Her hand was trembling as she stared down at his response. She’d texted him several times wanting to know if and when he was coming. His answer…’Can’t make it. Maybe some other time.’ Sylvie threw the phone down on the bed and headed toward the closet.
She pulled out her suitcases and started packing. She left the two sundresses he’d bought for her in Ottawa, the matching shoes and bags, and all the expensive fancy bras and underwear. She wasn’t sure who’d want her used panties, but if she hadn’t paid for it with her own money, it was staying. She’d miss the cleavage, but it was a matter of principle. She packed up the dress and shoes she’d worn tonight. Then emptied the contents of the purse. She tossed the cards she’d received from Sean, Jason, and Justin into the wastebasket. She’d had enough of cruel, spoiled, selfish rich boys. She went through the room like a tornado, throwing jeans, shirts, sweaters, shorts, tees, her faded summer skirt, and her shoes into the case. It didn’t amount to very much.
Sylvie removed the underwear she’d been wearing and threw them in the hamper. She pulled on a pair of plain, white cotton briefs, what Connor called her granny drawers, and her favorite jeans. They were so loose they immediately slipped down to her hips. She grabbed a belt to hold them up then pulled on a tee and a sweater. The last time Sylvie stepped on a scale she weighed 95 pounds. If she didn’t gain some weight soon, she’d have to buy new clothes. After putting on her socks and sneaks, she went into the bathroom.
She took her Tampax, tweezers, and a plastic bag that held a few cosmetics and a bottle of pale pink nail polish. Everything else she left, including the blow-dryer, electric toothbrush, and even the toothpaste.
When she was done, she zipped up the suitcases and put them on the floor and proceeded to arrange all the things he’d given her on the bed: the clothes, the iPhone, the laptop, and the hairbrush. She set the android on top of her suitcase.
Next she went to the computer and composed an email. ‘Attached are the final edits for book #2 of the Forever and Always Yours series. File formats are as follows: Word.docx, editable PDF, Mobi, and ePub.’ She sent it to Connor and cc’d several editors.
Then she wrote a terse note. ‘To whom it may concern, Please be advised that I am resigning my position at Hudson Publishing effective immediately.’ It would go to Connor and Mr. Larsen, who headed up human resources at the company. But she wasn’t going to send it just yet.
Pearly had told her that with interest rates being what they were, about 1%, Sylvie couldn’t make enough interest off the money Tizzy left her to live on. She’d have to start touching the principle. Five hundred thousand dollars sounded like a lot of money; but if she had to pull 10% out every year to live on, it wouldn’t last her very long. She needed a job. She took Jameson Kant Bryant’s number out of her wallet and was ready to send him a text when she saw that she’d received a message from a number she didn’t recognize.
‘Trip cancelled. I’ll be in touch.’ It was unsigned. She went to the wastebasket and pulled out the cards she’d thrown away. Sure enough, it was Sean Noth’s number. She shook her head, threw the card back in the trash, and texted Jameson. ‘If you’re still interested, I’m available for work starting Dec. 8th.’
A minute later her phone began to vibrate and ring. She picked it up wondering who would call her at 2:30 in the morning. ‘Hi Sylvie. It’s Jameson. I just got your text.’
‘Hello,’ she greeted him, surprised by his call. ‘I didn’t mean to wake you.’
‘You didn’t. I’m a night owl. I was both pleased and surprised when I got your text. You’re available to do some projects for us now?’
‘How does your employer feel about that?’ he asked. ‘You know he called me after the party and informed me that under no circumstances would you be doing any projects for me. He was very clear on that point. Has he relented?’
‘I’m truly sorry Jameson. I had no idea he would do something like that. As for Mr. Hudson, I no longer work for him; so he has no say in the matter.’
‘That’s great,’ he sounded so enthusiastic, she didn’t know what to make of it. Was he happy she was coming to work for him or happy he was sticking it to Connor? ‘Connor can be an overbearing ass sometimes. I’m told he’s a hard man to work for. I think you’ll find Bookworm a more laid-back, less stressful employer. I’m sure you’ll like it. I’ve got several projects you might be interested in. I’d like to get you started on them as soon as possible. Is there a reason you can’t start before the 8th? I thought we could meet for lunch tomorrow and talk about them.’
‘Actually, there is. I’m moving upstate. It’ll take two weeks to get settled in and get my office set up.’
‘Where upstate?’ he asked, taken aback by the news.
She hesitated, not knowing how much she should tell him. She didn’t know this man from Adam. ‘In the southern Catskills in Ulster County.’
‘Beautiful country up there. And it’s not all that far from the city. When are you moving? Can you still meet me for lunch tomorrow?’
‘I’m afraid not. I’m planning to leave early this morning.’
‘Sounds sudden. Did something happen?’ he asked.
‘It’s a good time to go. I just today finished editing the second book in his trilogy. He’s beginning book three next week. If I stayed any longer, I’d feel compelled to see the next book through to completion. And I’d rather not do that.’
‘Did Connor know you were going to leave?’
‘No! I just decided today.’
