(Thanks to your generous donations of this past week, you have triggered a Saturday post! Enjoy! -ctan)
Of course I didn’t smash a mirror in rage. Instead I ragefucked Ziggy which made us both feel much better about life and everything, and cleared my head enough for me to listen to his explanations.
It was one of those explanations that started with “I should have told you about this sooner,” which I expected.
But everything he said after that wasn’t what I expected.
“I got involved with Janessa when I was still a client of Digger’s but I was getting ready to leave and I needed her help to get access to his books,” he said as we were lying in his bed afterward. “At first it was just flirting, you know? And as we got to know each other better, it became obvious she wanted to leave, that she was sick of Digger breaking promises and going backwards instead of forwards careerwise, and she was smart, you know? Is smart, I should say, but she was savvy enough to figure out Digger was cooking his books and to keep copies of the uncooked books.”
I had nearly forgotten about the whole thing with trying to get a look at Digger’s accounting. “Wait. Janessa kept copies of Digger’s books? The stuff you had Colin look at?”
“And Sarah’s mom, yeah. Where did you think I got them from?”
“I…” He had never hinted, so far as I could remember, at what it took to get them. “I thought you just guilt-tripped Digger into giving you access. Or that Sarah’s mom invoked her audit clause.”
Ziggy snorted. “Honesty is not Digger’s strong suit.”
“That is kind of rich coming from you,” I felt I had to point out.
He ignored what I said and continued on. “Barrett went through those books with a fine-toothed comb, too, but ultimately he didn’t need to threaten Digger with any of the discrepancies he found to get Sarah as a client.”
The fact Barrett might have egged Ziggy to get Digger’s books via whatever means wasn’t as important to me just then than the following: “He was screwing Sarah out of money?”
I guess I was ever so slightly surprised to hear that: I’d thought somehow that Digger would exploit his clients but not actually outright steal from them. I guess I thought he’d bend the rules but not break them.
I guess I was wrong. “Okay, but when did things between you and Janessa get beyond flirtation?”
His cheek was against my chest when he said. “Well, you know how I am.”
I don’t know whether to say I sighed or that all the air was let out of my balloon. “I do. You fall in love with everything you fuck, including me.”
“That is NOT true,” he said vehemently, and I felt his nails dig into my arm in a way they hadn’t the night before when he’d been holding my wrist at the party. “I’m not in love with Janessa, and I never was. But I needed to let her down easy after getting into an affair with her, so I didn’t break it off right away. The last time I saw her was the ‘I can’t do this anymore’ conversation. So it’s a bit fishy that now is when she shows up with the claim she’s carrying my baby.”
“Okay, so you’re not in love with her, you just…fucked her to get her to give you what you wanted?”
He nudged me hard in the ribs. “Give Janessa some fucking credit. She wasn’t exactly seduced by my charms or starry-eyed over me. You’ve seen her atttitude about sexual harassment.”
“Okay so…she’s the one who wanted it, and you felt obliged to provide because she did you a favor?” An echo of that throb in my head started again, though it was much less severe than it had been at the party. Having him lying there with me did a lot to quell my feelings of anxiety, but it only went so far. “Any way I slice this I come up with something that sounds terrible.”
His palm was hot against my chest. “Stop trying to simplify it down to a one-liner, then.”
“You’re saying…what, then?”
“I’m saying it was complicated but now the only thing that matters is it’s over. I made that very clear the last time I saw her.”
“Last time you saw her…”
I suddenly remembered the woman’s voice who answered the phone when I’d called a Los Angeles number looking for her. And I guess I still felt raw and hurt and freaked enough about the whole thing to say the following idiotic thing: “Did you learn to kiss on the cheek from her?”
And then I started to cry. And I think he tried to say something to that, some kind of answer to my stupidly heartbreaking question, but I couldn’t even hear it.
We ended up staying there like that, in a ball of snot and tears, for I don’t know how long. For what it’s worth he cried just as much as me, but I couldn’t even tell you what he was crying about exactly because we couldn’t communicate beyond that.
Eventually the tears stopped, though. I always run out eventually. This time my ribs hurt.
“I’m…I’m really a mess,” I heard myself say, when words came back. My hands were shaking. This was the hotel where Crystal worked the bar. Maybe I could use a dose of her medicine and advice.
He handed me a tissue and held the box in his lap while I blew my nose noisily. I think maybe I scared him I was so emotional. “What do you want me to do?” he asked.
“I don’t know.” Be someone else, was my uncharitable thought. Because asking Ziggy to stop having sex and relationships with people other than me seemed completely outside the realm of reality. “You already broke things off with her.”
“I did. And I’m telling you, I was very careful. That baby can’t be mine. Unless she really did something sneaky like poke holes in a condom or something.”
“You’re sure? This wasn’t just you took her word for it that she was on the Pill? You didn’t mess around with…” I couldn’t even say the words unprotected sex.
“I swear.” He took the used tissue away and held my hands in his. “I’m very very very serious about this, Daron. You are the only person I’ll have unsafe sex with.”
“Sex with you is never safe,” I said, meaning it in the emotional sense.
He knew what I meant. “I’m sorry. I’m not trying to hurt you. You have to trust me, though.”
“I trust you to have sex with other people when it’s convenient for you,” I said, and it came out sounding pretty bitter. So bitter I felt I had to apologize for it. “I’m sorry I can’t seem to accept that.”
He forced out a breath. “Daron. This is probably the wrong moment to tell you this. But having waited too long to tell you some things I don’t want to wait any more.”
“Any more for what?”
“You wouldn’t have to put up with me having sex with anyone else, ever, if we could just make a commitment to each other. I don’t know if we’re ready for that, though—I mean, I don’t want to pressure you, but, can you see what I’m trying to say here?”
My brain was foggy but hope was flopping around in my skull like a fish out of water. “You’re saying…if we could figure out a way to…be together…we could be monogamous?”
“That’s my proposal, yes,” he said, nodding seriously. Then his eyes widened and so did mine, because the word “proposal” was ringing in our ears.
The adrenaline rush from that was still throbbing when the phone rang. Ziggy growled and went and answered it, then made contrite noises, then came back to the bed.
“That was Barrett,” he said. “Just making sure we hadn’t killed each other.”
“Ha,” I said weakly.
“But seriously, Daron, think about it. We might not be at a point when we could sustain monogamy. If we’re going to be apart for months at a time, lack of sex would drive us both certifiably insane and you know it.”
“Hm,” I said. “You’re probably right. I just… I don’t know how to deal with this.”
“Then don’t. We’ll talk about it more. We’ll change. I’ll change. We’ll grow.”
I made another non-committal noise. “Let’s get in the shower.”
“Are you sure?”
“Of course. We’re a mess and need a shower.”
“I mean you’re sure together?”
“Yes, together.” I pulled him hard against me, rolled him under me and probably partly crushed his rib cage with a bear hug. “I haven’t figured it out. Maybe I’ll never figure it out. But just, shut up and be here with me today.” That was as eloquently as I could express myself.
We didn’t get into the shower right away, actually. Not for a while yet. We had some more utterly emotionally unsafe sex first.
(Guys, no bonus scene after this one: it’s too raw and I’m too wrung out to be coherent about it. But you can still get the one that comes before this chapter, bonus scene #10, by making a paypal donation or joining the Patreon. -daron)