Authors: E. D. Brady
E. D. Brady
Copyright © 2014 E. D. Brady
All Rights Reserved
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Love comforteth like sunshine after rain,
But Lust's effect is tempest after sun;
Love's gentle spring doth always fresh remain,
Lust's winter comes ere summer half be done;
Love surfeits not, Lust like a glutton dies;
Love is all truth, Lust full of forged lies
- William Shakespeare
Twenty-five Years From Now…
Dr. Allyssa Mathers plucked the tiny white envelope from beneath the cellophane and turned it between her fingers. Biting her lip to suppress a smile, she tugged at the card inside, pulling it free. She glanced down at the unfamiliar handwriting.
Anxiously counting the hours until I can finally hold you in my arms.
Thirsting For You.
It all began a week ago.
Until then, she was just another married woman playing the dutiful wife and mother. Allyssa had never strayed from her marriage vows, had never even considered it, but something in that first message grabbed her attention. It had the appearance of a regular email, except for the message title:
You will never know how beautiful I find you.
Of course, it was foolish to open the message. It could have been a nasty virus, but a gut feeling, a subtle hunch, told her to take a chance.
Your beauty is surpassed by no other.
Thirsting For You.
Thus began a week of torrent correspondences with a man whom she dubbed
Thirsting appeared to be a very shrewd man who seemed to discern almost every aspect of Allyssa’s mind and soul, producing the very words that would keep her fervently checking her email account.
At first, his emails were merely declarations of love, but as the days went on, they grew more sensual, explaining in detail all the things he longed to do to her.
His messages filled her with carnal longing, igniting a fire inside her bones.
Despite the mystery of his identity, when he finally asked her to meet him, to spend one night of unadulterated passion with him, she could not refuse.
As luck would have it, the night he suggested for their secret tryst happened to coincided with an out-of-the-blue after work meeting scheduled at her husband’s office. Allyssa took that as a sign from the universe.
Dr. Nora Sanders walked into the doctor’s lounge and nodded toward the glass vase holding a dozen red roses. “Thirsting again?” she questioned. “Must be nice having a secret admirer,” she added wistfully, “or really creepy, depending on how you look at it.”
Allyssa snorted and shot Nora a droll look. “They’re pretty, aren’t they?” she asked, admiring her flowers.
“Yes,” Nora replied. “So tonight’s the big night, right?”
Allyssa simply nodded her reply.
Not only a co-worker, Nora was also Allyssa’s friend and confidante. She rolled her eyes and shook her head. “So is this something people engage in when they’ve been married for forty-nine years?” she probed sarcastically.
“Very funny,” Allyssa answered with playful indignance. “It’s only twenty-four years…well, it will be tomorrow.”
“Oh that’s right, tomorrow is your anniversary,” Nora recalled.
Both Allyssa and Nora’s beepers went off in unison, seconds before the overhead intercom system summoned them—along with four other doctors—to the E.R. They shared an anxious look then rushed to the elevator.
“So what are you doing for your anniversary?” Nora questioned as they rode down to the first floor.”
“Dinner with the kids,” Allyssa responded.
“And where are you supposedly going tonight?” Nora asked with a wicked grin.
“Out with you,” Allyssa replied. They reached the bottom floor and exited the elevator to a less than busy Emergency room. “What’s going on?” she asked the triage nurse.
“Major wreck on 307,” the nurse answered. “At least seven incoming.”
“So you never answered my question,” Nora said as they waited. “Is engaging in a secret rendezvous normal for someone married as long as you?”
“How would I know?” Allyssa replied. “They wouldn’t be secret if everyone went around broadcasting them, would they?”
,” Nora countered.
“That’s because I tell you everything.”
“You’re crazy,” Nora said mockingly. “How many times—”
The electronic doors opened, causing Nora to discard her playful banter. Two EMS workers rushed through pushing a stretcher holding an unconscious man. By the initial look of him, it was pretty bad.
Dr. Greene walked briskly across the floor, ready for action. “Dr. Mathers, room 102,” he called out without slowing his pace.
Allyssa glanced at Nora and widened her eyes. “Looks like I don’t have time to defend my mental state,” she said, moving forward. “I have a life to save!”
Shannon closed the door and leaned her head against the splintered wood. Making a tight fist, she pushed the new key firmly into the palm of her hand until it hurt. The sharp pain felt oddly good, momentarily distracting her from the nauseating knots in her stomach. Feeling her lip quiver, she bit down, refusing to cry.
