The redhead’s room is actually a suite. Delores and I sit on the couch in the common area while the other version of myself and the redhead get busy in the bedroom.
From what I can hear—which is a lot—Redhead is quite flexible.
“Uh . . . fuck.”
“Oh . . . oh . . . oh.”
“Shit . . . yes!”
“Oh . . . yeah.”
“That’s it . . . yes . . . more . . . make me your bitch.”
“Jesus . . .”
And on it goes.
For an hour.
From the couch, I stare at the ceiling. And think about repainting the home office.
Delores glares at me. “You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?”
I squint as I consider her question. “Not as much as I thought I would. I mean, it’s not really me, so I have nothing to feel guilty about. But still . . .”
Hearing any version of myself banging the hell out of a woman who isn’t Kate is just . . . bizarre. In a disturbing kind of way. Not a turn-on.
After a high-pitched scream and a roaring grunt, the noise from the bedroom quiets down. Until . . .
“Mmm . . .”
“Oh . . .”
“Uh . . . uh . . . uh . . .”
Delores throws up her hands. “Now this is just fucking ridiculous.”
I shrug unapologetically. “Picasso had his clay, Rembrandt had his brushes—I have my cock. Every true artist has a favorite tool. And you can’t rush fine art.”
“Yes, yes, yes . . .”
“Oh fuck . . .”
She rolls her eyes. “I’m fast-forwarding.”
“Thank Christ. Why didn’t you think of that sooner?”
I follow her out of the hotel room door. And we step into the living room of my apartment. My old apartment, before Kate and I lived together. The ultimate bachelor pad—black, stainless steel, and big-boy toys, remember?
We stand in the living room as Kateless Drew comes strolling through the door—his shirt half buttoned, whistling a merry tune. He takes a quick shower, then, clad only in boxers, pours himself a bowl of cereal. He sits back on the couch, puts his feet on the coffee table, and flicks on the television.
With a mouthful of cereal, he smiles. “A Christmas Story. Cool.” And he settles in to watch.
“I don’t understand,” I say.
“?’Cause you’re a moron,” Delores answers flatly.
“Instead of insulting me, can you explain what the hell I’m supposed to be getting from this? I thought the point of showing me my life without Kate was to demonstrate how miserable I’d be without her.” I gesture to my other self on the couch. “He’s fine. He loves his life. What’s the lesson here?”
With restrained impatience, Dee explains. “Of course he loves his life—being a raging man-slut was one of your favorite things. You always enjoyed your work, your life before Kate. But if you can’t see the lesson, then you’re not looking hard enough, Drew.”
I push a frustrated hand through my hair and look again. The other me chuckles at the TV and puts his empty bowl on the table. Then I gaze around the apartment. The pristine neatness, the monotone furniture, the valuable abstract art on the walls.
And for the very first time, it feels . . . cold. Flat.
I think of my apartment with Kate and James—our home. It’s light and vibrant and messy in the best frigging way. There’s pencil marks on the wall showing how James has grown and a few scratches on the hardwood floors. There are mementos from vacations and pictures all over of our wedding and every significant moment in James’s life. There are toys and work papers, coats and shoes. It’s not messy, but—lived in. Busy.
“He’s happy,” I realize. “Because he has no idea what he’s missing.”
Delores nods. “That’s right. He doesn’t know what he’s missing.”
A cold shiver runs through me. Because this easily could’ve been me. It could’ve turned out so differently, and I never would’ve known.
“I want to go back,” I tell her firmly. “Right now. I want to see Kate and James. Take me back, Dee.”
She looks at me with an unfamiliar sympathetic expression. “Almost, Drew. One more stop to make.”
She laces her arm in mine and we’re off.
We stand inside a corner office on an impressively high floor of a city high-rise. Beige granite and polished glass accent the desk, while unwelcoming white couches face off with a glass table between them. Before I can ask Delores where we are, the door opens and in strides Katherine Brooks.
Her hair is pulled back in a low bun; she’s wearing just a touch of makeup, an immaculate white-and-black skirt with a coordinating jacket, and high heels. She’s stunning, perfectly professional and cock-stiffening sexy all in one petite package.
In long confident steps, she makes her way behind the desk while talking into a headset microphone. “I’m sorry, that’s not a stipulation we’re willing to budge on. Take it or leave it.”
I glance at Delores. “Is this . . . is it still Christmas Eve?”