Buy Me, Sir(9)

By: Jade West


“So, you thought you’d better fill me in now I’m up nine floors?” I shrug, sip my coffee. “I’ll probably never even get vaguely close enough to find out what he’s really into. As if a man like him is ever going to be into a little scrubber like me. Christ, Dean, are you blind?”

I wonder how long he’s been looking up Alexander Henley. I wonder whether he sees the beauty that I see.

I wonder if he’s saved a picture. Maybe several.

I wonder if he knows quite which way he swings yet, and if he’s still masturbating over gay porn when he thinks I’m asleep through the wall. I wonder if he’s masturbated over Alexander Henley.

The idea of a stash of photos makes me jealous. My phone has a cracked screen and barely any storage.

“That’s the thing,” he says. “I think you are gonna find out what he’s into. And I don’t think you’ll stop ’til you find out.”

I groan. “That polyester stripes don’t really turn him on, Dean, that’s what I’m gonna find out. That guys like Alexander Henley don’t date girls like me. That I’m not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough for a man like him. That’s what I’ll find out.”

He holds up his hands. “I don’t think that, not any of that. And you shouldn’t either.”

“Yeah, well he will. Probably.” That scratch scratch in my belly. The scratch scratch that seeing the job advertised in the paper managed to take away.

A Saaaaa, and then a Dee deee from the living room, and I push the door open. Joe is up on his feet, a big smile on his face as he claps his hands, picture book finished.

Dean sighs, and then he smiles, and I know it’ll be alright. I know he’ll never make me give up on my dreams, not while this little guy is depending on me to get us through this mess.

He grabs my elbow before I go to scoop up my Joe, and his voice is just a whisper, right in my ear.

“Henley won’t think that, I promise you. Not about you, Lissa.”

I could kiss him. Kiss him for the way he’s looking at me, as though I’m still the girl with straight-As and a big future ahead of her.

“Thanks,” I say.

“It’s the truth,” he whispers. “And that’s what worries me shitless. That it’s gonna be you who ends up hurt, and broken and retracting your comments when you make it a whole lot further than floor eighteen. Because you will. You will make it.”

Hope.

It’s a beautiful feeling.

I shouldn’t smile, not when he’s so worried, so I pretend it’s all for Joe, and choo-choo trains, and the cruddy second-hand trainset I picked up with my first month’s wages.

He deserves so much more than this. And I’m going to get it for him.

If Dean really pushed me, I’d tell him I really don’t have a plan beyond floor eighteen, and I wouldn’t be lying, not technically. The plan post being up close to the area Alexander Henley spends most of his working life is hazy. More a feeling. A feeling that I’ll know what to do when the time comes. Doors opening into darkened corridors, and more doors, deeper and deeper. Like the detective novels I used to pick up from the charity shop as a kid, there were always so many breadcrumbs, a trail unfolding as you flipped the pages, and then BAM, at the end it would all come together, a sense of satisfaction as the whole picture came into view.

That’s how I feel right now. Like I’m at the beginning of something, armed with nothing but that sense of knowing.

Maybe it’ll be a late night. Mr Henley working late as I stumble into his office, and there’ll be a meeting of eyes, a simmering recognition in the darkened room, just him and me, and maybe I’ll tell him, tell him I’m the girl he bummed the cigarette to, the girl who was late.

Maybe he’ll remember.

Maybe he’ll invite me to sit down and ask me all about my life, and I’ll pull the crappy cap from my head and shake my hair loose from my hairnet, and he’ll see something in me.

Something.

Something he wants.

I’m such a fool. Even the thought makes me laugh as I whizz Joe’s crappy train around the track and make the noises.

I’m pretty sure that’s not how a run-in with Alexander James Henley, the puppet master, is going to go down. Maybe sniffing his seat and laughing about it with Sonnie will be the end of it, nothing but a crazy fixation until I find a way up and off this crappy rung on the life ladder.

Before some asshole going thirty over the speed limit ploughed into my parents I was a girl on a mission. Determined to qualify as a criminal lawyer and run into the man who’d stolen my heart over an Insignia cigarette. It was supposed to be one hell of a different story to the way this one’s panning out.

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