Drama Fiction

I swipe right. I do so, mostly because of the abs, I will admit. His face isn't terrible, but it isn't one that I would consider handsome. His body is delicious in that shirtless pic, which on most profiles I despise, but not this one.

I'm not looking for anything serious. To be honest, I'm not quite ready to let go of my boss. I know it's cliche, but yes, I am in a romantic relationship with my supervisor. You are probably thinking that it is motivated by the possibility of a promotion. If so, you are wrong. My boss is tall, dark, and handsome, for sure. But, it isn't his looks either. It is his energy. He is addicting. Talking, planning, hell even working is amazing with him.

After two years though, my boss is moving on. He has been promoted to a different department and he will not be taking me along. Fine. He isn't the only fish in the sea. I'll just bounce back. That’s what lands me on the dating app, where I find this disaster. 

Immediately after I match with ab guy, he messages me. Let’s call him AB. Get it? AB for delicious abs. Anyway, that is how I save his contact in my phone. AB is only one mile away, which is good news. If he lives in my neighborhood, then I know he isn't a bum. He has to have a six figure income to afford anything within a three mile radius. He works in the tech industry. Ok, that isn't terrible. There is certainly money to be made in tech, and this probably means that he has some college. Up to this point, he is getting an A+ from me. Admittedly, my l checklist has very low expectations. Prospects must have a job, live on their own, have a car, and a degree. So far, AB is looking pretty good, literally and figuratively. 

After texting for an hour or so, he asks if we can meet at the neighborhood park in 30 minutes. What in the hell? I know you are thinking that meeting in person on the same day you meet online is a bad idea. Me too. I toss my phone and walked away. Fear, almost panic washes over me. It is a strange, wordless knowing in my gut that I shouldn't go. At the kitchen counter, my knuckles turn white from the grip I have on the sink. I am being ridiculous. I am a drama queen. This is my subconscious trying to prevent me from moving on, from letting go of my boss for good. My phone dings from the other room. I stand motionless. Maybe I should just block AB’s number. Another ding. Oh yeah, I definitely should block him. Who texts back to back without a reply? That's it. He's too desperate.

But, the texts aren't from AB. They are from my boss. He wants to come by and collect his things. Tonight. After two years, this is all he has to say. I am furious. Enraged. I’ll go meet someone new...right now! Why not? I text AB and tell him where to meet. He replies immediately with, “Great!” and a red heart emoji. 

There isn't much time to freshen up. I throw on some yoga pants, a camo tee, and slide on my flip flops. I mean, what can he expect with so little time to prepare? When I arrive, he is already sitting at the designated table. He watches me as I approach, smiling brightly. When I am close enough to make eye contact, that same fear and panic that I had earlier comes back like a punch to the throat. Turn around and go back to the car, is strumming through my brain. Stop being silly, get yourself together woman! The voices in my head continue to argue. Finally, I smile back as I reach the table and sit opposite him, as far away as I can while still being polite. 

Sweat is pouring down his face. It is hot, sure, but his shirt is soaked and water beads on his forehead. It is so noticeable in fact, that I guess my face communicates my aversion. He tells me that he walked to the park. It is plausible that is the reason for the sweat overload. I try to put it out of my mind and focus on the conversation. He gives me a ton of compliments. My eyes are beautiful. I know dude, be original. Instead of saying what I am thinking, I try being demure and gracious. 

"Oh? Why, thank you so much!", I say as the image of a unicorn farting rainbows pops into my head.

Oh my god, I forgot how tedious first dates can be. After the profuse complimenting, I finally relax into the conversation. I don't really like him, but then again, I don't hate him either. After an hour or so, I notice that he has a laptop bag with him. 

“Why do you have your laptop with you?”, I blurt out, too loud to be polite. 

“I came straight from work.” He shifts in his seat. 

“You walked here from your work? So, where do you live?” Suspicion is growing. 

“Well, yes. My office is just a few blocks from here, but I live an hour away. I take the train to and from work.”

That’s it then. He doesn’t live in my neighborhood. Does he have a car? The answer to this is a long drawn out lie, I find out later. But at this point, I am trying to believe him. My phone dings. 

