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The proposition, p.19
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       The Proposition, p.19

           Jessica Schlafer
 
Chapter 18

  After my shower, I put on pajamas and climbed into bed. It was well past midnight and I was exhausted. I was on the brink of sleep when door creaked open. I turned around to see Nick standing beside my bed.

  "Shhh," he said, climbing into bed with me.

  He immediately began kissing me, slipping his hand under the blanket, and up my back. I pulled his shirt off and ran my hands over his bare chest and stomach. My hands were on his back when he pulled my shirt over my head. I heard him suck in a deep breath before he started kissing me again. I heard the zipper of his pants go down and then heard his jeans hit the floor. He pushed my blankets aside and put his hands inside the waistband of my shorts.

  He froze and pulled away.

  “Oh, Nick, no,” I pleaded.

  He scrambled out of bed, fought to put his pants back on, and grabbed his shirt.

  “Abby, I’m so sorry. This was a mistake.”

  He was gone.

  I lay in the bed, with my top off, staring at the door for some time before I let myself cry. I had really developed feelings for Nick and it seemed like every time we got close to any sort of truth or intimacy, he pulled away. I was incredibly sad in that moment. I’m sure I cried for several hours before I fell asleep.

  The next morning, I woke up to a puffy face and feeling sad. I took my time in my room, reading emails, taking a shower, trying on clothes, polishing my finger and toenails. I tried several different styles on my hair before I decided on making it big and curly for the day. I put on some super short, denim shorts and a blue, flowered, hippie style tank top, and made my way to the kitchen. I knew that Nick was somewhere in the house, so I took the cookies and cupcakes I made him downstairs.

  The kitchen was empty, so I helped myself to a bowl of fruit and went to sit by the pool. There were squirrels and birds eating out of a bird feeder that hung out of a plum tree. That I had never noticed. There were several squirrels that were playing and I enjoyed watching them while I ate my fruit.

  I saw the door to the house open and saw Nick walk outside. He didn’t say anything when he sat in the chair beside me.

  “I got an email from the airline today. They think they found my bags."

  "That's good."

  "So I need to go to the airport..."

  “Yeah?”

  “And I don’t have a license.”

  "Oh, oh, yeah. I'll drive you, if you want."

  “I need to go get my purse,” I said, standing to walk to the house. “I’ll meet you in the kitchen.”

  “Okay.”

  I knew he was watching me the whole time I walked away.

  I was actually very excited to get my bags back, so, once I was inside, I hurried to my room, found my purse, and raced back downstairs. Nick was in the kitchen, waiting for me.

  “Those are for you,” I said, motioning to the cupcakes and cookies.

  “Really?”

  “Yeah, I made them yesterday.”

  “Wow, thank you.”

  “You’re welcome.”

  Uncomfortable silence.

  "You ready?" he asked.

  "Sure, just let me grab a bottle of water." I reached in the refrigerator and grabbed a bottle. “Do you want one?” I called absently behind me.

  “Yeah,” Nick said.

  I grabbed another bottle and turned around to see Paul standing in the doorway.

  “Hey Paul, we’re headed to the airport, my bags have been found!”

 

  “Great!” he said. “I’ve got some meetings anyway.”

  “You ready, Abby?” Nick asked.

  “Yeah,” I said. “Let’s go.”

  Nick and I were in the car and on the road. The airport was almost an hour from Paul’s house, so we had a long ride together. We rode in silence for a long time, there wasn’t even any music.

  “Abby, last night, I…..”

  “Nick, don’t. Please. I’m humiliated enough as it is.”

  “You shouldn’t be,” he sighed. “I just don’t think it’s a good idea. I don’t want you to get hurt.”

  “Okay, Nick. That’s fine.”

  “Abby, please,” he looked over at me.

  “Damnit, Nick. You don’t want me to get hurt? That’s funny. Since I’ve been in Portland, I’ve been stranded, my luggage completely lost, burned, sexually assaulted, witnessed an assault, almost raped and beaten, and witnessed yet another assault. Not to mention last night, Merritt propositioned me. If he wasn’t so repulsive, I’d seriously consider it. So, I think that you being worried about me not getting hurt is a little late.”

  “Abby, that’s not what I mean.”

  “Whatever, Nick. Just drop it. I got it now, I understand.”

  “I don’t think you do.”

  “Here’s the exit to for the airport.”

  Silence for the rest of the ride. Once at the airport, I went to the lost and found to claim my bags. They brought my three bags out and I dragged them away. Nick took them from me and we were back in the car.

  “That was easier than I thought,” I said.

  “What did you think would happen?”

  “I don’t know, never mind.”

  More silence.

  “Nick?”

  “Yeah?”

  “You didn’t answer me that first night,” I said.

  “What?”

  “Am I safe here?”

  Nick took a deep breath, “I really hope so.”

  “What does that mean?”

