Friday, January 8, 2010

Chapter Four: The Ripening

It had been several months. This particular morning, Demi woke and wondered where exactly she was, remembering she was in Gus's California king bed in his Manhattan penthouse. It is where she had woken up most mornings these days. She saw the sleeping form of her lover next to her tangled in the Egyptian cotton bed sheets. Demi scooted her body closer to him and kissed his honey sweet lips lightly. The red numbers on the digital clock told her it was already 9am, but there was no light coming in through the cracks in the drapes.

Demi slithered out of the bed and wrapped herself in a silk robe. She walked out into the living room where she could see out the picture windows. Just like the day she met Gus, the sky was black and the storm clouds looked ominous. In a penthouse, there was no where to hide and she began to panic. She hurried back into the bedroom and shook Gus's shoulder. He opened his blue eyes and smiled, but changed his expression as soon as he saw her face. "What's wrong?" he asked, sitting up.

"There is another storm." she responded. He snatched the remote control from the bedside table that drew the curtains from the windows. The light in the room didn't change once the windows were drape-free. There was no rain yet where they were, but they could see the lines in the sky in the distance.

Gus furrowed his brows. "I suppose we should get out of here. Or at least get downstairs." He stood up, not bothering to cover himself. He rushed into his house sized closet to pull on jeans and a polo shirt. Demi traded her robe for a sundress and pulled her hair in a pony tail. She had begun keeping clothes at the penthouse. It wasn't something that seemed to be forbidden, and it didn't appear that Hannah Gray was every going to visit her husband in the city. Gus had spent most of the summer in New York, and Demi wasn't sure what fall would bring. Except, possibly, this storm. Perhaps this wasn't a coincidence.

Once dressed, she and Gus hurried down to the ground floor. Without the awkwardness of high heeled shoes, Demi managed to stay upright this time. As they reached the lobby they found they were just in time to see the hail start. She shouted out in surprise when the first hailstone hit the plate glass window in the lobby. "Isn't it August?" She asked in shock.

"I'll admit it is unusual," Gus said with some humor in his voice. "When this lets up a bit, I'll just get you home where you can be safe in case it storms all day." Demi nodded. He kissed the top her head, didn't even worry about the doorman looking on.

They stood in silence watching the storm roll through. Demi remembered reading a story on the internet just after the last big storm, the day she met Gus, about a new cloud type. A woman in Iowa had discovered it and taken photographs back in 2006. The local weather has been comparing that storm to the photos from Iowa. The woman described it as "Armageddon", which seemed appropriate. Demi thought of these clouds as Gus's clouds. At first, she didn't even hate them for the storm. Now she was starting to worry that they were back with some sort of vengeance. Scientists were still skeptical that these were even a new cloud type, but they certainly weren't like anything Demi had seen before. Just like the woman described in the article that Demi had read, this storm and these rolling clouds passed quickly. As the storm passed, Demi felt Gus's hand on the small of her back as he began to steer her toward the door.

Once in the car, as the sun began to glow hot over the city, Demi smiled up at Gus. "I think these storms are something you cause." She said.

He laughed, "How do you suppose that happens?"

"I don't know. Maybe the hand of God. Maybe he is angry at us."

"Would it help if I told you I don't believe in God?"

"I believe you think you are a God," Demi said teasingly. Gus laughed out loud again.

"Well, that may certainly be true."

He pulled the car in front of her office complex. Demi leaned in to kiss him before getting out of the car. "I'll call you later" he said and she shut the door.

Over the months, things had become pretty interesting. She was still working as a temp at Tempest. They didn't communicate in the office at all. But they did go out in public. They had avoided any sort of press, and she didn't actually know if anyone with any level of power had seen them, but she tried to keep a low profile when they weren't together. She stopped trying to socialize with the other temps. She knew they must all know. She knew everyone must all know, but no one was saying a word to her directly. They probably never would. She knew this had happened before. She wasn't going to lie to herself thinking it might be the last time either. But for now, she was having fun.

As she started to settle in, she thought about all the things she needed to do at her own apartment. She hadn't spent many weekends at home this summer. And even some weeknights she spent at Gus's penthouse. So, Demi decided to clean her bathroom. She changed her clothes, got out the cleaning supplies and started working. She didn't know if the storms would be back and she and Gus hadn't made any new plans for the day.

