January 16, 2014

The Except One Rule

"You and Richard?" Ashley took a sip of a repulsive looking green juice and actually shuddered. We were at Juice Generation, refueling after a repulsively expensive Flywheel class. I'm not usually this much of an obnoxious yuppie, promise, but I figured I could splurge a little now that my paycheck was about to increase by that mythical 35%. That and also, CWA was footing part of the bill.

"Yeah, um, I'm not getting that," Nina wrinkled her nose at Ashley's drink. She turned to the cashier. "Peanut Butter Split smoothie, please."

"Me too," I said.

"I thought you were taking a 'break'"—oh, Ashley invoked the bunny ears for that one—"from relationships?"

"First of all," I said, forking over nine dollars (nine fucking dollars!) to the cashier, "I'm not in a relationship at the moment."

Ashley phshawed. "He said he loved you."

"As a friend!" I held my hand open and the guy behind the register dropped some pennies into it. "He loves me as a friend. I love him as a friend too."

Nina stepped aside so the customer behind her could order. "Jos," she said, "be honest with yourself. By nature of the fact that you are having sex with someone you love"—she held up her hand to silence me when I tried to speak—"as a friend, whatever, you're heading for something bigger. I'm into you and Richard together, I am, but"—

"I'm not!" Ashley shrilled.

"Ash," Nina warned.

"What?"she took a pull on her straw and I watched the grainy green liquid sputter inside the clear cup. "You guys didn't sugarcoat it when it came to Tom or Luke." Nina and I groaned and Ashley gave us a severe look. "Look, I know that was a little bit of a different situation"—

"Totally different!" Nina said. "They were treating you badly. One of them in the morally reprehensible, illegal way. Richard isn't treating Josie badly."

"Yeah!" I folded my arms across my chest.

"Yet," Ashley said, "Isn't treating Josie badly yet. If we're going by his track record," she shrugged, "I'd say it's just a matter of time."

"Two Peanut Butter Splits!" The barista (juice-ista?) called from behind the counter. Nina went to claim our drinks.

"I hear what you're saying," I said to Ashley. "I do. But things just kind of happened. And that's what I'm loving about this, that it's just happening." Nina handed me my drink. Nine dollars for something that looked like sick dog poop, now that's morally reprehensible. "I'm not going to not go with it because something bad might happen. The same way I didn't not take the job at CWA because I might not get into the program this summer or fall." I sipped my drink. Slap my ass and call me Judy, it was delicious. "I'm not denying there are risks. But I'm willing to take the chance because I think the potential benefits outweigh the risks."

"I hope they do," Ashley said. "All I know is that Luke and Tom had a bad track record with women—you even warned me about Luke—but I ignored their history because they treated me like gold in the beginning too." She hiked her gym bag higher on her shoulder. "I know there is this..." she rubbed her fingers together, trying to find the word, "this appeal to the asshole guy who is an asshole to every other girl but you. It's hot, it's like you're special because they make an exception for you"—

"The except one rule," Nina chimed in, "my sister warned me about that in high school."

Ashley snapped her fingers and pointed at her. "Exactly!"

I gave Nina's shoulder a little push. "I thought you were on my side."

"I am!" Nina said. "I don't think that's the case with Richard. I'm just saying 'The Except One Rule' is a known phenomenon."

"And you know what else they say about this known phenomenon?" Ashley asked me.

I rolled my eyes. "What?"

"That you're only the exception to the rule until the guy finds a new exception to the rule."

"Okay!" Nina started for the door. "This concludes this evening's performance of the Vagina Monologues."

I hear what Ashley's saying, I do. But Richard has given me no reason to question his intentions—he's been nothing but thoughtful and communicative since we slept together—so I'm not going to stop seeing him because he might hurt me. What would be the point in ever doing anything if that was my outlook on life?

I had to walk home because the stupid 4/5/6 wasn't running due to a water main break (get your ish together, MTA), but even so, it was still early by the time I stepped out of the shower. It felt like a total treat, because I've been burning the midnight oil ever since I gave my resignation to Frank. I've been working like a dog to leave with all my assignments in such good shape that Literatti would really view my exit as a loss. You never know where—or who—you'll work for again.

Today I caught a break thanks to the Flywheel class. The owner of the Flywheel studios is a new CWA client (she's working on a career book, spilling all her secrets about how she made beaucoup bucks off of what was once a fledgling startup), and William asked me to take a class to show my support. He told me to take friends and expense it all to the company. The last few weeks have been weird, like I'm working two jobs at the same time. I assumed Frank wouldn't take my resignation well given how he reacted when I first told him about my job offer. But he'd surprised me.

