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“Hey Ron” I said with a smile.
“Afternoon Ms. Williams”
“Ron how many times have I told you to call me Leni?” I asked with a laugh.
“Sorry, afternoon Leni.”
“Much better. Any mail today?”
“Yes there is. Here you go.” Replied Ron as he handed me a stack of bills and letters.
“You’re welcome, Leni.”
As I walked towards the elevators I shuffled through the letters. Party invitation, party invitation, bill, thank you note, party invitation, bill, finally! The letters I’ve been waiting for! I opened the first one from Brown University, nothing special but I needed to see those words “we have received your application and transcripts.” The rest of them, Harvard, Cornell, Yale, and Princeton, all said the same. I breathed a sigh of relief. It was finally over, applying to college was done. I continued to walk towards the elevator. Once I was on I said a quick hello to Ryan, the elevator controller.
“Thank you” I said as I walked off the elevator.
“You’re welcome Ms. Williams, have a nice day” said Ryan with a smile.
I fumbled through my bag for a minute trying to find my keys. Shoving them in the lock and opening the door. Once inside the foyer I dropped my bag on the floor and hung my hunter green army style jacket on the coat hook. I threw my keys on the table along with the mail and walked into the kitchen. I was surprised my mother wasn’t perched on the chair where she usually is waiting for my arrival home from school to bombard me with annoying questions about how my day was. It was nice not to have to listen to her voice for once. Opening the stainless steel refrigerator and pulling out the pitcher of cucumber water, I poured myself a glass. Our kitchen was decked out in the top of the line products, since my dad was executive chief at his own restaurant, he took pride in his kitchen. Hard wood floors, granite counter tops, industrial sized stove, two ovens, a deep fryer, pots and pans, the sharpest knives and a selection of cooking spoons and spatulas were all displayed in a neat orderly fashion. Finishing my cucumber water I placed my hand on the granite counter top, allowing the cool surface to seep through my skin. I put my glass in the dish washer and turned off the light.
Taking the stairs two at a time, leaving dirt on the pure white Persian carpet. Oh well. Once I reached the top of the stairs I heard moaning coming from my mother’s room. I pressed my ear against the door, yep she was definitely having sex but with who?! My dad was at the restaurant. Who the hell is in there?! I threw open the door to see, a lot of things I didn’t want to see, but a young boy about my age and my mother. She jumped off of him and grabbed her silk robe.
“Leni! It is not very polite to throw open someone’s bedroom door!” She yelled.
“Yeah and it’s not very polite to screw some other guy when you’re married either.” I snapped back. The boy was scrambling to grab his clothes that were scattered around the room. Who ever he was, he had a very nice body and a full head of brown curly hair. Wait, I know that head and that butt, I look at it all the time at school.
“Aaden?” He slowly turned around with his jeans half buttoned.
“Oh Yes, Leni you know Aaden from school. Captain of the lacrosse team, class president, national honor society member.” Said my mom smiling as she walked over to him. She then kissed him on the cheek and rubbed his arm. I can not believe her! She’s acting as though it’s okay she’s cheating on my dad with an eighteen year old high school student. I knew she was self centered, knifing, and a b**** but even this is low for her. I glared at her with her plastic, botoxed filled skin and stormed back down the stairs. I could hear her behind me.
“Oh Leni, don’t be so dramatic. Why don’t we all go in the living room and talk about everything?” I spun around to face her, my long auburn hair whipping behind me.
“Are you serious?! You’re really going to try and talk your way out of this?” Her blue eyes staring at me, normal, as if this was an everyday conversation.
“Leni, please act like an adult. We all need to rationally sit down and talk about what you just saw. Everything will be fine.” Aaden walked into the room, fully clothed this time, with his hands in his pockets. He looked embarrassed and scared, not the boy I was used to. At school he was outgoing, confident, a perfect example of the high school dream guy, but now he looked like a little boy.
