Authors: Jezebel Nixon
They lay tangled together in Sergey’s creamy white sheet, Shelby shivering as the billionaire drags his fingers up her naked back as he kisses the top of her head.
She sighs as she untangles herself from him and sits up on her elbows as she notices a picture of a red haired woman with a toothy smile sitting on his bedside table, just barely noticeable in the darkened light.
“Is that your wife?” She whispers to him, motioning towards the framed picture.
He lifts his head from the comfort of his pillow and turns his neck to look behind him. He sighs, gently picking up the frame before placing it back down on his bedside table on its glass face.
“Yeah, it was.” He says sighing again as he rolls back over and buries his cheek back into his pillow, closing his eyes.
“Why isn’t she here with you?” She asks, brushing her fingers up and down his tight waist.
“Like I said, she left me.” He says, opening his eyes and gazing into hers.
“But why?” Shelby pushes, resting her head back down beside his.
“Shelby…” He starts, rolling over, turning his back to her. “I think you should go.”
“Are you… alright?” She says sitting up, squinting her eyes as she gazes at his back.
“Go.” He whispers, covering himself with a sheet.
She gets up, her face flushing as she walks over to the master bathroom and flips on the lights. She gathers her pile of clothes, huffing as she steps back into her slacks before slipping her arms through the sleeves of her black blouse, buttoning up the buttons as she walks back into Sergey’s room.
“Maybe she left you because you push people away.” She says, slipping her leather flats back onto her feet.
She turns to him, gazing over at his unmoving back before turning the doorknob and opening the heavy bedroom door.
“You make it really hard to like you.” She says as she walks out.
He listens to her shoes click down the hallway before grabbing the picture of his wife and tossing it against the wall, scuffing the paint as shattered glass crashes to the floor.
“Sergey.” She says, handing him a hot plate. “I’m kind of surprised you didn’t request someone else to serve you tonight.”
“Now why would I do that?” He asks, raising his eyebrow as he looks over his paper.
“Well…” She starts, pursing her lips. “I seem to remember you kicking me out of bed…”
He sighs, looking up to her as he grabs her wrist gently with his hand and slowly pulls her down to the chair beside him.
“I want to talk about last night.” He says, hanging his head. “That’s why I didn’t request someone else.”
She sighs, her harsh eyes softening for him as she slowly untangles her hand from his wrist before threading her fingers through his own.
He clears his throat, looking up at her and sighing, a nervous smirk crossing his lips, but his sad eyes telling the truth.
“She’s gone because…” He starts, biting his bottom lip. “She’s gone because money was more important to me than she was.”
Shelby sits quietly, looking down at the dark stained wooden table. She drags her fingers over the grains as she listens to Sergey talk.
“And that’s the truth.” He says. “You were right, I am a very unlikeable person and an even worse husband.”
He smiles sadly, looking toward Shelby and breathing a heavy sigh through his nose.
“I’m hard to get along with, and fussy and people always tell me I’m too quiet and it’s off putting…” He says, raising and dropping his shoulders. “But I’d still love it if you’d sit with me. I’m not a very good guy, but I feel like you make me all that much better.”
Shelby smiles, grabbing the warm plate and Sergey’s cutlery and cutting tonight’s big, juicy breast of chicken in half.
“I’ll sit with you.” She whispers as she finishes dividing the meal. “But tomorrow I get my own plate.”
“Sure.” He says, watching as Shelby works to halve their dinner. “Tomorrow, maybe I’ll even do you one better than that.”
She walks up to the back alley entrance of Mr. Yeshevsky’s private kitchen, sighing as she tried to turn the knob on the steel door.
“Of course the day I have my keys all tucked away they forget to unlock the door for me.” She says to herself as she searches through her purse, pulling out her set of keys.
She clumsily inserts them into the keyhole before spinning the key, turning the lock and opening the door.
“Hello?” She says, as she enters the dark kitchen. “Is anybody here?”
She pokes her head back outside into the alley, her eyes searching up and down for a fat chef and a skinny dishwasher taking their smoke breaks.
“Hello?” She asks one more time as she unwraps her scarf from around her neck.
She hears the creak of the cooler door and catches it open out of the corner of her eye.
“Hello?” She says, whipping her neck around, smiling confused as she sees Sergey emerge from the bright light of the cooler.
“Am I the only one who showed up today?” She asks, walking toward him and helping him by grabbing one side of the case of romaine hearts he’s carrying.
