– Rick invited us, are you coming? – Heather’s phone call woke me up 7 am.
– Really? – The last time I saw him ended up in my running away from his place panicking that he will hurt me. – He is dangerous, I am not coming.
– He is not dangerous, Vixen, – her laughter was bright and loud, my morning sleepiness vanished instantly. – He is a very nice guy. Actually, he keeps asking me about you all the time.
The image of that door mercilessly ripped apart flashed before my eyes. I shuddered under the blanket. – I am not coming, Heather, he is nuts.
– Do you want him to give you a call and personally invite you?
– Are you kidding me?
– He is throwing a house party. Everyone will be there including your Greg and Emy.
– That night in Jacksonville he was not nice at all, he called me a slut and….
– And who are you? A princess?
– I am ending the call now…
– Wait, – her voice slowed down and got softer as she proceeded, – I was just messing with you, Vixen. He wants to see you, he still does not understand why you ran away that night in Jacksonville.
– Why can’t he call and invite me than? Why do it through someone else? – that guy made me seriously nervous, the morning obviously did not start the way I wanted.
– Easy Vixen, you are being paranoid, it is just a party with a bunch of boring professionals and their wives like Greg and his Emy.
– Where? – the thought about seeing Greg quickly change my mind; my heart started pounding; the man of my dreams, my Mister Perfect, the most wonderful person on this planet.
– At his house in Boca Raton, I will pick you up at 9.
As we arrived, Rick gave me a broad smile, a warm hug, and a pleasant attitude. – You have no idea how happy I am so see you again, my love, – redundantly hospitable demeanor and excessively bleached teeth – I have missed you a lot since you disappeared that night, – dark eyes and showy sincerity. – She – he nodded in the direction of Heather, surrounded by the guests and giving it-is-a-pleasure-to-see-you-again hugs and cheek kisses – she promised to have you stop by, glad you did, – he squeezed my shoulders – I shivered. The grip was heavy, his hands were firm and cold.
We kept staring at each other; I was trying to get through the softness of his words to the pit of his psychopathy. His blood-freezing “you are very averagely looking and anorexic. Bye slut” as I was leaving his place that night was still in my ears, the badly damaged door was still before my eyes. His warmth and intelligent politeness did not match the Rick I was scared to death in Jacksonville.
He bent forward, I felt the smell of menthol tooth paste as he was hoarsely breathing out “I really, really, really missed you” in my ear. His hands moved lower, and cupped my butt, I turned around in panic. His guests were having fun, Heather kept flirting and drinking, guys kept laughing, their wives kept gossiping giving her quick and spiteful looks. Huge living-room area, high ceiling, and repetitively nagging “how are you, how are you, how are you” added to my sadness that no one really cares, and no one will actually notice if he causes me pain.
I slowly stepped away releasing his grip with a polite smile. Coming here was a bad idea, the cocktail party, the presence of Heather, Greg, and Emy, other people, everything seemed to be an illusion, Rick felt real though, real and dangerous. I was lonely, invisible, and unsafe in his house.
– This looks scary, – I pointed my finger at the indoor balcony, loudly talking to myself, no one hears, no one bothers, Rick’s obnoxiousness got me angry and helpless. – The balcony looks very dangerous.
The living-room got suddenly very quiet. I could literally hear the crackling fireplace sounds, and the wind howling from the pool patio. The guests’ glances were cautiously curious and weirdly intense. Heather loud cough as she choked on her water was the perfect excuse to follow her to the bathroom.
– You are nuts, Vixen, what are you doing? – she got furious as soon as the bathroom door closed behind us.
– What did I do wrong? – I knew something happened, I could feel it through my skin, through each cell of my body.
– Don’t you know his daughter fell off the balcony and died? – she was spitting the words into my face, nervously brushing her hair.
– I did not know, what happened?
– She got drunk, heavily intoxicated, and fell to the death two years ago in this house, – her words were loud and merciless, I felt dizzy.
– I did not know.
– You should not have said that.
I got out of the bathroom and hurried to leave the house feeling everyone’s stares through the strapless dress. Rick’s voice paralyzed me for a moment as I was opening the heavy front door.
– Why are you leaving?
– I do not think it is appropriate for me to stay in this house any longer, Rick.
– Why? – he grabbed my shoulders again, trying to meet my eyes. – Please stay, I will knock you up, and we will have a baby girl. Every woman wants a kid from me, you will get paid.
– Let’s survive the party first, – this guy was nuts, he needed help big time.
The next morning, I woke up with big bruises on my both shoulders and on my butt, I was sore and angry. Heather did not respond to my phone calls, I deleted Rick’s “thinking about you all the time” from my IPhone and started getting ready for work.