‘I guess that qualifies as sudden. Knowing Connor, he’ll be absolutely enraged. Especially when he finds out that you’ve come to work for me,’ he laughed. Obviously, he thought stealing her away from Connor was a feather in his cap. ‘Are you at all familiar with Newburgh?’
‘Yes, a little.’
‘There are some great restaurants on the Hudson River there. One has a heated, glass-enclosed deck that’s only a few feet from the water. How about you meet me there for lunch the week after Thanksgiving? I’ll give you a call next week to see how you’re progressing; we can figure out a day that’s convenient for both of us and settle on the particulars. Sound good?’
‘Good luck on the move Sylvie. I’ll talk to you next week. Good night.’
‘Good night.’ She stared at the phone. That was easy! She was employed again. Since she was an independent contractor, there’d be no benefits. She’d have to do something about getting health insurance. But she’d worry about that tomorrow. Sylvie still had things to do.
She went back to the computer and hit ‘send.’ Her letter of resignation was on its way.
Using her own laptop, she sent out an email to her family. ‘Guess what? I just got a new job with another publishing company, so I’m going to be moving. Unfortunately, that means I can’t make it home for Thanksgiving this year. Between the job and the move, I’m going to be tied up for the next two weeks so don’t worry if you can’t reach me. I’ll give you a call on the 6th. Have I wonderful Thanksgiving. I love you guys! Sylvie.’ She hated lying to her family, but it couldn’t be helped. Sylvie didn’t want them descending on her like a swarm of locusts and asking a million questions. She didn’t need their advice or sympathy; she just wanted to be left alone. Sylvie didn’t want to spend hours on the phone explaining why she’d finally left him. In fact, she didn’t ever want to hear his name again. Sylvie would spend the next two weeks licking her wounds, trying to forget him, forget she’d ever loved him. Sadly, she didn’t think that was possible. She feared her heart would carry the scars forever.
Sylvie put her laptop, thumb drives, and ereader into a canvas tote bag, grabbed her old winter jacket and the two suitcases and started rolling them out of the room. She stopped to look in the mirror. A tear trickled down her cheek. The transformation had already begun. Gone was the pretty butterfly. Sylvie had turned into an ugly caterpillar again. She thought about his third book, wondering how the story would end. Certainly more happily than hers! Guess she’d just have to buy the book.
She put the luggage in the living room. Now came the hard part.
There was no way the security guards were going to let her leave the building. They would try to stop her and if that failed they would follow her. She needed to make sure that didn’t happen. She turned on the android phone and after filling out the necessary information, she signed up for Uber. After installing the app and signing in, she typed in her destination, the address Pearly had given her in the Bronx, and arranged for a car to pick her up at 3 AM.
She returned to her room, leaving the phone on the bed with the rest of the things she’d discarded. Walking back into the living room, she picked up her cell and dialed 911.
The female voice at the other end asked what the nature of her emergency was. Sylvie was so nervous she was stuttering. She told the dispatcher she was trying to escape an abusive relationship. But that there were security guards in the building, employed by her wealthy boyfriend, who would try to stop her if she attempted to leave. She was afraid they’d force her to stay. She needed the police to come to the building and make them let her go. She told the woman she had already ordered a car. It would be in front of the building in 10 minutes. All they had to do was help her get out the door. The operator asked her name then took the address. There was a pause, then she repeated the words Park Avenue sounding skeptical; evidently such things weren’t supposed to happen in upscale neighborhoods. She put Sylvie on hold. A minute later she came back on the line and told her, ‘The officers will be there in approximately seven minutes. They’ll meet you in the lobby and escort you out. Good luck.’ Before Sylvie could thank her, she hung up.
Sylvie’s heart pounded as she watched the minutes go by on her cell. She was almost hyperventilating as she made her way to the elevator, got in, and pressed the button for the lobby. The police were already talking to the security people when she arrived downstairs. She walked as fast as she could toward the doors, dragging her bags behind her. Two familiar security guards, O’Brien and Yannick, came rushing over, trying to intercept her. The others remained clustered around the desk, feverishly tapping on their cells.
‘Miss Jenkins, please don’t do this. It’s dangerous. It’s foolish,’ Yannick warned as he hurried to keep pace with her.
She was racing to the door, her heart pounding so hard she thought it would burst.
‘Mr. Hudson has left explicit instructions. He doesn’t want…’ O’Brien started.
‘I don’t care what Mr. Hudson wants anymore. Tell him for me that you reap what you sow!’
‘Mr. Hudson wants to talk to you,’ one of the security guards yelled as he ran up to her holding out his phone.
She shook her head. ‘No. It’s too late. It’s over!’
She was sobbing as one of the policemen opened the door for her. The car was already there. The driver quickly got out, appearing dismayed at how distraught his passenger was. His eyes darted first to the policemen and then to the young woman. One of the cops took the bags from her and handed them to the driver. He quickly put them in the trunk and then helped her into the backseat of the car. ‘Thank you,’ she called to the officers as he shut the door.
A minute later the car pulled away. Leaving the security guards standing frustrated and angry on the sidewalk.
Sylvie didn’t look back…she should have! Halfway down the block a car pulled away from the curb and began to follow her north.
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