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The Morning After

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This wasn't planned. Yes, yesterday was supposed to be a truly hellish day. She had to take that bratty kid of Jacinda's out trick-or-treating, which was just horrible. Halloween was full of fools in costumes. Why did kids waste their times with such silliness?

Okay, so Ivy kind of understood. Dressing up as someone else, someone better, made sense. Didn't she do that everyday. Wear her designer clothes and hope to finally be good enough in her mother's eyes. Outfits were powerful. You couldn't pretend to be something you were not, but you could be your best self. As a child, Ivy had loved dressing up. But her mother hadn't wanted to take her trick-or-treating because she said the candy would make her fat. Anyway, the neighborhood kids had hardly wanted her to go. She never got invited to the Halloween parties. And that was still true, wasn't it. She hadn't been invited to the masquerade ball. Well, screw those stuck up socialites. She was better than all of them, and she knew it, even if they didn't seem to. Still, it would have been nice …

But she couldn't go anyway. She was on baby-sitting duty. And not only had it been miserable, but she had failed at it. She had lost the kid and had to go to her mother and beg for help. It was humiliating. And then Henry … well, that was something else. Henry had been a surprise. He had been nice to her. He had listened to her. Nobody ever cared what she had to say, but Henry … he seemed to. And he had been kind and understanding, and he made her feel heard. It almost seemed like he understood what it was like, to be so alone. Because as much as she hated to admit it, she was alone. She had never admitted that to anybody before last night, but she had felt that Henry would understand. And he had. And then he had given her credit for finding Lucy, which she didn't care about, because who cared what Jacinda thought, but it was nice to be appreciated for her good work for once.

Then she had found him at the bar, alone, and she had thought, maybe they could be lonely together. Her mother was sure to find out about her letting Jacinda finish the trick-or-treating with Lucy, and then everything would explode. She might as well enjoy tonight. And she wanted to enjoy it with him, this man who was maybe just as lonely as she was, who understood, who listened.

Ivy wasn't an idiot. She knew the Henry was smitten with Jacinda. He wanted to be with the headache of a girl that Ivy loathed to call her step-sister, and one night of passion wasn't going to change that. And Ivy wasn't the type to do one-night-stands either. She had too much self-respect. Jacinda's foolishness had taught her that. She did NOT want to end up with a daughter. So then, what was last night? It couldn't last, couldn't mean anything. Henry could never care for her like that, not with that tramp Jacinda being the exotic beauty of his dreams. Maybe one one-night-stand, one screw up, could be allowed. She was an adult, after all, and they had used protect. Even in the heat of the moment, Ivy had remembered to do that much. Or maybe Henry had. She didn't remember. Things were fuzzy. That's what happened when you drank and then made love. No, not love. Love had nothing to do with it. It was just sex. But did that make Ivy some cheap tramp? No. She could not allow that. So what was the third option? Maybe it was just two people seeking comfort. Not a mistake, but never to be repeated. Would Henry even want to repeat it?

"I, uh, made coffee." Henry said, handing her a mug and she put her arms through her sleeves and buttoned up her blouse.

"Let me guess, instant?"

"I am a bachelor, after all." He said with a boyish grin, holding out the mug to Ivy. She didn't take it.

"Look, we should probably talk about what last night was."

Henry nodded, "Okay, I think-"

"Whatever you're thinking is probably wrong."

Henry chuckled, "All right. Why don't you tell me what you think."

"I think we both acted rashly. We made a drunken decision. We're adults, so there is no shame or blame here, but we're not going to get mushy and become a couple. Last night was just … last night. It doesn't have to be anything more."

Henry was quiet for a beat of two, "Okay. If that's what you want, we'll call it a one time thing."

"Great. Except we're not calling it anything, because we're not telling anybody about it."

"Right. What happens in the bedroom stays in the bedroom. And a little bit in the cab, and a little bit in the hallway."

"Don't act so smug. What do you think your precious Jacinda would think if she found out you slept with the enemy? What do you think Lucy would say if she found out you slept with Cinderella's evil step-sister?"

Henry's eyes widened, and the guilt on his face told Ivy all she needed to know. His heart was still with that disgusting little family that he wanted to be a part of. They were the cure to his loneliness. She was not. Not that she wanted to be.

"Do you want the coffee?"

"I'm sure I can find something better at a cafe, or at the office. Anything found in this musty apartment is beneath me."

Henry pursed his lips and nodded. Ivy rose from the bed and headed for the door.

"You know, when I met your mom, I got the evil step-mother comparison. But you … well you may be a step-sister, but you're not evil."

"You don't know me."

"Still, I think-"

"Goodbye Henry."

She didn't stick around to hear him say goodbye. She just closed the door behind her and headed back to her real life, away from kind men who listen and made you coffee the next morning. After all, she was a bad-ass bitch. She didn't need anyone. Lucy thought she was evil for a reason. Because in in the real world, the evil people were successful. They won. And the Jacinda's of the world got stuck with daughters they couldn't afford to support. Of course the Jacinda's of the world also got the Henry's of the world. But that was wrong too. There could only be one like him.