Chapter Fifteen: What We Can Not Take

Weeks became months and before long it was Guy's second birthday. Gavin had returned to work, Torry not so much. The woman was a pest, but at times Kitty was also glad that she had nothing to do with herself but to be a babysitter so that she could continue on with Stafford. They had picked things up again just before Guy turned one, no one seemed to notice or care. Gavin and Kitty had so little attraction to one another by then that they rarely copulated together, much less spoke of having another child together. As much as they each cared for Guy, he would never have a sibling from his parent's union as a couple. Stafford's career required that he travel often for work, making him inaccessible to Kitty for weeks on end at times. She wondered if he had other mistresses, the thought bothered Kitty. She had grown fond of the abrasive Stafford. Kitty could not lounge about the condo with Guy forever, her restlessness soon got the better of her. She decided to get back into the job market. The task was far more daunting than she envisioned as much had changed while she was living as a kept woman. Even her old job position has been filled, and she was surprised that the criteria for hiring into the position had changed as well.


At dinner that night with Gavin, Torry, and Guy, Kitty told Gavin about her trouble finding work. He in his usual monotone voice informed Kitty that in the current job market a mere bachelor's degree was too minimal of an education. Gavin went on to tell her in a rather dismissive manner that she would have to go back to college for a master's degree in order to be competitive. Kitty leaned back in the satin upholstered host chair as she considered what Gavin had said. Then realizing that Gavin's suggestion would get her back into society she turned to him and asked "could you help me pay for school if I went back into it?" Gavin swallowed his delivered steelhead trout roe before he agreed "I think that is an appropriate career choice to pursue." For the first time in too long, Kitty was excited about something. Life with Gavin was not for her, she always felt like an outsider. Gavin and Guy were very close, while she would sit on the sidelines when they were all together as an alien to their family. No one ever asked her about her day or looked happy to see her. When she came into a room when Gavin and Torry were talking, they never seemed to receive her as company, but would cease to speak until she left. Going back to school would give Kitty the relief of not having to try to fall in with people who always seemed to be waiting for her to leave the room.


After that Kitty went to her P.O. box to see if Pam had written to her. She found an old letter from a week prior that from Pam informing her that she was heading to the halfway house on a work-release program. Kitty didn't have time to respond, but she was happy that Pam was doing well. As awful as Pam was as an adult, she was still Kitty's old sister. Kitty felt pity for Pam because Pam took it the hardest after their parents had overdosed together. Kitty was seven and Pam was eleven at the time. They were living in government-subsidized housing in Ohio. When Kitty and Pam returned home from school their parent's bedroom door was locked. Pam told Kitty to go to the playground while she asked the neighbors for help, they already suspected a bad reaction to the drugs going around as it had happened before on several occasions. The neighbors forced open the door to find them there, long since dead from the night before. Kitty wanted to never think about it, Pam though, thought about it all the time. Kitty saw Pam go from rehashing their death to all but reenacting it for herself with her own addiction. Kitty wanted to be there for Pam, but Pam did not make it easy. All of this was well hidden from Gavin who probably didn't want to know the history Kitty had. He avoided the subject, much like a child avoids asking if Santa is real.


The pretense of Gavin and Kitty's disjointed relationship was a lot for Kitty to maintain. During the morning she was with Guy. Torry typically picked him up for lunch, while Kitty would go to the gym. The maid service would clean up the condo for an hour, normally moving everything from its assigned place and making Kitty feel exposed by having strangers tidy up her personal belongings. Kitty would run errands during that time to avoid being in the way, either by going to some personal interest activity or to the spa. Her life was so shiny, so polished, so impersonal, and coldly formal. She missed watching TV at night or sleeping in on her off days. She missed speaking her mind to friends. She missed her friends. It was as if with every soulless catalog-esque image that she had to pretend to enjoy within her life, she appreciated Stafford's impudent take on things. Stafford had no pleasantries, he was as rude as he made himself out to be. Yet Kitty could be angry with him, she could tell him to go to hell and he accepted her for it. Gavin was dispassionate and, controlled himself by his own estimate of what was proper. To Kitty being a concierge was a job, not her true self, to Gavin, it was all he ever wanted her to be.


At least once a month, Gavin required Kitty's presence at one of his work functions. He would dictate to her how she would act and dress prior to going. It was implied that Kitty was not to speak to anyone there outside of a smile or a bland greeting. Kitty found it degrading but knew it was not something Gavin would let her shrug off. There it was common for the other wives to ignore Kitty because she wasn't actually married to Gavin. To them Kitty was a passing phase, soon to be removed entirely. Kitty would have to sit alone and try not to look as ignored as she was while Gavin usually went off to another part of the event leaving Kitty by herself to fend off the harpy like women she was obligated to engage with. If they did decide to interact with her it was awkward for Kitty because some of their husbands had openly flirted with her, making Kitty even less liked by the women she was supposed to endear. Gavin of course blamed Kitty's shunning on her poor upbringing and would have her go to more etiquette classes, stylist consultations, or something equally humiliating. Had it not been for her experience in the hospitality industry, she would never have lasted there this long. Her motto had become "grin and bear it" all too often as if her life was something she was trying expedite indefinitely. At least she could look forward to going back to school in the fall, too bad it was only the spring.


