I knew I looked tense. I did my best not to squirm.
“I hope I didn’t take away too much of your weekend,” he started, referencing his impeccable timing last time we’d met.
“No, it was fine, thank you.”
“Good. I asked you here because I wanted to provide to you my ideas, what I had envisioned for this campaign and I want your honest opinions as to whether you think you can both incorporate them into what you have previously provided or if you think they are even worth it.”
“I can do that,” I told him, feeling more confident as the meeting went on.
For the next hour he talked and I either agreed or disagreed with his ideas. “Look, I understand why you’re pressing for this but it just won’t work. It’s not going to provide the results you’re wanting it to. It’s not realistic.”
“I need for it to be realistic, Maddie,” he argued. “I’m counting on you to make this work.”
I took a deep breath and nodded my head telling him I would try even knowing my workload was just doubled. I’d put together a presentation of what he wanted and I would do another of what he needed showing him just how right I was.
As I was leaving, I stopped by Val’s desk. “Listen,” she started. “I wanted to give you my personal cell phone number in case you need anything after hours and Ben isn’t available.”
“Thank you, I appreciate that. I’d actually love to bounce some ideas off of you sometime if you’re free for coffee or drinks. My treat.”
“Sure, anytime,” she agreed with a smile.
Leaning my head against the wall of the elevator, I let out a heavy sigh suddenly feeling exhausted. I was finding that all of my interactions with Ben Davis left me more frustrated than when I went in. I didn’t know why I was letting him get to me. I needed to keep a cool head and show him what he needed instead of telling him.
That night I got home late, well after the sun went down. Turning the corner, I found Darryl sitting outside on the front steps. He was in the same sweatpants he’d been wearing for the past week and a t shirt that was more shredded than my dignity. He had a drink beside him, some sort of pink drink, still in a mason jar. Exasperated with my Monday, I actually joined him.
“What’s on tap tonight?” I asked him, motioning to his glass.
“Cosmo.” I wasn’t surprised. We sat in silence for a few long minutes, watching the late rush hour traffic. “Did you get a chance to look up my video on YouTube yet?”
Shit. “Yes, it was awesome. Very impressive.” I lied. I hated lying.
“Thanks, I appreciate that. Can I ask you something?”
“Sure, why not.”
“Do you date, Maddie?”
“Yeah, I date. Sometimes.”
“I need to start dating again,” he said, nonchalantly.
“You should,” I encouraged, although I didn’t know why.
“It’s hard for me though, women, they just get so attached to me. And I don’t know if I want that, I think I might just want to play the field a little, you know?” I really wanted to live in his world sometimes, just to experience it.
“I hear ya.” He started humming beside me, letting the conversation drop away and it was then that I realized maybe he wasn’t so creepy, he was more lonely than anything. Well, still creepy.
Later that night I received a text from Wes. I sighed with a weary smile. Wonderful, sex god Wes. I knew I couldn’t see him again, bank robbers were off limits, unfortunately. Instead of answering, I called Luke. “Are you free on Thursday?”
“For you? Of course.”
*tomorrow – Chapter Twelve