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The arrangement 3, p.1

The Arrangement 3, page 1

 part  #3 of  The Arrangement Series


The Arrangement 3

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The Arrangement 3
Page 1


  Breathing hard, I watch the door slip shut. Shock washes over me. I don’t know what I expected things to be like, but this isn’t it. Wide-eyed, I pad over to the bed and sit down. The sheets are rumpled. The room smells like Sean and sex. I can’t think. I can’t breathe. The sensation worsens, growing tighter and tighter until I’m gasping for air.

  Tears streak my face as I throw myself onto a pillow. I grip it and try to suck in air, but I can’t. Sean’s scent hits me hard and makes me choke. I push myself up and try to get hold of my emotions. I knew this wasn’t real. It’s all a game. Sean is fucked up and he needs things this way. There is a reason for it. He said that over and over again, but it doesn’t mesh. Nothing does. It’s like there are two different versions of him. One is playful and kind. The other is so messed up that he can’t fuck a girl that he hasn’t paid for. I clutch my face and push the tears away with the back of my hand. I’ve fallen for him. I couldn’t help it.

  I want to call Mel, but she’s working. I need to get control over my feelings. I need to. I have to. Suddenly, the urge to go for a run hits me hard. Fresh air, the night wind in my face—all that shit will clear my head. I just need to get out of here. I glance at my ankle, wondering what Miss Black will do if I leave the building.

  Screw that. I need this.

  Padding to the closet, I yank the door, but it doesn’t open. I pull it again, but it doesn’t move. My vision is blurry from tears. I lean over and look at the handles. They lock. Sean locked the closet before he left. Rage flashes through, me so hot and hard that I can’t stand it. My arm swings on its own and smashes into the door. I scream, but it doesn’t make me feel better.

  Wearing nothing but a robe, I turn and lean against the closet doors. I slide to the floor and hold my face in my hands. Every second I stay in this room, I feel the walls closing in around me. There’s no air. I’m trapped. I tug at my hair, angry. I love him. How could I be so stupid? I close my eyes and sit there until the panic recedes. I can leave the room, but I have no clothes. I won’t get very far. The hotel staff will stop me before the elevator reaches the ground floor.

  My phone rings. It takes me a second to recognize the ringtone. It’s Mel. I dart across the room, grabbing my purse and dumping it out on the floor. I answer just before voicemail picks up. “Mel!”

  “Avery girl, are you all right? Shit, you don’t sound all right. Say something. Let me hear you talk. ” Mel shushes someone in the background.

  My voice is shaky. “I thought you were at work. ”

  “I was. I’m done. Guy was working on speedy issues. ” Someone starts laughing in the background.

  I recognize that chuckle. “Is that Marty?” Why are they hanging out together? They hate each other.

  “Yeah, honey. Now tell me what that piece of shit did to you. Are you hurt? I’ll kick his white ass myself—”

  I cut her off. “No, I’m not hurt. He got mad and left. I wanted to go after him,” I lie. I can’t tell her that I was going to leave the building. “But he locked the closet. I can’t get my clothes. ”

  “What’d she say?” I hear Marty asking in the background.

  “Shut your face, Showboat. I’ll tell you later,” Mel snaps at Marty. Then she says to me, “This is easy. Go look at the door. ” I walk over there, unsure of what she wants me to do. “What kind is it? Single door? Double doors?”

  “Double. They close in the center. There’s no doorjamb down the middle. The handle is the lever kind. ”

  “Yeah, cuz that matters,” she says sarcastically. “Haven’t you ever busted into a room before?”

  I stare at the phone like that’s the stupidest question ever. When I put it back to my ear, I say, “My roommate locks me out on a regular basis. What do you think?”

  “Don’t get fresh with me. I don’t like to put my nose in other people’s business. How was I…?” Marty is cracking up in the background. He’s mocking her because Mel is always in everybody’s business. When she speaks again, her tone is terse. She doesn’t comment on Marty’s giggles. “Okay, Avery, this one is easy. Look between the doors, down by the lock. If you’re lucky, the lock is in there backwards and you just have to shove a credit card through the middle. If not, you have to work it in from behind. ”

  “How do I know which way will work?” I look at it, not sure what I’m supposed to see.

  “The locking part is flat. If it’s in backwards, the part facing you is curved. What do you see?”

  Peering through the slat in the door, I can see a gold piece of metal. “It’s curved. ”

  “Good. Pop that baby open. ” Mel waits while I dig through my purse and grab my debit card. I push it into the space between the two doors and it slips right in. I pull the door and it opens.

  “It worked!” I say surprised. I glance at the card. Damn. That was easy.

  “Of course it worked. You think I don’t know stuff? Well, I do. ”

  Marty sings in the background, “She does!”

