Samantha was hoping Jason would call her in the days following her apology. She was hoping, but she wasn’t surprised when it didn’t happen. She knew his forgiveness would be harder to earn than that. So she made her plans for the next step in winning him back. She knew the places and times he usually lunched. Interrupting him while he ate would be rude, but if she could catch him as he was coming back in to his office she might be able to snag a few minutes of his time to again plead her case.
The first two attempts were unsuccessful, he was either staying in, or going at a different time; but the third day, just as she was about to give up and go in to their building, she spotted him.
“Jason,” she called as she jogged quickly over to where he was making his way back toward his office. “Hi.”
“Samantha.” His reply was cordial at best.
“I was hoping to have a few minutes with you,” she tried.
“Oh, and what would you want with my time?”
“To tell you how much I miss you and again how sorry I am at the mess I made of things.”
He nodded, “I’m sorry that you fucked things up too. Now if you’ll excuse me I have a client waiting for me.” And with that curt remark he hurried off leaving her feeling more than a little dejected.
Samantha sighed and began walking back to her office. She knew she would need to wait a few days before trying again. There was, after all, a fine line between being persistent and being a stalker.
She let two days pass and then laid out her next plan. She would stop by his office after work and try to catch him alone for another attempt to gain his forgiveness. Hopefully if she waited late enough, his pesky secretary would already be gone for the day.
As she entered the elevator she went over in her head again what she wanted to say. She had to be a little more persuasive this time, so far she didn’t think she had gained much, but she wasn’t about to give up, not yet.
As she walked into his office area she was disappointed to see that his secretary was still at her desk.
“Can I help you?” Karen looked right through her as if they were total strangers in spite of having been introduced on more than one occasion.
“Is Jason busy?”
“Do you have an appointment?” Very curt.
Damn her. “No, Karen, I’m a friend of his.”
“I’m sorry Samantha, I did recognize you.” In a pig’s eye. “I’m afraid he’s with a client. Would you care to leave a message for him?”
“No thank you, I’ll catch up with him later,” Samantha replied in her cheeriest voice and turned to leave.
Jason’s forgiveness was going to be harder to earn that she had imagined.
Seth slapped at the blaring alarm clock on the head of Cole’s bed.
“Augh,” Cole moaned and rolled over toward him, snuggling up to Seth’s warm body.
“I have to get up, Cole,” Seth whispered.
“Come on, let me up. I have to so home and get ready.” They had worked out a system where Seth would get up early, drive Cole’s car to his apartment and get ready for work Then he would drive back over to pick up Cole, who would drop Seth off at Hewlett-Packard on his way to his own office. It was less than convenient and Seth questioned himself every morning about why he didn’t just sleep at his own apartment, but every evening when Cole invited him to stay it seemed to make perfect sense.
“You know,” Cole said later that morning as he drove Seth across town to the HP offices, “It would be much simpler if you moved a few of you things over to my place.”
“Pardon?” Seth was a little shocked at what he was hearing.
“I’m just saying that all this rushing around in the morning is crazy. Buy an extra toothbrush and bring over a few changes of clothes.” Cole pulled up in front of Seth’s stop. “I’ll call you this afternoon,” he said leaning over to give Seth a quick kiss.
He drove off leaving a stunned Seth standing on the walk in front of his office building. How had he gotten here? Talking about sharing space with his boyfriend. When had the word ‘boyfriend’ come into his vocabulary? He had been so busy wondering what had brought on the change in Cole that he failed to notice the change in himself. ‘My God’, he thought to himself, ‘I’m in a relationship.’
“I’ve got to lay off the tina for awhile,” Toby told Cody.
“Yeah? Why’s that?”
“It’s screwing with my job and my boss is starting to notice.”
“That’s not good,” Cody agreed.
“No shit. So from now on, only on weekends.”
“Well don’t try to go cold turkey. You’ll end up sicker than a dog.”
“Really?” Toby was planning just that - going cold turkey.
“Yeah, the withdrawals off this shit are nasty.”
“Like what?” Toby asked.
“Sweats, cramps, puking, just over all feeling like shit to begin with and then they get worse. You could end up in the hospital and if that happens they’ll stick you in rehab.”
The next morning Toby decided to try to go without his morning hit. He remembered Cody’s words and wondered if he should maybe take a little with him in his jacket to work. He wouldn’t be able to smoke it, but he could snort a little if he started feeling sick. But on the other hand, carrying meth on him to work was a pretty big risk. Finally he decided that he really wasn’t that addicted, he would be fine, really.
He was working with Ted, one of the senior engineers around nine o’clock when the wave of nausea hit. He started to feel faint, then beads of cold sweat ran down his face.
“Are you all right?” Ted asked.
“Um, I think I need... Um… Fuck, I’ll be right back.” Toby bolted for the door and ran down the hall to the restrooms.
After emptying his stomach, Toby laid his head against the cold porcelain of the toilet seat. He wished he had risked it and brought a little tina with him to work. A little snort would take the edge off right now.
Cody’s words came back to him - don’t try to go cold turkey - you could end up in the hospital. Shit, he couldn’t end up in the hospital. If he was put into rehab he would lose his job for sure.
“Toby? Are you okay?” Ted asked, sticking his head in the doorway.
“Um, yeah, but I think I need to go home.” Toby’s voice was raspy. “Could you maybe call me a cab?”
“I could just run you home in my car. No point in having to wait for a cab to get here, not to mention the expense.”
Toby thought of his dilapidated apartment building and winced. There was no way he could let Ted see where he lived. “No, really a cab would be fine, I don’t need to trouble you. Besides, I don’t live that far, it won’t cost that much.” A total lie. The neighborhood Toby lived in was clear on the other side of town, but at this point he didn’t care. He just wanted to be home, and he didn’t think he could make it on public transportation.
“Okay, I’ll call you a cab.”
By the time the cab pulled up in front of Toby’s building he was shaking and sweat was running down his face again.
“You need to get some help, dude,” the cabbie said after the fare had been paid.
“Yeah, whatever,” Toby muttered and made his way up the walk and into his building.
Once inside his apartment he pulled out his stash. He planned to only snort a little line. Just enough to take off the edge, but as he reached in the cabinet to get to the white rocks he saw his pipe setting there. If he smoked a little it would be almost the same. Just one hit, that would be all he would take.
When he awoke the next morning he was already late. Looking back later he would wonder why he didn’t just call in sick, or if that would have made any difference, but instead, he jumped out of bed, rushed to put on his clothes and try to catch a bus to get across town.
By the time he got to the office building it was after nine. When he walked in Jeanette looked up at him with a look of pity. “Toby, I’ve been told to ask you to go to Mr. Johnson’s office first thing this morning.”
Toby felt his heart plummet to his stomach. “Thanks, Jeanette.”
He knew what this would be about, and he was temped to just go empty out his office and leave; saving everyone the embarrassment of having to go through the ceremony. But he knew that would never work.
“Mr. Johnson? You wanted to see me?”
The ride back home on the bus with his box of personal effects setting on his lap was long and painful. He watched out the window and reflected on the person he was when he arrived in this city compared to the one sitting there after having been fired from his job. He was hard pressed to see any resemblance between the two. He knew now what he had to do.
Seth had just finished hanging three shirts and two pairs of pants in Cole’s closet. He had an extra toothbrush, razor and deodorant in the bath room and he was about to ask Cole where he could put his few pairs of underwear and socks when his cell rang. Looking at the id he couldn’t believe his eyes.
“Toby? Hey buddy, what’s up?”
“Seth. I need some help.”