“I’m not going to sit here and listen to you try and worm your way out of this. I’m going to tell dad.” Her eyes widened, her cheeks flushed pink. I turned on the heel of my boot and walked into the foyer tugging on my jacket and grabbing my bag. My hand was on the knob when she grabbed on to me.
“Listen to me you little b****. You are NOT going to tell your father or all that money you need to attend those ivy league colleges will be gone. You will not receive a penny from me or your father understand?!” Her fake nails digging into my skin.
“How can you control dad? He’d give me the money if I needed it.” S***, I didn’t think she would play this card.
“Sweetheart, I control all the money that comes in and out of this house. Your father can’t even work an ATM card without my help. He doesn’t even have his own bank account.” She was right. My dad makes a lot of money but whenever he gets his pay check he gives it right to her. I ripped my arm away from her. I was stuck. I could tell my dad what happened, work my way through school, but honestly that would take years and I wanted to get as far away from her as possible.
“Aaden why don’t you go get us some cucumber water from the fridge and I’ll go change. Leni have a seat.” She said with a smile. The same fake smile that’s on all her real state cards. She sauntered up the stairs into her room. I ripped off my coat and threw it at the wall. I turned and saw Aaden looking at me.
“What?!” I yelled. He shook his head and went into the kitchen to do as he was told. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. Didn’t I have enough to deal with?
“I think we all just need to keep this a secret. No one needs to find out what happened here today. It will only hurt people and ruin relationships. Are we all in agreement?” Asked my mother. Aaden was looking at the floor, he seemed to be thinking about something deep and up setting but he nodded in agreement. My mother turned to me, waiting for my reply. I looked from her to Aaden and then back again. Her phony smile, high cheek bones, perfect blonde hair, and big blue eyes, God I hated her. Nothing about her was real, not even her love for me. I shook my head once. She raised her eyebrows. “Was that a yes Leni?” At this point Aaden looked up from his brooding thoughts. His eyes seemed to be pleading me to say yes, to agree. They were a hazel green color, big and beautiful, the kind of eyes any girl could get lost in. I stood up, “Yes.”
“Good. Now that everything’s settled why don’t we order some lunch? I’m starving.” She pranced over to the phone and dialed the front desk requesting three glasses, Champaign, two house salads one with chicken, one with tofu, a hamburger and fries, a small pita pizza, and chocolate covered strawberries. Was she seriously going to celebrate now? I walked over to the front hall, picked up my jacket that was crumpled on the floor, grabbed my bag, and opened the door.
“Leni, where are you going? Don’t you want to stay and celebrate with us?” Her hand reaching for Aaden’s. I rolled my eyes and slammed the door. As I rode the elevator down to the lobby I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going. I really needed to talk to someone but I couldn’t talk to my dad since it was about him, I couldn’t tell Alba, my best friend, because she is terrible at dealing with stressful situations, and no one in my family could know. Once the elevator reached the lobby I got out and walked through the massive foyer.
“Have a good afternoon Mrs. Williams.” Said Kyle the doorman.
“Thank you, you too.”
I turned right once I was on the sidewalk. I walked down past the little Italian restaurant, and past the second Starbucks coffee shop on the same block. I tuned down a little side street where my favorite music store was, Bull Moose Records. It was a second hand CD store with anything you could ever think of. CD’s ranging from the Beatles to Britney Spears. All the people that worked there were bohemian/rocker and really nice.
“Hey Leni! What’s up?” Asked Damien, the manager.
“Hey. Not much. Needed to get out of the apartment and thought I’d come listen to some music.”
“Right on.” He said with a smile.