She took a deep breath and turned to face the tiny, dilapidated room. Ancient yellow paint peeled off the walls in spots, revealing worn and rotting drywall underneath. Sheets of cobwebs, like shredded nylon stockings, covered almost every inch of the ceiling and kept the corpses of a few tiny prisoners suspended high above the floor. An old stained mattress lay diagonally on the floor, a tattered woolen blanket flung on top. Over by the sink, scuffed and cracked linoleum was speckled with black spots that could only be fungus. Outside, on the dust covered window—the only window—rusty bars provided meager security from the mean streets below.
She could only guess the amount of rats and other vermin that passed through the small room, seeking shelter or forging for scraps of food.
She tried to muster what little positive energy she had left and forced out a bitter smile. "Home," she said aloud to no one.
Her dreams of living in New York City took on a much different flavor than the reality. She imagined living in a cute apartment, the kind rented by young professionals on popular sitcoms, in a trendy area with a crowded local bar or coffee shop.
She sighed then inwardly scolded herself. There was no point in drowning in despair; the reality was what it was. She had been dealt a shitty hand and it would take a while to turn things around, to carve out a new path. She needed to stay focused, to be grateful for arriving in one piece. After the bizarre events of the last few days, that was no small miracle.
She made a mental to-do list. A broom with a long handle would be enough to clean up the ceiling. A mattress pad for her new bed and something to clean the mold off the floor would do for starters.
She tried to hold on to the positivity, but was suddenly too exhausted to fight the gloom.
She pulled the hood of her parka up over her head and lay down on the filthy mattress, fully dressed. She needed sleep badly; it had eluded her for days.
She left the light on, doubting she'd ever feel comfortable in her new home to sleep in the dark, doubting she'd ever sleep in the dark anywhere. The vision of her bloodied, mangled mother would undoubtedly haunt her for eternity. The sounds of her mother’s screams, the sound of a pathetic woman being thrashed and pummeled to death while Shannon could do nothing to intervene, would shadow her for the rest of her life.
She shivered slightly and wrapped her arms around her chest for a little extra warmth.
Before long, she felt her body and mind slip into peaceful oblivion, sinking down until all the grief and pain faded into a void of sweet nothingness.
Chad played with his mashed potatoes, flattening them into a pancake with the back of his fork then raking the prongs through to create long grooves, reminding him of a Zen Garden he used to keep on his desk at work.
'I wonder what happened to tha
' he thought wistfully.
"You’re not listening to me, are you?" his father said, smirking.
Chad's head shot up. "Yeah. . .yes. . .of course," he lied. He’d zoned out after thirty straight minutes of shoptalk. The way he saw it, he already worked over fifty hours a week, so he was a faithful believer in leaving the workload at the office. He hated when his father droned on about money and business. To Chad, evenings and weekends were for real life, for friends, family and having fun, but he and his father were at odds on that—work was everything to his dad.
Charles senior eyed his son suspiciously. "Is my presence boring you?" he queried. “You’re playing with your food. You’ve been doing that since you were old enough to hold a fork. Your mother and I always knew that when you started that, you were no longer paying attention to us.”
"No, Dad," Chad answered, shaking his head. He looked over at the older man and smiled affectionately. “You know how I just love talking about work, though,” he added sardonically. He sat up straight and looked around the elegant restaurant, filled to capacity with fashion conscious people who didn't feel the least bit affected by dropping over one thousand dollars for a meal. Chad found it distasteful—imagine the amount of starving children that money could feed. As it was, most of the female patrons barely touched their overpriced dinner, too afraid of gaining an ounce of body fat. The sheer waste boggled his mind.
This was his father’s world: lavish meals, charity balls, designer suits, chauffeurs, exuberant amounts of money. It wasn't Chad's scene. Perhaps because he grew up surrounded by wealth, it failed to impress him in the slightest. He preferred a more modest life—well, as modest as the only son of a multi-millionaire could live. His father had provided him with the best of everything though, and for that, deep down inside, Chad was grateful, even if he resented the way his parents had smothered him—the fall-out from being an only child.
"So how's Donna?" Charles asked. “We haven’t seen her for a while, and you hardly ever mention her.”
"She's fine?" Chad answered. Donna was the niece of a prominent senator—one that was considering a future run for president—and Chad's girlfriend for the past two years. Chad knew his father was hoping to have this girl as a daughter-in-law, securing a shoe-in with Washington royalty.
“Could this be the year that you buy an engagement ring for Christmas?” Charles asked with raised eyebrows and a hopeful grin.
