Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The lunch meeting

Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash
Catherine sipped her coffee as she watched the younger woman enter the restaurant. She definitely was his type - younger, long dark hair, fair skin, stylish. He did enjoy his arm candy. Catherine empathized with the woman. She had no idea what she had gotten herself into. At last the woman reached the table. "Ms Barton?" she asked. Catherine heard the small quake in her voice. Poor girl was nervous.

Catherine gave her a cool smile. "Join me, please. Nicole, right? And do call me Catherine. After all, you are sleeping with my husband. We're past formalities."
Nicole paled. Catherine had to give her some credit, though. She still sat down at the table. So many young women would flee, or try to deny it, or make excuses. Nicole just sat, silently, waiting for Catherine to make the next move.

"Let's order, shall we? My treat, of course. Although I suppose we could say it's Frank's treat since it's his company funding our bank account." Catherine chuckled to herself, enjoying this too much. Nicole was still not sure what was going on, and remained silent.

Catherine snapped her menu shut, startling Nicole. She laid her menu to the side and nodded at the waiter, hovering at a discreet distance. "Order what you wish, dear. I won't tell Frank if it doesn't fit in The Plan. I remember his expectations all too well. Then, we should get to know each other."

After placing their orders, Nicole finally gathered some courage. "Why am I here?"

"I just told you, we should get to know each other. It's not your fault I married a cheating bastard," Catherine said, nonchalantly.

"But I'm your husband's mistress."

"So?" Catherine paused to thank the waiter, who was placing their food on the table. "Listen, Nicole. I like you. You are polite, you have backbone to show up at my invitation and even more to actually sit and eat with me. Even better, you are keeping Frank happy. I realized a long time ago that marrying him was a mistake. You see, I used to be in your shoes."

Nicole was still processing this information. Catherine was okay with this? "I'm sorry, I'm a bit confused. What do you mean?"

Again Catherine laughed to herself. "You actually remind me of myself when I first met Frank. There was no current Mrs. Anderson at the time, though. He'd been briefly married but divorced a year before we met. And yes, I checked to make sure. Public records are easy to search." She paused to sip her water. "I let him sweep me off my feet. He was so charming, so attentive. So preoccupied with image, but charming me into going along with his demands. Eat the correct foods, wear the correct clothes, stay the correct weight. The jewelry he gave me as gifts were subtle demands to wear the correct jewels, a walking billboard of his net worth. I was so caught up in the fantasy that I married him."

"But you kept your last name?" interrupted Nicole. "I didn't know who you were when I got your invitation. I thought this was an interview."

"In a way, it is," said Catherine. "I wanted to get to know you for myself. And yes, I kept my last name. I was carried away, not completely lost. I never felt the need to change my name like I was his property, even though he began to treat me as if I was."

"Why are you telling me all this?" asked Nicole. "By all accounts, you should be screaming at me or trying to run me off. It's what I would do if I met the woman sleeping with my husband."

"Oh, Nicole. You see, I like you. You've got a spark. And I don't like Frank so much any more, but divorce is too messy and too complicated. You keep him satisfied, and I don't have  to worry about him. Also, you are a huge improvement over his other mistresses. The intern, the secretary, the stripper who thought he would save her... " Catherine shuddered at the memories. "I know how he met you; I actually made sure it would happen. But he can't know that I know about you. If he finds out, he will end this affair and try to romance me and I just cannot bear the thought of that. So I will help you keep him as long as this is our little secret. Has he taken you to the apartment yet?"

"No, he hasn't," Nicole said.

"Oh, he will," Catherine replied. "I want you to live in it full time. Not with him, of course. I still need him to come home to keep up appearances in public. But you can have entertain him there all you want, and have the occasional sleepover. However, we have to make him think it's his idea. Your living situation is difficult right now, correct?"

"My roommate just moved out and I'm trying to find a new one, but how did you know?"

"I have many sources, Nicole. It takes a team to manage the secret life of Frank Anderson. He'll likely take you there soon. Don't ask if you can move in, but plant seeds. Tell him you're worried about losing your apartment, that you're struggling to make it, but refuse any money he will offer you. I predict within a month you'll be moved into the apartment permanently."

Nicole was quiet as they finished their meals and Catherine signed the bill. Catherine stood up to leave, then paused beside Nicole. "I know this is a lot to take in. But trust me, this is the perfect solution for both of us. Enjoy yourself, dear."

With that, Catherine walked out the door.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Jill & Sam, Part 2

Hi. I'm Sam.
I'm not exactly sure why I'm here. I just needed to see her, I guess. This past few years have been crazy. I'm in a band, and we were doing the normal thing, traveling around to bars and smaller venues, putting in our time, and developing a following. We dreamed of making it big but half the time that was all it was - a dream. Then one day we wake up and one of our songs was on YouTube and had gone viral - we were everywhere. I couldn't check Facebook without seeing our video a dozen times. All of us were covered up in "friend" requests, our families were getting them too. Crazy. Soon a legit record deal happened, and we've been going strong ever since then.

It was almost easier when we had the smaller shows. We could hang out with fans, just chill, and do normal things without being harassed. I remember this one time when we had just finished a gig in the city my parents live in - they moved there after I'd moved out, to take care of my grandma, so I didn't grow up there - anyway, we were starving and so sick of road food. These girls had been chilling out with us. Nothing was going on, don't think we were having some orgy or anything. We were wiped out from a string of shows and there were a bunch of people around. Anyway, one quiet girl suggested a local place, volunteered to show us where it was. So she and a few others rode along with us.

