Terms & Conditions 2

When I step across the threshold of the apartment--jacket and long ago discarded--tie, in hand--I don't even have the door closed behind me when I realize that I'm in trouble--deep lemon smelling trouble.  On any other night when I let myself into the apartment it's dark and I can smell the evidence of her aromatherapy candles--smells of sweat pea and lilac and lavender, but tonight its bright as day and it smells like the lemon and chlorine smell of the cleaning agents that are underneath the kitchen sink and bathroom sinks.  Cleaning is her stress relief and tonight must be a hard night.  I even catch the hint of the ammonia oven cleaner.


Her name leaves my lips carefully as I step lightly through the entry way next to the kitchen alcove knowing that she's probably just scrubbed the floors.  Once to the light colored rug that covers the wood flooring in the living room,  I remove my shoes and pick them up and carry them across the living room to the hallway that leads to our bedroom.  I don't know in what state I'll find her tonight--from the smell of it she's probably worn herself out and has tucked herself into bed to read or doze knowing I'll be out late, but I'm wrong.

When I find her sitting straight up in bed book closed on the bed and her arms crosses across her chest I know that this is only the start of my evening instead of the end of it.

The tight look on her face tells me instantly that this kind of trouble that I'm isn't something that I can sing my way out of.  We're talking buying roses and a trip to Jamaica kind of trouble here.  "Don't even start."  She holds up a hand and takes a deep breath.  "Both of us didn't treat the situation right and I'm too tired to deal with this right now."

My eyebrows instantly pinch together and the ache in my neck comes on full throttle as I move into the room and stand in my socks on the. Damn her for wearing the nightgown I gave her as a housewarming gift.  Spaghetti straps are going to be the death of me.  I knew when I bought it for her that it would always get a reaction from me, but tonight isn't really what I wanted out of the outfit.

"How was the after party?

I know what I'm about to say won't help the situation much, but I feel obligated to say it anyway.  "I missed you."

My hands drop my shoes to the floor and I sling my jacket onto the edge of the bed which ignites a reaction from her.  She pushes the blankets that were over her legs off and she gets up and goes to the closet grabbing out the jacket's hanger and holds it out to me.  "I just cleaned."

"Sorry," I say feeling as if I've been scolded by my mother.  I don't mean to be so negative about her acting this way, but when I've just won't an Oscar for a song I wrote and sang on it's really hard to sit there and see her acting so petty, so childish, so DAMN sexy as she strides around the bed again and slips herself back into bed.  I get caught watching her.

"I hate you," she mutters under her breath.  I know it's only because she's frustrated.

"I'm sorry," I say.

She turns her head away from me, tucks her chin to her shoulder and blows out a breath of air.

“What am I supposed to do?” My voice sounds harsh, tired, and frustrated.  I don’t mean to be such a bastard about all this, but clearly tonight’s earlier reaction is only a taste of what is to come in the future.  If we don’t fix things now I could see many of my nights spent in this lemon scented hell, or worst case, without it—without her.

I take a deep breath as I pull off my shirt.  It gets folded in half and thrown onto the end of the bed.  I see her eyes stare at it and while I should be trying to erase that look on her face by picking up the shirt again, all I really want to do is throw it on the floor and dump the hamper on the floor and just mess the place up.  It serves her right for cleaning on a weekend night anyway.  Knowing that throwing a tantrum won’t get us anywhere I concede to just sighing.  “What am I supposed to do about any of it?  I’ve given you the chance to do what you want, but clearly even that isn’t living up to your expectations of how our lives are supposed to work out.”  I curb my habit of swearing and bite on my lip to keep from saying anything more about the whole messed up situation as I move into the closet to grab out something to sleep in.

When I return she’s sitting in the same spot with a disgusted look on her face.  Her eyebrows are pinched and together and her bottom side of her lip is being nibbled on while she stares at her fingernails, inspecting them as if she’s going to find something wrong with THEM too.  I make the mistake of making eye contact with her.  It’s something that needs to be done—so no one misunderstands what’s happening around here—but the outcome that I get is the same every time.  She shuts down, shuts off, and is useless after the look exchanges between us.  Tonight she closes her eyes and I know that she’s struggling to keep from crying.  Her teeth grind together and she doesn’t turn her face in my general direction.  Her voice is haunting, breathy, opposite of the normally confident voice she uses in every day life. “I don’t know—” 

DAMN HER for being a woman and being so over emotional when it comes to these things.  DAMN ME for doing the expected thing, reacting by walking around to the side of the bed and comforting her by reaching out for her hand.

It doesn’t happen often—the whole crying thing.  I know I’ll be shot for calling it a THING, but really that’s what it is.  Whenever a woman cries at the drop of a hat it takes the meaning out of the emotion behind the incident.  To me someone should work up to crying, or there should be something that is a catalyst to the event—Right now I know that there hasn’t been one.  I haven’t said or done anything in the last five minutes that should cause the tears that are now coming down her cheeks.  I sigh though when she wipes her face.  I personally think that this situation is being blown way out of proportion.  I mean HELL, I was on that stage about to thank her—in my own way—for the support she’s given me and all I see is her tiny form leaving the room through the door at the back of the auditorium.  If that isn’t a spoiled brat type of way to react to a certain situation, I don’t know what is.