“Yes.” He says, lifting the box onto the stainless steel counter. “You’re the only one I told not to come in.”
“Am I going to be the one to cook you dinner?” She asks, laughing. “Because I should warn you that there’s a reason I only prep vegetables.”
“No.” He says as he opens the cardboard box. “I am going to be cooking for you.”
“With no lights on?” She says, smiling, her cheeks flushing. “Is there anything I can do to help?”
“Yes, actually.” Sergey says, as he pulls out the drawers under the stainless steel counter one by one looking for a sharp knife. “Show me where the lights are.”
She leans down, doubling over as she ties the laces on her tennis shoes before standing up and stretching her back.
“Tonight will be fun, right?” She asks, watching as Sergey tightens the tie around his neck.
She walks over to him, grabbing the soft silk out of his hand and straightening it for him before gently patting his chest.
“Thank you.” He says awkwardly, readjusting his now too tight tie. “But about tonight…”
“Yeah?” She asks, sitting down in a plush chair as she waits for him to get ready.
“You’re working the banquet tonight, right?” He asks, walking over to her and rubbing her shoulders.
“Yeah.” She says, resting her hand on top of his. “But maybe if I get all my prep done early, I can trade with someone for the first serving shift and get off sooner and then we can spend some better time together. Introduce me to all your friends…”
“No.” He cuts her off. “I just, I think that would be kind of weird.”
“What? Why?” She asks, her smile fading.
“I just don’t think it’s appropriate having people think I’m making my girlfriend waitress.” He says, rubbing the back of his neck.
me do anything.” She says, standing up.
“You know what I mean.” He says, holding onto her shoulders as he tries to get her to sit back down.
“Yeah, I do.” She says, her voice hissing. “You mean you don’t want people know that your girlfriend
“No, of course not.” He whispers. “Forget I said anything, you know that’s not what I mean. Shelby, these people are just a certain kind of people…”
“And I’m not.” She says, clearing the ache in her throat.
She stands, the tears in her eyes welling up as she watches Sergey walk over to his bed, sit on the mattress and sigh as he buries his face in his palms.
“Unbelievable.” She whispers to herself as she turns around and pushes the heavy bedroom door open.
She stands in the storage nook of the kitchen, trying to privately smooth out her blouse as she fumes about the conversation she has with the billionaire this morning.
“Let’s go people!” She hears the fat chef call out to all the hired servers. “Plates need to be picked up and you all need to be out the door!”
She picks up her plate, dusting away the extra parsley as she walks out of the kitchen and down the hall into the dining room. She looks up at the crowd noticing the large, stained table she’s shared meal after meal with Sergey gone, pushed to the side to make more room for the standing guests.
“Thank you.” She hears whispered to her as she notices a set of fingers pick up a crab roll from her tray.
“You’re welcome.” She says, spitting out the last syllable as she notices the billionaire standing beside her chewing.
“Shelby.” She hears him whisper. “Shelby, don’t be like this.”
“I have serving to do.” She whispers back to him, walking away before she feels his hand wrap around her wrist.
“What are you doing!” She whispers angrily as she feels him pull her to the front of the crowd, grabbing a glass of champagne off of a passing tray as he makes his way.
“Excuse me.” He says, raising his voice. “Excuse me!”
Shelby’s heart races as the silence in the room deafens her.
“Thank you all for coming out tonight.” He starts. “So far we’ve raised more than a million dollars for charity.” He says, raising his glass. “So everyone give yourselves a round of applause…” He claps, tapping his wrist as he looks over to Shelby.
“But right now,” He says, pointing to her. “I just want to take a second to say a few things.”
She feels the color leave her face as the crowd focuses their gaze onto her.
“This is my girlfriend, Shelby. She’s serving here tonight.” He says, pausing, taking a deep breath. “And I love her very much.” He says, his eyes twinkling even in the low light.
“Shelby.” He says, lowing his voice as he walks closer to her. “You’re more important than all of this.” He whispers as he pulls a small box out of his pocket.
“Shelby Winters.” He says, raising his voice for the standing guests once again as he lowers himself onto one knee. “Will you do me the honor of being my bride?”
Shelby’s heart flutters as she watches Sergey’s blurry smile through the tears in her eyes.
“Yes!” She whispers softly, placing her tray onto the ground.
She grabs his hand, helping him stand as he slips the ring onto her finger before grabbing her by the chin and kissing her on the lips.
“I won’t let you down, Shelby.” He whispers into her ear as he buries his nose in her hair.