Donovan entered the elevator on the way to the eleventh story—the production house of Gent. The elevator buzzed and stopped on the eighth-floor, the location of the building’s break room, where Joey stepped on scratching his crotch with one hand and holding his breakfast in the other.
“What’s up, Joey?”
“Nothin’ much. Old lady put me out.” Joey knew that talk of his home situation had become common knowledge around the office and really didn’t give a damn. He figured that people were going to talk, so screw it—give ‘em something to talk about.
The best way to sum up Joey: a man of few words. His “flat line” manner of speaking could lullaby a speed fiend to sleep, so he had developed the habit of only speaking when he had something to say. As a result, when he chose to speak, people had a tendency to pay attention.
“So—did you get that call yet?” Joey asked with a sly grin.
“Some chick named Nichole from last month’s military shoot called and got transferred to my extension. It sounded damned personal so I personally gave her your home number,” he explained, his smile growing with every word.
“You dumb shit,” raising his voice along with the ascending elevator. Chest to chest, he braced up to Joey in spite of the detail that he was out measured by a good three inches. “Somebody had to do the shoot. What’s your fucking problem with me doing it?”
“It’s getting to be a regular thing with you. I don’t like Chihuahuas nipping at my heels,” said Joey.
“Man, fuck you. You’re worried about these bullshit covers?” Donovan replied. “Gent is my stepping stone. Don’t get pissed because it’s your fucking resting place.”
“You don’t watch yourself and it might just become your resting place,” he stated blandly, biting into his cinnamon raisin bagel, exiting the elevator brushing past Donovan as though he was not standing there.
“Good morning, Donovan!”
“Morning, Courtney,” he said, shaking his head in disbelief, as he made his way to his desk. He couldn’t believe the situation he had put himself in. His home life was getting stormy and Joey was choreographing the rain dance.
Not being schooled in the etiquette of one-night stands, he thought that surely her follow-up phone call was by no means “protocol”. For him, it was one reckless night, albeit, a sensational one he had regretted almost at once. He had never been unfaithful and wanted to forget that the foolish act had ever occurred. Just then, his desk phone rang. “This is Donovan.” He waited for an answer.
“Hi, Donovan. This is…”
“Yeah. I’m surprised you recognized my voice.”
“Honestly, I didn’t. You left your name at my house when you called this morning,” he stated straightforwardly as an arrow shot by William Tell.
“Oh! I hope it was okay for me to call. The guy at your office said that it was.”
“Yeah, I heard. So, what can I do for you?”
“Well… I was thinking. I’m gonna be in LA this weekend and I was really hoping that we could get together. It was really nice having someone to talk to. So…”
“Look, Nichole, we had a lot of fun and you’re a terrific girl, but… I was hoping it would end where it started. I’m not trying to come off like a jerk, but…”
“Hey, forget it. You’re right, it shouldn’t go any further. I guess neither of us really thought things through.”
“So—you do understand?” he hopefully questioned.
“Sure, I understand.”
“Great,” he said—his relief palpable over the phone line. And then she continued.
“Actually, to be truthful, I was really out of my head that night. My divorce isn’t even final yet.” As realization set in, Nichole went on, “I hope I didn’t cause any problems for you at home. That must have been your girlfriend that I spoke to. I didn’t realize that you lived with her. I wouldn’t have called if I had known.”
“Ah, don’t worry about it. I’m sure things will blow over.” He added with annoyingly conspicuous relief. “You know, Nichole, the time we spent together was …”
“Stop, please. Don’t say anymore.” she said firmly, disgusted that she was the object of his pity. “It was what it wasa fleeting fuck. It’s too late to pretend there was any meaning to it. Anyway, good luck with your girlfriend. And, uh… thanks for being honest, Donovan” she ended, feeling she had been crapped on.
“Yeah, uh… you too! I mean, uh… me, too!” he stuttered. “Oh, hell… whatever,” he said to the dial tone.
Cradling the phone between his shoulder and his flushed face, Donovan used his index finger to disconnect the phone, closing his eyes. When he opened them, Joey was standing on the other side of his desk, quite the sight, licking Philly cream cheese from his fingers and smiling smugly at Donovan.
• • •
Two weeks had passed and she had carried the load squarely on her shoulders, unburdening herself to no one but Aidan. It was time to share the wealth of her knowledge.
Her fingers trembled as she dialed the number to his desk at Gent. There was a catch in her throat when she heard his raspy voice answer the phone.
“This is Donovan!”
“Hi, it’s Nichole.”
“Nichole?” He quietly seethed inside as contemplated his luck at having chosen a stalker to have a one-nighter with. “I thought you understood my situation,” he said.
“I do understand your situation.”
“Then why are you calling again? Look, I told you, this was a one-time deal, Nichole.” He continued gruffly. “Now listen—and listen really well. This is where the rubber meets the road! There is nothing between us,” he said. “Nothing!”
“Uh… I wouldn’t be so quick to say that nothing’s between us if I were you, Donovan. And, I definitely wouldn’t mention ‘rubber’.” she said plainly.
“What?” He spoke through clenched teeth, as he fought to keep his voice down, cursing the lack of privacy his workstation provided. “Listen, bitch, I don’t know what type of sick game you’re playing, but if you think you’re going to hold this over my head, then, you’d better think…”
“I’m pregnant.” She interrupted, gripping the phone so tightly that her knuckles had whitened. “You’re going to be a father, Donovan.”