“That doesn’t matter anymore,” I argued defensively, “that’s the past. You’re my now and forever.”
My fiancee struggled to comprehend and accept that I hadn’t always lived a moral lifestyle. I wasn’t always devoted to one woman, faithful, monogamous. I fooled around, played the field, made fools out of countless women. I played the part of the popular playboy, always demanding the attention of the fairer sex, and always getting my way.
She closed her eyes, tears running down her cheeks, impervious to my arguments. “It does matter,” she countered. “It matters a great deal. You are the sum of your experiences. The man I see is here because he did what he did, lived what he lived, broke the hearts of how many women.” She opened her eyes, and her gaze pierced me like a knife. “How many were there? Hmm? Who many women have you slept with?”
I stammered incomprehensibly for several beats, unable to articulate any words, formulate an answer, or marshall any defenses. How could I possibly answer that? I never really kept track of my conquests, but I had a rough estimate. I knew to give her the answer would guarantee that I would lose her. To refuse would bring about the same result. But to lie?
I knew I was doomed. I couldn’t lie. Not to her. She was the first who could read me, who didn’t fall for my ridiculous games. I could not charm her or flatter her. She was sincere and earnest, a pure soul. Idol compliments wouldn’t win you any points. She knew who she was, and you couldn’t fool her. It’s what endeared her to me in the first place, a woman smart enough not to fall for my bullshit, and strong enough not to need me. She was secure and complete in herself. She’d never be Mrs. Richard Hoss. She’d never be submissive to me, or anyone else.
Which was why I was at such a loss. I had never witnessed a display of weakness or doubt from her. She was the strong one in the relationship, and in a reversal of roles from that which I was used to, I was the emotional one. I never saw her cry, excluding the time we buried her father, and even then it was only a few tears. At the moment, she was emotional, irrational, and completely unwilling to listen to reason. Maybe my reasons weren’t good enough.
Maybe they’d never be.
“Can’t you even tell me?” She cried. “Don’t you know? I can tell you how many I’ve slept with. Do you want me to name them?”
“It’s not important.” I stammered, but she ignored me.
“Nine,” she told me. “I’ve slept with a total of nine people, and that includes everything from sex, handjobs, blowjobs, everything. I don’t have to play loosely with what constitutes sex just to keep from looking like a slut.
“I lost my virginity to Steven, senior year,” she began, keeping track on her fingers. “Then I gave a handsie to his friend, Ron, while he watched.”
“Four hundred and twenty,” I cried, not wanting to hear anymore. “Okay? Is that what you want to know? I’ve slept with that many.” She looked affronted by my number, even though she was prepared for a big number. I suppose she never thought I could ever have slept my way through that many.
“Exactly that many?” She asked calmly. “Does that include me?”
“That many, more or less,” I answered, looking at the floor, ashamed of myself for the first time.”
“But I’m the one that people would call a slut, right?” She said scathingly. “You, well you’re just a big, fat, fucking hero of a man, aren’t you? All the girls just throw themselves on you.”
“It wasn’t like that,” I lie, knowing as I said it that she’d call me out on it.
“Then what was it? Why was it so important to sleep around like that?”
“I can’t explain it.”
“Because I don’t know,” I blurted out, feeling every much as emotional as she looked. “I don’t know why I did that. I guess it was a game, always a game, to see who among my friends could score the most women.”
“And how many suffered because of your silly little game?”
“I don’t know,” I replied softly, unable to meet her eyes.
“You know you’re the first man in years that I’ve been willing to get close to because some jerk like you treated me like that. Made me fall in love, and once I opened myself to him, and allowed him into my bed, he dumped me. Mission accomplished.”
I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t say anything. Everything she said wounded me deeply. How many had I hurt in this way? How many were left, still reeling from my selfish actions?
“How would you like it if I slept with that many men?” I looked up, surprised by the look of vengeance in her eyes. “Would you like sleeping with a woman who treated men as casually as you did women?”
“No,” I sniffed, ashamed of myself again. In fact, I have been with those kinds of women before, and that never bothered me before. But they were playthings, to be discarded as easily as the discarded me. But now, thinking about settling down with one of them made me sick.
“No,” she parroted me softly. “Why? Do you expect that you can do that and settle with a woman like me?”
“No,” I answered, tears now flowing down my face.
“So where does that leave us?”
“I don’t know,” I shook my head, unwilling to contemplate life without her.
“You don’t know,” she mocked me. “Understand me, Rick,” she said coldly. “I’m not going to fall for your shit. I’m not going to fall for another bad boy again. I don’t deserve it. I deserve better.”
I knew I had lost, and I hung my head in shame and defeat. It wasn’t fair that I would lose her because of how immature I had been in my youth. I grew up, she showed me how to be a better man, a real man, and now it was over. I lost myself in my grief, ignoring her completely, until I heard a click above me, and I looked up, straight into the barrel of a gun.
“Goodbye,” she said coldly. Then I knew no more.