"I'm loathe to lose you," he said, which was such a Frank thing to say, "but I understand wanting to go to a place like CWA." He nodded his head, like he was agreeing with himself. "It's a classy place. You'll learn a lot there." He very pointedly left out any mention of what I would learn from William.

Kate was beside herself that I was leaving, but before she could get too gushy with me, I had to tell her about Richard. I don't think she was so sad to see me leave after that. She told me, tersely, that she didn't care, but I wasn't buying it. I get it. I'd feel the same. But crossover happens. Ashley dated my ex-boyfriend, the guy I lost my virginity to, which is a weird parallel now that I think about it, because Kate was a virgin before she slept with Richard too. Ah, the twisted web we weave! Between Nina, Ashley, and me, we've dated and hooked up with a few of the same guys over the years. (We went to a small school, it happens). It's weird, but you get over it eventually. Hopefully Kate will.

Frank asked me to give him two weeks before I went to CWA, but he said the week of New Year's didn't really count (okay) because no one was in the office around the holidays. I didn't want to leave my old boss in a bind, and I didn't want to piss off my new boss, so taking that spin class was the least I could do.

I wrapped my hair in a towel and checked my phone. Richard had texted me the cross streets of the restaurant where we were meeting. I texted him back that I'd be there soon.

_ _ _

"Can I interest you in dessert tonight?" the waitress asked.

I rubbed my stomach and groaned. "I don't usually say this, but no."

"Just the bill," Richard smiled at her.

I groaned again. "I'm so stuffed. I think it was that smoothie. I feel like I have a jar of peanut butter in my stomach."

"Flywheel and Juice Generation on every corner of this city is literally the sign that the apocalypse is coming." Richard bunched up his napkin and tossed it on the table.

I laughed. "Flywheel has like, three locations!"

The waitress dropped the check on the table, and Richard snapped it up before I could.

"Come on," I said.

Richard clicked the pen and closed his eyes, calculating the tip. "You come on."

Richard has been really generous with me over the last few weeks. Between him gifting me the first edition of The Bell Jar and expensive dinners out, I'm starting to think he has like massive credit card debt or something. I just don't get how he can afford everything he affords on an assistant's salary (and the little online advertising company he's working for now is no CWA). Plus, he was out of work for a few months.

Richard signed his name and looked up at me. "Ready?"

I glanced at the bill before we left. He'd ordered an eighty dollar bottle of wine and left the waitress a 30% tip.

We were a fifteen minute walk from Richard's place. We'd just crossed over into the 70s when  someone called Richard's name. When we saw who it was, Richard dropped my hand so fast it felt like an insult.

"Sam," he said.

Sam was staring at the space between our bodies, where our hands had just been connected. She was with a friend, a girl wearing those thick, Woody Allen style glasses and a slouchy knit cap.

Sam narrowed her eyes at me. "Are you Josie?'

Sam and I had met once, but her tone made it sound like she'd forgotten about it, like she only knew of me from Richard talking about me. I nodded.

Sam snorted. "I knew it."

"Sam," Richard said. It sounded like a warning.

Sam's friend tugged on her arm. "Come on. Let's just go."

Sam shrugged her off. "You should have heard him," she said to me, "Oh, my friend Josie says I'm not capable of being in a relationship. But look at us. I love you so much." She rolled her eyes. "Josie this, Josie that. I had this inkling like, well, maybe he's just using me to show this girl that he is capable of a relationship." She laughed. "Of course I never said anything. Because I was trying to be the cool girlfriend. God forbid I come across as jealous." The last word came out dripping with disdain.

"Well, now you're just coming off as psycho." Richard dug his hands in his pockets and shrugged. "I prefer jealous to psycho, personally."

I cut him a sideways glance and said under my breath, "Richard." I can't stand it when a guy calls a girl psycho or any variation of the word—crazy, nut job, insane....

Sam got off one vicious, "Fuck you," before her friend dragged her away.

Richard and I just stood there, side by side, not speaking or touching. "It's not true," Richard said, finally. "I wasn't using her. I really did love her when we were together."

I believed him, and that was actually just as concerning as if what Sam had said was true. Because it was exactly like Ashley said. "I don't get it though. What happened? How did you go from loving her to not loving her?"

Richard seized my hand again and we continued South. "I just did."

We walked for a few blocks in silence. I tried to banish Ashley's voice from my head, but I couldn't.  "How though? How did you just...change your mind?"

Richard sighed. "I don't know. Why does it matter?"

I stopped walking. "Because it does, okay? Are you going to just stop loving me?"

Richard slowed to a stop as well. "Ah," he held up his finger, "I see what this is about."

"Great," I said, "So answer my question."

