Operation: Final Fantasy Ch. 04bySpartan22©
As always, big thanks to Wolf Vixen for a great editing job. Chapter X below was probably the most challenging chapter to write and she helped tremendously. While writing about him and plotting out his story, I listened to a lot of Johnny Cash's "Hurt". While writing about her, I listened to a lot of Miranda Lambert's "Over You". I'd recommend it while reading the chapter, and as always, I hope you enjoy...
Settling down in the couch in a bluish-silver nighty with her feet tucked underneath her, Trixie looked outside at the quiet, peaceful night, now that the sun had gone down.
It was movie night, and Ryan was plugged Iron Man in the Blu-ray player while the popcorn popped in the microwave. He was candidly surprised that she was open to watching the movie; at the very least, he expected her to roll her eyes. He questioned her, "Is my nerdiness rubbing off on you? Before you know it, you'll be reading the Iron Man comics. Or, better yet, I'll have you playing Call of Duty with me. Maybe you'll be dressing up as a Lord of the Rings character, precious?"
Trixie giggled, "Well, no. First of all, it has Robert Downy Jr. in it, so how could I pass that up? Secondly, I even considered dressing up as a super heroine for you after this movie, like Supergirl, or maybe Catwoman. But if you're going to complain and call me a nerd, maybe I'll take those outfits back to the store."
Ryan looked stunned and said, "Um, technically I never called you a nerd. Still, is it too late to take back what I said?" He looked her up and down with elevator eyes; Trixie didn't know if he was imagining her as Supergirl or Catwoman, but she was sure it was one or the other.
She really enjoyed tormenting him. There was something about watching him squirm that she found simply irresistible. Trixie said, "As for comic books, maybe I do wanna read one with you."
He shook his head and laughed, closing his eyes and telling her, "Now I know you're just teasing me."
"Hold on," she said, reaching down and opening one of the bags next to the couch. "I was waiting for the right moment, and I think I just found it. Close your eyes and hold your hands out."
With an amused smile, Ryan obeyed.
Giving Ryan one last look, making sure that his eyes were really closed, Trixie carefully opened the bag and pulled out a comic book protected by a white cardboard back and tucked inside a clear plastic sleeve. She couldn't hold back her smile any longer, beaming from ear to ear.
She stood up and carefully placed it in his hands. "Open your eyes. You can read this one to me!"
Carefully opening his eyes, he just about fell over when he saw he was holding a copy of The Avengers #1. It was the original, 1963 Avengers #1 -- Earth's Mightiest Super-Heroes.
Trixie took in every moment of Ryan's surprise; to say that he was speechless was an understatement. The smile of a little boy on the face of this full grown man was absolutely charming. It was possible that she may have been even more excited than he was.
Ryan leaned in and gave her a huge hug, kissing her fully on the lips in the process.
It was hard to say the last time she had been embraced like this. It wasn't the hug and kiss of a horny male, but rather the hug of someone truly grateful and appreciative of her thoughtful gift. She couldn't have been any happier, mostly because he couldn't have been any happier.
Ryan swallowed and finally spoke, "Someday, someone is going to be lucky to have you. Thank you."
"Aww, thank you sweetie," she choked out. "I hope I didn't overstep my bounds, intruding on your Christmas memories with your parents and all, but I figured if you had The Avengers two through five, you might as well have the first one, too. Call it an early Christmas present from me."
It was obvious he was still in shock. "How did you find it?"
Trixie looked at him deviously, "That's my secret. All I will say is it involved at lot of Googling behind your back when we were in Hawaii, finding the right semi-local comic book shop, and calling in a favor from Madeline to pick it up for me."
"Trixie, honey, I have no idea how much it cost but I know it was too much. I...I can't accept this." With reluctance, Ryan held the comic book out for her. "You're the sweetest thing ever, but you really should take this back. I..."
Trixie interrupted him by holding her hands up, rejecting him, "I have no intentions of taking it back, and never mind what it cost. The smile on your face when you saw it was irreplaceable and you can't put a price tag on that."
Ryan lowered his hands; they both knew it was impossible to argue against her. He became quiet and a solemn look passed over his face, "You do remind me of Amanda in so many ways."
