Authors: Susana Falcon
"Hey," she cried, "watch out!"
He jumped back in surprise. "Good Lord! Sorry! I didn't see you, there."
"Okay, all right," Elyse said. "We're all in a big hurry, I guess."
She staked her claim, however, by grabbing the handle on the cab's passenger door as soon as it stopped by the curb.
"Hope you don't mind," she said to the man, "but my friend and I are going uptown."
The man turned to see his competition.
"Henry!" Jerry blurted.
"Jerry!" the man said in response. "Well, well! How's it going, sir?"
As they exchanged greetings, Elyse spoke to the cab driver. "Just hold on a minute, please. We'll be right in."
"I got the meter running," he warned.
Jerry introduced Henry Tilden to Shar, Dylan, and Elyse. Henry shot Elyse a lusty glance and grasped her hand in a shake. Elyse started to say good night and urge Dylan toward the cab, when Jerry butted in.
"Hey, you all are going uptown," he said in a friendly, drunken voice. "Shar and I are heading down. Why don't you guys share with Henry?"
In that same moment, two matronly women sidled up beside Henry.
"Well," Henry said, "if you think we can all fit?"
"I don't think so," Elyse said. "I mean, that makes five of us. Here, you go ahead and take it. We'll wait for the next one--"
Dylan nudged her with his elbow. "No, we can all fit," he offered. "I'll sit up front."
Elyse glared at him. He refused to make eye contact.
"Great," she grumbled.
She walked grudgingly around the cab and slid in back on the avenue side. Henry's two friends piled in off the sidewalk, while Dylan got in front. Then Henry came around to Broadway and squeezed in next to Elyse who gritted her teeth, perturbed to be squished between a fat lady and Henry.
"Sorry," Henry mumbled. "Just seemed easier this way."
Not for me.
She pouted and looked ahead. When Dylan turned back for a quick glance, she gave him a major puss. He cracked up laughing and faced front again, giggling the whole ride home.
Elyse could barely sleep after she got home from the Star Bar. Even though Dylan and Shar's wisecracks about Bobby had ticked her off beyond belief, she knew they had good reason to express concern. Blinded by her all-consuming desire to break into television, she'd looked past the red flags in their relationship. At four in the morning, she tossed and turned in agitation, burning with the need to know the real truth about Bobby and his assistant.
She rose at six, dressed, and ate breakfast. If she was going to confront Bobby, it would have to be earlier rather than later, since she had to be at work by ten. She knew he got up early, himself, and hung around his office most mornings, rarely venturing out before ten unless he had to be on set for the day. And since she happened to know he wasn't shooting today, she would nab him by surprise, around eight thirty or so.
On her way to the subway station, everyone around her seemed to be moving in slow motion. And since New Yorkers weren't generally slow-moving, Elyse figured it was her adrenaline pumping hard as she prepared to confront Bobby once and for all. Ordinarily the fastest way to travel from uptown to mid-Manhattan, the subway seemed to move at a snail's pace this morning. She marveled at how revved up she was to set the record straight. She was so excited, time seemed to stand still.
On her way up to Bobby's building, Elyse side-stepped the dry leaves blown around by gales of wind. The doorman who opened the door for her squinted as the gusts pushed their way in, too, closing them out as quickly as he could.
Luckily, the doorman behind the desk recognized Elyse.
"Hello, Miss Elyse. Would you like me to call Mr. Kressner for you?"
"Yes, please," she answered forcing smile.
"Is he expecting you?"
"No," she answered sweetly. "I wanted to surprise him for coffee before I go to work."
He smiled, lifted the receiver, and waited.
"Good morning, Mr. Kressner. Elyse is here to see you."
Elyse sensed the surprise on the other end of the line, and her skin heated up with impatience.
The doorman replaced the receiver and nodded. "Go right on up, Miss Elyse."
She thanked him and headed toward the elevator, her high-heeled boots clacking across the marble floor.
She knocked hard on Bobby's door and waited while he opened it. Dressed in a blue and gray jogger's suit, his expression was that of surprise.
"Well, well, well," he said a tad suspiciously. "To what do we owe this unexpected honor?"
"Ha, ha," Elyse said dryly.
