Opening the closet, I scan over my options before choosing a pair of slightly too tight black jeans with a flare at the bottoms which I’m happy about. Classic jeans have been forgotten and replaced with skinny jeans or as I like to call them, death traps. I bruised my tailbone trying to squeeze my ass into a pair once only to lose my footing from jumping up and down and falling hard.
Stripping from my pajamas and put on a lacy panty and bra set before pulling on the jeans and a Wonder Woman graphic tee with a pair of black Vans. When I’m dressed, I let my hair out of the bun and flat iron it, pulling half of it back, securing it with the elastic Ethan gave me the day of my interview. Yes, I still have it. Pathetic, I know.
After grabbing my things, I ride the elevator down to the lobby and when the doors open, I catch sight of Ethan’s back. I ease up behind him, ready to attack. When I’m right behind him, I gently dig my fingers into his sides, tickling him.
“What the!” When he turns around, my face runs red realize that the man isn’t Ethan. “What the fuck are you doing?!”
“Oh my God, I’m so sorry, I thought you were someone else. I’m so so sorry” My hands over my mouth, I step back quickly only to bump into something hard. Turning around, Ethan is looking down at me.
“Thea, what’s wrong?”
“I tickled a stranger” I close my eyes, tightly just wanting to crawl under a rock and die of embarrassment. The angry man walks off quickly, looking back at me and saying something into his phone. After a few seconds, Ethan begins to laugh...hard. Okay, it’s more like a roar of laughter. Frowning and pouting, I stand in front of him as he doubles over laughing at me.
“It’s not that funny” I cross my arms.
“Yes, it is!”
“Oh, just shut up and lets go you big ooph” I slap his arm before turning around to leave the building whether Ethan is following or not.
By the sound of chuckling still close behind me, I assume he is following. Outside, the fresh air fills my lungs. I take a deep breath and let my hands fall to my sides. Catching me off guard, an arm snakes around the shoulders, a hand resting just above my left breast and when I look up, Ethan is smiling down at me. Leaning in, his mouth just inches from my ear, he mumbles
“Sorry for laughing” An obvious lie since he can barely keep himself from chuckling as he talks.
Shaking off his arm, I pout “Yeah, yeah. So where are we going?”
“Wherever the wind takes us after we get your phone.” He shrugs and takes me hand, pulling me along as he starts to walk until I’m next to him.
I can’t help but realize that this playful Ethan is the complete opposite of how he was acting all week. I wish I knew what changed in him that made him relax around me. Either way, I like it. Not having many friends here is quite lonely so the fact that I’m hanging out with Ethan is a nice change. I was prepared to spend the whole day with Ethan’s Netflix account and a jar of Jiffy.
After stopping for coffee and my phone, we make our way to a park where I take in my surroundings. I’ve been to this park once since living in New York, but it wasn’t for just a casual stroll. I had just lost my job and missed the bus to get home so while waiting for the next one, I sat on a bench, weighing my options. When we pass by the exact bench where my broke ass was plastered, I can’t help but frown.
“Something wrong?” Ethan says, nudging my shoulder.
“No, not really. I came to this park once after I lost my nanny job. It looks different though. I don’t remember it being so nice and pretty” I force a laugh as I eye the trees and flowers.
“That’s because you weren’t thinking about the scenery. Don’t let your past bring you down anymore. You’re in a new place with new people. Be happy”
I look up at Ethan, rolling my eyes. “I’m very happy right now”
Suddenly, a woman jogging rushes past me, almost sending me and my empty coffee cup to the ground. Yelping, the woman turns around.
“Oh God, i’m so sorry. I wasn’t paying....Ethan?” She turns away from me to face him and my eyes follow.
She is beautiful even with a slight sheen of sweat over her skin. Her blonde hair is pulled up into a ponytail and her wide doe eyes are quite captivating. She is tall and slim, standing at the same height as Ethan, putting my shortness to shame.
Ethan clears his throat “Kate, Hi. How are you?”
“I’m great. Missed you last night at the club”
My attention spikes up when she mentions a club. Sinful Desires rings in my head. It has to be what she is talking about. I have to know what type of place this is. Looking up at Ethan, I wait for him to respond.
“Uh, yeah. Something important came up last night. I’m sure I didn’t miss anything”
The woman smiles. “Oh, don’t be coy. I know it’s probably eating you up that you couldn’t come. It was busier than usual. Lots of new guests”
She gives Ethan a seductive wink before looking at me, briefly. “You’re very pretty”
I try to keep my facial expressions at bay from her comment, but a small frown peeks through.
“Oh, thank you.” I think.
“Ethan, you should bring her. You never bring anyone and I know a few people who would just love to...” Before she can finish her sentence, Ethan coughs.
“Um, Kate, we really have to get going.”
What the hell was that all about? I’ve never seen Ethan this flustered before. I’ve never seen him flustered at all. He’s always so intense and now, well now he just seems embarrassed. Maybe he doesn’t want to be seen anywhere with me, but I doubt that since we are out in a public park. Maybe he just doesn’t want me to meet any of his rich friends. I wouldn’t know how to act around them anyway.
