Sugar on the Edge(2)

By: Sawyer Bennett

How about a blow job, sunshine?

Yet, her sunny personality is exactly the reason she doesn’t really appeal to me. I don’t like my women smiling, happy, or carefree. I like them quiet and passive, taking what I give them, and otherwise leaving me the fuck alone.

“Nope. I’m good. Cheers,” I tell her and start to turn away to close the door. My last glance at her shows her smile to still be fixed in place, but there’s a hint of a smirk she’s showing that tells me she very much knows I’m a supreme asshole, yet she couldn’t care less. She just made thousands of dollars in commissions off me, and that will keep her in rainbows and unicorns for many months.

After the door closes, I lean back against it and survey my new kingdom. It’s massive… four stories if you include the basement and way more room than any one man could ever hope to possess, or live in for that matter. It’s going to be a bitch to keep clean, and that’s the last thing I’m looking forward to because all of my attention needs to be focused on trying to stay away from the bottle and working on my manuscript, which is due to my editor in two weeks.

Pushing away from the door in a spur of the moment bout of insight, I pull it open and call down to Casey, who has made it to the bottom of my porch staircase. “Wait a minute.”

She turns back around and pastes a pleasant smile on her face. “Yes, Mr. Cooke?”

“It’s Gavin,” I say, tired of the formality, because Mr. Cooke is my father and it makes me feel fifty rather than twenty-seven.

Casey cocks her head to the side in curiosity.

“Do you know of a cleaning service you can recommend that can come in a few times a week?”

She chews on her lip in thought and takes a step back toward the staircase. Looking up at me, she says, “There are a few here in the Outer Banks, but I actually have a friend… my roommate actually… who might be interested.”

Shaking my head, I say, “No, thanks. I’d rather have a professional company.”

Casey’s brows draw inward, and she steps up on to the bottom of the staircase, poising one hand on the bannister, the other sliding into the pocket of her skirt. “She’s really fantastic. She cleans a few other houses on the island. She’s very unobtrusive, and she will do a better job for a better price than the professional companies do.”

“Is she as talkative as you?” I ask skeptically, but what I really mean is she bubbly, perky, and outgoing. “Because I don’t like to be bothered.”

“Quite the opposite. She’s shy and a little withdrawn. You probably won’t even know she’s in your house.”

Drumming my fingers on my thigh, I think about her offer. My gut says to decline and insist on a professional company, because if they don’t work out, there are no awkward feelings if I have to fire them. But then I think… what the fuck do I care if there are awkward feelings? If I don’t like her, I won’t have a single qualm about booting her arse out.

“Okay,” I capitulate. “Give her my contact information and have her give me a ring. I’ll discuss the details with her.”

Casey pins me with a huge smile and says, “I’ll do that. Her name is Savannah Shepherd. I’ll have her call tonight.”

I nod at Casey and turn away from her, walking back into my house and straight down to the entertainment suite, where I pull out the bottle of Scotch and pour myself a “welcome home” drink.

Just a mere hour later, and I am fully unpacked in my new home. All I had was two suitcases of clothes, and a box of office supplies that I had shipped over from my flat in London. I pour another two fingers of Scotch in my empty tumbler, which is actually a plastic glass with a big, pink flamingo on it that I found in the cupboard, and take a sip as I sit down behind my desk. The office chair creaks and moans, causing me to make a mental note to get a new chair. This one will drive me nuts if it makes this much noise.

Reaching over into the almost-empty box of office supplies, I pull out the last item in there. The only piece of decor that I had shipped over.

The small frame feels light in my hands. As I turn it over to see the picture inside of it, I’m wholly unprepared for the sharp stab of pain in the center of my chest. I haven’t seen this picture in over two weeks, and it opens up a fresh wave of longing and bitter feelings. I take another sip of the Scotch, willing the peaty burn to start numbing my mind and my heart as it slides down my throat. I gently set the picture on my desk in front of me.

Reaching out, I rub an index finger lightly over the glass and swallow hard so as to prevent the buildup of tears that will often hit me when I stare at Charlie’s picture. It’s my favorite one of him… taken just a few weeks after he turned two. He’s sitting on the front porch of our house in Turnbridge Wells, a midsize town about sixty kilometers from London. Charlie had his elbows resting on his knees, his hands clutching on to his favorite stuffed animal… a ridiculous-looking, bright blue octopus. He’s smiling big, his little baby teeth winking at me, while his blue eyes sparkled in the morning sun. I remember he was smiling so big because I was dancing around and making a fool of myself while Amanda snapped pictures. It took almost no effort on my part to get Charlie to smile and giggle, but I always hammed it up hard around him. It was just my thing as a dad.

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