The door closed behind LB and there I was left, standing in my wet, crumbly outfit with no shoes on just looking at Adorina. She still had that scowl on her face and did not look pleased with me. I honestly did not know what to say and at this point didn’t know if she was ever going to speak to me. All I could do was look at her, when I tell you she was gorgeous, she was freaking gorgeous! She had on a white button up with a beautiful, lacy red push up, that peaked just a tiny bit of fringy lace out of the buttons left undone. It was tucked into a tight black pencil skirt that fit her body so good you could see every curve she had. And those heels. Oh my God. THOSE HEELS. Beautiful black shiny leather, with a sky high stiletto and a red bottom.
She looked to me to be late 30’s. Her eyes were a blueish green with long dark lashes. You could tell she was very well taken care of and she screamed high maintenance. Her hair was dark, long and hearty. It wrapped around her in long loose beach waves and just seem to always lay perfectly no matter how she moved. Her skin was dark olive, much darker than my Irish toned skinned. There wasn’t a thing out of place, undone or unkept on her. I will admit, she was intimidating. She stood tall and very confident. The same confidence LB had. She made me want to hide behind the salon plants.
After what seemed to be a lifetime, she finally spoke to me and told me that we had things to do and I needed to gather my belongings so we could go. Glancing down at my broken heels, I said “I can’t go anywhere I don’t have any shoes. I also have to stay here. I will lose this job if I just leave”. She glared at me like I wasn’t understanding her.
“Listen Colette, I don’t have time to go back and forth with you. There are many things I need to get done before Saturday night. And one of those things is seeing that you are prepared and know what to expect. From what LB tells me you’ve most likely never been to a gathering like this and you will enjoy it and benefit from it as well. You can come with me or not, either way it does not matter to me.”
Her tone was stern but also like a motherly stern. Not like she was upset with me. Just that maybe LB had her doing to much for this party. This also made me wonder who exactly was she to him, an assistant?
“Ms. Adorina I’m going to be honest with you, I have no idea what is expected of me or where any of this is going. I just met him the other night when he came in here for directions. He asked me to come to his cocktail party and then sends me flowers and a credit card and tells me he can help me with my finances. I was thinking a job as a secretary or something of that nature. Now it’s making better sense to me and I am not sure if this is something I want to do.”
I couldn’t look her in the eye when I was talking so when I finished my sentence, I looked up to gage what she was thinking and she was looking at me like she sympathized with me. The scowl had left her face. We were standing in the salon reception and tears welled up in my eyes out of embarrassment and confusion. I had just fallen and embarrassed the hell out of myself, and the older guy that I am supposed to be going on a date with has sent someone to assist me with dating him. And it seemed he was dating her! What on earth was going? I felt so humiliated. I pushed the tears back as the others starting arriving back from lunch break. Adorina asked me who the manager of the salon was. Daniella was the salon owners daughter and also the manager. She really didn’t like to work too much and I think the only reason she worked there was because she could do nothing and still make money. And boy, she did not like it when people asked to go home early or couldn’t make it to work. I was already taking off the weekend from the salon to go on this charade with LB and just knew she wasn’t going to let me leave early today.
Daniella was the last to get back from lunch, which left us waiting idle for her. Adorina said she was going to her car to make a few phone calls and she would be back in shortly. When she walked out those doors I felt like I hadn’t taken a breath the whole time she had been there. I felt my face was getting hot, heart racing a hundred miles an hour, and instinctively put my hand over my chest. I turned and every girl in that salon that had gone to their stations upon walking in and seeing Adorina talking to me, was now, right there in my face asking who she was? If I was alright? Because I clearly looked and felt frazzled.
I finally let out the breath that I had been holding in for so long and sighed “That’s Adorina, she is some sort of assistant to LB. The guy that sent me the flowers. I said awkwardly. She is supposedly here to help me with the party this weekend.
The girls all starting chirping so loudly I couldn’t focus on what was being said. ” She looks mean!” One shouted. “You should see what she’s driving!” Is she coming back in?another said. My head was spinning so I just started blurting out the story about falling, the heel breaking and that LB and her had seen me hit the floor. That they just showed up and she is wanting me to leave with her to go do things for this weekend. I said “I don’t know how I am going to tell her I just cant up and leave my job. I mean I don’t want to tick her off but they cant just come in here and demand that I change my whole day around for something they think I need to do”.
“Why not? Didn’t this dude just give you like $1,500?? That is way more than you make in a month here at this salon sweeping hair?” Cecilia said with a smart ass tone and even more hateful look on her face. Like “girl you better go”.
She was right. What did I have to lose? Eric? This crappy job? Why was I so scared? Any of these girls in here would’ve been out of the door already. But truly what I was scared of was what he expected of me. I knew there was a catch in all of this that wasn’t being told.
About that time I glanced out of the glass salon door to see Daniella walking into the salon with Adorina a few feet behind her. Not close enough where you would think they were walking together but close enough where Daniella (especially being the salon manager) should have held the door open for Adorina. Hell Adorina made me want to run to the door and throw down a red carpet for her.
