Cry Me a River PG-13 Edition (6 page)

BOOK: Cry Me a River PG-13 Edition
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“You and your secret meetings, you going to AA or something?”

“Whatever, do you want my money or not?  Show me some samples so I can decide if we’ll order from your vendor.”

 

____________________________________________

 

I walk down the stairs into the meeting room.  John came early; he always does so he can set the chairs out.  He also brings muffins and starts the coffee.  John’s so broken on the inside; it makes me sad that he hurts so much.

Tonight we’re going to go by the Al Anon rules and not go straight into free talk.  It isn’t much different, but we’ll talk about a specific subject.
  The directors of Al Anon will do surprise visits to a session in order to make sure we’re following protocol. I received a text message telling me one of the guys is in town and to watch my back. When it comes to my sessions, I allow everyone to say what they want and to hell with protocol.  Rules, I hate them.

As usual, I pull out the papers from my bag and set them on the six foot table, they’re
the ones I set out at every meeting.  They are helpful tips for people who are dealing with an addictive person; but only helpful if you read the article.  No one ever takes them, but I set them out in case they change their mind. 

“Would you like help?” A voice behind me says and I jump.  “Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.  See, I showed up on time?” I t
urn towards the voice, the one from my dreams…Caide Palmer.

I look up at the clock, “You’re five minutes early.”  I’m staring right into pools of blue water otherwise known as his eyes.  My heart quivers for a split second as he holds my gaze. 

“I brought cookies for the meeting,” Caide says and holds out a container of cookies.  His cookies, the cookies I’ve mastered baking.  John will realize I’m a fraud the moment he tastes one of Caide’s cookies.  “They’re peanut butter with a Hershey’s Kiss in the middle.”   My secret’s safe as I only bring his chocolate chip cookies.

“Oh, I bet they’re delicious.  John may love you forever if they meet his cookie criteria
.”

Caide gives me a genuine smile before saying,
“I’ll go put them on the table.  Would you like me to set yours out too?”

Who is this guy?  He was totally different the other night, disgruntled and aloof.   He probably got laid.  Ewww, he probably really did.  “Yeah, that would be great.” Suddenly, I’m aggravated at the thought of him getting laid before class. 
Stop!
  I yell at myself.  I always expect the bad from people.

I’d like to puff on my e-cig, I’ll run to the bathroom and take a couple of puffs and come back.  Like a heroin addict I hide in a bathroom stall
and take a couple of drags on my fake cigarette.  Why do I hide? 
Because you know men find it unattractive and you don’t want Caide to find out you smoke….because you like him. 
Ugh!  I do not like him, he’s not my type! 
Yes he is.
If anyone knew how I have these little arguments with myself, they’d call the loony bin and send me away!

 

“Good evening everyone.  Tonight we’re going to discuss how we handle stressful situations.  Remember, this is your place to be honest with yourself and no judgment will be cast.  I’ll start the evening.”  I take a sip of my water and clear my throat.  “When I was about ten years old, I realized the meaning of the word stress.  Up until that point, I had been a good student in school.  That year was the first time I understood the word bully.  No one had ever treated me the way one boy in my class did.  He would walk by me and lean in and whisper mean things to me.  Things like; what’s wrong little single parent kid?  Mama not able to find another man?  He would taunt me and tease me about the clothes I wore and being a straight A student.  I began turning in my work late or not at all.  I started wearing lip gloss and blue eye shadow to hide my face from the real me.  By the end of the nine weeks, my grades had dropped to a C.  It was that night my mother took a belt to me.”  I hear a couple of people suck in their breath.  “I didn’t know how to tell her about the boy, but I had to decide which was worse; a belt or teasing.  Me and my sore butt decided teasing would be more tolerable.  That belt taught me the meaning of someone taking their anger out on you.  To deal with my tormentor, I learned to let his taunts roll off of me.    I’m what many people call a peace keeper, and I am.  The other way I deal with stress is to bake cookies.  Thankfully, I have John to enjoy them.”  I look over to John and he smiles back at me.  Many people who come to the meetings use a fake name, not John; he’s okay with people knowing who he is.  He attends the other meetings too, he says he finds peace when he’s around us. “Those are my coping mechanisms.”

