Jaded: Part II

2011.11.16

I quickly changed into the slightly large blue sweats and white pima t-shirt, as I began to smell fresh herbs and hear the sound of sizzling meat from the kitchen. I felt a little wierd as I walked out back to the living room, because I didn’t have any underwear on. Unless it was a dangerously tight pair of jeans, I always had to have on underwear. So, I turned around to adjust the pants in the mirror, for maximum security. As I turned around for my second attempt out of the bathroom, I noticed that there was Read more…

Jaded: Part I

2011.10.23

I was curled up in my favorite corner of my couch, in my favorite sweats, with a warm cup of Vanilla Rooibos tea. It was a rainy Sunday afternoon, and I was catching up on a week’s worth of DVR recordings. I was distracted from a sudden light beaming from across the pitch black room; it was my intercom. I rolled my eyes and debated with my legs about getting up to go answer the door. Apparently my phone was in on the conversation, because it started ringing too.

“Hey Cory.”

“What are you doing? Get up! Me and Kevin are downstairs. You don’t hear the buzzer?”

“Yeah, I hear it. Do I really feel like getting up?”

My decision was made for me when Kevin pressed the buzzer until I let them up.

When they walked in, they found me in the same position I was in before they called.

“Um, get dressed! We’re going to Brooklyn. Theres a food festival, and we might go see the new Angelina movie. David is gonna meet us there, too.”

I sliced my eyes right through the plot that was being described before me. Read more…