As Adorina walked through the door every girl, and yes I am calling us girls because that is what we all were compared to the woman she was, stood motion and breathless. Staring her down like she was a vampire about to rip Daniella’s head off from behind. She somehow knew that was Daniella she had followed in. And looked quite annoyed by the door being shut in her face. Daniella with her back turned to Adorina, stopped in her tracks when Adorina said her name. It’s kind of hard to explain the presence that Adorina had. Previously, I referred to her as “angelic” because that is honestly how it felt. Not that she was an angel by any means. She just had this light around that announced her presence without her saying a word. She had everyone’s attention, even Daniella’s. She turned to Adorina and looked like a scolded child. The look she had was the same way I felt, so I recognized it right away. Adorina just dominated every room she walked in, and not in a bad way.
“Listen, I need Colette to come with me for the afternoon, and there may be other days this week that she has to miss work. This weekend she also has an engagement in which she will not be at work. Will that be a problem”? The words rolled off her tongue so smoothly it was like the decision was already made and Daniella would just have to deal with it.
It was almost in unison but every girl turned her head and looked directly at me with wide eyes, like “Wellllllll are you going with her or not?” Just drooling for my response like they were waiting for a dramatic scene in their favorite soap opera. Heck I still didn’t know myself if I was going with her. Which in turn made me look straight at Daniella. For what reason I do not know, but I have thought back on that very moment a lot and wondered why I looked at her for reassurance. Even if she told me that I would be fired if I left, I still would have gone.
Daniella stuttered around a bit before she finally squeaked the words “No, not at all” out.
I think I was secretly hoping that Daniella would have the guts to tell Adorina that wasn’t happening and I could get out of this. But just like the rest of us Daniella knew not to cross Adorina and basically bowed at her command. I gathered my things, along with the broken pair of heels and walked barefoot out of the salon with Adorina. I tossed those damn shoes in the tall dumpster as I passed by. I followed behind her, watching her walk with such perfection in those heels. I noticed she had a small tattoo on the inside of her wrist and it wasn’t a new tattoo. It was actually old and faded looking. It looked like numbers and letters of some sort but I couldn’t really make it out.
In the front parking lot was only one vehicle because the salon had just reopened and no customers where there yet, all employees parked beside the salon. So adding things up, this car, a white SUV actually, which I later found out was a Range Rover was Adorina’s. It was absolutely beautiful. Ya know one of those vehicles you want to take your shoes off to get in. HA! Luckily I didn’t have any shoes on so that wouldn’t be a problem. The gravel under my feet reminded me of walking from Eric’s bedroom in the basement to the concrete bathroom. She clicked the key a couple times and it fired right up before we had even gotten to the car. Wow was I impressed. The only car I had ever rode in that was even close to being decent was my granny’s Sonata that she bought brand new. All the rest were beaters. We lived on a farm where you just couldn’t keep the mud and red clay out of your house much less you car. To this day, I still loath the sight of red clay, you cant get those stains out of anything! Speaking of which there wasn’t a stain or a drop of anything in that vehicle, it looked brand new and I hated to even let my gritty feet touch the carpet. I hopped up and the leather on the seat felt like butter with cool fans blowing around my legs, air conditioned seats?
When I looked over at Adorina she just looked like she belonged in that car. It matched her so well. “I really love your car”. I said quietly trying to break the ice. I can remember a time when my mother forced me to take my little brother to a basketball game with me and my friends. I was so mad that I had to look after him that I dared him to speak a word the entire time or else severe consequences would ensue. I seriously felt exactly like that was how she was feeling about me. By this time she had pulled a sleek laptop out of a Louis Vuitton bag from the back seat, she had it sitting on the middle console facing me. She never looked up as she typed quietly for a few moments never acknowledging the complement so I just sat there quietly. (This is also where I want to insert an apology to my little bro for that evening he had to spend as a mute)
“Colette, for some reason LB has become fond of you. You are not his traditional choice for a muse so I wouldn’t get too comfortable. I wouldn’t get too comfortable on any accord, most girls cannot stand his lifestyle and run as soon as they realize he isn’t going to be with just one women. That’s why he offers the flowers, dinners, shopping and money. What he lacks in emotional stability he makes up for with financial stability. He has to keep people wanting and needing him.”
When she said that it kind of broke my heart for LB. A handsome man like him not being able to love himself enough to settle with one woman. But it also pained my heart for her. I could tell she was telling me all this from a place she had already been. I couldn’t look in her eyes because she was looking down typing but I could hear the hurt in her voice as she tried to tell me in a matter of fact type way. And then it all made sense, her tension towards me wasn’t really about me. It was about the fact that she loved him, yet here she was pruning me for him.
I wanted to ask her so bad why she wasn’t with him? Or was? Was she one of the women that could handle his lifestyle and that’s why she’s still here with him now? I wanted to know so much. But I did not have the nerve to ask. So I just sat quietly while she finished what she was doing. Her phone rang and when she answered whomever was on the other line was asking about the event on Saturday, before hanging up the phone she said “Tell the Governor we will be looking forward to seeing him Saturday.”