Richard grabbed the lapels on my coat and stepped in close. He lowered his head, and I thought he was going to kiss me, but instead he said, "You're really cute when you get insecure."

I twisted out of his grasp and tried to walk away, but Richard laughed and caught me by the arm. "You know I'm kidding."

I glared at his hand on my arm. "I'm not in the mood to kid."

Richard raised his eyebrows. It was like a question. His way of asking if I really wanted to get into this. I held his gaze without blinking.

Richard laughed softly. "Okay," he muttered. He backed me into the brick siding of a storefront, so we weren't just standing in the middle of the sidewalk, an offense punishable by cutting ridicule in New York.

"All kidding aside," he said, "no, I'm not going to stop loving you. I love you so much and it's actually the fucking worst because it means this can only end one way." His thumb brushed away a hair that was stuck to the goo I have to smother all over my lips every winter otherwise they'll peel off. "Which is that you stop loving me." He pressed his forehead against mine and closed his eyes. "It's going to suck so much when that happens."

It felt like there were thousands of needles pricking every pore on my body. I hooked my hands around the back of Richard's neck. "It won't." I dug my fingers into his skin. "Scout's honor."

Richard's eyes popped open. "Your word is good and all, but," he squatted low and wrapped his arms around my legs at knee height, "I think I might tie you up in my bed to be on the safe side." He stood and flung me over his shoulder and took off down the street. I screamed, one of those screams you always hear in New York that could go one of two ways—either someone's getting mugged, or someone's just having the time of her life.


  1. Awwwww. (:
    This post melts my heart. I love Richard and Josie together!! I can't wait until Tuesday. Keep it coming Jessica.

  2. I agree with Ashley. Josie was adamant about being single and now rushing this with Richard. Richard didn't mean he loved her as a friend, at least that's not the impression I get. I believe that Richard did use Sam to prove he was capable of being in a relationship. You don't go from living someone one day to being over them without reason. Josie needs to open her eyes. Richard totally evaded her question and just told her what she wanted to hear. I guess the Josie/Kate friendship is done, Kate was a sweet girl and let's face it is probably for the best because Josie wasn't a good friend to her.

    1. I think he still loves Sam and he tried being in a relationship with her bc he didn't think he had a chance with Josie and that's what we all do we move on or we attempt to. But if the chance arises to get the person you always wanted .....you take it !

    2. Anon @2:18PM, I agree with everything you said.

  3. Oh man, Richard capital-L-loves Josie! That I believe. I think it's dangerous that she said it back! Glad she is happy and hope it continues.

  4. I agree with Ashley and Sam. They are moving too fast, throwing around the L-word when they were not even really close of friends to start with before dating. Richard bashing her is another big sign. I don't see this ending well.

    1. how fast can it be when they have known each other for over a year. he has always made his feelings known so its kind of just accepting it .

  5. I don't know if I agree with not being able to stop loving someone so quickly. Love is an action and if something changed in their dynamic, its possible. Guys aren't as quick to fall in love as we are and when they love, they love deeply so yes, I believe that there were things he loved ABOUT Sam but I doubt that he truly loved her in comparison to Josie. And there are people who love each other but don't end up together. I feel like she will stop loving him for some daft reason and maybe they will get together again? IDK but I hope she doesn't mess this up. They are starting to grow on me.

  6. Loving it Jessica!! So hot! ;)

  7. Hmmm, some red flags for me. Where is Richard getting all this money from? I might be mistaken but a few readers did suspect that Richard was using Sam to prove to Josie that he's capable of being the relationship type. I don't know I'm not completely trusting Richard. I feel he does like Josie a lot and that she was a huge challenge for him. He's saying all the right things now and being sweet but I feel he is hiding something. Maybe I'm the only one who feels this way. Regardless I can't wait to read what happens next.

    1. I'd bet the money comes from the "it's complicated" estranged parents.

    2. I agree. I'm thinking he comes from money. Just a feeling. He doesn't want to tell her that he doesn't really HAVE to work because she'll push him into writing his book and maybe he isn't that good of a writer......like I said, just a feeling....

  8. I love that you made Nina and Ashley the two sides of the Richard debate. They both made great points, but I'm on Team Josie/Nina. Richard has been an ass and made mistakes before, but if the connection is there and the potential benefits are better than the potential consequences, the risk is worth it. Nobody's ever 100% certain in love and risks are a necessity. They have great chemistry/passion together. And I like that they were friends first.

    I love Richard and Josie together but I do fear that they're moving bit quickly. Also, did I misread it or did Josie indicate that she loves Richard too - I know he's said it now 2/3 times (and not as a friend, Josie). I'm a little wary of the fact that he didn't answer her question about what happened that ended his relationship with Sam. And I hope he doesn't get himself into too much trouble financially.