He had long black dreadlocks, tan skin, and brown eyes. He always had scruff around his face and neck. He wore Bob Marley shirts all the time and Vans. He had small gages and snake bites that really fit his personality. He was tall and skinny, but he had muscular arms that were covered in tattoos. He was awesome. I walked along the rows and rows of CD’s, stopping every time I saw a cool CD cover or an interesting name. I picked up a few old reggae CD’s, along with a couple alternative/metal ones. I must not have been paying attention because I walked straight into someone. I fell backwards tossing my CD’s across the floor. Whoever I bumped into stumbled back and hit a CD rack, knocking it over. I scrambled to my feet, grabbing my CD’s and apologizing profusely.
“I’m so sorry. I wasn’t paying attention. I’m really sorry. I got distracted by one of the old albums and…I’m really…sorry.” I stopped talking once I saw who I bumped into. He had black hair, that was perfectly messy, ice blue eyes, tan skin, and the most sincere smile I have ever seen. He was gorgeous.
“It’s okay. It’s my fault too, I was reading the back of a CD, not paying attention as usual,” he said with an adorable laugh. Damien came over and asked if we were alright and then began picking up the rack of CD’s we knocked over. He handed me a stack of CD’s a dropped, our hands touching.
“Thank you,” I said piling my CD’s back into my arms.
“No problem.” His smile made me weak in the knees. I half smiled back and stood up.
“Again, I’m really sorry about running into you.”
“Haha it’s okay, really I didn’t mind once I saw you.” My heart stopped as those words came flowing gracefully out of his full lips. If I didn’t control myself I would have jumped him right there, but instead I walked to the registers to pay for my CD’s.
“Find everything alright or do you want to bump into a couple more CD racks?” asked Damien with a laugh.
“Ha Ha ya funny. I’m sorry I wasn’t really paying attention.”
“It’s okay. Watching it all happen was priceless anyway.” As I waited for Damien to finish ringing up my items I looked up and saw him staring at me. My breath got caught in my throat. My eyes widened and I felt my face flush. Great, I thought, I probably look like an idiot now. Staring at him, all doe eyed. Way to keep your cool Leni. I quickly looked away, hoping Damien would hurry up.
“$15.65 is your total. Paper or plastic?”
I handed him a $20 as I replied, “Neither. I can just put them in my bag.”
“Okay, here’s your change and receipt. Have a wonderful evening Leni. See ya soon!”
“Thanks Damien. You too.” I said with a smile. I shoved my CD’s in my oversized boho bag and walked toward the door, keeping my head down so I wouldn’t crash into anything else or stare at him like a fool. As I pushed open the glass door I felt someone grab my arm.
“Hey, wait up.” I turned around and was face to face with him again. He pulled me out onto the side walk so we were out of other people’s way. “I never got your name Ms…” His smile was adorable. He had two small dimples on the sides of his chin near his mouth. Trying not to look how I felt on the inside, panicked and nervous, I smiled and smoothly replied. “Williams.”
“That’s an interesting name.” He said while laughing.
“Well, you asked for my last name and I don’t give weird boys I meet in CD stores my full name.”
“That’s good. You shouldn’t. Those boys can be very creepy and strange, and when you tell me your first name I will definitely not tell those weird boys.”
“Oh, that’s strange I would have marked you as one of those boys.” His beautiful blue eyes were soft yet piercing, kind and welcoming. His messy black curls softly falling across his forehead. After taking one last look at his God like face, I smiled, and walked down the side-walk. Trying not to look back.
