The way she was before (the beforetime)

There was a time in her life when things were much simpler. Life had always been a sort of game for Prised. Most often Pri could be found coyly stringing gentlemen along or deep within the pages of her journal. This was before, of course. Before she knew Him. Before the Great War.

Pri kept a perfect archive of the life of a carefree twenty-something, but that life was not hers anymore. A little more than a decade has passed since then. The girl who wrote the journal entries you may come across is not the woman she is now. She wouldn’t recognize herself and those who know her as Prised would never believe that Pri ever existed.

Entry 427

John was the perfect Southern Gentleman with a voice like Matthew McConaughey and the charm to match.  He was born and bred into old money; the kind of money that houses many secrets.

We met almost three years ago and in the moment of our first interaction, I knew he was like me.  I knew the hunt had begun.

*****

“Lunch?”

That’s all John’s email said.  I’ve never been anywhere with him, much less

“Yes. Time?”

“15 minutes.  In back.”

He was probably one of the most discrete people I knew.  His drop phone, however, was not lost on me.  I had him figured out three years ago. People like him, like us, we give obvious signs to those who know what to look for.

I took his email to mean he would pick me up at the back door of our building.  Discretion.  I was surprised he didn’t want to drive separately and meet for lunch.

When I got into his car, he didn’t say a word.  I could tell by his expression that he was stressed out. I couldn’t decide if it was because of his decision to meet with me, or if something else was bothering him.  I did know better than to ask and, let’s be honest, I didn’t really care.

We drove for 15 minutes in silence.  It was wonderful.  The tension settled between us like a thick fog.  He took me to a pretentious wine bar, which I was not expecting.

When he got out of the car, I waited. 

John opened the door slowly, with purpose. His presence was palpable.   I stepped out of his Mercedes and made sure I looked up at him, over the rim of my glasses, the entire time.  Eye contact often says more than words are capable of saying.

I exited slowly and methodically, standing only inches from him when I straightened myself out. A smirk crawled across my lips.  He sucked in a quick breath and he glowered at me.

“Come on.” he snarled.

I followed obediently.  This.  This is what I live for.

We sat in a darkened corner of the nearly empty Wine Loft.  When the waiter appeared, my vexed companion wasted no time.

“Château de Bousquet.  Two.” he said.

The silence was his form of control.  He just stared, calculating.  When the waiter brought the wine, I sipped delicately.  Our eye contact never wavered.

Finally, he spoke.

“I hate the way you traipse around the office.” he said, clearly frustrated.

I stifled a giggle and instead cleared my throat.  I said nothing and thought everything. 

“How wonderful,” I said to myself proudly,  “he is annoyed.”

My lack of outward response only seemed to frustrate him further.

“You know what you do,” he whispered curtly, “you know what you are doing.”

“I do,” I broke my silence, “I do, and I will continue to do so.  No one owns me.”

I took a nonchalant sip of my wine.  At this point I was fully engrossed in the game and I had the upper hand. John abruptly grabbed my hand, hard.  He squeezed with intent and this time it was me glowering at him.  His eyes flickered, but it wasn’t fire behind the brown depths. No.  It was only darkness.  Emptiness.  Perfection.

“I want you to know how much I abhor the way the men look at you at our office.  So much so that I cannot allow it to continue,” he chided.

“Cannot?” I responded wryly.

He released my hand and regained in his composure.  We continued in silence.

The waiter returned to get our order and my agitated associate held up a finger, “Check.”

After John paid, he got up and stood over me. Looking up into the depths of him I could see the physical manifestation of his tension. His jaw clenched and his temples were pulsating.

He offered me a hand.  I took it and stood slowly, again, with purpose. I let my eyes burn into his because unlike all his others, I was not afraid.

He escorted me back to his car.  His hand was hot, but not sweaty. He walked briskly, but not too fast to be obvious.  When we got to the parking garage rather than open the door, he placed me against the passenger side door and stood in front of me. He was so close I could feel the heat of his face radiating on to my lips.

My heart rate quickened involuntarily. John slipped one hand behind my head, discretely grabbing a handful of my dark curls and placed the other around my waist and pulled me into him.  Our lips lingered a breath away for a moment as his eyes searched mine. I stared back coldly.

When he released me, I nearly gasped. I didn’t realize I had been holding my breath.  He stepped back, eyes wild, and opened the door.

We rode back in silence.

We entered the office at separate times. When I returned to my desk, I had another email waiting for me.

“Tomorrow.  And don’t wear that skirt again.”