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The Ex Games(5)

By´╝ÜHelen Cooper



“Thanks.” I smiled. “Do you know how many more hours until we land in San Francisco?”

“It’ll be about two more hours, Ms. Raymond.”

“Thanks.” I looked back out of the window and thought about Brandon again. Maybe I wouldn’t even see him. I’m sure he would be busy with the board of directors. What time would he have for a manager? It was just my luck that he had bought the company that I worked for. Out of all the companies in the world, he had to pick mine. What sort of bad luck was that? He was going to fire me, I just knew it. He would take one look at me, laugh in my face, and fire me. Maybe after calling me a liar. And what could I say? What would I tell HR? I knew the answer to that, and I would just leave with my tail between my legs. Because it would be true. I had lied to him. At first, I had a reason, but then I had built up the lie, made everything more complicated. And then it all exploded in my face. I closed my eyes again and thought of Brandon, my sexy, hunky Brandon.

“How was your day today?” His voice was warm and I smiled into the phone.

“Good, what about yours?”

“Long.” He groaned. “I don’t want to talk about it. I’d rather talk about our dinner tomorrow night. Are you excited?”

“Yes!” I exclaimed in excitement.

“I love that you don’t hide your true emotions. I’ve dated way too many women in New York who act like they can’t stand me.”

“That’s silly.” I said honestly. Thinking back, he should have realized the truth from our phone calls. Brandon had taken my number before putting me in a cab home the afternoon after he had taken me home. He had wanted me to spend the weekend with him, but I knew that I had to get back to the dorms or my friends would be mad. He had called me every night since then, and I delighted in his phone calls. He made me laugh and he made me feel special. He seemed to really want to know how I was spending my days, and he told me little things about himself as well. He was the only son of a billionaire banker and worked at his father’s hedge fund. He hated his job, but knew that it was his duty. He owned his apartment in Chelsea, he had a house in the Hamptons and an apartment in San Francisco, He preferred the West Coast but had to stay on the East Coast due to work. He loved dogs, but traveled so much that he thought it was unfair to have one. He loved Mexican food and jazz and collecting first edition books. He was also 35. When he first told me that, I felt my heart stop beating. 35 sounded so much older than me. 35 was old enough to be my dad, if he had had sex at a young age. 35 made me feel guilty for having him think I was 22, about to turn 23. 35 made me keep my real age a secret. I didn’t want to stop talking to him. I didn’t want his calls to end, and I very much wanted to go on that dinner date with him. 35 made me realize that I couldn’t let him know that I was 18, even though I very much wanted to be honest about my age.

“I can’t wait to see you tomorrow.” He whispered into the phone. “I’m going to take you to dinner and then we can go dancing if you want.”

“That would be nice. Do you know what club you’re thinking of?” I grabbed my laptop so I could check yelp to see if they let in people under 21.

“Oh, not a club.” He smiled. “I was thinking we could go to some salsa classes.”

“Salsa?”

“Yes, you know, the Spanish dance.”

“Oh, yeah. I just never heard of a date where people went to classes.”

“What are you used to, Katie? Burgers and movies?”

“Something like that.” I laughed.

“Then that just means you’ve been dating boys, and not men like me.”

“Yeah, that could be right.” If he only knew just how true his words were.

“Men in their twenties are still chasing the almighty dollar and trying to get laid. Men in their thirties know that money and sex are not important.”

“It’s not?” I’d had neither and still hoped for both.

“I mean, we need it to live, of course. But it’s not worth losing your life for either.”

“I suppose that’s true.”

“So tomorrow, shall I pick you up from your apartment?”

“My apartment?” My body burned as I stared at my roommate’s empty bed. “Uh, no. I’ve got a late day at work tomorrow. I can meet you at the restaurant.” I couldn’t believe how easily the lies slid from my mouth.

“Okay, that makes sense.” He yawned. “Tomorrow will be our first date.”

“I know.”

“I can’t wait to see you again.” He chuckled. “And if anyone I knew heard me say that, they’d think someone had stolen my body.”

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