Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Chapter 8

I arrived at my office nine minutes past nine the following Monday. Overslept a wee bit. After dropping my bags on the chair, Mocha Grande safely ensconced on the credenza, I clicked on my computer and picked up the phone to check messages. Five new messages. Wow. I went through them all, mostly from my mother, and then the last one came on.

(Pac Bell – ‘Next message received today at three thirty am’ ) “Hi, Lois, it’s Paul. I received a call from Mr. Faraday about a half hour ago.” he huffed into the phone. “He’s back in town and wants to meet with both of us at the estate today. Call me to set up a time. Thanks.”

I instantly got goose bumps at the sound of that thick, sweet molasses voice purring into my ear. Yowza. Did I still have a spine left to call him? I wrote down his cell number and dialed, sipping my mocha for strength and looking over my mail from the week before. I loved getting mail and actually used to stalk the mail man while I was waiting for mail delivery when I first
moved into my office. I couldn’t wait for 1 PM everyday. I jonesed for the mail. I hated legal holidays when I still had to work. With no mail service, it seemed as though I were forgetting something all day long. But then I loved the day after, because that meant more mail to sort through, open, and review. The envelopes and packages were my treasures, my daily surprises.

But, lately, I had been so consumed with my new project that I let it overshadow my mail impulses. The feel of the number 10’s in my hands gave me the sense of control I needed right then.

“This is Paul.”

“Hey, it’s Lois Pushkin,” I replied as casually as I could, even though I threw the letter I was reading up into the air and almost dumped my mocha into my lap. No more Valdez’s, Lois. “I’m returning your call about a meeting?”

“Oh, great. I’m glad you’re calling early. Mr. Faraday wants to have the meeting at 11AM.”

“Fine,” I replied, again trying to keep my cool over the persuasion of his voice, “I’ll see you at the estate then.”

“Okay. Uh… well…,” he started, “um, would you like that coffee now? Maybe even some breakfast?”

“Oh..,” I sputtered, not so calm a lady now. ”Um… let me call you back. I need to review my date book.”

“OK, I’ll be here.”

I hung up the phone. Did I just say “date book”? Would he think I thought we were going to have a date? No, that’s stupid, Pushkin. I stared at my calendar. Nothing. He can’t see you,
Pushkin. You don’t have to actually pretend you’re looking. I leaned back in my chair and spun around to the window. Putting my boot heels on the window sill, I sipped my mocha and thought this through. Should I go to breakfast? Where would he take me? Should I eat eggs? Do I have coffee breath? Why am I caring? I sat for a good five minutes watching the clock and inhaling my mocha before I called him back.

“This is Paul,” he answered again.

“Lois again.”

“Oh, good,” he answered with a smile (I swore I could hear it). “OK for breakfast?”

“Yep, a girl’s got to eat. Might as well be on your dime,” I answered. He would be buying my meal with all the crap I’d had to endure with this project. “Where should I meet you?”

“Hmmm.” He was thinking, his breath slow and steady on the line. I was melting through the little holes in the receiver. “Meet me at The Spot on Melrose at 9:30.”

“OK, see you in a few,” I agreed and hung up. I hoped I hadn’t been breathing too obviously into the phone.

I sat at my desk, continuing to sip my mocha. Turning to the computer, I went through my E-mails. Nothing exhilarating, except for an E-mail from Jasmine. It read, “Oh, honey. Don’t you worry about Faraday. He is a big, old pussycat. Granted, he’s a weird pussycat. As for his assistants, I could personally piss on them, and you know I can hardly go to the bathroom without my own assistant. Stick with it and E-mail me if he gives you any more problems. TTFN!”

TTFN? I’d have to ask Harshy. Probably some Teen People slang that I was so out of the loop with. I checked my watch and saw that it was 9:28. Crap. Picking up my bags and draining my mocha before 2-pointing the paper cup into the hall garbage can, I skittered to the elevator in
my kitten heeled mules and rode it down to the garage. God, I hoped I still had Faraday’s design folder in my bag. I pulled my car up, around, and onto Wilshire, heading south. Soon I had crossed up and over to Melrose and searched for The Spot. Was that a sexual innuendo or was it
to mean a “cool place to be? Both would’v been fine with me as both situations concerning the
“spot” were all right. I finally found it - the restaurant that is - and parked a couple blocks down, narrowly averting “permit only” parking.

