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PLEASE NOTE: Contains strong language
Copyrighted material by the author 2017, all rights reserved by the author, K.M. Creamer.
What if Bebe Stays with Steven?
Chapter 1: They met
“Candy, little girl?”
Bebe still can’t believe that she fell for that. Well, she didn’t really fall for it. After all, she knew it was a freakin’ line. Like, from the beginning of time, women have fallen for that line. Not.
He wasn’t even that good-looking, but for once in her life, she decided to throw caution to the wind. She always played it safe. What good had it done her? She was alone. No boyfriend. Not for a long time. And what happened to her former so-called boyfriends? One didn’t acknowledge her presence in public. One screwed her over. With her sister. One dropped out of sight, moved out-of-state, and didn’t even think it was worth telling her first.
Well, she was done with all that. Bebe Segretti was turning over a new leaf. A new, darker leaf. She was setting aside those pesky morals and values now. That inner moral compass hadn’t steered her right, like, ever. She was done listening to the little angel on her shoulder, whispering, “Be good! Be good, Bebe!” in her ear. It was time to see what the bad girl Bebe had to say.
Today, she was saying, “Hey, Bebe! Listen up! Time to go all in!” And so she did.
The first few dates were perfectly fine. Impressive, even. “Hey, Bebe! This guy’s got cash! Stick with him!” He had what seemed to her like an endless supply of it. Wads and wads of it. Never left home without it. And he didn’t hesitate to spend it on her. He paid for everything. It was like it never even occurred to him to have her pay.
This was awesome, because Bebe came from a family–not of paupers, really, but certainly a family dependent on the kindness of strangers for survival. Paternal grandmother, maternal grandmother, Social Security. They all carried them. Money was not waved about with wild abandon. Money was secreted away in coffee cans and under mattresses. She was lucky to get a few bucks for her birthday and for all A’s on her report card in the growing up years.
Once she started waitressing, she had her own pocket-money most of the time. There wasn’t much in her life that made her feel as good about herself as that did. She was tired of feeling like nobody loved her, not really. One day Bebe realized that, by some cruel trick of fate, she had never had a boyfriend on Valentine’s Day. Never. She didn’t have a date for her junior or her senior prom. She was brave, or stupid, and asked Kevin to go with her to both, but he declined. He gave her some lame-ass excuse about how he didn’t like dances. Sure he didn’t. So what was the bastard doing there with someone else? Oh, was he dancing? Like, with someone else?
She was tired of always being alone. It was getting old. So was she. She still hoped she would get married by her twenty-seventh birthday. If her past track record was any indication, her future looked dim. She was running out of time.
Steven showed up at this pivotal point in Bebe’s life, when Bebe was getting tired of being good. The bad girl was itching to take the reins firmly in hand.
So Steven it would be.
Chapter 2 Reconciliation
Bebe had spent the entire day making dinner for Steven. She wasn’t a girl who liked that sort of thing, either. She mostly avoided anything that smacked of domesticity. Although Bebe had plenty of opportunities to cook with her mother and paternal grandmother, Nana See, over the years, she eschewed them for books. Given the choice to eat or read, it would be close (Bebe loved food!) but books would win out every time.
Except that she wanted to impress Steven. She knew her mother and grandmother were great cooks. She was hoping to impress him so much with the food that he would think, ‘Hey, I could get used to eating like this.” You know. For the rest of his life. So she sacrificed, shopped, cooked ahead what she could, and unveiled the big ‘ta da!’ meal at his apartment, and what had he done?
He had fucking flipped out, that’s what.
After Bebe took the bus home that morning, not wanting a ride from him after his smashing, shameful performance last night, she thought she was done. Done with him. Done with dating. She was never going through that again. Holed up in her room, dodging questions from the family about how the big dinner went with noncommittal “Hmmmm’s?”, she wondered what was next. She would have a lot of free time now.