Coming out of the winter, to Kitty's anticipated excitement, the bank that Gavin worked for was hosting a Mardi Gras fundraiser for a charity organization at the Langham, a posh hotel. Gavin was invited and of course, Kitty was his plus one. Guy was to be taken care of by a nanny who was becoming increasingly more convenient to the Alton family. She was a twenty-something bimbo that Gavin tried to hit on as Kitty looked on, getting secondhand embarrassment at the spectacle. She didn't care that he was dating other people, but she did expect him to keep it under wraps when she was in the room. To her Gavin was pathetic, if any other woman went after him, it was a sign of a personal failing on their part to Kitty as being with Gavin was like a slow death. The nanny obviously was gunning to take her spot, something Kitty quietly welcomed. Kitty was hopeful that anything would come to break the cycle of stagnation that had befallen her since becoming more dependant on Gavin for support. She would sometimes laugh to herself that the nanny was an ideal match for Gavin because he was already paying for her time. Kitty had to be roped into that situation.


The evening of the fundraiser, Kitty wore a crimson silk floor-length dress that hid nothing of her bodyline. Gavin had on an overly fitted tuxedo, which only accentuated his slouching frame. They arrived far too early and had to stand around because Kitty was worried her dress would wrinkle if she sat for more than a minute. Gavin left her alone as soon as another person from his work showed up. Kitty knew it was bad manners to be seen playing on her phone, so she snuck off to the kitchen to check on Guy and the nanny. In the kitchen, she casually struck up a conversation with a former classmate of her's from the university who was now an event manager for the hotel, Blair. She was mostly unchanged in her appearance barring the massive breast implants she seemed to have acquired. The two caught up for a brief moment before Blair had to hurry back to her duties. Kitty was delighted to see a person she knew from before she took up with Gavin. Feeling a bit more energized she walked back to her table smiling before she had to be reminded of her place in the pecking order at their table by the other women from Gavin's work who did their best to make it known that Kitty was snubbed.


After dinner and midway through an endless list of speeches, Kitty started to let her eyes wander about the room for fear she would fall asleep otherwise. It was then that she spotted none other than Stafford, her broad, brooding, dirty secret a few tables away. His tux was a cheap rental, but Kitty could not have cared less. She had not had a weekend with him since before Christmas. She didn't know if she should get his attention or not. She could see that Marnie was there too, Stafford seemed focused on trying to get Marnie to put her drink down. Times had turned around Kitty's position in regard to Stafford. Kitty had once seen him as the established society member when she was living with Sandy. Now he was the obviously rougher guest. This brought Kitty to a revelation of her own, Gavin was upper class and Stafford was middle class, but none of it mattered. She did not love Gavin at all and she enjoyed Stafford albeit in a more personal setting. She thought that those with money looked down on their financial inferiors, but now that she was on the other side of the situation, she knew it meant nothing. She still had her problems, she was just in a more expensive setting.


By one in the morning, the majority of the event's stragglers had egressed from the bar. Gavin finally came to get Kitty who was mentally counting the number of bricks it took to build the place in the lobby. At the condo, as soon as Gavin fell fast asleep, Kitty called Stafford, who picked her up in his car. Kitty was indignant that Stafford didn't come over to talk with her at the event but wanted Stafford anyway. He took her back to the Langham once more. They checked into a separate room from Marnie to be together. After they were done, Kitty let herself out, while Stafford went back to Marnie who was still unconscious from her night of drinking. Stafford had said previously confided in Kitty that he had to start pulling bottles of pills from Marnie's hands and that he had to check her pulse every night before bed and in the morning too when she was asleep. Marnie discovered that her high tolerance for alcohol could be handled by adding her antidepressants into her system for an additional effect. As for this specific morning, Stafford had to do both before he collapsed on the couch across the room from his wife. He wished she'd leave him, but didn't know if he could stand to be alone.


Trying to discreetly make her way through the lobby Kitty was stopped by an exhausted Blair who waved her down. The woman must have worked all through the night Kitty reasoned. Not sure what to do, Kitty tried to act naturally as Blair walked over to Kitty who was in the midst of an obvious walk of shame wearing the same dress from the night before. "I see you haven't changed since college." Blair quipped about Kitty, subtly letting her know that the staff was on to her little extra-marital relationship with Stafford. In an attempt to change the subject and still make it back to the condo before Gavin woke up, Kitty complemented Blair saying "The fundraiser turned out very nicely. Well done." Blair smiled and thanked her before inquiring where she was working. Kitty feeling much freer to speak openly with Blair told her the truth that she took too much time off after having a baby and now she had to go to grad school to be able to jump back into the job market. She finished not sure if Blair would laugh at her or not. Blair though reacted sympathetically. Before Kitty excused herself to go off to catch a cab, Blair gave her a business card with an offer of a job for when she was finished with school. Kitty left not sure if Blair was being polite or not put the card away in her clutch. Later that night she felt much better when she saw that Blair had sent her a friend request online and a message that reiterated her original offer to work at the Langham.