Runway: Chapter 6
I was back in my own bed the night after the New York fiasco. The Waldorf let me cancel the rest of my nights and even comped me the first one with an apology. I got a few stares in the airport at my outfit, but was too miserable to care. The Supershuttle dropped me at home, and I dumped the contents of my purse and suitcase into the bathtub to be dealt with later before opening my sofa bed and crawling between my nice soft sheets.
I slept for twelve solid hours and then spent much of the next day in the laundry room trying to salvage my wet clothes. Some of my white panties were pink from being beside my red ones, but other than that, there didn’t seem to be any real serious damage. The damage to my psyche was another matter.
On Friday night, I made the decision to just try and forget about my ridiculous behavior with Eric. I sat and stared at the stack of his clothes I had laundered and placed on my sofa and wondered how I’d get them back to him. Plus, I owed him twenty dollars. I could give everything to Pam, but then she’d want an explanation and I really didn’t want to have to give her one. There wasn’t one. I’d lost my mind for a night.
The thought of ever having to see Eric again to give him his clothes was too much. I would never be able to face him again after the way I’d acted. I put the clothes into my dresser drawer and felt my eyes sting with tears. I just stood there and cried for a minute. I felt so horrible for what I’d done. Then I realized I was also crying because I had feelings for Eric. I missed him and craved him and knew I’d never be able to have any kind of satisfaction for those feelings. He wasn’t someone I could have and that knowledge made me miserable.
I went to bed and told myself that this was the last night I’d think about Eric Northman.
I decided not to tell anyone that I’d come home early. I didn’t want to have to explain myself. I wasn’t really certain how to explain myself to myself, so I didn’t trust myself to do a proper job with other people.
When Monday morning arrived, I went into the office and did a splendid job of lying about my New York vacation and what a wonderful time I’d had. I was able to keep up the charade of my good mood until I sat at my desk and found three messages to call Eric Northman. I shredded them. I just wanted to forget the whole thing.
At the end of the day, Sam called me into his office.
“I’m selling the runway division,” he began and my heart started to race.
He looked surprised. “Um…a hundred and fifty thousand. I know this is a surprise, but I’ve actually been considering it for awhile. I want to expand and open a theatrical division, but lack enough capital to do it. Selling the runway division, my least profitable one, just makes sense. Hopefully, whoever buys it will recognize what an asset you are and keep you on, but I don’t want you to worry. You’ll always have a job with me if you want it. You can book print if you want.”
“I love doing the shows.”
“I know you do. I just want you to feel secure.”
I felt about as insecure as possible. A hundred and fifty thousand dollars. I had sixty-four thousand in the bank. That was it.
“Thanks, Sam. Keep me posted. Any offers yet?”
“No. I’ll let you know.”
I left the office feeling very shaky. My dream to own the runway division looked like it was about to go up in smoke. Once it was sold to someone else, I knew my career path wouldn’t be the one I’d hoped for. I could possibly stay and work for someone else, but without the possibility of owning the agency in my future, I couldn’t imagine being as happy with my job. I could book print and keep working for Sam, but it wasn’t what my heart was set on.
I ate dinner and changed clothes to meet Pam for a drink at The Standard. I knew she’d want to hear all about my trip and I was armed with the same vague story I’d told everybody at work when I walked into the bar. I just hoped and prayed that her brother wasn’t the kind of guy to boink and tell or I was sunk.
“So, how was it?” she beamed at me as I found her at a table, already flanked by two handsome guys.
“Great! Loved it!” I sat down and introduced myself to the two guys drooling over Pam.
“Really? I want to hear all about it.”
“Sure, in just a minute. I think I’ll get myself a drink first.”
I went up to the bar to order something and heard my name.
I turned around and saw John Quinn smiling down at me. I never thought about it before, but he was the same height as Eric. Okay, I needed to stop thinking about Eric.
“Quinn! How nice to see you.”
I let Quinn buy my drink and he joined our table, which was fine. It kept the focus of conversation off of my trip. He tended to talk about himself a lot.
If Pam suspected anything about me and Eric, she never let on. By the end of the night, Quinn had asked me to dinner on Saturday and I couldn’t think of a reason to say no, so I said yes.
All day Saturday, I thought about what a better match Quinn was for me, and that I should be happy that he was still interested. He wasn’t some superstar living across the country. He was just a regular guy with his own business and a condo in West Hollywood and probably a reasonable future—the kind of guy I should be with.
Dinner went well on Saturday, and we did some kissing on my sofa before he left. No, of course, it was nothing like kissing Eric. Kissing Eric felt like being in a tornado; kissing Quinn was more like a little rain shower. It was fine.
On Monday morning, Pam came into the office and asked me how my weekend had gone.
“Fine. No big deal.”
“So, are you seeing q-tip head again?”
“Yeah, I guess I am.”
She looked like she wanted to say something, but stopped herself. Then she went on. “Are you happy with him?”
“Yeah.” Could she tell I was lying? Was I lying? I couldn’t tell myself anymore.
She stared at me again.
Finally, I just asked her, “Is there something you want to say?”
“Has anything happened between you and my brother?”
Shit. I looked down at my desk, wondering what he’d told her. “I guess so.”
I went on. “Yeah, something happened, but it was a mistake.”
“And now you’re seeing Quinn again?”
“Yeah. I’m seeing Quinn.” I hoped that would end the conversation, and it did.
I spent some time during the week crunching numbers and trying to figure out how I could borrow the rest of the money to buy the agency. I knew how much money the agency made and could figure out the expenses pretty easily. My salary was the biggest expense. I assumed that Sam would charge me rent if I stayed in the same office. Or I’d have to lease a new space. Every time I ran the numbers, it seemed that Sam’s asking price was a fair one.
Quinn and I were having dinner again on Thursday night when I told him about my plan to buy the agency.
“How much do you have?”
“Babe, no bank is going to loan you the rest of that wad. You don’t earn enough money to qualify for that kind of loan.”
“Really? You don’t think so?”
“I know so. Believe me. I’m a business owner. I know how much you could borrow and it won’t be close to enough.”
“Maybe I could find a partner…”
“Well, don’t look at me. The last thing I want to be is the owner of a dinky little modeling agency.”
Later that night, while we were kissing on my sofa, Quinn put his hands on my breasts for the first time. I didn’t really mind and tried not to think about how I felt when Eric had done it.
“I was thinking,” Quinn began into my neck as he was squeezing my breasts. My bra was pushed up above them, the underwires digging uncomfortably into my armpits. “Maybe on Saturday, we should get away. Go somewhere romantic. Seal the deal. Know what I’m saying?”
I eyed the bulge in his pants and knew what he was saying.
“Where did you want to go?” I asked.
“How about Santa Barbara?”
“I’ve never been.”
“Oh, you’ll love it. We can get a room with a beach view. I think it’s time we took things to the next level, don’t you?”
Quinn looked me in the eye and kissed me before I could give him an answer.
So, Friday morning I woke up looking forward to leaving for Santa Barbara the following day. I was ready to sleep with Quinn, hoping that it would help me to let Eric go. I thought about Eric all the time, and knew it was ridiculous. I hoped that “sealing the deal” with Quinn would put those thoughts to rest once and for all.
I went to work in a decent mood, considering how disappointed I was about not being able to buy the agency. At least I had Santa Barbara to look forward to. But then all that changed just before lunch when Sam called me into his office.