That’s when she heard the doorbell. That’s when she heard her mother say–please God! NO!–”Hi, Steven! Good to see you! Yes, Bebe’s upstairs. Come in! Come in! I’ll get her.”
Bebe felt panicky. Maybe she should have told her mother what he did at dinner. That he pulled a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, throwing his plate against the wall, shattering the china and her hopes in one fell swoop. Ruining dinner and the wallpaper and the curtains and the relationship, just like that.
“Bebe! Steven’s here!” she heard her mother’s voice calling, but she was frozen. It was like she couldn’t open her mouth if she wanted to, not even to save her life. Which maybe was saving her life, she thought darkly. She could hear them talking but couldn’t make out any of the words.
“BEBE! COME DOWN!” her mother screeched. She heard that. Heaving a sigh, Bebe hauled herself out of bed and started down the stairs. “It’s about time!” her mother said. Right then she noticed the big bouquet of red roses peeking out from behind Steven’s back. He brought his hand around in front of himself and presented them to Bebe. “For you, Beebes!” he announced. No shit, she thought, just looking at him. “What for?” she finally said. “To say I’m sorry,” he said. Bebe noted he didn’t say for what. She stood there dumbly, not wanting to take the flowers, not wanting to concede anything. Did he think he could just show up with some friggin’ roses and erase his evil deeds? No. Fucking. Way.
Her mother finally took the flowers, saying, “I’ll go put these in a vase.” Thanks, Mrs. Segretti!” Steven said. Bebe looked at him, still hating him. She began to go back upstairs.
“Okay, you can leave now,” Bebe said, making a mental note to throw the roses in the trash the first chance she got. “No, wait!” Steven said. “Come to breakfast with me,” he said. She noticed dully that he was not asking, he was commanding. Like the shit that he was.
“No. I don’t think so,” Bebe said and continued her ascent. “Come on. We’ll go get coffee then, and just talk. Just for an hour. Come on,” he said again. Maybe Bebe didn’t have a soft spot for him so much at the moment, but she sure did have a soft spot for coffee. She would have killed for coffee right then. Maybe this is a great time to go get coffee, she thought. A killer mood was the perfect mood for dealing with him.
“Okay. One hour. I want to be back here in one hour,” she told him. “Great. I promise. Let’s go,” he said. Bebe thought his promises weren’t worth a cent and wanted to tell him so, but she held back. Why show all her cards? Why let him know how much she was hating him? Go, get the coffee, and get rid of him. Give him the closure that he was so obviously coveting. And then send him on his way, so she could begin her new, single, celibate, solitary life. She would have the satisfaction of telling him to go fuck himself and have coffee, too! All before noon!
Her mood began to brighten up. Just as she was wondering where they should go, he said, “We’ll go to the Dunkin Donuts,” and to keep the conversation to a minimum, she nodded okay. She loved Dunkin Donuts coffee. It would be the perfect yin and yang: loved Dunkin, hated him.
To his credit, he didn’t try to talk on the way. They drove in silence. He must have realized that the more he talked, the less she listened to him. Besides, it was a quick ride. In ten minutes they were sliding into a space right in front of the store. Bebe noticed that it was a handicapped parking spot. Last week, she would have commented on it. Yesterday, even, she would have raised an eyebrow. Today, now that she knew what she knew, she said nothing, secretly hoping there was a big, fat ticket on his windshield when he got back. Ha! She thought, cheered, but then she remembered that his family and the police were all BFF’s. Fat ticket? Fat chance. Oh, well. She’d be done with all that drama in the time it took to down a large, black French Vanilla coffee. And maybe a muffin. It should cost him, she thought.
With her plan made, she didn’t wait for him to come around and open her door. That was when they were a couple. Now that they were uncoupled, she could open her own freakin’ door. He noticed, of course, but wisely kept his mouth shut. He did manage to hold the door open for her to enter the store, but so what? He would have done that for a stranger. Nothing intimate about that gesture.