Part 3: The tangled webs

2010.03.03

‘What are you doing here?’ I yelled, while using my senses to quickly locate something to throw. ‘You think it’s that easy for you to just show up like nothing happened?’ My neck became incredibly tense, and I knew atomatically that I was headed down a one way street to rage. Kendall was standing in my living room, as I was just returning home from New Orleans. I don’t know if it was just me, or this motherfucker was really standing in my living room, as if he didnt go AWOL on my ass in Japan. I stood at the front door, with a fire in my eyes that could melt diamonds. I grabbed a pillar candle from the bookshelf next to the door, and threw my bag to the side as if it was a pillow. ‘Why? How? When? First of all how the FUCK did you get into MY apartment?!  Your shit is at your mother’s house. Do you think you still live here? Are you smoking?’ I began rambling in a bout of rage as I paced towards Kendall who was on his knees at this point, begging for mercy, hoping that he wouldn’t be bludgoned by the metallic candle in my hand.  I spent thirty minutes yelling to the top of my lungs at him about everything from him deserting me in  Okinawa, to the fucked up email he sent to me, which almost ruined my Christmas vacation. He stood there, silent, with a blank expression on his face, as if he’d seen a ghost. Or, in my case, the devil. Once I finally ran out of words, I began pacing around the apartment, slamming doors and spewing out random vulgarities.
‘Cris, just stop, and listen.’ Kendall finally replied, after an hour of standing in the middle of the living room. ‘WHY THE FUCK SHOULD I LISTEN TO A GODDAMN THING YOU HAVE TO SAY!?’ I yelled so loudly, it shook my wine glasses, the echo bounced down the hall and scared the birds on the window. ‘Why, Kendall? You don’t know how hard it was for me to deal with this shit, and then try to work through it, like it didnt happen!’ He grabbed my arm and tried to get me to sit down. ‘Don’t touch me.’ I said, as I snatched my arm back. I looked at him with an extreme fever of rage, and walked over to the kitchen counter and leaned. ‘I’m waiting,’ I snapped, while tapping my finger on the cold, black granite. ‘I been waiting for this shit since July 23rd.’ Kendall let out a long, hard sigh of burden. ‘I couldn’t tell you where I went, because I didn’t want you to find out that way. I had to go to Chicago. My ex wife called, and told me our 6 year old daughter was kidnapped while on a school trip. I needed to be there for her, for them.’ I began to pull at my hair, and started snatching drawers and cabinets open, in search of my emergency pack of Djarum Black cigarettes, which I only smoked in extreme cases of stress. I could’nt quite figure out how to respond to the fact that the man that I’d been with for the past year and was about to marry, had been hiding the fact that not only was he once married, but he had a daughter that was the same age as my baby cousin. I couldnt find the cigarettes, probably because Karen threw them away when she came in to redecorate. Kendall paused when he saw that I was tearing the kitchen apart, and asked ‘You looking for something?’ I threw a wine glass at him for asking such a stupid question, and out of pure frustration. ‘Finish!’ I demanded, anxious to know what other bag he was going to come out of on me. ‘I couldn’t call you, because I didn’t know what to say, and to be honest, when I saw the ring, I got scared. I didn’t think that I was ready to be what you needed, especially since I was keeping such a major secret from you. I sent you that email, because I spent the whole day crying because I couldn’t tell you the truth, and that hurt me more than not being here for you. I’ve been back in Jersey for the past 2 months. I’ve been staying with Freddie until I could find my own place. I’m sor–’ I cut him off mid sentence. ‘Kendall, you need to listen to yourself right now, because all I hear is BULLSHIT!’ You have not given me reason to believe a damn thing you said. First of all, why could you NOT tell me you were MARRIED, and had a child?! Why did you not tell me any of this before you left my ass in Japan, looking like little orphan Annie? AND THEN YOUVE BEEN LIVING UNDER MY NOSE for two months, and couldn’t manage to bring your ass up here to give me the TRUTH that I deserve?! Bullshit, Kendall. Bullshit. And I’m gonna ask again, HOW did you get in my apartment, when I had the locks changed?’ I turned around and realized the door was open the whole time. And as soon as I walked over to close it, I heard a deep  voice outside of it. ‘Cris? You alright? I heard you yelling from the ele-’ It was Brian. He was standing in the door way, with two bags from Whole Foods and a puzzled look on his face that was quickly changing to rage. ‘Oh my God,’ I sighed, as I brushed my hair from my face.  I walked over to take the bags from Brian, who almost dropped them as his hands rolled into fists. ‘Is the valet selling keys and apartment numbers in this motherfucker!? Brian, how did you get in here? Who told you where I lived?’ I was promptly ignored. ‘Is this him?’
I froze in a state of shock, confusion and anger. I knew that shit was about to go left.  ‘Yes, this is Kendall. Kendall, this is-’ I paused. ‘I don’t needa explain shit to you! Especially since you can’t return the favor.’ I snapped at Kendall as I saw Brian taking off his jacket behind me. I turned and looked at him, while he stared at Kendall with a disgusted scowl on his face.  I was scared he was gonna knock him on his ass, but instead, he picked up the bags and brought them into the kitchen. ‘You two can continue, I want to hear this,’ Brian said as he motioned for Kendall to finish this fairytale that he was cooking up. ‘Yes Kendall, continue. You were getting to the good part,’ I said facetiously. I pulled out my phone as he continued his pointless diatribe. I scrolled through my phonebook, and called the one person who could set the record straight. ‘Hi, Mrs London! How are you doing?’ Kendall’s face lost all color, and his mouth could have mopped my floor. ‘I have your son in my living room, and I was hoping you could clear up a few details for me.’  I began asking questions, as I walked into the bedroom, and sat on the bed. ‘So you were both in Chicago together? But I can’t understand why he couldn’t at least call me and tell me what was going on.’  Mrs. London let out a deep sigh, before she told me the rest of the story. I pulled the phone away from my ear for a few seconds, to listen to the loud talking in the kitchen. I didn’t pay it any mind and went back to my phone conversation.  Apparently, Kendall’s story was pretty much accurate, except for one detail: Kendall is still married.
From what I could gather from the conversation with his mother, Kendall moved to New York for a one year contract with the Prolific Group, one of the leading Architechtural agencies, while they built an office in Chicago. He left his family behind, instead of disrupting their lives, and his wife’s job at Columbia as a proffessor of English. She also told me that he’d been struggling with his sexuality since he was 19. He felt like he was doing the right thing when he got married to his high school sweetheart after he graduated from UC Berkeley. But, no matter how much he loved  Janelle, he couldn’t fight the feeling that something was not right inside of him. And when he met me a year ago in New York, he decided that he was going to do what’s right for him, even though it meant living a lie until he could figure it out.  ‘I would sit on the phone with him for hours, while he cried his heart out, asking what he should do. I could only tell him to do what he felt in his heart.’ I stood in the window of my bedroom, staring at the City skyline across the Hudson while Mrs. London continued. I was drawn deeper and deeper into a state of shock as she went on. ‘He didn’t want to leave his kids without a father, because he grew up that way, but he’d fallen in love with you.  He tells me everyday that you are everything he’d ever dreamed of. Kendall has never been so enamored with anyone the way he is with you. Janelle pales in comparison to you.  She’s a wonderful girl, but she doesn’t make Kendall nearly as happy as you do.’ I wiped the tears from the edge of my nose. ‘Well, I dont think that I’ll be able to continue to make him happy, especially since he’s put me through hell,’ I said as I got mad all over again. ‘I understand, Cris. And Kendall will have to learn to understand that too.’ She said, in a tone so comforting, I almost forgot why I was mad. ‘Thank you so much, Mrs. London. you have a good night. When I come to DC again, lunch is on me, okay?’ I could see her nodding and smiling through the phone. ‘You got it, love! Good night, Cris.’
I stood in the middle of my bedroom, with a deathgrip on my phone, looking for something to throw. I couldn’t find anything nearby, so I just screamed as loud as I could. It was so loud, I could hear an echo outside, and I broke two martini glasses in the kitchen. Kendall and Brian were running over each other trying to get to me and tried to fit through the doorway together, pissing me off further. ‘If you scratch my Ralph Lauren paint, thats your ASS!’  I yelled as they struggled in the door way. ‘What’s wrong? Come here,’ Brian asked, as he took me to the bathroom to wipe my face. I looked in the mirror at my bloodshot red eyes and hair in random strands across my head, and turned away. While Brian pulled my sweater over my head, Kendall crawled up to me with a sad, puppy dog face. ‘Is there anything I can do? What did my mother tell you? Please, Cris just talk to me.’ I cut my eyes at him, and he turned his head as if he’d been burned by laser beams. ‘Everything. I think its best that you leave.’ I held my hand out, and he already knew that was for the key that he conned out of Karen, as he put it in my hand.  I put my finger through the ring and pointed to the door.  ‘Brian, go lock the door.’  Kendall walked away, eyes glazed and he let out a heavy sigh as he looked back at me one last time before leaving my bedroom.
About 10 Minutes later, Brian came back in, and brought me a cup of roobios chai, and a piece of the quiche lorraine that he brought over from Dean & Deluca.  I was laying in the middle of the bed, in the dark, staring at the moonlight. He turned on my reading lamp in the corner and brought the tray over to me. ‘Here, you should eat something.’ I sat up and reached for the cup of tea, which was perfectly warm, with the right amount of soymilk. ‘Thank you. This is great- just what I needed.’  I knew I shouldn’t have been drinking caffeine at 2am, being that I needed to be up at 7:30 for an early meeting in the office. I patted the bed, trying to find my phone, only to see Brian walking out of the room with it. ‘You dont need this damn thing right now.’  He sat it in the dock on my desk in the living room.  ‘Karen is emailing me the agenda for the meeting tomorrow. I need to see what the hell I’m waking up so damn early for.’  Brian yelled from the living room, as he swept up the glass from the kitchen floor. ‘Thats why you can read it tomorrow.’ I chuckled, because I knew he was right. ‘Well, tell me this. How did you know where I lived?’  In the midst of all the drama, I never paid attention to the fact that Brian showed up, and I never even remembered telling him where I lived. He’d come back into the bedroom, just as I was finishing my tea, and took the tray. ‘Well I put all of your contact info in my phone while you were sleeping. I wanted to surprise you with dinner and a movie when you got back from New Orleans, but I guess what’s his name had other plans.’ I rolled my eyes at him and smiled. ‘I don’t even know how Kendall got his raggedy ass into my apartment. I’ll discuss that with Karen tomorrow. But that was so sweet of you. I would have preferred that over the fuckery that took place tonight.’  I shook my head, as I started pulling my hair and sunk back into the bed. ‘I really hated that you were here during all of that.’ Brian sat on the bed behind me, and continued to rub my weary head where I left off. ‘I’m glad I walked in when I did. There’s something about that nigga I just dont like.’  ‘Lets hope he doesnt try anything else soon. Oh God, I need to sleep.’  Brian got up and turned the light off.  I looked around and before I could ask if  I need to let him out, he was already laying beside me, pulling me closer to him. ‘Get some rest. I’ll wake you up in time for work.’ I felt alot better, instantly.