There were not any words she could say to reply to that. The comparison to Amanda took her breath away, but at the same time, it felt like she was making a mistake and shouldn't even be here with him. She felt so out of place.
He continued, "I mean, I know you two are different. You like different things. But I didn't mean you're like her only on the outside. You have a lot of the same virtues that made me fall in love with her in the first place. You have her compassion, her joy for life, and her gift for sacrifice and pleasing others."
Her heart stopped when he said she had the same virtues that made him fall in love with Amanda. Initially, she felt like swooning. But the more she thought about it, his comparison and mere mention of the L-word scared the life out of her. Surprisingly, she noticed that he said it innocently enough that he didn't seem to make the same correlation that she did.
She also noticed that he didn't mean she bent over backwards for others because her job required pleasing them, or because she was getting paid for it. He meant that making people genuinely cheerful was in her nature; Trixie knew exactly what he meant.
"And no, you didn't overstep your boundaries. I'm sure my parents would have loved what you did for me. I wish you could have met my parents. I think they would have loved you."
Her eyes began misting up. She wasn't worthy of being compared to Amanda and dragging down someone as gentle and loving as Ryan.
Ryan looked at the comic book again and started to say something, but no words came out. Instead, he grabbed her and gave her a tight, loving hug again.
The feeling of his big, strong arms around her made everything worth it. In reality, Trixie felt like she was the one receiving a gift. She couldn't remember the last time she went to such great lengths to do something this special for someone, and she certainly couldn't recall ever having a feeling this warm after giving anyone a heartfelt present like this.
It was impossible to hold back her tears.
"Jessica," she whispered in his ear, as he continued holding her tightly.
She looked up at him with her big blue eyes, "You wanted to know the real me. My real name. It's Jessica. Jessica Kelly."
He held her tighter. She could feel his strong arms wrapped tightly around her, and heard him taking in her scent as his head rested next to hers.
Oh my. What have I done?
It was hard to believe it was already noon on Tuesday. There were only twelve hours left until Jessica and Ryan went their separate ways. It was like a whirlwind for both of them; as quickly as the time flew by, both of them knew they had just lived out an amazing adventure with memories that would last a lifetime.
The mood turned somber; an uneasy feeling hung in the air. The funny part was Jessica had never felt this way with a client before. Up until she met Ryan, it was all business. She wondered if he felt the same way.
She knew they would have to make every moment count and focus on each second throughout the day and avoid focusing on what would happen when the clock struck midnight. The unspoken tension of the minutes ticking away was driving her crazy; she knew he felt it too.
Ryan made the mistake of calling her Trixie on one occasion, but he quickly corrected it, calling her by her real name. She giggled at his mistake, but he made sure he didn't repeat it. "I guess I can't call you 'Wicked Trixie' anymore, can I?"
"For you, Ryan, I'll let you call me whatever you like," she purred.
Even when Ryan briefly left the to pick up Chinese for lunch, promising he'd be back in twenty minutes -- he swore it was the best Chinese food she'd ever have, but the problem was they didn't deliver -- Jessica wanted to tidy up and straighten up the house. She could get a lot done in twenty minutes.
She planned on starting a load of laundry first; she could always switch it after he came home. Sorting the laundry was the time consuming part, not switching loads. Ryan had a pile of dirty clothes thrown in the hamper left over from his Hawaii trip that he hadn't gotten around to washing. She had a few articles of clothing she'd throw in with his; Ryan had done an excellent job trying to stain her undergarments, after all. Then, while it was washing, she'd vacuum the living room and dining room -- all before Ryan came home.
After grabbing a pile of clothes destined for the washing machine, she noticed something sticking out of one of his pockets. It looked like a napkin. She pulled it out and went to set it on the dryer when she noticed he had scribbled down a few words on it. They were written down sequentially; "Amanda", "North Shore", "Arizona", "Return", and "OFF -- Complete". The first four words were lined out. It appeared to be a checklist he spontaneously jotted down, and only the last one wasn't scratched out.
Sorrow was the first thing she felt when she saw Amanda's name. "Ryan, you poor thing," she quietly said aloud to herself. It reminded her of how she ended up in Ryan's life in the first place. She shook her head, unable to shake that nagging feeling that she was making a mistake. That this was all a mistake, and she shouldn't even be here.