“Where are you? I am at your house.” My boss is texting. I turn the ringer off. Fuck him, I'm busy.

That’s when AB tells me that he will have to go soon because the last train for the night will be leaving in a half hour. Against my better judgment, I ask him if he would like a ride to the train station. He says yes. He makes several comments about how nice my car is and how he wants to buy one like it. Oh man, my average car is his dream car. Geez. 

As we are driving, he says that he is enjoying our conversation so much and hates that the night has to end. He asks if I want to continue our first date. Date? Truth is, I want to get far, far away. I don't say that. Instead, I ask how we can do that if his train is going to leave. He proposes going to my house. Warning bells are deafening. No, I tell him. I am not ready to have a sleepover. By this time, we are at the station. He stares at me from the passenger seat. Something in his eyes makes me question why I would allow a complete stranger into my car. He sits unmoving for what seems like an eternity, long enough for me to think that I wish I had pepper spray in the console. Then all the sudden, his face breaks into that wide bright smile and he reaches for the handle. 

“I hope to see you again.” And he is out the door. 

I realize that I have been holding my breath for some time when I let out a dramatic sigh. Did I just escape something terrible? I question my judgment as I drive quickly away. 

Turning onto my street, I see my boss’s car parked in front of my house. By this time, I am emotionally strung out. I do not want to deal with this. I open the door to my house and he gets his things. He tries to speak but I do not reply. He tries again to speak as he exits. I simply shut the door and secure the deadbolt. I don’t have anything to say. Us calling it quits is his idea, so let’s get on with it. My phone lights up. A text from AB. He says thanks for the chat and the ride, hope we can do it again. His story just doesn’t seem to add up and I can’t determine if it is me or is there something not right with him. I “like” his message and leave it at that. 

The next day, AB asks to see me for dinner. He’s buying and I can pick wherever I want. His body is very nice to look at. I convince myself to say yes. He has something going for him, at least. I agree and tell him to meet me at the neighborhood sushi bar.

As before, he’s there first. The conversation is better than last time. It may be the wine. We end up at my house, his laptop bag in tow. After setting the bag down on my sofa, one thing leads to another and by morning I have had the best sex of my life. Let’s just say that his abs were not his only impressive feature. I wake at the usual time for work. When I get out of the shower, he is dressed in yesterday’s clothes and walking out the door to meet his Uber. On my bedside table, a note reads, “Thank you for a marvelous time, beautiful. I hope there are many more to come.” 

I stuff the nagging feeling down into my gut. I am just being paranoid. I have been out of the dating scene for awhile, that’s all. I decided to go with the flow, which leads to AB at my house almost every night for two weeks straight. It is exciting at first. Getting to know each other, exploring each other’s bodies, laughing until the middle of the night. I am enjoying myself. All until, I'm not.

My birthday is coming soon. One of my best friends texts me, “We need to talk.” That is never good. He tells me that AB has messaged several of my friends on social media asking about how to best celebrate my birthday. I know it sounds sweet, but it feels like an invasion of privacy. Keep in mind, I have never added him to my social accounts.

I arrive home on my birthday to find AB inside my house. He says that the door was unlocked and he thought I wouldn’t mind him coming in since we practically live together. The problem is, I do mind. Do I tell him? No. But, I know that I didn’t leave the door unlocked. There is now a tangible lie between us, giving credence to my paranoia.

I walk into my home office and the desktop is on. Not only on, but somehow, the home screen is up. Strange indeed. My heart lurches. Who is this man in my house? What do I actually know about him? Before I can confront him about the desktop, he calls me into the den. It is decorated for my birthday. Some of my friends are in the den and jump out, "Happy Birthday!" Terrific.

We have wine and cake. AB gives me flowers. It is nice, but that nagging feeling just won't go away. That night in bed, I lay there staring at the ceiling. My phone lights up with a message from my boss, “I miss you.” 

At that moment I realize that I miss him too. I miss the familiarity, the boundaries, the trust. No, the sex with my boss isn't even in the same ballpark as AB, but I don't care. I have made up my mind. I am ending it with AB. 

