“Not sure yet,” I said, and watched as his expression turned from one of disappointment to scorn. “I’m looking at a few different options.”
And I was. I’d sent out letters to every address on Hanna’s list that morning. Well, every address on the list but Jensen’s. He hadn’t called, texted, or emailed since I’d left his house the morning after. Nearly a week, and I wondered if he even realized I wasn’t in Boston anymore.
He’d been nearly sacked two years ago when Ruby quit and there was rumor of a lawsuit. But things quieted down when Richard Corbett discreetly paid Ruby an unknown sum of money under the table. Since then, Anthony had been quite strenuously capital-A Appropriate with his employees, but he couldn’t help also being a capital-A Asshole on occasion. It was how he was built.
I struggled to keep from sinking into my chair. “Not yet, but I don’t reckon I’ll have a problem finding one.”
“Don’t be daft, Pippa. Stay here until you do.”
I knew that was the smart way about it, but the problem was, I couldn’t. I couldn’t stay one second longer. I despised him, and the work, and the bland offices, and the way that I was so miserable at the end of the workday that I went straight to the pub.
I loved who I’d been in Boston.
I hated who I’d become here.
“I realize I’m not leaving with much notice, but you’ll give me a good recommendation when someone calls, Tony?”
He hesitated, spinning a pen on his desk. I’d been his right hand ever since Ruby left and Richard had promoted me from intern to staff engineer. From there, I’d moved into an associate engineer role, and I didn’t even have a master’s degree. No matter how Tony felt about me leaving, he couldn’t deny that I’d been stellar under his supervision.
“I will,” he finally said. And in a rare moment of kindness, he added, “Hate to see you go.”
I fumbled, jerking a little in my chair as if I’d been zapped by a touch of static. “I . . . Thank you.”
I cleared out my desk, carried everything in a box to the Tube, returned to my flat.
My mobile rang on the dining room table, pulling me out of the mindless task of sorting through which of the back issues of Glamour I wanted to keep. Crawling to the table, and with my heart already beating wildly—in the week since I’d been home, I’d already received four calls from possible employers in Boston—I reached for the phone only to see Mark’s face lighting up the screen.
I heard him inhale sharply at this. “Is it a bad time?”
I stared at the wall. “You fucked another woman in my bed. And then you cleaned me out of house and home.”
“You sound very American,” he said.
“You’re right about the groceries. Sorry about that, Pipps. I was slammed with work and didn’t have time to shop.”
I sighed, sitting back down on the floor and leaning against the couch. “Well, after returning at midnight from three weeks away in the States, I was thrilled to go shopping for groceries.”
He groaned and then murmured, “I’ve called to apologize, and it seems I have one more thing to add to the list.”
Sighing, he said quietly, “I am so sorry, Pipps. I hate to think of what I’ve done.”
This shut me up.
It wasn’t that Mark didn’t apologize. It was that he didn’t often sound sincere.
“What are you up to?” I asked, suspicious.
“I’ve only called because I miss you, and wanted to see how your holiday had gone.”
“I’m not ever shagging you again,” I growled preemptively. Mark always had the ability to melt my anger with seduction. Even the thought had me feeling twisty and disloyal. Jensen’s kiss was still on my lips, his touch all over my skin. I didn’t know how long it would be before I was able to strip it all off. I wasn’t sure I wanted to, yet.
“It’s not why I’m calling,” he said quietly, “not for sex. Though it’s been five weeks since I’ve seen you, and I miss you like crazy . . . I realize I’m an enormous fuckwit.”
“Something bigger than enormous,” I told him. “Something worse than fuckwit.”
He laughed at this. “Meet me for dinner tonight?”
“Come on,” he pressed. “I’ve been thinking a lot about what I did, and how terrible I felt when Shannon did this to me, and it’s been eating at me.”
Now I laughed. “Mark, do you hear yourself? You want me to come meet you for dinner so that you’ll feel better about shagging another woman in my bed?”
“Won’t you feel better seeing me beg your forgiveness?”
It was so unlike him to say this, to be so belly-to-the-ground apologetic. And even in the face of it, I knew my answer was no. I related to Jensen so acutely in this moment. It wouldn’t make me feel better; it wouldn’t make me feel worse. It wouldn’t make me feel anything.
So then, I wondered, why shouldn’t I go? If one of us could get some peace of mind tonight, why not let it be him?
“It doesn’t matter to me,” I told him. “You can be apologetic or self-righteous about it all. But I’ll be hungry at seven thirty and will be at the Yard.”