The next three line items, "North Shore", "Arizona", and "Return" all brought smiles to her face. North Shore and Arizona were easy to interpret, and she had a memorable experience at both places with Ryan. Return must have meant returning from Hawaii; as nervous as she was to leave the tropical island and join Ryan at his home, everything had been going even better than she could have initially imagined.
"Off complete?" Jessica pondered the last item on the list. "What does that mean... what are you up to, Ryan?" She couldn't figure out what it meant, but it sounded cryptic. There was an unsettling feeling in the back of her mind that wouldn't leave her alone.
"You're gonna love this, baby. The best Chinese you'll find anywhere. Well, except maybe for China." Holding two large bags in each hand, Ryan stepped inside and closed the door with his foot.
Jessica looked like she didn't even hear what he said. Instead she asked, "What does 'off complete' mean?"
Ryan at first looked confused. Then his smile faded and his eyes narrowed. "Not sure what you mean. Do you want to set the table or get the drinks?" He put the food on the table and went to the kitchen.
"Look at me, Ryan," Jessica said sternly -- almost coldly.
Ryan turned around briefly while opening up the cupboards. The flash of anger that crossed her face was enough to make him cringe for a split second.
"You're lying! I can see it in your eyes. You know exactly what I'm talking about. Did you forget what I do for a living? Did you forget how well I am at reading men?
"I started washing some of our clothes and I found this in your pocket."
She handed him the napkin.
Her face turned from anger to sadness. "Ryan, just don't lie to me anymore. You promised me back in Hawaii you wouldn't lie to me anymore."
His shoulders sagged and he stopped moving around in the kitchen. He tried his hardest to fake a smile, which Jessica didn't buy, and said, "It's nothing; it's not a big deal. I like order and structure; I just jotted down some of the things I wanted to do with you."
The heartbroken look on her face told Ryan she didn't believe him. "So then tell me what it means. I don't have any more secrets from you. I-I know what we have isn't exactly orthodox, but you wanted me to be myself and I've done that for you. And I'm glad I've done that for you and have no regrets. But after everything we've been through together over this last week, despite me being a call girl, I think you owe it to me to tell me the truth."
Ryan was exasperated and threw his arms up in the air, "Why is this such a big deal to you?"
She countered with a raised voice, "First of all, you lied to me. And you're hiding something. I understand you lying about Amanda, and I forgave you; I even understand it wasn't my place to have to forgive you. Secondly, I don't know what you're hiding, but I've learned enough about you this last week to tell it's something significant. Maybe even painful to you. I can tell by the look in your eyes."
She lowered her voice and said, "That's what scares me the most."
All he could do was sigh, "Look, I said it's nothing. Can we just get past this and pretend it never happened?"
Jessica's emotions surprised her. A single tear rolled from her eyes down her cheek. "If you lie to me again, I'm leaving. If you don't want to tell me, fine. But don't you dare lie to me again."
Ryan sighed, allowing himself a shred of relief, "Ok, ok. We won't talk about it then. Let's just sit down and enjoy the rest of the day. Midnight will be here before we know it."
She settled back down, relaxing her shoulders and leaning back, like a cobra that was no longer being threatened.
But before he realized it, the words were out of his mouth, and the damage was done; "It's not a big deal, you're just overreacting."
He lied to her again.
The hurt in her eyes was unlike anything he had ever seen before. Ryan realized he screwed up and it was too late to fix it. Her jaw practically dropped. It looked like she wanted to say something, but only a soft squeak came out. The hurt in her eyes quickly turned into anger.
It was a big deal.
She wasn't overreacting.
And he lied to her again.
She stormed down the hall to his bedroom and grabbed her suitcases. Frantically, she threw clothes, beauty products, and shoes in, zipping them up as fast as she could.
Ryan chased her down the hall, "Jessica, I-I'm sorry. I..."
He was at a loss for words. She ignored him like he wasn't even standing there, except to walk around him when she needed to grab something for the suitcase.
Jessica probably forgot a few things -- she had three full-sized suitcases, after all -- but she didn't care. She just wanted to get out of there as soon as she could.
