E-Beth Ch. 02bybluedragonauthor©
-- CHAPTER 2: After the Party --
*-- DECEMBER 2006 --*
It was just another Monday. By my rough calculations, I had already experienced over 170 such Mondays, walking through the employee entrance of Argen Laboratories and waving my badge at the RFID security gate. But never once had I walked through those doors feeling this nervous.
Big presentation? No problem. Departmental review? No sweat. Even an audit by the FDA? I could handle them.
Sleeping with a co-worker? I was freaked out.
To be honest, I'd anticipated that I might eventually knock boots with a fellow Argen employee. Of course, for the past several weeks, I'd thought that fellow employee would be Grant. And more the point, I'd thought we'd be in a dating relationship by that point.
But no, I hadn't slept with Grant. And I wasn't in a dating relationship with the guy I'd slept with. In fact, I had absolutely *no idea* what the status was of my relationship with Teddy. Three days ago I wouldn't have even termed us friends. Yeah, we were friendly. Yeah, I liked flirting with him, and he seemed to like me flirting with him as well. But we'd never even spoken to each other outside of the building.
Making love with Teddy had been spectacular. I hadn't felt so blissful post-coital with anyone in a long time, David and Amber included. Looking back, I'm sure some of it was the alcohol. But that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the wonderful feelings of the moment.
Unfortunately, the poison-part of the intoxication process started up shortly after we finished that spectacular round of intercourse. Teddy and I were only able to cuddle in the afterglow for a few minutes before the nausea hit me. And the next thing I knew, I was buck naked and bent over my own toilet, vomiting up a foul concoction of Hennessey, Tanqueray, and Smirnoff that no bartender in their right mind would put together.
And the cute guy who had given me such pleasure, and whose good opinion I suddenly wanted? He was kneeling next to me, equally naked, holding my hair out of the way and stroking my back. Yeah, *real* impressive there, E-Beth. Great start to a relationship.
The blackouts weren't done with me yet. I don't remember leaving the bathroom, nor getting dressed. I do remember choking down a few pieces of bread and chugging a bottle of Gatorade at Teddy's insistence. But despite all his efforts, I still had quite the hangover in the morning.
And Teddy was gone.
I remembered falling asleep with Teddy spooned in behind me, holding me tenderly. I was in my PJ's and Teddy was wearing his undershirt and boxers. But when I awoke in the morning, sometime after 9am, he was no longer in my bed. In fact, he wasn't anywhere in the condo.
All that was left of him was a note:
*I owe you an apology from the bottom of my heart. I am a complete asshole and a despicable person. When you were at your weakest, too drunk to really know what was going on, I took advantage of you. Your words and your actions told me you wanted me just as much as I wanted you. And even though I should have known you were too intoxicated to consent to what you were doing, I let myself give in to my lust. I have shamed and defiled you, and I can barely live with myself for what I have done.*
*"I'm sorry" doesn't cut it. But right now, it's all I've got. Please forgive me. And please know that I have nothing but the utmost in respect and admiration for you as a person. I never meant for things to get so out of hand. And I am completely remorseful for my actions.*
*I'll understand if you never want to see me again. I'm fully prepared to quit my job and leave you alone forever if that's what you want. I'll even turn myself into the police -- what I did was... illegal. But someday, somehow, I do hope you find it in your heart to forgive me. I don't know that I could go on if I can't find a way to make it up to you. I WILL make it up to you.*
I hadn't called him. I didn't know WHAT to do. Even now, I could scarcely believe that I'd slept with Teddy. And yet the evidence was all over my condo. My red wine dress, panties, and heels were still in the living room, although Teddy had collected them and put them in a pile together. There were also the glass of water, the empty Gatorade bottle, and the plate of crumbs by the sink. And of course, while my memory had holes in it, I distinctly recalled pleading with him to fuck me.
I noticed how Teddy couldn't bring himself to use the "R-word" in his letter. I know, legally, consent cannot be given when someone is intoxicated; but I knew in my heart that Teddy hadn't raped me. It was the other way around, if anything.
I knew, intellectually, that I'd felt... *something*... for him last night. Even pushing through the alcoholic fog, I'd recognized a special quality about him, something that appealed to me. I knew that I'd wanted him; but today, I didn't really know exactly why. I couldn't remember that "something" that I'd felt. And I didn't know if I ever would.