After that video, man, things were crazy. For a time I even dated a former Disney Channel star! That was surreal. It didn't last too long, I think she just wanted to dirty up her image. Not much dirt here, though, so she moved on.

More people started coming to our shows. Especially more girls. I felt bad that I couldn't give them all what they wanted and our manager wanted me to play up the "sex symbol" thing. Ha, yeah, laughing was my reaction to that. But he was serious. So I started mixing it up. If the girl was a brunette, I'd wink. Blonde, and I'd touch her arm. Redheads I'd prolong eye contact. That seemed to work and the girls ate it up.

A year ago I decided to put down roots. There wasn't much left in the town I'd grown up in, so I decided to buy a house close to my parents. Not so close I'm on their doorstep but I can get some of mom's meatloaf when I need it. It's weird, though. Even when I was there alone I was almost sure someone else was there. Things would be moved. My favorite shirt disappeared off my bed. I was almost convinced the house was haunted. But nothing happened whenever I had friends over so I decided I was just tired. It's strange, sometimes I'd dream I was sleeping with a girl in my arms and it felt so real. I never brought anyone to my house, though. Not until my girlfriend. We met at the grocery store of all places. Started talking and couldn't stop. We started going out, and eventually the press got wind so we went public. She'd go to events with me, we were photographed together often. I still felt weird, though, like I was being watched all the time. I never noticed anyone, though.

Until tonight. Sasha and I were out to dinner. I was proposing tonight. Had it all set up. But right as I was getting down on one knee, this tiny girl with brown hair ran up to us and grabbed Sasha. I'd never been so scared in my life. I'd rather sing naked on live TV in front of the UN than see that terror on Sasha's face again. This girl - she looked familiar but I have no idea who she is- kept yelling that she was saving me, that she loved me and was protecting me from the crazy stalker, pointing at Sasha. Thank goodness a waiter grabbed her from behind and the maitre d called 911. Turns out the waiter was a soldier helping out at the family business on a night when they were short staffed. I learned the girl's name was Jill.

Sasha wasn't hurt seriously. The paramedics checked her out and let me take her home. An officer took our statements. And the best part is she still said yes. I can't imagine if I'd lost her. I guess I'm here to talk to Jill, to find out why she did what she did. It turns out she was in my house. She followed me to the store and on dates. She had tickets for every show I've done within a hundred miles of here. It also turns out she was that quiet girl who'd told us about the diner way back when. I hope if I talk to her once, she'll get some help. The girl has problems.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Jill & Sam, Part 1


I first met my boyfriend Sam three years ago, backstage at one of his concerts. My roommate Jen had an extra ticket and backstage pass to his show since her friend had cancelled at the last minute. The show was amazing, and once we were backstage it was practically love at first sight. There was an instant connection. I even felt the romance-novel spark when he took my program to sign and our fingers touched. He asked my name, and told me it was beautiful, like me. We talked for a bit, hanging out with his band. Finally Jen had to leave. Sam gave me a look and a wink. I told Jen I'd find another way home. The guys were talking about food, where to go eat. It was late and they were starving after the show. We had dinner together at the only all-night diner in town.

After that, I'd go visit Sam whenever I could. If he was performing within driving distance, I was there. We had to keep our relationship secret, though. He didn't want me to be exposed to the paparazzi and be harassed. His studio even made him carry out a fake relationship in the media to throw them off. I trusted him, though. I knew I was his only love. Every time I'd go to his show, I'd pretend to be just another fan and ask for an autograph. He'd sign while giving me a sexy wink. After we'd always go out. Dinner, dancing, whatever.

Not being able to tell my friends and family was hard. Finally I broke down and told my sister Shayla but I don't think she believed me. But really, who would have thought that I, Jilly Malone, would be dating a rock star?

Finally, after almost two years, Sam bought a house in my city. I was so excited. Finally, we could have more time together! I had a key, and the alarm code. I'd check on his house when he was out of town and if I was really feeling lonely I'd sleep in his bed in my favorite shirt he'd given me. Sometimes when he was home and we hand't seen each other in a while I'd sneak in just to surprise him. Although if he was sleeping I didn't have the heart to wake him. He needed his rest, he worked so hard. So I'd crawl in bed next to him. I'm an early riser anyway, so I didn't need to worry about an alarm waking him up. I'd be up and off to work hours before he'd wake up.

It was so nice when he was home from touring. We'd go to dinner, see a movie, shop, or just hang out at his house. I also loved to send him cute little love letters, to let him know I was thinking about him. It's the little things, you know, that keep a relationship going.

Then, someone started stalking him. She was always there, at all his concerts and appearances. No matter where he went, she was close by. She'd harass him at the grocery store. We'd go to the movies and she'd be there, in the same theater. She even followed us to visit his family! I knew I had to do something. The police never listened. So I decided to talk to her myself, to try to make her understand that she couldn't interfere in our relationship, to help her realize that he was in love with me, not her. But something went wrong, very wrong.

To be continued

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

What does sunshine taste like?

Prompt found here

Ice cold lemonade on a hot day
Salty sweat
Cool, creamy ice cream
Food fresh from the grill
Sweet, juicy strawberries
Plump blueberries, dark blue and about to burst
Blackberries, still warm from the vine
Dust swirling everywhere, coating your tongue
Faintly plastic water from the hose
Watermelon practically dissolving in your mouth
Icees in every fruit flavor imaginable
Barbecue and cole slaw