Chapter 25: Him
I go home to my apartment, totally exhausted and sore and grumpy and not sure what I did wrong, or why Miss Rein was so angry at me. What did I do?! I was being friendly. Cassandra invited me to go riding and she seemed perfectly happy until the taxi ride back. Why? What did I do in the taxi that ticked her off?
Asked her to dinner.
She assumed I was hitting on her. Oh no. What have I done?
I have to get her number from Cassandra. But it’s nearly 1 in the morning. I will just call her in the morning.
She didn’t have to be so mean to my town though. I mean, what was she saying? She hated New York? Why? Because we’re fast and loud and we don’t sleep? So what? Come to think of it, I didn’t say anything about where she’s from. Where is she from anyway? What part of Colorado? Huh.
I grab my laptop and hop on the internet, researching her genuinely for the first time in my life. I dig up where she’s from and do lots of research for several hours, just learning about where she’s from. Colorado’s very beautiful. I don’t think it’s bullish or clumsy though. No more than any New Yorker could be. From the random photos that people have posted online, it looks like a very beautiful place. There’s obviously mountains and lots and lots of plants.
I was very interested in her town. Turns out, she comes from a tourist town. They’re used to outsiders and strangers from all over the US, and even some from other countries. She would know about strangers and how to treat them, at least, to make them feel welcome.
Great. Now I feel guilty. I have no idea what her place is like, or how to make New York feel like home. With all the wide open spaces around her town, going riding today (more like yesterday, but you get what I’m saying) must have reminded her of home. Going riding. Instead of being in a town full of buildings to the point where there aren’t many places like that. The silence was deafening when we were riding. It was driving me nuts!
But not her.
She was happy. She must have thought it was like home and wasn’t feeling homesick. Because she was on the back of a horse in the total silence.
I’m such a jerk. Any normal person would be drowning in the culture shock! And she of all people, if she follows the reputation of her town, would know exactly how to fix that. How to make someone feel at home, even if they were miles and miles away.
Not me. I just flirted, offered her a drink and my attention. Did what I was planning on doing anyway, whether she came or not. Sure, it wouldn’t have been the same without her, but I was pulling her along on what I wanted to do. I never once considered… maybe she didn’t want to. I mean, she could have turned me down, right? But that’s not like her. She hasn’t turned me down once. Well, except for dinner.
She didn’t even turn down the debate. She didn’t turn down her editor and agent at all. Ever! Wow. I never thought about it before. She has such a hard time saying no.
And I only made it worse.
She must think I’m a creep. Not only am I stalker, but I’m a New Yorker, and she’s having culture shock, and she’s homesick, and I never really asked what she wants, and she can’t say not me, and—
And I am such a jerk.
I have to make it up to her. I have to tell her I’m sorry! But wait a minute, what if that isn’t what she wants? I’ve trampled on her far enough already, I don’t want her to feel obligated to talk to me, just so I can apologize. Maybe I should just leave her alone.
Girls are so confusing.
I have no idea when I fell asleep, but I must have fallen asleep to be woken by my cell phone at about 7:00 AM. I grab it and blearily look at it. I don’t know the number, but pick it up anyway.
“Hello? Is this Jack McPherson?” a foreign voice sounds over the phone. Well, it’s not Cassandra, at least.
“Yeah. Who’s this?”
“Eliza Rein. I’m sorry, is this a bad time?” I jump straight up, hitting my head on the headboard.
“OW! No, no, not at all. Eliza. To what do I owe the pleasure? I mean—I’m sorry—I mean! Oh, I don’t know what I mean.” I trip all over myself, trying to explain myself to the girl.
“Look. I just want to apologize for my behavior and what I said yesterday. That’s all.”
“Yeah! Sure, of course, I get it. Hey, I haven’t been very nice to you either. I know it’s gotta be hard, you know, new town, strange people, and a creepy guy following you around everywhere has got to suck.”
“I don’t know about that, but it wasn’t what I expected, to be sure.” She sounds very awake and making a good effort to be nice to me. Points to her for that.
“Well, what were you expecting?” I ask. The line goes totally silent for about a minute. I begin to think she’d hung up on me.
“I was expecting to be home by now.” She says quietly, after so long.
“Oh.” Well. That definitely caught me off guard.
“Yeah.” She sounds a little disappointed. “Anyway. That’s all I wanted to say. I’m sure you’re busy, so I’ll let you go, okay?”
“Yeah. Sure. Okay. Apology accepted. Eliza?” Gosh I’d better not screw this up.
“Do you want to do something later? Tonight? It doesn’t have to be dinner or whatever, just go see a movie or go sit in a hotel lobby or something?”
“Sure. Just so long as it’s in public. Okay?”
“Okay. It’s a date—I mean, yeah. I’ll pick you up at 5:30, okay?”
“Yeah. That’s fine.”
“Great. See you then!”
“Yeah. Bye.” She hangs up.
Woo! Good for me! I got the girl to go on a date with me. I start dancing around my apartment then replay the conversation all the rest of the day, praying I didn’t screw it up. Was that a “Yeah. That’s fine” as in “Yes I’m looking forward to it” or was it a “Yeah. That’s fine” like women say when it’s not really fine?