The woman, Kate, just smiles and nods.
“Okay, well it was nice seeing you.” Then she turns to me “And it was nice meeting you...” She pauses, waiting to get my name.
“It was nice meeting you, Thea. Ethan, try not to keep this one all to yourself”
After a few seconds of silence, Ethan forces a tight smile. “I’ll try”
“See you next weekend?” Kate asks.
“Yup. I’ll be there”
“And Thea?” Seriously, what is this woman’s deal?
If Ethan wants me at some uppity club, he’ll ask me himself instead of having some random woman push him to do it. I don’t know what it is about the way he is acting, but it makes me curious. Dangerously curious to find out what goes on there. With a name like Sinful Desires, it has to be something desirable about it, right?
“I don’t think Thea would fit in much” Ethan’s words send a blow to my gut.
Even he thinks I’m not good enough for his upper-class social club. Asshole. I look away when he turns to check for a reaction, not wanting to make it so obvious that I’m slightly irritated. Kate gives him a nod, still looking at me.
“Fair enough. Well, I’ll see you around, Ethan.” She gives a small wave before jogging off, leaving us with a tension cloud looming over our heads.
“So, where were we?” Ethan tries to brush off the awkward moment.
“I’m ready to go home.” I spurt out causing a crease to form in his forehead. “Why? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. I’m just ready to go” I shrug and when I go to turn around and walk off, Ethan catches my upper arm, pulling me in front of him. “Tell me”
Rolling my eyes, I let my weight fall onto my right foot “You didn’t give me a choice”
“Yes. You didn’t give me a choice of whether I wanted to go to a stupid private club or not. You just spoke for me like what I had to say didn’t matter. Maybe I wouldn’t fit in, but it’s for me to find out” Ethan glares at me with a half amused, half serious look on his face. I want to tell him about the business card I found, but I don’t want to give that secret away.
“It’s really not that serious, Thea. It’s just a private members only club.”
“Well, Kate makes it sound like it’s just bursting with fun. I like fun, Ethan” Scowling at him with all my might, Ethan only smirks at my little mediocre outburst. Squinting my eyes, I want to ask what’s so funny, but I already know. Me. I’m funny to him.
“I’m glad you find me so humorous.” I pull away and start walking fast, hearing Ethan jog lightly to catch up “Wait, Thea. I wasn’t laughing at you”
“Right. Just leave me alone, Ethan. Apparently, you don’t think I’m good enough to hang around your rich friends and I’m okay with that. It’s totally fine. At least Kate liked me. She damn near couldn’t keep her eyes off me” As I’m speed walking, I starting breathing a little harder. I had no intentions of getting a workout today.
Finally catching up to me, Ethan steps into my path, causing me to jump back to avoid colliding with his chest. Crossing my arms, I stare at the middle of his chest avoiding his eyes.
“Thea” He mumbles and when I don’t answer, he grips my chin gently, pulling my face up to look at him.
“What?” I try to pull my chin from his grip, but he tightens his hold.
“Stop it, now” A deep voice replaces his calm tone and it sends a chill through me. His deep eyes pull me in and he sighs.
“Look, I’m sorry for not letting you speak for yourself, but in my defense, this club isn’t for everyone. It’s different with different types of people. In no way shape or form do I think you aren’t good enough and I never want to hear you say it again, understand?”
Giving no answer, Ethan steps closer, closing off space between us. I can only imagine how we look standing in the middle of a park sidewalk. I’m sure people are staring and I don’t like it. Turning my face to see who observing, I realize I can’t. Ethan as a firm grip on my chin.
“Ethan, please. People are staring.” My blood begins to thud in my veins, imagining everyone’s eyes on us. On me.
“I will let you go if you say that you’re good enough”
Letting out a deep breath, I try to step back, but he quickly snakes an arm around my waist, holding me. “Say it”
“Please, let me go” I whisper, wanting so desperately to shut my eyes, tightly. Out of the corner of my sight, I see a man and woman pass by and they both turn their heads to look at us. The woman leans over and whispers something to the guy, making him chuckle. I quickly come to the conclusion that they are laughing at me. Biting my lip, my eyes find, Ethan’s again.
“Thea, say that you’re good enough.”
With his hand on my back, his fingers dig into my skin, slightly. Although his hand is over my shirt, it still warms me deeply.
Sighing, I part my lips “I’m good enough” I whisper.
“That’s my girl” Ethan taps my back with his hand before setting me free. Frantically, I look around and see that no one is looking at us. I breathe a sigh of relief, wrapping my arms around myself. When I look up at Ethan, his eyes are scanning over me, with a worried look.
“Can we go somewhere else, now?” I ask and he nods
“Yeah, come on.” Throwing his arm around me, we begin to walk again. This time, I feel okay in his arms. Better. Calmer.