***Note to the readers: Please excuse my vacancy, but know I am over joyed to be back. My other work, TTDTS, never received any additional chapters as originally promised, and its absence was noted. I am working to correct that immediately. In the mean time, please amuse yourself with this piece. I'll be back soon, for real this time.***
My relationship with Anna left little to be desired. She was a great woman, and when I finished college, I left behind my past and decided it would be best to settle down. I knew Anna would make the perfect wife; she was a solid rock in a sea of women. If not for her, I couldn't even begin to tell you where I would be today.
I had spent my entire high school and college years playing the field, and when I was single, it was open season. I would juggle the girls in my life with a strategic cunning that MacArthur would have applauded. I would even feign the appearance of commitment and spend a few weeks with one girl, but as soon as another opportunity sauntered by, I'd slink away with a tip of my hat and a smirk on my face. On the rare occasion that I found myself in an actual relationship, they would never last more than a few months, and I couldn't even stay faithful for that short amount of time.
Sure, I felt bad about it sometimes. I wasn't completely without a conscious. I'm sure I broke a few hearts along the way. But if you asked me at the time, I would have quickly justified that the women I was with knew exactly what they were getting themselves into, and that it was their own damn fault. Hell, I would've been able to introduce you to the women I had been with before and you could have seen for yourself that there was no hard feelings most of the time. When I was with a girl, I treated her like a princess; you can bet the house on that one buddy. Sure, there were tears when I left, occasionally anger, sometimes outright hostility. (But damn, she looked hot swinging that bat over and over, denting my car in the process. Some women just look sexy when they want to kill you.)
The majority of the time though, even if they hated me at first, most would forgive me. I made a point to show up again, tell them how wonderful they were, convince them that there was someone else out there better than me and they deserved to go find them and be happy. I even meant it a few times. I remembered their birthdays, their special events, the things they liked, and what they wanted most out of life. Even after I left, with the prospect of sex was gone, and the fling was over, I would still send them gifts, tell them they were beautiful, compliment the things they were most self-conscious about, listen to their new relationship problems, comfort them when they needed it, humored them when I could, and told them that they deserved the world, I even provided the occasional physical release if they needed it, sure to focus only on them and their needs.
I manipulated each and every one of them, I toyed with their emotions, made them want me, and when I was gone, I made them miss me. It didn't work with all of them, but it worked often enough. The trick was to find the innocent ones, the shy ones, the ones with self-esteem issues, the vulnerable ones. Yes. My name is Jack, and I am an asshole.
Whew. Glad I got that off my chest.
My little mind games all came to an end the day I met Anna. She was sweet, shy, coming off a bad break up, and needed someone to tell her how wonderful she was. She was the perfect prey. I moved in for the kill... and she blindsided me. Not only did she see right through all my bullshit, she made a game out of telling me what a complete asshole I was. I literally pulled out all the stops that had worked on every girl I had ever known, and at the end of one particular night, when I thought things were going well, when I thought she had fallen for everything that I was feeding her, she let me have it.
I had just gotten her back to my apartment after a night out and she was dressed to impress. We had fooled around before, but we hadn't actually had sex yet, and I thought for sure she was giving it up tonight. The way she moved her hips when she I knew I was behind her, the slightly tilt of her mouth when I complimented her, how she crossed her legs and ran her hand along her thigh as she smoothed the hem of her dress. She wore a sleek black number, with a line of white flowers that ran diagonally down her dress from the top of its one strap, across her fantastically large chest, over her curvy hips and down the side of that round bubble her dress was barely concealing. Delicious was an understatement. Sure, she wasn't the thinnest thing in the world, rather, a physique most men would call curvy as they licked their lips, picturing her bouncing on top of him. She, however, saw it as a flaw, and was constantly complaining about her need to slim down and tone up a little. Her light brown hair cascaded in ringlets that dropped to her shoulder.
