Chapter 05 – Truth or Dare
The next three days were excruciatingly long. Laying around my room at the Marriott, going to the gym, hitting the batting cages, nothing seemed to help ease my mind. Saturday night was coming and I was terrified. I had not shown it at the office but I was nervous about where things were headed and I was exceptionally worried about the things that were going on while I was isolated.
I worried about the events that were going to occur on Saturday night. Each woman would have 10 minutes alone with me and then there would be another vote. Leslie really put it out there but I knew they each had questions, as did I. I owed them answered and I knew I needed to man up about it. Still, there were going to be difficult moments. I knew that. I feared how hard some of them would be.
I was tucked away for now, safely out of touch. I continually wondered what fallout our meeting had with the women. Were Brooke and Vivian being grilled about telling me about the meeting? Did it come out that I had been home for almost a week and no one knew? What impact did that have on Penny and Vivian? Did Brooke’s trip to see me come out? How would that information be received? Was it a betrayal? Was it overt loyalty to me and not the game? These were the questions that consumed my mind. I could not stop thinking about them.
I got no sleep over the three days I was alone. The television was on, but I wasn’t watching. Even when I was at the batting cages, my mind wandered and I was just letting pitches go by. My focus was shot and my mind was far, far away. Among all of the hectic thoughts racing through my head, another thought appeared every now and again. I thought of Donna-Lee Markson. I hadn’t said goodbye to her when I left home, though by now she was well aware of that. I thought about calling her to apologize for that, but then I thought it was better off left alone. If I was going home after this vote, then I could apologize in person. If I was staying, I would have some leverage again and could call to apologize later.
I finally made it to Saturday after what felt like an eternity. I got up early and hit the gym, though I was still totally distracted. The nice part was, after today I would know my fate, either way. There seemed to be comfort for me in just having the answer, no matter what it was. The wait was torture. I had a light lunch at the hotel, alone. That was a humbling moment for me. I found myself eating and actually getting lonely. I was so used to having at least one of the women with me at all times that this was a startling feeling. It overwhelmed me until I could no longer think about it.
I finished eating and went to the batting cages, determined to calm myself down before the big meeting. It didn’t work. If I hit every third pitch it was a lot. I went back to my room at the Marriott and took a shower. I thought about taking a nap, but with the speed at which my thoughts were racing, that was not about to happen. As I was shaving, my cell phone rang.
“Hello,” I answered, the echo from the bathroom amplifying my voice.
“Tonight, 7:15 at my house,” Leslie announced. “Don’t be late, don’t be early.”
That was the extent of the conversation. I finished shaving and got dressed. I left my room at 5:05 and headed to the hotel bar. I had a couple of beers, trying to calm my nerves. I had no appetite, so I was not about to order any food. I waited there, as the minutes passed. A young woman across the bar kept smiling at me. I smiled back to be polite. After about a half hour, the bartender strolled over to me and got my attention.
“The lady over there would like to buy your next round,” he informed me.
I looked at him, quite perturbed when I should have been flattered. I thought of everything that was about to go down tonight and I looked back at the innocent, lovely lady who was still smiling at me. She appeared, from the outside, as if she was a nice woman, but she had no idea of the twisted world in which I dwelled on a daily basis.
“Tell her no thanks,” I said to him.
I hopped off my stool and headed out of the bar. I made my way through the lobby of the hotel and out to the valet station. The attendant pulled my car up quickly for me and I jumped behind the wheel. I took off in a flash and jumped on the parkway. I pushed on the pedal and drove fast, as fast as felt I could control. Then I pressed the pedal down further. As the car accelerated, I felt no control at all, as if anything could happen. It mirrored what was going on inside of me.
As my car passed 130 miles per hour, I felt nervous, even slightly afraid. I drove that way up a long stretch of open road, shaking inside the entire time. Finally, when fear overtook me, I took my foot off the gas pedal and let the car decelerate to a respectable 70 miles per hour. I pulled off the next exit and then to the side of the road. I shut the car off and sat there, shaking. My heart was beating a mile a minute and I could not control the thoughts Escort Beylikdüzü racing through my head. I felt like I was having a nervous breakdown. I looked at my eyes in the rear view mirror and begged myself to get a grip.
