Do you have any idea how crazy I’ve been going knowing that Ryann is in the same hotel as me. Val had the brilliant and idiotic idea to book my room in the same damn hotel and told me to come up with some romantic and fabulous way to make up for months of my asshole-ness. But the little I do know about Ryann; she doesn’t like all the glitz and awe. She loves the simple things; she loves the sights. I know the last time we were here, she was looking up Broadway shows. She really wanted to sneak away and get a glimpse into the tantalizing world that is Broadway. But my schedule wouldn’t allow it. She never complained, not once, and I don’t think she even realized I saw her. I always saw her.
And I have a plan.
I’m not confident with this plan, but I have one.
It started with sending Valerie and Ryann to the spa. Val swore up and down that this was very much needed. I wasn’t going to argue with her. Val, out of everyone deserves a spa day with how long she’s dealt with my ass. I also arranged for them to go shopping. All expenses paid – including the town car that will pick them up and drop them off at the theater. Val is working on getting Ryann to where she needs to be. She swears she has a failed proof plan.
I’m a bundle of anxious fucking nerves. It doesn’t help that Pearl has been blowing up my damn phone either. My guess, she did some digging and found out that this unplanned trip has nothing to do with Behind Closed Doors. I haven’t even told Xayla what I’m doing. She can’t keep a secret for shit, and I know if she gets the chance, she’ll blab.
Andrew was the only one I told, outside of family, I was coming out here. At first, he thought it was a terrible idea. He feels Ryann needs to come back on her own terms. To just, let her be. But I know her running away is her way of avoiding what scares her. But after some serious talking, as in four hours. He was finally convinced that I won’t relapse and that I’m not coming out here to fuck anything up. Also, gave me a warning, if Ryann does not return because I’ve done another idiotic thing, he’ll be the one to throw the first punch. Travis gave me the same threat. My grandparents did too in a roundabout way.
Everyone in my life falling for Ryann just as hard as I have. But I’ve fallen harder. So fucking hard.
She’s so excited. I had to lie to her about how I won these expensive ass seats. Don’t screw this up, Copeland.
Val’s text causes my stomach to flutter. Ryann may be excited, but I’m nervous as hell. I seriously could vomit. I’ve arranged for seats in the dress circle. Easy access and allows us to escape down a side staircase and away from the crowds. Not to mention, the dress circle has the best view. Especially when you’re right up on-the-edge. Which is where we are. Val is going to in with her. With a third ticket that I bought and will disappear. Telling Ryann she has to go to the restroom or something. Then I’m to magically appear.
That is if I don’t chicken out.
But my mom’s words start playing in my head. For the first time in almost fourteen years, I hear her again; The only time you’re going to know if someone is worth your love is when it terrifies you to wonder what life would be like without them in it. Don’t let your fear keep you from the one person who makes you the happiest. When you find a truly unique person in your life, you hold on, and you never let go.
Okay, Thomas. It’s showtime.
The car pulls around back, an employee standing by the side entrance door outside the Richard Rodgers Theater, waiting for me. I get out of the car and suddenly find myself more anxious than I was sitting in the car. I don’t think I’ve ever been this nervous in my life. Not even during auditions. To top it off. I’m suddenly feeling overdressed. I’m dressed in a buttondown dark plum dress shirt, my sleeves rolled up to my elbows, and the shirt is tucked into my black dress pants. I remember why I hate dressing up, the damn shoes. But for Ryann, I’d wear heels if I had to.
“Mr. Copeland,” The employee greats, “We have everything ready for you. And let me tell you, the cast and crew of Hamilton are honor to have you as a guest.”
“Thanks,” I mumble as I try to keep my nerves hidden. Walking inside, I’m guided into a private lounge before being shown up the private staircase that will take me to my seat. When I hit the landing, I peek in. Seeing Ryann and Val in their seats. Ryann is in complete awe as she looks around the theater. She’s in a black handkerchief style dress that flows elegantly around her body. The hem resting at her knees and a black leather jacket draped over the back of her chair. The theater lights catch the dark red in her hair as soft beachy curls fall around her shoulders. I catch her leaning over the railing slightly to get a better view. She’s smiling. Talking with her hands with an excitable and undeniable joy.
A joy I’m afraid I’ll ruin once I arrive. Maybe I should text Val and tell her that this is a terrible idea. That I’ll think of some other way to woo her. Take her sight-seeing. Though if she’s been in New York for almost six weeks, I’m sure she’s seen things I haven’t. I catch Val looking back over her shoulder, her bright blues catching my line of sight, and she beams at me as she leans into Ryann’s side. Whispering. Telling her whatever excuse, to step away.
Val walks out of their row, her long blonde hair falling around her as she looks down, watching where she’s stepping. Her strides are long and confident. That smile on her face, growing the closer she gets to me. “Thomas.” She greats as she hugs me. Joining me in my hiding. “How are you?”
“It’s been a long two days.”
She keeps her smile on her face, “She’s excited.” She tells me. “She doesn’t suspect a thing.”
“I’m nervous,” I tell her. My palms are becoming balmy as I wipe them down the front of my pants. “This is a bad idea. Go back out there and enjoy the show, and I’ll come up with another idea.”
