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Degradation

By:Stylo Fantome

~Seven Years Ago~


She had come over to their apartment just to drop off some boxes of  stuff for her sister, Eloise - Ellie. Tatum had just turned eighteen and  was moving to her own apartment in downtown Boston. She had been in a  dorm room for her first semester at Harvard, but her parents didn't  "approve" of her roommate, so her father had rented an apartment off  campus for her. When Tate's father said jump, all she was ever allowed  to say was "how high?", so, she was moving.

Her sister Ellie was four years older, and they had never gotten along  very well. About two years ago, Ellie had started dating Jameson Kane  –   Kane, as just about everyone called him. The relationship was strange to  Tate; Ellie and Jameson seemed more like acquaintances than people who  slept with each other, but who was she to judge? She didn't even really  like her own boyfriend.

Tate didn't really know what to make of Jameson. He was so good looking,  it was probably illegal. She worried if she looked at him too long,  she'd go blind. He was also very smart  –  he had graduated early from  Yale with an MBA, and was taking some time off to work on, and review,  his job prospects. He came from old money, his father was some sort of  big wig on Wall Street, and the talk was that Jameson would follow in  his footsteps.

In the two years he had been dating her sister, Jameson hadn't seemed to  take much notice of Tate. He ignored her, treated her with  indifference. When he had to deal with her, it was almost like an after  thought, like he had forgotten that she existed. He was tall, and  handsome, and experienced, and smart. Tate was a brainy, naive, clueless  girl, fresh out of high school, no real experience with the world or  worldly people. He intimidated her.

It felt weird, showing up at Ellie's apartment without her being there.  Jameson had let Tate in, and then pretty much ignored her. Such a  gentleman. Tate had to haul several heavy boxes from the parking lot to  the building, and then down a long hall to their apartment, all by  herself. When she got to the last box, she dropped it by their bed,  huffing and puffing.

"Did you want me to help?" Jameson asked, appearing in the doorway. Tate whirled around, startled.

"No, that was the last box," she replied, straightening out her  cardigan. He always made her feel nervous. His eyes wandered over her  face.

"You look really red. Want something to drink?" he asked. She felt  herself turn even redder than she apparently already was; she was never  prepared for his blunt manners.

"If you have any tea, that would be great," she replied, and then  followed him to the kitchen. She thought he was going to pour it for  her, but he just gestured to the fridge.

"I don't know what Ellie has in there, lots of health food shit. Dig around," he offered. She made a face at his back.

"Water is fine," she told him, and then just filled a glass from the tap.

"So. New apartment, all alone in a big city. You ready?" he asked. She  nodded and turned to face him. His piercing blue eyes were wandering  over her face and she resisted the urge to wipe at her skin. Was she  dribbling water down her chin?

"As I'll ever be, I guess. I'm pretty self-reliant, so I think I'm  ready," she replied, taking delicate sips of her water. He chuckled.

"C'mon, you look like you're dying. Let's sit down, you can chug it," he  told her, leading her to a table. He even shocked her by pulling out a  chair for her.

"Thanks," Tate said, before following his instructions and downing the  water in a few gulps. Without asking, he pulled the glass from her hands  and refilled it before sitting down across from her.

"Don't you have like a boyfriend, or something? Is he in Boston?"  Jameson asked, sliding her glass back across the table. She shook her  head.

"No, Drew stayed in state," she replied.

"You guys have been going out for a while  –  how is it, being in a long  distance relationship?" Jameson asked. She was surprised at the  question. Jameson never cared about anything she did.

"We've been together three years, but I don't know how long it's gonna  last. He didn't want me to go to Harvard, wanted me to just follow him  to Penn State. We argued about it a lot. He wants to try to work it out,  but I think it's just time to get over it. Move on. We're in college  now, I don't have time for that kind of crap," she let it all spill out.  Jameson raised an eyebrow.

