THE OFFER

Protected by registered CopyrightOffercover2

CHAPTER ONE

Stepping out of the tub after my shower, I use my towel to clear the steam from the vanity mirror before wrapping it around my body. I look closely at my face, working on my eye contact, willing a sense of strong self-confidence. Believe, I tell myself. I run my fingers through my wet, tousled dirty blonde shag, then I shake my head to mess it up a little again giving it that just-right messy look. A little pomade when it dries and it’ll be perfect. Then I rub some lip balm on my slightly plump lips, and look closely at my face. I hate my nose. I just think it’s a little too thick, but then I exhale and wonder why I’m doing this to myself. Especially now. Instead I focus on moving ahead with make-up. I need to hurry anyway. It won’t do to be late. So I quickly work on my eye contact again first. Believe. This is sometimes a hard one for me. You are confident, I tell myself. And she’ll see that when we meet later today.

There’s a knock on the bathroom door as I put the finishing touches to my make-up – smudging my eyeliner to smoke it up a bit. It always makes my blue eyes pop. “Come in,” I yell. I already know it’s my roommate Ella.

“Hey you – how’s it going?”

“Almost ready. I just have to get dressed.” I turn to her.

“You look amazing, Kady – but you always do. You’re such a hottie.”

I shake my head. “I don’t think so, but thank you. You, on the other hand.” And that’s the truth. Ella is tall with long blonde hair. She looks like a model, and even does a little modelling occasionally for extra money.

“Yeah well, I wish I had your butt,” she says. “You have the best ass.”

“Squats,” I laugh, “and lots of them. But I really don’t think she’ll be judging me by my ass.”

“She’ll love you. Who doesn’t?”

“Thank you for setting this up.”

“It’s an interview. It’s not like you’re guaranteed the job. She did tell my mom there are a lot of applicants.”

“Still – I really need the money.”

And I do. Unlike Ella who has parents paying for her university, I was raised by a single mom and am pretty much on my own. I’ve managed with grants to get through the first two years, but now in year three it’s proving a little more difficult. The wine wholesaler I worked for since moving here for school shut down the business a month ago and these days it seems impossible to get a good paying part-time job. Then it turned out that Ella’s mom had mentioned a potential position with the city’s top real estate agent as a junior assistant hoping that her daughter wanted it – but as it turns out, Ella didn’t have any interest in it, and I certainly did.

Moments later I’m doing a fashion twirl for Ella in our living room wearing a slimming pink floral dress with a light tan sweater and tan heels.

“Perfect!” croons Ella. “You look awesome. Now, go get that job.”

“I love you – you know that, right?”

“I love you too – now, go get her.”

I step out the door and inhale deeply. Believe.

***

I work on bolstering my confidence as I drive my beat up little red Mini down to the Lakeshore private office of the city’s Real Estate mega star Abri Narcisso, and in the parking lot I check my lipstick and force myself to breathe deeply. I tell myself Ella’s right – she’s going to love me. Who doesn’t?

The building itself is intimidating – a sprawling glass building overlooking the lake on prime city real estate. Word is – Abri owns the building – using it as a private office away from her brokerage, as well as leasing out portions of it to other high-end businesses.

Inside I approach a long reception desk where a friendly young woman greets me. “I’m here to see Abri Narcisso,” I say.

She nods. “Kadienne Thorne?”

“Yes.”

“Take a seat. I’ll let her know you’ve arrived.” She smiles at me politely before quickly diverting her attention to the ringing phone lines.

The entire area is swarmed in brilliant spring sunlight enhanced by the shining chrome, glass and white of the entire huge, modern deco reception foyer. I walk over to the coolest looking white leather sofa and chairs ever, taking a seat on the sofa wondering just how expensive this furniture is. Real estate and home décor magazines are precisely laid out on the glass and chrome coffee table with bits of white color accent running through the glass. I’m more interested in the table than the magazines, sure that it likely costs more than my car.

I wait patiently, not that there’s a choice, as time goes by. The receptionist hasn’t stopped since I arrived and just as I’m convinced that she forgot about me my name is called. “Follow me,” she says.

It feels like a long walk across the foyer to the far side as I eagerly follow the receptionist who now seems unfazed by the ringing phone lines going unanswered. She stops at a double-height set of white fogged, glass doors and pushes both open simultaneously exposing an incredibly huge office decorated similarly to the foyer with art and a view of the lake, pushing this room over the top. Then I see her. Abri Narcisso.

