As Gina and I continue to look at each other in an extremely awkward bout of silence, the only thing I expect her to do right now is threaten to tell on me if I don’t agree with her, but surprisingly, she doesn’t.
Instead of trying to blackmail me, she says, “I know how this looks, but I have my reasons for being here, as I’m sure you do as well.”
When I continue to remain silent, she lets out a deep sigh and continues.
“Look, neither you nor Trixie may believe it, but I love Bill. He’s the only guy I’ve ever been with that sees me as a human being and not some dumb plastic bimbo trophy to parade around on his arm for everyone to see. He actually sees me as his equal. He treats me like I truly matter to him.”
Her eyes seem to mist slightly as she speaks, and her voice sounds like it’s on the verge of cracking. “And he matters to me. More than you’ll ever know.”
I look into her eyes and I can clearly see the fear, hurt, and desperation in them. I never imagined that I’d ever see Gina look so scared and vulnerable. It’s really taking me aback.
She just always seemed like such your typical popular sorority hottie. But the girl standing in front of me and begging me for my discretion right now is so much more than that.
I just always assumed she came from a rich family. I certainly never imagined that she had everything she did and could afford her luxurious lifestyle because she was some rich guy’s sugar baby. Not in a million years.
Outward perception can be a real bitch.
I, of all people, should know.
Seeing her like this, I can’t help but empathize with her. She obviously just happened to find herself in a desperate situation and is doing what she has to get out of it. If nothing else, I sure as hell can relate to that desperate feeling.
“He already suspects you of cheating on him,” I blurt out.
I don’t know why I just told her that. Maybe it’s because I suddenly feel a strange kinship with her. As crazy and bizarre as it seems, I realize we’re not that different.
“You…you should be more careful,” I say quietly, realizing the implications of my words.
I just pretty much agreed to keep her secret; to lie to my best friends—and her boyfriend—for her. But I guess I’m doing it for myself, too. She won’t have a choice but to reciprocate my confidence if I keep my mouth shut.
“Thank you,” she says on an exhale, releasing my hand with a sigh.
God, why did I have to run into her here? It would have been so much easier if she had just remained ‘the cheating skank’ and not ‘the desperate individual who’s been forced to make a hard choice because she doesn’t have any other option’.
I really hate the feeling of being caught in the middle like this, but I can’t in good conscience tell on her after what she’s just told me. And besides, it’s not like I’m not in a similarly desperate situation myself. She clearly doesn’t want to be here any more than I do.
“And I’m not gonna ask why you’re here,” she continues, smoothing her palms over her baby pink bandage dress. “I may not know you that well, but it’s pretty obvious that you’re not the type who would be here dressed like that if you didn’t absolutely have to be. Whatever your situation is, I hope you get it sorted out soon.”
I feel my throat constrict slightly at hearing her empathetic words—words I did not expect. I swallow, nodding in a silent show of thanks, for both her implied confidence and her understanding, but especially her understanding.
This might actually be one of the strangest, most unexpected exchanges I’ll ever have in life. But I’m incredibly grateful for it.
Gina might be the last person I imagined I’d be standing across from tonight, but she understands. She can relate. And right now, standing here in the restroom of a multimillion dollar mansion of some stranger after being catapulted headfirst into this foreign and highly risky escort underworld, I can certainly appreciate having someone I can relate to.
She finally walks past me, and I hear the door open and close once more, signaling her departure.
I’m left in total silence again, but now I feel even more scatterbrained than I did coming in. I check my watch, and I realize I’ve been in here for a little too long, and the last thing I want right now is Mindy barking up my ass for hiding in a restroom when I’m supposed to be ‘showcasing my goods’ and entertaining clients.
I do my best to recollect myself, taking more deep breaths and massaging my cheeks in preparation for the torture I’m about to put them through again. I’m going to have to be smiling wide all fucking night if I’m going to be able to tolerate Bitch McGraw’s self-centered conversations. Hopefully, my constant grinning might even trick my brain into believing that I’m actually having a good time after a while. Hopefully.
I smooth my hair once more, and I realize that I keep touching it because I don’t know what else to do with my antsy fingers.
I reluctantly make my way out of there, bracing myself as I walk back to where I’d been standing as gracefully as I can without wincing from how much my feet hurt. But, as my kind of shitty luck would have it, that doesn’t exactly go as planned.
I’m just a couple of feet away from the restroom when I feel my body collide with something hard. I immediately stumble backward from the sudden contact.
Nicole’s stupid stilettos rob me of any and all stability, and I feel myself descending into what I know is going to be a horribly embarrassing fall.
My hands fly out on impulse, grabbing for anything they can latch on to in a last attempt to save their owner.
Unfortunately for me, they don’t react quickly enough, and just the tips of my fingers manage to graze what I vaguely register as the crisp fabric of a shirt.
Fuck. My. Life.
And fuck Nicole for making me wear these damn shoes.
As I brace myself for the hit that I know is coming at the end of the drop, I feel someone grab at my arm, completely halting my movements.
For a few, albeit memorable seconds, I remain suspended in my falling position, my torso bent backward and away from the rest of my uncoordinated body as another hand comes around my waist and eventually slides up my back, bringing me up with it.
I realize I’ve just been saved from certain demise, and the owner of these strong hands just spared me a truckload of humiliation and probably a sprained ankle as well.
I begin apologizing without even thinking. “I’m so, so sorry, sir! I wasn’t paying atten—”
In an instant, I feel all the air in my lungs disappear. My voice immediately trails off and my words come to an abrupt halt.
Every single inch of my body stiffens and becomes impossibly rigid, my limbs completely frozen in place.
I feel all the blood quickly drain from my face as I come eye to eye with a pair of very familiar icy blues.