"Wow, very mature approach. How old are you again?" he asked. Tate rolled her eyes.

"You've known me for two years, Jameson, and you can't even remember my age?" she responded with a question. He shrugged.

"I don't think I even know Ellie's age. How old?" he pressed.         

     



 

"I just turned eighteen, two weeks ago. How could you not know Ellie's  age? You've been together for so long," Tate pointed out. He shrugged  again.

"I don't pay attention to things like that. So what are you going to  school for?" he asked. Tate had to stop herself from pointing out,  again, that he should already know these things  –  it had been discussed,  many times, in front of him. She had never realized it before, but he  was kind of self centered. Arrogant.

"Political science," she said. He rolled his eyes.

"We'll see how long that lasts. Go in to economics, more money," he told her. She narrowed her eyes.

"I'm not doing it for money," she replied.

"Then you're stupid."

"You're kind of a dick," she blurted out, shocking herself. She wasn't  prone to foul language most of the time, or being rude. She had just  done both. He didn't seem bothered, though; he burst out laughing.

"You're just now realizing that?"

Tate smiled. He had a nice laugh, and a sexy smile. She could feel  herself blushing. She could remember the first time Ellie had brought  him home. Tate had developed a crush on him the instant she had seen him   –  tall, dark hair, bright blue eyes, killer smile; what girl wouldn't  fall head over heels in love with him at first sight? But it had never  gone beyond that, she knew Jameson was so far out of her league, she  wasn't even visible to him. She didn't waste too much time fantasizing  about him.

But now, sitting across the table from him, she felt herself getting hot under her sweater.

"Well, yeah, you never talk to me," she pointed out.

"I talk to you."

"When?"

"Excuse me?"

"When do you talk to me? When was the last time you talked to me?" Tate  asked. He thought for a second, looking up at the ceiling.

"I asked if you were okay, after your dog died," he replied, smiling at her.

"That was last year," she told him. Jameson started laughing again.

"Hey, at least I remembered," he pointed out. She found herself laughing as well.

"I guess that's something. Doesn't matter anyway, I'll be gone  –  no more  awkward, silent family dinners to go to, thank god. You and Ellie will  be on your own," she warned him.

"Well, you'll have to come back sometimes."

"No," she shook her head, "I won't. I've decided, I'm not coming back  till I'm done with school, if then. I'm trying to get through a masters  program in four years, or less."

"Wow. Hell of a challenge, baby girl. You think you're up for that?" he  asked. She shivered at his use of "baby girl", he had never called her  that before  –  never called her anything. She cleared her throat.

"I think I'm up for anything I set my mind to," she responded. He smiled.

"Good answer. Would you like a drink? Ellie should be home any minute,  we could crack something open and have it ready for her," he suddenly  asked, getting out of his chair. Tate held up her glass.

"I have water right here," she pointed out. He laughed as he pulled a bottle out of a cupboard.

"I meant a real drink, Tate. Seeing as how I've apparently 'never'  talked to you, I guess now is a good time to give you some  congratulations. I'm assuming I never did that, right?" he asked,  holding a bottle of champagne in his hand. She laughed.

"No, you weren't even at my graduation. And maybe just one glass," she  replied, pushing the water she had been drinking out of the way.

Having been too busy with school and all her extra classes, Tate had  never been a party girl. No crazy parties and almost no experience with  alcohol. Some champagne at Christmas with Granny O'Shea at the O'Shea  farm in the Hamptons was about it. But she didn't want Jameson to know  that  –  she wanted to seem mature, like a girl who had champagne all the  time. It was silly, but she couldn't help it.

They polished off the first bottle, discussing politics and the current  economic situation in the country. He disagreed vehemently with most of  her views, but he never got heated or upset. He managed to get under her  skin, though, and she found herself arguing just to get a rise out of  him, but he was impossible to rile up. The champagne loosened her up a  little, and she was a lot bolder with her opinions; or at least, more so  than usual.

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