SEXT(3)

By: Penny Wylder


Regret what? Missing out on a total creepiest? I don’t think so.

I slam the door closed between us without responding. I’ve learned by now that as fun as snappy retorts are, sometimes it’s better not to antagonize the crazy people.

I lean up to tell the taxi driver my address, then collapse against the seat with a sound halfway between a groan and a sigh.

Well. That was another unqualified disaster. I close my eyes for a minute, then pull out my phone to text my coworker.

Halfway through typing a message about how she was so very wrong about this new app being better than the others, my phone begins to buzz.

Crap. It’s Dick.

I hit ignore, wait for it to go to voicemail, then keep typing.

And now, on top of the last 5 disasters, I’ve got this creepy guy who told me I’d “regret” not going home with him, who’s trying to call me.

I hit send and my phone buzzes once more. Dick. Again.

I hit ignore again, then, on second thought, shut my phone off completely. I’ll deal with figuring out how to block his number in the morning. Not like I haven’t already done that a few times for other creeps in the last couple years I’ve been trying this online dating crap.

Sometimes, it doesn’t seem worth it. Sometimes, I think it’d be better to just continue my life without a guy in it. After all, everything else is going great for me. I just got another promotion at work—I’m only 29 and I’m a marketing manager with five people working below me. I work at publishing house where I’ve been since I graduated college and landed my dream job. I love my team, my boss, my coworkers. I love my job, promoting great literature to avid readers. I love that I get to travel, go to conferences where I meet cool authors whose books I love, and I get to help them make those books even more successful.

Plus, I have my friends. They keep me going through it all.

No, on the whole, my life is pretty great.

So why does it still feel like something is missing?

I shake my head. Ignore it. I don’t need a guy, especially not a guy like Dick. If it’s the choice between him and staying single forever, I’ll take the latter happily.

The taxi pulls up outside my building and I pay the driver, then push the door open. For a second, I just lean back to gaze at my building.

I was lucky as hell to score this place a couple years ago during a slow season and a market down-turn. I got it hella cheap; rent control, too. It’s the first time I’ve ever been able to afford a one-bedroom apartment by myself, and in a building with a doorman, no less.

This is how I know I’m finally moving up in the world. Finally making something of myself. I love this building and everything that it stands for—the progress I’ve made in my life, the goals I’m achieving.

I smile as I take a step toward the doors. Then I freeze, because I hear the most unwelcome sound possible behind me.

“Clove!”

You have got to be kidding me.

I turn around slowly, the hairs on the back of my neck standing up, my muscles tensed.

Dick stands on the curb, beside his taxi, which he clearly just asked to follow me all the way here. “Look, I know I came across a little strong earlier. I just wanted to say sorry and also that maybe we can try again…” He takes a step toward me, staggering a little.

I underestimated how drunk he was. Or maybe he showed up to the bar a few drinks in and that whiskey pushed him over the edge. “Dick, listen, I’m just going to go inside now…”

“Wait,” he says, and it comes out more of a growl than a plea. Before I can react, he launches himself across the pavement at me. I have just enough time to take a few steps backward toward my door before he catches me, one hand wrapped around my wrist, the other on my shoulder. I try to wrench myself free, go for my phone in my purse, but I can’t. His grip is too strong.

He pushes me against the glass beside the door of my building, his breath hot on my face. “You don’t have to be a bitch, Clove. You can be nice about this.”

I grit my teeth and throw myself sideways. It’s not enough. He keeps his hold on my shoulder, slams me against the glass wall harder.

“Don’t move while I’m talking. I’m talking to you bitch, you hear?”

“Dick, please let go, you’re hurting me.”

“I’ll let go when I know you’re going to take me seriously. I’m a fucking catch, you don’t just walk away from a fucking catch.”

I cast a wild-eyed glance over his shoulder. But at this hour, my neighborhood is pretty quiet. That’s what I like about it. Liked, anyway. Right now, it’s working against me. There’s nobody in sight.

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