First: I want to apologize to anybody reading PLRG and Armistice. Why? Because Devil Take It All was supposed to be a one chapter one-shot deal, but it started getting longer and longer and now I'm going to make it more than one chapter.
Second: I am writing this in the first-person and in present tense. This is probably the longest piece I've ever written in present tense, so please let me know what you think. I must say, it is mighty confusing to write! I kept having to recheck sentences to make sure the tense is right. I probably still have a lot of mixed up tenses, so please point them out if you notice them. Thanks!
What is the point of being a good girl when life throws the worst kind of spin ball at you?
I love life, and embrace it completely. I'm probably one of the few people who can say that and truly mean it.
I mean, what right do I have to hate my life? My parents are amazing and are completely in love with each other and with their kids. I have a brother and two sisters who I love, and who adore me. My looks are better than average, my grades stellar, my reputation even more so. I have supportive friends, and an excellent job. Overall, I have everything to live for.
Except I won't.
My doctor has just given me the news, and I stare at her in silence. She's a beautiful lady, even for her age. She's from North-East Africa, so her skin is golden; her hair is in dozens of tiny braids, tied at the ends with tiny red elastics. Her eyes, now looking sad, are brown and her mouth is moving, but I can't hear her over the buzzing in my ears.
The next thing I know, I'm waking up on her examination table, with one sentence running through my head.
I'm going to die.
I look at the clock on the wall above me and see that I've only been out for a few minutes. My doctor and her secretary are standing in the corner of the tiny office, discussing whether or not to call my family.
Just fifteen minutes before, I had entered the room to find out the results of my blood test. One look at my doctor had put an edgy feeling in me, and her words had confirmed my fears.
"Nessa," she had said solemnly, "your results indicate that you have acute lymphoblastic leukemia - it's a cancer of white blood cells. The best thing for you right now is to be admitted into a hospital, get more tests done, and begin treatment immediately."
"How bad is it?" I had asked.
She had rubbed the bridge of her nose before answering. "The results say that...that it's very late." I could tell it was hard for her; I had been her patient since I was born - almost 23 years! "There's still a chance," she added quickly, "but you need to get admitted now!"
I snap back to the present as I see the secretary's hand reach for the telephone.
"No!" I call out, startling them both. "Don't call my family!"
They turn towards me and my doctor helps me sit up.
"Nessa, it's best if they come get you," she explains.
"Please don't..." I whisper, "I don't want them to know." I see she is going to try and argue with me, so I make my voice stronger. "I'm a major by law. You can't disclose any of my medical information to anyone without my consent."
She looks surprised. I feel bad for dragging the law into it, but I don't want to see my family hurting in front of me.
"I'm going to go now," I say, climbing off the bed. "Take care of yourself doctor. You've been great to me."
I see tears in her eyes and give her a hug. I nod at her secretary and get out of the office.
As I wait for the elevator to come, I can feel the horror creeping up on me. I'm too young to die, I think to myself. The results said that I had a maximum of three weeks to live; I don't see the point of spending taxpayer money on a lost cause.
The elevator comes, and I enter it and automatically push for the ground floor. When the doors open downstairs, I walk out of the building and into the donut store on the corner. There, I buy three dozen donuts and clear out the lady's donut rack altogether.
From there, I head straight home.
I plaster a smile on my face as I open the front door. I look at the shoes on the rack at the front and do a count. My entire family is at home today, which is very rare.
I find them all in the den, watching my 19-year-old sister, Aria, competing against my father on our new gaming console. My older brother, 27-year-old Thane, is shouting advice at them. My other sister, 22-year-old Neveda, is sitting with my mother on the couch, leaning on her shoulder.
I feel a pang in my chest as I watch them from behind. This is what they'll look like when I am gone.
I shake off my feeling of gloom and walk over to wave the box of donuts in front of Neveda's face.
"DONUTS!" she shouts, distracting my father. Aria uses the opportunity to beat him in the game, a triumphant cry coming from her mouth.
I spend the rest of the afternoon with my family, enjoying every minute I am with them. We're a close family, so everyone realizes there's something not right with me. I shrug it off every time they ask and make it seem like I'm stressed over my post-graduate studies and work.