Just when I thought I was never going to calm down, I thought of Penny sleeping in the car as we drove back from her parents’ house. I don’t know why I thought of that but at that moment a strange sensation of peace came over me as I sat there. I stopped shaking. I no longer felt out of control or nervous. I was like a very still lake on a calm morning, as smooth as glass. My pulse slowed to a normal rate and my thoughts were once again under my control. I nodded to myself in the rear view mirror, confidently. I started the car and got back on the parkway, now headed to Leslie’s house. It was time.
I arrived at Leslie’s house at 7:12pm. Close to perfect. I made my way to the front door and gingerly rang the bell. Leslie opened the door quickly, much to my surprise. I thought for sure I would be made to wait and to think. She invited me in and I took immediate notice that the house was full of action. I could hear the women in the kitchen and the dining room. As I walked through the front hall, I noticed a woman with curly red hair in the living room. Her back was to me and I saw that she was swaying slightly from side to side.
I proceeded into the living room and walked up behind her quietly. I gingerly put my hand on her shoulder, causing her to turn around slowly. She looked at me angrily, which I completely understood. I leaned in and kissed her softly on the cheek.
“I know I owe you a better apology than I can put into words, but I am sorry,” I said to her softly. “This must be Brian.”
The small bundle in her arms was quite a site. He was quiet, close to being asleep. I kissed him on the top of the head.
“He’s amazing,” I whispered to her.
“You’re a brave man, agreeing to this,” Monica said to me in her charming Australian accent. “They are not going to go easy on you.”
“Whatever they put me through tonight, I hope it makes up for the things that I put them through by being a chicken shit and not coming back before it came to this,” I replied.
The look on her face changed when I said that. She turned her head slightly as she stared at me.
“How are you feeling,” I asked her.
“The whole insemination process was weird, but physically I have recovered from the actual birth,” she revealed.
“How does it feel to be a mom,” I inquired.
“More wonderful than I can explain to you,” she replied.
“I hope I will see you later,” I said as I began to exit the living room.
Monica smiled at me when I turned to go, which increased the peace I was feeling. That was all about to change. When I reached the hall again Leslie was waiting for me. She had a scowl on her face, though she didn’t say a word. I followed her into the kitchen and through to the dining room. She took a seat at the dining room table, as did all of the women when the saw me. Their conversations stopped and they alternated between looking at me and looking away. I stayed standing and walk around the table as a silence fell over the room.
“So here we are,” I stated.
“We are here,” Leslie responded. “The rules are set. You will spend 10 minutes with each of us and you have to answer anything we ask you. Also, no sexual activity can take place in those 10 minutes, so watch where your hands or other things roam. You can wait out back, I will send out the first person in a minute.”
I opened the sliding glass door and stepped out into Leslie’s back yard. I walked across her patio and towards the pool where I sort of paced aimlessly, waiting. I had not actually thought about what order the ladies would speak to me in, so this new variable was now consuming my thoughts. The glass door slid open a moment later and Vivian made her way out to me.
“The first lady,” I laughed as the glass door closed behind her.
“Lucky me,” she whimpered. “We drew numbers.”
She held up a small piece of paper with the number 1 on it. I nodded.
“Are you alright,” I asked.
“Not at all,” she admitted. “Things at home have been tense at best. My sister is supporting me but I know she is pissed at me. She hides it well, but it feels like she wants to say ‘I told you so. I told you that you could not handle this.’ I am just not sure how this will all ever blow over.”
“It will,” I offered. “It has to. Penny will get over it. So will Emma. We will go forward, together.”
“What if I don’t get over it,” she asked rhetorically.
“Why wouldn’t you,” I asked.
“I care so much for you,” she explained. “I know you don’t care for me in the same way. It is getting to be too much for me to take. I know you feel strongly for Penny. That’s what I want, but I can’t get it out of you. It’s killing me. The worst part is that I have to see it on a daily basis at home. That is not good Beylikdüzü Escort Bayan for me anymore. To be that selfish and jealous and hopeful that it might change all the time is too much for me to deal with.”
“Vivian, I care for you greatly,” I explained to her. “I really do.”