Ellen is a heavy set black woman who wears her heart on her sleeve. 
One time she told me it’s frowned upon to seek help.  The South has rules and she grew up old school, where you don’t share with white folks your problems.  Ellen is from a town called Swansboro and drives all the way here to lessen the chance of running into anyone she knows.  We’ve had coffee a few times and I offered to be her sponsor, but she says she feels like the meetings are all she needs.  Tonight she walks over to me and pulls me in to one of her squashing-you-into-her-large-bosom hugs. She’s shorter than my five foot seven stature and her boobs are squished into my stomach.  “Baby, you been through too much nonsense.  You’re a strong woman, remember that,” Ellen whispers.  “I’ll go next, you sit down and rest.”  She’s always telling me to rest, which is funny since she’s the one with eight kids. 

Almost everyone stood up and told a story about their stress release, and then surprising us all, Caide
stood up.  His muscular biceps are highlighted by the white Polo he’s wearing.  His surfers tan and bright blue eyes are sad looking tonight. A hint of a tattoo on his bicep is peeking out from his sleeve; I can’t help but wonder what the tattoo is of.  He walks to the front, his jeans are fitted and I get a quick glimpse at his ass….oh no. 


I’m uh…” He rocks from foot to foot.  “Hey everyone, I’m Caide, and all of you made me examine my life as you’ve talked about yours. I started cooking when I was young.  My parents own a restaurant and were always busy with the business.  It might sound silly, but that’s why I started cooking.  So now I’m a chef and when I’m stressed I come up with recipes.  The way the knife feels in my hand as I cut up vegetables is therapeutic.  Like River, I bake a lot too.  I bake things like sweet breads and cookies.   I won’t lie and say I don’t ever drink, because I do. There’s been times I’ve dealt with stress at the bottom of a whiskey bottle, but that doesn’t mean I do it often.”  His hand goes to his hair and he runs it through his hair again. “Well uh, thank you for sharing; it makes me feel like I can be a little forthcoming with you.”  He fidgets with his hands for a second before saying, “Thanks for your stories.”  Caide looks up and we make eye contact.  My heart stops for two whole beats.  It’s as though his eyes were telling a story, I just couldn’t hear it.  He went back to his seat and crossed his arms over his chest.  He’s on TV every week, and I’ve seen him around town, he’s never acted as if he was shy. 

After everyone talked, we dismissed and ate cookies and coffee.  Ellen brought me some collards she cooked for supper.  I
don’t have the heart to tell her I don’t like collards, I’ll have to throw them out at home.  I’d been putting off talking to Caide until the last minute.  Most everyone has said good night and left. 

Oh dear Lord what does he have in his hand?  He has one of my cookies, oh for the love of heaven.  What if he hates it? 

“Hey River, I want to tell you I’m sorry about the other night.  It was dumb of me to take this lightly.  I hope you don’t hate me,” Caide breaks his cookie in half and shoves it in his mouth.  His mouth is eating my cookie, SQUEE!  His eyebrow goes up and a crooked grin on his face…. Shit, he knows I’m a fangirl.  “Is this my recipe?”

“Yes, I have most of your baking recipes.  How did you know?”  I feel like a little kid waiting for approval.  I’d never make it on one of those cooking contests.

He takes a sip of his coffee before replying to me.  “It tastes as if I made it.  So many people leave out the instant coffee, but I think it brings out the chocolate a little.  I’m flattered.”  Caide says. 

Why isn’t he being a douche?  “Oh, I agree, I think it gives the cookie a richer flavor.  Listen, most of the newbies are assigned a sponsor, and I’d like to offer to be your sponsor.
” 

Caide wipes the crumbs off his hands with his jeans.  “Why is there a sponsor for Al Anon?”

“That’s a valid question.  You know, I don’t know what happened for you to come here, but there’s a reason a judge would send you.  That isn’t the reason we recommend sponsors, we offer them as a friend to listen when we need it the most.  You’re issues won’t just show up at 8:00 pm every Monday, Thursday and Saturday.  You’ll have days when you need a friend to talk to, and that friend is your sponsor.  No one has to know what the relationship is between a sponsor and their charge.  If you’d prefer a man, I can get you a male sponsor.”