Clearly, Teddy was flogging himself over what had happened. He didn't deserve that. He deserved to know that I wasn't mad at him, even if I didn't really know what to think about the situation just yet. I wasn't remorseful. I didn't necessarily feel... dirty... or anything. I only felt confused.
I liked Teddy. I still liked Teddy. But I wasn't sure how *much* I liked Teddy. And more the point, right now, I didn't know what he thought of me. I didn't have much history to go on. All I'd really known was that he liked my tits. This was no great revelation. Lots of people, both male and female, liked my tits. That's why I put them on display the way I did. But other than that? I didn't have a clue.
I remembered one thing about last night. While we were fucking... while we were *making love*... I'd thought I could see into Teddy's soul. That was ridiculous, of course. No one can see into another's soul. But I'd thought I could understand the way he really felt about me. I'd thought that he'd had a very specific, very special thing for me. It wasn't love, but given the opportunity, it could be. He crushed on me, he admired me... he *worshipped* me, on some level.
Or was all that just a figment of my imagination?
Maybe he was half in love with me and just wanted to know that I didn't despise the very thought of him. Maybe he hoped that we could bond over this, to develop the attraction we'd felt last night, and perhaps build a relationship out of this mess.
Maybe he thought I was just a drunken slut who was easily seduced and discarded by a charming womanizer. Maybe he was more or less indifferent to me and just porked me while he had the opportunity and then wanted to get as far away from me as he could. Maybe the letter was just an elaborate ruse to defuse my anger and a cover so that I wouldn't press charges against him.
Or maybe he DID have feelings for me at some point... in the past. But now that he'd found out what a complete mess I was, getting totally hammered and letting myself get screwed by a guy I barely knew at the very first opportunity, he'd realized I wasn't a "quality" girl worth any further thought.
I didn't know. And until I had some vague idea, I couldn't call him.
So I didn't call him. I poured myself a glass of orange juice and took two Tylenol to help my ringing headache. And for the next two days, I holed up in my condo, zoning out to my backlog of TiVoed programs. I didn't answer the phone, but I did check my messages, just in case Teddy called ME. But all I got were semi-worried voicemails from Stella and Audrey, wanting to make sure I was okay. And there was even one from Paula, who was STILL apologizing.
No message from Grant. Not that I expected one.
And no message from Teddy.
And now it was Monday. Now I HAD to go into the office and potentially run into one or both of the men currently freaking me out.
What would I do if I bumped into Grant? Would he turn on the charm and try to re-seduce me? Would he pretend I didn't exist, that our history never happened, and that I was just another co-worker at the company? Would he run screaming down the hallway in the other direction at the mere sight of me?
That last one put a little smile on my face, and armed with that, I made it all the way to my office, where I quickly sat down and tried to distract myself booting up my computer.
But what about Teddy? Sooner or later, we would HAVE to talk about what happened Friday night. Grant would be easier to put behind me. He was a mistake, but nothing serious had happened. I'd let the rat crawl back into his hole and never think about him again. But Teddy? Well, sex changes people. And we'd have to face that eventually.
But how? Do I go to the stockroom? If I did, at least I would be able to control the 'when' and 'how' we would meet again. But then again, Teddy's the guy. Isn't it HIS job to come find ME?
Should I just stay in my office and wait to see if he visits me? I didn't have any tests planned for a couple of days, so there was no reason for me either to be in the labs or to go to the stockroom for supplies. But how could I work, constantly wondering when he's going to come knock on the door?
I looked up, sighing in obvious relief to see Stella standing in the doorway, looking perky and cute as always.
"Hey, honey. You okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine."
"I was worried. You never called me back over the weekend."
I sighed. "Oh, I'm sorry. I had the WORST hangover."
"But Teddy took care of you just fine?"
I blanched and gulped. 'Took care of me'? Exactly what did Stella mean by that? Was she asking if the sex was good? I mean, I knew we girls shared a lot, but of all the things she could be asking me, why did-
"He got you home safe, right?" Stella interrupted my train of thought.
"What? Of course," I replied, still a little distracted. I put on a little smile. "Yeah, shoved some bread down my throat and forced me to drink Gatorade. Then he took a cab and left."