The apartment was quiet and dark, no one was home, as usual. My dad was at the restaurant and my “mother” was probably out cheating on my dad or spending his money. I hung up my jacket and my bag and tossed my keys onto the front hall table. I slipped off my boots and climbed the stairs to my room. I tugged off my shirt, slipped out of my jeans, and pulled off my socks. Turning on the shower and allowing the water to warm up, I looked in the mirror. My auburn hair was long, wavy and messy. My blue eyes were outlined in a little bit of brown eyeliner and black mascara. I had pale skin like my dad but I didn’t have the freckles that he had. Shivering from the large drafty bathroom I grabbed a white towel, to match the pure white bathroom that my mother loves so much, slid off the rest of my clothes and climbed into the hot water. Every time I closed my eyes I could see him. His tan arms grabbing the CD’s, his muscles showing through his grey t shirt, his dark wash jeans loose and baggy, and his black beat up converse on his feet. I let the hot water stream down my back and face, trying to wash away feelings I have never felt before. Now is not the time to get distracted, now is not the time to allow some boy into my crazy life. I washed and shampooed my hair, scrubbed off the day’s stress and got out. Once I dried off I changed into a pair of purple spandex, and a black and white Bob Marley T shirt. I picked up my dirty clothes and put them in my hamper, because my mother has no idea how to do laundry, so if I want clean clothes I have to do it myself. I clambered down the stairs and went into the kitchen to fix myself some dinner. I turned on the lights hanging over the huge marble island in the middle of the kitchen and pulled out my dad’s big sauté pan that Bobby Flay gave him when they had a cook off in New York. I usually don’t mind being home alone but tonight it’s too quiet. Tonight there are too many thoughts bouncing around in my head, tonight it’s too over whelming to think about. I turned on the small stereo in the kitchen and listened to my dad’s favorite songs, ranging from Frank Sinatra to ACDC. I boiled some pasta, sautéed sugar snap peas, tomatoes, red bell pepper, and tofu, all with a little olive oil and parmesan cheese. I didn’t realize how hungry I was until I was finished making my dinner. I piled the pasta, tofu, and veggies all on a plate, and poured myself some water. After I put the dirty dishes in the sink to soak, I turned off the stereo and grabbed some silverware. Sitting in the living room, I sat so I was facing the floor to ceiling windows that over looked the Upper East Side. As I sat there I couldn’t help but think about my parents and how quickly their marriage began to crumble. My poor dad was clueless as to what has been going on. A part of me wanted to tell him but I also knew that if I told him I may risk losing help paying for college, and worst of all, the news would crush him. Once I finished eating I cleaned the dishes and grabbed my backpack to finish my homework. I didn’t have a lot but I had to finish AP physics, calculus, and my creative writing story. It was only 8:30pm so I had enough time to finish and hopefully get to bed at a semi decent hour. I finished around 10: 30 pm, which is the earliest I have finished homework since 6th grade! I packed up my backpack and went upstairs to brush my teeth and get ready for bed. As I was brushing my teeth I heard noises down stairs. I put my toothbrush on the edge of the sink and crept down the stairs, unsure of who was home. Once I rounded the corner I saw my mother in the living room with a slinky tight fitting black dress on, along with black stilettos. She was kissing a man that was not my father. I couldn’t believe it! Earlier today she was having sex with Aaden and now she was making out with some mystery man! I stormed down the rest of the stairs and into the living room. My mother and the new guy pulled apart and turned around.
“Hi Leni. This is Mr. Nobel, he’s one on my new clients.” She said this with such ease I almost believed her, if I hadn’t seen them sucking face before.
“Good evening Leni. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Greeted Mr. Nobel with a thick Italian accent. He was a tall, muscular man with dark brown eyes, tan skin, and black hair that was slicked back. He had on a Dolce & Gabbana dark grey and white tuxedo and Aldo shiny black dress shoes. On his left hand he had on a plain silver wedding band on his ring finger. From what I gathered he seemed like a greasy Italian who probably has cheated on his wife more than once, and most likely with women that look like my mother. “Mr. Nobel and I just finished going over some real state paperwork. He’s buying a pent house just a few blocks from here actually.”
“Your mother knows how to get what she wants.” Said the grease ball with a sketchy smile. They both laughed at his disgusting joke.
“Mom can I talk to you in the kitchen for a second.” I said through gritted teeth.
“Leni, can it wait? Mr. Nobel and I were just about to finish discussing a few details about the penthouse.”
“No.” Her blue eyes slicing into me.
“It’s fine Paula. I can wait.”
