Chapter 14: Part 2

AT&T

The snow accumulated, graying Nora’s dark hair while she dragged her cigarette long, and stared up into the white sky. Shivering in her kimono, she flicked her cigarette over the balcony and watched it blend into the white flurries. Remembering in early December how Ian had grabbed her by the hips and throat and slammed his cock inside her, her hands squeezed tightly around the icy railing. The bitter wind flirted with her robe and opened it slightly. While deep inside of her, he whispered that she belonged to him and he belonged to her.

“For God’s sake Nora, don’t!” Sara cried from the bedroom.

Nora looked back at her, laughed and twirled on her finger, the 3 carat princess diamond engagement ring. Behind her, Sara begged for her to come back into the house or else she would catch her death. Searching her kimono, she found her phone and dialed Ian’s number again. The message said the same thing it had said the last ten times she’d dialed; the phone was either disconnected or no longer in service. Nora threw her phone against the concrete wall and screamed. She pushed opened the French doors, stepped inside the warm flat and listened to her best friend telling her husband how she seemed to be getting worse.

“She’s standing outside on the balcony wearing only her robe. Does that sound normal to you?” Sara insisted.

“I need to go to the store, I broke my phone,” Nora stated stripped off her robe and crossed to the walk-in closet.

Startled and embarrassed, Sara turned to her friend and smiled. She explained to Nigel that he was actually correct, Nora was fine and she wouldn’t be needing him.

“Oh thank God! Sweetie you shouldn’t be outside like that, you’ll-“ she began.

“…Catch my death, yes, I know,” Nora replied trying to choose a dress to wear.

Sara sat on the bed and fiddled with her phone. The snow fell beyond the French doors and painted the city white. It was the magical time before it became an ugly inconvenience. In front of the mirror, posted on the door, Nora stood naked and placed dresses against her. Sara admired and hated her body. She was perfect, Sara thought. If Nigel looked at this woman without desire something would certainly be wrong with him.

“Would you like to get some lunch and then we can stop and get you a new phone?” Sara suggested.

Deciding on a dark green sweater dress, Nora insisted that she needed to get in contact with Eva St. Claire – lunch would never work.

“But you need to eat love, surely you can contact her after lunch,” Sara said worrying that Nora would choose not to eat.

Nora simply shrugged and asked to borrow her phone. Sara handed the phone over and watched Nora dial Ian’s number again. Realizing that Nora was angry, Sara quickly rose and retrieved her phone.

“Look I’m only going to say this because I love you, okay? Obviously you need to eat but you also need to stop obsessing over that man. He hurt you sweetie, please understand that,” Sara begged.

The Dior dark green fitted sweater dress had become very loose on her tiny frame. To disguise this, she pulled a thick black belt from the closet and wrapped her body tightly.

“You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. None of you do,” Nora said defiantly.

Sara pleaded, “Then explain it to me. All I want to do is to help you feel better and all you seem to do is push me away.”

Nora left the bedroom and headed down the long planked hallway. Sara quickly followed, insisting that Nora tell her what she was thinking. Nora kept quiet and made up her face in the bathroom mirror. Four days had passed since she had left the hospital. Her face was now fresh and unblemished. She spread a dark red lipstick along her full lips and brushed mascara onto her already full lashes. Sara stood cross-armed in the doorway, impatiently tapping her foot.

“Why did you do it?” Sara finally asked.

She pinned a curl back behind her ear and lightly sprayed herself with perfume. She tried to exit the bathroom but Sara stood and blocked her.

“Tell me!” she demanded.

“I didn’t do anything. I just did too much,” Nora said.

Sara and Nigel had arrived in New York the same day that Nora awoke from the coma and was released. The couple left the airport and had a cab take them to the Park Slope flat. They waited at least an hour in the cab for Nora and Jackson to arrive. Still not able to fully walk on her own, Jackson, with Nigel’s assistance, carried her from the cab and into the flat. Underneath the street light, the bruises on her face deepened. Sara remembered her continuously mumbling Ian’s name and futilely struggling against the men. She made worthless demands to be taken to him or he would kill them all.

Frustrated and getting angry, Sara searched her mind for the right words to break the seal that would force the words from Nora. Nora stared at her silently.

“Why don’t you trust me anymore? You used to tell me everything?” Sara asked.

“Sara, I love you but you are not the type of person that would understand this,” Nora said flatly and pushed past.

Nora wrapped her wool scarf about her neck, slid on black leather ankle boots and threw her coat over her shoulders.

“I’m heading to the fashion house. Tell Jackson that’s where I am, should he return,” Nora said and was gone.

“Wait!” Sara said chasing after her, “I’m supposed to go with you. Please don’t shut me out.”

The door slammed in her face. Sara froze, her nose practically against the door and cursed.

“Bugger! Bugger! Bugger!”

Pulling on her boots and grabbing her wool coat, Sara dashed out the door. She was met with a very cold stinging wind chill. Her eyes instantly began to water and the mucus in her nose tightened. Shivering, she searched the white haze. Nora had only made it about half of a block when she stopped to hail a cab. Sara ran towards her. Upon reaching her, she got hold of her arm and tried dragging her back to the flat.