She sat down on the couch across from my chair and crossed her luscious legs that looked curvy, but firm, a product of a few years of softball and volleyball. She leaned forward to unbuckle the straps for her heels, her dress revealed a modest amount of cleavage as she did so, showing the skin above her chest, which was usually creamy white, but now had the slightest flush of pink in it. My eyes jerked up from her chest.
"What an amateur move, Jack." I silently chided myself. I had a handful of rules I abided by. One of them was about looking. Stare only to acknowledge beauty, display desire, or recognize passion. See, staring usually signifies want, or interest. Most women worth staring at have been wanted before; they are used to being interested in. You are setting yourself up to be viewed as another dog panting as she walks by. Granted, some women like when you stare like that, so there was always a chance it might lead to something. But a vast majority of women love to be desired. How many women do you know that don't like being considered beautiful? You don't stare at a woman like she is a piece of meat, you only stare if you know you are conveying more than the fact that you want to sleep with her. She has to be able to see it in your eyes that you aren't just fixated on her tits. Your stare has to say: "You are an alter I want to worship. You are a goddess I would love to please. You are not just a piece of ass, you are the most gorgeous woman in the world, and any man would be lucky just to touch you." When she notices, don't look away ashamed at being caught, keep looking, lost in the magnificence, portray that you aren't guilty, you are happy to be praising such a gorgeous figure. Don't look down embarrassed, look her in the eye, show you are impressed with what she has, how she choose to show it off, impressed with the time she takes on her body, or its natural beauty. It takes a lot of practice to get just right, try it in the mirror sometime.
As soon as I noticed I was staring, my eyes automatically adjusted to her lips. Lips were a neutral location, and hers were fascinating. There were soft but plump, they weren't overly large, but they protruded delicately. You wouldn't call them pouty, because even when she wasn't, they always seemed on the verge of smiling. Kissing her was a treat any man would enjoy, and if she wandered away from your mouth with them, you would swear that when you closed your eyes you were transported just inside the gates heaven. They were painted a light pink, the act of which was lost on me, the color barely changed from its natural pigment, if at all. The edges were slightly upturned on one side, it looked almost mischievous... wait, shit.
I knew that smile. I had displayed that same smile many times, the smile said "I know what you are up to, I'm on to you." A smile usually reserved for when some girl thought she was being coy with me, when I noticed that her facade of innocence had a hole in it. I snapped up from her lips to her eyes. The most beautiful almond shaped, gorgeous green eyes you have ever seen, with speckles of gold throughout them. They were difficult not to notice, and looked all the more seductive from the contrast of the lightest amount of purple eye shadow above them, the long lashes she had applied mascara to, and the faintest hint of eyeliner. She rarely wore any make up, but when she dolled herself up, she was an artist when it came to her eyes. They always looked seductive, even when she wasn't trying to be, but now they also had a glint of mischief in them, and the tiniest glimmer of something I had never seen before. I was immediately taken aback. I wasn't detailing her body anymore; I was trying to coldly calculate what was going through her mind. I narrowed my eyes as hers burned into mine. I prided myself in my ability to read body language. I could understand people by analyzing what they said, how they said it, the way their eyes adjusted when the mouth it was coupled with moved, or shifted when certain words were said aloud, the movement of their body, and more importantly, how they moved. Context was king. Though I didn't know what that twinkle in her eye meant I knew I was terrified of it immediately. Worse, she knew it too.
Her second heel clicked to the floor breaking the tense stare down between us like a shower of cold ice. I swear I only blinked and she was across the room, straddling me and pushing my shoulders back into the chair I was sitting on. Any other day in the history of my life, I would be thanking my lucky stars. This kind of action was usually coupled with an animalistic instinct, lips and tongues would mingle, hands would flash off clothing and explore the body more thoroughly. Wild and crazy sex should ensue. Instead I grasped the arm rests of my lazy boy and held on as if it was the only thing holding me to life. I tried to struggle back but was trapped between her body and my chair. I could have stood up, or pushed her off me, I suppose. I don't consider myself muscular, but I was healthy and fit, keeping a lean physique. So, lifting her up off of me wouldn't have been hard, in fact, it would have been downright easy with the amount of adrenaline flowing through my veins, happily supplied from my brains fight or flight receptors. The truth was I was so stunned and terrified so fast that the only coherent option that materialized was to go backwards and away from the woman on top of me. When that didn't work my body shut down. I was frozen in a stupefied state of fear. The glimmer in her eyes from before were now daggers shooting at me. She grasped a handful of dirty blonde hair and snapped my head back exposing my neck. Unrealistic fears of vampirism flashed through my brain before the wheels in my head sputtered to life and kicked out the first thing that it saw.
