“Come on, Bree. How do you think? A great fuck was the entire reason I wanted you to date my guy in the first place. When you want something done right, hire a pro. Cade’s a gigolo, Bree. A professional escort and lover. A damn expensive one, but worth every penny. Consider it an early Christmas gift. Surprise!”

My best friend’s words still echoed in my mind even though I’d hung up on her more than a minute ago. I kept expecting anger to come to my rescue, to break me from this catatonic state. It might come later, but at the moment, I was numb. I sank back against my pillows and stared at my phone. It vibrated and began to ring. I didn’t even have to look at the screen to know it was Adelle. Even if it hadn’t been her ringtone, I would’ve known it was her.

I turned off the ringer and watched as her call was sent to voicemail. The second time she called, the anger came. Couldn’t she take a hint that I didn’t want to talk to her? Tears stung my eyelids and I squeezed them shut. I didn’t want to cry. I’d spent too much time crying after Ronald had left. I’d shed enough tears over one bastard. I wasn’t about to shed anymore over the one Adelle had paid.

I pressed my hands to my face as a stab of hurt pierced through me. I should’ve known better than to get my hopes up. I knew I idealized Cade as my mysterious white knight, but even after I forced myself to admit he wasn’t perfect, I at least thought he liked me.

Heat flooded my face as I remembered telling him that I wanted him. Anger followed embarrassment when I remembered him telling me it was obvious he wanted me too. I’d just been foolish enough to believe it meant he felt something other than lust. And now I learn it was his job to get hard, to say pretty words. There probably hadn’t been any lust there at all. I mean, I wasn’t naïve. I knew it was more difficult for a man to fake arousal than a woman. A female prostitute could just lay there and make noises to convince her client that she wanted him. I wondered how Cade did it. Was it just the prospect of sex that got him hard? Did he cock respond to his commands like Pavlov’s dog? Or had he been running through some fantasy in his head?

I suddenly felt sick. Who had he been thinking of when he was inside me? Had it been Adelle? And why had he pretended like that? If he’d treated it like some business transaction, I could’ve figured it out, stopped things from going too far. All he needed to do was make a single comment when he invited me back to his room for dessert. If he’d just said that the sex was already paid for, I would’ve been able to save myself a lot of pain and humiliation. I would’ve been embarrassed, but there was a huge difference between knowing I’d had dinner with a prostitute and knowing I’d fucked one.

My phone buzzed again and I was tempted to throw it across the room. Instead, I shoved it into my bedside drawer and crawled back under my covers. I pulled the blanket up over my head, closing myself off from the rest of the world.

When I’d been in seventh grade, my older brother had posted a picture of me on my locker at school. It hadn’t been any picture though. It had been a picture of me modeling my mom’s bra over my clothes, and it had been painfully obvious I’d never fill it out as much as she did. He’d gotten a detention from the teacher who’d found it, but by then, it had been too late. Every kid in the world had seen it, or so it seemed at the time.

My parents had grounded him for a month and made him apologize, but in my mind, my life had been over. I’d been convinced I’d never get over the embarrassment. For two days, I stayed in bed, my head under my covers, blocking out the world. I felt safe there, as if no one could hurt me. On the third day, my mom had forced me to come out and eat with the family. I’d gone to school the next day.

It was funny, I thought bitterly, how we grow up, but who we were as children never fully goes away. I hugged my knees to my chest and tried not to think about how much I hurt. What Cade had done had been bad enough, but he hadn’t known me, and he’d just been doing his job. It hadn’t been his fault that our first encounter had predisposed me to think of him a certain way.

I swore. Had Adelle set that up too? She’d sounded genuinely surprised when I said Cade was my rescuer, but she could’ve been acting. The idea that this entire thing had been a lie from moment one made it all the worse. It meant Adelle had no respect for me as a person or as a friend.

What she’d done had been so much worse than what Cade had done on many levels. Sure, she claimed she only had my best interests at heart, but what did it say about how she viewed me as a person—as a woman—if she thought I needed her to hire someone to go out with me, to sleep with me? How pathetic and stupid did she think I was? And she had to think I was both of those things because I couldn’t think of any other reason that would’ve led her to believe I’d be okay with what she’d done.

Sunday went by far too slowly for me. Every fifteen to thirty minutes, Adelle would call. Every hour or so, I’d delete her voicemails without listening to them. I already knew what she said in every one. She apologized, but added something about how it was all for the best. She’d never admit she did anything wrong. I wasn’t sure I wanted to forgive her even if she begged for forgiveness. I definitely wouldn’t if she pretended she’d done something as simple as scratching my car or throwing up in my purse – both of which she’d done on more than one occasion.

When I finally had to get up to go to the bathroom, I decided to move my pity party into the living room where I ate half a gallon of Rocky Road ice cream and watched chick flicks for hours on end. By the time I showered and went to bed that night, I didn’t feel any better but I knew I could at least pretend to be okay when I went into work tomorrow. I was just glad I didn’t work with Adelle or Cade. I hoped to never see either of them again.

Casual Encounter Vol. II



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