Chapter Nine

The rest of the weekend passed uneventfully, and Erin forced herself to focus at work on Monday, trying to make up for time lost from her rescheduled meeting with her boss. Try as she might, however, her mind kept wandering to Friday night.

She caught herself smiling at random times – in the bathroom, at the coffee machine, at the copier. She hoped no one else noticed; she hadn’t the faintest idea what she’d tell them if they asked what she was thinking about.

She stopped smiling, however, when her phone rang that night and the screen showed Max calling. She groaned. He had been out of town that weekend for a short business trip; he had left Saturday morning and gotten home late Sunday evening, so they hadn’t talked since last week. She was grateful too, for she was nervous about talking to him after the events of her weekend.

She flipped open the phone and did her best to sound normal.

“Hello,” she answered.

“Hey sweets,” Max’s sticky voice replied. “Long time, no talk.”

Erin rolled her eyes, but forced her voice to convey some emotion. “Hey Max, how was your trip?”

“Oh fine, but it would have been better if you were there. I had a hotel room and a big bed all to myself – plenty of room for you.”

Erin forced a small laugh. “Sounds nice. Did you get a lot done?”

“Definitely, we made a lot of progress. But I missed you. How was your weekend?”

“Oh, you know,” Erin looked up at the ceiling. “Boring.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Max cooed. “Did you go anywhere?”

Ha.

“Nope,” Erin said, truthfully. “I spent Saturday and Sunday here.”

“Did you do anything special Friday night? Have anyone over?”

Erin’s heart stopped. “What?” she asked, suddenly unable to breathe.

“Friday night,” Max repeated. “Did you invite a friend over or something?”

Shit.

“N-no,” Erin stammered, closing her eyes and trying to stay calm. “I was here alone, why?” Shit shit shit.

Max paused. “Just wondering. Sometimes you hang out with your friends on Friday nights.”

Erin inhaled deeply. “Oh, nope. No friends this weekend.”

“That’s too bad,” Max said, his voice unreadable.

“Nah…” Erin closed her eyes and chided herself. Calm down. It was a legitimate question. You’re just paranoid.

“So what did you do with yourself all weekend?”

Erin raised an eyebrow. With myself? Nothing. With a famous rock star, however…

“Not much,” she answered, fighting to keep her voice neutral. The last thing she wanted was an FBI interrogation from Max. “Just, you know, relaxed and caught up on some sleep. It was nice.”

“Well, that’s good,” Max replied in the same unreadable tone.

“So tell me more about your trip,” Erin prodded, trying to swerve the conversation in the opposite direction.

They talked for another twenty minutes before Erin forced a yawn and casually mentioned she should get to bed. Max agreed that she needed a good night’s sleep, and told her he loved her twice before hanging up.

Erin climbed the stairs slowly, lost in thought. That one phone call had triggered a myriad of conflicted feelings, and Erin was forced to more closely examine the predicament she had gotten herself into.

She was in a relationship with Max. Had been for six months. She had never thought they would last forever, but she certainly never thought she’d cheat on him. She wasn’t that type of woman.

But she had cheated on him. Recently. While he’d been out of town. With a man - a rock star, moreover – whom she had just met barely a week earlier.

What was worse, she had another date with that rock star this weekend.

Erin groaned. When she thought of it that way, it sounded so sleazy.

For the first time since Friday night, she felt like a tramp. She angrily changed into her pajamas and flopped down into bed, realizing she had to do something. Soon.

Despite her faltering feelings for Max, she had still been irresponsible in allowing Jon’s – and her – emotions to take control that night, as they had led to a night of purely physical infidelity.

But was it purely physical? Erin wondered as she stared up at the dark ceiling. Had it merely been a night of satisfying their cravings of lust, and nothing more?

Try as she might, Erin couldn’t believe that. Aside from the intensity of their night together, there was something deeper stirring beneath the surface. It wasn’t just the sex.

Truthfully, if Erin had it her way, she’d break things off with Max gently and go to Jon. But she knew it wasn’t fair to him – it wasn’t Max’s fault he couldn’t measure up to Jon’s sex appeal and near GOD status. And what would she tell him anyway? It’s not you, it’s me?

Aside from being so cliché it was cringe-worthy, it was also a lie.

Regardless, the fact remained that two men had claims on her now, and neither knew about the other.

Max knew nothing of Jon.

And Jon knew nothing of Max, because Erin had told him what seemed at the time a harmless and small lie. As far as Jon was concerned, she was single and free for the taking.

Max thought she was all his.

If things continued, Jon would think that soon, too.

Erin was lying to both of them.

Shit.

Erin shut her eyes tightly, wanting to block out the blinding truth, but it kept gnawing at her conscience, like a paper had been pasted over her eyes reminding her constantly of what she’d done.

Tomorrow she’d set things right. She’d do something. She’d explain things in a way that wouldn’t hurt anyone.

But how?

With a heavy sigh, Erin closed her eyes and rolled over.

Twenty minutes later, she fell into a fitful sleep.

_____________________


Across town, however, Max was still up, sitting at his kitchen table where he had called Erin earlier. He was gazing outside, lost in thought about their conversation.

He wondered why she had lied to him. He knew she had had company on Friday night – he had seen the Aston Martin parked in front of her house when he had driven by to check on her. He had assumed it was a coworker or business partner, judging by the expensive wheels. Why would she try to hide that from him?

