Chapter 3: Kate
When I got to the safe confines of my office, I burst into tears. Not the dainty tears that barely affect makeup but the big, ugly tears with snot running down my nose and mascara running down my cheeks and sobs racking my body. I didn’t think anyone could hear me lose my cool but before I let myself go I had enough sense to make sure I drew the blinds so no one would be able to see me.
I could not believe I’d made such a God-awful pitch. I could not believe I’d completely forgotten my pitch was due today in the first place. I could not believe I was having a breakdown at work.
This was so completely unlike me that I was baffled I was participating in such pathetic behavior. Yet, the more I tried to tell myself to get a grip, the harder I cried.
I was failing at life right now. I didn’t fail at anything and, somehow, I had the talent to fail at every single thing at the exact same time. I was enabling Jennifer and her mopey, depressed attitude. I should be talking to her, insisting she got help. Instead, I didn’t want to deal with it so I didn’t deal with it. I ignored it and bitched about it to Hannah over coffee. I was bombing it at work as well. Who forgot an important pitch? How did I not even write it down?
I was supposed to take care of Jennifer. Blake would be so ashamed of me. I was supposed to help her through this because, now that Blake was gone, she had no one.
And I was just letting her spiral out of control.
The worst part was that she wasn’t the only one who was spiraling. I was too. I was addicted to freaking Oreos the same way I had been in high school. I stopped going to the gym because I needed to work – at least, that was what I told myself. In all honesty, I was lazy. I could take my research on the treadmill and kill two birds with one stone. Instead, I was ordering Chinese food and binge watching E!
What the hell happened to me?
At that moment, there was a knock on my door and I sucked in a deep breath. God, I hoped it wasn’t Valmores. I really did not need a lecture right now. I was too sensitive. As strong as I was, I knew I would burst into tears.
But it wasn’t Valmores. It was Pete. The only man who haunted my dreams. The only man I didn’t want to see. And yet, here he was, bulldozing through me like he had a right to. Like we weren’t broken up.
“Hey,” he said.
His dark hair escaped from the gel that held it flicked back from his forehead.
“That was brutal,” he said, nodding his head toward the boardroom. “Let’s get coffee. Now.” He perked his brow.
I couldn’t believe his audacity. It wasn’t even though he was asking, he was demanding.
The thing was, I could really use a coffee. And any excuse to get out of this building, I would take.
“Fine,” I said coolly.
I had no idea what the hell he was doing here. I had no idea who he thought he was. I hadn’t even told him it was all right to come into my office. He just barged in. Which was typical because that was what he did to my life...he barged in.
We met at a company party. I think it was around the holidays because there was lots of alcohol and tons of Chinese food and Valmores only ever had Chinese catering. I, unfortunately enough, had too much to drink and was throwing up the limited contents of my stomach in the women’s restroom, the one furthest down the hall and away from the party precisely so no one would bother me.
That didn’t work out because this asshole found me when I was at my absolute worst. I was bent over the toilet bowl, vomit on my dress, my shoes reeking of alcohol that I’d stepped in somewhere along the way. My hair had bits of puke, never mind that it was frizzy on top of that. And I did not shy away from hurling my guts up, my desperate pitiful wretches echoing off the walls.
“Everything okay in here?” a voice asked. “And don’t pretend you’re not in here. I heard you in the guy’s restroom and you sound like you’re in pain. I thought I’d make sure you’re just drunk.”
I felt tears spring into my eyes. This was the last thing I wanted. Usually, I never drank. I didn’t like to lose control over myself. The one time I decide to let myself go, to enjoy life, to reward myself for always being so good and disciplined, I get caught up and my body says no. Fun, you say? I’ll show you fun. I’d been in here ever since.
I heard the door close, and I thanked God. He was go–
“I can go to each individual stall,” he said. “I’m genuinely not a perv. Just trying to make sure you’re all right.”
“I’m all right,” I managed to croak out. Just talking caused my stomach to turn on itself and I held my breath, hoping I wouldn’t have to vomit again.
“Is that you, Satan?” he asked.
Despite my best efforts, I let out a little laugh.
“See?” he said. “I made you laugh. You should at least throw a stiletto over the door so I can come help you wipe the vomit off your face.”
“I don’t need your help, thank you very much,” I retorted before an onslaught of nausea hit me and I was heaving my body acid into the toilet since there was nothing else left in my stomach.
“That sounds like you do need my help, actually,” he said.
A few seconds later, he knocked on my stall door. I begrudgingly let him in and he immediately dropped to his knees and gently pulled my hair away from my face. And he waited. He waited in that stall without another smartass comment and waited until I was finished and could barely keep my eyes open due to exhaustion.
And then he took me home.
And that was it. We were together ever since. Up until it got too serious for me and I had to stop.