Chapter 21: Him
I wake to my cellphone ringing at about 10 AM. It’s my day off. What idiot is calling me? I sleep on my day off. I look at the number. It’s not one I recognize with foggy brain on. Probably a telemarketer.
“Hello?” I say softly, my voice thick.
“Hello!” It’s Cassandra’s bright accent. She sounds like a morning person. “Am I speaking to Mr. Jack McPherson?”
“Yeah. That’s me. Wha’sup?” I get up from the bed, not sure why she’s calling me.
“Would you like to go horseback riding with Miss Rein this afternoon?” Well, that got my attention. I jumped in surprise and ended up flopping all over the floor, tied up in my sheets and looking like a demented fish. “Mr. McPherson? Are you alright?”
“YEAH! Wow that was loud. Yeah. I’d love to go see Miss Rein. Horseback riding. Okay. Yeah. I’d love to.”
“I thought you might.” She tells me when and where and says she’ll send a taxi for me, and then it will go get Eliza. “I think she likes you.”
“I don’t know what she thinks. Is she okay, you know, after yesterday?”
“Oh, the whole ‘almost got raped’ thing? It didn’t even phase her. She’s really glad you saved her though. I just got off the phone with her.”
“Good. I’m glad. Thanks Cassandra. I’ll be ready. Promise.” I smile before remembering that she can’t see me.
“That’s just fine then. Good day, Mr. McPherson!”
“Bye.” We hang up and I fight to get free from my murderous sheets. I get to spend all afternoon with Eliza Rein! Horseback riding no less! I’ve only gone riding a couple times in the past few years, but I’m not bad. I wonder how good she is. Probably really good, since she comes from Colorado. Wow. I get to go riding! I skip around the room like a lunatic, turning on the radio and getting dressed appropriately in my riding jeans and a comfortable shirt. “Every Breath You Take” by The Police comes on the radio as I sit down to breakfast, reminding me even more of her.
Why would Cassandra call me and have me go do that with Eliza? Does Eliza even know that I’m going to be there? I grab my cellphone and go through my contacts, finding that I don’t have Eliza’s number. I never got it. My only communications with Eliza have been in person. Otherwise, it’s been through Cassandra. Wow. That’s totally weird. And cool, I guess, since I’ve been known to be a person who texts constantly, whenever I get the chance. A couple of my old girlfriends kept saying it was rude and demanded to know who I was texting. All they’d find on my phone were a bunch of really sarcastic texts and short replies, typically between me and my guy friends.
Eliza Rein. Wonder what she’d do about all my old girlfriends. Probably analyze them and know right off what a bunch of twits they are. Okay, I admit, I haven’t had very good choices in girlfriends in the past, but Eliza and I aren’t dating. She’s just in town and can’t leave and is lonely… wow. I’m a great stalker, aren’t I? I adore her and her work, but don’t know that much about her. I don’t even have her phone number. Dang.
Note to self: get Eliza Rein’s number before she leaves. Or at least her personal e-mail address.
The taxi shows up and I’m right there, ready to go. I hop in and we take off for the church. I feel just like one of those little three-year-old kids that are just bouncing up and down on Christmas morning. I shouldn’t feel like this. We’re not dating. She doesn’t even really like me. Or does she…?
I open the door and there she is, sitting at the bottom of the steps, a couple steps up, looking even more beautiful than she did in the dress and cape. She’s just wearing jeans and a loose, button-up, plaid shirt, but she looks absolutely stunning.
“Hello Jack.” She looks up and gets up, holding her hand out for a handshake. “Thanks for going with me.”
“Yeah, no problem.”
“I do appreciate it. Even though it was all Cassandra’s idea.” I smile.
“That’s cool. Please. Let’s go.”
“Sure.” She gets in and I get in and try not to be totally awkward.
Our taxi driver looks between the two of us in the rearview mirror. “I’s a long drive out there, missy. You sure you wanna be in her wit’ him?” The driver indicates me, probably suspecting we’re going to be awkwardly making out the whole drive.
“Yes. I’d like to be at the destination. Company is relative and what you make of it.” She smiles at him, being as kind to him as she did Timothy. “I’m Eliza Rein. And you are?”
“John Campbell, Miss Rein. Pleased to meet you.”
“Pleased to meet you. I’m assuming you know where we’re going?”
“Of course. I’m the driver, ain’t I?”
“I don’t know, are you?” she teases.
I must have a surprised look on my face, staring at her. This was not the same girl I’ve gotten accustomed to over the past several days.
“I am the driver, I know where we’re going, and I’d like it if the two of you would keep your hands to yourselves.” The side of his mouth quirks up, knowing she’s just teasing.
“Oh, him?” Eliza smiles at me. “He’s not going to touch me at all if he knows what’s good for him.”
“Would you two not talk about me like I’m not here?” I cut in, a little shaken at her behavior.
“Why not? You thought you and I were the only ones in the car? Can’t I talk to the third wheel here?” she chuckles at her own joke, confusing me more.
“Hey! Who you callin’ a third wheel, missy?”
“You’re the one who assumed he and I were together, Mr. John Campbell.” She quips, just as fast.
“Well now. That I did. He was holding the door for you and everything. It’s natural for a fellow to assume romance bein’ involved when a fella does something like that.”
“Don’t make assumptions about me, Mr. Campbell. I’ve been known to throw curveballs at people’s heads.” She smiles, teasing the driver more as we go along.
“Hey now! I’m driving! I think you’d be wise not to go throwing anything in here.”
“AW! I can’t even punch Jack? I can’t even throw punches? How’s your jaw, by the way?” she turns to me, looking at the side of my face.
“It hurts, thanks. Not as bad as yesterday, but it still hurts.” I pout. This ride is not starting out the way I expected it to.
“I am very sorry. Thomas was clearly drunk and very rude. He shouldn’t have hit you. If we hadn’t been in public, I’d have hit him myself. You weren’t hurting anybody and he shouldn’t have been drinking so much.” Her temperament changes dramatically, turning from teasing to fierce in a snap of the fingers.
“I heard about that. The fella who was punching at the ball… that’s the Thomas you talkin’ about, missy?”
“That’s the one.” She says, eyes flashing. “He was rather rude. He seems to have something of a crush on me and doesn’t like all the time I’ve been spending with Jack here.”
“You the fella that got hit? What’d you do, steal his girl?”
“Absolutely not!” I holler, frustrated. “I don’t steal people. Miss Eliza has a mind of her own. She’s not an object to be stolen, nor to be possessed by someone like Thomas!” I bite my tongue. Eliza’s grinning madly at the driver, then at me.
“Very good, Mr. McPherson. I’m not an object. And I thank you for sticking up for me.”
I blush a very bright red, mad at myself for not keeping my big mouth shut. “You’re welcome.” I mutter.