She stands from her desk with a smile and instantly walks around it extending her hand. Older than I am, obviously, she isn’t as old as I expected for someone so successful, or perhaps she just looks that way. She’s a gorgeous woman, and has a very slight accent. “So nice to finally meet you, Kadienne.”

“Very nice to meet you too, Ms. Narcisso.”

“Please, call me Abri.”

She leans back onto her desk and motions to a chair for me. The desk looks like it was designed by the coffee table designer, and for sure it cost more than my car. And I won’t even begin to wonder the value of her attire. The white silk blouse and royal blue skirt look as though they were designed for her body alone, and I’m blinded by the watch and jewelry.

“I’m sorry for the wait,” Abri says. Then she sweeps her long dark hair over her shoulder.

I shake my head. “I’m just so glad that I’ve gotten the opportunity to apply.”

“Hmm…..”

She pushes off from her desk and returns to take a seat in front of it. As she moves I catch a hint of a beautifully light perfume. She puts on reading glasses and picks up some papers.

“I’ve had a look at your resume.” Then she seems to take a minute to look at it again there in front of me. “Why would you want to work here? Any interest in real estate?”

Why? Aside from needing money? “Well, that could be a possibility. I’m taking business in school.”

She smiles at me. “I see that.”

Suddenly I’m flushed with nervousness and I pray she doesn’t notice.

“So, no experience in real estate.”

It obviously wasn’t a question. Then the glasses come off.

“I am interested in learning about real estate and the business side of it,” I try to recover. Believe. I breathe deeply hoping to will my confidence back. I tell myself – she’s like a bee – she’ll smell fear and attack it. Then it occurs to me, probably not the best mental imagery.

“So why you?”

“Me?” My mind scrambles.

She nods. “Yes, why you over someone else for this job?”

I audibly exhale – probably not a good start to the answer I think, then I say, “When I take something on, I like to be good at it. I do it well.”

She smiles and sits back.

“Very well,” I add.

“The hours can be strenuous at times. How would that work with your school obligations?”

“I have a good handle on things now in my third year. I’m sure it would be fine.”

Abri smiles, but it’s laced with something I can’t read. “This is not a nine to five business. And often things happen last minute. That means I may have last minute requests.”

I nod.

“That means that you may have plans that have to be delayed, or even changed, at times.”

I nod again.

“Last minute,” she adds.

“I understand.”

She seems to be eyeing me up, studying me as I just sit there and wait to follow her lead. Then her cell phones rings. “Excuse me,” she says, then stands and walks to one of the windows as she answers.

I look around the office curiously as I wait. One of the walls, one that isn’t a wall glass window, is lined with awards and accolades. Incredibly lined. If Abri were an actor her wall would be covered with Oscars.

I watch her as she paces the far window talking softly, the red sole of her pumps flash periodically as she moves certain ways. There’s a large white leather sofa and a couple of matching sofa chairs arranged together near her and behind them is a large white and chrome cabinet against the far wall. Then she turns and looks at me, and smiles. It’s that curious soft smile again that I can’t read, and feeling uneasy, I quickly turn away.

When I glance back she’s still eyeing me casually as she talks, so I focus my interest on her desk instead. It’s littered with papers and designer pens.

“I’m sorry about that,” she finally says walking back toward me. She takes the spot leaning in front of her desk again. “So – do you have a boyfriend, Kadienne?”

Taken by surprise a little, I hesitate before shaking my head. “No, not at the moment.”

“Hmm….”

Suddenly I feel the bee metaphor coming on again. She’s pleasant, and yet I feel like I’m tanking. I sit up straight and breathe.

“I can do this job, Abri,” I hear myself say. “And I very much want the job.”

“Why?”

The question is shot at me quickly and my mind scrambles. “I need the money.” And out it comes before I can stop it. “I need a job,” I correct. “And this position is akin to business and my interests. I think there’s a great deal of value I can gain mentoring under you.”

She leans back and smirks. Satisfied or amused, I’m not sure which.

“Listen Kadienne – I like you – I do.” She stops and eyes me up.

“But?”

“I won’t lie – I have a lot of applicants for this junior position and many already have experience and interest in this field as a future. I have a lot of people to consider.”

“I see.”

