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Polynesian Gigolo 4



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David Manoa




Copyright 2017 David Manoa

Smashwords Edition

v.2.3


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The author asserts the moral right to be identified as

the author of this work.



All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including photocopying, recording, information storage and retrieval systems, or otherwise, without prior permission in writing from the author, with the exception of a book reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.


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Pita Tupou

Auckland Airport

11am


Standing on the observation deck. My fingers pressed against the thick glass, watching Kates plane depart on the rain lashed runway. Thick rain clouds drift across. Droplets of rain stream down the window, condensation builds. The draft comes through the vents above. The memory of Kate asking me to go with her, to be with her, to take a chance. A future I could have had. I reflect upon the decisions, I made in my life. The journey and the people, I encountered. The difference I made.

But until then. I'll keep doing what I'm doing. Changing lives one woman at a time.

Changing lives one woman at a time...

My life journey as a gigolo resets, and I start all over again. In my jacket pocket, the tool of my trade vibrates and rings. I take out my phone to read a message from Cherie, a corporate client. A regular who I would term wants to purge the sexual tension out of her system. No strings, the bread, and butter business. A blonde beauty from Louisiana with a southern accent that would cause tingles down to my lower body. My finger hovers over her message when I remember the pleasure she gave. My mind goes stray with carnal thoughts, and I reply with a yes before switching the phone off. A reaction to the woman she is.

The plane reverses and sets a path for the runway. The clouds break, and streaks of light break through. The window seat, three down from the cockpit I see Kate's blonde hair. The distance too far to make out her face from the glare of the sun. My eyes close as that brightness and warmth make me embrace it. Embrace and carry on with the decisions I made.

I head down to the departure lounge and head to the café, passing the McDonalds and Burger King, I order a flat white from the cafe. I observe as traveler's fill out their departure forms. Friends and family saying their goodbyes to loved ones. The barista slides my coffee to me, and I head down the elevator when I notice a man weeping with his family.

He is with his daughter maybe only four or five years old. Her brown hair tied in a bun, her father lifts her into her arms while she cried. His partner arms folded, nods to her other daughter who is in her teens, steps back not wanting to say Goodbye.

I can within an earshot understand what he said to his daughter, “Love you, sweetie pie. Daddy will be back soon, I have a surprise for you.” He says, wiping his eyes.

His daughter clutches his father as he tries to hand her back to her mother, they struggle a bit before the girl gives in. Her father walks backward before turning to leave. I sip my coffee and head for the elevator when I listen to them behind me.

The teen behind me says, “Jeez Mom. I told you I didn't want to come here.” She says, “I hate that bastard.”

“Courtney, no swearing in front of Alice.” Her mother says.

Holding the rubber rail of the elevator, I turn my head to the woman holding her daughter. She's pretty, standing at five foot eight brunette hair tied back. Soft features, heart shaped face. Gorgeous brown eyes.

“Shut up Alice stop being a cry baby!” Her sister screams, “Shut the fuck up.”

“Court! Language!”

The little girl ignores her and stops crying. Her mother flicks her eyes to me. “I'm sorry.”

“No need to, goodbyes are always tough,” I say reaching out, the little stares at me when I reach out to show my palm. She flinches and smiles slapping her palm on mine. A high five. We walk outside the terminal and wait for the lights on the crossing. She comes down from her mother's arms and presses the button.

“Alice give me your hand.” Her mother says, “Alice!”

Alice walks forward and stands beside me, taking my hand. I shrug, looking at her mother. She as we cross the road. Taking further steps, we make it to the other side.

Her mother takes Alice’s hand and thanks me. I fish out my keys to the Lamborghini and press the button to unlock when her teen daughter eyes light up.

“Oh my god! Oh my god! Is that yours?” she says, eyes widened, palms on the sides of her face.

I say, “Yeah. Gets me from A to B.”

Her mother walks past, “C'mon, Courtney lets go. Take Alice to the car.” she said, “Thank you for helping Alice cross. I tell her not to trust or talk to strangers you know. I think I failed on that one to work.”

I extend my hand out, “My name is Pita.” I say, “What is yours?”

“Catherine.” she smiles, “Catherine Featherstone.”

“You just gave your full name to a stranger...”

She palms her face, “I did didn't I. Perhaps I should be taking my own advice.”

“Perhaps.” I smirked, “I promise, I won't stalk you, my name is Pita Tupou.”

Catherine chuckles giving me a chance to examine her beauty more. Creamy skin, full lips, and the dimples, wow. She adjusts her handbag, unites her hair. I look at her to notice her daughters watching on. Alice is in the driver's seat, turning the steering wheel pretending to drive. I point across when she starts pressing the horn.

“Looks like you got a driver there.”

Catherine brushes her hair back. “I do don't I?”

I say, “Well it was nice to meet you, Catherine, maybe we will cross paths again.”

***

Catherine Featherstone


Opening the driver's door. Alice held the steering wheel. She’s making car noises and Courtney is in the passenger side on her phone.

“Alice! Move to back seat now!”

Alice climbed between the seats, and I sat. I watched as Pita reversed out before driving past us giving us two toots of his horn.

“Damn he's fine,” Courtney said holding her phone steady as she took a photo.

“Don't be such a stalker Courtney.”

“I knew I should have asked for a selfie with the car. Be so cool.”

“Don't be so rude Court!”

Alice popped up between us, giving me a fright. “Can we get ice cream Mommy?”

I started the car, “Sit back in your seat Alice, and put your seatbelt on.”

I turned to Courtney who is on Facebook, replied to a message then looked at me. Smirking.

Courtney says, “What did you two talk about?”

“Nothing.”

Courtney raises a brow, “You two were talking for at least a couple of minutes, I saw lips move, something was said. You were blushing hard out!”

I said nothing and started the car.

“You are so annoying Mom, what did he say?”

“Nothing.”

“He ask you out?”

I frowned, “No!”

“You tell him that you are divorced with Dad?”

“No.”

“What's his name?”

