I Ambush Brad; Jodie Ambushes Me

When I was younger, I used to want to be like all those business-people drinking coffee first thing in the morning before they head out to work. I wanted to be that girl in Starbucks ordering her coffee to her exact specifications, as if she were on the phone to a clerk for the perfect man for a male order; ‘Hi, I’d like a tall, non-fat, smoothness with a velvety after taste’. Coffee is so addictive to some people. And I will never understand what it is about the bitterness of coffee that draws people to drink it, especially, first thing in the morning. I’ve also heard, that I’ve only been drinking bad coffee if I don’t like it. Can someone please tell me where the good coffee is? Or what?

Daniel drinks it casually, but lately he’s gone off it. Since his broken leg he hasn’t been going into work as much, if at all. His morning routines consisted of waking up from uninterrupted sleep, but early in the morning. Body clock and all.

“Sorry I can’t go to the appointment with you,” I said as I fix my shirt. “But keep letting me know how it goes. Just, don’t even hold back from details. I have a strong stomach. And whatever needs to be strong, I have it.” I furrowed my brows at the confusion.

Daniel smiled, stroking my cheek with the back of his hand and running his lips down my neck. “It’s fine. It’s from here, to a cab, to the hospital and back. No walking whatsoever, thanks to the lift and the convenience of transport. And it’s a simple check-up as well. There’s really nothing big going on.”

I look at Daniel through the mirror. His eyes alternated between closing and concentrating on my skin. “What about Richard?”

“Mmm?” He crinkled his nose and opened his eyes, looking like he woke up a second time. “What about him?”

“You’re seeing him tonight.”

“Is that meant to be a question?”

Shrugging out of his embrace, I smiled and turned around. “Well, did you want me to go with you?”

Daniel tilted his head and focused his eyes on me. “Are you implying I can’t handle him on my own?”

I shook my head. “No, I—”

“Because lately,” he interrupted my non-existent response beyond a ‘no’. “I feel like you’re looking out for me way too much to the point where you think I’m some porcelain doll that needs extra care to keep from breaking.”

I keep silent, taking his words in.

“I just don’t like it,” he shrugs. “Is all.”

I nod, sighing and looking at the floor to avert his eyes. “I admit I have been a little…over the top.”

“Hey,” he said, bringing his hands to my face and raising my head up so he could plant a kiss. “I love that you care about me so much, but I’m not as fragile as you may think.”

“Okay, I see your point. I’ll tone down the over-protectiveness like I’m Edward Sullen.”

Daniel cinched his brows together. “Who? An ex-boyfriend?”

I giggled. “Never mind.” Should I be glad that he doesn’t know the movie reference? “Anyway, I’m just asking if you want me there or not, just casually. I mean, I’m going out with Jodie tonight but I can always—”

“Go,” Daniel says, rolling his eyes. “Have fun. And tell her I say ‘hi’. We should get together some time.”

I nod, my bottom lip twitching at the corner. “Yeah, sure, umm, I’ll run that by her.”

Daniel slapped my ass as I walked around him and I yelped before I swiftly ran out.

***

Waiting for David to show while sitting here with Brad, all alone, is excruciating. Brad thinks I’m totally infatuated with him. No matter how many times I drive him away, he keeps coming back acting like he’s all charming. You’re not dude. Anything to do with a lawsuit will probably take too long to manifest, and I know David will shit a brick on top of it. Not that it matters what David thinks about all this since it’s me and me only getting the short end of Brad’s stick.

To be honest, Brad doesn’t exactly faze me. He hasn’t done anything worth reporting that I can’t handle and unless he goes way too far and decides to jump overboard, then it’s not a problem to me. By the time Brad’s book comes out he’ll be long gone and I won’t have to deal with him anymore.

“You look beautiful today,” Brad says as we wait in David’s office when he stepped out.

I roll my eyes in response and continue staring ahead through the large windows. God, I’d kill for an office like this.

Brad snickers. “I just paid you a compliment. You’re not going to say anything?”

When I sigh I can just feel Brad appraising me. It takes all the willpower in my body to keep myself from shivering.

“Women,” he huffs, shaking his head, “when you pay a compliment, they consider it sexual harassment, and when you don’t, they’re not appreciated enough. Pick a side, will you?”

“Wow,” I say, turning my attention to face him and uncrossing my arms, “you cannot be serious. I mean, there’s—”

Brad bursts out laughing. “Finally, something got you talking.”

I blankly stare at him with gritted teeth behind tightly closed lips. “So you were just messing with me? You don’t really believe what you said?”

He shrugged and tilted his head from side to side in thought. “So,” he started, ignoring my question, “what do you think of my book? You never really actually told me and I’ve been dying to know.”

I fixed my suit and hair up, feeling like I just came out from a fight that barely started to have a finish. I shook my head. “I don’t have any words to say to you unless I have to.”

“Oh come on,” Brad said, moving his body to point towards me. Today he’s wearing a midnight blue suit with a silver tie. His sandy blonde, wavy hair slicked back into dark tides. “We should be cordial, you and I. At least for your sake.”