I get out of bed and tell AB that my head hurts. I am going to lay on the couch. I go to the den, cover up with a throw blanket, and fall asleep quickly. I guess the wine kicked in. AB wakes me the next morning when my alarm goes off. I pretend to get ready for work, but I have called in. I am taking the day to get my life back. I thank AB for the surprise birthday and do my best to act like everything is fine until he is gone. I tell him I will see him later that night. I'm a pretty good liar. 

Once he is out of my house, I call a locksmith and have the locks changed. I gather AB’s things and put them in a box. Then, like the coward that I am, I text AB and drop the bomb. I don't want to see him any more. I have packed his things, they are on the front porch in a sealed box. Please understand, it's not you, it's me. He quickly replies that he will be at my house within 20 minutes. 

My car is parked in the garage. I pull all the blinds closed and turn off the lights. With fingers crossed, I hope that this will be drama free. He will pick up the box and disappear from my life. And he does. Or, so I thought. 

He drives away in the Uber almost immediately. Thank goodness. With him gone, I feel like I can respond to my boss’s message from last night. So, I do. He asks me to meet him for an early dinner, his treat. I agree. We drink way too much champagne and fall back into each other as if nothing has happened. He asks if we can continue to see each other, despite the fact that we will no longer be working together. I say that I will think about it. To be honest, being with him feels like home. It is such a relief. The nagging, impending doom feeling has vanished with AB. I feel so relieved that I ended it so easily. I have dodged a bullet. My phone lights up with a text. 

“I left something in your office that I need for work. Have to have it. I'll come by tomorrow and pick it up.” It's AB. 

What could he have left in my office? To my knowledge, he has spent no time in there at all. I text him back to ask why something of his would be in there. He says that he had to do some work one night and used my desktop. He didn’t think I would mind. The nerve of this guy. Thank goodness he is gone. I text him that I will look for the “thing” , whatever it is, and leave it on the porch in the morning. 

In my office, I find a drive of some sort connected to my desktop via USB. I try to access the drive but it has a passcode. Oh well, I think. I don’t really care what he does as long as he is far away from me. I take the drive and USB cable to the porch. I decide to set them outside overnight so that I don't forget in the morning. When I leave for work, it's gone. That’s that then. He is out of my life for good. So naive. 

I receive a call at work from someone in Jamaica. It's odd. When I speak into the receiver, someone simply holds the line. Then, the same number calls my cell phone with the same result. It is strange, but I was busy so I let it go. Later in the day, I receive a notification on my phone from a credit monitoring app. My social security number has been found on the dark web. Shortly after that, emails pour in from my accounts, to let me know that I have changed my password. Even Netflix. But, I haven't. Before I figure out that I am being hacked, thousands of dollars are charged to my cards and money has been transferred out of my bank. I have no idea how this could be happening. 

That afternoon, I receive an email with an intimate photo of myself from years back. It isn't flattering, so I know that I haven't shared it with anyone. The sender's email address is one using my boss’s full name. That's disconcerting. I call to ask if it is his email. He says no and asks why? I hang up. I'm mortified. Who could have this photo of me? Why is my credit being hacked? All of this information is stored on my... ohhh. My desktop.

I call AB, but his cell number is disconnected. I call his office, but they say no one by that name works there. I have never been to his house, but I have the address. I drive the hour-long trip in 40 minutes. GPS takes me to an empty field with no houses in sight. AB has been playing me. 

Don’t worry. After a few weeks, I finally get it straightened out. I get most of my money back. The photos, tax returns, and journal are still out there somewhere. But, what can I do? My inner voice, my gut feelings will take the driver's seat from now on.

A year later, I am hiking a moderately difficult trail on the outskirts of town. Breathless, I feel great about my direction, my career, and I trust myself. Now, when things don't feel right, I don't do them.

I am soaking up the sun and living my best life. I look up as I reach a connecting trail and there is AB. He’s with a woman that could be my twin. Same long, slender body. Same straight, sandy-blonde hair in a ponytail. Even the same Ray Bans. She offers me a greeting. He stares in terror. I am struck dumb. After making eye contact, he hurries her along down the trail. And finally, I get it. Gut feelings happen for a reason. I don't know the science behind them, but I damn sure heed the warnings. I have learned my lesson well. My advice? Be careful when you swipe right.

January 03, 2022 23:34

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