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“We have sex, Ben. Lots of sex. Have you been sleeping with Allyson?”

“I haven’t slept with Allyson...yet.” He looked as if this was no big deal. “And you and I do not have ‘lots of sex.’ That’s the problem. Five to six days is a long time for people our age to go without sex. Not to mention that sometimes I don’t see you for weeks at a time while you’re out being a so-called flight attendant or working at that other ridiculous job that I won’t even call by name right now.”

“Executive housekeeper,” I said it for him. “And what do you mean ‘so-called’ flight attendant?”

“Exactly what it sounds like. I’ve flown more than you have over the past year and a half, and to places that are more than one or two hours away.”

“Is that why you’ve lied to your dad about where I work?”

“No, I lied to him so he wouldn’t team up with my mother and pressure me to dump you. Having a girlfriend who cleans apartments and serves pretzels in the sky isn’t something that will necessarily go over well in our social circles.” He looked into my eyes. “All of that aside though, I really like you—damn near love you. I don’t want a little white lie and a few senseless fucks with a few girls I care nothing about to get between us.”

I felt a tear rolling down my face, felt my naive heart beginning to break. “How many girls, Ben?”

“You’re focusing on the wrong thing.” He rubbed my arm. “I just said that I damn near love you. This is where you say that you love me back and we go find somewhere to get reacquainted. Preferably someplace private and quiet.”

“How many girls have you fucked behind my back, Ben?” I nearly yelled.

“Lovers in New York...” The pianist’s voice carried against the wind. “Lovers fighting in New York...”

“Ten or so,” he said flatly. “But I always come back to you, see? I don’t take any of them on dates, I don’t have long conversations with them on the phone like the two of us have, and I definitely don’t let any of them spend the night at my place like I’ve let you. That’s because I only use them for sex. I like you for you, and I actually care about you.”

More tears fell down my face as he continued to explain his twisted logic, as I silently cursed myself for somehow missing all of the signs. The late night meetings across town, the buzzing of his phone coming in the middle of the night, the sudden growing obsession with wealth and “looking good for whoever else might see me today.”

I started to wonder about all the dinner parties I’d attended with him, if the smiles and waves from other women meant far more than a casual hello. If he’d paraded me around as a part-time girlfriend who knew all about his side affairs.

“Why are you looking like a deer in headlights, Gill?” he asked, his tone suddenly soft.

“Because I honestly feel like one...Was there ever a time when you weren’t sleeping with other women behind my back?”

“The first few months we were together,” he admitted. “I only slept with you then.”

“We’ve been together for years.”

“And we can be together for many more...If you can agree to let go of your current blue collar jobs and maybe go back to your old job—the actual, impressive one, or agree to work at my dad’s firm. Maybe we can be on the same schedule and I won’t have to resort to sleeping with other people. We’ve both had a hand in this, Gillian. Both of us.”

I stepped back and held back a cry. I refused to let him see me break down.

“Lovers in New York...” The pianist sang ten times louder than before. “Lovers crying tears of—”

“Please shut the fuck up!” I shouted at him, misdirecting my anger and hurt. I took a deep breath and started to apologize, but he ignored my outburst and continued singing anyway.

“Oh, babe.” Ben held up his arms and stepped toward me for a hug. “Don’t cry, it’s okay. Come here.”

“Don’t touch me. Don’t you dare touch me.”

“Fine. Let’s at least get on the same page before we go back inside to the party,” he said. “I don’t need you causing a scene in front of all my parents’ friends. How would you like to compromise on our issues?” He paced back and forth. “I’m willing you listen to your ideas, although I must admit, if you want to ensure that I only sleep with you, you’ll have to make some major changes and give me time to adjust to that again.”

I didn’t say a single word. The last word wasn’t worth it. Not now, not ever.

We were finished.

I turned around and walked away, ignoring his pathetic, weak calls after me. Without looking back, I weaved through the party guests, plastering a fake smile on my face as they smiled and nodded at me. Not wanting to come face to face with the throng of photographers near the elevators, I took the stairwell down a few floors and caught the elevator from there to the ground level.

Hot tears fell down my cheeks and my chest heaved up and down with every step. Each one was a reminder that I was abandoning a one-sided relationship that once seemed so promising. That the issues I’d planned to bring up later were minor footnotes compared to the pages of problems Ben revealed.

When I reached the lobby’s doors, I noticed the rain’s sudden return. It was falling harder now than it was when I first arrived.