Not that she has any prospects, but if she did...
She remembered overhearing that conversation between her dad and Bruce, right after the Event. It had hit her harder than anything to hear her life so summed up like that. Hurt her more than she let on. She had been so lonely in college. She had never been good at meeting people, at making friends, much less making romantic attachments.
School had kept her busy enough and she'd been able to ignore the loneliness. She had read once that if a person goes long enough without food, they stop feeling hungry. That was a lot like the way she was now. She had been this way her whole life, only recently had she come to see how lonely she was.
Her "purity" on her wedding night had been a testament to her social awkwardness, not to God keeping her for her husband.
After the Event, nobody had noticed how no one had tried to contact her from school. Nobody called or emailed her, asking how she was doing. Her family had been the only people who had given a damn, and now half of them were gone.
Then Buck had come along. Put a Quarter Pounder in front of aforementioned hungry person and watch her stomach start growling again. It was only after the hunger had been sated that she started to think... this is just a damn hamburger, and not a very good one at that.
She loved Buck... but she wasn't in love with him. Before, she had rolled her eyes when she heard other girls say things like that. But it perfectly described how she felt. She had grasped at her last straw of happiness and discovered that she was still drowning.
She sighed and pulled out a pack of cigarettes; another one of her secrets. Oh how the people at New Hope would have kittens if they knew about the little habit she had picked up three months in her freshman year. It was weird when you thought about it, because according to Bruce, lung cancer would be one of the more humane ways to go during the Tribulation.
She took a drag and exhaled it in a long sigh. Tobacco. A perfect picture of God, in a way. A couple of puffs after a meal, or out in the cool evening air, a small pleasure that didn't hurt anyone. Yet if you indulged yourself, what did you get? Emphysema! Cancer! Deformed Babies! Somebody definitely needed to get a little perspective on things.
"Well, well, the things we find in Central Park these days."
Hattie stood in front of her, dressed in t-shirt and shorts, her blonde hair tied back in a ponytail. Her arms were folded and she had a knowing smirk on her face. "Had to get out of the Legion of Doom for a while?"
Chloe almost stubbed out her cigarette, then took another drag instead. She was already caught, why bother to hide? "Your boyfriend outlawed these yet?"
"If he does, then he'd better legalize marijuana then. Else I'll be climbing the frickin' walls." She put one leg up on Chloe's bench and began stretching her calf. "He wants you, you know."
Chloe's stared her mouth hanging open. "Wants me? What for?"
"Don't be dumb. He wants you. With him."
"But... but... I thought.. I mean you're carrying his child!"
A cloud of pain passed over Hattie's face. "Yeah. I'm his Number One in public. But I'm not stupid and the refreshing thing about Nicoloe is that he's honest with me. We like what we can do for each other, there's passion and even a bit of affection. Love though... I don't think he's even capable of that. He's the most powerful man who ever lived and that kind of power attracts. He's got women in every city on the planet."
Chloe struggled to find her voice. "Why me?"
Hattie shrugged. "He says you have a shy beauty, with bright passionate fire smoldering just beneath the surface." She laughed. "All smoke, if you ask me. I think the real reason is he wants to see the look on Buck and Ray's face when they find out. It's not about you at all. He gets a real thrill in throwing people's righteousness in their faces."
God help her, she was actually thinking about it. She nervously twisted the ring on her finger and shook her head. "I'm married, Hattie. That might not mean much to you, but it does to me."
She nodded. "I told him as much and he laughed it off as if he had been joking. But I know him, probably better than anyone. He won't let up." The blonde woman leaned in close and whispered in Chloe's ear, her face suddenly twisted into a look of fear.
"He gets what he wants, Chloe. I learned that the hard way. Don't make it hard on yourself. It's better to be at the Devil's right hand, than in his way."