“I’m so sorry. It will only take a second.” I walked in front of her to the kitchen, her four inch stilettos clacking behind me. Once we were in the kitchen I whirled around to face her but before I could attack her with questions she had me pinned up against the refrigerator. “I don’t know what you think you are doing but whatever little plan you have up your sleeve you better end it now. Your father does not need to be dragged into another one of your little escapades, he has enough to worry about. So listen closely to what I am about to tell you,” her forearm was up against my neck, semi blocking off my air supply. For someone small and skinny she was jacked. “You are not going to tell anyone about today or another other time I am with a client. Do you know what it’s like being married to someone you never see? Someone that is more dedicated to their job than they are to their marriage? No, I didn’t think so. She took her forearm off my neck but slammed her hands against the fridge on either side of me. “Now, I’m going to finish my meeting with Mr. Nobel here and you are going to go back upstairs, shut your door, and not come out until tomorrow morning. Understand you little b****?”
“What’s going on in here?” My mother whipped around to find my dad standing there. He must have just gotten out of work because he had on his favorite “kiss the cook” pants I bought him a few years ago, a white T shirt that was stained from food, and his red crocks. I shoved past my mom and ran over to my dad. He was at least six feet tall and muscular. His arms were clearly defined from years of lifting heavy boxes and completing five triathlons. His red hair was sticking straight up and he hadn’t shaved in weeks, so his beard was longer than usual. He dropped his coat on the counter and opened his arms waiting for me to fall into them, like I did when I was little.
“Hi honey, I didn’t know you were going to be home early tonight.”
“I was going to surprise you guys but I guess I’m the one who’s surprised.” He motioned to the door where Mr. Nobel was now standing. My mother turned her head to see him.
“Oh this is Mr. Nobel. He’s just a new client who was interested in buying a new penthouse apartment.”
“I don’t mean to be rude but why is he still here at eleven at night?”
“Oh goodness I didn’t even realize it was that late. We met for a drink to go over a few things and I told him I could give him a tour of our penthouse, which is similar to the one he’s interested in, but that was at ten. Time flies when you’re busy working.” My dad looked from my mother to Mr. Nobel unsure if she was telling the truth.
“Uh...thank you Paula for showing me around but I should get going. It was nice to meet you Leni. Mr. Williams.” He said with a wave to my dad. “I’ll let myself out.” Once we all heard the door click shut my dad stared at my mother, his green eyes boring into her.
“Dad, can we talk? I have to tell you something.”
“Leni, it’s late and I’m sure you’re dad his tired so why don’t you tell him in the morning?”
“It’s fine Paula. Sure Leni.”
“Sweetheart really, why don’t you go take a nice hot shower and go to bed. You must be exhausted.”
“Paula, I said its fine. I can take ten minutes and talk with my daughter who I haven’t seen all week.” We both walked out of the kitchen leaving my mother behind.
It’s been a week since I told my dad what my mom did behind his back, or should I say who my mom did. My dad and I moved out of the penthouse and into a smaller apartment next to the restaurant. My dad filed for divorce three days ago and my mother won’t seem to let it go, she’s been calling and trying to see us non-stop but we both don’t want to hear it. Things have been so much more enjoyable since my dad and I moved out. We see each other every day, mostly twice a day. When I come home from track practice I walk in the back door of the kitchen and talk with my dad while he takes a break between lunch and dinner. Senior year has gotten a little less hectic since the college application process is done, along with my senior essay. I haven’t heard from any colleges yet but I still have a few more weeks to wait. As for the boy I bumped into at the CD store, Stephen, I just realized he went to my school. We don’t have any classes together but he’s on the boy’s rugby team and after we both finish practice we talk, laugh, and joke around. He asked me out on our first date yesterday and he won’t tell me where we are going or what surprises he has in store for me, but I’m okay with that. For the first time in my life I didn’t plan on having my parents getting divorced or falling in love but sometimes, the best things in life are unexpected.