  “Shut up, showtunes,” Mel snaps at Marty. “Listen Avery, if that messed up fucker hurts you, crush the button on your bracelet. ”

  “It’s not like that,” I say, as I look through the closet for my dress. Sean’s coat is hanging up next to my dress. I bump the hanger and his coat falls to the floor. Something falls out of the pocket. I pick it up and look at a crumpled ball of paper. “Listen, thanks for helping. I should be home for a little bit tomorrow. I’ll catch up with you guys then. ” I hang up the phone.

  Something about the paper seems weird. Sean has this really nice coat, but has garbage in the pockets? I think it’s strange, so I stick my hands into both pockets. They’re empty. I didn’t think he was the kind of guy to shove nasty old stuff in his coat. He’s too highbrow for that.

  I look at the balled up paper again and open it. In that moment, everything changes. I stare blankly at the note, not fathoming the depths of what’s happening. People are like this. People do one thing and say another. It fits with Sean’s words when he walked out. He thought he could do it, but he can’t. Not this time. Something changed. Something’s different, and now I know what it is.

  I stare at the paper, reading the pretty cursive letters over and over again.

  We love you! –Amanda & Baby


  I can’t swallow. I stare at the paper, feeling my throat grow tighter and tighter. There’s a baby. He’s a father. Sean is married and has a baby. Oh, holy…

  I sit down hard and stare at the note. It was written hastily on a piece of computer paper. There are smudge marks, like someone grabbed it—the baby maybe. This is what he couldn’t say. It had nothing to do with me. It’s him. I press my eyes closed. I don’t know what to do. He has a family and he’s cheating—with me.

  Misery bubbles up inside my chest. I wad the paper back up and put it in his pocket so it looks like I never saw it. I lock the closet door and make sure everything is back the way it was. Then, I walk into the bathroom and turn on the shower. I drop the robe to the floor and step in. I stand there, letting the water wash away every ounce of remorse I have. Sean’s a dick. He’s not what I thought at all. I wonder if I should confront him. It sounds insane, but I feel like I’m the one being cheated on.

  He’s not yours, Avery, a little voice says in the back of my mind. He never was.

  This is a job. That’s what it’s always been to him. That’s what it always will be. I swallow hard and turn off the water. After I towel off, I grab my phone and call Black.

  “How are things going?” she says with her silky voice.

  “Very well. I’d like to throw my name in for more work as soon as this is over. ”
Even as I said the words, I can’t believe I’m saying them. If Sean is like this, if I have to finish this job, by the time I’m done I’m going to be so emotionally repressed that it won’t matter who I fuck. Maybe this is what Mel and Black meant. Maybe it’s the reason why they ended up staying and taking more clients.

  “Excellent, Avery. ” Her voice has that hollow politeness that irritates me. I hear it now, vibrating like a plucked string. “Let me make sure I understand you correctly. You don’t want any time off between clients?”

  “No,” I say, “The sooner the better. ”

  “I understand. Is there anything else?”

  Is there? Should I tell her that I’m disillusioned? Should I tell her that I fell for Sean, but he’s just a cheating jackass? I smile to myself. I sound like an idiot. “No, that’s all. ”

  I press END CALL and toss my phone back in my bag. I let the numbness overtake me. There’s no other way to get through this, and I have to finish it. There’s no other way to survive.


  I leave the room in nothing but my robe around 2:00am. I’m stopped on the ground floor by the hotel manager. He’s an older, squat man wearing a pristine black suit. It distracts from his round face.

  “Miss Ferro,” he says, taking my elbow to keep me from walking through the lobby. “May I help you with something?”

  I nod. “Is Sean down here somewhere? I didn’t see him at the bar. ”

  “Yes, he is. Let me take you to him. ” I walk next to the man. He offers, “My name is Thomas. If you need anything, I’m happy to help. Mr. Ferro is one of our best customers and as such, we try to humor his requests. However, I would appreciate it if you wore clothes next time you came down to the lobby. ”

  My face flames red. “Oh, I’m sorry. ”

  “It’s a perfectly honest mistake,” he smiles at me, but his eyes say he knows why I’m here, what I am. We stop in front of a set of huge double doors. Thomas pulls one open and says, “Good evening, Miss Ferro. ”

  I step through the door and stop. Blinking rapidly, I try to get my eyes to adjust to the light. I glance around at an empty ballroom. There’s a grand piano in the opposite corner. Sean is sitting in front of it, playing. I don’t move. For a moment, I just watch him play. Sean’s eyes are closed and his dark hair hangs down over his brow. His body moves to the music like they’re one and the same. The song is so somber, so dark. It tugs at my heart. I have to remind myself what Sean is, what he’s done. But as I watch him play, I don’t want to. I can’t think about it. I don’t have that luxury. I have to do this to survive. Sean’s life is his to mess up. I tell myself that If Sean wants to sleep with hookers instead of his wife that it’s none of my business, but I’m not that cold. I hate the idea of being the other woman, the girl that ruins a family. But that’s what I am, a plaything with a high price tag.

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