Deceived Part 2 - Paris, Chapter 1
The night air blew cold down the back of my bare neck as I stumbled up the sandy path to one of the most beautiful mansions in the Hamptons. I had put my hair in an up-do for what started out to be a glorious night full of promise, but now my first summer event of the Hamptons was bathed in a somber mood and no doubt this would be my last event here. I had just walked away from Patrick Collins, whom I’d open my heart to, leaving him standing in desperation at the water’s edge.
Struggling to hold up the soaking wet hem of a $3000 designer gown as I tripped my way up the path, I squeezed my eyes tightly, hoping to abate the deluge that was about to spill forth. My mind was swimming with questions about my boss and the man that had become my lover. “Lover”, that was before he deceived me. Before he wrenched my heart out of my body and threw it off the damn balcony at the Crestwood Mansion, where my nemesis last poured her contemptuous glare down upon me. Not here, not now. I squeezed my eyes shut again. I wasn't going to allow myself to cry. Not yet.
I climbed up the steps to the veranda, winded from both the hike up the ocean path and the effort it had taken to control the emotions now boiling up inside of me. I grabbed the wooden rail with one hand, my high heels dangling and clattering against the wood. Holding the bunched up fabric in the other, I impatiently tugged and stretched at it as I stumbled up the stairs.
My mind raced. I had to get out of here. There’s no way I could go back inside. How could I face these people looking like this? How on earth was I going to get home? I just wanted to leave and retreat to my comfortable apartment, curl up in the fetal position in my own bed and die a graceful death of a broken heart.
Once I was up the stairs, standing on the veranda, I could hear the soft melodious sound of music floating out the french doors. The charity event was still in progress as I stalled out on the porch not sure how to proceed, fighting the urge to give in to self-pity. A wave of overwhelming fatigue hit my body like a freight train and I plopped down on the top step burying my face in my hands.
What now? Running a mental check of the contents of my purse, I noted that I had my wallet and phone and supposed I could call a cab to take me back. Yeah, right, a two hour cab ride back to the city. Shit! What the hell am I gonna do now?
“Hey there,” a familiar voice rang out from behind me. Turning my head, a shadowy figure of Ryan appeared, silhouetted against the interior lights of the mansion.
“Oh, Ryan,” I said trying to hide the hurt in my voice. “Hey,” I continued and then quickly looked away so he couldn't read the emotion on my face or see the distress in my eyes. Luckily the cover of darkness was on my side.
Ryan moved down one step and sat next to me while unbuttoned his tuxedo jacket in the cool night air. The silence between us was blatantly obvious, but I was relieved that he allowed it to settle over the conversation for a while. I kept my head down, staring at nothing on the bottom step, scared to talk for fear of opening the floodgates.
Thank God it was Ryan who walked out. I had taken a liking to him the week before when we first met. Something clicked between us and I immediately picked up on good vibes from him. Compassion is like a magic key unlocking our emotions, when even the briefest comfort from a stranger can trigger the release in our moment of need. Hugging my knees to my chest, I rested my chin on them.
“Chloe, are you okay?” he asked with a soft voice.
Like a five-year-old child I bobbed my head up and down, pursing my lips and shutting my eyes tight again. Considering that eighty percent of all communication is nonverbal, I knew that my body language would betray me. Reading the situation like a detective, Ryan gently put his arm around my shoulders and leaned his head close to mine.
“Okay, let’s see here. A beautiful young woman, dressed in a lovely gown is sitting all alone on the steps with the hem of her dress dripping wet….hmm… and no Patrick to be found. Me thinks something is wrong m’lady,” he said soothingly.
I kept my focus frozen on that bottom step, then blew out a long audible breath, dropping my arms to my sides and stretching out my long legs.
“Ryan, this sucks. I cannot be here one more minute,” I confessed desperately.
“Why? What happened?” His eyes searching my face for clues. I turned my head to look back at him and I recognized his genuine concern.
“Patrick and I had a fight and….I don’t want to talk about it. I can’t talk about it right now…” I stammered.
“Oh, okay. So what do you want to do then?” He pressed me but I wasn't willing to divulge details just yet. I was too furious to speak coherently. I knew if I launched into an explanation now, it would all come out a jumbled mess.
“All I know is I can’t stay here and I can’t go back to the hotel with Patrick. I want to go home – now!” I insisted with a little quiver in my voice. I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz demanding to go home to Auntie Em. The crack in my voice was enough of a signal for Ryan to get the hint that I was a smoldering volcano about to erupt.
‘Hey, tell you what…This whole high stakes charity event is boring me anyway. There is nothing more I’d rather do than getting the hell out of here. What do you say I drive you back to the city?” He pulled back away from me and smiled understandingly.
“Really? You would do that? Oh my God. Thank you so much Ryan.” The tension in my shoulders relaxed. “You’re a lifesaver,” I said dropping my head back in a “thank you Lord” expression. I could feel my scrambled nerves coagulating, coming back together again, now that my immediate problem was miraculously solved.