I looked at the scantily clad woman in the mirror, only for a second. I snarled before falling backwards onto my bed, crying.
I felt so… so dirty. I didn't know what had come over me - I'd never just do that. Never just sleep with someone to help out a friend. God -how disgusting that sounds. It isn't like there was no other choice. Tilda hadn't said :"You have to sleep with Alfie. That is the only way." Why couldn't she have done?
Oh god. Tilda. What was she going to say? I just. I was just sobbing, thinking what I could say to her.
That's when I remembered my bath and ran over to it, turning the taps off and looking at the water that had already overflowed. Great. Before any more damage could be done, I mopped it up like a good little girl, dropping my gown and clambering into the bath. The water scalded me slightly but I didn't really care. It was my penance.
I submerged my head, getting my hair wet. As I clamped my eyes shut to stop the water touching them, I felt sick. I wretched a little, breaking the surface of the water and spewing a collection of nastiness onto the floor. Great. More mopping up.
I returned to my room, my head still messed up. I pulled some clothes on, trying to pick myself up at the prospect of getting out of the house and going back to work. When I realised that my plan was stupid, I just forced myself to open the door to the apartment and step outside. I locked up and left the building, smiling to a man sat in the lobby.
"Umm, Miss?" He called just as I opened the door.
"Yes?" I turned to face him - he was about the same height as me which made a change.
"Are you alright?" His voice was kind and his eyes caring.
"Of course." I replied. "Why? Does something look wrong?"
"You're crying." He offered me a tissue with which I wiped the tears away from my face. "Are you alright?" He repeated his question which insulted me slightly. Not really sure why though.
"Just did something I regret." I said, trusting this stranger more than I should.
Neither of us knew what to say next so we stood in silence, watching each other for a few minutes.
"I'm Magda." I offered my hand, which he kissed gently.
"Howard." He smiled.
"No. Magda." I said with a little giggle that he reciprocated.
"My friends call me Howie. I don’t like it that much though. I don't suppose that you're busy right now are you?"
Was this guy hitting on me? Howie seemed like a nice guy but I definitely wasn't in the mood for a date. Not after Alfie. His sweaty palms. His hairiness. His growling. I subconsciously shuddered, hoping that he didn't take it the wrong way.
"I have to go to work. Sorry." And for a split second, I actually was. "But I could give you a call or something. Do you live in the building? I haven't seen you around."
"My partner lives here." Oh. He already has someone. "He should be on his way down as we speak."
I stepped back in shock.
"I didn't have you down as the type, Howie."
He looked confused. "What type, Magda?"
"Well. Gay." I felt uncomfortable saying the word and so chose not to look him in the eye as I said it.
"He's my business partner." He said with a smile.
"Oh. Sorry." Well that's even better. I started blushing, wondering if I could salvage the situation. When my mind drew a blank, I knew that leaving would be the best plan. "I have to go. Work calls. Nice meeting you though."
"My number." He said simply, offering me a business card. I took it with a smile and walked away before he could see me crying anymore. What a good first impression.