He closed the door behind her and locked only two of the deadbolts.
When Elyse saw Nancy in the kitchen, her eyeballs burned and she thought they might explode from their sockets. Now she'd officially had it with finding her there any and every hour of the day. With annoyance at a head, she stopped and stared at her.
Nancy nodded with a sheepish smile and continued organizing rows of condiments inside one of the cabinets.
"Oh," Elyse slowly said to Bobby, "now I get the
. I thought it was the royal
, but you were actually talking about you and your assistant."
On his guard, Bobby said, "Oh, well, no--I actually was using it the way you said. But, uh...anyway, Nancy usually comes over early to work."
"Right..." Elyse looked pointedly at Bobby. "Do you mind sending her out for while? I need to have a conversation with you. Alone."
Nancy's face clouded, and her expression grew panicky.
Bobby glanced at Nancy. "Oh, sure. Hey, Nance, why don't you go do that shopping you were going to do this afternoon? Tell the guys at Delaney Brothers to deliver what you need later."
A flash of anger crossed Nancy's face, which she quickly masked with concern. "But I haven't finished the list yet, Bobby. I don't have everything written down."
Elyse watched Bobby stare hard at Nancy.
"Well, Nance, then just wing it. Whatever you forget, we can go out and get later."
Again with the
, Elyse noted. She turned and shot Nancy a look. Nancy closed the cabinet door, then turned and straightened sponges up around the kitchen sink. Bobby finally came into the kitchen and handed her a list of groceries from under a magnet on the fridge.
"There ya go, Nancy."
He ignored the pleading look on her face and, with a tight smile, guided her toward the door. Rather than stand there and watch the absurd little scenario play out any longer, Elyse strode into the living room.
Grinding her teeth, she unbuttoned her coat on her way over to the picture window. Outside below, blustering winds kicked up a newspaper that had escaped a garbage container, its scattered pages sailing over the sidewalk with weightless abandon. She opened her coat, but didn't take it off. Working to contain her agitation, she drummed her fingers along the windowsill.
When she finally heard the door close behind her, she turned. Bobby gave her a big, cheesy grin and rushed to give her a hug.
Angrily, she put up an arm to hold him back.
"Why is she always here every time I come over?"
She shot him a sarcastic look. "Who the hell else would I be talking about?"
"Like I told you, Elyse, she does a lot of stuff for me. Takes care of a lot. Not that I don't pay her a hefty chunk for it."
"You know what? She's rude and oversteps her bounds. Why don't you get somebody else?"
"Look, I'm sorry she acts that way. I'll speak to her again."
"No, Bobby, she's not going to change. She doesn't like me, pure and simple, and I never did anything but be nice to her. Why should I be treated that way? Get somebody who's decent and polite and professional."
"Aw, come on, now, baby." Bobby tried to help Elyse off with her coat. "Calm down a minute. You'll see she's not that bad. It's just what she's going through right now."
Elyse whipped her arm away before he could take her coat. "And just what is that? Besides her pregnancy?"
Bobby blew out air and headed toward the kitchen. "Okay, look, I should've told you this a long time ago, but I--I didn't want to make you mad."
"Oh, you mean, to avoid how I am right now?"
He chuckled. "You want some coffee, Elyse?"
"No, Bobby, and don't change the subject, please. Just tell me what you should've told me a long time ago, whatever it is. Before I throw up."
"Oh, baby, don't throw up."
"Okay, fine, I won't. Tell me."
Bobby poured himself a mug from the coffeemaker on the countertop.
Elyse shifted impatiently from one foot to the other. "I have to be at work by ten, Bobby."
He came out of the kitchen and placed his mug on an end table. "Elyse, would you take off your coat please, and sit down a minute?"
She grudgingly pulled her coat halfway down so that it hung limply by her elbows around her waist.
"I'd rather stand, Bobby, if you don't mind."
Bobby swallowed. He rubbed his stomach uncomfortably, as if severe indigestion had suddenly grabbed hold of it. Elyse pursed her lips and looked at him in sullen silence, waiting for him to speak.
"Okay," he began. With a sigh, he pressed the seam on his jogging pants. "See, the thing about Nancy is, and I want you to understand that I am totally crazy for you, by the way."