Her cell goes off again and this time she looks at it and hits mute. “I’m not saying no, but you should know, frankly I’m not sure which way I’m going to go.”

“I understand. Thank you for being honest.”

“I promise we’ll be in touch either way.” She stands giving me my signal that the interview is over, and then extends her hand.

Deflated, I start to leave when she calls my name. I turn.

“Pink suits you,” she says with that same smile again.

It’s a small gesture but it makes me feel a little better.

***

Barely out the door and my confidence sinks again. My drive home is slower than it was going despite the little voice in the back of my head trying to keep my spirits up. Now that I think of the compliment, it seems more likely that it was about letting me down nicely, giving me something positive to think about and hoping it’ll soften the boom when it comes down.

Back at our apartment, I flop on the couch and moan. “I suck.”

“It couldn’t be that bad.” Ella laughs while sitting on the arm of the couch looking at me empathetically.

“I tanked, El, I know it. She just kept looking at me with this smile.”

“A smile is good!”

“No, not in this case. I just got a weird vibe.” I moan again. “What am I going to do if I don’t get this job? My tuition is due soon, and there just aren’t any good-paying, part-time jobs out there. I need this job!”

Ella moans too then slides down the sofa arm onto the cushions and wraps her arms around my legs. “Think positive, Kady.”

I close my eyes, inhale deeply, and try to. I really, really need this job. Then I remember the interview again. “I told her I need the money! I actually said the words. I so tanked.” I moan even more.

“Well you don’t know that. I’m sure you redeemed yourself after that.”

“I tried.”

“So – what was she like?”

“You mean aside from the fact that she’s surrounded in money, and she’s beautiful and very, very confident? Never mind working for Abri Narcisso – I’d like to be her. I’ll bet she has a great life.”

You have a great life.”

I shrug with a smile. “Yes, but I’m very poor next to her.”

“My mom says she’s a workaholic.”

“I’m not surprised. But I did get the feeling she likes what she does.”

I think about it seriously for a moment. It isn’t just the money. “Abri has easiness in her own skin, I think. That’s what’s so admirable. It’s probably what draws people to her. It pulls you in immediately.”

“I can see that – I only met her once briefly, but I get what you mean.”

“And who doesn’t want that quality?” I say softly. And I mean it. I only hope that I find that by the time I reach her age. “How old do you think Abri is?”

“I don’t really know,” shrugs Ella. “She knows my mom, so maybe in her forties.”

“Really? She so doesn’t look it. I’d almost say thirty or maybe early thirties.”

“I know. All I do know is that she’s older than she looks.”

“Wow.”

“Ok – we try and not think about Abri and the interview, and just see what happens. She might surprise you. Maybe she wants an assistant who looks really good in pink.” Ella cocks her head to one side and smiles.

I just laugh and throw a pillow at her, but inside, I’m really hoping for something like that.

“We need coffee. Let’s go out…”

***

We walk two blocks to our favorite watering hole, The Lakeside Brew Coffee House from our rented condo. The apartment was a godsend through a friend of Ella’s family, who bought it as an investment – through Abri of course – because the area is only increasing, literally it seems quarterly, in value. He didn’t seem to care about the rent amount as long as it was kept in good condition, and lucky for us he felt that two college girls would properly care for the place and rented it to us for a price we could afford. It wasn’t peanuts, but it was manageable.

Inside we meet up with our mutual friends Ronnie and Alyssa. They’re not a couple. Ronnie is gay, and often more like one of the girls.

“Great timing! We have a table upstairs.” Alyssa is teetering two lattes at the base of the stairs and nodding at us.

“Give us two minutes,” Ella chimes back as Alyssa bounds away.

I order my usual Chai Latte and Ella goes for a heavy dark mountain brew. The place is jammed today, but then it usually is, especially on nice sunny days. It’s only steps to the lake walkway from here and a favorite pit stop for chatters and anyone who needs their electronic fix. Then with our order in hand, Ella and I head up to join our friends. Ronnie waves fanatically when we show and jumps from his seat to hug us both.

“I thought you guys weren’t going to come out,” he chirps.

“Kady’s interview wasn’t as long as she thought,” Ella says.

I just shrug and frown as I grab a chair along with Ella, happy that they managed to get a table right by the window. From the second level, you can see the lake.

“Oh no!” Alyssa says. Her dark ringlets bounce as she says it.

“I tanked.”

“You didn’t? How could you? Everybody loves you,” she adds.

