Chapter 20: Her
He probably saved my life. And I didn’t even thank him. What kind of girl am I that I have no sense of gratitude? None! I was stupid, walking off by myself in a strange environment, and I almost got really hurt for it. If he hadn’t… if he wasn’t there… I’d have been very hurt. I try really hard not to think about what would have happened if he wasn’t there. So yeah, he’s a stalker. But he’s apparently a really good guy too. Cassandra dropped by around bedtime.
“Hi, honey! I talked with Mr. Daniels today.”
“Yeah? Come on in. It’s cold out there.” She steps in, ever proud and elegant.
“I can’t stay long. But I will say that he has his people on it, and it should be published in the next 6 months!”
“Yeah! Finally! Thank you! Thank you Cassandra! You’re the best.”
“I know, darling. You can say it again if you want.”
I laugh. “Yeah. You’re the best.”
“Eliza, darling, are you feeling alright? You never use words like ‘yeah’ in conversation.”
“I’m just a little out of it today. Falling into old habits.” I smile. “I ran into Jack today.”
“Oh he’s ‘Jack’ now, is he?”
“Yes. I got bored with calling him ‘you know, that creepy stalker guy’ so now he’s just Jack. Got a problem with that?”
“No. Just odd that you seemed to avoid him so passionately before, and now you’re on a first-name basis. Is there something going on?” Cassandra’s eyes dance like they do when she watches a soap opera or a movie that has a couple that she’s shipping heavily.
“No. There’s nothing going on. I just happen to see him everywhere, all the time. I guess I just made the mistake of getting up this morning. I didn’t have to, but I did. Oops.”
“Not oops! Nope! If you want to go on another date with this wonderful ‘Jack’” she sings his name at me, “I can have it arranged in no time. Candles, romantic music, dancing… whatever you want, Eliza.”
“Sure!” my voice drips with sarcasm. “I know, let’s make it so he can stay in his sweats, make sure they play rock and roll, and serve beer!”
“Oh stop that. He sounds lovely. I really want you to be happy. This whole story might make your next book, Eliza, darling!”
“Uh, no. My next book is already in the works. I sent it to you, remember?”
She sighs at me, clearly exasperated with my lack of enthusiasm at her idea. “Yes. That co-author thing you’ve been working on for years and years and finally managed to get it to me. I have some fantasy publishing company all over it. Don’t worry.”
“You know I won’t.”
Cassandra keeps looking at me, with that infuriating glance of “kiss the girl” or “marry that boy” she always gets. I stopped watching anything with her because of that look. Even “The Little Mermaid” wasn’t safe. She’s a fabulous publisher, but she and I went to high school together. We grew up and have been getting along really well ever since. I’m her best customer, and we both love our jobs. On occasion, she will question my mental health when I send her some things, but mostly she knows I’m okay.
“I just wanted to tell you about that. I want you to be happy, Eliza, sweetheart.”
“I am happy. I want to go home. I’ve been really homesick today. You don’t happen to know somewhere…”
“I do. However, I’m not sure if this Jack will want to go do that with you.”
“He doesn’t have to. I just need that smell. Come on, Cassandra. Pleaaaaaseee!!!!” I make my classic begging eyes that always bend her to my will.
“ALRIGHT! Fine. Fine. Don’t—turn off those eyes! ELIZA! Stop!” I turn them off, hugging her tightly.
“Thank you.” I let go. “Can I go tomorrow?”
“Yes. Of course. I’ll even arrange for a taxi to drop you off and pick you up. Is that okay?”
“Wonderful. I’m so glad. I didn’t think a city would have horses.”
“We do have a mounted police force, Eliza. We’re not totally drowned in the artificial.”
“Uh huh.” I say doubtfully, smirking at her. “Thank you.”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever. Do you want Jack to go with you?”
“Can I go without him?” I ask, trying not to sound desperate.
“Ummm…. No.” she smiles at me.
“Fine. Fine. Thank you, Cassandra. You’re the best agent ever.”
“I’m sorry, say again?” she rubs her ear like she didn’t hear me.
“You heard me the first time and you know I mean it. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. Goodnight.”