“Tickets?” Lisa asked.
I picked up the pamphlets encasing both mine and Anna’s tickets. “To France. Check!”
My heart dropped, as it usually does when I worry about dropping big bucks on a diamond and thinking that I’ve lost it. I patted myself down and felt the leather box in my coat pocket. I opened the box and was immediately entranced by the sparkle and shine of such a diamond. “Check,” I breathed.
“It’s mighty damn fine, let me tell you,” Lisa said, her brows up in awe. “She’s going to love it.”
“I know so. Either way it doesn’t matter. I can tell she’s the type of girl that if you give her a plastic ring from a cereal box that she’s going to love it.”
“I used to do that when I was younger you know.”
“Player from the beginning,” Lisa laughed, smacking my arm.
I laughed nervously with her, my mind still on all the logistics of our vacation and my proposal. And I repeated everything in my head. Even after Lisa left. I had the tickets, the ring, remaining spending money, and clothes to pack. At the end of this week, I’m bringing her home, surprising her with the news, and then in November we’re off!
“My God,” Will grinned, standing up and meeting me halfway in his office, “how are you?”
“Hi,” I blushed. Will has always been so welcoming towards me, and even though we haven’t spoken to each other in over a year (I think) he still treats me like we’re great, long lost friends. “I’ve been good, how are you?”
Will sighed and gestured to his sofas conspicuously placed alongside the tall window in his office overlooking the city and shiny skyscrapers. “Please. I’ve been great. Life couldn’t get any better.”
“How’s your daughter?”
Will’s smile widened. “She’s great, thank you for asking. She’s actually living with me now.”
“Oh, wow.” Last time I checked, he told me he wasn’t spending enough time with her as she grew up. Now to hear his fully invested in her life makes my heart warm. I can’t measure the love he has for her, but I know it’s grand. “Good for you.”
“Thank you. How are things in New York?”
I rolled my eyes and sighed. “Tiring. But…wonderful just the same.”
Will laughed. “I bet.” He leaned back in his armchair and crossed his legs, facing his body my way. “So what can I do for you?”
I chuckled, now realising this is about the five millionth time I’ve asked Will for a favour. I told him the whole story about Brad’s book, my editor, David, and the reveal of a devastating secret that has the potential to rock an entire company and name at its core.
“Phew,” Will sighed, “that’s…tough.”
“I know. But I know if anyone can handle it, it’s you.” I paused. “Aaaaaand I also kind of have a deadline. We need major fire extinguishing right now.”
Will laughed. “I’m not exactly sure how I can help.”
“What do you mean?” He’s perfect for the job!
“Listen, Anna, if this was a locally based issue then I’d ask you ‘how high’. But you’re based in New York. In fact, this incident affects people who are all based in New York. Don’t you think you need to get someone who is also based in New York to work on this? I mean, how long are you going to be in L.A anyway?”
“By the end of this week,” I said, biting my lip.
“Don’t be embarrassed,” Will said, which only made me turn redder, “it’s fine. I just don’t think I have enough time to fix this in less than one week. Hell, contracts and negotiations for public related contributions take a week! Look, I know someone in New York. As far as I know, he never misses a beat in putting out fires. He’s the captain; owns his own fire house and everything.”
I laughed at his fire- and fireman-related quips. He stood to grab his phone from the desk and dialled immediately. “You’re calling him right now?”
Will nodded. “Yeah. He can get started now and by the time you guys get back, he’ll have contracts and negotiations plus a press campaign to soften the blow of Brad’s reveal ready in no time.”
“Thank you, Will.”
Will winked at me. “Not a problem. It’s good seeing you.”
“It’s good seeing you, too.”
I banged on my mother’s apartment door abruptly until it flew open.
“God, Anna, are you alright?” she asked.
“I’m fine,” I said, a little reserved. “I just need to tell you something.”
She nodded. “Okay. Come in, come in.”
“No,” I shook my head and cleared my throat. “I, umm, I have to get back soon.”
“Okay.” She hesitated, then shrugged. “What is it you want to tell me?”
I breathed in and out and let it rip. “I wanted to tell you that I’m not comfortable with you dating other men. It’s not like I don’t expect you to have a life outside of me. But I just…never thought it to be possible and now that it is, it’s kind of terrifying me. Or something. I’m not ready to meet this Jim guy, and I don’t know when I will be. I’m still hanging on to the hope that you’ll get back together with dad.”
“Oh, sweetie,” she breathed, her eyes softening and her inner brows peaking up in worry and guilt.
I could feel the tears collecting in my eyes and pushed through. The heat on my neck suffocating, the beat of my heart drumming. None of which any of these senses revelling in the sudden eruption of emotions. “I—I’m just not ready,” I sniffed, my voice deepening alongside my struggle to keep my tears from spilling. “I love you and dad. So it’s just going to take some time.” A tear jumped ship, stroking down my cheek. “I just have to get used to the idea that you and dad are—you and dad aren’t—”
In a minute, she grabbed me and pulled me into a hug. I could feel the muscles in my back hardening as I cried into my mom’s ear, practically deafening her, and scrunching her PJs into my fists.
I stayed over that night, receiving notifications from David and Brad and Daniel. David, wondering where I was and what happened with Will; Brad, asking if we could talk (like hell we will); and Daniel, wondering if I was too busy to talk.
I only texted back Daniel. I can deal with David and Brad in the morning.
‘I’m staying over at my mom’s,’ I sent to Daniel.
‘Everything okay?’ he immediately messaged back in the same minute.
‘Kind of.’ Then, in effort to not sound so depressing or worry Daniel, I followed it with, ‘It will be.’
‘Call me if you need anything. Even if it’s in the middle of the night, wake me up, I don’t care.’
I smiled. ‘Okay.’
‘Anna, promise me.’
My smile stretched wider, feeling like it’s been a while since I’ve lifted my cheeks. ‘I promise.’
Later on in the night, at 2:03AM, I sent Daniel a text. ‘I love you.’
At 2:04AM Daniel replied. ‘I love you, too.’
***Hi all! Please vote on the poll in previous the post if you can! Thanks to all who have voted, I’m loving the choices! Also, I’ve contemplated giving a sneak peek of my book, and the sneak peek I’ve chosen is: commenter named and signed with ‘mum’, you’re a character in the book! 🙂 Soul xo***