“I know, right?” Ella says.

Ronnie cups both hands to his mouth. “I’m so sorry, Kade.”

“Jeez, what happened?” Alyssa asks.

“You didn’t tank,” adds Ella.

I shrug again. “Truthfully I don’t know. She was super hard to read. But she did make a point of saying that there were a lot of applicants that had more experience in real estate.”

“Yes, but she did say you look cute in pink,” giggles Ella.

“Really?” Alyssa looks shocked.

I shake my head with a frown.

“You do look good in pink,” Ronnie adds.

“She said pink suits me.”

Alyssa shrugs. “Well, it does. So, does she look as good as her pictures?”

“Yeah, maybe even better.”

“That’s unusual with real estate agents. They always seems to use pics that are touched up or taken a decade or two earlier.”

Ronnie giggles. “I know, and it’s not like you don’t notice when you meet them in person. It’s like online dating – women are the worst for it.”

“Like you would know!” Ella says.

“I know all about women, and their tricks. I just don’t date them.”

I just laugh. Ronnie is tall, dark and I want to add brooding, but while he can be that, most times he’s easy and jovial. Men seem to like him – his type of men, I mean. Right now he has a new boyfriend – Anton – but none of us have met him yet. Soon, he’s promised.

“Well, here’s to Kady getting the job with the infamous Abri Narcisso.” Alyssa holds up her java and we all clink cups.

“Thanks guys.”

“And if not – you’ll find another job, soon,” adds Ella.

***

I wait until the following morning to scroll for any new job postings. I have a late class, and Ella has already headed out to the campus library before our class giving me some quiet time to regroup and see what I might do if I don’t hear favorably from Abri. The search proves fruitless though, leaving me feeling down and suddenly I’m glad to have some space from Ella. I love her, but she can’t relate to being in my shoes. Her parents are successful, running their own mortgage brokerage firm together – which is how they know Abri – and married twenty-five years, with Ella as their only child and center of attention often. She has a good life, and I’m happy for her – most days I really am – but today, I can’t help feeling a little sorry for myself. Not that the weather helps. Unlike yesterday, today it’s gloomy and raining – much like my mood.

It’s been a struggle most of my life. My father left when I was six and I barely remember him. From there my mother worked hard to make up for it just being us two, and I appreciate every moment and sacrifice she’s made. But now, college is a larger burden on top of carrying everything else she has for twenty years. Now, its my turn to take on some responsibility, and I’m glad to do it. Proud of myself even for trying, but now – now – I need to hear from Abri Narcisso. It’s starting to look like this job is the only opportunity on the hook, so instead, I turn my thoughts to trying to figure out how I can step up and snag that job.

I make an effort and call Abri’s office hoping to connect with her and redeem myself. She should be impressed with the initiative at the very least. When I call, I ask to speak to “Abri,” like I know her personally. After all, she’s the one who insisted I call her by her first name.

Unfazed by the personal inflection, the receptionist coldly asks “Your name?”

“Kadienne Thorne.”

“And what is this regarding?”

Damn, I didn’t want to have to go there. So much for acting with confidence. “I wanted to touch base with her regarding a pending position with her.” There! That sounds better than I want to see if I tanked my interview.

“One moment.”

Then I wait, and hold my breath. But it didn’t take long.

“Ms. Narcisso is unavailable at the moment. Would you care to leave a message?”

Yes, tell her I’ll do anything to get this job. “Uh yes,” I stammer instead, “could she call me back when she has a moment?”

Done. The receptionist takes my number and agrees to pass along the message. Then I sit back in my chair and inhale deeply. She’ll call back. You have the job. I take a few moments, close my eyes and try to meditate on those words. Believe. It’s my mantra and always seems to work. I have to believe it will happen, now. I need it.

CHAPTER TWO

I replay the interview in my mind the following day as I cling to my cell phone hoping to see that Abri Narcisso values me enough to call me back. The day passes as I ghost walk through my classes, and my cell stays silent with the exception of a few texts from friends. It feels a lot like waiting for a guy to call that day after a first date you think went well, but aren’t quite sure. Insecure, I look at my phone one more time, then slip it into the back pocket of my jeans.

At the end of our classes – and still no call from Abri – Ella catches up with me and talks me into a Zumba class, which I definitely do not feel like doing but agree to anyway.