I heard my blackberry in the distance, and almost busted my ass running across my bed yelling. ‘I’m gonna be so goddamn late!’  I began rummaging through the closet, looking for something bright to camoflauge my tired skin. I almost passed out when I felt a pair of hands grab my waist. I was so tired that I totally forgot that Brian was here. ‘I should be on the train already. Its 6:15, and I’m SO gonna miss the meeting. I hate driving into the city, but it looks like I’m gonna have to. DAMMIT!’ I ran around the apartment rambling and throwing on clothes and applying moisturizers and cologne. Brian laughed as he grabbed my hand and pulled me away from the jewelry box as I was picking out earrings. ‘BRIAN. I am gonna be mad late.’ I didn’t even have the strength to yell, or even fight back. ‘Calm down. I already got you a vanilla latte from Starbucks and when you get dressed, I’ll drive you to the office. You do remember, I live in the city.’ I sighed, and just sat on the bed for a minute. ‘You–’ He shook his head and put a finger over my lips. ‘I’m gonna make your life as easy as I can. Now go, finish getting dressed.’ He smacked me on the ass as I tipped back into the bathroom, putting on the Tiffany Atlas studs I grabbed from the jewelry box.

‘You GOTTA be shittin me right now.’ I said as I looked at the Alpine White 650i in front of my building. Brian chuckled as he opened the door for me to get in. ‘You’re silly. Get in, its already nice and warm,’ He said  standing there, as if he was my chauffeur. The red Alacantra leather was so perfectly warm, and smelled like I got lost in the stockroom of Cole Haan. ‘Your office is on 57th and 5th, right?’ I nodded, as I sipped my latte. For the entire 20 minute ride, I gazed out the window, in the deepest of thought. I couldn’t figure out what was happening before my eyes. Was this really the same man who I was mad at 3 years ago for hiding from me? Was he trying to make up for his past mistakes? Before I could even begin to travel down that road, I felt the chilly breeze from outside. Brian was standing there with the door open, in front of my office. ’Oh, shit. I’m so sorry, I don’t know where my mind went.’ He took my hand as I wiggled out of the supple leather seat. ‘I know. We’ll talk about it later.’ He opened his arms as I walked towards him, and squeezed me tightly. He gave me a kiss on the forehead, and whispered in my ear, ‘Have a good day, and I’ll see you later. And don’t worry about that other bastard. I’m here.’

I blew into the office, like autumn leaves in a September wind at five minutes to 7. ’Karen, I dont have time to play with you girl. let me survive this product review meeting, and you can interrogate me as much as you want.’ She threw me one of her messy side eyes, and added a ’mmm hmm’ as I walked into my office and  read the emails that I didnt get to last night. After reviewing the notes, I sat and looked out of the window for about fifteen minutes, staring at the trees in Central Park. I knew that I needed to snap out of it, because I needed to pay attention to what was going on in this meeting.

