Home > The Wall of Winnipeg and Me(5)

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me(5)
Mariana Zapata

Over the years, my attraction to him had dwindled so that the only thing I really mooned over—correction: appreciated in a healthy, normal way—was his work ethic.

And his face.

And his body.

But there were plenty of guys with amazing bodies and faces in the world. I should know. I looked at models almost every day.

And none of those physical traits helped me in any way. Hot guys weren’t going to make my dreams come true.

I swallowed and clenched my fingers.

Do it, my brain said.

What was the worst that would happen? I’d have to find another job if my customer base dried up? How horrifying. I wouldn’t know what would happen until I tried.

Life was a risk. This was what I’d always wanted.

So I took a breath, carefully watched the man who had been my boss for two years, and I said it. “Aiden, I have something I need to talk to you about.”

Because really, what was he going to do? Tell me I couldn’t quit?

Chapter Two

“You can’t.”

“I am,” I insisted calmly as I watched the man on my laptop screen. “Aiden told me to let you know.”

Trevor gave me a look that said he didn’t even remotely believe me, and I found myself not really giving much of a crap what he thought. While it took a lot for me to dislike someone, Aiden’s manager was one of those people I avoided like the plague whenever possible. Something about him just made me want to abort mission each time we had to interact. At one point, I really tried figuring out what it was about him I didn’t like, and it always came back to the same reasons: he was snobby, but mainly he just gave off massive amounts of asshole-ish vibes.

Leaning forward, Trevor planted his elbows on what I could assume was his desk. He tented his hands and hid his mouth behind them. He exhaled. Then he inhaled.

Maybe, just maybe, he was thinking about all the times he’d been a jerk to me and was regretting it; like all the times he’d chewed me out or yelled at me because Aiden wanted something done that frustrated him. That had been pretty much every week since I’d gotten hired.

But knowing him, that wasn’t the case. To regret something would mean you would have had to care about it at some point to begin with, and Trevor... the only thing he cared about was his paycheck. His body language, and the way he’d spoken to me even back when he’d first interviewed me, made it abundantly clear I didn’t rank very high on his list of priorities.

Me quitting was going to make his life slightly more difficult for a little while, and that he wasn’t a fan of.

Apparently, he was bothered a lot more than Aiden had been the night before when I sucked it up and told him the deep, dark secret I’d been withholding. “I want to thank you for everything you’ve done for me” —in hindsight, that had been pretty suck-up of me to say; he hadn’t actually done anything besides pay me, but oh well— “but I’d like for you to find someone to replace me.”

While I’d always known and accepted that we weren’t friends, I guess a small part of me had been foolish enough to think I meant just a little, tiny, microscopic something to him. I’d done a lot for Aiden over the course of the time we’d worked together. I knew I would more than likely miss the familiarity of working for him at least a little bit. Wouldn’t he feel the same way?

That answer to that had been a big, fat nope.

Aiden hadn’t even bothered looking at me after my admission. Instead, his attention had been focused on his bowl when he replied easily, “Let Trevor know.”

And that was that.

Two years. I’d given him two years of my life. Hours and hours. Months at a time away from my loved ones. I’d cared for him on the rare occasions he got sick. I was the one who had stayed with him at the hospital after his injury. I was the person who had picked him up after his surgery, and read up on inflammation and what I could feed him, that would help him heal faster.

When he lost a game, I always tried to make his favorite breakfast the next morning. I’d bought him a birthday present that I may or may not have left on his bed, because I didn’t want to make it awkward. You didn’t remember someone’s birthday and not get him a gift, even if he never thanked you.

What had he given me? On my last birthday, I spent it in the rain at a park in Colorado because he’d been filming a commercial, and wanted me to tag along. I’d eaten dinner by myself in my hotel room. What did I expect from him now?

There had been no begging me to stay—not that I would anyway—or even an “I’m sorry to hear that,” which I’d heard when I’d left every other job before this one.

Nothing. He’d given me nothing. Not even a damn shrug.

It had stung more than it should have. A lot more. On the other hand, I recognized that we weren’t soul mates, but it became even more apparent after that.

It was with that thought, that slight amount of bitterness in my throat at being so dispensable, that I swallowed and focused on my video chat.

“Vanessa, think about what you’re doing,” the manager argued through the camera.

“I have. Look, I’m not even giving you a two-week notice. Just find someone sooner than later. I’ll train them, and then I’m out.”

Trevor tipped his chin up and just stared forward at and through the computer’s camera, the hard glint of the hair product he used catching in the sunlight in his office. “Is this an April fools’ joke?”

“It’s June,” I said carefully. Idiot. “I don’t want to do this anymore.”

His forehead furrowed at the same time his shoulders tensed, as if what I said was finally really sinking in. One eye peeked at me from over his fingers. “Do you want more money?” he had the nerve to ask.

Of course I wanted more money. Who didn’t? I just didn’t want it from Aiden. “No.”

“Tell me what you need.”

“Nothing.”

“I’m trying to work with you here.”

“There’s nothing to work with. There isn’t anything you can offer me that will get me to stay.” That was how dead set I was on not getting wrangled back in to the world of The Wall of Winnipeg. Trevor got paid for making things happen, and I knew if I gave him an inch, he would attempt to take a mile. It would probably be easier for him to convince me to stay instead of finding someone else. But I knew his tricks, and I wasn’t going to fall for his shit.

Picking up the glass of water sitting on the kitchen counter next to my tablet, I took a sip and studied him over the top of it. I could do this, damn it. I would do it. I wasn’t going to keep my job just because he was giving me the closest thing to puppy eyes pure evil was capable of.

“What can I do to get you to stay?” Trevor finally asked as he dropped his hands away from his face.

“Nothing.” If a slight bit of loyalty to Aiden and genuine worry had gotten me to stay since I realized I could afford to quit, the night before had cemented me leaving.

I didn’t want to waste any more time than I already had.

Another pained expression took over Trevor’s features. When we’d first met two years ago, he’d only had a couple of gray hairs scattered throughout his head. Now there were more than a couple, and it suddenly made so much sense. If I considered myself a fairy godmother, Trevor must have been seen as a god; a god who needed to make miracles happen out of the most dire of places.

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