At home we grab a quick fruit and almond shake to keep us going, then head off to class before dinner. The class is packed tonight when we get there. We both grab our hand weights – five pounders – take a long guzzle of water, and then find a spot together near the back of the studio.

“This’ll make you feel better, Kade,” Ella smiles at me. “Stress oozes away with sweat.”

I pout at her, but can’t hold it for long, and then I start to laugh. “I might need two classes then.”

“You need patience.”

“I need money.”

“You need to believe something will present itself. Have some faith.”

God, it’s must be easy to be Ella.

“You have some time, Kady. Trust me.”

“Eight weeks isn’t a lot of time.”

Ella cocks her head to one side – I know that look, and it says – you haven’t heard a word I’ve said.

“It’s time enough. And Abri might come through – then we’ll sit back and laugh about all your dragging about lately.”

The instructor takes the stage at the front of the class and she starts the music. Suddenly the studio is filled with booming bass and the energy in the room takes an upswing before we’ve even started.

“God, I hope you’re right,” I shout at her before bending to pick up my weights. It’s time to sweat out some stress and not, for at least an hour, think about Abri Narcisso.

***

As if on cue in regard to my attention desperately needing some diversion, Ronnie announces that we can finally meet Anton tonight if we meet them at a bar downtown. Of course we’re in, so Ella and I rush home to eat a quick dinner, shower and get ready to go out. Alyssa texts me and says she’ll meet us there at the bar with on again/off again boyfriend Rosco.

On our way there – we walk, since it’s only about four blocks away – I hear my name as we pass a group of people not from the bar, and when I turn, I gasp. Standing there, looking as stunning as she did two days ago, svelte and elegant, is Abri. I think Ella gasps too, but there she is – Abri Narcisso – confident, poised and smiling at us.

“Kadienne,” she repeats.

“Abri.” It comes out breathy without my meaning it to.

She has a small group of people with her – men and women – who all pause and chat casually while waiting behind her.

Pushing her long dark hair over her shoulder, Abri then says, “What great timing that I’ve run into you – I’m sorry for not getting back to you right away. I understand you called?”

“Yes,” I mutter. Then – there’s a long pause because I simply cannot think of anything else to say.

“Hi Abri, we’ve met before.” Ella jumps in, extending her hand and they shake.

“Of course – Ella isn’t it?”

“Great memory!”

“I need it in my business,” she laughs. “How are your parents doing? I haven’t seen them in a few weeks.”

“Very well, thank you.”

Meanwhile I’m mentally chiding myself for acting like such a dummy, and praying she hasn’t noticed that all the blood has rushed to my cheeks. Then it intensifies as she turns her attention back to me with nothing but that indescribable smile and a cool sparkle in her eyes. Abri has one of those warm attributes of looking right at you to where it leaves you feeling like you’re the most important thing to her at that moment. It’s absolutely no wonder she’s such a superstar at her job.

“You ladies look nice,” she says, unfazed by my now obvious stupor while her eyes haven’t wavered from me.

“Thank you,” I manage as a small croak before clearing my throat. Snap out of it! Focus for gods’ sake. I inhale deeply trying to suppress my nerves. Then Ella gives me a quick nudge from behind. “I just wanted to touch base…” I start while hoping my mind will catch up with my mouth. Then I get that smile again and find myself wondering if Ella notices it too.

Abri nods. “Impatient, are you?” She seems more amused than put off.

“Tenacious,” I shoot back, and then quickly wonder: where did that come from? Thank god, maybe my confidence is back. Believe. The job is mine.

The corners of her eyes crinkle with the widened grin she gives me. And I think I hear Ella give a sigh of relief.

“I wanted to follow up,” I add. “Clearly I’m very interested in the position, and if there’s anything I can add beyond our initial meeting I wanted to be clear that I’m open to more discussion.”

“Hmm…” She stands straight and bites her lower lip.

There she goes again! Arrgh! I never know what she’s thinking. Is this good? Bad?

“Honestly – it’s a difficult decision process for me this time around for such an entry position. There are so many applicants.”

“Kady’s your girl,” Ella volunteers. “You won’t be disappointed if you hire her.”

Good lord! We get that smile – again! I’m beginning to think it means she likes to see people squirm.

“Kady? Is that your nickname?” She sounds surprised – maybe even a little disapproving.

