Page 19

 Penelope Ward

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In the bathroom, I ran a blow dryer through my already dry hair to touch it up, did up my eyes and put some lip-gloss on.
It was only 8:53. I decided to go onto Skype to see if Cedric had sent me an invitation to be added as a contact. He did. His user name was CedricCallahan99. I accepted the invitation, of course and could see that he was not online yet.
I finished my glass of wine and sat on my bed, breathing in and out slowly to try and relax and put on some soft music, closing my eyes.
As it got close to 10:00, my nerves started to act up again.
It was 9:55 now. I began to wonder if I was supposed to call him or him call me. I decided it was best if I waited for him to call me. The minutes dragged on.
When 10:00 rolled around, my heart really started pounding.
Jesus, what is wrong with me? I wasn’t even going to be with him. We were thousands of miles apart. I couldn’t stand the anticipation.
At 10:05, I jumped at the sound of Skype telling me that CedricCallahan99 was online. Ahhhh!
My excitement was short-lived because it was 10:08 and he still hadn’t called, so I convinced myself that maybe he was waiting for me to call, since he appeared to be online. I impulsively hit the ‘call with video’ button.
After three times, the ringing stopped and I could see the video start to load. My pulse raced at the unexpected sight of what I was met with.
I sat by the Santa Monica Pier, taking in the sights and the ocean as I ate some of the best Mexican food I have ever tasted. It was nice to be in California in December, but I wished she were here with me. I have another couple of hours before my afternoon meeting at KLAG-TV and decided to drive down here to clear my head first.
It hasn’t even been two days and I was falling harder for her than I could have imagined. I missed feeling her next to me, sleeping next to her. Immense sadness came like a wave crashing in the ocean nearby when I realized that I was tricking myself into believing that she might not leave me if she found out the truth.
I wanted to stay in denial forever.
I needed more time with her; I would regret it forever if I left her behind and wasn’t ready to leave her, even though it might be the right thing to do.
I needed a cigarette, but am trying to make a commitment to be a better person for her. She doesn’t strike me as the type to appreciate me blowing smoke in her face…or for that matter, what I am really doing, I suppose, blowing smoke up her ass.
Amusement ride music and the sound of children laughing faded into the distance as I walked to my rental car and sped onto the freeway back toward Los Angeles.
I arrived just in time to meet the news director and general manager at KLAG.
After a station tour, we went over some new theme music tracks for their shows and they showed me footage of their on air talent.
I met with a few of the top personalities one on one to critique each’s presentation individually behind closed doors.
The last meeting was with news anchor Brandi Brady, an attractive petite redhead who anchored the 5:00 newscast. After viewing her demo, I have to say, I was very impressed with her top-notch look and delivery and asked her who represented her.
“I’m a free agent right now, actually. Do you know any takers?” Brandi crossed her legs in front of me and licked her lips flirtatiously. I could tell when a woman was sending me signals.
“Actually, J.D. Westock is always looking for new talent to represent. It would be a conflict of interest for me to entertain representing you myself, since I am a consultant for your employer KLAG, but I am sure one of our other agents would be happy to set up a meeting with you.”
“I was hoping to set up a meeting with you, Cedric,” Brandi replied firmly, her eyes glancing down, sizing me up, slowly.
“Oh?” I said, knowing full well what she was getting at from the way she looked at me and licked her lips.
“I am very impressed by your knowledge and would love to hear more about what it is you do at J.D. Westock. You have quite the reputation. I was hoping you’d let me show you around tonight. I could meet you at your hotel after my shift is over.”
Well, fuck, could she be more direct?
“That’s nice of you Brandi, really it is, but I’m going to have to pass. I have another meeting tonight.”
“Ok, Cedric. Well, I better be going, I need to get ready for the broadcast.” Brandi exited the room, looking back at me flirtatiously.
“Bye, Brandi.” I watched her walk away. If this were three months ago, Brandi would have likely ended up na**d in my bed tonight. It wasn’t that she wasn’t appealing, but I was so wrapped up in Allison, I had no desire for anyone else.
After a sushi dinner at Koi with the station management, I finally made it back to my hotel room.
All day and night, all I could think about was Allison and lying in bed talking to her on Skype tonight.
One day in Cali was enough; I couldn’t get back to Boston fast enough and I had two more days here, with meetings at two other stations.
I logged into Skype to turn my status to online and figured I had a few minutes to jump in the shower before calling Allison.
I took off my suit jacket and was about to unbutton my shirt when I hear a knock at the door. I stupidly opened it without checking the peephole and was surprised to find Brandi Brady standing there in a tight red dress with ample cleavage.
She pushed her way in before I could tell her I was not interested.
“I heard your meeting wrapped up. I thought I would come over and keep you company.” She started touching my shoulder suggestively and I instinctively moved back.
“Brandi, um… I appreciate that, really I do…but—”
Brandi cut me off. “Look…I am going to be direct with you, Cedric. When you walked into the station today, I couldn’t believe how hot you were, that I could be so attracted to someone. I have never wanted to f**k someone so badly in my life. I want nothing more than to experience that with you tonight. There I said it. This isn’t about business; it’s about pleasure. No strings attached. No one has to know.”
Tell me how you really feel.
I wasn’t really sure what to say to her as she sat on my bed looking up at me. I actually felt sad for her. I hate to think that I would have taken advantage of her a few months ago, but I probably would have, as pathetic as this situation was. But now, tonight…I really only felt sorry for her and there was no way I would f**k up my situation with Allison for a cheap thrill.
“Brandi, wow. I am so flattered, believe me. If this were a few months ago…things might have been different, but I am sort of involved with someone right now, so…”
“You have a girlfriend?” Brandi interrupted.