As Karen and I walked into the conference room, I jumped when I saw Gianela sitting at the head of the table, like she owned the place. ‘Well what a pleasant surprise! I had no idea that you were coming. Gia stood up and opened her arms. ‘How are you, Cristian? So great to see you again!’ As I hugged Gia, the strong, woodsy aroma of Acqua di Gio enveloped my nose. I heard a strong sensual Italian accent: ‘Hello Cristian, good to see you again.’ It was Carlo. I paused with shifting eyes, and cracked a nervous smile. ‘Hi Carlo! how are you? Yes, it is great to see you too!’ I was saved from awkward conversation (for now, at least) when the Marketing director and VP of Retail Ops walked in, and started the meeting. I sat at the other end of the glass and bamboo conference table, and tried to stay focused on the product launches, while trying not to think about Brian and what a prince he’s been to me. Not to mention, avoiding eye contact with Carlo, who was staring at me from behind Karen’s shoulder. After viewing the ad campaigns for the new store that I was opening, Gia got up to introduce Carlo as the new head of styling and wardrobe for Benetton. We were about to begin a series of ad campaigns for the store that I was launching, and he was going to be heading up a team of makeup artists and hairstylists who would be working on this project. Suddenly, I had an uneasy feeling come over me. I’m not sure how I was going to feel about him working this closely with me for the next 3-6 months. The feeling didnt last long. This was my masterpiece, and I wasn’t going to let it fail because of some shallow crush, or otherwise. I’ve jumped one hurdle and this one was merely a pile of leaves on my road of life.

I was in the mood for comfort food, so I suggested that we go to Cafeteria for lunch. I ordered fried chicken strips, macaroni and cheese with a chocolate shake. Gia looked at my tray, and asked, ‘How do you keep your shape, eating food like that?’ I laughed and told her that I leave my car at home when I come to work. ‘Climbing subway stairs and walking miles across Manhattan does wonders for my figure!’ I joked as she ordered a chicken cesar salad, and a bottle of Perrier.  I offered to pay for everyone’s lunch, since they took such great care of me in florence. It was the least that I could do.  As much as I hated to, I knew I couldnt be rude to Carlo, although something about him creeped me the hell out. I mustered up all of the enthusiasm I could, despite being awfully tired and preoccupied. ‘Congratulations on the new job, Carlo! Welcome to Bennetton!’  I raised my glass to propose a toast. ‘Here’s to a wonderful partnership.’ As our glasses joined, I thought about the fact that Carlo is now an employee of the same company as I. I’d hoped that he soon realized this, and how important it was for him to be proffessional.  I dont know the  sexual harrassment laws in Italy, but I will throw the book at his ass in the states. Afterwards, we sat for about an hour, catching up on each other’s lives since I left florence 4 months ago.  Gia and her girlfriend have decided to adopt, and surprisingly Carlo has been in a relationship for the past six months, and I’m just finding out about this. I glared at Gia when he told me that they were apartment hunting. Of course, inquiring minds want to know why he was so enamored with me, when he was in a committed relationship. That never made sense to me.  Gia tried to insist that we meet later tonight for dinner, and I quickly told her that I had other plans (which meant I was working late and spending the rest of the night with TiVo and Haagen Dazs), and was dead tired from the flight back home from Louisiana last night.

Once I returned to my office, I read a few emails from store managers, and scheduled a few scouting meetings for models to shoot for the ad campaigns.  I realized that in the midst of all that’s been going on, I hadnt talked to Kelsey in about 3 weeks.  And no sooner than the thought crossed my mind, my phone started ringing. ‘Hey Kelsey.’ I dont know how, but he always had some uncanny ability to read my mind and try to one up my thought process.  ‘What’s goin’ on, Cris? I had a feeling that you were about to call me, so I thought I’d beat you to it.’ I answered emails while we caught up.
At about 7:30, I sent my last e-mail, and finished of my set sketches for the store displays. I found it strange that I hadn’t heard from Brian all day. I guessed that he was either busy or had as much on his mind as I did. Whatever the case, I didn’t worry about it. As always, I was the last one in the office, so I grabbed my bag and jacket, and headed out the door. When I got to the front door, I headed towards the train station, I heard someone yell ‘You’re still a workaholic, I see.’ I stopped in my tracks, and my entire posture changed, as if I saw a new pair of Gaultier boots at Neiman Marcus. I turned my head and saw Brian walking towards me. He was dressed in a pair of pinstripe pants, with a turquoise mohair v-neck sweater, complete with contrasting pink oxford shirt and pointed black boots. I always loved a man that had a finely tuned fashion sense. ‘Somebody’s gotta pay the bills.’ I said, wrapping my Alpaca scarf around my face. ‘You look nice, as usual. What are you doing around here?’ ‘I couldn’t just let you go back to Jersey by yourself. I would feel bad, knowing you were at home alone. How was work?’ Brian and I chatted non chalantly as we walked down 5th Avenue. I saw him looking around, and we were in the middle of prime 5th Avenue Shopping. ‘What are we doing here? I should not be walking down here. I’m still trying to recover from my binge shopping in Italy.’ He grabbed my hand and led me into Saks. ‘Don’t worry. I got it. It’s a late Christmas gift. Besides, you could use a little retail therapy.’ I was utterly confused, but would never turn down free shopping.