“You can’t runaway from me! Do you understand that you’re not well,” Sara yelled.

Too weak to break from her grasp, Nora swung her large handbag and hit Sara across the face. Forgetting the bag was not zipped shut, she also emptied the majority of its contents onto the snowy sidewalk. Grabbing Nora by the waist, she tried to pick her up but could not. The two fell over and landed in a heap on the ground. Rising to her knees, Sara got hold of Nora underneath her arms and tried dragging her down the street.

“Don’t shut me out!” Sara said dragging her.

Across the street at the coffee-house, patrons looked on in amusement.

“Stop it! Stop it!” Nora screamed.

Still dragging her, “I won’t until you tell me what’s happened to you!”

“Nothing, I’ve always been like this, you just chose to ignore it,” Nora said.

“Since when do you allow men to hit you?” Sara asked.

“Goddamn it, stop dragging me!” Nora yelled.

Sara stopped and breathing heavily, remained on her knees. Nora quickly tried to retrieve her lost items and stuffed them into her handbag.

“I love him Sara. It’s not something I can just turn off,” Nora said softly.

“But how? If he hit you once, he’ll hit you again, studies have proven this fact,” Sara tried to reason with her.

Laughing, Nora continued to gather her spilled items.

“Why are you laughing?” Sara demanded.

“Jesus Christ Sara, I’m not in a text-book, this is my fucking life! Ian hit me, yes, he did. Ian has also pulled my hair out of my head only to make a point. Ian also likes to choke me when he fucks me because it makes me cum harder. Ian also likes to slap me while we fuck because –“ she tried to explain.

“Stop it! This can’t be true!” Sara begged.

Laughing loudly, Nora brushed off the snow and dirt, and stood slowly to hail a cab.

“See, you’re not the type to understand.”

A cab pulled up and took Nora. Sara remained on her knees, covered in snow.

The Eva St. Claire fashion house was one of the few houses still located in the garment district. When she climbed out of the cab, the street underneath her feet seemed to drop. Grasping the door, she held herself up, and barely heard the cab driver ask if she was okay. Nora assured the nice driver and sent him away. Dizzy and nauseous, Nora entered the building and noticed that her stockings had been torn.

“Shit!” she said.

Rushing into the bathroom, Nora removed her stockings and tossed them into the trash. She arrived at the front desk and asked if Eva was available. Eva greeted Nora with a hug and invited her into her office. They sat on the leather couches and sipped on hot tea. Eva immediately noticed Nora’s bare legs but said nothing.

“I would have rung Eva but my phone, well, with all that has happened, it was lost,” Nora explained.

Brushing it off, Eva assured her that it was nice to actually talk in person and see that she was at least looking well. Nora thanked Eva for the nice flowers and spa basket she had sent to the flat. Eva was gracious and insisted that it was nothing.

“So now that this is all behind us, well behind me, I wanted you to know that I have nearly completed the dress line for you. I just have to tweak a few things here and there but it is ready for you to view it and we should be ready for Fashion Week, no problem,” Nora said.

Eva leaned over the ottoman and poured herself more tea. Sitting back in her white leather couch she told Nora that based on the past few weeks events, she no longer would be able to contract her. She would be paid what the contract had stated but St. Claire’s fashion house would not renew. Eva’s voice seemed to be echoing as she explained how investors, the board, and other contractors were not comfortable promoting such a lifestyle. She went further and insisted that she understood how love can blind side someone into making bad decisions but at this point, her hands were tied.

“I’ve been in this business for over 40 years, long enough to know that it is loaded with hypocrites, liars and phonies but it’s fashion and we have an image that is our bread and butter. On a personal note, I have loved many men in my time – good and bad. I’ve been married three times, bared and lost children, bought and lost mansions and taken a smack from a man. Ah, you look surprised. Well, the great Eva St. Claire met her match in 1975; when in those days it was okay for a man to hit a woman. And he was beautiful and brilliant and had an unbridled temper. I had fooled myself into thinking that his unbridled anger was what made him a man. Nora, use this time for some soul-searching and try to keep out of the spotlight. That way you can decide what is right and good for you. You are extremely talented and I will miss you dearly.”

The large ivory doors shut behind her. She stood, legs bare, holding onto her chest and rummaged her large handbag. She discovered a small empty brown bottle and discarded it to the ground. Cursing she quickly left the building. The doorman, pushed opened the heavy glass doors and let her out into the white washed city. The cold snow swirled about her and melted on her exposed long legs. Across the street she noticed an AT&T shop.

The shop was crowded with tourists and teenagers looking to buy the latest in cell phone technology. She cut her way through the crowd, grabbed the latest iPhone and charged it to Jackson’s credit card. Her breath became erratic and her heart beat as if it would burst. Unable to think, she hailed a cab and ended up in the East Village. Still holding onto her heart, she searched madly for a bar. She seated herself on the stool and asked the bartender, rather politely, for vodka with lime and an outlet to charge her new phone. She hooked up her phone to an outlet behind the bar and drank down her vodka lime and kindly asked for another. She repeated this until either her heart stopped racing or she no longer noticed.

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