He takes a look at it. “Sorry, I should take this, I guess. This is one aspect of cell phones I don’t like,” he whispers as he answers the phone.
“Hey … yeah. What? (Pause) (Sigh) Ask when they’re ready to go and I’ll have her back by then, how about that? (He smiles at me, eyebrows raised. I smile back in agreement) (Long pause) (Another sigh) God, Laila, relax. I’ll get her there. (Silence) I said I’ll get her there!”
He hangs up and frowns. “I think your parents are fine. I don’t know why Laila’s in such a snit. We’ll meet them at Caffé Greco and get dessert, if you’d like.”
“Sure. If I can fit in another bite of anything by then. Aren’t you full? This was so good.”
“Yes, it was. I think I would be saying that even if the food tasted like shit, though.”
“Your company, Miss Fisher … it is exceptional.”
I don’t even have to think about what to say to that because he stands up, holds out his hand and I take it. I would go wherever he wanted me to go.
The Roberts and my parents are sitting at a cute table outside with their lattes and cheesecakes when we pull up. My mom gets a look at my outfit and her eyes widen, but she doesn’t say anything. I’ll hear about it for the next couple months, I’m sure.
Ian and I are going inside to order when Laila grabs Ian’s arm and pulls him aside. They stay outside and I go in to order tiramisu. Who am I kidding? I can always eat. I glance out the window and watch Laila and Ian for a moment. She is doing the talking, and he is running his hands through his hair. They both look angry to me, but maybe I’m imagining it.
I step outside with coffee in one hand and my dessert in the other. Trying not to look Laila and Ian’s way, I sit down at the table closest to my parents. Mmm, tiramisu…
Ian walks away from Laila and walks inside. The waitress lights up when she sees him. My eyes narrow when she laughs at something he says. He turns and sees me watching him, and he turns back around and tugs his hair again.
Ian comes back out with coffee and stands while drinking it, looking down the street. He doesn’t look at me and if I didn’t know better, I’d think I had done something to make him mad.
“Would you like to try some of this? It’s delicious…” I hold my plate up and he glances over for a second before turning away.
“No … thanks.” His voice is flat.
Ian takes a couple more slugs of coffee and sets it down on my table. He bends down and looks at every inch of my face, almost as if he is memorizing it.
“Thank you for a spectacular day, Sparrow Fisher.”
“Thank you, Ian Sterling.”
He stands up, says his goodbyes to everyone, hops on his motorcycle and rides off into the night.
What happened? My heart starts pounding, and I am horrified when my eyes threaten to well up. I don’t DO the crying thing.
I will not cry. I will not cry. I will not cry.
I guess every perfect day has to come to an end.
- 5 -
Michael’s call wakes me up early the next morning. I barely slept. Scenes from the day ran around all night in my head, making sleep impossible. I lean up on my elbows and croak out a hello.
Michael is all sweetness and charm … until he asks what I’ve been doing, and I tell him I was in San Francisco yesterday with the Roberts … and Ian. He gets really quiet and then says he has to go.
I fall back to sleep and dream about opening that wooden door. Ian is standing on the other side. It doesn’t open into the Roberts’ living room, but into the entryway of my house. The rest of the dream blurs into mush.
My mom comes in a couple hours later. She sits on the side of the bed and wants to know all about my time with Ian. I tell her the details—how much fun we had and how easy it was to be with him. It helps ease the despair I can’t shake, for at least a full minute, and then I’m back to thinking about how he left. Why did he suddenly go glacial on me?
I’m grateful that Charlie doesn’t try to convince me of all Michael’s wonderful attributes, but listens and seems excited in all the right places when I tell her about Ian. Perhaps the fact that he is famous gives me a free pass to have a date when I’m not fully broken up with my boyfriend/wannabe fiancé. Or maybe she took a genuine liking to him. I don’t mention how weird the end of the night was, and she doesn’t say anything about it either. I’m not sure she even noticed, since she didn’t see firsthand how we were with each other the rest of the day.
The sky is as grey as my funk. I have a hard time focusing on anything. I go through my desk drawers, organize what’s left of my closet, try to read a little, watch a movie … anything to distract me from thinking of any males whatsoever. I need a break from all of them.
My attempts don’t really work. My brain is on the menu setting of a DVD where it plays an endless circle of clips. My parents have always said I have a one-track mind. It’s another curse. Sparrow One-Track Splotchalot.
The sun barely sets and I’m already wishing for my bed. The stress of the week and the topsy-turvy day with Ian has left me exhausted. I shower and am just putting on my favorite sweats and t-shirt when I hear the doorbell ring. I don’t give it much thought until I hear Michael’s voice.
“Sparrow?” My mom knocks on my door and walks in. “Michael’s here,” she whispers.
I sit down on the bed and pull my wet hair on top of my head, securing it with a ponytail holder. “Send him up,” I sigh.
“He’s a wreck. Be gentle with him.”
“I’ll do my best,” I mutter.
Michael comes in a few minutes later, looking rough. His eyes have shadows around them. His hair is haphazard, and he doesn’t usually do the messy look. He sits beside me on the bed.
I put my arm around him. A sideways hug. The hug of friends … cautious friends.
He lets out a ragged sigh.
“How did you make it here so quickly?”
“I was in Portland when I called this morning. Stayed with Aunt Patricia the last couple of days. Hopped in the car as soon as I got off the phone and drove straight through.”
He still hasn’t looked at me. He’s wiped out and staring dejectedly into space.
“I’m losing you. That’s what’s happening here, right?” With that, he turns and looks at me, his eyes bleak.