“I know,” she acknowledged. “You have done nothing wrong and you have always been thoughtful around me. It’s just not the way I want it to be.”
“I’m sorry,” I said.
“Don’t be,” she sniffled as she wiped tears off of her cheek. “You can’t choose who you love. I really just don’t want my sister to think she was right and that I could not handle being a part of this game. I hate for her to think she was right and that I was the silly girl with the fairytale in mind when I joined. I wasn’t. I knew what this was all about and yet there was a piece of me that wanted you to love me. So, I guess partially Emma was right and that makes me disappointed with myself. You have to answer anything I ask you tonight, so I have to ask you this, just for my own piece of mind. Are you in love with Penny?”
I thought about everything that Vivian had just said before answering. I dissected her words and there meanings. I looked into her eyes and told her the truth.
“Yes,” I admitted softly. “I am.”
“That is a fine line to walk,” she interpreted. “She should not be running this game if that is the case. There are way too many emotions involved for her to ever be 100% fair or objective towards any of the other women. It’s gonna get messy if she stays in charge.”
“You may be right,” I granted her. “Everything changes in time. Penny’s leadership of this game might have to change at some point soon. That might be what’s best.”
“It certainly is what’s best,” she agreed. “Do you want this game to be over so you can be with Penny?”
I thought about that question as she asked it. I had thought about it many times when I was alone and I had never reached the answer, but tonight the honest truth seemed to just reveal itself to me. I looked at her and told her the complete truth as I knew it to be at that moment.
“Not yet,” I confessed. “That day may or may not come, but it isn’t today.”
She threw her arms around my neck and kissed me on the mouth passionately. I held her as our mouths wrestled with energy and fire for each other. We continued kissing as the glass door slid open. Leslie stepped out and made her way towards us. Vivian pulled away and looked at me longingly.
“Be careful what you agree to tonight,” Vivian said as she let go of my hand and headed back towards the house.
Vivian stepped inside and closed the glass door as Leslie reached where I was standing. Leslie drew her hand back and let it fly quickly. She stopped it short of my face and laid it gently upon my cheek. If she had slapped me, I would have taken it, but she had a way about her that was so very wonderful to be around. I was reminded of that every time she touched me.
“I missed you terribly,” she said.
“I’m sorry,” I replied. “I didn’t mean to make you feel like any part of my staying away so long was because of anything you did.”
“Who told you that,” she snapped at me as she removed her hand from my face.
“A bird whispered it in my ear,” I said.
“Son-of-a-bitch,” Leslie shouted.
“Don’t be angry,” I urged her. “It’s true and it’s a good thing I know. I shouldn’t have ever made you feel like that. You have been way to good to me and this game for that sort of lazy behavior. It is unacceptable and I apologize.”
Tears filled her eyes and streamed slowly down her cheeks. She ran to me and threw her arms around my waist. She hugged me tightly and held me firmly as she let it all out. I rubbed her back gently as I held her.
“Did you miss me,” she asked after several moments.
“Terribly,” I confirmed. “You are so special to me. I thought of all of you and missed you all in different ways. I missed your friendship and guidance in the difficult moments. I didn’t realize how much I leaned on you when I was here. I will try my best not to take that for granted again.”
“Thank you,” Leslie whimpered in muffled voice against my chest.
I held her tightly there in crisp evening air until her 10 minutes were up. The glass door slid open again and Brooke stepped through it. She sauntered over to where we were standing. She lightly tapped Leslie on the shoulder. Leslie peeled herself off of me and headed back into the house. Brooke smiled at me until the glass door shut in the distance.
“It’s been a real rough ride since I saw you at home,” she stated.
I nodded and waited for whatever was coming next.
“I missed you and I love you and I want to make this easy on you,” Brooke continued. “But I need some answers to some tough questions.”
“I missed you too, angel,” I responded. “And I do love you. So go ahead, ask me anything. Don’t be afraid. Ask me absolutely anything.”
For the Beylikdüzü Escort first time during this evening I was not scared. I was not nervous or worried or anxious. I just enjoyed these evening moments with my angel.
“Are you mad at me for coming to get you,” Brooke asked.
“Not at all,” I disclosed. “I am proud of you for being woman enough to not let me off the hook so easily. I am also disappointed with myself for not being a better man about the whole thing.”