As I entered the restaurant, I saw that it was dim, with retro d├ęcor, and that every table was occupied by a scenester under thirty. I immediately felt overdressed and old. I searched the booths while looking as cool as I could, and found Paul in the back, squinting at me. He waved as I walked over.
“Hi,” he said.

“Hey there,” I said back, trying to sound nonchalant. I sat down opposite him, facing the back of the restaurant. At least I had figured out where the bathrooms were located.

“How’s it going?” he asked. “Find the place all right?”

“Yes, I’d heard about this place before although I’ve never been here. Didn’t some celebrity shoot her husband near here and they found her gun in their garbage?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he replied. “They even have the story on their menu.”

I looked at the back of the menu. Then I opened it up and searched for my breakfast of choice.
The server came by and asked, “What’ll ya have?” She looked like quite the scenester herself. Pierced in every visible orifice and all the way up both ears with crayon red streaks in her hair and a flat stomach I would’ve killed for, naturally tanned, LA style. I looked over Paul’s way. He was looking at me and waiting.

I looked back up at her, “I’ll have the full serving of biscuits and gravy and coffee, black.”

Paul looked at me, like a deer in headlights. “Damn, I was going to have the same thing. I’ll have the Melrose Minute instead and coffee, black as well.”

After she left, I turned to find Paul still watching me. I raised my eyebrows at him. I hope he didn’t think he was going to get any of my breakfast.

“Sorry,” he said. “I don’t have my glasses on and couldn’t see you real well when you came in the door.”

Doesn’t explain the staring, dude. “So,” I began, “does Mr. Faraday want to sort out our roles in this meeting or…?”

“He has some specific instructions for you and me for part of the design,” he answered. “Some midnight brain storm he apparently had.”

“Hmmm,” I replied. “Happen often with him?” I didn’t like surprises or clients designing as we went along.

“No, he’s usually not so involved. That’s how his bathroom became the fiasco it is.” Paul said, shaking his head and smiling. “I think he was gone for three months and that lady went nuts taking liberties with his sanctuary.”

I almost melted. That smile was going to be the death of me. He looked up to find me staring at him now. His smile broadened and he chuckled. “Like what you see?” he asked.

“That’s very forward of you, Mr. Atkinson,” I replied feeling heated color swarm my face. “But, yes, I do,” I replied as I looked around to see the server with our meals. He looked at the server in surprise and then back at me. Did he wonder if I was talking about my food, her, or

I dove into my food. God, how I loved biscuits and gravy. I would be back at this place no matter how old and uncool I felt. Paul’s order was potatoes, eggs, and bacon. After a bit, he offered me some bacon. I accepted. We were mostly quiet as we ate because his cell phone rang
frequently, and he ended up fielding calls for his other projects. This gave me moments to study him when he wasn’t paying attention to me. I read the paper the server gave me and actually relaxed in my seat, not one thought of work or other worries popping into my head. Being with Paul was both alarmingly calming and disconcerting at the same time. I kept feeling as though I were forgetting an appointment or that I was still wearing my slippers. Occasionally, my foot would brush Paul’s leg under the table and he would look up at me while talking on his cell phone. I gave nothing away, keeping my eyes on the crossword puzzle.

After his fourth call, I said, “Could you please turn that off? I thought we were here to talk about Faraday’s meeting.”

“Sorry,” he said. “I’m so busy these days and I rescheduled a lot of these people so I could show up for this meeting. Lots of hand holding and babysitting in this business.”

“Yep, that’s true. That’s why I charge the big bucks.”

Paul laughed at that. “So, Ms. Pushkin, let’s get down to business. I wanted to see you before the meeting with Faraday so that we could be a united front for this project.”

“OK,” I said, warily.

“Faraday knows about your banshee yelling in the foyer,” explained Paul. “As much as he admires you for that, I think he wants to make sure that you and I don’t have any more ‘problems’.” He made air quotes with his slender tanned fingers. No ring.

“I didn’t think we had any.” Now I was confused. The circus family idea was starting to hone in on me. Run away, run away, Pushkin. I stayed in my cushy seat, my toes inches from his leg.

“Oh, no, we don’t, but he’s going to ask anyway, so I thought that you and I should be on the same page before entering the den of iniquity.”

“That’s fine with me. How do you want to handle it?” I asked in my most professional voice. This was all new to me. But then again, I had never had to work with a general contractor so closely before. I had to stay professional and not get personally involved. Emotions were my downfall. I couldn’t fall for this grubby guy who worked with his hands. Slender, tanned hands with, once again, no ring.

