New York was more than just different from San Francisco. I’d never left the country so I guess I’d be more culture shocked if I did than I was right now. I enjoyed people watching, like the mother who was giving her toddler a death stare because he was standing in the middle of the road and refusing to budge. His arms were spread wide, which meant that he was likely asking to be carried. I felt for the mother who was holding a Starbucks cup in one hand and shopping bags in the other, while having to push his stroller at the same time.
“Why do people even have kids?” Vicky stole my thoughts, her hands wrapped around her own cup of warm coffee. She looked so cute wearing her cozy looking winter hat.
“Because they’re cute?” I shrugged and rubbed the back of my neck. The truth was that I craved a life like that for myself, as pathetic as it looked on the outside. I wanted two kids, a house, a husband, the whole shebang.
It’s not as if I didn’t have the time to hunt for the right man instead of hastily deciding on who I was going to spend the rest of my life with. But time was moving fast and I still had my career to fix.
“I think Ron is cuter than these monstrous kids if you ask me,” she shot me a look. Ron was my bar manager and I worked as a bartender in San Francisco. That was only one of my jobs. San Fran wasn’t a cheap place to live in. But it’d always been my favorite city while growing up in California and I did what I could to be able to afford living there. Like walking dogs, babysitting, bartending, you name it. I’d tried it all.
“That’s ridiculous,” I rolled my eyes. “First of all, Ron needs to suck my dick and second of all, babies aren’t all that bad. And… there’s something I didn’t tell you.”
Vicky turned toward me and moved her neck forward. “I’m quitting next week. I’m done.”
She shook her head and sighed, not looking the least bit surprised. No one ever aspires to be a freaking bartender. Or maybe they do, but I wasn’t one of them. I had bigger dreams for myself. Ones that started with real estate.
“Is it really true that a bartender’s job is more stressful than a doctor’s job in the ER?” She asked.
“Yeah, actually. Depends on what time of the day it is, though.”
“Speaking of dicks, by the way,” Vicky said, placing her cup on the concrete and pulling out her phone from her handbag. “We should probably get to Jack’s place sooner rather than later.”
“Speaking of dicks? When did we talk about those?”
“You mentioned Ron sucking your dick. And that word reminds me of Jack, because you know… he’s only said one word to me all day. That word is ‘Ok’.”
“I don’t blame him.” I said as we started walking. We were already in Upper Manhattan and it was easier to just walk to his penthouse than waste time calling a cab and being stuck in traffic. It was a little cold, but bearable if I shoved my hands into my pockets.
“What do you mean you don’t blame him?”
“You guys are broken up… and you don’t seem to-”
Vicky narrowed her eyes and held me by the shoulder.
“Finish what you were going to say.”
“You don’t seem to be his type,” I pursed my lips with guilt.
Vicky pointed a finger at me with her mouth open. “You stalked him online. Did you see his exes in all that tabloid shit?”
I nodded with my lips still tight. “Hot.”
“I know, right?” She let out an exaggerated sigh and kicked a stone on the ground. “Now you know what I mean by he’s a total catch. He dates the best looking girls, he’s smart, he’s successful, rich, ugh…”
But he’s not emotionally available.
“Here we are,” she spread her arms when we reached his high rise. “Truthfully, Jack could afford a place way better than this but its a convenient location and he’s low-key,.”
“This does not,” I started chuckling in disbelief. “This does not look low-key.”
The chandelier in the lobby of this high rise was intimidating me. It was tall.
“Stop,” Vicky slapped my wrist when I bent over to touch it while climbing up the stairs to get to the elevator. “You’ll entangle it. Trust me, I’ve wanted to do that too.”
Apparently, Jack’s penthouse was the size of an entire floor right below the rooftop, which meant that he had the best views of the city. If I hadn’t been jealous of him while researching his name, I certainly was now.
“Pretty fancy so far?” Vicky said while looking into the security screen. A woman opened the door seconds later. She was put together, rich looking. And by rich looking, I usually mean animal print and fur. The only thing she was missing was a chihuahua in her arms. Girlfriend? No, maybe a little too old to be his girlfriend. Besides why would he have his new girlfriend open the door for his previous girlfriend? Actually, I wouldn’t rule that out. Jack Gold had a reputation of not caring for his girlfriends. He did what he felt like doing, but not once did I read anything about him being mean at work. He’d been mean to Vicky plenty of times, but to his employees and business partners, he was nothing short of a well-behaved, sensitive god.