Chad chuckled. “Don’t hold your breath, Dad,” he replied. “I’m only thirty-four; I still have a good few years left before I sign my own death warrant. I have no intentions of buying an engagement ring any time soon.”
“Thirty-four is the perfect age for a man to start considering his personal future,” Charles countered. “Besides, your mother really wants grandchildren while she’s still young enough to enjoy them.”
“Enough,” Chad replied, holding his hands up. He laughed good-naturedly. “Please don’t make me responsible for Mom’s happiness.”
“I’m just saying…” Charles trailed off and smiled.
"I'm not sure Donna is marriage material," he answered, almost feeling guilty for crushing his father's hopes. “At least not for me.”
"What do you mean?" Charles asked. "She’s lovely. Don’t you care for her anymore?”
Chad pondered that for a moment. He did enjoy her company sometimes, and the sex was pretty good, but still, he didn't feel 'blown-away' by her. Not that he believed in that fairytale kind of love anyway. Love was just a chemical reaction and a means to secure the continuation of the species. He knew that sooner or later he would bite the bullet and get married, it's what people did, after all, and he wanted to have children someday. That was a long way off though, and he doubted Donna would be the one bearing his children. "Are you sure it’s not her uncle you find lovely?" he replied sarcastically.
“Low blow, Son,” Charles responded playfully.
As Charles paid the check, Chad threw on his wool coat and wrapped a navy scarf around his neck. He inched up to his father, put a hand on the older man's shoulder then leaned in to give him a quick peck on the head. "Thanks, Dad," he said. "I'll see you on Saturday. Give Mom a hug from me."
"Are you sure you don't want a ride home?" Charles questioned.
"I'll hail a cab," he answered.
Chad’s parents still lived in the Greenwich home he was raised in, but also owned an apartment on the Upper West Side where they spent a good deal of time. He preferred living in Tribeca.
He pulled his coat up around his neck and shivered slightly on the curb. Only the first of November and already New York was feeling a lot like winter.
He rode a cab down to the East Village and jumped out in front of McDermott’s Irish pub, knowing the guys would already be inside, downing pints of Bass ale and watching football.
He opened the door to his second home and heard Derek’s voice above the Wednesday night crowd. “Here he is.”
“About time,” Alex added. “What took you so long?”
“My dad called and asked me to have dinner with him uptown,” Chad said, pulling out the barstool next to Alex. He folded his wool coat and flung it over the back. “Pint of Bass,” he added, nodding to Kenny, the middle-aged bartender.
“Right, Chad,” Kenny replied, grabbing a glass and angling it under the nozzle of the tap. “How’s things with you?” he added, his Irish brogue bleeding through.
“Great, Kenny,” Chad responded. “How’s business?”
“Crowded around rush hour. Believe it or not, this is half of what I had around five o’clock. And, as you can see, the usual suspects are all here.”
This was Chad’s favorite place, his local pub, the place where everybody knew his name. He, Alex and Derek had wandered into this little pub six years ago for a beer, ended up having about ten each and through the course of that long evening, had gotten to know all the regulars. These were his people, and this was his extended living room. Kenny was his psychologist and spiritual advisor, always willing to lend an ear and give out words of wisdom. Gus, Mickey and Tom—the old geysers, as Kenny affectionately called them—were Korean War veterans and retired NYPD, burley old dudes that wouldn’t take an ounce of shit, but were still utter gentlemen. Marion and Kevin were the resident ‘married couple’ and local pool sharks. Every evening after dinner, Marion and Kevin would saunter in for their after dinner rum and cokes—three each, plus a few rounds at the table, then they’d call it a night. Walter, Sam and Rosa—Chad never could understand their situation. All three were widowed, and as obvious as it was to everyone that both men were in love with Rosa, she seemed oblivious, only considering both guys her best friends. Then there was the new group of college students. Nice kids, about twelve in total, both male and females—the NYU’ers, Kenny dubbed them. There were others, but these were the ones you could count on the minute you opened the door in the evening.
This was the world in which Chad felt at home, around real people with their middle class struggles and big hearts—open and completely honest about what they were. He cared little for the world in which he’d been raised. The money, the pretentiousness, the effort to keep up appearances was wasted on him—much to his father’s dismay. Still, he knew he had it better than most. He had been graced with opportunities that most people would never get.
A great education at Princeton had opened the way to a well-paying job at J. P. Morgan right out of college. He worked his way up to a pretty good position before leaving to join a small, elite investment boutique that dealt with the private investments of the world’s most powerful people—Middle-Eastern princes, Russian billionaires, corrupt rulers of small nations, these were some of his companies best clients. It was a small company by investment bank standards, only around fifty employees on two floors of a large building on 54
Chad earned a lot of money to do very little.