“Well, let’s play it by ear, but when he confronts you about potential problems, dazzle him with confidence, agree with whatever I’ve said, and sell your skills,” suggested Paul.

“Is that all?” I asked. God, who did this guy think I was? Martha Stewart? “And I’m not agreeing with everything you say if I don’t agree with it.”

“Exactly why I wanted this meeting,” said Paul. “I know how Faraday thinks, so if you don’t want to agree with me, at least follow my lead, OK?”

“Fair enough,” I said. He did have a valid point and I wasn’t stupid enough to not take that into consideration. Just how well did he know Faraday? Were they lovers? Would he have acted like he did the other night at my place if they were? This was way too confusing. Retreat, retreat.

As we finished up our meals, Paul offered to drive me up to the house with him. “No thanks,” I replied. “I have a one-hour parking spot out here and need to move my car anyway.”

“OK,” said Paul, “I’ll see you up there in a few.” He strode off to his car and I stayed to watch. He turned around after a bit, but I pretended I had dropped something from my bag. Jasmine had taught me that. Never let them see you looking. Why was I looking? He probably
was gay. Or even married. I hadn’t thought of that. Too obvious for my brain. I was sure that would be just my luck. In construction, no ring on his hand really meant zilch.

A while later, I pulled through the massive gates of the Faraday estate. Paul’s truck was already in its usual spot, but he wasn’t in it. I rang the Vatican style doorbell on the enormous wooden doors of the house and the butler led me into the foyer. As I waited for my usual escort, I could hear the tippy toeing of an effeminate man on the black and white marble checked floor. I turned to see Trevor as I had expected.

“You are late.” He sneered at me.

“I am not. And what do you care? Faraday certainly would not flog the messenger would he? Unless, of course, you enjoy that sort of thing,” I teased Trevor.

“Bitch,” he muttered audibly. “And it’s ‘Mr.’ Faraday to you.”

I simply rolled my eyes at he had turned his back. Trevor led the way to Faraday’s office, opening and closing the doors as we strode the gauntlet. The last set of doors opened revealing Paul and Mr. Faraday at the enormous conference table standing over my drawings, finishes, and fixture selections. They were speaking in hushed tones and instantly quit when Trevor and I entered the office. Mr. Faraday came around the table to me, pulling me in with his left hand and gesturing towards Paul with his right.

“So you both have met and ironed out your differences?” he asked me, alternately looking at Paul. What? Did Faraday think that we were to blame for this little snafu? Or was he placing
blame solely on me for the miscommunication? Turn the mirror around, buddy, and reflect that.
Of course, I knew Faraday was too crazy for me to argue the point. And he did pay his invoices. I smiled agreeably and he continued, “I have been reviewing your plans with Paul so that
he understands them fully and there should be no miscommunication in the future.”

Oh, don’t go there again, Mister. I can take only so much cuckoo-ness. Paul caught the flexing of my lips and, with a minute gesture narrowed, his eyes in caution. I put the brakes on. He melted into a smile. God, I was beginning to hate that affect he had on me now. I turned back to Faraday.
“Mr. Faraday, I believe that Mr. Atkinson and I will work together seamlessly and effortlessly from this day forward.” God, lets hope any chance of sex with Paul is just as so. Yep, it was starting to take effect. “And I know we’ll be able to resolve any discrepancies or conflicts without having to involve you. Per Mr. Atkinson and my earlier meeting, we both understand how busy you are and how this project cannot be an issue for you.”

“Earlier meeting?” asked Faraday.

“Yes, I thought that Mr. Atkinson had told you. We met before this meeting to make sure that we were working as a fluid team and strategized how best to make this project succeed to your highest satisfaction.” I bullshited, effortlessly as if my throat was full of laxatives.

Mr. Faraday paused, not something he did often, I was sure. He did a double-take on my expression. I held my fake sunny, professional disposition and gestured with a nod for him to continue with the meeting. He looked at Paul who nodded agreement with me. Finally feeling at last that everything was OK to proceed, Faraday invited me to join them at the table and the meeting continued. We spent the remainder of the time finalizing details, jotting down schedules, getting all pertinent phone numbers, and agreeing on suppliers and materials. When we were finished, Faraday barked orders to Bruce and Trevor who scattered like roaches to their respective new tasks.