Her penetrating gaze is still directly on me. Damn Ella! I wish she hadn’t said that. I think my nickname takes away the bravado I was mustering. Kadienne sounds more professional. But it’s too late for that.

I shrug. “Yes, Kady or Kade – friends like the shorter versions.”

Abri only gives a short laugh.

And there she goes again!

Then her cell phone rings – it’s in her right hand – she holds it up to look at it, and hits mute. She looks at me slightly dismissively. And I want to leave her on a more positive, professional note so I scramble mentally to think of something to add.

“Abri, I’m majoring in business and real estate aside, you would be an exceptional business mentor. I understand there are real estate candidates, but I just want to point out that if there is something I can do to persuade you in my direction for the position, I’d like an opportunity to do that – and I know I can do it.”

That felt good. It’s what I wanted to say and I waited with baited breath hoping for something that says I’ve at least impressed her.

She nods, then says, “I’ve got to go. I’m sorry, Kadienne.”

I feel my face drop. This is not what I wanted to hear, and inside I’m yelling. No, no, no!

Abri turns to the group behind her and says, “I’m sorry everyone – we should go.” Then she turns back to me and rests a hand on my forearm. “It was lovely to see you. And as for the position – I was planning on calling everyone at the beginning of next week. You ladies have a wonderful night.”

Then – she’s gone. And dazed, I just watch her walk away as I frown. I feel like I can’t move for a moment, lost in a swirl of thought over whether I managed to help my plea for the job, or hurt it. Still lost in a wash of confusion, it’s Ella that brings me back to the present when she grabs my arm. I turn to her and clearly my face displays how I’m feeling.

“You did great, Kade. I can’t believe she didn’t give you anything to go on.”

I struggle to find the words, but I just can’t. Instead I shrug.

“She’s busy and distracted,” Ella tries to reassure me. “I’m sure that’s all it is.”

“I hope so.” Though now I’m left feeling even more deflated.

“She must be amazing at poker if she plays,” Ella tries to lighten things up. “Just don’t read too much into it. She’s a very busy woman. She probably hasn’t taken the time to go over the candidates yet, and has no idea which way she’s going to go.”

“She keeps pointing out that there are a lot of others – and others who have a more vested interest in real estate.”

“She didn’t say that. And truthfully, she looked really pleased to see you. And so what that there are a lot of people who want this job – that doesn’t mean you won’t get it – I think it’s her way of saying how much time it’s going to take to be sure of who she chooses. She’s saying she hasn’t made that choice yet, that’s all.”

I hug Ella. “Thanks for trying.”

“It’s not over, till it’s over, Kady. Don’t give up hope. She was very focused on you, and I’ll bet she’s giving what you said serious thought right now.”

“You’re the best, El – and that’s why I love you.”

She smiles big and rubs my shoulders. “Now stop worrying – forget about what just happened – and let’s go meet Ronnie’s new guy!”

***

“Ella! Kady!” Ronnie squeals in delight when he sees us. We both get big hugs followed by the big introduction to Anton who stands behind Ronnie at our reserved table smiling warmly. He looks like he’s about to shake our hands when both Ella and I choose rather to give him a warm cordial hug instead.

Anton motions immediately for the waitress as we all take our seats.

“Al and Rosco are on their way,” I say.

Ronnie nods. “She just sent a text. They’re around the corner.”

Then as if on cue, they arrive just as we start to order drinks. We all go with margaritas with the exception of Ella who decides to do beer.

“To finally meeting Anton!” Alyssa makes the toast as we all cringe while honoring the sentiment and as we do, you can almost see Anton pale.

“Oh my god, really, Al?” chides Ronnie instantly.

“Well, you have been holding out,” Ella says.

Anton now smirks.

“Wow – that did not take you guys long at all,” Ronnie laughs. “It’s no wonder I didn’t want to rush this.” Then he turns to Anton and mouths the words I’m sorry.

I smile warmly at Ronnie. I’m happy for him, and seeing him now with Anton, he looks really happy, and he deserves it. His last two attempts at dating ended quickly in disappointment, but lately that seems to be all in the past now with Anton who says he wants the same things as Ronnie, including a steady relationship. And seeing them together, even though it’s only been a few weeks, it looks like a great start.

Then there’s Rosco and Alyssa – I think I need two hands to count their break-ups over the last year and a half. It’s definitely a pattern with them and possibly even foreplay. Ella and I laugh about it all the time. We’re pretty sure it has to do with the hot blooded Italian in both of them.