“All suited up today?” Kenny commented, wiping down the bar directly in front of Chad before placing a cold pint of Bass on a round cardboard coaster.
“I met my dad for dinner right after work,” Chad replied, suddenly feeling the need to take off his suit jacket and undo the tie.
“Where’s your girl been?” Kenny queried. “I haven’t seen her in ages.”
“Hopefully having that pole up her ass removed,” Derek quipped. It was no secret that Derek and Alex were not exactly fans of Donna’s. Donna resented their relationship and the amount of time Chad spent with his best friends. She claimed she disapproved of their silly, immature antics whenever the three were together, but it was more than likely just good old fashion jealousy.
Chad threw Derek a sideways look but managed to smirk slightly. “She’s been working constantly,” he told Kenny. “I’ll see her on Friday night for dinner, but then she’s traveling abroad for business until Thanksgiving.”
“Which means Chad won’t be getting laid for weeks,” Alex butted in.
“Doesn’t matter how long,” Chad retorted, “I’ll still get some action before you do.”
“No offense, Buddy, but I’d rather be celibate than have to touch the ice queen,” Alex replied.
“Ah, Jesus, I didn’t need to be hearing that,” Kenny said, shaking his head and grinning. “You lads are something else.”
During Chad’s rebellious stage, he managed to get kicked out of private school, effectively pissing off both his parents and causing all sorts of drama—which seemed to be his ultimate goal. With no other choice available, he was sent to public school in seventh grade. It was there that he met Alex and Derek. The three became best friends in no time.
“Play pool?” he asked, looking toward the guys.
“Shot of Tequila first?” Derek questioned with raised eyebrows.
“I have to work tomorrow,” Alex answered.
“And since when did that ever stop you?” Derek replied. “One little shot won’t hurt.”
Famous last words.
Five pints of beer and six shots of tequila later, Chad stumbled out of the pub to hail a cab.
⃰⃰⃰ ⃰ ⃰
“Fuck, fuck fuck!” Chad looked at his clock through blurry vision and noticed it read 9:10.
He flew out of bed and into the shower, stubbing his toe on the shower-door lip. “God damit!” he spat, squeezing his eyes shut in an effort to ward off the pain as he felt around for the tap.
This was not how he wanted to spend a Thursday morning.
He usually got up at five thirty and hit the gym for an hour before work. Today, he’d have to head straight for the subway. Every morning after his work out, he’d buy two coffees from the kiosk on the corner and bring one to Nelson, the homeless man that lived on the same block as his gym. They would chat for a minute or two, then Chad would hand him a ten dollar bill before wishing him a good day. Nelson would have to manage without him today.
Thirty minutes later, he was riding the elevator up to his office, convinced he reeked of stale booze.
He exited the elevator at his floor and made his way toward Sarah, the receptionist, to see if he had any pressing messages.
Sarah was standing at reception, leaning over the chair which was occupied by a slender girl with long dark-brown hair. She looked up and smiled broadly. “Hi, Mr. C,” she sang out enthusiastically.
“Morning, Sarah,” Chad answered, mirroring her smile.
“Train trouble?” Sarah asked.
“Ahhhhhh, no!” Chad replied sarcastically. “Derek White trouble.”
“Your friend Derek?” Sarah asked, looking confused.
“Or should I say
‘too many shots of tequila last night which was Derek’s idea’
“Oh, okay then,” Sarah giggled.
The girl looked up at Chad with a smirk on her face, obviously amused by Chad’s self-inflicted pain. Chad was momentarily stunned by the greenest eyes he’d ever seen. He pulled his gaze away from the girl and looked toward Sarah questioningly.
“This is Shannon,” Sarah said nodding at the girl. “Shannon Walsh. I’m training her in.” She turned her head and addressed the new receptionist. “This is Chad Clarkson, one of the vice presidents. The best one,” she added.
Chad looked back at the girl and smiled warmly. “Are you going to be here permanently?”
“I hope so?” she answered shyly.
Chad continued to stare, mesmerized by her unusual face. She was incredibly pretty. Not only did she have the greenest eyes, but they were also uncommonly large and surrounded by extremely long, dark lashes. She had full, rose-red lips, pale white cheeks that were still rounded from youth, and a perfect smile, all framed by silky, long dark hair—a perfect Snow White. But there was something else captivating, something besides her obvious good looks. It was almost as though she had some sort of magnetic pull, something that made it hard for him to look away.