“None of your business.”

Courtney sighs, “Gosh Mom. You could at least ask his name.”

We arrived at the carpark kiosk. I stuck my ticket into the machine when the poles started to raise.

I said, “His name is Pita. Pita Tupou.”

I drove out of the carpark when we were caught up the traffic from the roadworks they were doing.

I sighed, “Great. Just what we need at Lunchtime. Traffic is backed to wazoo.”

Courtney said, “Over there Mom the Lamborghini! Look! Look!”

I looked to lane on my right side to Pita driving with the top down holding the steering wheel with one hand. He glances over and smiles before revving his car twice.

“Let me take another photo,” Courtney says putting her arm across me.

“Stop it! You're embarrassing us.”

“You're embarrassing yourself!”

“How?”

“By wearing that ridiculous outfit, you chose today.”

“There nothing wrong with I'm wearing Jeans, wedges, and my tunic, I look good thank you.”

“Ugh... Mom, you dress like grandma. So gross.”


Courtney takes her pic and goes quiet and jumps on Facebook. Gosh, it's like she's in her own little online world. I turn to Pita as the traffic lights at the intersection go red. Pita glances at me smiled, finger combing his black hair when I hear his phone ring.

Courtney says, “Is this Pita?”

Courtney flashes her phone in front of me, a pic of a man shirtless and in shorts standing in the water. I check the name and glance back when the lights go green. Pita launches his Lamborghini.

BEEP BEEP

“Go Mom go!”

I drive off, taking another look at the photo. His muscled body with Pita's distinctive tattoos. I check out the face with the long jawline, black hair with the part. He's very handsome. “It's him.”

“Good,” Courtney says. “Because I messaged your number.”

I put my foot on the brake. The tires screech. Causing the cars behind me to toot.

My eyes widened, “You did what!”

***

Pita Tupou


Taking off from the intersection, I’m shunted back in my seat. The rain clouds dissipate and the sun beams down on the road making steam rise. I receive an incoming call. I put my phone into the pocket of my suit jacket and switched on Bluetooth button on the steering wheel to take it. I recognized the voice straight away. A client from back in the day. The first, after I came out of prison. Sherie.

Sherie was a Receptionist at Lamborghini at the time we met. Last I heard she got a job as a business development manager for Hunter International.

“Pita?” she says. “How's life been treating you?”

“I lived. I loved. I lost.”

Sherie chuckles for a moment, “I was hoping we could catch up there's something I need to talk to you about.”

“For you. Always. Advise a time you think you'll be free. I'm relisting with the real estate agents on the sale of my penthouse.”

“Wow.” She says, “So a lot did change.”

“Yeah, my nights a pretty much numbered in the place.”

“If you don't mind Pita... Could I come over to yours?”

“Sure why not. The bed is the same. The shower and bath are the same. Not much had changed from when you last stayed. Is this going to be more than a massage?”

“Dinner like the last time.”

“Of course. Deep massage included if you want. I still remember where the knots are...”

“Pita, I just want to talk.” She said in a serious tone.

“Come over around 7.”


Sherie hung up, and I veered to the right exit heading back into the city. I arrived at my apartment, sliding doors open. The gust of wind sending a cold chill throughout. I went to the kitchen and open up the pantry to think what I could cook for her... All this food, too many options, and too much effort for such little time left. I took a beer from the fridge and headed out to the balcony, and I order a set meal from the restaurants Sherie, and I dined at.

I check my phone. I examine it thinking about the time I almost threw it away. Down 15 stories to the concrete below. Pressing the home button, there is a Facebook message. Damn, it would be 2 years since I used my account. I don't know if I can remember my password. I remember now Gigolo4321. I open up the app on my phone and read it. It's from Courtney Featherstone. I check the photo to recognize the face. It was the daughter of Catherine.

Courtney Featherstone: Hi Pita, my Mom, asked if you are free to go out sometime her number is 02102465 she's like, so keen!

Puzzled, I stared at the message before I called the restaurant to order food for tonight.

***

6:30pm.


A faded memory, a taste of the life I want. Holding the little girl's hand as she crossed the street. There is something unique about the family unit. Moving together as one. Men my age are well into that life. The daily routine of work, come home, play with the kids, reading a book to them. Helping with homework. Kissing them goodnight. All the activities run through my mind like an alternative reality, I could have had… if I made that decision. But I’m tied by a chain to my own convictions.

I look out at the view of Rangitoto Island. Taking in the sights of the Cruise ship sailing past. Zoning out to my reality now. I swirl the remainder of my bitter beer around before draining the lot. I take out my phone and look at Courtney's profile pictures.

There's a photo of my Lambo, I swiped down more, a photo of them as a family. One thing about Facebook is that going through a person's timeline is like going through a person's visual snippet of their lives. The question though, what is it, they are trying to project?

I scroll more when I notice that Courtney's profile is more or less positive highlights of her life. Brings me back to my other friends who air the personal dramas for all to witness. I see a photo of her and Catherine. Damn, Catherine is attractive. I take out my phone and call her, when it goes to her voicemail. I leave a message when the doorbell chimes.

Sherie…

I open the door to the five foot 8, blonde haired woman with exceptional customer service, I met so many years ago. She embraced me with a hug, and I pointed to the table.

“Let's eat.”

Sherie takes her coat off, and I seat her at the table. She looks that food prepared.

“This looks very familiar?”

“I cooked it myself.”

“Liar.”

“How has your life of travel and luxury treated you? I hope the corporate world of Hunter International made you miss your old job?”

She sighs, “It's been tough. The role has changed me, made me stronger and world weary. For a woman to prove herself in a male-dominated environment. Had my share of dramas, some of which made want my old job back.”

“But you pushed through... I knew you as a tenacious, resilient woman back in the day.”

“I still am. One thing I learned in a job. Is no matter where you go. No matter who many jobs you work at. There is always gonna assholes who make it tough for you. Now doing the corporate life for so many years, I want to move further into my relationship with Jared. I really want to have kids.”