Ella is purposely single. She’s beautiful, tall and blonde – finding dates is never a problem – but she just doesn’t want to be “tied down” by a relationship. She likes to date and have fun these days and that’s about it. With her rotating possibilities, I sometimes can’t blame her. As she says – she’ll “only be young once”. We both had steady boyfriends all through high school and I guess at this stage Ella just wants to savor her freedom and choices. As for me, I’m just not cut out for that. I like the routine and easiness of a relationship, but not with just anyone. I’m not a serial relationship girl which makes me ok on my own, unless I find someone I can connect to. Although it’s been almost a year since I’ve connected to anyone.

Alyssa, Ronnie, Ella and I go back to high school which is actually only the next town over, and while we knew each other in school, we’ve gotten much closer since all starting at the same university. Alyssa and I are in business, though some of our classes differ, and Ella is taking criminology while Ronnie, the brain of our group, is in bio-engineering.

“So are you in school, Anton?” Ella asks.

We know the answer already, but tonight is about the proverbial small-talk with Anton in attendance.

“No, I work full-time in the family business – I’m an electrician. We have a lot of city contracts that keep us more than busy.”

“An electrician – so you’re good with your hands then?” says Alyssa who then snorts in laughter. Anton pales again, and Rosco gives her the evil eye.

“Oh my god, Al,” I say, but can’t help laughing too, although Ronnie’s face says he’s mortified.

“I’m taking control of this conversation,” he says, and then he looks at me. “So Kade, have you heard anything yet?”

I know he’s talking about my interview with Abri and shake my head.

“Would you believe we just ran into her on the street,” blurts Ella.

“And?”

“I’m tired of talking about it,” I say.

“No news?” Ronnie looks intensely interested, I’m sure more for my benefit, although Abri herself is an interesting person. She’s definitely a name everyone knows in this city.

“A bit of a brush-off,” Ella continues to volunteer, “but she was fantastically nice about it.”

I give Ella the look, then I repeat, “Fantastically?”

Everyone laughs and Ella’s loving it.

“How else would you describe her?” she asks.

I sit up straight thinking about it. About her.

“Don’t tell me – it was the pull in and push off again – like you’re great, but I’m too busy right now.” Ronnie acts it out as he says it with all the nuances.

“A little bit,” I admit.

“She likes Kady,” Ella says.

“Why would you think that?”

“You can tell – she was very focused on you.”

I feel my heart rate inexplicably increase for some unknown reason, probably because I’m not a fan of having the focus on me for any reason, just as it is right now. “Because I was trying – miserably I might add – to plead my case.”

“You did great – and I told you that. There was nothing miserable about what you said. I think she was impressed.” Ella shrugged to emphasize her point.

“I think you’re wrong. If I felt that too I wouldn’t be so…” I couldn’t think of what the word was I wanted to use. It was more of a feeling.

“So – what?”

“So – unsure. I don’t have that confident feeling I should have. She makes me feel…” And I’m at a loss again for a word.

“That’s just you, Kade,” Ella says, her voice low and soothing this time, though her face has that quizzical look.

“Oh my god, you two are like a married couple!” Ronnie finally squeals.

“She makes you feel – what?” asks Alyssa.

“Uneasy,” I say. And suddenly everyone is quiet, looking pensive.

Then Anton breaks the reverie and asks “Who are we talking about?”

***

The weekend is feeling like torture to face. All I can hear in my head is Abri saying “I was planning on calling everyone at the beginning of next week.” This is now all my mind needs to drive me crazy. “Planning” isn’t a definite. That implies she may not if she gets busy. Then there’s “everyone”? How many are there? How many am I competing against? And “the beginning of next week” means what day? Monday? Wednesday?

It’s only Saturday morning, I’m still in bed and the noise in my head has me spinning. I roll onto my side and pull a pillow over my head while trying very hard to think of something else, anything else. The truth is I have plenty to think about other than her. I have two essays that are due and soon exams which means, I really need to stay caught up on my reading assignments. I wince at the thought of school work. How can I concentrate when I don’t know what I’m going to do for money?

“Ka – dy!” I hear my name pronounced with drawn-out double syllables. It’s the way Ella always warns me before she’s about to bound into my bedroom. Then my door bursts open as she repeats my name again the same way while running in, jumping on my bed and bouncing next to me on her knees. I just pull the pillow in tighter.