    I'm rooting for them!

  9. I know I was against the whole Richard relationship because it will end badly. We all know it will. But its good for now. :) Great post!

  10. I'm a little nervous, now. I was full on, 100% Team Richard/Josie, but now I have doubts. There's the whole money thing - what's happening there? And him calling his ex jealous/psycho is a MAJOR red flag - and seems to prove that phenomenon 'The Except One" Rule. Also, he never really answered Josie's question about why he and Sam broke up ('I don't know' isn't enough).

    I want them to work because they have a great connection - they are truly friends as well - and definitely have chemistry and passion. I love reading about them together. PLEASE let this end well.

  11. Ok Richard, where is the cash coming from? I think she needs to question him, and what is up with his family? Mysterious...I likey!

  12. I love it can't wait til Tuesday

  13. a couple of concerns - where is the money coming from? did he use Sam to prove a point to Josie??? that is ringing a little true. that being said, I really like them together.
    also, even though she is supposed to be taking a relationship break, the blog is love sex pizza...and I'm not in it just for the pizza! mum

  14. He is probably stinking rich and no one knows, still wondering whats up with his family life, as for the post i freaking loved it especially the end... J girl you rock!!! Great Post!!!

  15. I really enjoy Josie and Richard together. Having been loving all of the posts. Keep up the great work Jessica!

  16. Jus luved d post.. Jus wish Richard to b more intense and josie to moan hard..loveeeee u jessi..keep up d gud work....I think my words were heard from last post..thnx..waitin for intense and hard shot for next week :)

  17. Richard is totes richie rich i bet his fam is loaded

  18. Richard is just telling Josie everything she wants to hear. He is a player and she knows it. Shame on Josie if she is willing to let herself be this gullible.

    1. I agree! She is ignoring all the red flags about him!! I just get this weird stay away from him feeling too

  19. Hahaha, that 4/5/6 incident was killer this week! Now I know you're still in the city! Love the story, keep it up :)

    1. Still? Why did you think I left?!! I live downtown so I got my grief from the E.

  20. While its great seeing Josie so happy, it seems a little too good to be true. Everything Richard says and does is pretty perfect and I don't want to be pessimistic but its kind of hard not to be, hopefully it turns out great. I'm enjoying this blog insanely!

  21. Awwww the ending of this melted my heart :') so much chemistry

  22. Curious about what happened to the reality show.. didn't like the story line but did Kevin and the producers just disappear?

    1. She only had a short little arc in the story line and the show didn't make it through the whole season because there wasn't enough interest in it. Much like my brief stint on reality TV during my time at Cosmo. One hundred bucks to the person who remembers The Job on CBS!

    2. Extra points for googling it?

  23. I love this blog so much! And I love Josie and Richard together. Their relationship just seems so right to me because everything is just falling into place instead of there being complications and a lot of thought on what to do next and how to do it. I'm wicked excited for the next post, I wonder how Richard is going to cope with Josie being in LA. Also I'm curious as to how Richard is getting his fat stacks of paper all of a sudden, maybe it is from his parents....? Who knows, but I'm more than ready to find out!

  24. I think there's mystery behind Richard's money and his parents. Maybe the two are related? It could be that he's secretly a millionaire's son. Wouldn't that be great.
    I think Josie may be doing exactly what she didn't want to at first but she's happy. Could it be that what was keeping her from being serious with Peter is what she found in Richard? I just seriously love the two together!
    Woo! Josie and Richard sitting in a tree..

  25. I laughed out loud reading this! Slap my ass and call me Judy! LOL!

  26. Wow so many Richard haters. But really, i love Josie and Richard together

    1. yeah I am another one, not sure why but I hate him.

  27. I would be slightly worried about the Sam thing, but I could give Richard a little slack. He was clearly in love with Josie, and when she didn't want to be with him, he did his best to move on with Sam, but he clearly wasn't over her. When he realized Josie finally had feelings for him, he chose to break it off with Sam because he wasn't over Josie. I don't think that necessarily means Richard's an awful guy or still being a player. It means he never got over Josie.

  28. With all this Richard-hate, I'll bet that Josie turns out to be the one to screw it up! I hope not, though...I REALLY like them together.
    As for Peter...Blech! He was BORING and Josie was NEVER on equal footing with him. At least, she and Richard are equals.

  29. Yuck! Richard makes me wanna throw up. He is so insincere and I can't believe so many of you like him. I just hate him so much.

  30. I love Richard!! I just started reading your blog around a week ago, and I am so sad that I caught up because I want to keep reading forever! Can't wait for the next one :-)

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