Cheat

3

A week later, Ryrie rapidly put on her gray suit. She barley had time to put a touch of makeup on, yet she succeeded in doing so. She scrambled to straighten her newly dark brown hair, and with the abrupt slamming of the door, she was gone.

Ryrie's phone rang. She picked up without reading the caller ID. "Hello, this is Ms. Lei, the new Vice President of the Nikkei & Associates. How may I assist you?" Ryrie said, so used to answering her phones at work.

"Miss Riana, this is Reynolds! You forgot to eat your banana and your whole wheat cereal! You must remember that your breakfast is the most important meal of the day!" Reynolds scolded her.

"How can you be worried about breakfast at a time like this? I'm about to get my promotion as Vice President, today! I've advanced so much that ninety-nine percent of all employees at Nikkei & Associates have talked to Ted's Grandfather and they have promoted me to Vice President! But it's really a hush-hush deal, that is, until today! I must hurry! You know how I despise eating big breakfasts! That's why I skipped it!"

"Ah, but they say to eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper! Anyways, it's impossible for you to move up so quickly! You've only been working at the company for one full year!"

"Oh, Reynolds, you know what I say! I eat breakfast like a pauper's wife, eat lunch like a queen, and eat dinner a princess! And, it isn't impossible to do so if you have the brains, like me!"

"People these days have no respect for the days of my youth!" Reynolds muttered so that she couldn't hear.

"Ciao!"

"Goodbye and great job on your promotion, Riana."

Ryrie hung up. She accelerated faster in her Mini Cooper she ordered from London. Driving on the right side of the car was difficult for her, especially her being on the right side of the road, but she made due.

With a screech of her brakes, she parked in her spot. She grabbed her briefcase and ran towards the sleek building.

"Ry-ry, darling, you're here early! I'm so happy to see your beautiful face!" Ted grabbed her hand and kissed her on the forehead.

An employee came up with some papers in his hand. "Mr. Nikkei, we have been sent papers for the, um-"

"Oh, yes, the new calendars for the office! Thank you, Cal!" Ted interrupted.

"Yes," Cal stuttered, "they just came in! " He glanced over at Ryrie with a nervous smile on his face. "I'll just put them in your box for you!" He quickly ran over to Ted's office.

"That was the promotion papers, huh?" Ryrie asked Ted as he, once again, kissed her on the forehead.

"Yes, they were. Wait, you aren't supposed to know! How did you find out?" Ted asked, as he let go of her hand.

"You told me, remember? When we were at the bar, doing shots, you let it, um how do you say it, slip."

"Oh, I did?" Ted blushed. "That wasn't supposed to happen."

"You were asking me what type of beer I liked. I asked you why, and you responded with my after work promotion party. I just hope you can remember what my favorite type of beer was!" Ryrie grinned.

"You're quite fond of this Mexican beer. I forgot its name! So, am I right?"

"You're incorrect! It was a trick question! I like red and white wine so much better than beer!"

"That's superb, darling, it's absolutely superb! It's supposed to be at an open bar, the same one that we did shots at! Bravo!" This time he kissed her on the lips, just a little longer than work appropriate.

Ryrie drew back, and looked at him with a stone glaze. "Ted, we're at work! We need to be professional!"

"It's all work and no play with you, isn't it?" Ted yelled at her.

"I don't know about you, but I don't want to lose my job!" Ryrie bickered back.

"I was wondering how you succeeded me so quickly, especially since my Grandfather runs the company, and now I realize; you live for your job!"

"At least I don't get drunk at bars to let surprises slip!" Ryrie glared.

"You know what? I'm your boss! I can fire you at any second!" Ted smiled.

"Oh yeah, well here's your ring back!" Ryrie took off her engagement ring and threw it on the floor. She stormed off towards her office.

Ryrie slammed her door shut with a "Do Not Disturb" sign hanging off of it. Her phone rang. On the caller id, it said TARRY CRANDON SA.

"Hello, this is Ms. Lei, the new Vice President of the Nikkei & Associates. How may I assist you?" Ryrie put on a sweet voice with a side of hatred.

"Ryrie, thank God! I need to legalize some stuff." Crandon sounded relieved.

"I'll be right there! What do you need me to legalize?"

"I need a divorce. And since I already have you coming, why don't you help me with my will?"

"Why do you need a divorce?" Ryrie was surprised.

"Well, I'll tell you when you get over here. Samantha doesn't live here anymore, so it'll be just the two of us."

"Wait, before I go over there, have you guys done marriage counseling?"

"No, but what's happened no amount of counseling will fix our relationship."