I lift my glass, “Cheers to that.”

I picked up an inkling of hesitation when I described the more pleasurable things we did. The last time the experience led to an inch of us almost having sex.”

She sighed, “There is an agenda to why I contacted you, Pita. Sorry if I come across in that manner. This isn't a social visit.”

“We all have an agenda, my clients that come to me have one. Part and parcel of the service I provide.” I say, “Tell me what's going on?”

Sherie blinks and places her cutlery down. “As I mentioned I'm in a relationship with a man named Jared Brown. We both work together at Hunter International. Both of us been dating for a number of months now, and our relationship is starting to get serious.”

“Serious as in marriage?”

“No, as in us living together.”

“Kids then marriage or the other way around?”

“Either way if I can solve this issue…”

“So how am I embroiled in all this?”

“Like many relationships, you share about your past life, and I said I met with you. The conversation was so casual but when I dropped you in the conversation. It was like hearing a pin drop. I'm in bed with Jared, and he's frozen stiff. He sits up, and he's got this hang up about me going out with you. He thinks I’m seeing you behind his back.”

“I don't understand you didn’t date Jared when you met me and we didn't sleep together.”

“He heard the word gigolo and switched off. He doesn't believe me, hence the reason me being here. I thought maybe you could talk to him.”

“Sherie the fact of the matter is, that if he doesn't believe you in the first place then he's got trust issues. I think me saying anything to him would go two ways. He might believe me, or he would beat the shit out me.”

Sherie pauses and spears her blonde hair. Looking up at the ceiling. “I wish I never told him. I mean how can someone threaten to break up a relationship over something so petty?”

“People hold different beliefs and values, things that appear minor to you, can be major in the eyes of other people. I think it's best to give Jared some time so he can process and evaluate what you've told him. If he loves you, he'll see past all that. Ever had the times where you would argue with your partner over things in the past and moved on from it?”

“Yeah, there would be countless times I would argue with Jared about his stuff ups. He keeps bringing this up, acting weird.”

“We know what happened. I don't think it should be in any way a deal breaker in your relationship. Is this a reoccurring pattern in Jared?”

“He is protective of me. Stood up for me when I was getting harassed by my bosses. Early in the relationship, he used to get so jealous of other guys looking at me that I had second thoughts that I wanted to be with him.”

“Give him time. But at the end of the day if he doesn't resolve his trust issues with you. It will lead to an unhealthy relationship.”

“Thanks, Pita. You should consider a career as a therapist?”

I smiled, “The pay is not great compared to what I earn, plus there are no benefits.”

Sherie laughs, “Benefits... Ha! There would be a lot for you, depending on the perspective.” We both had finished our delicious dinner before I saw Sherie out. She stood in the corridor.

I said, “I can talk to Jared if you think it helps. I only gave my opinion.”

“No. You're right, Jared does have trust issues. I'll talk to him after the dust settles and I’ll see how I go.”

“Ok.” I say, “It was great seeing you, Sherie.”

“Same. Best of luck with the sale.” Sherie looks behind me, I turn my head to the curtains blowing in. “This place of yours has got great views.”


I closed my door and headed out to the Balcony. Looking out the landscape now turned to darkness. The dormant Volcano now a dark shadow. I watch the Port as the next ship docks and gets unloaded with three high 40” containers. The Ports of Auckland is 24 hours 7-day operation. The same process day in and day out. Time these days, go very quickly, and the journey I'm on is leading to an end. A end in the sense that something is brewing.

I turn around to look back at my penthouse, leaning back on the rail. Thinking about the multitude of women I've had in here. My imagination overlaps with the faces, the situations. The sex with each one. The moments shared with these women on their lives and their troubles. Maybe Sherie has a point. Perhaps I should consider a career as a therapist... I’ve heard enough problems and solve a few, to be qualified I think. I ponder on the thought more when I flicked my eyes to my phone. It's ringing, and it's from Catherine...

***

Catherine Featherstone

9pm


After a busy day, I turned on the kettle to make myself a cup of green tea. Looking out to the lounge, I see Courtney flicking through the remote while she was on the phone texting. Gosh, these kids these days are learning the wrong type of multitasking. I pour my cup and let it seep, dunking the tea bag a few times before heading to the couch. Alice is asleep on the couch next to Courtney, the poor girl is still adjusting to sleeping in her own room.

I pull the blanket over Alice, and she shuffles.

“Ugh, you should have sent her to her room,” Courtney said.

“Poor girl was crying it's going to take a while.”

“She’s such a sook.” Courtney puts her phone down, “I recall, a traumatized little girl too that was sent to her room. Remember Mom?”

I laughed, “I do. Gosh, you were terrified of the dark!”

“It's not funny Mom. Alice should not have it easy. I had my own room when I was three years old. Alice is six. It's not gonna kill her. I’m sick of you and Dad spoiling her like a newborn.”

“Hey, blame your Dad the horny buggar for the reason you went in there at three. Sheesh, would have been a year earlier as in six weeks after you were born. If I didn’t fight tooth and nail against it. You’re lucky I gave birth to you naturally.”

“Ew Gross Mom. TMI.”

I laughed, “Alice should have stayed in your room you know. It's so cute to see her sneak in your bed sometimes.”

“Mom, she is so annoying. I want my own space now.”

“For boys?”

Courtney flushes red. “No! For my own fricking sanity.”

I looked at Alice, tucking her arm underneath the blanket. “You know, Alice was sobbing all day when I set up her room, felt like I was setting up a noose or something.

Courtney rolls her eyes.

I say, “Gosh, my baby is growing so quick. All of you growing so fast. Won't be long before you Courtney head out on your own.”

“I can't wait. Andrea and I are thinking of flatting together close to the university.”

I flinched hearing the words, a part of me sad that was Courtney's intention, but it's the way we felt at that age to get our own independence.

I said, “Well I hope you find a part time job with more hours. You worked out how you both going manage?”