I waved at Gina, one of the managers in Handbags, as Brian took me to Ralph Lauren. I gasped and covered my mouth. ‘Brian, I can’t- I can’t allow you to spend this kind of money on me.’ He called one the salespeople over to us. ‘You’re not letting me. I want to. What are you going to wear to work tomorrow?’ I raised an eyebrow. ‘I dont know, I usually throw something together in the morning, so it complements my mood for the day.’ Brian laughed. ‘Only you would say something like that. I love it.’ He instructed the sales associate to go and pick out some items for me as we sat in the back of the men’s department. ‘You’re spending the night with me. I dont want you to be alone right now, and I know for damn sure you aren’t gonna wear that again in the morning.’ The room started spinning, and a warm feeling came over me. ‘I just- I just dont know what to say.’ ‘Don’t say anything, just go try this on.’ I snapped out of my stupor and gave him a scolding face. I pulled out the tag to look at the size. ‘This is a small. I don’t try on clothes when I was made for them.’ I turned to the salesperson and asked her to bring me out the knit peacoat, with the wool houndstooth slacks in a small, and 30. ‘Thats the Cris I know!’ Brian smiled to see me snap back into action, and pulled me onto his lap. ‘I knew this would make you feel better. Have you had dinner yet?’ ‘No. I had lunch after the meeting with Gia and Carlo from the Florence office, which was at 11. I’m starved.’ ‘Well that’s perfect. I can cook something for you tonight when we get back to my place.’ I smiled and blushed as the salesperson returned with the items I asked for. ‘You can go ahead and wrap those up, thanks.’ I stood up and grabbed my bag and jacket, and felt my phone vibrating. I pulled it out and answered, even though I didn’t know the number. ‘Cris, don’t hang up.’ I rolled my eyes and let out a hard sigh. ‘What do you want, Kendall?’ Brian heard me, and turned around so fast, he should be suffering from whiplash. He gave his credit card to the cashier and walked towards me, as I headed out of the store. ‘Can you please let me talk to you? I want to come and see you. I’m sorry. My mother told me what you talked about. I cant explain what I did, but I’m sorry. Plea–’ Before I knew it, Brian had come behind me and took the phone from my ear, and hung it up. ‘No emails, no texts and no calls from that stupid ass. He’s done enough.’  I sighed, with a distressed look on my face. I knew he was absoulutely right. He took my phone, turned it off, and went back into the store to get the bags.

‘You’ve been quiet ever since we left Saks,’  Brian put his hand on my leg, as I stared out of the window. ‘I’m sorry. Just been a long day. Too much has gone on today, and I’ve got alot on my mind.’  He grabbed my hand, and squeezed it. ‘That’s exactly why you’re coming home with me. The last thing you need is to be at home, alone with your thoughts.’ I put my other hand on top of his, and admired his immaculately manicured fingers and looked up at him with a smile.  We arrived at his apartment, which I wasn’t too sure was his apartment. I was standing outside of an unmarked warehouse building, In the middle of a gated alley. We were in a part of the Lower East Side that I’ve never seen before.   Brian led me into a dark stairwell, and my eyes widened like  I was a cat with night vision. The moonlight was the only source of light, and I drifted into a photographic daydream, as he walked up behind me and put his hands on my waist. ‘Follow my lead.’  I reached out to grab onto a banister or a railing, but nothing was there. I just stepped and hoped not to bust my ass.  After what seemed like 5 flights of stairs, we stopped.  Brian unlocked the door and led me inside. The motion activated lights came on, and illuminated  an amazing space. Just by estimating, it looked to be about 700 square feet of open space,  with reclaimed wood floors, stained with a deep mahogany, granite countertops, and glass tile in the kitchen and enough windows to make you feel like you were outside. ‘Brian this is awesome!’  I stood at the door, taking everything in, then I walked around the space to get a better look at everything. I looked out the windows and could see the east river and part of the Brooklyn Bridge. ’Here. Make yourself at home.’ Brian handed me a glass of moscato, and took my coat. I couldn’t help but admire how he even used the right glass for white wine.  There was one point that I doubted that he was ever this refined of a person.  Judging from the people that he used to deal with in Houston, I felt that he’d become very complacent, and didn’t allow himself to be the person that he really was.  I’m glad that the relocation tno New York has allowed him to shake those ‘bad habits’.  Brian came from the bedroom wearing a pair of sweats and a t-shirt. He gave handed me a pair of plaid fleece pajamas and a long sleeved thermal shirt. ‘ This may be kinda big, but I figured you’d want to get out of those clothes. Go change, and I’ll get dinner started.’ Whatever was happening, I was just going to let happen, and stop fighting. This could be a good thing.