“I don’t know what to do Tammy.”  I throw the boxers I grabbed out of my dresser inside the walk-in closet onto the bed.  “I really don’t.  I want you to be able to keep your life how it is.  I don’t see a solution though on how you can be a part of my life AND keep yours anonymous.”

When her eyes open there is fear there.  “I can’t step out onto the red carpet,” she speaks slowly and deliberately.  “You know I can’t do that.”

I don’t want her to say what I think is coming next.  My relationship with her over the last few months has been amazing and it’s my own stupid fault for trying to push myself into her world, but I know there has to be some kind of a solution.  “Then what do we do?”

“Why can’t you just stay single?” she asks, “Tell Jive that you aren’t with Jasmine and that you don’t want to make it look like you are.”

My defenses are raised at this point.  Stupid record  PR assholes have been trying to push me on Jasmine since the beginning of our working relationship.  They knew that if I was seen with her that the song would do better, the soundtrack would sell more, and that my career would skyrocket.  They were right.  Truthfully the theme song that I wrote for that movie could have easily been beaten by the other nominees, but it just happened to be that the Oscars are just a little bit biased and when I showed up at the birthday party of the president of the association I got a few brownie points for playing the song on a borrowed piano and singing my heart out.

“I’ve never come out and said that I was dating her.”

Her eyes widen.  “But you don’t act like you’re not.”

“It’s PR Tammy.”  I tilt my head and try to make eye contact with her, but she turns her head towards the window in the room and pretends to be interested in something outside.  “You know that.”

Her head whips back to face me.  Her answer is rapid fire back at me.  “But you kissed her tonight.”

“I kissed her on the fucking cheek!”  My frustration is coming out too quickly and I know that I could get myself into even more trouble if I’m not careful.  I’m not the type of person that does the big drama filled scenes with their significant other.  It’s tacky and thoughtless and just plain pointless.  “It’s PR,” I repeat as my breathing slows.

“That’s not an excuse!”  Her eyes are firey with rage.  This is the kind of fighting that I see her do with executives and security all the time, but I’ve always said I didn’t want to be on the receiving end of it and I was right in my assumption that she wouldn’t be a good opponent.

I back away from her and start to remove my belt and pants, but instead of undressing in front of her like I normally would, I take my boxers into the bathroom and change there, leaving the door open a bit so that I can hear her if she decides to yell anything else my way.  “I’m not using it as an excuse.”

“Then why’d you say it?”

“Because that’s what that kiss was.  You know how things work.  You know that Jasmine and I being friends is only bringing more attention to the movie.”

“It’s bringing more attention to YOU maybe, but not the movie.”

“Tammy.  Why are you being so difficult about this?” I come out of the bathroom with my slacks in my hand and start to put them on the hanger with my jacket.  “I’m not proud of having to parade around like that with her and have you watching it.  I’m not trying to rub it in that she’s there with me.  Hell if I could have I would have rather stayed home with you tonight that go to the party.  You know if I hadn’t won that I would have been home here with you instead out off—“

I turn to go put my jacket and pants into the closet and take my tie and shirt to my dry cleaning pile next to the hamper.

Her words are like daggers into my back.  “But you did win and you were out. WITH HER I'm sure.”

I hang up my clothes, count to ten and then turn back into the bedroom.  “So that’s how it’s gonna be tonight?”  I walk to my side of the bed and before I pull back the covers to get in I look down at her.

Her arms fold across her chest.  “Yes.”

Now I’m gonna put on the bastard attitude and make it known that I’m not at all excited about this conversation.  “Fine.”  I reach for my pillow and tuck it under my arm.  “I’ll be on the couch.”

I wait to hear her call me back. Pray for it as my feet eat up the carpet on the way out of the room.  I get to the door of the room before she stops me.  “I’m sorry.”

I turn back around and now she’s lying on her stomach curled into her pillow covering her face.  “Jesus Tammy.”  I turn back to the bed and throw my pillow to where it was sitting before I crawl across the bed to where she’s lying and sit down so that I can rub her back.  “I’m sorry for all this crap.  I wish it wasn’t this complicated.”

She turned her head and looked at me.  “I hate fighting with you.”  She wiped her cheek with her hand and sniffed.  “I just don’t know what to do.  If I’m with you the way I want to be with you my career and—“

 “I’ll call Sonia in the morning—“  I cut her off and know what I need to do now.  I would have done this twenty minutes ago, but I didn’t want to give in so easily.  I don’t like conceding to do something that really doesn’t need to be done, but I also don’t like knowing that she is so upset about all of this.  “I’ll tell her that I don’t want to do as many—“  I see the look on her face get angry.  “—Tammy I can’t just cut off all contact with her.  It would look strange and bring even more attention to the situation, but I’ll have Sonia only schedule me for half of the appearances that I was going to do and I’ll make sure that it isn’t just me and Jasmine on the interview slate.”  I sigh.  “I can’t just run away from this, but I will try and help make it easier for the both of us.”

 “I don’t mean to be bitchy.”

 “I’m sorry for being an ass about this.  Usually it’s everyone else that scrambles around to fit my schedule.  I’m not used to having to switch my schedule around for other people.”  I put a finger to her lips when she starts to speak.  “I know that sounds egotistical to say, but really you’re the first person I’ve ever been with who couldn’t schedule their life around me—”  I take a breath when I hear what I’ve said,  “I mean—shit I don’t know what I mean.”

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