That awful morning a shaft of light suddenly shone into the room, despite Natalie having done her best, in a preposterously inebriated state the night before, to pull the draperies shut tight. You see, she did not want to wake up early. Her goal was to sleep in—way in. Why rush to wake up? But the vagabond beam had somehow signaled some primal instinct in her brain. Despite her best efforts to ignore the mechanical urge to slide out of bed—she did just that. On her feet, not steady, but nonetheless on her feet, she remembered. Jason had chosen Mia, after all. He would return home to his wife and kiddies. Time to head for the shower stall, turn on that hot water, and rinse the stench of her handsome businessman lover off her skin. How many times, over and over and over, had Jason pronounced Natalie to be the most beautiful woman alive? Barely having only just celebrated her twenty-second birthday, the poor discarded mistress thought, woman my ass! And she began to scrub herself raw with the loofa.
Posh hotel rooms had become the norm. Prior to meeting Jason, Natalie had never set foot in a hotel lobby, let alone the likes of the stately suites he favored. He made it a point to introduce her to the good life. In her previous incarnation as a proud college graduate, The Brown Cow Steakhouse had been her idea of a great place to go for dinner. But, since taking up with Jason on a vacation in Seattle, he had single-handedly done his best to accustom Natalie to loftier fare. Loftier everything. The prospect of crawling back home to Spokane Washington disturbed her to such a degree; she could think of nothing else to do but lean up against the marble wall like some sort of rag doll, under the steady stream of hot water, to cry her eyes out. Sure, in the end she would miss Jason, but how could a girl from a relatively modest background ever willingly give up the ridiculously luxurious way of life he had exposed her to?
Jason wasn’t a monster. Arrangements had been made. The room was hers until Monday. He’d been kind enough to leave a pile of cash on the night table, under the phone. Also, a ticket back home, and a note telling her that he would never forget their erotic times spent together. Jason's assistant answered his cell phone when she called. “Where is he?” Her voice had taken on a shrill and strange register, even to her own ears.
Leo, Jason’s assistant, was a short-little-sawed-off-asshole. They had never cared for each other, and Natalie could hear the glee lurking behind his pathetic effort to sound detached as he replied, “In the South Pacific, with Mia and the children, that’s as specific as I’m allowed to get.”
“Specific, Pacific, don’t put me on. You tell him that he better call me back, and right away,” she threatened.
“Leave it be, Natalie,” Leo warned.
“Don’t tell me what to do.” It was obvious that the little shit weasel had put her on speakerphone, and she couldn’t help but wonder if Jason was listening in.
“He’s made up his mind, from here on in,” Leo told her, in the most cautious tone, “to be a good husband, and a good father. It’s over, Dear. Accept that.”
Natalie caught a glimpse of herself in the full length mirror on the armoire in the corner of the room, her long legs were tan and smooth, her breasts were full and natural. She was everything that Jason could not resist, despite his absolute resolve to head back home so he might play good little mate and daddy extraordinaire. The guy would not be capable of pulling off his little act at domesticity, and Natalie knew it. “Jason had better give me a call,” she advised. “Or I might just show up at his doorstep one day soon. I might just sign up for dance classes.”
Leo let out an involuntary sound, a yelp of sorts, followed by, “Don’t you dare! It would be a mistake to bother the family. It would be a huge mistake to show up at Mia's dance studio. Look, between you and me, Jason dawdles; don’t read into it more than it meant. He was fooling around. Surely you knew that?”
Natalie told Leo to wise up. After counting the bills she headed on over to Nordstrom’s. It came as no surprise when she discovered the wind had been taken out of her sails. There was no impetus to purchase a damn thing. In the end, after ducking into a wine bar, it just made sense to let the-over-the-top-gay-waiter choose a Chardonnay on her behalf. When her phone began to vibrate in her purse Natalie retrieved it, realizing that the call was coming from Jason’s number, her heart began to pound madly. For a brief five second interval she considered not answering. But really, she could not, not answer, now could she?
“It’s me Sweetie,” Leo’s nasal voice assaulted her senses, and the very notion of the jerk using a term of endearment made Natalie’s face turn red and grow warm. She kept quiet while he went on to say, “I have a proposition for you Dear.”
The super-modern-dream-come-true loft apartment overlooked Elliot Bay. As time passed by Natalie came to view Jason as a philanthropic beneficiary. How downright fortunate, to have met such a generous man at such a young age, what a lucky girl she was!
All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.