“She deserves better than me.” He laughed.
“So you’ll just date someone else then?” Sophie wanted to break away from him and jump into the river to drown her sorrows.
“I don’t date.” He paused. “I’ll never love anyone the way I love her.” He reached over and pinched he nipple. “I just fuck instead.”
“Oh.” She swallowed, ashamed at how good his hand made her feel.
“Yeah. I’ve had 10 assistants in the last year.” He looked at her intently as he rolled her nipple between his fingers. “I’m a bad boy Sophie.”
“I’m a bad girl.” She lied, desperately hoping that she could somehow come out of this unscathed.
“No you’re not.” He looked out to the lake again. “But I think you need to see who I really am for you to finally leave me alone.”
She gasped and pushed him away deeply hurt by his words. She walked away from him quickly and stood by Ella, who was drinking a beer with a smirk on her face.
“Hey, what were you and Max discussing so intently?”
“Just work stuff.” Sophie paused. “So has Max ever had a serious girlfriend?”
“Huh?” Ella gulped back the beer she was drinking. “Strange question but yeah, he used to date this girl called Alexis. They have been on and off for years.”
“Oh?” Sophie racked her brains to see if she could remember who Alexis was.
“Yeah. I think they were really serious ages ago, back before things went bad.”
“Yeah, that summer when he went to jail.” Ella whispered, delving more secrets now she was drunk. “I think it had something to do with her. I’m not sure what though.”
“Wait, was she the girl that used to have the house next door?” Sophie thought of a beautiful girl with long black hair who used to come over sometimes. “The one we used to call modern day Snow White?”
“Yup.” Ella laughed. “Was she beautiful or what? If it’s possible she is even more beautiful now.”
“Oh.” Sophie frowned. “So what happened?”
“I don’t know.” Ella whispered. “But a year or so ago, she came to the house and I heard her talking with Max in his study. She told him she forgave him and hoped they could put it behind them.”
“Oh yeah? Put what behind them though?” Sophie felt anxious.
“I told you I don’t really know.” Ella frowned. “But Max told her he wasn’t good for her. He said he regretted what happened more than life itself. He said that the best thing he could do for those he loved was to stay away.”
“Wow.” Sophie scratched her forehead, willing herself not to cry. “He must have really loved her.”
“Yeah. I guess.” Ella sighed. “Love is fucked up.”
“Yes, yes it is.” So there she had it. Maxwell was in love with beautiful Alexis. She wondered what had happened to make him think that the best thing he could do for her was to stay away. If he had loved her she would have put up with anything just to be with him. “Why was Joseph touching your ass Ella?” Sophie whispered to her friend, trying to get her mind off of Maxwell.
“What?” Ella looked at her in shock.
“Is something going on between you and Joseph?” Sophie tried to keep the judgment off of her face.
“I don’t know what you are talking about.” Ella got up and swayed over to the cooler to get another beer. “And I don’t appreciate the insinuation either.” She shouted back.
Sophie lay back and closed her eyes letting the sun beat down on her, hoping its rays would erase her mind from all of the information that had put in it that afternoon.
The rest of their vacation in Winterside was tense and awkward. Sophie and Ella laughed on the surface together but there was an obvious wedge between them. Ella went out most nights without inviting Sophie and they only really saw each other over lunch. They talked about superficial topics and neither one of them mentioned what had been said on the boat.
Sophie had instead focused on her work with Max. They hadn’t made love since that day or talked about their conversation either. What hurt Sophie the most was that Maxwell had not even attempted to make a move on her. She lay in her bed every night, hopeful that she would hear a knock but it never came. The days were long and the work was hard but she found that she was beginning to understand the way that he worked and what he expected of her. He was also very kind towards her, so much so that she felt that there was hope for them to become friends again.
And as much as she felt sorrow for herself, she felt sorrow for him as well. What a wicked trick God had pulled on them to have her love him deeply and to have him love Alexis deeply. She wished every night that by some miracle he would forget Alexis and love her. But every day she woke up to a professional Maxwell and they went along with their everyday tasks without mentioning any of their personal feelings or dilemma’s.
She’d come back to New York by herself. Ella had decided that she was going to take a month to vacation in France and Italy by herself before she started her internship. Sophie supposed that was one of the perks of actually being a Van Harkel, you could do what you wanted when you wanted. Sophie sighed as she tried on her outfit for the next day, the skirt didn’t zip up properly and the jacket felt tight on her. She figured she had gained some weight in Winterside but she hadn’t realized it at the time.
She looked in her closet to see if she had any other suits to wear; even though she already knew the answer. She wanted to look smart on her first official day at work but it looked like she would have to wear her black pants with the elastic waist and an ugly white shirt she had gotten for Halloween a few years before when she went to a party as Tom Cruise from ‘Cocktail’. She tried on the outfit and groaned, she looked like an old maid, not a 22-year-old girl. No wonder Maxwell didn’t want to be with her. She collapsed on to the bed and cried. She let out all of her frustrations and pains and sobbed for a good twenty minutes before she jumped up and ran to the bathroom to puke.
She sat on the floor with her head in the stomach and she tried to think about what she had eaten the night before that might be responsible for making her sick. She’d only had a slice of pizza and some salad. She sat there and started retching again when she felt her body still with shock. She jumped up, flushed the toilet, washed her mouth out with some water and ran to her calendar. She felt panicked when she realized she had missed her period.
“Oh shit, shit, shit.” She ran to her room and grabbed her purse and ran to the elevator. She needed to go to the store to get a pregnancy test. She felt hot and cold flushes run through her body and she leaned against the wall. “Please God, no.”
She bought 3 different types of tests and ran back to her apartment. She felt her patience running thin as no urine came and ran to the kitchen and drank 3 large glasses of water. “Please please please.” She mumbled as she peed on the sticks. She felt like time had stood still as she waited and jumped up when her alarm went off indicating that the waiting period was over. She walked slowly to the bathroom to cheek, telling herself that everything was going to be okay. She looked at the first stick, and then the second and third and pressed her head against the mirror. She walked back to her bedroom slowly, unsure of the feelings running through her. Part of her was extremely scared and worried but another part of her was delighted. She sat on her bed and bit her lip, she wasn’t sure what lay ahead but one thing she did know was that she was going to keep the baby growing inside of her.
Sophie arrived at work early the next morning. It was her first official day and she wanted to show everyone that she wasn’t hired just because she was best friends with the bosses’ sister. She was pleased with her appearance. She had been able to let out the skirt and decided to skip the jacket; she didn’t think she had to be that formal anyways. It had been a week since she had seen Maxwell and she was eager to see his face. She also knew that he deserved to know about the baby. She was scared at what he would say. That maybe he would ask her to get an abortion or think she was a gold-digger after the family funds. She knew he would be angry and wouldn’t understand. She didn’t know how she was going to tell him that she had lied about being on the pill; who did that? She would think that she had tried to trap him.