It is now late in the evening and everybody else is asleep. I dress in my skimpiest dress, apply make-up, grab my purse, and head out to the clubs.
I am on a mission. I do not want to die a virgin.
The club is busy at this time of night. I can barely see where one person starts and another ends. I change my mission and head for the bar instead.
I finish a countless amount of shots before heading to the packed dance floor.
Even in the crowd, I see him immediately. He is a blond god, and every girl is migrating towards him on the floor. I do too.
I have no qualms about elbowing others out of the way, so that is what I do until I'm standing right in front of him. He looks down on me with a raised eyebrow, a small smile playing on his lips, and his green eyes questioning. I answer the unspoken question by throwing my arms around him and pulling my body to his.
His arms immediately come around me, holding my waist prisoner against his hard chest. He is taller than me, and my mouth is aligned with his neck. I suck on it and he groans, pulling me tighter against him and lowering his own mouth to my neck.
Soon, we are kissing and I am the envy of all the girls, and probably some of the guys, in the room. I can taste alcohol in his mouth, and I realize he's as drunk as me.
I don't care, he's just a fling.
I wake up in a strange room, my head pounding with pain. I am naked and there is an arm around me; I follow it to its owner and see a handsome blond man asleep and snuggled against me. He is also naked.
Suddenly, the events of the night before come crashing back.
I had gotten in a taxi with this man and gone back to his place. We had drunkenly fallen into bed, and I had let him touch me. It had hurt.
I could now feel a slight throbbing in my pelvic region, but it didn't hurt too much.
The arm around me shifts, and I turn to see the man watching me with his green eyes.
"Good morning," he says, his fingers teasing my bare stomach and making my insides flutter.
"Morning." I watch him warily. It has just occurred to me that I didn't know anything about this man.
He smiles and suddenly rolls on top of me, his mouth capturing mine for a deep kiss. I think about how wonderful it makes me feel and gasp as he slips into me.
Last night had been a blur and I had lost my virginity in a drunken state, but I am sober now and the feeling of him moving inside is making me writhe in pleasure.
I climax, reveling in the feeling of power it brings me, and feel him smile against my mouth. When he climaxes, he moves his mouth to my shoulder, biting on it lightly.
We stay that way for a long time, and then he rolls us so that I'm on top of him.
"That was nice," I say thoughtlessly.
He laughs and nips my shoulder again. "I should think so," is his response.
We're silent for a long time, and then he speaks.
"I...hmm...I'm not used to doing this," he says, his fingers playing with my hair.
"Sex?" I ask, puzzled, the side of my face against his chest.
He laughs again. "No," he clarifies, "I meant I don't sleep with women I don't know."
I think this over. There really is no point to him lying, and he was drunk the night before. He is probably telling the truth.
"I don't either," I say, and shrug as best as I could with his arms securely around me.
"Good," is his simple response.
The light in the room has been getting brighter since I woke up, and it is now almost blinding. It is probably around 10am.
I slither out of his grip and climb out of the bed. My dress, heels, and purse are on the floor, along with his clothes, and my underwear is nowhere to be seen. I remember with a blush that I had not worn any.
He doesn't say a word as I slip into my dress.
I kneel to strap on my heels and hear the bed creak. Suddenly, I am being pulled to my feet with strong arms.
"What?" I ask, exasperated.
He studies my face. "What's your name?" he wants to know.
"Look," I explain, "it was a one-night stand. There's no point in exchanging details. Besides," I add, "I will be dead in a week or so anyway."
He looks confused, but lets go of me. "Dead?" he wonders out loud.
I nod and kneel again to finish strapping my heels. "It's nothing contagious," I assure him, and get up. "I have leukemia and am expected to last a maximum of three weeks."
He looks upset and his hand reaches out towards me but I sidestep it. He opens his mouth to say something more, but I cut him off before he can.
"Listen, if you want to know why I did it, it's very simple - it was on my death to-do list," I tell him. "If it still doesn't make sense, look at the bed sheets." I had seen them when I had gotten off the bed, and know they are self-explanatory. They are stained red and are proof that I had been a virgin.