"Ok, then. Where do you live?"

"I live in the three story across the way from Mom's old house. It has a blue roof and it is right next to the lamppost sere we used to use as a base in third grade. Mom has moved to Arizona. I believe in a town called Sun City." Crandon's dad died the day before Crandon's seventh birthday.

"Grazie! Ciao!" Ryrie said in Italian.

"Bye."

Ryrie hung up and raced to gather her things. She wanted to leave this office ASAP. She ran by Ted's office. She noticed watermarks on the papers he was working with, but she didn't care.

"Mr. Nikkei, I have an unexpected business call to attend to. Have a nice day. I will see you tonight."

Ryrie unlocked her door and zoomed away. She went back to her old neighborhood that held so many memories for her. She remembered so many things that she had done here; all the memories that had grown. Now all her classmates were scattered across the globe.

She closed her eyes and imagined children running around:

"Ryrie, get down from there! You're scaring me!" The voice of a three year old echoed through her mind. The three year old looked at her sister up in the tree.

"Relax, I'm fine! Just stop calling me Ryrie!" Ryrie's five-year old self said to the younger duplicate.

"If you get down from there I will stop calling you Ryrie."

"Fine, Celeste, you win." Ryrie's younger self climbed down the tree.

"Yay, Ryrie, you fell for it!" Celeste pranced around. "I had my fingers crossed!"

"That's not fair! Please stop calling me Ryrie!"

Celeste started to sob.

"You're a crybaby!" The Ryrie at age five yelled.

"Why don't you like Ryrie? It sounds so pretty! It also matches your personality. You love to climb trees, play tag, and other active games, just like our dog, Ziggy."

"Ziggy is a dumb name too!"

Celeste's sad face turned into a mad one. "I'm telling Mom you don't like me!"

Ryrie opened her eyes. I single tear was streaming down her face. She wiped it off with her sleeve and parked in front of Crandon's house. She rang the doorbell. The door slowly creaked open, and out walked Crandon.

He was unshaven and his hair was oily and straggly. There were bags under his eyes, and his roots were quite a few inches deep. All he had on were boxers and an undershirt. He smelt like something that had slept in garbage and his skin looked rough. You could hear the flies buzzing around his apartment. There was darkness, especially since the blinds were closed and no lights were on. Ryrie could taste the staleness of the air as she walked in.

"Ryrie, thank God you're here!" Crandon sighed in relief.

"Crandon, what's happened here?" Ryrie said, noticing all the clothes on the floor and the dishes in the sink.

"I got mad." Crandon said, his eyes, set upon some broken glass shards against the walls.

"What happened with you and Sam?"

"The twins, they aren't mine." Crandon sat down on the chair. He put his head on his forehead and started to cry.

"Whose are they?" Ryrie pushed her luck.

"Sam and… They're Sam and Michael's." Crandon bawled.

"Sh, it's ok." She soothed him. "Who has been paying the bills?"

"Mom has."

"Do you work?"

"Yes, I do."

"Do you have five dollars?"

"Yes, it's in the cookie jar."

"I'll help you out for five dollars, and that includes helping you clean this place up, but if anything more sever happens, like going to court, I will need to have one thirds of any profits you receive."

"That's fair enough.…" Crandon looked up with his blue eyes. They were red around the edges.

"Okay, you need to go clean yourself up. That means, take a shower, shave, brush your teeth, and put on some clean clothes. After that, you are going to go get a haircut. I'll drive you."

Ryrie set down her keys and shooed Crandon away.

"Where should I start?" Ryrie asked herself.

She eventually started out in the kitchen/dining room doing the dishes. She mopped the floor and cleaned the granite countertops. She brightened up the wood and recycled some junk he had laying around. Thereafter, she changed the light bulbs and opened up the windows. She, then, moved on to the family room. She vacuumed and threw all of the dirty clothes in different piles, depending if they were white, light, or dark. She then threw them into the washer and then dusted while she waited. After the laundry and the dusting were fully completed, she changed out all the light bulbs and opened up the windows.

"Voila!" Ryrie exclaimed. "110 better! Now, for one final touch to the main entertainment rooms, air freshener." She sprayed and waited for Crandon on the couch.

Ryrie heard Crandon come out of the bathroom. She suspected that there was a wall of steam piling out. Ryrie then heard Crandon cry out from the top story. "Are there any clean clothes?"

"Yes, they're on your bed!" Ryrie yelled from the first floor.

"Thank you for doing the laundry!" Ryrie heard Crandon go down to the middle story and slammed the door.