“The rent on the apartment in town is $300 per week. So queue up $150 a week for both of us. My part-time job at the bar brings in $400 a week. So I calculate around about $250 to live on.”

“Courtney, there are other expenses to consider. Power, the internet, phone, gas for your car. Not to mention food. Let me add it up for you. How much is your gas for a week going to be, at a guess?”

Courtney said nothing obviously factoring the expenses. I took my phone out, to calculate when I saw this message on my phone.


021 234 231: Hi Catherine, It's Pita here. I received a message from your daughter that you're keen to go out sometime? I would love to take you out to coffee to get to know you better. Let me know.

I squeezed my eyes, shaking my head. I turned to Courtney. She smirked then burst out laughing.

“It's not funny Courtney!” I say, “You shouldn't give my number to strangers.”

“You know his name.” She says, “Damn he's got a sweet ride too. There is nothing strange about that.”

“So?” I say, “He could be an axe murderer for all we know.”

“C'mon Mom don't be so negative. When I saw you two talk, you were smitten. Blushing.”

“I was not.”

“Yes, you were.”

Alice begins to turn to her side, her feet kicks my thigh. “Keep your voice down Courtney. You're gonna wake, Alice.”

“Whatever.” She says. “C'mon Mom. What did Pita say?”

“He wants to take me out for coffee.”

“See what a great way to meet? Is he gonna pick you up? I'll text him our address.”

“No!” I say, “Don’t you dare do that. I'm not going.”

“Why?” Courtney frowned.

“I'm too busy to entertain a relationship right now.”

“Nonsense. You spend your nights doing the same thing every day. Work. Home Dinner. Watch TV by yourself till 11 pm. I mean look at Dad he had one! And we got a step son on the way.” She says. “Jeez, Mom you deserve to be happy, not lonely.”

“I am happy Courtney. I got you both.”

“I know, but I'm thinking of a time when we both leave the nest. It's gonna be you, by yourself in this house.”

“I don't want to date at the moment, Courtney. I'm not ready for the headaches that come with men.”

Courtney sighs, “Are you, serious Mom! You are 42 years old. When will you be ready? When you're old and wrinkly at 60 years old?”

“No of course not. I don't keep a time frame or schedule when I find a partner. Just not now.”

“Meh, I'm off to bed.” Courtney stands and kisses me goodnight. “C'mon Mom it's only coffee. What's the worst that could happen?”


Courtney hands me the remote, and I sit in the lounge watching TV. I turn to Alice fast asleep, and I reflect on the words Courtney said. In my lounge, I look around. The Fireplace that is unlit. The TV in front of me, the two single chairs that and the sofa I'm sitting on. I look out to the ranch sliders and see the street. Cars driving past, I imagine to a time when it will be the lonesome me in this place.

I look back at the TV. Pondering. There are so many people around the world that live in this solitude. Is this going to be my life, if I don't take a chance? I exhale and watch my programs when this deep sense of longing for companionship hits me.

For years since my divorce, I kept my focus on my kids to keep me away from the pain and loneliness. I take my phone, my finger flicked back and forth over the message. An internal conflict in my mind ensues. It reminds me of the movie, The Matrix how Neo takes the red or blue pill. Making a call and the reality it can create for me.

Red Pill: Call Pita, and my life could change forever.

Blue Pill: Don't call, and I go back to old life, sitting in front of this TV till my bones rot.

Sheesh, woman, it's only fricking coffee ring him!

Rim Him!

Ring Him!

My brain is buzzing with procrastination. I squeeze my eyes and exhale. I dial the number, and it rings. My heart is pounding, my leg is shaking like a nervous tick.

Pita Answers.


“Hello.” His voice is deep but silky smooth.

“Ah… Um… Pita, it’s Catherine here. I'm so sorry about my daughter pestering you. I apologize for her for being so rude.”

“So you don't want to meet for coffee?”

“Ah… um... No. It was all a mistake.”

Pita said nothing.

“You there?”

“Yes. Are you certain? I would love the chance to get to know you.”

My mind is screaming not to flake out. To take up the offer.

GO! Out with him!

C'mon!

I say. “Um, hold on. There's no harm in meeting for Coffee?”

“No there isn't Catherine. Its not like I'm asking you to marry me. Just us at a table and stimulating conversation.”

I smiled, letting out a breath of relief. “Okay… Why not? Where do you want to meet?”

“Catherine there is a place called Melba located in Manukau that the Barista there brews the best coffee. Slightly bitter but packs a punch. It's on Cavendish Drive. Do you know the place?”

“I do. It had the grand reopening two months ago.”

“Great so I'll meet you there around 10 am tomorrow?”

“Make it 11,” I said, thinking I’ll need the extra hour.

“Done, I'm looking forward to meeting you Catherine for a chat. Good night.”

“Goodnight Pita.”

Pita ended the call, and I pressed the phone against my chest. My heart is racing. I feel exhilaration. The feeling I'm having right now harbors back to when I was a teen on a date.


Goodnight Pita... ooh, la la.”

I turn to see Courtney in the kitchen who eavesdropped on my conversation. She’s chuckling.

I said, “I thought you went to bed?”

Courtney shrugs then opens the fridge. “I was hungry.”

“The teapot is still hot.” I say, “How much of the conversation did you hear?”

Courtney smirks, “The juicy parts that were important Mom.”

“Oh no.”

Courtney carries a tray of biscuits and tea and sits next to me.

“So what Pita say?”

“Meeting him tomorrow at Melba at 11 am.”

“Squee! Can I come?”

“No!”

“Why?” she says, “In the case of danger you know.”

I roll my eyes, “So now you are concerned about my safety huh?” I say, “I'll be alright. I'm meeting him there, so it's safe.”

I take a sip of my tea when I see Alice is wide awake. She looks at me a bit upset.

I say, “Hey, honey. You alright?”

She nods.

Courtney leans over and gets in Alice’s face. “Mommy's got a date tomorrow! With a man.”

Alice's lips turned inwards. “What about Daddy?”