“What are you doing? Tell me you aren’t still stressed out?” Ella croons while still bouncing.

I just groan.

“Stop – just stop thinking about it,” she says and then flops onto me with her whole body weight. “Things will work out – you’ll see. They always do.”

I don’t move, but inside I know she’s right. And I try telling myself that consciously. Things always work out.

“Ka-day!” She tries again to get me out of my cocoon while calling my name into the pillow, and it comes out like a funny, muffled garble. I can’t help myself and laugh. Ella is now laughing too as she rips the pillow away, then she beats me over the head with it a couple of times.

“Oh my god, you are so annoying!” I say, but really I love it. Ella just has a way of getting to me like no one can. Suddenly I find myself grabbing my other pillow, pouncing up onto my knees and lambasting her with it. Ella just squeals and continues to swat back with the pillow and this goes on for a few minutes until I bounce too far one way and my knee misses the edge of the bed. Instantly I tumble over in a heap. Thankfully the pillow hits the floor first and softens the landing on my shoulder as my legs fly into the air while Ella laughs even more wildly.

“You are such a klutz!”

“You pushed me!” I yell, but we both know it’s a lie.

Taking advantage of my immobile position she hits me one more time.

“Cheater.” I whip my pillow at her, but she just catches it.

“You need to get ready – we’re going to yoga, and we leave in fifteen minutes.”

“No…” I moan, “I don’t feel like it. Besides I need to get my head into my school work.”

“There’s lots of time for that this weekend. We’re going. You need to get out of your funk”

I half crawl onto the bed moaning in protest, but I know its useless – and I know she’s right.

“Besides, nothing is better for stress than physical exercise. I keep telling you that.”

“I hate when you’re right.”

“I know – you tell me all the time,” Ella smirks at me then slips from the bed and smacks my butt. “Now – get ready.”

***

As usual Ella is right. The hot yoga leaves me feeling renewed, and after class I’m glowing with perspiration, relaxed and even eager to socialize today. We roll up our mats then pass some time talking to some of the regulars. One of them – a tall, lean dark haired guy with spectacular cheekbones seems to like Ella and has made a point of engaging us the last couple of visits. I suspect she likes him too but I wasn’t sure so I hadn’t brought up the topic before with her. Everything about her body language this morning says she’s interested as she let’s her hands roam over her slender model curves – and then there’s the hair toss – the soft laugh. I grin because I can’t wait to make fun of her.

“You like him,” I grin, my blue eyes twinkling as we start to walk home from the studio.

“Who?” Ella’s says it with a smirk.

“Mr. cheekbones,” I laugh. “Now I see why we couldn’t miss yoga.”

“That’s not it.”

“Oh I think it is – I saw the hair toss.”

Ella starts laughing. “There wasn’t any hair tossing!”

Then I start to mimic her stance and gestures, and Ella gives me a shove while still giggling.

“What did he say his name was?”

“Ethan,” She says cocking her head to the side.

“Oh yeah – you’ve got a thing for him. I can tell just by the way you say his name.”

“Whatever,” she says then walks a little faster than me.

“So does this mean he didn’t ask you out?”

“He didn’t as a matter of fact,” she shoots over her shoulder.

“What a lame-ass!”

“I know, right?” She turns toward me, now walking backwards.

I look at her sheepishly, then I can’t help myself – I burst out laughing. “You l-i-k-e him.”

“Whatever,” she says again before giving me her back once more.

“He will,” I say.

“He will – what?”

“He’ll ask you out.”

“How do you know?”

“Because I can read people, and his body language was as obvious as yours. He likes you too. He probably just flaked today because he didn’t have you alone.”

“Maybe. But if you can read people, why can’t you read Abri? I say she seemed interested in you for sure.”

“That’s just it – usually I can read people, but with Abri I get this vibe I can’t explain. I’m not sure if it’s good or bad. You saw it too.”

“I guess I did, but I still say her reaction to you was more favorable than avoidance.”

“Whatever.” It was my turn to use the phrase. “Let’s just drop the topic. I need to not think about her for at least one day.”

“Right!” Ella says slowing and putting her arm around me.

“Right.”

“No more what’s-her-name. This is the weekend. We need to have some fun.”

“I need to go home and write an essay,” I say

“Me too actually. Okay, so first we write – then we make some fun.”

***

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s