“Mrs. Gold,” Vicky greeted the woman who I now knew was his mother. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
She’d never even met his family before? Major red flag that I would’ve caught during the initial stages of dating. Vicky introduced her as Karina Gold, and the first thing I noticed about her was that the woman did not know how the heck to smile. Or maybe she just hated Vicky and assumed she was after her son’s money. She wouldn’t exactly be wrong there.
“Jack should be home any minute,” Karina said, falling over the huge cream couch and lighting a cigarette. She took a puff, then narrowed her eyes at Vicky. “I might have heard a thing or two about you. You’re the girl who always needs attention, right?”
“Excuse me?” Vicky glanced at me, then stared back at her. “What did you say?”
“You’re the girl who always needs attention. Take me here. Buy me this. Do this. Do that. Believe me, my son doesn’t have the time for all that.”
“Oh, and believe me when I say that I do know that,” Vicky said, kind of snapping back. Her cheeks had turned red and I could feel the fire burning inside her. She was a little short-tempered, and while she could handle harsh words, these were a bit much considering that she really didn’t ask for much from Jack.
Was his whole family just insane?
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Karina asked calmly.
Vicky held up her right palm, crossed her legs, and looked toward the tall grey door. “Nothing, forget it.”
“No, actually, let’s talk about this,” she changed her mind. “Your son is the biggest douche in the world. I was such a good girlfriend. I tried to support him through his crisis at work when his employee posted on Twitter about how one of his partners had a terminal illness. I’m not sure why that thing was blown out of proportion but I did tell him that everything would be fine.”
“Oh-ho-ho,” Karina took another puff and waved her hands in the air. “You told him that everything would be fine. A real relationship is much more than just that.”
“And you’d know that because…,” Vicky said lowly, “because you have such a great marriage?”
Karina parted her lips, and pointed a finger at her. “You… you bitch.”
The next thing I saw was Karina’s fingers in Vicky’s hair and Vicky’s hands on Karina’s shoulders.
What the fuck was up with these ladies? Were we back in high school?
“Hey, hey,” I yelled, pulling them apart and twisting my foot on Karina’s cigarette that had fallen on the carpet. The real housekeeper had shown up by then. A girl fully clad in a perfect looking uniform. Weird.
She looked horrified, but not as much as I did.
“You’re such a bitch,” Vicky pulled away with a tight lips, then watched as Jack entered the penthouse. Judging by the fresh lines on his forehead and wide eyes, he’d clearly heard what she’d just said.
“Hello to you too,” he said in his deep voice. His green eyes met mine as he ran her fingers through his neatly styled brown hair. Jack was tall. Over six feet two if I had to guess. His black suit fit him perfectly and he certainly didn’t look like he was ending his day. If this had been me ending mine, my hair would’ve looked like it belonged on the head of a ghost.
“I can…,” Vicky started. “I can explain. We just had an -”
Jack held up his palms. “Save it. I’m tired. Shawna will help you pack your things.”
He gestured to his uniform wearing housekeeper who started trying to figure out where she should begin. “Do you need me to pull out a suitcase for you, Ms. Bardot?”
Vicky looked at her for a few seconds and they both exchanged knowing looks. It was obvious that they knew each other and had spent some time before. I wouldn’t be surprised if Shawna had bitched about her boss to Vicky and Vicky had chipped in and added fuel to the fire.
Shawna didn’t say another word and just stepped back, and Vicky watched as Jack tossed his suit jacket to the side and loosened his tie.
The man sat on a high stool with his legs spread wide and I tried to keep my eyes away from his bulge. The same bulge that I’d heard a lot about since Vicky had started dating him.
“Are you going to say something, Jack?” Karina turned around. “Ask her to get her stuff and leave.”
“Oh, shut the fuck-”
Vicky balled her fingers in a fist and shook her head, trying to keep herself from causing more drama. It seemed like drama is what Karina enjoyed most. It wasn’t surprising for a woman as wealthy as her, and as jobless as her. What else would you do for fun?
“Emma?” Jack said, ignoring what his mother had just said.
“Yes, she’s Emma,” Vicky responded for me. “The friend I was telling you about? She got here yesterday and has been dying to meet you.”
I raised the corner of my lip and looked at her in disgust. I hadn’t been waiting to meet him. I was there as a favor to her.
“Had she?” Jack nodded. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think that he was checking me out.
At least Vicky had been right about one thing. I’d find out what the fuss is about after actually seeing him in person.