I nudge Courtney when she sees Alice begin to weep. Courtney smirked, this devilish look on her face.

Courtney said, “Mommy’s got getting a new man so Daddy can go to his other family and stay there.”

“No!” Alice screams. She buries her face into my chest sobbing. I don't want Daddy to go!”

“Courtney!”

“What Mom? She should know he cheated. Alice is not dumb. Neither was I at her age. Stop sugar coating things for her. It makes things worse.”

“Go to your room Courtney!”

“Fine. I’m going to a party anyway.”

Courtney storms out and slams the door behind her. I cuddle Alice. Gosh, Courtney’s right, she should know there is no way in hell I'm ever getting back with her father. Alice continues to cry.

“Alice stop it!” I say “Stop being a baby.”

I let Alice go, and she sits back rubbing her eyes. I take a tissue to wipe her nose.

“Blow.”

Alice blows her nose, and I spear back her soft brown hair.

“You want a biscuit?”

Alice nods, and she starts to eat it.


“Hun, I know you love Daddy. But you know that he's married now. He has a family of his own.”

“I know Mommy,” Courtney said, “That’s why Dad, left us to go to Australia eh?”

Hearing her say that sent jolt of emotion to my brain. My upper part of my nose stung, my eyes started to water.

I exhaled, “He did. Dad is happy now with that person.”

“Was it because of us Mommy?”

“No people change Hun. Their feelings over time change.” I say, “But Daddy still loves you smudge button even though he can’t be here.”

“Can’t Daddy come back?”

“No. He can visit and take you out. But he can’t live here.”

“Why?”

I kiss her forehead, “You’ll understand one day. Just know that Daddy and I will always love you.”

She says, “Does the man you meeting tomorrow love you?”

I sighed, “I don't know Hun. We are only having coffee.”

“Can I come?”

“No baby, Courtney is going to look after you.”

“Aw...”

“Go to bed Hun. You can sleep in my bed. I'm gonna tidy up now.”

“Ok, Mommy. I hope the man loves you so you can be happy.”

Alice went to my room, and I wrestled with tears with the sweet words my little darling said. I know it's only coffee but a part of me hopes that this will lead to something more.

***

Pita Tupou

10am


The buzz of my alarm clock wakes me to a new day. I could never get used to other people's sleeping habits, how they would snooze for five minutes then start the day. I found I would sleep in and I would be immersed into such bizarre dreams that would make me feel like shit for the rest of the day.

I sat on the side of my bed to see the sunrise. Embracing the warmth, the light shines in from the west. Brightening the whole room. Streaks of light show the dust motes drifting in the air. Another day another night lost. I walk over to the kitchen, my automatic coffee maker finishes, and the last drips of my expresso fall into my cup.

Coffee...

Being in a set routine, I realize my day is different meeting with Catherine today. I check the time and ditch the coffee and head to the bathroom to shower. Jets of hot water sluice down my body, I think about Catherine. The way she carried herself, the tone of voice on the phone. I could tell it took a lot of courage to make the step and go out with me by the initial hesitation. Deep down inside, voices murmur that this one is special.

But my journey to this point has been marred by so many experiences. How will Catherine react when she knows what I do? I resist the other thoughts and press on. I wipe the condensation from the bathroom mirror to see my body. Intricate patterns of my heritage, the constellation of stars embedded in the pattern.

The stories I heard as a young child of Polynesians navigating the Pacific Ocean without a compass. Using the stars for guidance. My fingers glide over my right chest touching the tattooed stars, thinking if I'm heading towards my destination.

In an hour. I will find out for sure.

***

Café Melba


I hopped in the Lambo and headed south via Great South Rd. I avoid the motorway opting to take the more scenic route. Scenic in the sense that I would pass through some suburbs, avoiding the monotony of the motorway. I arrive at the café with parking at the front. I see Catherine, dressed in brown heels, jeans, and a grey tunic. I notice also that Catherine brought a friend. Her daughter Alice. I get out when I meet and greet Catherine. I reach out for a high five to Alice who is all shy now.

Catherine says, “Sorry about the plus one. Her sister didn’t come home from a party last night. So I had no one to babysit.”

“I’m not a baby.” Alice interrupted.

I smiled, “No you are not Alice. You are a young lady.”

Catherine says, “Hope you are ok. I was about to cancel otherwise.”

“No, no. More the merrier. Come on in. I booked our table.”


This is the first time I been to Melba, and the first thing unique about the place is the high ceiling with the hanging chandeliers. The tables are arranged in rows reminding me of the setup in prison. Looking at the architecture, it was a church a long time ago. We reach the counter and are greeted by the owner with a beard and a manbun who points to our table.

I asked, “This used to be an old church right?”

“It did. We’ve been here for about a year. The congregation numbers fell, and they couldn’t afford the rent. So now we are here.”

“How’s business been so far in the place of prayer?”

The owner gave a quiet chuckle and pointed to the tables. “Business is booming now after we reopened months back. Our new barista there is the one to thank. Should have learned a long time ago that people will flock to good coffee and buy food later. I checked this place out when it was a church, it was empty and decrypt. I restored the hardwood to its former glory, they painted it white for some reason. I also restored the stained glass windows too. Now this place is bolstering with people.”

We take a seat when manbun guy gives us the menus. We order, and I turn to Alice who eyes light up when she's handed a coloring book. I look to the side at the old hymns and tunes board at the front. The hymn numbers still there from what was perhaps the very last service.

“Do you remember this place when it was a church?” I asked Catherine.

“I do.” She says, “I used to drive past when I headed to work.”

“What do you do for a job?”

“I work in retail. I work in the Westfield Shopping Centre just across the road.”

I peered across. “Retail. I would have thought you would be working weekends?”

“No, Monday to Friday for me. The young ones look after the store on the weekends.”

“You enjoy what you do?”

“It pays the bills, so yeah I guess you get some satisfaction that I keep a roof over our heads.”

Catherine leans back in her chair as the staff places her coffee in front of her. She blows on the steam when she turns to Alice who receives her hot chocolate.