Off balance, she rolled and dragged her suitcases behind her, down the hallway and to the door. "I'm not going to listen to you lie to me, anymore. And I'm not going to watch you hurt yourself. Amanda is gone, and...," she could barely finish her sentence through her tears and sniffling, "and I'm not her. I never can be her."
She couldn't help thinking to herself that it was best for her to leave, even if he never lied to her in the first place. She was living in a fantasy world; she should have never accepted him as a client. This whole thing was a mistake -- everything was a mistake.
As she stepped out the door, she turned around and without looking into his eyes she told Ryan, "Don't call Madeline again and ask for me. Don't you ever even think of calling me, either!"
She ran out to her mustang and threw her bags in the back. For a moment, she wondered if she was overreacting. Her thoughts and emotions quickly overrode that feeling, No! I most certainly am not!
She turned around discreetly, looking for Ryan. She expected to see him chasing after her, or at the very least standing in the doorway.
He wasn't anywhere in sight.
Jessica wiped away her tears and sat in the mustang. With one last desperate look, she looked for signs of him anywhere; he wasn't standing in the doorway, and he wasn't peering through the windows.
The engine of the mustang roared and the car screamed down the road. Within moments, the house had vanished from her rearview mirror.
The wind blowing through her hair felt relaxing as she cruised down the highway on her trip to nowhere, especially after she exploded on Ryan.
Replaying the recent events over and over in her head, she tried to figure out what had just gone wrong. It could have been more than just the lie; it might have been because the stress of everything she had experienced this weekend had finally boiled over. Ryan forced her to question who she was, what she wanted, and what she cared about. Maybe she expected too much from him; maybe she put too much trust in him. One thing was for sure; she opened her heart to him and allowed herself to be vulnerable. She placed her heart of glass carefully, gently in his hands. And what did he do? He dropped it on the floor, allowing it to shatter into a thousand pieces.
And she had no one to blame but herself.
Everything was so surreal and confusing; she wasn't even sure if she was being rational or not. Either way, Jessica snapped, and she knew it.
Some escort you are, she thought to herself, walking out on the client before his time was even up. What the fuck happened to you, girl?
Her mind began to race.
You shouldn't have stormed out on him like that; he didn't deserve your wrath. You left him while he was in pain.
Yes you should have! You should have left days ago; it'll never work between you two. This was one big mistake from the beginning.
He's no different than any other man. He lied to your face more times than you can count.
If he was honorable he'd never have hired a hooker like you.
You only have feelings for him because of his sad story. You're a sucker for wounded men. Grow up and move on.
No; Ryan is special. He's your soul mate, and he's your hero. But you just blew it.
Jessica accelerated to ninety miles per hour, fifteen over the speed limit on Interstate Five. She kept heading north on the interstate without a destination in mind, at least until the bars opened later.
"Madeline, how could you not tell me I looked like his wife," Jessica shouted through the cell phone, signaling to the bartender for another strawberry margarita.
The voice on the other end told her, "You know how it works, Trixie. Despite our profession, we do have a certain degree of client confidentiality. My job was to make sure he wasn't dangerous. Was he a little off his rocker? Maybe a little, but he certainly wasn't dangerous."
She shook her head, "I still can't believe you knew and didn't tell me! Or at least give me some kind of warning. I walked into his world without a clue."
"I understand your feelings, Trixie. I'm sure you can forgive me given the amount he was willing to pay you, not to mention the little tryst you two kids took to Hawaii? Am I really not forgiven?" Madeline always had a way with words; maybe that was why she was the boss.
"Thanks," Jessica whispered to the bartender as the margarita arrived, covering the phone. She took a big sip through the straw.
Breaking through the silence, Madeline asked, "Is that why you called, honey? To vent? Or is something else going on?"
Jessica sighed, "No; well, yes and no. I also have a little confession to make which might not be so great for business. Um... has Ryan called you?"
"No. Should I expect his call?"
"Maybe. It's a little after midnight right now, but I bolted around noon. I just got up and left. Long story. I didn't know if he had called complaining or not. I'll give him back his money for the half-day I skipped out, maybe a little more to smooth things over, if he makes a big deal out of it. But I'd like you to be the one to deliver it, if you don't mind?" Jessica was nervous and not sure how Madeline would take the information.