Stella smiled happily. "Good. I always knew he was a nice guy."
I smiled right back. Of course, she had no clue. Stella would *never* suspect that I'd slept with Teddy. I mean, that was just ridiculous, right?
I didn't see Grant that day. Actually, I didn't see him for the rest of the week. Marketing was at a completely different end of the complex from the Discovery department, and you'd have to have a pretty good reason to wind up in the other's area. Sure, there were presentations and meetings that might cross functions, but I wasn't scheduled for any this week. This was fine with me. The less I saw of Grant, the better. And now that I was getting a better sense of Grant's cowardly nature, I presumed he wasn't going to go out of his way to initiate contact with me.
I was a little more disappointed not to see Teddy the whole day. Yeah, yeah... I know that communication requires two people, and therefore I shouldered 50% of the responsibility for meeting up.
Bullshit. Teddy was the man. He was the one worried that he'd taken advantage of me while I was drunk. He should have come to apologize, face-to-face, especially after disappearing on me the morning after with nothing but a piece of paper remaining of him. It wasn't that I was *eager* to talk to him. Fuck, I was nervous as all hell. But I still thought he *should* be the one to come talk to me, and the fact that he wasn't coming had my opinion of him dropping with each passing hour.
I even waited an extra hour past my usual departure time, just to give him that much more of a chance. Sure, I could be at work until 10pm some nights, but on an ordinary office day I checked out by 6pm. But by 7pm, I'd finally decided that Teddy was just a spineless worm who didn't have the guts to face me after what he'd done.
I had it all figured out. Teddy was just a nerd -- no, not even a nerd -- Teddy was a geek: a nerd without enough intelligence to qualify as a nerd. He'd gone to Harvard, sure. But all he could manage was a stockroom job? What a loser. And did he even have friends? I'd never seen him out with people. Did he just stay at home all night, watching porn and playing video games? Friday night must have been a fantasy for him. He'd harbored this crush on the young chemist with big boobs, probably jerking off a few times a day in that stockroom whenever he thought he could get away with it. He'd hide around the corner from the counter, blowing a load into some tissues while imagining he was spunking on my tits. And then after offering to take me home, I'd been drunk and horny. He'd played at being reluctant, just enough to make me believe he was really a nice guy. But all along he'd been hyperventilating with excitement and drooling in lust at the prospect of fucking me. He'd gotten so wound up, he'd humped me and spermed me pretty fast. Maybe he was even congratulating himself for getting me off, not even realizing I was on a hot trigger and had cum on my own. And then once he got his little fantasy-cum-true, nerd-boy had run away, awkwardly cowering and covering his head, hoping the whole thing would get resolved on its own.
Shaking my head in resignation, I scooped up my purse and jacket and left my office, frustrated and annoyed. The main lights were already off, leaving only the dim hallway illumination. I was used to it and navigated the deserted corridors with ease, stomping away in the darkness.
The employee entrances were locked down this late at night, so I went through the main lobby to get out to the parking lot. I smiled at Russell, the evening security guard, as I emerged into the lobby itself. He smiled back and then gestured to the far corner. Furrowing my eyebrows, I turned to follow his gaze, just in time to see someone stand up from one of the couches.
It was Teddy.
"He's been here since 5:30," Russell chuckled. "'Bout an hour back, I started asking who he was waiting for, but he wouldn't tell me until fifteen minutes ago. Told him he should just go to your office, but he got all skittish and sat back down."
I sighed, feeling my heart both speed up and get tight as Teddy approached. Russell chuckled again and then backed away to give us a modicum of privacy. And then I bit my lip nervously and waited.
"Uh... hi, E-Beth," Teddy began, his voice making him sound even more nervous than me.
I just looked at him expectantly, still feeling annoyed and somewhat angry that he hadn't come to me all day.
Teddy blanched at the expression on my face and stammered, "I, uh... I had this idea that I should just... bump into you... like an accident. That way, it wouldn't seem so confrontational, like if I'd come to your office or something."
I raised my eyebrows. "Bump into me?"
"Yeah," he winced. "Y'know, you're heading out after work... I bump into you... I suggest we grab some coffee... Y'know, chat away from the office." He blushed and looked down. "At least, that was the plan."