Caide reaches up and
rubs his neck briefly.  “Do I have to check in or anything?  You know, River….that’s an interesting name…anyway, River I didn’t do anything to end up here.  If you’ve seen my show, you know I have a daughter.  Her mom died a couple of weeks ago, and I went to bring her home, but her grandparents are trying to paint me as a horrible person.  I love my daughter, and that is the only reason I’m here.  I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her.  If I have to have a sponsor, it doesn’t matter male or female…
she’s
too important to lose.  Whatever it takes.”

I absorb the frustration in his voice and think about the angst he’s going through.  I
was sure it had to do something with his ex.  “Caide, you don’t have to check in….but if you need a friend to talk to, I’m here.”  I reach in my folder and give him my business card with my private cell number.  “You can call any time.  I don’t care if you’re up at three in the morning and need me, I’ll be there.  Don’t make a habit of calling at three though.”  I laugh it up a little.  Without asking him, he starts gathering up chairs and putting them away.  Maybe there’s more to Caide Palmer than I thought.

 

____________________________________________

 

 

Chapter Five

Young Love’s first lesson is - the heart;

For ‘mid that sunshine, and those smiles,

When, from our little cares apart,

And laughing at her girlish wiles -

Edgar Allan Poe

CAIDE

“Nine ball corner pocket, proceed to watch and learn,” I announce to Stewart.  My cue is exactly twenty one ounces; I like it heavy in my hands.  The lighter cue is what I’ll use to break, and I never use my personal one.  The thrust is too hard and I don’t want my stick to warp.  We’ve been shooting pool all day.  I never bothered to tell him about my meeting at five, which isn’t mandatory I attend anyway.  I line up my stick to hit the cue ball with just enough force to make it spin and knock the nine ball into the pocket.  I love the sound of the balls clanking together and the smell of chalk on the sticks.   Smack! “Damn, I should have made that!”

Stewart laughs at my outburst.  He’s always amused at me when I choke on a sure shot. 

“Are you in for tonight or not Caide?  They have a new bartender; she’s got big boobs and long legs.  Seven Inch Screw is playing tonight, they’re dope dude.”

“What idiot names their band Seven Inch Screw, so he’s got an average pecker? 
It’s The Eagles Nest man, everyone is old and boring in there,” I complain. 

Stewart leans over and shoots
; his ball goes right in.  That bastard’s going to beat me!  “I’ll pay for the drinks and the ride home.”

“I like how it’s a ride home….to my house!  Okay, I’ll go, but if a cougar tries to hit on me, I’m giving her your phone number
.”  I laugh and tap the excess chalk off the tip of my stick.

“I’ll meet you there at nine. 
They have a dress code, no flip flops or t-shirts,” Stewart says and finishes his shot.  “Who’s the king?!”  He shouts as he sinks the eight ball.

By the time Stewart leaves, I’ve agreed not only to go out with him, but I’ve agreed to dress up.  Taking fashion advice from Stewart is like taking cooking lessons from the mailman.

Oh shit!  Looks like I’m going to miss the meeting tonight.  She’s going to report to the judge about not being committed to the program.  It says I only have to go to two meetings a week, so she better keep that pretty little mouth of hers shut. 

There’s something about River that gets me. She has this way about her that sees through my exterior wall.  Sometimes, it’s as though she’s as broken as I am.  That mother of hers sounds like a piece of work.  Who takes a belt to their daughter in this day and age?  There’s more to River…but I’m not the one to figure it out, not right now.  Lucy is the one who matters, not some chick from a support group.

 

____________________________________________

 

The club better not have a dress code against jeans.  I opted for a long sleeved yellow Polo button down, a pair of jeans and a sports jacket.  It feels strange leaving the cuffs unbuttoned and having my shirt sleeve show a little below the jacket sleeve.  Becky has made me dress like this for public interviews.  A couple of squirts of cologne and I double check my cash before climbing into my Mustang.  I haven’t decided if I’ll drink tonight or not, maybe just one; but I don’t feel like getting
trashed and thrown out of an old person club.

It’s still
early; most bars don’t get going until eleven or so.  Stewart is always saying the girls show up early to get free drinks, so showing up early is his way of finding some
strange
for the night.

A small jazz band is
playing; their singer is a Darla Clarkson look alike.  The bartender is a guy I know from Rent-A-Waiter.  He tends bar for me when I have a large holiday event.  “Jeremy, how you doing man?  I haven’t seen you in a while.”  Jeremy sets a napkin in front of me and holds his hand out to shake.