“I’ll be out of town for a couple of weeks. Ms. Pushkin, please keep me advised of the job progress,” directed Faraday. Paul stood to say something, but Faraday cut him off. “Keep your nose to the grind stone, Paul. I know how you hate dealing with Bruce and his assistant, so communicate all of your needs through Ms. Pushkin. I know she can handle my assistants.”

Did I just see Faraday wink at me? No. Yes. A definite wink! I’m sure now because Paul is starting to laugh under his hand. Faraday winked at me. I studied Faraday who was putting on his suit coat, smoothing down the sleeves, pulling stud-linked cuffs from the openings and sliding on his Burberry overcoat, the famous plaid flashing for an instant, before cinching the belt across his wide-plank waist.

Faraday turned to me, deadpanned. “Good day, Ms. Pushkin.”

He turned to Paul. “As always,” Faraday said and then he exited through the velvet drapery. What? No, not the drapery. He was not Oz. I craned my neck around and saw that he had actually exited the house into the garden via a door hidden behind the drapery. It was faked like a wall panel and a lingering scent of daphnes hung in the air around it, like the ones at path at the front of the house.

Paul let out a holler: “Whoa! What an act,” He laughed. “Look, here, it’s just a door to the garden. The path leads around to the front drive. Faraday thinks he’s being so cool when he does that vanishing act. I have to put in little things like that for him all of the time. He’s such a geek at heart. I’m wondering what he’s going to have us put in the bathroom that’s major cheese ball.”

Us? Did he say “Us”? Was I part of the gang now? I liked being “us” with Paul. Not so much with Faraday and definitely not “us” with Bruce and Trevor.

“Did he wink at me?”

“Yep,” answered Paul, smugly smiling.

“And why would he wink at me after saying that I could ‘handle’ the assistants?” I asked, arching my left eyebrow questioningly.

Paul chuckled and then came clean, “I told him about your pissing match with Trevor in the foyer the other day. He pulled the video and watched the show for himself.”

So, there were cameras everywhere. “Great. Thanks. Real professional. Now I look like I just ate a shit sandwich,” referencing my act with Faraday during our meeting. Maybe that’s why the double take. He thought I was goosing him.

“You know, Faraday thought you were a real snooze before I told him about your.. uh…discussion with Trevor. He actually only hired you as a favor to Jasmine because he missed his booty calls with her.” explained Paul.

Fantastic. Great. Wonderful blow to the self-esteem. Its OK, Pushkin, breathe. Faraday pays bills. Faraday pays bills. Faraday pays bills. Money, money, money. That will be my mantra from this day forward. I looked up to find Paul staring at me.

“Are you going to cry?” he asked, suddenly very gentle with me.

“No, no I’m not,” I whispered, dabbing at tears in the corners of my eyes. “I’m just a little deflated at the moment and think I have to leave.”

“Hey wait. I only told you that first part as history.” Paul stepped forward towards me. “When I told Kip that you had ripped Trevor a new asshole and were ready to toss the
job because of the bullshit, he said that he had misjudged you and wished he could’ve been there to see it go down.”

Paul was smiling as he put his hand on my arm. “Are you OK now?”

Kip? He gets to call him Kip? Do I get to call him Kip now that I’m part of the gang? Or does he call him Kip because they’re really lovers? Then how do the Jasmine booty calls fit in? Good grief.

“Hey, are you still with me?”

I looked at Paul and pulled my arm away. His sensitivity was starting to rub me the wrong way. “Yes, thank you for that. I now feel like the screwed up daughter whose father always praises her to other people by her father, but never to her face.” Actually I am that daughter, but it’s by my mother.

“You are a funny lady. What the hell does that mean?” he said. I knew that look. This gal is freaky.

“Never mind. Forget what I said. Thank you. I feel better, but I really do have to go. Call me tomorrow so that we can set up a time to meet to go over demolition,” I said.

“Cool, yeah, I’ll call you,” said Paul. Now he looked so confused. I was confused. I needed a drink and a dish with Harshy. She would bring me back to reality, make me sensible. I was emotionally unstable. What the hell was I thinking? Entertaining romantic thoughts about a colleague? A possibly gay one at that. Stupid.

“Thanks. See ya.” I left the estate, catching Harshy on my cell phone as soon as I exited the gates onto Mulholland Drive. We agreed to meet at Prizzi’s and scope celebrities while tossing back cocktails and bitching about our work lives.

