*read all of the chapters for Swipe Right – The Chronicles of an Unpaid Prostitute in order here
My Saturday night was dedicated to angry sex with the stranger I’d met at the bar around the corner from my apartment. The bar I’d gone to alone. I was on a mission and tonight, of all nights, all of my girls were busy and I sure as hell wasn’t going to sit at home by myself. We didn’t need to relive last night. So tonight, I was that girl. I couldn’t remember his name, Justin, Derek, something like that. He had a messy apartment; it stunk like a frat house and dirty clothes lay in the corner of his bedroom. He was snoring blissfully beside me. Me? I was empty. Everything about me was empty. Even the orgasm I’d just faked had been empty. I looked to my left at a nightstand that didn’t belong to me and there it sat, empty. How did I get here? When had I become this person?
I needed to leave. He wouldn’t even notice, the sounds coming from him were ones that would rival a freight train. I picked up my things and slipped from his apartment.
Jamie was home when I arrived. “What the fuck are you wearing?”
I looked down at myself, not recognizing the tattered shirt I had on. Shit, did I take this from his apartment? “I don’t know.”
“Where the hell did you get it? Behind a dumpster?”
“Let’s be real,” I told her, my words slightly slurred. “My last memory of this past twenty four hours is a bowl of icing. From yesterday. So I’m not ruling anything out.”
Everything felt foreign in my own bed, in my own apartment. I needed to go home. I remembered my mom had sent me an email about Mimi’s birthday party in two weeks. I booked my plane ticket.
At work on Monday, I called Ben’s office and spoke with Val. We’d made plans to grab a drink before I asked for Ben. “He’s unavailable right now, but I’ll let him know you called.” I didn’t know why I felt disappointed. As I hung up the phone, my computer lit up with a new email. My dad was in town and he wanted to meet for lunch. Today.
I met him at a swanky restaurant, one I’d never been to before. He looked good, had lost weight. Had he been tanning? He’d definitely gotten his teeth whitened. And there it started, the midlife crisis stage. I was only waiting for the twenty year old Instagram model with big boobs and blonde hair to walk in and introduce herself as my new step mommy.
“How are you, peanut?” he asked, pulling me in for a bear hug. I’d always felt like I needed to prove myself to my dad. He was an accomplished man and he held his standards higher than anyone I’d ever met. I proceeded to tell him about my latest successful project and some of the new ones my boss had thrown my way since. I’d gushed about my goals for the future and how this campaign and every one following only brought me closer to what I wanted. He’d told me what he’d been up to, how he’d just returned from a vacation in Maui and living the ultimate life as a bachelor. I couldn’t ever see my dad re-marrying. He loved the freedom too much, the ability to take off to faraway lands without needing approval from anyone. He was a wanderer, that was simply who he was. I’d held that against him for too long, I’d realized. He was a man that craved adventure, the ability to hop on a plane and get lost in a foreign land. He was never meant to be a family man, tied down to a wife and a child and a house in the suburbs. As he was showing me his latest tattoo, one that finished the full sleeve he’d started a year ago, I turned at the sound of an overly loud feminine laugh. I felt my eyes widen. God damn, this kid was everywhere. “Shit.”
I watched him do a double take as he recognized me. He guided the overly touchy woman to their table before walking over to ours. I forced a smile as he approached. “Ben, hi. Dad, this is Ben, we worked together on my last project.”
“Nice to meet you, sir. Your daughter is making big waves in the marketing world.” I was taken aback by his compliment.
“Glad to hear it.”
At the same time, our server brought us our bill and I could have kissed her then. I wasn’t sure why I felt weird but I did and I wanted to leave. I knew Ben could feel it too. “Well we’ll let you get back to your lunch, we have to get out of here,” I said to him, throwing cash down on the table before my dad could. I was speaking too fast, why was I speaking so fast?
Ben frowned at me, “Okay.”
“Enjoy.” Enjoy? I rolled my eyes at myself, grabbing my coat.
“We’ll talk later? I have a few things I’d like to run past you.”
“Sure, just have Val call me and we’ll set something up.” I turned my back and moved to follow my dad who was already halfway out the door.
“Maddie.” I closed my eyes; I needed to pull myself together. Really, I just needed this week to be over. It was all too much, too many emotions and I didn’t want to deal with any of it. Seeing Ben with someone else did things to my insides I didn’t want to acknowledge and all I wanted to do was go home and crawl into bed until I could climb on a plane and go see my mom. Letting out a slow breath, I turned around and forced a smile to my face. “Is everything okay?”
“Its fine, Ben. Why?” He was looking into my eyes, searching for something. I’d made sure I was shuttered.
“Just making sure.”
“Go back to your lunch, I don’t want to be the reason you keep your date waiting, we’ll talk later, okay?” Before he could answer, I turned and left.
*tomorrow – Chapter Twenty One