Ryrie sighed and wondered how much longer she would have to wait. She was getting very impatient, and her hands weren't occupied.

About ten minuets later, Crandon came down, looking as well as his first floor did. His face was smooth, and the foreboding stench erased.

"That's better. Come now, we must go and get you a haircut." Ryrie led him out of the door.

"Nice car. Did you get it shipped out here from England, or did you buy it here in the States?" Crandon looked at her Mini Cooper.

"I wouldn't buy one anywhere except London! Can't you tell that by the steering wheel?" Ryrie pointed out how the steering wheel was on the right side instead of the left side.

"You must have a very good job. How many hours do you work a week? Do you work eighty hours? How bout a hundred?"

"No, I work fifty hours! And it's not your place to criticize me!" Ryrie stuck her nose in the air. "Get in the car."

"Ok, sheesh! Let's go!" Ryrie and Crandon both slammed their doors shut and didn't talk all the way to Ryrie's hairdresser's, Marie, office.

"Oh, darling, back so soon? We only had an appointment yesterday! Is anything wrong with your hair?" Marie exclaimed as Ryrie and Crandon walked through the door.

"No, I love my hair a few shades darker, but my client, Crandon, needs some work."

"You've got another client after just coming back from Paris, darling? My, my, you have been busy! Did his wife cheat on him?"

"Yes, unfortunately she did. He realized that they babies she was carrying weren't his and that she had been cheating on him before they were married. I arrived at his house and he looked a mess. Fortunately I cleaned him up."

"Oh, you poor darling, come over here. I'll make you look better! Kelsey, go wash his hair up." Crandon glumly dragged his feet over to where Kelsey stood…

"Thank you Marie. You've been such a huge help." Ryrie said goodbye to her favorite hairdresser.

"No, no, no! The pleasure was all mine, darling! Go! You must get back to work! Thanks for the tip! Ciao!"

When they got back to the car Crandon had a very sullen look on his face.

"What's wrong?" Ryrie asked innocently.

"Do you do that with all your clients?"

"Do what?"

"Don't sound so innocent! You just told your hairdresser that I was going through a divorce!"

"Oh my gosh Crandon, she's a hairdresser. Everyone tells her stories like that! She's so used to it!"

Crandon gave her a look that said I'm not buying it.

"Come on! I'm a lawyer! And I'll still be one even though I've been told time and time again that I should quit and have a family, but you know what? I don't want one! Not after what's happened to everyone around me!"

"Just because you're the only living relative in your family doesn't mean that you're the only one who's experienced things like this!"

"I know that!" Water started filling up in her clear, blue eyes.

"You don't think that I've been through I a lot of pain?"

"I know you have." A tear rolled down her delicate pale cheek.

"Then why are we arguing about this?"

"I don't know!" Another one joined the tear softly dripping down her perfect jaw line.

"Well what about Teddy? Are you going to start a family with him?"

"I don't know! Okay? Stop giving me such a hard time about every single guy I've gone out with! We had a fight this morning and if you haven't noticed, I'm not wearing my engagement ring!" Ryrie covered her beautiful face and started sobbing behind the steering wheel.

"Whoa! Slow down. You and Teddy had a fight?"

"Yes. And now… And now we're not going to be married just because I told him that kissing too long at work is unprofessional!"

"How long have you guys been dating?"

"One year."

"Wow that's it?"

"Yup."

"Have you ever loved him?"

A flood of tears started rolling down Ryrie's face.

"Ryrie, have you?"

"No."

"Then why did you say yes when he proposed to you?"

"Why? I said yes because of the dancing moonlight in the air and the beautiful flowers that covered my ankles. You must remember I was also a little tipsy due to all the wine I drank. Besides, I didn't want to disappoint him. I wanted more time."

"Well, that's all you had to say."

"Really?" Her tears ceased.

"Yes."

"Thanks."

"No sweat."

Ryrie's Mini Cooper pulled up into Crandon's drive way.

"Okay then, call me to make a date on when to set up your will and make an appointment with Samantha so that you both can sign the divorce papers. You should separate what is yours and hers. Also make sure she has a lawyer."

"Oh, yeah…" Crandon said, remembering his predicament.

"Crandon, old buddy don't fret!"

"How can I? I've loved her and I've provided for her all these years just to learn the truth! If you ever find a remedy for a love-sick heart, call me up so that way I can take it immediately.

"Well, I know that there's nothing I can really do, but think of the bright side."

"What's that?"

"Samantha will be happy that he initials aren't 'SLUT' anymore."

With Crandon's last laugh, he exited the vehicle and went inside his house.