He knows me, he knows me not

How can Matt know her so well and not at all?

Published September 16, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

Sept. 16, 1999

Sunday evening, August 15

This morning, I made a giant mistake ... I didn't know my business phone was still on -- at this time of year, it's usually so quiet on Sundays that it doesn't matter. The unfamiliar chirp of my work phone made Matt look up from his Sunday Times business section.

"What's that?" said Matt, "New phone?"

Damn! Why didn't I remember to unplug it from the wall? I turned beet red and waited for the call to jump into voice mail.

I've been so rattled by Jasmine's bitchiness -- and that mystery creep at the health club -- that I wasn't paying attention. No, it's Randy's goodbye kiss ... I've allowed myself to get so distracted by Randy that I got sloppy with my phones. Randy is walking proof that males must be kept in check: Boyfriends and wannabe boyfriends are a mental hazard.

"I'm not answering it," I mumbled.

"Why not?" he asked, frowning.

I got up from the couch, frantically wondering what to say. How could I somehow disable the phone behind his back? If both phones start ringing at once, I'll be sunk! How do I explain two phone lines? The business line is in the living room and he was showing no sign of moving from the couch. Quickly, I slipped into the bedroom and unplugged my personal line from the wall.

"What's going on?" Matt said, appearing in the doorway. I looked up numbly from where I was sprawled on the bed. "Do you want to talk about --"

"No!" I half-shrieked, thinking: What a fuck-up -- the personal line has a kitchen extension -- on the wall! How can I disable it?

As I headed for the kitchen, Matt tried to stop me.

"Why are you pacing around like this, Nancy? What have you been hiding from me?"

"Hiding from you?" I threw back at him. "You have some nerve!" After all, he's been hiding that office fling, hasn't he? Except that he has no idea that I know.

Alone in the kitchen, I ran some water and, with a shaking hand, silenced the ringer. I wanted to get him out of my apartment ... But suddenly, I felt calmer and safer because only one phone was on. Even if he were to answer my business line, well, most johns will hang up when they hear a man's voice.

Matt was now standing in front of me looking perplexed.

"Are you avoiding someone?" he asked.

"Yes!" I shouted. At this point, the pressure took over and I began crying, thinking: You, I'm avoiding you!

After placing a glass under the faucet, he shut it off.

"Here," he said, "this will calm you down."

He put his arms around me and waited for me to stop. I thought: How crazy that he knows so many of the little things -- how water calms me, my favorite colors and movies ... but what about the bigger things?

Finally, I recovered my bearings, and said, "I've been fighting with Jasmine -- we're not speaking." The strange thing is, I didn't feel like a liar. Jasmine and I parted on such bad terms yesterday that I couldn't talk about it to anyone.

"Jasmine?" he looked mystified. "That blond who goes to the gym with you?"

"No -- that's Allison. Why can't you ever get my girlfriends straight?"

"Well, I hardly ever see them, honey."

"That's not true!" I replied angrily -- but I was really angry because ... because it is true. They're my closest friends -- yet my boyfriend hardly knows them because he only sees them in passing.


The call that almost wrecked my life turns out to be from Etienne, but his flirtatious message was comforting. The attachment I feel to Etienne is so businesslike it's ethereal. With Etienne, I experience none of the turmoil my best friends manage to create -- and nothing that comes close to my boyfriend's nosiness. Etienne's approach has nothing in common with the heart-stopping advances of a 20-something cupcake like Randy. But, at 50-something, Etienne has a certain way with women -- a strange talent for putting a girl at ease. Still, I feel shaky after that close shave with Matt, and I don't think I can handle seeing a customer tonight.

Monday, August 16

Last night, Etienne was his usual persistent self. When I finally answered the phone, he purred: "What a delightful circumstance, to stumble across you on a Sunday night. I am temporarily unbound. Everybody is in the Hamptons until Tuesday!" He refers to his wife in the plural, a twisted reversal of the royal we.

Despite that sexy buzzing in my veins, I can't relax completely when I'm in bed with Etienne -- he's always trying to kiss me! After how many years -- three? -- he won't give up, and it's maddening. He charms and flatters and chatters softly, getting my body into a friendly mood. Then, as soon as I am purring back, he brings his mouth right up to mine. I manage to turn my evasions into a coquettish game, bending my neck every which way to avoid kissing him. A less playful girl would just tell him, "I don't kiss!"

"You know where I want to be kissed," I urge him. "Stop teasing me!" and eventually, I have him where I prefer him to be ... This is a routine we can both live with and I guess it's what keeps him returning.

Last night, I managed to control him -- to convincingly fake a subtle climax while he licked me -- then climbed onto his left thigh, where he could feel the dampness of my bare pussy. While I massaged his cock between my breasts, he muttered, "It would be so much nicer inside of you ... Just once, you might consider it -- without that damn raincoat." I giggled politely and kept toying with the head of his cock, using my fingertips until he came on my breasts. I used to think he was quite difficult -- all those complaints, requests and attempted invasions. But perhaps he is just French -- destined to footnote and criticize everything that happens to him? I've noticed that he never shows off a new shirt or tie without complaining about some aspect of its manufacture or provenance. I felt slightly critical and crabby myself after he left -- I'm not used to working so late at night anymore.

This morning, Jasmine interrupted my morning coffee with some startling news -- she came through on my personal phone.

"I tried your other number first," she apologized. "Did I wake you?"

"No," I sighed. "I'm just not ready for business yet. What is it?" I asked, making no effort to hide my impatience. After Jasmine's nasty remarks on Saturday and her hysteria on Thursday, I was not feeling generous.

"Take a look at the front page of the Post," she said in a grim voice, "if you want to know what April's been up to."

By Tracy Quan

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