I was seated outside the restaurant when Harshy finally showed up. I was sitting on the chair like a Chihuahua – nervous. Too many celebrities in attendance and everyone eyeballing me,
trying to figure out which celebrity in disguise I was.

“Hey, babe, sorry I’m late. Damn assistants,” explained Harshy, as she deftly sat down, making sure she flashed a little thigh at Matt Dillon who was sitting across the way from our table, looking like a dork with his sunglasses mounted on his forehead. Did he forget he put them there? He smiled at me, acknowledging Harshy’s maneuver. Oh God, please don’t come over to our table. Mr. Dillon’s attentions were quickly and simply diverted by the server in the short pleated skirt who was weaving her way around the tables. Whew.

“Don’t need to explain assistants to me,” I bemoaned. ” I know all about them and I don’t even have any of my own.”

Harshy turned around to see if Mr. Dillon was still looking our way. She sighed when she saw that he was deep in small talk with the server in the short skirt. Thank fully, the woman had the sense to pry his sunglasses off of his head. I didn’t need to endure that sight anymore. As the server walked away, Mr. Dillon frowned and stuck the sunglasses right back on. Get a clue, buddy. He turned his eyes back to me and our table. I was dumbstruck. Here was a guy I had fantasized about when I was twelve years old. His pictures had been plastered all over my locker. Now here he was, making eyes at me. Was he serious? In Los Angeles, its hard not to brush up against the celebrity set, but to have one of them actually focus on a civilian was unusual. We typically had the unspoken code of yes, Cameron Diaz was picking up cucumbers right next to you in the vegetable aisle, but you moved about as if she were Mrs. Wickham, your elderly neighbor down the hall, even though your pulse was racing and you began to pick up every cucumber she’d set down. It was a sign of respect and also placed you, as a member of the adoring outside world, a little closer to the secret world of the famous. One day, one of those
celebrities might feel so comfortable with you as a member of the outside world, but friendly frequent neighborhood grocery shopper, that they might ask you to squeeze their cucumber. He must be desperate to be trolling for civilian tail. Oh, I think I just insulted Harshy. Or myself.

“Lois, snap out of it,” said Harshy, snapping her fingers in my face. “You know if you keep spacing out on him, he’s going to come over here.”

I looked away from Mr. Dillon to Harshy. She was looking at me with great concern. God, what was I doing? “Yeah, you’re right. I don’t want a famous celebrity coming over to my table trying to pick me up.”

Now it was Harshy’s turn to frown, “OK, lady ‘nuff said. I know you had the hots for him when you were a ‘tween, but you know what a doofus he was in realilty. I don’t want him drooling on our table top. What’s got you down in Dumpsville?”

“It’s this new project, the Faraday estate,” I explained. “I don’t know if I’m coming or going. I’m confused and things are wacky with those people.”

“Uh-huh. What else?” asked Harshy. “You’re holding out on me.”

I looked into those big brown eyes and almost started crying. Breathing deeply, I pulled myself together. “I really like the contractor, but I think he’s gay.”

Harshy pushed herself away from the table, stood up and threw her arms wide. “You like a guy? Who cares if he’s gay! You actually like a guy.”

That got Mr. Dillon’s attention. Now he was fixated on us, especially Harshy’s junk in her trunk. I started laughing, more at Mr. Dillon than Harshy. She sat down and scooched herself
in, ready for some good conversation about my confused love life. Crossing her elbows on the table, Harshy focused on me. Mr. Dillon was still focused on her trunk.

“Yes, I have feelings for the contractor. I don’t want to, but fuck it, they won’t go away,” I said. “His name is Paul.”

“Finally, a name to this hottie,” said Harshy. “So, do you think he could be into you too?"

I paused and sucked in my teeth, resisting spilling my guts. But it was Harshy, my best friend in the whole world.

" Why the sad face?”

“I just don’t know. This project, these cuckoo people, and now a guy who, every time he looks at me, sends me into a tailspin.” I was exasperated. “It’s all too much at once. I’m afraid that he’s gay. I couldn’t handle it if he was gay. I don’t want him to be gay. I want things to go my way for once.”

“Sometimes that’s the way it happens, sweetie,” soothed Harshy. “Just go with it. It’ll work itself out. He might not be gay. What makes you think he is?”

“He calls Faraday by his first name and no one else is allowed to that. It’s very casual between the two of them. Faraday isn’t casual with anyone else. No one,” I explained.

“Could he be married to a relative of Faraday’s?” Harshy asked.

