Chapter 42: New York City - December 24, 2017
The train ride to New York took about twelve hours. I slept most of the way, the rail cars dark once they shut off the lights to allow the riders to sleep. We pulled into Grand Central station a little bit before noon on Christmas Eve. It was lit up and decorated with some of the most expensive things I had ever seen. I looked at them halfheartedly as I made my way from the gate to the busy streets of downtown Manhattan. I was back in the city I said I would never return to, alone, with everyone in my life 500 miles away. It was like being ripped into and separated by five states.
Hailing a cab, I shoved my things into it and gave the cabbie the address to Sarah’s apartment. Thoughts of the last time I was there flashed through my mind, Cory and I rolling around in her bed for hours on end. I tried to shake them, forcing myself to not cry in the back of the cab. Checking my phone, I saw I had received a few text messages from Sarah and Marie asking if I had made it yet. I sent them a quick reply, letting them know I was in the city and that I was on my way to her place. I couldn’t wait to take a shower and lay down. My back hurt from sitting so long on the train and my head hurt from crying.
This morning, I called Kerri to let her know I was going to take the deal. She was ecstatic and started going over some details with me. After the first of the year, I would have to attend a few planning meetings to go over the layout of the book, the front cover and what the biography of the author would state. She also gave me a schedule of meetings I would need to make for the first few months. As it stood right now, I wouldn’t be able to go home until well after Valentine’s Day. The thought made me more upset, but I knew Cory would understand. He was the reason I was going to be able to do this and I knew I had to make the best of it to make him proud of me.
While on the train, I also started writing a new story. The idea came to be about an hour after we had pulled out of Newburg. It was a story of a girl who fell in love with her best friend and the trials they had to go through to be together. It was very reminiscent of my history with Cory, right down to the abusive “mother” and the issues we went through to get where we are now. I mentioned it to Kerri when we spoke, and she asked for an overview of it for our meeting after the holidays. I told her I would get it ready. It could be my shot at a full-length novel after my short stories are published.
The cab driver pulled up in front of Sarah’s building and I paid the fare with my credit card, using the terminal that hung from the seat. He bid me a Merry Christmas before heading off up the street. Fishing Sarah’s key out of my pocket, I walked into the building and rode the elevator up to her floor. My stomach growled, reminding me I hadn’t ate anything since the cookie when Grams was sneakily trying to get me to meet with Cory. I smiled at the thought of her being so mischievous. It was totally like her to do that and it amazed me that I hadn’t realized that before now. Shaking my head, I stepped off the elevator and headed towards Sarah’s apartment.
Unlocking the door, I pushed it open and heaved my bags inside. It was quiet and dark, not a single sound except for the outside commotion of the city. Flipping on the hallway lights, nothing happened. I groaned, hoping that the light bulb hadn’t blown. Careful to not trip over the suitcase, I made my way up the hall. Turning the corner, I noticed the soft glow coming from her living room. It was red and white, flashing now and then. Stepping forward, I saw it was a Christmas tree that had been set up in the corner of her living room. It was smaller but still lit up, silver and white garland wrapped around it. Her fireplace was also dressed in festive lights, small stockings hanging from the mantel. Sarah must have decorated her place in the short time she was here last week. Why though? She knew she wasn’t staying here and she usually never does.
“I’ll be home for Christmas, you can count on me…” A voice sang softly behind me from Sarah’s stereo on the wall. The speakers surrounded the whole room, making me feel like the voice was all around. Turning, I saw a figure standing there. I gasped when I realized it was Cory, dressed in a red dress shirt and a pair of black slacks.
“Cory? What are you doing here?” I asked, looking at him confused. He smiled, walking towards me. He stopped in front of me and smiled down at me.
“Did you think I’d really let you spend Christmas by yourself?”
“But how did you get here before me?” He shrugged.
“I took a plane. I knew that I couldn’t let my fiancé spend Christmas by herself here in the city.”
“You could have just ridden the train with me, ya know?” I pointed out, smirking up at him.
“Yeah but then I wouldn’t have been able to surprise you.”
“Wouldn’t you rather be home?” He cupped my cheek in his hand, kissing my forehead gently.
“Where every you are, feels like home to me.”