Hate Notes(9)

By: Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward

His mouth curved up a bit.

“And if you can throw it in a Crock-Pot, I can cook it. But I would never actually use that kitchen. It’s way too much. This bedroom, though? Absolutely. It would be a dream. Just like this whole experience. It’s all a dream, nothing I’ll ever really get to live. So sue me for being a dreamer, Eastwood.”

I stormed away, but not before tripping on the rug on my way out.



“Goddamn it!” I’d managed to keep my tears in until I found a bathroom in the lobby of Millennium Tower. I’d even somehow succeeded in keeping them at bay while I went into one of the large stalls to pee. But then there was no toilet paper, so I opened my purse and started to dig for a tissue while I was still hovering. My hands hadn’t stopped shaking from the ass-chewing I’d just experienced, and I wound up bumbling the damn thing, causing the entire contents to spill all over the floor. And . . . my phone cracked as it smashed against the fancy tile. That was when I broke down and cried.

No longer giving a rat’s ass about germs, I sat down on the toilet seat and let it all out. It wasn’t just a cry because of what had transpired upstairs. It was a cry that was a long time coming—a big, fat, ugly cry. If my emotions were a roller coaster lately, this was the part of the ride where you put your hands up and careened down at a hundred miles an hour. I was glad the bathroom was empty, since I had the terrible habit of talking to myself when I was really upset.

“What the hell was I thinking?”

“Dog surfing? God, I’m such an idiot.”

“Could I have at least embarrassed myself in front of a less intimidating man? Perhaps one that wasn’t a tall, dark, confident Adonis with an attitude?”

“Speaking of men, why are the good-looking ones always such jerks?”

I wasn’t really expecting an answer, although I got one anyway.

A woman’s voice spoke from somewhere in the bathroom on the other side of the stall. “When God was making the mold for good-looking men, he asked one of his angels what else he should add to make a man more attractive in her eyes. The angel didn’t want to be disrespectful by using foul language, so she simply said, ‘Give him a big stick.’ Unfortunately, the added piece was put on backward, and now all good-looking men are born with a large stick up their tuchus.”

I laughed through an unattractive sniffle. “There’s no toilet paper in here. Would you mind passing me some?”

A hand appeared under the stall door with a wad of tissue. “Here you go.”

“Thank you.”

After using half the paper to blow my nose and dry my face and the other half to wipe myself, I took a deep breath and began to collect the contents of my purse from the floor. “Are you still out there?” I asked.

“Yes. I figured I’d wait to make sure you were okay. I heard you crying.”

“Thank you. But I’ll be okay.”

The woman was seated on a bench in front of a mirror when I finally emerged from hiding in the stall. She was probably in at least her seventies, but she was dressed in a suit and groomed to the nines. “Are you alright, sweetheart?” she asked.

“Yes. I’m fine.”

“You don’t seem fine. Why don’t you tell me what upset you?”

“I don’t want to trouble you with my problems.”

“Sometimes it’s easier to talk to a stranger.”

I suppose it’s better than talking to myself. “Honestly, I wouldn’t even know where to start.”

The woman patted the seat next to her. “Start at the beginning, dear.”

I snorted. “You’ll be here until next week.”

She smiled warmly. “I’ve got as much time as we need.”

“Are you sure? You look like you’re about to go to a board meeting or get honored at some charity event.”

“It’s one of the only perks of being the boss. You set your own hours. Now, why don’t you start with dog surfing. Is that actually a thing? Because I have a Portuguese water dog that might be interested.”

“. . . and then I just ran out. I mean, I don’t blame the guy for being upset that I wasted his time. It’s just that he made me feel like such an idiot for even having dreams.” I’d been talking to my new friend, Iris, for more than an hour. Just like she’d said, I’d started at the beginning. We’d been through my engagement, the breakup, my job, Todd’s new fiancée, my drunken apartment application, and the resulting ass-chewing that landed me in the bathroom in tears. For some unknown reason, I’d even told her I was adopted and how much I longed to find my birth mother someday. I didn’t think that fact had anything to do with everything that was upsetting me today, but nevertheless, I found myself unloading that piece of information along with my tale of woe.