“My sake, pfft.”

Brad nods. “That’s right. What would David think if you were treating one of his best clients like shit?”

I narrow my eyes and my mouth gapes in disbelief. “Are you honestly threatening me right now? Because on top of the workplace sexual harassment, I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“Well I don’t necessarily work here, so…” he said, nonchalantly. As if I didn’t say he was being so illegal right now. You don’t have to be working here to be liable for douchey behaviour, dude. “Honestly, though, I’d like to know your opinion.”

I sigh. “If I tell you, will you stop talking to me?”

“Sure,” he agrees, grinning.

I knew he wouldn’t, but if only for the time being, to spare me the few minutes of torture I have to endure silently opposite David, then I’ll take it.

“I thought it was pretty good.”

Brad lifts his brows in intrigue. “Pretty good?”

“Except for one teeny, tiny thing,” I said.

“Mmm? What?” He asks, eyes eager and bright.

“How does the main character not know his father is sleeping with his girlfriend? It’s right there in front of him and he just doesn’t see it. He’s either blind or stupid. Maybe both.”

I blabbed on and giggled as if I were a professor in a lecture, saying that it wasn’t explicitly stated in the book but the affair was present. When my opinion was met with radio silence I turned to Brad to see what was up. He was staring at the ground, palms open on his thigh and focused on a thought. His eyes frantically hopped from one point to another on the floor, as if he were trying to solve a difficult math problem.

“What did I say?” I ask, hesitantly. When he didn’t reply, I said, “Hey,” to catch his attention.

Brad gulped and shook his head. In a low voice, he answered, “Nothing.”

“Okay,” David projected, his voice startling me when he entered unknowingly into his office. He sat on the chair opposite us, oblivious to our conversation and started his own. “Word is out that you’re publishing a book. We’ve been trying to keep this information on the down low, but turns out the New York Times has gotten wind of things. So, with that being said, we’ve decided to release a press release and also do an interview with Brad to be up on the New York Times. During the process we’ll be trying to create attention to his book, more so, than Brad. The interview will be around your writing process, your inspiration, even your writing music playlist if you have one—” David laughed with that. What’s weird is that he laughed on his own. He stopped short and cleared his throat “—sound good?”

Brad nodded. “Sounds good.”

“Anna,” David said, “Brad will send you list of things he refuses to discuss during the interview, let’s make that list short and sweet Brad—” he tells him and then returns his attention onto me “—I’ll be wanting you to do a mock interview with him as I watch. I’ll be taking notes and letting you—” he turns to Brad “—know what to say and do, and what not to say and do. Sound good?”

I force a polite smile. “Sounds good.”

***

“Excited for a night out?” I ask Jodie.

“Finally!” she says, “I’ve been doing meeting on top of meeting and I’m dying. I really need a drink.”

I laughed. “Not holding back at all?”

Jodie shook her head and looped her arm through mine as we walked on the sidewalk. “I’ve been on a strict diet, but tonight, I’m letting loose.”

“And probably cut out a week’s or so worth of effort.”

Jodie shrugged. “Meh, I just won’t think about it. It’ll be like it never happened.”

We were going to go dancing after dinner. We opted for a fancy restaurant on fifth so Jodie could feel spoiled like a Park Avenue New Yorker.

“I can feel the pearls and thousand dollar fur blossoming already,” she winked.

Jodie had a couple of drinks before our food came; I only had half of one.

“So, I wanted to tell you beforehand, so you don’t exactly get shafted,” Jodie starts, stuffing a crab cake into her mouth. I watch her warily, fork midway into my mouth. “I invited Adam.”

“Adam?” I whine.

Jodie shrugged, confused at my reaction. “Yeah, he’ll be here soon.”

“Adam!?”

Jodie laughed. “What’s the big deal?”

“Well first of all, I thought it was just us tonight.”

“So, plans change.”

“And second of all, I’m not speaking to Adam. I haven’t in a long time. I told you this.”

“Yeah, well, that shouldn’t stop me from hanging out with him. I mean honestly Anna,” she rolls her eyes and leans in, “we’re not in high school anymore. I can hang out with someone I don’t like if they’re your friend and you can hang out with someone I don’t like if they’re my friend. No big deal. I kind of miss him.” Her eyes flicker over to the entrance and back. “Besides, he’s here so be nice.”

In the meantime Adam sifted through the crowd I narrowed my eyes and charged for it. “Fine,” I hissed, “then you have to hang out with me and Daniel.”

“What? No.”

“Jodie,” I warned, ready to drop my napkin onto the table and pass Adam on my way out.

“Fine,” she grumbled.

We both sat back in our chairs undefeated and somewhat annoyed. I wasn’t even going to force her to hang out with me and Daniel. But if I had to sit here with Adam, then she’s going to have to give it a shot with Daniel.

Even so, I felt a little weird about how it went down. And Jodie was right, just because I’m not exactly friends with Adam doesn’t mean she has to stop seeing him. But why now; and why on our time?

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