Allison wasn’t technically my girlfriend—yet—but I felt like my heart belonged to her from that very first day in the diner. I lied to Brandi anyway.
“Yes, I do, Brandi. I am sorry,” I said.
“Okay, Cedric. From what I had heard about you, I didn’t think you were the girlfriend type. But if you say so, that’s all I need to hear. If you change your mind, you know where to find me. You won’t regret it.” Brandi kissed me on the cheek, handed me her card and walked out the door.
I had lost track of the time. It was past ten.
I looked at myself in the mirror and realized I had a lipstick mark on my cheek. Even though it was time to call Allison, I ran into the shower and took a quick one, washing my face vigorously and wetting back my hair.
When I got out, I wrapped a towel around me and immediately heard the computer ringing on Skype. I knew it was Allison, probably wondering why I was online, but not calling, so I ran to the laptop, out of breath, but excited and picked up. It took a few seconds for the video to load and when it did, she took my breath away.
“Hey, beautiful,” I said softly.
“Cedric! Oh my God…you are practically na**d!” Allison laughed.
I truthfully was so excited to hear the phone, I had forgotten I was only in a towel and dripping from the shower.
“Yeah…about that. I was just getting out the shower, but I didn’t want to not pick up, so, yeah…I am only in a towel.” I laughed at myself as Allison chuckled along with me. Her laugh was wonderful.
“Hold on, okay?” I said as I got up and returned to the bathroom, coming out in baggy flannel pajama pants and a white wife beater shirt.
“You didn’t have to get dressed on my account,” Allison said.
“Well, I figured you already had enough of a show for one night.” I laughed.
“I didn’t mind. You have a nice body, Cedric and I like your tattoo,” she said.
I was hoping she would drop the subject of the tattoo. I didn’t want to have to lie to her about its meaning.
“What does the tattoo mean? I actually first noticed it when you were changing that light bulb in Callie’s room. It’s some sort of cross and the word ART?” Allison asked.
Her inquiry was innocent. She couldn’t have known the meaning of the tattoo. I hated lying to her.
“Yeah, it was just a stupid thing I did one night. It’s kind of grown on me, but it better because I am stuck with it, right?”
I attempted to avoid having to explain the meaning of ART.
“What does ART mean?” she asked.
Here we go.
“Ugh…it’s kind of a long story. I’ll explain it to you some other time.”
My heart pounded hoping she would drop the subject of the meaning. It seemed the Gods were on my side tonight when she playfully asked, “Can I get a closer look?”
“I don’t know about that. If I show you mine, you might have to show me yours.” I hoped she knew I was joking.
“Okay. I mean if that’s what you want, we can do that.”
Holy Shit. She wanted to play.
Allison gave me a look that was an exact cross between innocent and naughty and I could tell she was half serious.
She was wearing a tight tank top with nothing underneath and I could feel my dick getting hard from the mere thought of seeing her bare skin. Lying in bed and being this close to her, even just on Skype, was driving me mad.
“Okay, you want a close up of my tattoo?” I said mischievously.
“Yes, please.” Allison smiled.
I lifted my shirt and moved the laptop camera, so that she could see the side of my torso. “What do ya think?”
“I think it’s gorgeous,” she said.
“Well, I think you’re gorgeous,” I said as I pulled my shirt back down and repositioned the computer.
“Thank you,” she said sweetly.
After another moment of us just starting at each other smiling had passed, Allison spoke. “Cedric, tell me something about yourself that would surprise me.”
My eye twitched as the irony of that question hit me.
God she had no idea, but I wasn’t going to let my mind go to that dark place tonight. Not tonight.
“You first,” I said, giving myself time to recover from that question.
Allison smiled and closed her eyes to think for a second.
“Okay…well, let’s see. Something that would surprise you…okay…well, I was once in the Miss Massachusetts pageant!”
“No f**king way…you…a pageant girl?”
“Yeah…my mother convinced me to enter and I actually placed third runner-up.”
“Third-runner up? There is no way that pageant is based on beauty then, cuz you would have won if that were the case.”
“Aw, thanks…but no…see, there’s this little thing called talent? And well, I guess they didn’t appreciate my rendition of Wind Beneath my Wings.”
I threw my head back. “You did not sing that song?”
“I did…and it sucked ass.”
I lost it at her use of that term, which I used a lot too.
“Hey…but still third runner-up, it couldn’t have been that bad!” I said, wiping my eyes.
“Your turn,” she said.
I closed my eyes and thought about it.
“Okay…I know…something that would surprise you is that I have a bit of a musical past myself.”
“Oh yeah?”
“My brother Caleb and I used to rap, actually. We had an amateur rap group as teenagers called Triple C.”
“Triple C?” she asked.
“Yeah…Triple C for Cedric…Caleb…Callahan. We thought we were the shit. I used to write the lyrics and Caleb did the beats. We had the baggy jeans falling off our asses and everything…Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch wannabees.” I chuckled shaking my head at the thought of how ridiculous we were.
Allison covered her mouth and shook in laughter, then shouted, “Rap me something!”
“Seriously?” I asked.
“Yes! Come on…show me what you can put together in three minutes,” she said.
My head fell back in disbelief and laughter. She was actually gonna make me do this?
“Okay. Three minutes…hold on,” I said.
I walked over to the hotel room desk and grabbed the pad of paper and pen.
Returning to the bed, I began to write down some lines, laughing to myself at how stupid this was, but I wanted to make her laugh and show her I was up for anything.
Allison stared at the screen for those few minutes smiling and giggling watching me write.
I looked at the alarm clock…my three minutes were up…so I returned to the screen. “Okay…ready? This is for you, sweetheart.”
I quickly grabbed my sunglasses and put my baseball cap on sideways and began to sing, gesturing with my hands.