Once inside, they got their order at the counter and found a table. She sat across from him, sipping her coffee, still silent. Seething. Let him dig his grave with his mouth, she thought. There was nothing he could say to her now, not after that performance last night, that would make her change her mind. Nothing would make her stay with Steven. Of that, she was sure.
Except, that there was.
“Look, I know I behaved like an asshole last night,” he started. Bebe was surprised he hadn’t led with excuses. Why he was justified to act like that. Why it was okay to throw his fucking plate full of food against the wall? To terrorize her? To yell and swear at her? “I’m sorry. I still can’t believe I did that,” he added.
Bebe, caught off guard, began to let down her guard. “Oh?” she said. “Yes. I’m so embarrassed that I lost control like that. That’s not like me,” he began, but Bebe cut him off. “Now you’re going to say that you never did anything like that before, right? That it was the first time, right?” she asked, feeling her anger reignite. “Well, no,” he said catching her off guard again. “I’ve only done something like that once before.” Oh my God, Bebe thought. Is he telling the truth? She wasn’t sure what she expected him to say, but she was damn sure she didn’t expect the truth. What was she going to do with that?
“Really. Only one other time,” she said. “Yes. The night my brother died,” he began. What? She knew he had brothers, but this was the first she heard of a dead one. “My little brother, John. He died in a car accident when he was 18,” he continued. “I admit it. I flipped out when I found out. We were only a couple of years apart. He was my closest brother. I just lost it,” he said. Bebe was listening now, God help her, and he knew it. He took advantage of it. Full steam ahead.
“I always drank beer at parties and stuff, but I started drinking a lot after that. I drank every night. I drank every day, too. I’d wake up, remember that John was dead, and just want to block it all out. So I drank. I was kind of meant to everyone back then,” he added, looking down at his hands.
“When was this?” Bebe asked, and he knew he had her. “About five years ago,” Steven said. “I thought I was okay now, you know? My mother asked me to go to AA meetings, so I did. I felt like it was the least I could do for her. She’d just lost one son, and she told me she didn’t want to lose me too. It got me. So I stopped drinking.”
“You expect me to believe that you stopped drinking? But you were drunk last night!” Bebe said, triumphant. She didn’t mention that she’d found all of his hidden liquor bottles around the house. Not beer. Whiskey. Why give all her knowledge away?
“Yes, I was. I went off the wagon for the first time in five years,” he said. “It was the anniversary of John’s death. Usually I just go to bed early on that day. I stay out of trouble. For some reason, this year, when Mitchell asked me if I wanted to take the day off from work and go get a drink, I said okay. I knew why he was asking me. I didn’t want to go, but I didn’t want to say no to him, either,” he said, “so I went. I planned to get a Coke, but we ended up getting shitfaced. I couldn’t drive home for a long time,” he continued. So that explained why he was late for dinner.
“I used to drink all the time, after John died. I haven’t had any since I quit. I promise, it will never happen again, Bebe. You have to believe me,” he said, a note of pleading in his voice, She softened. Should she cut him some slack? She knew that men often expressed sadness and grief as anger and aggression. She learned that much in Psych 101 in college. Should she believe him? She remembered how much she wanted this relationship to turn into something important, how hopeful she’d been. She wasn’t sure if it was fair to stop seeing him now that she knew the whole story.
“Nothing like this can ever happen again. Steven, if I decided to forgive you–and I’m not saying I will–but if I do, it can never happen again, and I mean never.” “It won’t! I promise!” he said, starting to look relieved. This annoyed Bebe for some reason, but she brushed this aside. “Okay, this is your one get-out-of-jail-free card, Steven.” “Great! Let’s just put it behind us now,” he said. “You won’t regret it,” he added. She wondered if this was true.
The end of Chapter 2!
Copyrighted material by the author 2017, all rights reserved by the author, K.M. Creamer.
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