“Answers like that are why I love you,” she confessed to me. “I believe every word you say. You are just so fucking real to me. It’s almost annoying. Almost.”
Brooke leaned up on her toes and kissed me lightly. Her lips were puffy and moist. I liked kissing Brooke, a lot. I was slightly disappointed when she pulled away.
“When did you get back,” Brooke asked me gently.
“Last Friday,” I answered honestly. “The day after you showed up, I got my shit together, said my goodbyes and came back.”
“Why did it take you so long to come to the office,” Brooke followed up. “Were you waiting to make a dramatic entrance?”
“No, that wasn’t how it went at all,” I corrected her. “It was a miscommunication. I said I wanted to wait a few days before coming back to the office so I could get used to being here again. I assumed Penny had told you all that I was back and therefore I was under the impression that your big meeting would have been canceled. She must have thought I wanted her to keep it a secret until I was ready. It was just a simple misunderstanding.”
“Do you want me,” Brooke asked in a very coy manner.
“Of course I do,” I confirmed for her.
“And you’re back, 100%, for good,” Brooke questioned further.
“I’m not going anywhere,” I cemented.
We were staring at each other as we both heard the glass door slide open. Brooke turned and headed back to the house as Mindy strutted towards me. They stopped when they reached each other. I could see them both giggling as they separated. The door closed behind Brooke as she stepped back inside. Mindy walked right up to where I was standing and stared at me very sternly. I looked at her, trying to be warm and inviting. I wanted her to feel comfortable asking me anything.
Mindy then jumped into my arms, throwing her arms wildly around my neck and wrapping her legs around my waist. I caught her, thankfully, and held her as she kissed me like crazy. She kissed me so passionately and forcefully that she reminded me of an army wife whose husband had just returned from war. She was possessed as she attacked my mouth with her own. I admit I felt, more than anything else in that moment, flattered.
After several minutes of making out with Mindy, I pulled away from her gently. I wanted to be sure she got full use of her 10 minutes.
“Is there anything you want to ask me,” I inquired.
“Sure there is,” she said as she kissed me again. “Did you miss me?”
“Of course I did,” I answered between kisses.
Mindy got very still in my arms and stared deeply into my eyes.
“Did you miss fucking me,” she asked directly.
“I missed it very much,” I admitted.
“Good,” she growled as she kissed me roughly again. “I missed fucking you too.”
Mindy devoured me with every ounce of energy that she had in her. I kissed her neck and her cleavage which seemed to drive her wild.
“I wish I could fuck you right now,” she moaned in my arms.
“Ah-hem,” a loud mock cough came from over Mindy’s shoulder.
I set Mindy down and noticed Nikki standing there. She had a scowl on her face that would have torn down any man. She looked at Mindy and pointed back to the house. Mindy looked at the house and then at me. She smiled wickedly.
“Now that’s how you use 10 minutes alone,” Mindy said as she winked at me.
I watched her dance back towards the house and disappear inside. I tried to suppress the smile that Mindy had left me with when I returned my focus to Nikki, who now would not even look at me. She was still scowling but looking away. I moved left to get into her eye line but she redirected her view to the right. I moved right and she looked left. I was not up for a game like this.
“You seem angry with me,” I suggested.
Nikki did not respond. I stepped towards her and she stepped back.
“Are you going to ignore me for the entire 10 minutes to teach me a lesson,” I asked.
Again there was no response.
“Nicholette, I’m sorry,” I said to her softly. “I didn’t mean for it to get like it did. I was lazy and selfish and you all deserved better.”
She still did not look at me. Her scowl seemed to have faded to a look of sadness.
“Nik, if you talk to me I can try to explain things,” I begged.
She would not bend.
“Your son is amazing,” I complimented her newborn boy.
Nikki finally moved towards me. As she did she raised her hand quickly and slapped me as hard as I had been slapped in a long time. The crack of her hand against my cheek sounded like a gunshot to me. The sting immediately set into my flesh. Nikki drew arm back again. I stood still and calm, ready to accept it if she delivered it. She looked at me finally. Tears were pouring down her cheeks and she was visibly weeping. She lowered her hand and melted into my arms. Her anger had exhausted her.