He walks back towards the bed to take a look, and I use the opportunity to slip out the door. The door is directly in front of an elevator, and the elevator doors are miraculously open so I dash in.
The room door opens as the elevator doors close, and the last thing I see of him is his shocked face.
It's a hotel, I realize as I step out of the elevator. I guess he's new in town or merely visiting.
And he's rich. The hotel is the most expensive one that I know of in the city.
I stride out the gold-framed entrance doors, held open by a young doorman who sputters at the sight of me in my slinky dress, and get into a cab lingering in front of the hotel.
I give the driver the address of the club, so I can pick up my car, and take my cell phone out once he pulls away from the curb. It is on silent mode, and I see that I have 17 missed calls; most are from my family, but 3 are from my doctor's office.
I decide to ignore the calls for the time being, change the mode to vibrate, and start to put my phone back in my purse when it starts vibrating in my hands. It is the doctor's office again.
I pick up to see why she's calling me on a Saturday, worried that maybe one of my family members is ill.
"Hello?" I say.
"Hello?" comes the response. "May I speak to Nessa White?"
"Hi Nessa, this is Cathy from Doc-"
"Yes, I know," I cut her off. "Hello Cathy. How are you?"
She ignores my question. "The doctor would like to see you as soon as possible Nessa."
"I can't tell you on the phone - she wants you to come in immediately."
"I thought the office is closed today," I say, confused.
"It is. We made an exception."
I'm silent for a bit, wondering why my stomach suddenly clenched.
"Okay," I say finally. "I'll be there in..." I look at where I am to judge the distance, "...an hour. Is that okay?"
"Yes yes, that's fine." She sounds relieved. I become more nervous.
It has been 40 minutes since that last phone call and I am, once again, seated in front of my doctor in shock.
She has just given me the news, except this time she looks happy.
She's still talking, and I am zoning in and out. "...results were...confused...frantic calls...wrong label...other lady was admitted yesterday...must have given you quite a scare..."
You have no idea, I think.
She's still talking and I force myself to listen.
How hard can it be to peel and stick labels? I wonder. Very hard, apparently. The hospital lab technician had mislabeled my blood sample - another lady had been getting hers done on the same day, and he had stuck the printed label with my name on her sample, and vice versa. Her doctor had thought she was fine, based on my sample results, and she had ended up in the hospital yesterday with unexplained exhaustion and trouble breathing. The hospital had redone her test results and figured out the error on their part.
Error, I giggled out loud, causing the doctor to watch me with worry. An 'error' had just made me throw myself at a stranger and wake up in his bed. An 'error' had made me give up my virginity to a man I didn't love, and had changed my entire life.
"Nessa?" my doctor is rubbing my back as I gulp for air. "Honey, you're going to be okay."
I nod, trying to hold back tears of frustration. "Thanks for telling me about the...error."
I let her walk me to the elevator. Once I am safely in my car, I let the tears come, my head on the steering wheel handle. Why did I have to be so impatient? If only...if only I waited a day, I think sullenly.
My family is very open-minded, but we are also very traditional. I had not planned to give up my virginity to anyone but my husband on our wedding night. When death stared me in the face, I had panicked, wanting to die having known pleasure...but now...
I am there for a long time, in that position, but finally drive myself home. My family is frantic with worry over me, thinking the worst of my disappearance, but they do not yell. They accept my lie about having partied with friends, and then slept over to avoid driving after drinking.
I am grateful they trust me, but feel guilty over the lie.
Three months have passed, and I have managed to come to terms with what I have coined "The Deed". I am more or less back to my old self, and my family and friends no longer treat me as one would treat glass or thin ice.
My job is going very well, and I had received a promotion a week ago. I work at a private publishing company, and was formerly a layout artist; now I am the manager for the artwork and layout departments, reporting directly to the new owner. Nobody at the office has seen or met him yet, but his reputation as a businessman is impeccable.
I am about to step out for lunch when the office line rings. Unable to avoid it, I pick up and hear the voice of the administrative secretary, Jenna, telling me to proceed to Mr. Dan Lansing's office immediately. Mr. Lansing is the new owner.