Duh. Maybe that was it. “Its just that its been so long since I’ve felt this way about anybody and with the possibility of it actually turning into something,” I moaned. “It would suck if he was married, but at least I would know I didn’t have urges for a gay man.”

“Do you really think it could turn into something?”

Before I could answer, my cell phone went off. Harshy waved me to answer it. I didn’t recognize the number.

“Pushkin Atelier. This is Lois.”

“Hey Lois, its Guy.”


“Guy Arbuckle. From the Formosa?”

“Oh, hey, Guy,” I said, rolling my eyes at Harshy. She giggled and made goo goo eyes at me. “How’d you get my number?”

“I’m a private detective. I have my sources,” he replied. Great, I thought. Nothing is sacred in this town. “Hey, I was wondering if you would like to have dinner and see a movie this Friday?”

“Oh.” Shit. Now this? “Can I get back to you? I’ll need to check my date book.”

“Uh, yeah. Sure. Call me back at this number.” Guy was now sounding awkward. “I’ll talk to you soon, ‘kay?”

“Yeah, sounds great. Talk to you soon.” And I flipped the phone closed.

“Girl, when it rains, it pours. What the hell are you doing that men are coming out of the woodwork for you?” asked Harshy. She turned around to see if Mr. Dillon was still ogling us. He had moved to the bar, schlepping for face time with the server in the short skirt.

“Harsh, what the hell am I going to do?” I asked. “First Paul, then Brian, and now Guy?” The song, ‘It’s Raining Men’ started playing in my head. Sogay. Yes, and that was a pun. Ouch.

“Hold, up there, babe. Who is Brian?” asked Harshy, wiggling her bum on the seat to get more comfortable for this portion of my story. Or was it for Matt’s attention?

“I haven’t told you about Brian?” Aw, shit. Cat out of the bag. “Brian is the young homeless guy I found sleeping on my patio the night you and I went to La Boheme. Actually that was the second time I had seen him. The first time he scared the shit out of me when he appeared
at my slider and I nearly had a coronary.”

“What the fuck? Girl, how could you keep this from me?” Harshy was indignant. “So you’ve got something going with him too? I thought I was your best friend?”

“Oh, fuck it, Harshy. It all happened so fast.” My voice rose. “And no, nothing is going on with me and Brian. He’s too young. We just watch movies together on the patio. Paul thought we were a couple, though. That was kind of funny.”

“Paul, the contractor, has met Brian? What am I - chopped liver?” Harshy leaned back in her chair, disgusted with me and my new, not normal, Harshy-esque behavior. Was that jealousy I saw?

“No, its not, so get that out of your head, Ms. Pushkin.” Harshy could still read my mind. “I’m just hurt that I don’t know all of this stuff first. You know how I love this stuff! It makes my life worth living.” Harshy didn’t always follow the grocery shopping code with celebrities. She made us civilians all look bad sometimes.

After Harshy had sufficiently calmed down and was ready to listen without interrupting, I told her the whole story starting with Faraday, explaining about Brian, and ending with my last conversation with Paul. That was a sticking point with me and I couldn’t get that man out of my hair. Harshy was amused because she hadn’t seen me like that in a long time. I needed her more than ever and she was enjoying that idea.

It was late when I had exhausted every last detail and Harshy was satisfied. I agreed to call her whenever I felt overwhelmed and to not fly off the handle when I was emotionally overloaded. She was my grounding rod and I needed to remember that. She assured me that everything happening was good and that I had three guys in my life when she didn’t have any. I was still
doubtful and frankly scared. I didn’t want my heart broken nor the emotional exhaustion that followed my constantly failed relationships. Even if they were just fleeting thoughts breaking me down.

After I drove Harshy to her car, watched her get in safely and waited as she drove off in the direction of her house, I remembered that I had forgotten to ask her about TTFN. Shit. Now that was going to keep bugging the hell out of me. I called my office voicemail to remind myself to ask her about it. I didn’t want to be out of the trend loop. I wondered if Faraday knew what it meant. Why did I think he would? I already knew that Paul wouldn’t. How did I know that? Ugh! This guy was under my skin. I decided to take a long hot shower when I got home. I needed some control over my life again.

Driving home, I realized that I had drunk too much alcohol and not enough water. My eyes stung and were dry, and my lips opened and closed over the rancid, cotton state of my mouth. I was drunk. Not even buzzed, but very alcohol weary. My head was sure to pound soon

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