After I changed and washed the day off my face, I came out to an aromatic euphoria. ‘What smells so good?’ The air was filled with an explosion of citrus and herbal essences, with a hint of something sweet in the background. I walked into the kitchen to take a peek in the pots, and was immediately stopped. Brian covered my eyes and picked me up, carrying me to the sofa. ‘You can’t see yet. Trust me, you’ll like it.’  He handed me my moscato and the remote to the 50-inch LED tv on the wall. ‘Its been a long day. Relax. It’ll be done in a few.’  He leaned forward, and touched his forehead to mine. ‘Stay put.’ I smiled, and nodded in compliance. He smiled back and kissed me on the lips. All I could do was giggle. ‘Go finish cooking. I’m not moving, this sofa is too comfortable.’  I laid on the sofa, flipping through channels, and with no interest in reruns, Emeril and whatever dreadful events were on NY1, I went to the smooth jazz music channel and went for my phone, when I realized that I didn’t have it. It was then that I thought about what was happening around me. It was all feeling like  a bad case of irony.  But I really couldn’t complain. It seems like Brian’s intentions are sincere, and he’s not out to get something.  However I had to make myself stop wondering where this was going to end up, and just let it happen.  I just laid back and enjoyed the ‘right now’, as I listened to the sultry notes of Paul Hardcastle.  About fifteen minutes later, Brian comes over with one rather large plate of food.  ‘Looks like someone’s hungry,’ I said looking at the plate of  grilled beef and shrimp kabobs, sitting atop a bed of field greens, water chestnuts pineapple and mandarin oranges. ‘Its for both of us, silly.’ He placed plate on the table in front of me, and went back into the kitchen. He returned with a bowl of jasmine lime red rice, and the rest of the moscato.

As we ate, I decided to ask him about what’s been going on in his life, since he’s already seen way too much of mine. He told me that his younger sister, Isabella, recently moved to Brooklyn after going to school for marketing in Chicago. His parents retired and bought a condo in Sunnyvale, and His older sister and her kids were still in Houston. He decided to relocate to New York, when he was offered a Director’s position with Aventis Pharmaceuticals. I was amazed that so much had changed in his life since the last time I saw him, which was after a bad breakup 3 years ago. He’d decided that it was time for alot of changes to be made in his life. Which explains why I had’nt heard from him for so long. He basically isolated himself to do alot of soul searching, and realized what he really wanted and who he needed in his life. Little did I know, I was who he wanted in his life. But by the time he was ready for me, I’d already left Houston, to come and work for Benetton. ‘That was awesome, Brian.’ I leaned back onto the over sized sofa, feeling satisfied. ‘You got room for dessert in there?’ He asked as he rubbed my stomach, and brought the empty dishes into the kitchen. ‘Oh my, I couldn’t eat anything else.’  I looked around for a clock. ‘What time is it?’ I asked, not even sure what day it was. ‘It’s half past midnight,’ Brian replied, from the other room. I got up and pulled out my MacBook, to take a look at tomorrow’s agenda. I was hoping to be able to work from home tomorrow, so that I could have a chance to recooperate from all of the drama. As soon as I opened up my iCal, Brian was standing behind me, resting his chin on my shoulder. ‘Whatcha doin?’ I laughed at how he sounded like a 8 year old. ‘I’m going over tomorrow’s calendar. I want to hopefully work from home tomorrow.’ He stood there, looking at my cluttered life spread across the glossy 15 inch screen. It seemed that I had a day full of conference calls and plans to go shopping in the garment district for props for the photoshoot. ‘Oh, well that can wait until Saturday. I only have conference calls tomorrow, and I can do that from home, if someone gives me my phone back.’ I turned to look at him with a sarcastic smile. ‘You can get it back in the morning.’ Brian took the computer from me, closed it, and put it on the kitchen counter. ‘Come on,’ he motioned to me as he turned out the lights and grabbed a lighter.  I got up as he turned the last light off, leaving me completely in the dark. I opened my eyes wider, and put my arms out to feel any blunt objects that I was going to run into.  I found my way into the bedroom and  all I could see was Brian’s sillouhette through the candlelight. He walked over to me and walked me over to the bed. He picked me up and sat me on the plush, chocolate brown coverlet and put his arms around me. I reciprocated and put mine around his neck and laid my head on his chest.  He was obviously nervous, because I could feel his heart beating rapidly through his firm chest and soft white shirt. ‘What’s wrong?’  I asked as I ran my hand up and down his back. ‘Nothing. I just hope youre okay.’   I leaned back and looked him in his eyes. ‘I’m a little stressed and frustrated, but I’ll be okay. I have no choice.’  I laid back on the king sized bed and pulled him toward me. While he was obviously heavier than me, I felt a strange comfort by having him leay on top of me. And I could tell that he did too, because his heart stopped racing. We laid there for the rest of the night, in silence.
The next morning, I woke up in a frenzy once again, thinking that I missed my 9am conference call.  I looked around and saw my phone on the night stand, serving as a  paperweight for a note.  I picked up the phone and started looking for the call in number, and kept eyeing the handwritten note on the table.  As I dialed in, I quickly grabbed the note:

'I went to work, and I didn't want to wake you. The keys are on the counter next to your computer, and there's plenty to eat in the fridge. Stay as long as you want. I'll call you later. -B'