"What the actual fuck?" I spat out. I can't even recall the context in which I used it, if any specific tone was used, it was purely a base level of confusion mixed with a dash of fear. Smooth operator, I wasn't.
"Jack," she began, "you are such an asshole." Her lips pursed together, her nails slightly dug into my shoulder where she still had one hand pushing me against the back of my chair, the dangerous look in her eyes amplified, daring me to disagree.
As luck would have it, I did in fact agree with her, I almost nodded my head to convey it, then I remembered the vice grip she had on the back of my head. So instead I just continued to stare at her, dumbfounded.
"How many innocent girls have lured into your bedroom under the false pretense that the only thing you wanted to do was please them?" She asked the question in a sultry voice that would have been considered sexy if I didn't think she wanted to kill me.
"The next thing out of your mouth better be a number Jack." She tugged my hair a little for emphasis.
I snapped my mouth shut, and after an awkward silence of her staring through my soul, I shrugged, trying to look as meager as I could. Who keeps count of that sort of thing anyway?
"Did you honestly think that I would fall for all that bullshit you spouted off? I was on the rebound, just dumped by one asshole, only to be picked up by another asshole, pretending to be the most caring, concerned, totally not trying to get in my pants, just here to please you type of guy? You expected me to believe that disguise you had on?"
Here I was, for the first time in my entire life, being called out for exactly what I was. By some woman I had only started seeing three weeks ago at that. My mind reeled backwards in time as I watched myself say calculated phrases that had worked on every girl I had ever met. I was treated to a front row flash back of all the things I did, the way I touched her, the gentle demeanor, the easy going humor, the way I 'opened up' for her and shared my 'dreams'... hey, stop laughing and rolling your eyes, this was class A shit here, I'm not exaggerating a damned thing, and it worked almost every time. And when I gauged it wouldn't work, I disappeared so fast they wondered if I was ever there to begin with. Anna was right though, actually considering the bullshit that came out of my mouth sometimes, I surprised myself how often it worked out. Never before had I been so thoroughly caught though. At the first scent of someone smart enough to see through my tricks for what they were, I was gone. Anna had realized what I was up to, and strung me along, allowing me to believe she was putty in my hands, only to shatter the vision and snap me back to reality so fast I had figurative whiplash.
The mastery of deception behind it all actually impressed me. I found myself admiring her prowess, but it was quickly replaced by the question nagging near the back of my head, fairly close to where that burning sensation caused from hair being pulled away from my skull still persisted. If she knew I was playing her, why was she here? Why not dismiss me like the others before or call me out? What was she getting at?
A little voice in the back of my head reminded me that she had asked a question, my eyes darted back and forth as I looked for an answer. Well, of course I expected her to believe the disguise I had. Somehow, that didn't seem like the right thing to say. Instead, I eased my body, releasing the muscles that had been tensing for the past few minutes. I took a deep breath and went through the motions required to seem less threatening. Relax yourself, make no sudden movements, remove emotion from your face, avert your eyes, feign shame, and mutter.
"I'm sorry." I muttered. She laughed. She actually laughed at me. She released the back of my head, but failed to remove her other hand, and by extension, her nails from my shoulder. She traced a finger down the side of my face.
"Oh, Jack. Of course you're sorry. You're sorry you've been caught. You're a sorry sack of shit is what you are." He finger disappeared from the side of my face and was replaced by a smacking sound that I thought the neighbors might hear. Good, maybe they'll call 911? Quick, officer, the deranged, batshit insane, crazy girl went that way!
