Little Lies 18

The disappointment on Johnny’s face nearly killed me on the spot. “No.” He shook his head in response to Malcolm’s question with his eyes never leaving mine. “I don’t have a girlfriend anymore.” The music stopped then and the bar patrons peered at each other in confusion. “Dance!” One of them screamed at the stage. I ignored him and took a step closer to Johnny. “Please believe me when I say that I’m so sorry.” My lip trembled when I spoke. “I wouldn’t have cared if this was what you wanted to do with your life.” He motioned to the pole with a grimace. “But why lie to me about it, Val?”

10

My mom came over to me and put her arm around my shoulders. “He really is quite a catch. I just hate that I had to meet him like this.” She whispered into my ear. “Might as well tell him everything and hope like hell that he’ll be able to get past it. Let the truth set you free, babygirl.” It was the best advice she’d ever given me. “I’ve lied so much that even I began believing what I said was true.” I finally admitted out loud. “I was an escort until a short while after I met you. I never slept with any of my clients though…I had rules.” I told him. “When we started becoming serious, I quit and never looked back.”

11

“So when my father said he knew you…it wasn’t a mistake?” He asked with an unreadable expression. “No.” My answer was nearly inaudible. “Ha! Just wait until Mother hears this! She’s going to absolutely love it!” Malcolm burst out laughing. Johnny covered his face with his hand. “I swear…if you even so much as think about telling her, I’ll break your skinny little neck!” Johnny threatened. Malcolm laughed again and cracked open bottle of champagne. At least someone was enjoying themselves. “You never worked at the library either, did you?” Johnny smirked at me. “No.” I sighed miserably. “And why are you here tonight? You quit the escort service just to become a stripper? How is that any better?” He began grilling me. “It was only a one time thing. My mother asked me to help out with this bachelor party. Is it yours or his?” It was my turn to question him. “I don’t think it matters at this point. It’s over between us.”

“Please don’t say that, Johnny!” I wailed. “I’m so sorry! I never meant for you to find out this way!” He stood up and clutched his car keys in his hand. “That’s just another lie, Val. You never meant for me to find out at all.” Then he turned to his brother. “Let’s go or you’re walking home.”

12

I ran across the stage in my heels and nearly tumbled down the steps trying to get to Johnny before he left. “Wait! Please don’t go!” I cried as I tried to avoid knocking into tables and chairs. I made it to the exit just as he did and threw my arms around him. “Stop.” His voice was muffled by my hair. “Not until you tell me that you still love me and we can work this out.” I slid to my knees and held onto his legs. “Get up, Val. You’re embarrassing me and more than that, you’re embarrassing yourself.” He looked down on me in disgust. I let him go then and watched him walk away. “Valerie.” He called from the door right before he ducked outside. “Yes, Johnny?” I gave him a hopeful smile. “As much as it pains me to say it…my mother was right about you.”

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