The question unsettled him, making him think it hadn’t been someone from work after all. But he knew none of her other friends had the money for a car like that. Tawna was really the only one who would have visited anyway, and she certainly couldn’t afford a ride like that. Erin didn’t have too many other friends here; since the day she moved here she had kept herself busy working, and Max was really the only one she socialized with.

He was all she needed, anyway. Erin was the type of woman who needed someone true and loyal in her life, a dependable anchor who’d be there for her whenever she needed him; she was one of those people who needed the few and true instead of many and shallow.

Max was her few and true.

He knew from the moment he met her that she was special and in need of his devotion. A California girl who’d up and left her home and dropped in on East Coast life, she was a black sheep among New Jersey natives. Max had met her about a week after she moved into her townhouse, and was intrigued by her seemingly shy, quiet nature and dedicated devotion to her work. She was a self-proclaimed workaholic, but though she worked long hours with seriousness and focus there was no denying she was a woman of deep passion. She was wildly sexy, beautiful, and obviously attractive to nearly every man she passed on the streets, whether she took notice of their stares or not.

Max was instantly drawn to her. Her drive and focus set her apart from other women he knew, mostly lazy drifters who spent their time partying and clubbing, working lousy office day jobs with no clear incentive or purpose in life. Those women were gluttonous, wasting the resources they’d been given in this world to make something of themselves.

Erin was hard-working, embedded in a company and career that provided considerable room for growth and advancement; she could climb the corporate ladder easily. She was independent, economically self-sufficient, and ambitious.

In a word, perfect.

Their first date had been the product of a well-thought-out and rehearsed speech Max had prepared, lavishing upon her compliments and praise for her excellent standing in the throes of the world. Erin had been childishly flattered and laughed quite a bit, which Max at first took to be insulting. His impeding anger quickly subsided, however, when she accepted his date proposal and he treated her to a luxurious dinner on the boardwalk. He forgave her initial resistance; after all, she was a woman in need of his assistance.

Though she was skilled in working and career development, she seemed to lack the basic principles of sociality and emotionality that provided the basic cornerstones for a life beyond making a day-to-day economic living. He quickly saw that she required his constant presence in her life, and he took it upon himself to provide. She was only a half, after all, seeking the other part to complete her and steady her.

Max was that other half. He knew she was what he had been looking for all his life, and he took his newly assumed responsibility very seriously. He made sure to stay critically informed on all aspects of her life: her likes and dislikes, hobbies and pastimes, her address and phone number and office location. He memorized her daily routine so he’d know where she’d be in case of an emergency, and he learned everything he could about her childhood and family, as those were essential components in what made her who she was today.

He allowed her to spend time with Tawna, a friend she’d made at a country club she joined to meet people when she first moved here. He had persuaded her to leave the club, however, since she didn’t need the distraction and obligation of meetings and social events; he provided all the socializing she really needed. Tawna had stayed in the picture even after Erin left, however, to Max’s chagrin. He didn’t particularly like the woman – she was by general definition the type of partying life-waster he so despised – but she and Erin had formed a fairly close relationship and got along great, so Max let her hang around.

Besides, she made Erin happy, and anything that made her truly happy made Max happy. He’d show her eventually that she didn’t need Tawna, though, but for now she could have her fun.

From that first date the rest seemed to be blissful history, and they had now spent six months together. Though Erin was often absorbed in her work and therefore at times distant or preoccupied, too tired to spend much romantic time with him, she was faithful and loyal.

As she should be.

But then who had been parked outside her house Friday night?

She wasn’t the type of woman to play him; he was far cleverer and sharper than she was anyway. She was dangerously vulnerable, however, and Max had recognized early on that she was someone who required extra and undivided attention. Her intense focus on work sometimes gave her tunnel vision and she’d been distracted quite a bit in the past several weeks. There was no telling what kinds of problems she had the potential to get herself into.

Max sighed. This recent mystery only told him that she needed further protection, an even closer eye on her whenever possible. He obviously couldn’t rely on her to let him know what was going on in her life.

He had to find out for himself.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

9 Comments:

Anonymous said...

Ah Max, that's not love dude, that's stalking!!! Oh god, this does not look good for Erin...or Jon in the long run.

Karen said...

WHOA.. I am so not liking Max...

Great job.. but dont leave us hanging!!! :D

Connie said...

Ok Max has gotta go! Too controlling and way too dangerous!!! Can't wait for more!!!

Deena said...

Holy crap. Well done Bex...you've successfully created one hell of a creepy dude in Max. He needs to protect her, watch over her? OY.

Me no likey!

Anonymous said...

Well, any sympathy for Max just went straight out the window-oops was that Max lurking out there where I just threw the sympathy?

More, soon, please!

Linda

Anonymous said...

Becky,

I like your story, but, please get rid of Max! I am begging you!!!! I going thru Jon and Erin withdrawal!!!!

Your story is so good keep writing!!!!

Anonymous said...

Come back, soon, Becky, PLLLEEAAASE

Linda

Becky said...

Ack, I'm sorry! I just finished final exams this week but then I had to finish up at work and there are parties/holiday events every day it seems. Whoever said the holidays are relaxing?!

I promise something new is coming very soon!

Lynda Claire said...

Love the story. Hmmm I have Feeling that Max is going go bat crazy on Erin & Jon!
Max needs get a grip, Erin doesn't needs your protection.

 
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