"It was a stupid plan, Teddy," I huffed. "All. Day. You didn't come see me ALL DAY. And you didn't call or visit or anything over the weekend! Is that all I am to you? An easy piece? You got what you wanted and then ducked your head into the sand without so much as a phone call? Huh?"
His jaw flapped up and down a couple of times, like he wanted to defend himself. But he really didn't have any defense to say. Instead, he just gave me a pained expression and said, "I'm sorry, E-Beth."
I sighed and gave him a measuring look. You males know the look, the one where your girl is clearly testing you, waiting to see if you'll fuck up? "Sorry about *what*, exactly?" I practically growled.
Predictably, Teddy blanched under my withering gaze. He could be apologizing for not coming to talk to me sooner, or he could be apologizing for sleeping with me on Friday night. Teddy could tell I was testing him, to see if he'd come up with the right answer. And after another second's hesitation, he burped, "Uh, not coming to you sooner?" There was no conviction in his voice. In fact, he sounded like a school kid *hoping* he just gave the right answer to a trick math problem in front of the whole class.
Well... it WAS the answer I was looking for. My eyebrows went up. "Okay, there's hope for you yet."
"I'm sorry," he repeated. "I was scared. I didn't know what you'd think of me after... well... uh..." Teddy's eyes flashed over to Russell, observing us and eavesdropping without being TOO obvious about it.
I put my fists on my hips. "And do you know now?"
Teddy managed a weak smile. "Actually, I think I do. The fact that you're madder at me for not coming to talk to you sooner than... uh..." He flashed on Russell again. "... well, you know. It's kind of a relief."
I rolled my eyes. By now, any attraction I'd had to the boy had evaporated. I gave him credit for coming up with a plan -- albeit a stupid one -- to talk to me instead of just crawling under a rock and hoping everything went away. But Teddy's weak, unconfident demeanor right now wasn't doing anything to improve upon the loser geek impression I'd formed of him over the past few hours. I'd thought I'd seen something in him the night of the Holiday Party. I'd thought I'd felt the sparks of a connection between us. But clearly, I'd just been drunk.
Teddy took a deep breath and looked at me with that adoring wonder again. "I think we need to talk about Friday night," he began. His arm started gesturing to the doors, and I guessed that he was returning to his original plan about inviting me out for coffee so that we could chat.
But I cut him off. "Forget about it."
Teddy's eyebrows shot up. "Ah well, we don't have to get into it right now. I mean, if you need more time to-"
"I mean *forget* about it," I interrupted, shaking my head. "It was a mistake. I was drunk. It didn't happen." And then without a moment's hesitation, I started walking for the doors.
Teddy quickly turned and followed me. "Forget about it? I'll *never* be able to forget about it! Not for the rest of my life! I mean, that you were more mad at me for not contacting you sooner makes me think you don't see me as this predatory-"
"*Forget* about it, Teddy," I barked a little more harshly. We'd reached the RFID scanner and I beeped myself out before going outside. The cold December wind bit into my skin and I pulled my coat tighter around myself.
Automatically, Teddy beeped himself and followed me. "E-Beth, please! I need to at least know that you forgive me."
I stopped dead in my tracks and whirled around to face him. Teddy came to an abrupt halt, momentarily losing his balance. But as soon as he regained it and looked at me, I stated flatly. "I forgive you. Now can we just forget about it?"
He actually seemed hurt. "Is that what you really want? Just to forget it?"
"Yes," I stated firmly.
He paled. "And to forget about me?"
"I was drunk. It was a mistake," I stated flatly.
Teddy shrank even further. Poor guy. Drunk or not, my intuition had been dead right on Friday: he DID have a crush on me. And right now I was breaking his heart. He blinked rapidly, and he practically whimpered, "Didn't... *any* part of you feel something for me?"
I sighed and recalled my memories from that night. Or at least, I recalled what I could piece together.
I recalled how hard he'd worked not to take advantage of me.
I recalled the feel of his body on top of mine.
And I recalled the look of utter and complete adoration in his eyes as he made love to me. If Teddy had been there in the morning, looking at me the same way, I might have fallen in love with him right then and there.
But he hadn't been there. I'd felt something for him... briefly. It had felt good, but it was gone. And where would this go if I encouraged him? Was Teddy the kind of guy I wanted to date? Could I really see myself developing a relationship with him?