“Hun, it might be hot, wait for it cool smudge button.”

Ok,” Alice said smiling before resuming her shading of the picture of a rose.

Catherine rakes back her hair, “Do you have children Pita?”

“No.” I say, “I want to at some point.”

Catherine smiles, “What do you do for a job?” her eyes averted to my Lambo. “It must pay well.”

I paused. Thinking what I should say. “It does.”

“So what do you do for a living?” she asked again.

I leaned back adjusting my tie. Catherine stares, then frowns.

I said, “I work as a therapist.”

Catherine burst out laughing. “Sorry, for being insensitive.” Holding her palm up. “I was thinking back to my previous marriage when went to counseling we both were forking out a bit for it. And I mean a lot! I always wondered...”

“The Lamborghini? It's all for show. Finance plans these days can make anyone afford them. It's like buying a house.”

Catherine smiled, “I hope you don't live in it?”

“I don't. I stay in a penthouse apartment in Town.”

“Top floor?”

“With 360-degree views. Yes.”

Her eyes widen, and she takes a sip and exhales, “I should consider a career as a therapist.” She says, “What do you hate most about your job?”

“That sometimes my client's problems become my own.”

“In what sense?”

“That it affects you. The negativity, the sadness. It can be draining on the emotions.”

“What satisfaction do you get out of it?” she smiles, “Besides the pay?”

“That I'm making a difference.”

I look at Alice who is listening when she asked, “Mommy what's a thee-raapis?”

“It's a man who talks to people about their problems.”

Alice turns to me, “Are you talking to Mommy about her problems?”

I smile, “Not yet. Just her beauty.”

Catherine flushed and handed Alice her crayon to resume her coloring.

“Sorry. I'm regretting now not taking her to her mothers.”

“No worries kids are cute. How old is she?”

“Six.”

“And your other daughter?”

“Courtney turns 18 this year.”

“Starting university next year?”

“I hope so. With the part time job and her party girl lifestyle. I hope she makes it.”

“She will. I get the sense she's pretty switched on.”


Catherine finishes her coffee, and there is a pause in the conversation. An exchange of stares. Both of us checking each other out. The dynamics of the physical attraction. I feel it, and I know she does too. I put my hand on hers.

“I had a great time today. Meeting you and your family. I would love the opportunity to meet again for another coffee, or perhaps dinner?”

“How about the movies?” she flicks her eyes across to the Shopping Centre. “Maybe on Tuesday, after I knock off from work at 5 pm.”

I flinch, “Sounds good. Been like an eternity since I last went.”

“C'mon, can't be that long.” She says with a raised brow.

I look up, thinking the last cinema experience. “Last movie I saw was maybe Titanic.”

Her eyes widen, “Well I look forward to meeting you, for a night at the movies.”

We both stand and I settle the bill when I walk Catherine and Alice to her car. I watch them drive off when I receive a call from Sherie's number.


“Hello?” I answered

“Who is this?” A male voice answered. Voice is hoarse and gravelly as if this guy smoked a hundred cigarettes per day.

“This is Sherie's number,” I replied.

“Is this Pita?”

“Yes, it is.”

“It's Jared Brown her boyfriend.”

“What do you want?”

“I want to talk.”

“About Sherie?”

“Yes. In person.”

“Ok. My address is 474 The Quadrant. I'll see you soon.”


***

Catherine Featherstone


I arrive back home to see Courtney plonked on the couch. She’s dressed in her pajamas, and the lounge reeks like a brewery, and she spews into a bucket next to her. I pinch my nose, and Alice walks over to look inside.

Courtney says, “Ah Mom I feel like shit! Sorry, I couldn't come back earlier, I only got back now.”

“You should stay in your room if you are gonna drink you know, this whole place stinks.” I walk over to open the ranch slider to bring in fresh air. Alice goes to the fridge to get water.

“You drunk again!” Alice says shaking her head at Courtney as she hands her the bottle of water. “When I grow up. I'm not gonna drink.”

“Good for you little shit.” Courtney moans, “The way I'm feeling right now I'm never touching another drop too.”

Courtney stands to carry her bucket with her to the bathroom. I switch on the kettle in the kitchen when Alice sits on the stool, elbows on the bench.


“Mommy?” Alice says.

“Yes smudge button.”

“Did you like that man?”

“His name is Pita.”

“Oh.”

“Do you like Pita?”

I paused as I watched as Alice ponders when Courtney comes in. “How the date go Mom?” Courtney asked.

“Don’t call it a date! It was a meet and greet.” I say, “Here. Some green tea. It will help settle your stomach. Courtney, you shouldn’t be going out getting drunk. Especially with all the creeps out there.”

“Was Dad one of them?”

I shook my head. Then palmed my face, I let out a chuckle. “Actually he did ask me out while intoxicated. Dutch courage got the best of him, and here we are. “

Courtney rolls her eyes then took a sip. “Ugh. This tea is gross where's the sugar?”

“No need to.”

“Well, back to the topic how the special night go with Pita?” she says “Did you have sex?”

“What? Course not!” I say, “It went well, it was a normal conversation.”

“So boring Mom, so is there another date?”

I paused, looking at Alice who stared.

“Well, Mom?” Courtney said hands on hips.

“Should I go out on another date with Pita, Alice?”

Alice is picking at the tile on the bench, “I dunno, should we ask Daddy?”

“Fuck Daddy.” Courtney said.

“Court!” I say, “Language!”

“Sorry, Mom.” Courtney says, “Mom. This is your chance to be happy with someone.”

Alice extended her hand out rubbing mine, “If Pita makes you happy Mommy, you should.”

I kissed Alice on the forehead and started to unstack the dishwasher. Alice says the cutest things that bring a tear to my eye. I looked up at the calendar on the wall marked Tuesday as movie night. I couldn't wait.