The way she was still laughing as I fought the urge to rub the side of my face made me realize that there would be no rescue. There had been much louder, carnal noises out of this apartment than a few slaps and laughing... I was utterly without hope of escape. But I made a mental note that if I had to murder her, I could probably get away with it. Constant wild sex had its advantages after all.
"I guess you're wondering what exactly this is all about." She finally said after the laughter subsided and she sighed. Well, Madame Nutcase, guess you can read minds, because that's exactly what the fuck I'm wondering.
"It may have crossed my mind." was all I said. I was more irritated now that my senses were coming out of shock. I went from having my master plan being thrown back in my face to be being outright humiliated in a matter of seconds.
"You see Jack, I know assholes. I've dated a long string of them. Sometimes I knew it before hand, other times I found out the hard way. The different between them is the degree in which they were assholes. I have to say, you top them all with flying colors."
"Do I get a gold sticker?" I quickly regretted the quip as my head snapped to the side again. She wasn't slapping me to do damage, but the way my cheek stung afterwards let me know that she wasn't exactly being playful either.
"Say something stupid again," she giggled, "I'm starting to enjoy this." Have I mentioned the sheer amount of insanity involved in this entire situation yet? Have I!? Because holy shit, color me crazy, but I found myself still sitting in that damn chair underneath that girl when the door was less than ten feet away leading to freedom, and a window five feet directly behind me, for more drastic measures. I repeat: I did not try to run away.
"Do you know the problem with men like you?" She asked me, stroking my face with one finger again. It was almost soothing against the stinging skin.
"We're so damn irresistible?" Somewhere deep within my mind, my subconscious was banging pots and pans together trying to get my attention. My nervous system started swearing at me and my face was building a case for disowning me. I flinched, tightening my neck muscles, shut my eyes, and waited. I was surprised when instead of another stinging sensation, I felt her gently cup the side of my face with her hand. I opened one eye just in time to see her roll her eyes and sigh.
"You're really stupid for someone with such a brilliant strategy to pick up women. You realize that right?"
"You know what they say, you either get looks or the brains." I said, smirking, knowing that I was tempting fate.
"Oh? And which one do I have, honey?" She asked sweetly, as I consciously reminded myself of the nails still pressed against my shoulder.
"An hour ago? Definitely looks. Now? Not so sure."
"You really know how to sweep a girl off her feet, don't you, Jack?"
"I do what I can. You still really haven't explained to me what this is all about though."
"As I was saying, I've dated plenty of assholes. When you gave me your number at the bar that day, I was still undecided about you. Then the bartender told me a little about you."
"Wait... Jimmy told you about me? What did he say?" I couldn't believe my ears. Jimmy's Bar was my favorite place in the world. The idea that Jimmy was outing me to potential hook-ups wasn't something I could comprehend.
"So impatient!" She tapped the side of my face. "I was gonna to tell you! Jimmy said that you were a regular at the bar, however the girls you were with, were not regulars, in fact, he rarely saw them more than a few times before you showed up with another."
"Fantastic. Jimmy told you I'm not into commitment." I made a mental note to tip him less and stab him in the throat when I was there next.
"Oh, he suggested a little bit more than that, Jack."
Jack scowled and re-planned his next visit to the bar to include more broken bar stools, and even less of a tip.
"Don't look so upset! He's my uncle, he's obligated to tell me things like that." She said it like it was common knowledge.
"Your uncle!? You have got to be shitting me." This just kept getting better.
"Afraid it's the truth baby. So after his little warning, I asked around and found out some interesting things about you. The funny thing is, the few women I spoke to weren't even mad at you. The more I heard the sicker it made me. I mean, it takes some serious balls to pull the shit you've been up to."
"Cats outta the bag doll, you got me. You knew all about my extracurricular activities, and yet you're still here." Here she was criticizing me like Merlin watching parlor room magic tricks. Saying I was a little out of my element may have been an understatement. "Why is that?" I asked. She shook her head; she almost looked like she was taking pity on me.