When she opened the medicine cabinet her mouth dropped open. Suddenly the entire summer of spending nights and days with Gus Gray came rushing over her like the storm clouds over the city. Sitting there, on the shelf, was a packet of birth control pills. The prescription was dated for May. She pulled the packet from the sleeve and realized it was completely unopened - unused. "Oh hell," she said to herself. She had been forgetting the pills. By the looks of things she hadn't taken them for more than two months. It wasn't like she had a lot of experience before now with this type of thing and supposed it had just slipped her mind. She sat down on the toilet. "Oh, my god" she repeated over and over again. But maybe she was fine. Maybe she should start taking them now. When was her last period? Dread filled her entire body.

The rest of the afternoon was a blur. With the cleaning products still strewn about her bathroom, she had run to the drug store and bought more than one pregnancy test. She didn't feel pregnant. She didn't know what that even meant, really. It wasn't like she had ever been pregnant before. She wasn't nauseous, she wasn't gaining weight. She remembered watching the show on the Discovery Channel - "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant." She thought every time that there couldn't possibly be any way someone wouldn't know. Before taking the first test, she sat and stared at the instructions for what must have been hours. She didn't read them, she just stared at them. Finally her mind absorbed the process. She took the test and paced the hallway waiting for the results. She started to feel light headed now. She had launched from a great night right into the eye of the storm. Those low rolling clouds that she saw today became just as much an omen for what was happening to her now as the storm had been on the day she had met Gus Gray. The storm might not have brought him into her life, maybe it had been warning her. She had been lying to her mother. People were talking behind her back at work. Thoughts swam in her mind. The confusion of thoughts was interrupted by the buzz of the egg timer in the bathroom. She closed her eyes before picking the stick up of the counter. And there it was - on the supposedly idiot proof stick the word "pregnant".

So she did the only thing she could do. She took the next three tests. Lines, plusses - every possible symbol of the process sat before her.

After hours of torturing herself, she had to come to the same conclusion. She was the stupidest person on the planet. And she was pregnant.

And she didn't know what to do next. The only person she knew she had to talk to was Gus himself.

She picked up her phone and shakily dialed his number. His clear deep voice answered. "Hi, honey" he said. Did he say that to his wife, too? Did he say that to the other women he had slept with over the years?

"I have to talk to you," Demi squeaked. She started to cry.

"Oh no, what's wrong?" His voice became clouded with concern. Or was that something else?

She stuttered on all of her words. She wasn't sure she could get it out. Maybe she should ask for him to meet her. Maybe she should just run away. "Gus, I'm pregnant" she heard herself say.

There was silence on the other end of the phone. Demi kept crying. "Did you hear me?" she finally asked.

It took another few moments for him to respond. "Yes." he said quietly. After another pause he said, "Don't worry, Demetra. We will figure something out."

There wasn't anything more to say. After some silence and quiet goodbyes, Demi curled up on the couch leaving all the work for the day unfinished. She couldn't eat, she couldn't sleep, she just stared. Finally she got up the energy to call the staffing company and leave a message on their voice mail. She wasn't feeling well; she wouldn't be in to work tomorrow. She knew that would put her representatives into a tizzy in the morning and she might get several frantic phone calls that she wouldn't answer. She needed time alone. She needed to process things. Just this morning there had been nothing wrong in the world.

The next afternoon, Demi had still been sitting around in her pajamas watching TV all day. She had ignored calls from the staffing company, figuring she would call them before they left for the day and let them know where she would be tomorrow. And that would probably not be at work. Gus had not called her at all.

There was a knock at her door. She forced herself to answer it, even though she knew she looked like hell. She opened the door. Standing there was an average looking young man, someone she ha never seen before. "Are you Demetra S...?”

"Yes," she responded before he could finish her last name. She always interrupted people before they could even try.

"You have been served," he shoved a large envelope into her hands and walked away.

Demi closed the door and looked down at the envelope. Mercury Partners, LLC. Demi opened it carefully and began to read the letter. It was from Gus Gray's Lawyers, and it appeared to be regarding an agreement to pay for whatever she intended to do next.

Gus had sent his lawyers to end the affair.

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