Waving a mental goodbye to lunch, I grab the files I had prepared and head for the elevators, my heels clicking with each long stride. Once in the elevator, I push the button for the top floor and wait.
Jenna is waiting for me when the elevator doors open. She is a small brunette in her early 40s, but she has retained a youthful look. With a brief hello, she motions me to follow and leads me to a room at the far end of the building.
The sign on the door was a discreet and elegant Dan Lansing.
She knocks and enters, indicating that I follow. The room is enormous, looking more so because of the large glass panes in the windows. Everything is black, white and silver, with white walls, black furniture, and silver equipment. The one piece of colour in the room is a large painting hanging on the left wall; it is an abstract piece, and very compelling.
The man sitting behind the desk is also very compelling. He is a brunette, with brown eyes, and is currently typing away at the computer in front of him. He is probably in his early 30s and his face is a study of concentration.
We wait near the door until he looks up with a satisfied expression on his face. His eyes clear when he sees us, and he gets up and strides over with a big smile on his face.
"Dan Lansing," he says, extending a hand to me.
I shake it and say, "Nessa White. Nice to meet you, Mr. Lansing."
He shares a look with Jenna and laughs. "You are not to call me Mr. Lansing, sir, or anything of the like. I am Dan to everyone in this office. Got it?"
I smile back at him, "Yes Dan."
He dismisses Jenna and invites me to take a seat. We talk about my work for a few minutes and then he asks about my family. I tell him about them, delighted that he took an interest, and try to avoid the hunger pains in my stomach.
Unfortunately, my stomach chose that time to growl. Loudly.
I flush, and he looks taken aback before he realizes where the sound came from. Laughing, he reaches over to his phone and pushes a button.
"Nessa," he says, shaking a finger at me. "Never skip lunch for business."
I look at him in shock.
"No, I'm not being selfless," he says, smiling at my expression. "My policy is that a happy employee is a good employee...and if you're thinking about food at odd moments, then it's going to distract you from work."
I nod, understanding what he is getting at.
"Good," he declares, "as long as we're on the same page."
A knock sounds on the door and Jenna enters, holding the door for a man to wheel in a trolley laden with food.
As he sets up, Dan chuckles softly. "Your expressions are priceless," he explains as I look at him. "In case you're wondering, I ordered food earlier on and was going to invite you to lunch with me anyway."
I thank him, pleased with my new boss. He is friendly and enjoyable, and I am excited to work for him.
Little did I know that, two weeks later, I would take back that thought.
I am in Dan's office, discussing the next issue's artwork theme when the office line rings. I am leaning over Dan's shoulder at his desk and see by the phone caller display that it is Jenna.
He jerks his chin towards the phone and hunches over my samples, so I pick up for him.
"Nessa? Is Dan there?" Jenna wants to know.
"Yes, but he's a bit busy now," I respond. "Is it anything urgent?"
"Can you tell him his brother is here?"
"One second," I say to her and cover the mouthpiece of the phone.
Still no response. He is still hunched over my files.
"DAN!" I prod his shoulder and he jumps.
I hide a smile. "Jenna's on the phone. You have a visitor."
"Tell them to go away," he says, running a hand through his hair. "Who is it?"
This time I don't hide my smile. "She said it's your brother."
I watch as his face changes from exasperation to delight. He grabs the phone from me. "Send him in!" he says, and hangs up.
I'm amazed at the excitement on his face as he walks to stand in front of his desk, eagerly watching the door, his work ignored. He must truly love his brother.
A knock sounds and Jenna opens the door and stands aside for the newcomer to enter.
"Chad!" Dan shouts, rushing over to hug his brother.
"Dan..." the brother murmurs, less enthusiastic.
Jenna leaves, closing the door behind her. I am frozen in my spot behind the desk, stricken. Chad is the other player involved in The Deed.
I hope he doesn't recognize me; it has been months.
As this thought runs through my mind Chad, still embraced by his brother, looks up and straight at me. Even with the distance, I can see a flash of recognition in his eyes, and his lips slowly curve into a smile.
A/N: Err...yeah. So what do you think?