I smiled and blushed as the other participants joined the call. I almost forgot I was on the phone until I heard the random chatter from the managers from the LA and New York Benetton stores.  We were waiting on the Sr. Operations Director so we could discuss the plans for the Spring/ Summer collections. I sat and waited, while re-reading the note and trying to figure out how I was going to get out of the second call at 2:30 this afternoon. I opened my macbook to go over some notes with the group for preparation and arranging the sale and clearance items, and almost immediately got an email. It was from Brian. ‘Everything alright? How did you sleep?’  I almost forgot I was on the phone again, and started giggling to myself. I snapped back and read my notes on the display procedures.  I’d received another email, this time from Karen. Apparently Carlo was going to be unable to do the makeup for the photo shoot, being that he’d just resigned overnight. I wrapped up the call, an immediately called the office. ‘Karen, what the hell happened to Carlo over night?’ I asked in a panic as I read the incoming emails from Gia, the VP of  HR and Carlo himself. ‘Hold on girl, that fucker just emailed me.’ I skimmed his email while Karen simultaneously explained that he got into an argument with his boyfriend, and was given an ultimatum to quit his job or leave.  ‘So this shit couldnt wait. I have to get press kits and some more shit done in 2 weeks, and this motherfucker quits over some basic ass relationship? Great. Whatever.’ I rummaged through my contacts and sent a few emails to a few of my make up artist friends that have done photo shoots with me before. I figured i would get the rest of the dreadful details from Gia later, so I put the drama on the back burner and planned to meet with some other stylists and makeup artists so we could discuss the last minute plans.  I got out of the bed and realized that it wasnt mine when my feet met the cold wood floors, and went to get dressed. I could hear emails, text messages and phone calls buzzing my phone senseless the whole time I was in Brian’s closet, looking for something that wasnt too loose on me.  I was glad to see that we wore the same size sneakers, because I found the perfect pair of Shox to match the burgundy sweatpants and white tee shirt that I managed to dig up.  I also decided to urbanize the whole ensemble by throwing on a black Yankees cap.  I suppose the whole idea was to be ‘incognito’ today. And as soon as I turned to walk out of the closet, I went backwards to see someone standing behind me. I screamed and almost slipped and fell on my ass.

I regained my composure and tried to make sense of the bright skinned, tall girl with long curly hair and green eyes standing in front of me.  I walked towards her and acted like this was my apartment. ‘Hello.’ I said with a raised eyebrow, as if she just cursed out my mother. ‘I didnt know Brian had… company,’  she replied as she examined me up and down. ‘I’m Cris, a friend of Brian’s. You are?’  I amped my ’sass’ to match hers.  ‘Isabella, Brian’s sister?’  she snapped back, as if I was her third cousin.  We stood in the middle of the bedroom staring at each other for a few moments until I looked at my phone and realized that  I had shit to do.  ‘Uhm, Brian didn’t tell me that you were coming, and I kinda wished that he did…’ I heard the exhaust from Brian’s 650 outside the window. ‘ He didn’t know, I have a key.’ She dangled the key ring in front of my face, as if she was trying to prove something. I walked over to the bed and picked up my notebook and put it in my bag as I prepared to leave.  Isabella meddled around the bedroom and started texting someone.  ‘Hey boo, how did you sleep?’ Brian asked as he walked in. I heard his car, but paid no attention to the fact that he was coming home at  quarter till noon.  I turned to greet him, and he quickly picked up the dismayal on my face. ‘You look cute! But what’s wrong?’ As he hugged me, Isabella came walking from he back. ‘Oh.’ That told me that he too was not expecting a surprise visit.  ‘Bella, that key is not for you to be running through my apartment like you want to. Emergencies only. What’s going on?’ Isabella rolled her eyes at him, and then came back to cut me with her green daggers.  ‘Well MOM said to stop by and see if you needed groceries, and I heard someone making noise in the back. I thought you was gettin’ robbed.’ This girl has apparently been spending too much time in Queens, because her New York accent was getting thicker with her every word. Brian took off his jacket and threw it on the sofa. ‘Well, I’m sure you can tell by now, that Cris is far from a robber, and I’m perfectly capable of buying groceries. I’ll just have to have a talk with your mother.’ Isabella rolled her eyes as she walked to the door. ‘I was just trying to help you out, but whatever.’  She cut her eyes at me as she closed the door behind her.  ‘I’m so sorry about that, she loves to just show up. I totally forgot to tell her not to.’ I looked up at him and smiled as I finished an email to Karen. ‘Its okay,  I’m just glad I wasn’t about to get like kidnapped or something.’ I grabbed my bag and walked towards Brian who was standing in the kitchen. ‘I gotta go and fix a crisis. That fucker Carlo quit a week before my photoshoot. Come to my place for dinner tonight, and you can explain to me why you got off early today.’ I put my hands on his pelvis for support as I stood on the tips of my toes to kiss him. I blushed and turned my head.  ‘Mmm, I could get used to this.’  I walked out and headed to the train station.