Elyse gave him a look to imply she was impervious to his flattery.
"See, years ago? Years ago, Nancy and I were married."
Elyse's face dropped in shock. "Excuse me? You're married?"
"Well, no, see, we got divorced after six years. A couple years back."
"Nancy is my ex-wife."
Elyse frowned. This wasn't quite what she'd expected to hear.
"Wait a minute," she said. "Your assistant is your ex-wife?"
"Yes. That's what I'm trying to tell you."
Elyse rolled her eyes and shook her head. "Oh, that's rich--just lovely! Your personal assistant is your ex-wife. No wonder she runs your life."
Bobby tapped his thumbs together wearing a guilty little expression. "I should've told you sooner, I know."
"You think?" She huffed. "So how long has Nancy been your ex-wife? And how long's she been your assistant?"
"She's been my ex for almost three years, but she's been my assistant for, like, just under a year. See, we hadn't seen each other for a couple of years after we got divorced. She went back to Idaho--"
"She's from Idaho?"
"Yeah. She graduated from U of I, and she knew some people... Well, after she went back there she got this offer to write in the city here."
Learning how in the dark she really had been enraged Elyse more than she would ever have guessed. She was having a hard time keeping her heart rate steady and felt it palpitate. She forced herself to take deep breaths in order not to scream. She was determined to maintain control, at least long enough to learn more details of this putrid affair--and how she'd been duped.
She clenched her teeth. "Wow, so Nancy's a real smarty-pants there."
Bobby looked down and tightened his lips in stubborn silence.
"Okay," Elyse said, "so she has this offer to write here in the city. And you welcomed her back with open arms."
"Well, not exactly. I mean, look--she's a writer. She wrote most of the material I used as a stand-up for a while."
Realization dawned slowly over Elyse's mind. "Oh, now I get it..."
"And, I got this great agent from it. Look, she made some awesome connections, too. We started writing a movie together. We were going after funding to get it produced, so I could star in it. Then, I got
New York's Finest
"And the rest is history."
"In a way."
A strange stillness overcame Elyse as the full picture of Bobby's relationship with Nancy bloomed in her mind.
"No wonder she hates me..."
"She doesn't hate you, Elyse. She's just afraid you're going to push her out of the picture. Even though I assured her she's one part of my life, and you're another. I don't want to blur the lines. As long as she sticks to the program, everything'll be fine. She doesn't have anything to do with you and me. That's completely separate from us."
"Are you kidding me?" Elyse laughed out loud. "Oh, my God, Bobby--really? She's your ex-wife, and she's your assistant, and she has nothing to do with you and me?"
"She already knows what you mean to me. She knows you're a big part of my life, and I plan on keeping it that way."
Elyse glared icily at Bobby.
He looked at her in confusion. "What?"
"Wait a minute," she asked in a menacing voice. "When did you say you two got in touch again?"
"Like, a year or so ago. Around there."
"You two got together again. Literally. You were seeing each other. Right?"
Bobby shrugged in a "kinda-sorta" way.
Elyse growled. "So, my friend, I'm going to guess that baby inside her is yours--"
"No, Elyse, you've got it wrong--"
"I don't think so, Bobby. I don't see Little Miss Nancy having a boyfriend or an affair with anyone but you--the ex-husband who rules her world. The guy she wrote material for and helped get on TV. The guy she dotes on and runs his life!"
"No, Elyse. That's not how it works."
He came up off the sofa and tried to rub her arm. She pulled away as if he had leprosy.
"Don't touch me, you fucking liar! You lied to me the whole time!"
"I didn't lie, Elyse, I just--"
"Oh my God--you're still in denial! I doubt I'll ever get the truth from you--unless I write it down and give you the lines to memorize!" A moment of silence lapsed until she said quietly, "And I'm guessing you were never actually going to help me with work on TV either, right? Helping to get me on as a makeup artist, on
New York's Finest
? Oh, sure, right, Elyse. 'Just don't tell anybody we're seeing each other cause we're professionals.' Right--professionals! When everybody knows your assistant is about to have your baby--who's also your ex-wife! Oh, my God, you make me sick!"