“Not much, the little lady had our baby…well, our son actually.  What can I get you?”

“Oh, that’s great - congratulations.  I’ll take a Spiced Rum and Coke, make it a double.”  He free-pours me a glass of rum with a splash of Coke.  “Dude, if I don’t fall over from this drink, go ahead and open a tab for me.  I’ll be sure to bring you in for my Christmas party.”  We talk for a few more minutes, until it starts to get busier. 

The bar is classier than the clubs closer to the beach.  The elevated stage in the center of the room highlights the band
by having mirrors behind them and special lighting.  Stewart hasn’t made an appearance yet, I’ll beat his ass if he sent me here alone.  I look around the dimly lit room.  The booths are really cool with curtains you can pull across to have privacy.  The curtains are all wide open at the moment.  Just as I see a girl I knew from the beach, two couples walk in. 

It takes me a minute to register who it is.  From the floor up I admire her white Stilettos and her long tan slender legs, damn
they’re gorgeous long legs.  The salmon colored mini-dress is short enough to make me want to hike it up and see what she has on under there.  The way the top of her dress is loose across her chest, dipped low enough to see the roundness peeking out.   Between her breasts, other than my eyes, is a large turquoise pendant.  River….River…River….
damn you, now I want you. 
She doesn’t see me, but the douche she’s with catches me admiring her and he quickly helps her into the booth and out of sight.

Because I can be a douche too, I decide to go say “hi” to the happy foursome.  I walk over and
River looks up.  She is stunned for a second, as though I’d call her out about meeting at Al Anon.  “Hi River, I saw you come in and wanted to come over and say hello, so hello.”  I smile at her as I see the wheels in her head spinning.  The other girl at the table grins from ear to ear at her friend.  If it weren’t so dark in here, I’d guess River’s blushing.

“Hi Caide, nice to see you.  This is my friend Gwen and her date Ash and this is Lance.  Are you here with anyone?”  She’s fishing if I’m here with a girl.  Little Miss River might not be as uptight as she comes across
in the meetings.

I make eye contact and we just stare at one another for a moment.  “No, I’m waiting on a friend of mine. 
He
wanted me to come out and see the band.  Are you guys staying to watch Seven Inch Screw?”  I look at Lance and say directly to him, “You’re not the Seven Inch Screw are you?”  He gives me the evil eye, knowing I just called him an average pecker.  I’d like to knock that smug look off his face. 

Stewart walks in
to the club with Double D, I thought she went back to Texas, but she’s here with Stew and looking comfortable.

“Hey man, you’re late!”
I say and follow Stewart across the club to another set of tables. 

We order drinks and take a look at the dinner menu.  About fifteen minutes later, I excuse myself to go wash my hands.  The hallway is dim and narrow with both ladies and
men’s restrooms on each side of the hall.  River is coming out of the ladies room as I walk towards the men’s room.

“Hey Caide, I hope I didn’t come off rude when you came over.  My friend set me up with this guy and we’re not
having the love connection she was hoping for.”  She looks down at her watch and looks up through her eyelashes.  “I need to go, it was nice seeing you.”

“It was nice seeing you too River.  Don’t drink too much,” I tease.

“Oh, you don’t have to worry about that, I’m sticking to my one drink limit on a first date.  I hope you’re keeping it safe tonight.  I’ll talk to you later.” 

First date.  She didn’t have to tell me it was a first date, she said it so I’d know she isn’t dating anyone. 

 

The band isn’t bad, they were able to draw a crowd to the dance floor a couple of times.  Gwen and River danced to rap songs during the band break.  They laughed and swung their hair around like a 1980’s
hair band
.  The band came back from break and I walked over to the bar across the room to grab a couple of beers.  As I wait for the bartender to take my order, I can’t help but look over in the direction of River’s table.  She’s sitting a safe distance away from her date and I watch as her friend Gwen and her date sneak out of the club.  I’m guessing they’re going to go smoke a real cigarette.

I orde
r three beers and three tequila shots.  Thankfully, a waitress was walking up as I was receiving my drinks.  She walked back with us and I tipped her generously for making it through the crowd without spilling anything.