“Wow, the governor is going to be at this party? I said with a tone of shock. I mean I don’t even know who the Governor is but I am not sure if I am ready for all that. (I was looking for any excuse necessary to bail) When I agreed to go on a date with LB I was thinking something low key and not really so out in the open like going to a party with the governor would be”. I started rambling on a bunch of other stuff about what other people would think of me and I didn’t want to be seen as a gold digger. Everyone knows what people think when they see a young woman with an older man. “She’s only with him for his money”
Adorina looked directly at me and said “So who cares? Who cares what someone thinks, maybe the woman they are judging IS with him for his money. Maybe she NOT. Or maybe she’s with him because she understands that this is a mans world and by being with him her life has become easier, and in return she brings youth to him which makes his life happier. There is always a misunderstood dynamic in everyone’s relationship, that anyone looking in from the outside will not understand. For that we should not judge.”
“There is always a misunderstood dynamic in everyone’s relationship, that anyone looking in from the outside will not understand. For that we should not judge.” That sentence hit home with me more than it probably should. It was exactly like my relationship with Eric. Just in a more self loathing way. There was an established, misunderstood dynamic that people looking in from the outside probably didn’t understand. He was fine drinking beer and not going anywhere in life and I was ok with tolerating that because he gave me the attention I needed. In all reality it boiled down to self worth and confidence for us both. I wasn’t confident in myself enough to demand someone else to be the best version of their own and he wasn’t confident enough to push himself. I gave him something he needed and he gave me something I needed at that time. Now I look at every relationship or venture as having a dynamic that is misunderstood by others. And I have learned to not care to concern myself with their opinions.
“Listen Colette, I know how you feel. You’re uncertain about a lot of things right now and that is totally understandable. But you’ve been given an opportunity that most people would dream of. This isn’t about forming a relationship with LB. This is about getting the opportunity to meet people that can help advance your life in someway. Whether it be a business venture, a new networking system, or just a good friend that can help you from time to time which is what LB will be to you. He tells me you’re studying to become a nurse, this party you’ve been invited to Saturday night will be filled with the most prominent medical professionals and other people of stature. Many doors can open for you just by being there. I am not sure if you’ve noticed or not but men run this world and only until recently have woman gained any ground. That all came about because women became more confident in themselves. They had the confidence to go to the cocktail party Colette”.
At that moment I realized that confidence I thought I always had, was just a thought. A confident woman doesn’t look for the seat that hides her from the world. And a confident woman doesn’t shy away from opportunity no matter how it is presented.
She then cut her eyes over the laptop at me for the first time while talking and with a look of sadness in her eyes she said
“If I would have known, what I know now, at your age I wouldn’t have spent so many years hiding from who I really wanted to be. ”
Adorina was born in Portugal to a family that had very little. Her father being the only provider died from a freak brain aneurism when she was 4 years old. So her mother was left to raise her and her sister on her own which proved to be tough because she had never worked before her husband died and she had no skill. Eventually, she found employment in a factory that made plastic for laundry baskets. Adorina and her older sister Katrina were 15 and 17 years old when their mother passed away from an unknown illness, she had come down with a really high fever that eventually made her so sick she fell into a coma and died. Later on, Adorina figured out that her mother had been involved in prostitution because there just wasn’t enough money from the factory to keep them up, this is also what caused her death. The high fever came from septicemia, which is caused by leaving a gonorrhea infection untreated. They were so poor they were unable to treat her properly and most likely because they did not know the exact cause of the fever she died from a totally preventable disease and left two young girls to face the world alone.
After their mother passed away they went to work in the same factory their mother worked at and this is where Adorina and her sisters life changed completely. As if they weren’t experiencing enough trauma being teens and both parents dead. The factory was basically a cover for a major sex and drug trafficking operation that threw both the girls right into the middle of it all. They were promised a better life in France and left with a man that turned them to sex objects for international travelers coming into the country who are aware the laws on sex with underage people were very lax. Katrina and Adorina were eventually separated and never saw each other again. Adorina is truly the success story here. After spending 3yrs being held captive, serving men AND woman sexually like she was a sex slave from Roman times. She was able to negotiate her own freedom. Living in the streets of Paris, she once again turned to prostitution. Which is how she ended up in my life. LB being the connoisseur of women had and still has this strange obsession with helping girls better themselves. So while he was visiting France and combing the streets of Paris for debauchery he found Adorina.
“I know why you would think you were intruding and that is because we have a misunderstood dynamic that others cannot understand. When I came to the United States it was so different. LB taught me how to value myself and there were men out there that wanted women for more than just sex. Some want love, a wife, some a friend, a travel partner, a motherly type, a maid.”
At that point, I did not know a thing about Adorina (it actually took many years to know some of the intimate details I listed above). So I was naive of her past and her life up until that moment.
“What do you think he wants from me then? I’m just an average girl. I am not confident, I’m not that pretty or petite. I’m not poised, nor am I articulate.” I said wondering what the intrigue with me was.
The answer she gave me that day forever changed my life and took me down a journey I never thought I would be on.
“He is going to make you just that. All the things you’ve named you are not, you will be one day. Just like he did me.”