Free Absorbed by Penelope Crowe

Book: Absorbed by Penelope Crowe Read Free Book Online
Authors: Penelope Crowe
The gift I found on my porch was dressed in midnight-blue leather, and embossed in gold leaf. A spider web-thin mesh ribbon glittered in the sun. I placed the box on the window sill and watched it, expecting it to vanish. I knew it was mine because my name, Violet, was written in Victorian calligraphy on the attached card. It was on the front doorstep of my brownstone when I got home from work. I didn’t see the mailman drop it off, and none of my neighbors saw anything either. But it was mine. And I would open it eventually, but for now, I would look at it, hold it, and feel the lush leather that was fit for royalty.
    I pondered who left it sitting so perfectly centered on my doormat.
    My boss was certainly thrilled at my designs this week, and told me I was the queen of graphics. Unusual for him. He is regularly ruthless and more of a queen than I’ll ever be. My birthday is coming…actually it’s two months away, but maybe the girls all got together and chipped in for something especially awesome this year. Also doubtful. This box is obviously custom-made, and they are far more inclined to find me something at Coach or Lord and Taylor. They are just as busy as I am and wouldn’t have the time to hunt down a treasure. And most of them are strapped for money, too. The box and ribbon alone most likely cost more than all of them could afford together.
    Maybe Mick. We are probably still together, but I have not heard from him in weeks. Although not out of the ordinary, 3 ½ weeks is longer than his usual disappearing act. Last time he went missing for almost two weeks and showed up at my door on a Friday night with a beard and flowers. He smelled like gin, and told me he loved me over and over. We stayed in bed until Sunday morning, and I saw our smiling, curly-haired children when I looked in his eyes. We had breakfast, and I’m still waiting for him to call.
    Everyone loves Mick. He has a gift for spinning a riveting tale, especially if he gets to use his inaccurate Irish brogue. “Life is just more fun when he is around” is a phrase I’ve heard more than once. I’m pretty sure my grandmother likes him more than she likes me. It doesn’t hurt that he has sky-blue eyes and a cleft in his chin.
    But there is another side to Mick that no one gets to see but me. It’s probably just a phase. After our breakfast on Sunday over three weeks ago, I could tell he was tired and probably dealing with some alcohol backlash. His eyes were bloodshot and he was quiet as the library at midnight. And just as dark. I go into cheer-up mode when he gets like that, even though I know he hates it, and there is nothing to stop what comes next.
    “Do you have a headache?” I asked. “I can rub your shoulders. Sometimes that…”
    “Oh my GOD can you ever just SHUT. UP,” he said.
    “I just wanted to…”
    “Shit. It’s like you’re retarded. Wanna back rub?? I can help you…” he said in that squeaky mock-your-girlfriend tone. “I can fix you because I’m your giiiirlfriend. Just shut the fuck up.”
    I opened my mouth to speak but was cut off before I could even inhale. He told me I WAS retarded and I thought the world revolved around me. He stood over me and asked me if I agreed that I was retarded. I did not answer fast enough and he asked again, louder. I said, “No. I’m not.” Then came the laugh. That low chuckle reserved for people who are obviously unaware that they are dealing with a higher intellect.
    “Yeah. You are. You think you are the queen of the world, but you’re just a moron” he said. “A ridiculous, no-talent moron. So you make pictures on a computer like a big girl. Congratulations. Well, they are pedestrian. So are you. You’re boring. You bore ME.”
    I’d had enough and stood to leave.
    “Ah…I’m sorry…” he said as he reached for my hand. “I can be such a prick. I’m tired, still hung-over and touchy. Sorry.”
    He pulled me onto his lap and I could tell he was ready to make up.

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