“No, no.” Val hurries as she takes hold of my arm, “Nice try. She’ll start growing suspicious. She thinks coffee café guy is paying for all of this.”
A ping of jealousy strikes deep in my gut, “She’s seeing someone?”
The corners of Val’s mouth twerk into an amused smile, “No. She’s seeing no one. Made a scene in a café to get her to talk and found café guy by the sugars and creamer counter. Gave him my number and used him as the reason we’re here.”
Looking back out into the theater, Ryann is now seated in her seat. Though I can’t see what she’s doing, I can tell by her poster that she’s looking at her phone. Entertaining herself as she starts to take photos of the beauty in front of her.
“Grow a pair and go to her. She’ll be excited to see you.” Val encourages when she catches me gawking.
I let out a soft nervous chuckle, “I think we have different meanings of what excited means.”
Val mocks me as she pats me on the shoulder, “Go get her Copeland.” She says as she shoves me out in the open.
Catching myself, I straighten my shirt for no reason and run a hand through my hair. I catch people staring. Making me before I’m even able to get to my row. But thank god, they don’t scream my name or come up asking for a photo. Making my way to the row Ryann is in. I find my way, stepping over feet and belongings as I find myself to my seat. My heart picking up in speed the closer I get to her. The pull and surge are still undeniable. It’s still there.
Taking my seat, I don’t say anything. I just sit next to Ryann. She’s clueless that anyone is sitting next to her. She’s too enamored with the charm of the theater. Her arm is just inches away from my hand, my fingers flexing with a need to touch her. To feel her soft skin. To remember the warmth that fills me each time we touched. She goes to shift in her chair, reaching for her phone down in her bag again. When her elbow rams into my hand. I reveal in the contact as a small surge ignites every cell in my body.
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” She says softly and sweetly as she sits back up, “I didn’t mea....” Her words leave her as I watch her eyes go wide with shock. Her cell phone, falling from her hand and down to the ground. “Thom-Thomas. What....what are you doing here?” She stutters.
What do I tell her? That I want her back, that I’ve come out here to tell her how I feel. It’s easy to play a situation out in your head or follow a script, but this is real life, and I suck at real life. And right now, I can’t remember the speech I prepared or what I wanted to say. Looking into her hazel eyes, I’m lost.
“I umm.....I-uhhh,” Fuck, this was easier on the car ride here. I watch her cock her head to the side, her hair falling around her. I want to reach out and touch the soft strands, to feel them between my fingers again. I want to kiss her. To have her feel how I’m feeling. “I told you that I’d find you.”
“That or someone told you,” She says. She’s studying me. Making nervous, jittery. My heart...I don’t think it’s ever beat like this.
“You did,” I tell her. She arches a disbelieving brow. There is a loud high pitched whistle. Her attention, turning behind her to a group of women who’ve made me and are waving. Ryann rolls her eyes with annoyance. Making me feel slightly guilty that this can’t be a normal moment. That I’ll never be able to give her a normal date or relationship. “I um... I found the postcard you bought the last time you were in New York. And I umm...I knew this is where you were.”
“Because I know you,” I tell her. But that is a bold statement. And by her laughter, she knows it’s a bold statement. I lean closer. Her eyes, studying my every move. “I know that you spin your ring when you’re stressed or anxious. I know that you put others before yourself. I know that you confide in Val more than you do Max now. I know you sing to relieve stress.”
“Anyone could know those things,” She’s trying not to show her surprise. But she may fool others, but I see her. All of her.
Leaning closer, Ryann pushes herself back slightly. Trying to keep the distance between us, “And I know you run away when you’re afraid. When you don’t want to deal with difficult decisions regarding your life. Or because you don’t want to face your past or a truth. I’ve seen it more and more with you.”
She shakes her head, “You don’t....”
“I do. I’m right. And in this moment, I can tell that you’re afraid. I can feel your heart beating chaotically.” I tell her as I reach for a hand. She seems unsure at first as her eyes scan the area. Besides the group of women who whistled earlier, no one seems to care or brave enough to come up to us. “And I can feel this,” I tell her as I lace my fingers with hers. Fitting perfectly, as I remembered. I watch her close her eyes, her hand gripping mine as I watch her take a deep relaxing breath. “I know you feel this rush, this pulse between us.”
I watch her bite her bottom lip and fucking hell. I have to fight every urge from pulling that lip from between her teeth. Or taking her mouth with mine. To finally taste her - to feel her. We’ve had close moments before. The day she walked into my office, I had to control myself from pinning her against my wall and having my way with her. I knew then that she’d never been a one-night stand or a side piece. Ryann is truly a unique woman, and I want her. All of her. I don’t care that her past is lined with hardships and shit hands that she was dealt.
“Thomas,” she whispers. But as the lights dim and an announcement erupts from the speakers announcing the start of the show, she jumps slightly. Startled by the loud echoing voice.
By the look in her eyes, I’m afraid she’ll take off. “Watch the show with me, please.” I practically beg.
Ryann locks her perfectly large hazel eyes onto me - a small smile creeping the corner of her mouth. “Why Mr. Copeland, are you asking me to keep you company?”
Shaking my head, “No, I’m asking you out on a date.”