***

Pita Tupou


The drive back home was muddled with traffic and crazy drivers. A convoy of patched motorcyclists blasted past me using the narrow space between cars to navigate through. The day is overcast, and being the middle of winter. A breeze is blowing sending a chill through my bones. I retract the roof on my lambo when spittle of rain begin to coat the windscreen. I take the final turn off passing the oak trees and arrive at the underground car park of my Apartment complex.

I get out hearing the buzz of the fluorescents and the damp scent of rain. Streams of water trickle into the car parking spaces. I turn to head to the elevator to see a man stand, arms folded by a black Ford Mustang. He takes out his cigarette from his mouth flicking it to my feet. He looked like an Islander about six foot five, light brown skin. Black shoulder length hair. He rolled up the sleeve on his black dress shirt. His chest bulging that the buttons look like they're going to pop. He walked over to me.

“Pita? He asked his tone of voice hoarse. Deep.

I nodded.

WHACK!

He struck me right in the jaw. I fell back on the bonnet of my lambo. I charged him, lifting him up. The guy is a heavy bastard, he must weigh 230-250 pounds. I strained my back lifting him. I push him, back first into the doors of the elevator.

“What the hell is your problem?”

“You!” He lugged his right hand with another punch. His arm so long, I caught it. Wrestling him to the ground, I moved into a choke hold.

“I didn't touch her!” I said.

“Bullshit!” he screams “You're the one fucking her behind my back!”

“Your Jared right?”

“Who do you think cocksucker!” he grunts, “Let go of me!”

“I'm going to choke you out if you don't listen. Relax!”

I tighten my grip like a python constricting its prey. Jared's face goes blue.

“Ok! Ok! Let Go!” He releases his grip on my forearm.

I push him away, “Listen. I am not the one seeing Sherie we met years ago when she used to work at Lamborghini. She called me!” Jared didn't say anything, standing up. He clutches his throat. “I didn't sleep with her when she came over, and I didn't back when I met her. Let it go, man.”

“I don't fucking believe you bro.” He says, “It was you at our house a couple of days ago.”

“It wasn’t,” I say dusting off my suit jacket. “If you're too thick to trust the words of your girlfriend. You got other issues.”

Jared clenches his fists and moves forward.

“Don't be stupid, I'll choke you out this time.” I take out my phone and bring up photos of Kate and I in Fiji. “Catch. Look at the date on these pictures I was in Fiji, the whole time.”

Jared examines my phone, the sinew in his cheek is pulsing. He squeezes his eyes then exhales.

“Sorry man. I thought...”

I open my mouth to stretch out my jaw. “Forget it, Jesus you can hit… What gave you the thought that Sherie is cheating?”

He walks over to his Mustang and sits on the bonnet. He takes out a cigarette. Lights it and take a long pull from it.

Jared says, “My job as a sales representative at Hunter International gets me out on the road. Traveling 2 to 3 weeks out of the month. I barely spend enough time with Sherie. I rang home a couple of days ago when she answered the phone. I heard a man's voice in the background. I tried to dismiss it, but it kept fucking with my head.”

“You tell Sherie about the voice you heard?”

“No. I thought it was you.” He says, “You don’t sound like him either. He had an accent. British.”

I said, nothing but to shake my head.

Jared buttons up his shirt. “I should have said something.” Jared walks up to me extending his hand. We shake. “Bro, I'm sorry about the punch. I understand if you want to call the cops.”

“No, no need for that.” I wriggle my jaw, “You punch pretty well.”

“I fought at the Olympics back in 2002.”

“Figures. I won't say anything to Sherie or if she contacts me. Does she know you are here?”

“No. I took her phone.”

“Ok, all the best with you and Sherie.”

I open the elevator door and head in. Feeling the dull pain. Nothing a strong whiskey on the rocks won't fix.

***

Westfield Shopping Centre

Manukau

Movie Night.

5:30pm


Catherine messaged me to say she had purchased our tickets and was waiting in the Foyer. After struggling with traffic from the City heading south towards Manukau. I parked on the upper level navigating at an angle over the large judder bars. I walked in through the sliding doors as the stream of retail workers brushed past me to the end of their shifts. The looks on their faces as if they spent the last ten minutes watching the hands of the clock.

Taking a left up the long escalators to the Event movie cinema. I turned to see my reflection in the dull stainless steel metal wall on the opposite side. I arrived at the top to see Catherine holding two buckets of popcorn. I greeted Catherine with a peck on the check. She wore a cute pair of heels jeans and blouse.

“You look stunning Catherine, What time did you finish?”

“5 pm.”

“We should have postponed it later if it was too close to work finishing.”

“No by the time I would wrestle with traffic and getting ready the way women do. I'll be shattered and pooped.” She says, “Besides it's only the movies.”

She hands me the tickets. I read, I raise a brow, “Bridget Jones Baby?”

She chuckles, “Sorry... been dying to watch it. Hope you're ok with that?”

I turn to the counter and look up to check out the other action orientated movies.

“Yeah.” I cough. “All good.”

I follow Catherine as we head to the cinema. I check my ticket to find out this movie is over 2 hours! Shame my phone needs to be switched off.

***

2 Hours later.


I had major apprehensions over the choice of movie that I thought I was going to die. The movie didn’t play out that bad, entertaining enough that I didn't fall asleep. We exited the theater and headed down the escalator to the shops below. I glanced at my phone to see a message from Cherie.

Cherie: Landed in your city. I can't wait to fuck your brains out. Cherie.

Catherine peered over almost catching a glimpse, I switched off my phone. Looking around all the roller doors were up, the security guard hovered around. Thumbs in his pocket walking like a cowboy.

“We where do you work?” I asked Catherine.

She pointed out to the men's clothing shop called Tarocash. We walked over, and I saw the male mannequins dressed in suits. The shop racks on the outer edges, suits, and shirts. The black tiles gleamed from the circular light fixtures above. Pants, ties, and accessories on the other. It was a small space that reminded of my time in prison. I peered in and looking closer at the area. I turned back to see Catherine talking with the security guard for a moment.