I spent the next six hours running around Manhattan, buying costumes and props, as well as meeting with potential make up artist replacements. I spent most of my time above ground, because I couldn’t afford to lose cell phone service in the subway tunnels.  I walked around the city to do most of my errands, and took a cab when I didn’t feel like walking. While on the way to my last meeting with a makeup artist, I realized that there was nothing for me to cook at home.  And then I thought about the fact that I wasn’t really in the mood to cook tonight. I thought about ordering Thai takeout, but then since I wasn’t driving, it would be cold by the time I got back home. After a quick stop at Starbucks for a vanilla latte and a brainstorming session, I was reinvigorated. I stopped at Whole Foods and picked up everything I needed for my version of ‘Burgers and Fries’. Sometimes I felt like I was in the wrong profession, by the way I cooked. Thirty minutes later, I was on the train headed home. While catching up on the latest tech news and bobbing my head to an upbeat  Chante Moore tune, I look up to get a better whiff of the strong and fresh, yet unfamiliar scent that caught my nose. I looked around and didn’t see anyone beside or in front of me. I looked behind me, and saw no one. I was confused, and somewhat intrigued. I thought it was just me imagining things again, so I went back to reading. No sooner than I lowered my head and scrolled through the article about a new phone being developed by Motorola, I felt someone behind me, and then a very light kiss on the back of my neck. I turned around and screamed. It was a good thing  we were the only ones on the train, because you’d thought I was being stabbed. And, as luck would have it, my phone began buzzing as I leaped out of my seat. ‘Kendall, what the hell are you doing? What do you want– why?’ I was totally flabbergasted. I couldn’t even calculate a whole sentence. Kendall kept walking towards me, with his arms out, as I kept walking backwards. He begged and pleaded for me to stop and I refused. ‘Why are you doing this to me? I don’t know how many times or how many ways I can tell you how sorry I am. Please, just listen to me!’ I just rolled my eyes at him as I grabbed my bags off my seat and headed for the doors. ‘Kendall. this isn’t just some shit you let go of like it was some little white lie. You lied to me about your very existence! And had the nerve to drag your children and WIFE into your bullshit!’ My eyes glazed over with anger as I thought about the fact that this bastard was married. ‘If you at least want me to consider forgiving you for leaving me high and dry in Tokyo, I’d suggest that you leave me alone. And not for just two days. How about I come find YOU when I’m ready to talk, okay? And if I don’t, well,  it just wasn’t meant to happen.’ I walked off the train and saw Brian walking towards me. I saw the doors sliding closed, and I thought I’d gotten Kendall out of my hair for at least a few more weeks. That is, until he comes rocketing out of the train car yelling like someone had just set him on fire. ‘Come on, Brian.’ I huffed and walked towards the stairs as I held Brian’s arm, trying to lose myself in his warmth and romantic fragrance. I couldn’t allow this man to bring me to a place that I didn’t want to be.  I acted like he didn’t exist and tuned him completely out.

‘What was that about?’ I knew Brian wasn’t going to wait too long before inquiring about the episode that just occurred on the train. ‘Kendall clearly thinks I’m stupid, and will forgive him for lying to me like he did in three days.’ I rolled my eyes and put my head in my hands, to signal that I didn’t want to talk about it anymore. ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you again.’ He said, as he put his gloved hand on my back and lightly rubbed my tense muscles. I looked up as I felt the car slow and stop. ‘Where are we?’ The smell of fried seafood wafted into the car when he opened the door. ‘Fried shrimp and crabcakes?’ I smiled and nodded. I don’t know how, but Brian knew almost everything about me. Its almost like someone was passing him notes about me when I wasn’t looking. He’s always like a step ahead at all times. I really like that about him. I pulled out my phone, as I sat and waited for him. I turned up the radio when Dave Koz’s Love is On the Way came on. I grooved to the mellow saxophone as I read the 25 emails that I’d received during the drama. I got a new makeup artist and hair stylist for the photoshoot, and Gia of course chimed in to tell me what happened with Carlo. I scrolled right past that one. I had enough drama going on in Jersey to be entertaining anything going on in Florence. My samples had come in for the shoot as well.  It seemed that tonight may end well after all. Brian returned to the car with a huge bag of piping hot seafood and a case of Corona. I hated beer, but Corona was the most tolerable of them all, and was perfect for seafood. ‘I couldn’t let you cook, knowing you’d been running around all day, so I thought we’d eat this and watch a movie instead?’  I was fresh out of words, so all I could do is lean over and give him a big hug. He really meant it when he said he was trying to make my life easier.

Cristian Spikes: the ‘Interrupted’ – Part 1: Destination Hysteria

2010.02.23

I was sitting at the Sushi bar in JFK, impatiently scrolling through thousands of pointless emails on my blackberry, while periodically looking behind me at the screen that listed flight schedules. My flight was 3 hours late, and my mother was calling non stop. Apparently something happened with the pilot during his layover in Newark,and they were waiting on his relief. And of course, out of the thousands of planes in the sky, it had to be MY flight. I just hoped I didn’t spend thisChristmas in the airport.

I haven’t been to Louisiana forthe holidayssince I left Houston 4 years ago. And I promised myself while in Florence, that I was going to actually make it this year.

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