Something catches my eye on the dance floor, River and her date.  She’s having a tough time standing up straight and is stumbling around on the dance floor as her date is rubbing his hands all over her.  What happened in the last fifteen minutes that caused River to be so drunk?  I take my beer and walk closer to the dance floor to get a better look.  She’s so
drunk it’s amazing she’s able to stay upright on her heels.  I watch Lance, he’s positioned himself behind her.  His hands are all over her and he’s leaning in to kiss her neck.  River’s hand goes half way up, as though she’s trying to push him off her.

In a matter of seconds it hits me….she’s been drugged.  I storm over to where she’s
dancing on the dance floor.  “River, are you okay?”  I ask.

Her head lifts up with her hair hanging in her face, “Heeeeeeeyyyyyyy.”

“Are you okay River?”  I ask again.

“Idooooooooon,” she
unintelligibly replies.

I don’t need any more proof.  She told me she only has one drink on a first date, she’s not the type to lie about
something like that.  “You ASSHOLE!” I scream at Lance.  “What the hell did you give her? She was fine ten minutes ago.”

“Go find your own piece of ass and leave my date alone,” Lance says with a crooked grin.

I grab his shirt and pull him to me, I reach my hand in his pocket and pull out a little pill box.  “What the HELL is this?  You slipped her a date rape drug?  You’re sick!  You can explain it all to the cops.”

“It wasn’t like that, she’s so uptight, I wanted to loosen her up a little,” Lance brags.

My fist found his jaw in about two seconds.  He goes falling backwards and I lean forward in time to catch River before she falls over.  The crowd kept dancing all around us and Lance bounces up as though he’s going to try to hit me.  Just like old times, Stewart comes over to where we are.

“Caide, what’s going on?”  Stewart asks as he
stands between Lance and I.

“He’s what’s going on, he drugged her.
  She was with another couple, I think they went out to smoke.  It’s a chick with long wavy hair wearing a dress that looks like an Egyptian Goddess.  It’s white with only one sleeve and a lot of gold.  Her name is Gwen, tell her I have River.”  I pull River over to me and put my arm around her waist to hold her up without calling too much attention to us.  “I’ll catch you later Stew, keep an eye on this guy, I don’t want him following me home.  I’ll see you later.”  Stewart looks at me quizzically, and I damn well know he wants to know who River is and why I’m saving her.

I get her through the doors and out into the cool night air.  “River, are you okay?”  She’s become deadweight in my arms.

“Kay,” She slurs in reply.

The smokers are right outside the doors having their own party.  I scan the crowd looking for the other couple, but I don’t see them.  “Anyone see a chick in a short toga dress, it’s white with a gold belt?  Her name is Gwen, was she out here?”

“Yeah, I think she left with a guy though,” a guy in the crowd says.

“Thanks.”

I bend down and put my arm under River’s knees to lift her up and cradle her in my arms.  I can feel how dangerously short her skirt is and try to discretely keep her undergarments hidden from anyone’s peering eyes, including mine.  We stop on the passenger side of my car and I try to set her down without banging her head on the door.  I take my jacket and drape it across her lap before buckling her seatbelt.

Now what do I do with her?  Obviously she isn’t able to tell me where she lives
, so I decide to take her to my house.  Her head flops over to the side and smacks against the door as I turn onto my street.  “Sorry,” I say…not that she heard me.  We pull into the driveway and I cross my fingers no one is lurking in the bushes with a camera to try and paint me as a terrible human being.  “River, we’re at my house.  Stay here, I’m going to go open the door and come get you.  Don’t run off.”  I laugh at myself.

I lift her up into my arms, she snuggles her face into my neck
and says something incoherently.  I fumble around to get her in the house and kick the door closed.  I adjust her before we head up the stairs.  She’s thin but she is getting heavier with every step.  Don’t drop her, that will be sure to give you a bad name with the judge.  I adjust her in my arms one more time and carry her to my room.  I set her on the edge of the bed as I pull the blankets back.  I take off her only shoe, hmmmm, I wonder where the other one fell off at… oops.

Ten minutes later, she is in the center of my bed fully dressed, minus her shoes.  I grab a glass of water and set it on the night stand in case she wakes up and needs a drink, and I pour myself a glass of juice.  I pull over a chair from across the room and sit in it to keep an eye on her in case she dies or something. 
Don’t die River!

BOOK: Cry Me a River PG-13 Edition
5.08Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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