“I spent all day dressing up the guys.” She says, “I even gave them names.”

“You’ve been here too long.” I say, “What are your hours?”

“7 am to 5 pm.”

“10 hrs... Long day, why the early start?”

“Couriers coming in to drop off parcels. I like to be settled and catch up on administrative stuff before the doors open at 9 am.”

“How are sales?”

“Pretty poor. Winter is always tough.”

Catherine fished into her purse and took out the keys. She unlocked the padlock on the roller door.

“Come in. Welcome to my second home.”

I entered in when Catherine switched on the main lights. The buzzing sound of the fluorescents made me flinch, Catherine walked in front of the counter. She turned up the knob on the radio and the song I want it that way from the Backstreet Boys play.

“I think that might be the reason for the poor sales...”

“Oh shut it you.” She says, “It was a good thing we came back. I left my jacket here.”

“Everything happens for a reason.”

Catherine smiles, “It does.” Catherine takes the box cutter and cuts away at the white plastic. She takes out a navy suit. “Look, our new range is here. Come try it on.”

“The fit looks Italian. Won't fit my broad chest and shoulders. Not mention my thighs.”

Catherine chuckles, “Don’t flatter yourself. Trust me it will fit, over my illustrious career. I personally done, fittings for over 1000 men. I can size suits pretty quickly.” She says, “Men even quicker.”

“Over 1000 men huh?”

“Yeah.” She laughs “I sound like a prostitute.”

I smirked when she pointed to the changing rooms. We walk over when we are in front of the large mirror. Together. I stared... looking at us. A Couple. I place the suit on the circular leather chair and strip down to my underpants.

Catherine watches on her face flushes. “There are changing rooms you know.”

I shrug, “There's no one else but us here.”

Catherine reaches out and touches my chest. “Gosh, you are very muscly.” Her touches navigate my chest more as her index finger runs along the lines of my tattoos. She circles one of my bruises on my upper rib.

“What Happened?”

“A disgruntled client punched me today.”

Catherine face drops, “What!”

“I'm fine, nothing a cold pack of ice and whiskey won't fix.”

“Maybe you are worth what they pay you.”

I put on the shirt and start buttoning it up. Catherine's eyes are fixated on my body.

Pants,” I asked.

“Huh?”

“Could you pass the pants, please Catherine?”

“Oh.” She smiles, “Sorry.”

She hands it to me when I try them on the fit is snug not so tight as I once thought. I put on the navy waistcoat and finally the suit jacket. Catherine runs over to the show shelf and selects a brown pair of shoes and pulls a matching belt. I complete the look, and I’m impressed.

“Wow, you look very dapper Pita.”

“Thank you. I like the fit. How much?”

“Hold on. Let me take a photo. My customers on my email list.”

Catherine takes a snap and sends it to her customers. I recheck my phone, and there’s another message from Cherie. “How long you worked here?” I asked as I deleted the R-Rated message.

“Ten years.”

I looked around feeling the same sort of claustrophobia. Here she could go home back then I didn't.

“No rest for the wicked,” I said.

“Pardon me?”

“Thinking out aloud. Random thought. As you were.”

“No rest would be right. Always been working you know. Never did the university thing. When I left school, I didn't occupy my mind with ambitions of a career. I landed a job as a receptionist for a number of years when I met my ex-husband.”

“The man at the airport.”

“Yeah, been divorced since Alice was born.”

Catherine sat on the chair, and I joined her. Looking out from with the store we hear the creaking above. Perhaps from the metal roof contracting from the change in temperature.

“The divorce must have been terrible with a newborn and all,” I said.

“It was. I never had the luxury of bonding with my children at birth. Pretty much a week or two before I returned to work. Only recently the laws were changed for six weeks paid parental leave, gosh I would love to have that time.”

“Time...” I whispered. “I wrestle with the concept.”

“In what way?”

“You can't go back.” I smooth my pants then stand to get back in my clothes. “Bag it up for me please?”

“You sure?”

“Yes, I like the look and it’s comfortable too.”

“I'll use my staff discount.”

“No need. Charge me full price.”


Catherine processed the sale, and we walked through the mall back to Catherine's car. The upper car park was empty with bright street lamps illuminating us. That awkward silence when you are waiting for the first one to speak. The silence breaks when Catherine's phone rings and she answers. From her tone of voice, it sounds like she is talking to Alice. Her expression is neutral when she frowns.

“She's what?” she says. “A boyfriend?” Catherine opens her door. “Hold on who is looking after you Hun?”

I look over to see my lambo parked two spaces opposite. I unlock it, the orange indicator light flashes twice before returning to darkness.

“What?” she says, “I can't believe she's so irresponsible leaving you home by yourself.”

I look at my watch its 9.30pm.

Catherine hangs up, exhaling. “Courtney ran off with her boyfriend and left Alice by herself. She must have waited till she fell asleep when she did the runner.”

“How old is Alice again?”

“Six.”

“She'll be alright.”

I noticed the worry on her face. Alice came across like a smart girl that would do the right thing. Damn, I remember my stepbrother Chase and I would be left to our own devices at that age.

I say, “I would like to see you again.”

Catherine rushes to her car when her phone rings again. “Alice I told you, I'll be home soon.” She pauses listening to Alice her expressions change. “Put Courtney on the phone.”

Catherine says to me, “Courtney's come home. Alice said she's bleeding.” She starts her car when the engine wouldn’t turn. She popped the hood, tinkering with one of the battery terminals. “Shit! I knew I should have fixed it.”

I said, “C'mon we’ll take my car.

***

Catherine Featherstone


Worry set in wondering what happened. Pita floored his Lamborghini making my body go back into the seat. I took out my phone and called Courtney's cellphone, it went to her annoying voice mail. The one where she answers as if she is there, stringing you along then reply's that she is not there.

I rang home again, and this time no answered. I hung up and indicated to the next turn off. Arriving back I see Courtney on the doorstep, Alice is next to her opening a box of plasters. The top of her eye brow is cut.


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