Submit (Page 12)

Submit (Songs of Submission #3)(12)
Author: C.D. Reiss

“Oh f**k, when did you become such a…whassa word? When you believe the best in people? Like you never lived in LA your whole life.”

“Is Theo drunk too?”

I heard the phone muffle and Gabby say, “Hey, baby, you drunk?” Then her voice got clear again. “He says he’s a little bit o’ this and a little bit o’ that.”

“Great. Do you want me to come and get you?”

“Go f**k yourself, Monica.”

The line went dead.

CHAPTER 9

My car was the only one in the driveway, but the house lights were on. I got out and went inside.

“How did it go?” Darren was in my kitchen, wiping the counter. He had a key. He might as well have moved in. Fucker. I hated him and everything. He looked up at me when I didn’t answer. “What happened?”

I had no words. I slipped my arms around his waist and held him tightly. He smelled nice.

He leaned his cheek against my head and stroked my back. “Is it the rich guy?”

“Yes and no.”

“Where’s Gabby?”

I let my hands drop and banged my forehead against his chest. “WDE set us up. It could have been a mistake, but it wasn’t. I can feel it. We ended up in different studios, and she’s with Theo right now, self-medicating.”

“At least she’s not alone. Theo’s a f**kup, but he won’t let her kill herself.” He put his hands on my shoulders and pushed me away, looking into my face. “Did you do the scratch cut?”

“Yes.”

“Oh thank God, Mon.”

“I feel like I ditched her.”

He shook his head. “They’d never reschedule, but if the cut’s good, they’ll send it out, and then you have a leg to stand on.”

I dropped my bag on the floor and plopped onto a kitchen chair. “Well, we won’t have to worry about that. It was the single worst performance of my life.”

“Come on.”

“Really.”

“Because of my sister?”

I leaned on the table, lacing my fingers in my hair. “No.”

“Do you want some tea?”

“Yes, please.” I stood. “I’ll make it. You don’t even live here.”

He pushed me back into the chair. “I can boil water.” He pulled the teabags down. “I’m sure it wasn’t that bad, Mon. Think about it. Are you just fighting the fraud men?”

The fraud men were the creatures that lived inside every artist’s brain, rearing their ugly heads any time something good happened and telling them that they were useless, talentless hacks who had only gotten lucky. “No, I really blew it. Couldn’t hold a note. I was… distracted.”

“By?” He plopped the teapot on the stove and turned to me, leaning on the counter with his arms crossed.

Could I tell him? And if I didn’t who would I tell? I took a deep breath and got ready for the red heat to rise in my face. “Jonathan’s a little kinky.”

Darren raised an eyebrow. “Oh, dear.”

“Please don’t embarrass me.”

He yanked a chair out from the table, sat, and put his elbows on the table. “Kinky billionaire meets hot waitress. It’s a cliché of a cliché. I love it. Does he make you spank him?”

The prickly heat finally hit my cheeks. “It’s the other way around.”

“No.”

I nodded while scratching a nonexistent piece of crud from the tabletop. “I mean, we haven’t got that far yet, but basically, that’s the nature of us in bed. He tells me to do stuff, and I do it. And he’s rough. Really rough. He wants a more, I guess, intense version of what’s been happening, and I’m freaked out.”

“Does he have a dungeon?”

I buried my face in my hands and gave a muffled “No” from behind my palms. I opened them. “I don’t think so.”

He paused, rubbing his chin, then leaned even farther across the table. “And he wants you to be his official f**k toy?”

“Oh God, Darren!”

“I haven’t heard you say that in years.”

I got up so fast the chair dropped behind me. “I’m really upset, Darren, and all you want to do is make jokes.” I turned off the burner and set about making tea. “He thinks I’m a natural submissive, which is code for like, doormat and beneath him, and yeah, it’s code for Jonathan’s little f**king f**k toy. And I know what you’re going to say. You’re going to say I’m no man’s whore. And you’re right. I’m not. I’m not some submissive little kitten or his god damn punching bag. What the f**k is he thinking? And you know what I’m thinking.”

“I have no idea what you’re thinking.”

I held up the teapot. “Do you want some?”

“Sure.”

“Sugar?”

“Monica?”

“What?”

“You were saying something about what you were thinking.”

I poured the tea. Darren didn’t take sugar and neither did I, but I’d needed a second to avoid saying something stupid. “I can’t say it.”

“You’re no man’s whore.”

I stared at the tea as it steeped. “I know.”

“But you’re falling for him.”

The strength went out of my spine. I hated Darren for bringing it up and for seeing through me, yet I was grateful he’d said what I couldn’t. “He’s witty,” I said. “And confident and affectionate. And he looks at me like I’m the only woman in the world. And you can make fun but… the sex is…” I searched for the right word and came up with nothing adequate. “I’m a f**k toy whore, aren’t I?”

Darren got up for his tea, since I was falling down on the job. “I’ll tell you the truth. I don’t like hearing someone is treating you like that. It upsets me. I’d actually like to punch him in the face a little.” He poured the hot water. “You’ve been alone too long. You’re vulnerable. You’re doing things you wouldn’t normally do.”

“Yeah.”

“If you want to date again, you should have tried dating, you know?”

“I want to rib you for not dating forever, then turning up g*y. But I can’t. It’s right for you. This… I don’t think this is right for me.” I pulled the bag out of my cup and pressed it until it was a sack of damp leaves. “Too bad.”