Blackmailing the Virgin

By: Alexa Riley

Pulling out the chicken, I get to work preparing the dinner and setting the table. I go ahead and set a third in case someone might be joining us like Dad said. Unwanted butterflies take flight at the possibility that it might be Calder. I chastise myself for the thought. He has a girlfriend, I remind myself for the millionth time. I hate that I have on a crush on a man who’s taken. It feels wrong on so many levels. I never want to be that girl, but here I am.

I stop myself from going to my bedroom to make sure I look okay, because it doesn’t matter. Even if Calder is coming, he isn’t mine and can’t be, even if he kissed me like I belonged to him. Kissed me like he was made to kiss only me. Made my body come to life and want things it had never wanted before.

When I hear voices in the dining room, I still, trying to hear them. I can’t make anything out until my father calls my name. Taking a deep breath, I enter the dining room, and there he is, sitting to the left of my father at the dining room table. I’m going to have to sit across from him for the whole meal. Maybe I can eat fast.

“Felicity, you remember Calder from the party last month, don’t you?”

“Of course. It’s nice to see you again, Mr. Cox.” I give a little nod before taking my seat. His bright eyes stay trained on me, and I can feel them move over my body. He looks just as good as that first night, only tonight he seems a little more laid-back, not so put together. His suit jacket and tie look to be long gone. The sleeves of his white button-down shirt are rolled to his elbows, the button at his collar popped. Even his hair looks like he spent the day running his fingers through it.

He just continues to stares at me, the room completely quiet. As if finally noticing the yawning silence, he nods. “Nice to see you again, too, Felicity.” My name rolls off his tongue like he’s said it a thousand times before.

My father’s eyes go back and forth between us for a moment. “You heard Felicity play, didn’t you?” my father asks, and I wonder if he feels the tension, too. Or maybe I’m the only one who feels it at all. For all I know, Calder kisses hundreds of women and that one meant nothing. Maybe he was drunk and doesn’t even remember it at all. Which is disheartening. I can’t get any part of it out of my head. Every time I close my eyes, that moment is there again. I can still recall the taste of scotch on his tongue that night. I don’t think I’ll ever taste it and not think of him. It will be branded in my mind as long as I live.

“Yes, she was quite impressive.”

I feel myself blush at Calder’s compliment. My normal shyness comes to the surface like it always does. I’m sure he can see the blush hit my fair skin. I can’t hide it even if I want to.

“It’s not something she shares with many people. I’m one of the lucky ones. Seems you are, too, now,” my father boasts, making me smile over at him.

“But isn’t that what she goes to school for?” Calder asks, catching me off guard. My eyes go back to his, and I find his gaze still fixed on me.

“I’m not sure what I’m going to do. Maybe teach,” I half-mumble, feeling a bit uncomfortable because every time I say this, I get the same response from people. Teaching is the one thing I keep coming back to. The only thing that makes me feel comfortable. Teaching or giving lessons to kids. My own teachers tell me it’s a waste of my talent. That I should be out in the world, sharing my music. I don’t even respond to the comments anymore.

“You don’t want to share your music? It was breathtaking.”

I shrug, disappointment lancing through me. I don’t even know this man beyond what I’ve found online, but something in me wants him to get it. That every time I send a piece of my music out into the world, it feels like I’m sending a piece of me out, too. Like willingly giving my diary out for anyone to read the pages.

A smile spreads across his face as if he likes my response.

“I hear you’re getting married, Mr. Cox.” The statement pops out of my mouth, even surprising me. I glance over at my father who looks equally surprised. Something about Calder has me doing things I don’t normally do. Maybe it’s to do with all these things he’s making me feel. I’m not typically one to ask the questions. I have to be cornered into a conversation or I’ll disengage myself.

One would think if I was crushing on someone, my shyness would be ever present, but maybe it’s the simmering anger I have pushing me on.

“Never been engaged.” That smile spreads even farther, his perfect smile shining through. I really feel the heat of a blush hit my face now. I’ve been busted. He knows I’ve been reading about him. It’s written all over his perfect face, and it makes my anger a little bit deeper.

“Oh, haven't popped the question yet?” I push on, the rage fueling me.

My dad lets out a deep laugh. “I don’t think anyone will ever get Calder to finally tie the knot. A confirmed bachelor at heart like me.”

“You got married once,” I correct my dad, knowing he married my mother and a quick silent divorce followed. She was gone just as fast.