  “It means that….I just…..I don’t know, Abby. I’m just worried.”

  “You said that Merritt likes to take things that don’t belong to him…”

  “Don’t ask that, please.”

  “Fine, Nick. But someday you will have to tell me.”

  We finished the rest of the ride in silence. Merritt’s car was waiting for us when we arrived at Paul’s house.

  “Oh, no,” I whispered.

  “It’s ok,” Nick said, taking my hand.

  We went inside and followed the sound of laughter and talking to find Paul and Merritt in the living room.

  “You’re back!” Paul exclaimed. “Were you able to get your bags with no problems?”

  “Yep,” I said. “I have all of my make-up now so I can start looking human again!”

  “Oh, please,” Nick said. “You're beautiful without it.’

  “Abigail, it doesn’t seem to me that you need even a stitch of make-up.” Merritt stood to greet me, kissing my hand, yet again.

 

  “Thank you,” I demurred.

  I’m going to have to buy stock in alcohol wipes.

  “Merritt,” Nick said, nodding.

  Merritt glared at Nick.

  How strange.

  “We were just finishing up here,” Paul said. “And I was about to invite Merritt to dinner tonight at Antonio’s.”

  “Oh, yes, please, my treat,” Merritt said.

  “No, I insist,” Paul said.

  “Paul, I feel it’s my obligation,” Merritt said.

  “I’d like to treat,” I said. “After all…”

  “NO!” all three men said in unison.

  “Jeez, fellas! Make a girl feel inferior,” I said, in my best Mae West voice.

  Nick pulled me close, “Baby, you know I’m here to take care of you. You don’t have to pay for anything anymore.”

  “Okay, okay,” I said. “What is Antonio’s and why are we not there already? I’m assuming food is involved?”

  Paul smiled, “Yes, dear. It’s a restaurant downtown. Italian.”

  “Well, I got that. I didn’t think it was Ethiopian,” I said, causing more laughs.

  “All right, Miss Smarty Pants,” Paul said. “Go on and get changed, we’ll be another hour here. Nick, go on and help her. You still have a suit here.”

  “Come on,” Nick said, picking me up and throwing me over his shoulder. “I got this.” And with
a smack on my ass, we went to my room.

  He put me on the floor inside my room and shut the door.

  “How formal is this place?”

  “Jacket required.”

  “I need to shower so I can do my hair, then.”

  “Can I take one when you’re finished?”

  “Sure,” I said. “I won’t be long. You can watch tv or something here.”

  I took a shower, shaved all my parts, and washed my hair. Nick got into the shower when I was finished, while I was styling my hair. In my room, I found a black dress to wear; low cut, resting just above my knees, with a silver brooch resting just below the cut in the neckline, and a long ribbon that tied in the back.

  I was putting the finishing touches on my dress when Nick came out of the shower. “Wow,” he said. “You look amazing.”

  I turned to see Nick standing in my room, wrapped in a towel. I’m sure I turned bright red, “Thank you,” I whispered.

  Nick’s body was amazing. He had well defined muscles all over his body, a small tuft of hair on his chest, and I could see his happy trail.

  “I’ll be dressed in just a minute,” he said.

 

  “I’m in no hurry. I still have to put my make-up on, that could take all night.”

  “You really don’t need any, you’re beautiful.”

  “It makes me feel better to have it,” I whispered.

  We stood across the room, staring at each other, before I finally took a deep breath and said “You should get dressed before we’re late.”

  I turned to sit at the vanity and put my make-up on while Nick got dressed. By the time I was finished, Nick was dressed in a very expensive suit. Again, we found ourselves staring at each other, the silence heavy in the room.

  “Abby, I…”

  I sighed again; I was doing that a lot lately. “Paul texted me, they’re ready.”

  We walked down the stairs to the living room, Nick taking my hand again just before we walked in.

  “Oh Abigail,” Merritt slimed, clasping his hands together. “You look beautiful.”

  “Thank you,” I said, smiling and twirling around. “Nick bought it for me.”

  “Then I should thank you, Nick, for picking out such a beautiful dress.”

  “She picked it, I just paid for it.”

  “Okay, then,” Paul said. “Shall we go?”

  “Lead the way,” Merritt said.

  We filed out to the waiting cars. Merritt into his car, Paul in his,with Nick, and I in his car.

  What a waste! I thought.

  “I have a bad feeling,” Nick said as we drove through the streets.

  “What about?”

  “Merritt has never visited Paul at his house. Something is not right.”

  “I don’t understand a lot of what’s happening because I don’t know what this business is you guys are doing. I don’t know what Merritt does, how or why he stole money from you and why you want me to fake like him. He’s repulsive. Furthermore,” I started. Suddenly, from nowhere, a car slammed into the side of the car. My side of the car.

  Oh, my God! My dress is going to be ruined! Then there was black.

 
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