Chapter 8: Her
Great. I had been doing so well! I could keep all of them so far away from me, proving myself pompous and arrogant, but still I got one! Sheesh. I shouldn't have taken him up on his offer to keep me company, or that drink for that matter. I should have just gone to the hotel and ignored what my gut was telling me. It didn't matter. For all I knew, Jake could have kidnapped me and held me for ransom! There wouldn't be much money in it for him, but he could have. It's just not fair. Can't just have a proper moment to myself without getting massively entangled with romance. I can't walk out my door without having a guy asking for my hand!
I am getting dressed for bed and I intend not to get up tomorrow, except that I told him I would go to this old fashioned ball with him… at least, I hope it's old fashioned. I'm almost done with the fancy cape I've been working on… maybe I can find something to match! That would be awesome! If I can…
If I can find something to wear.
I look in the mirror and start talking to myself.
"What is wrong with you? Aren't you going to tell him no and bail while you still have the chance?"
I cock my head and think the daylight out of the situation.
"I could tell him to get lost. It'd be better than getting my heart broken again. I could be totally left alone again. I've only known him a day…"
"But he did say that I gave a perfect description of him…"
"But what does that mean anyway? He might have just said that because he's such a big fan and wanted to impress me."
"He's looking for a wife, that's obvious."
"I never should have left home. I should have just said, 'No, Cassandra. That's too early in the morning, and I have no business being in New York at all. What makes you think I can debate, or that these pompous jerks want anything to do with my book? I'm awesome and you know it.' But what good would that do?"
"I wouldn't be learning my lesson as I am now, not to run from my problems… and I have to solve this one on my own. If I get kidnapped, that's my problem and Daddy can't come bail me out. I have to take care of this Jake guy by myself. The end."
And that's that. I'm going to bed, and I'm not going to get up ever again if I can help it.
I dream of him, and don't remember in the morning why.
I am woken by the smell of smoke and the sound of fire. I knew it was getting too warm in here! I open my eyes to see that the bathroom wall is engulfed in fire!
I get up, grab my knitting, briefcase, squish pillow, room key, and suitcase (which I always keep packed when I'm away from home) and dash out of the door and fly down the stairs. There are people screaming, women yelling and men giving orders all over the place.
Just as I reach the outside, I hear a blast from behind me and see that there are now flames pouring out of a few windows. Women around me are screaming, sirens are wailing, and the firemen are already here and giving directions to those on the street. I pay close attention to everything around me, desperate for material for my blog and thinking this might make a good story.
I run up to the man who had been behind the desk and was now wringing his hands and babbling incoherently.
"Hey!" I say right in his face. "Hey! Chill. It's okay. You're alive, doesn't that count?"
"Count? How can it count?" He looked vacantly at me and at the building. "My life, my world, my business and my boss are going to kill me. I won't be alive for much longer. Stupid women. Bossy people. 'Mind the desk.' Of course I minded it. Set the place ablaze. Stupid woman. Dumb dumpy tramp and her boyfriend. Pot smokers. I knew they were, I knew it!"
"Interesting. Could you pick her out if you saw her?"
"Who?" he says, confused.
"The pot smoker and her boyfriend. The ones who set the place ablaze?"
"Oh, yeah. I'd know her like the back of my hand. Every Saturday she comes here with a new man. Special discount and everything. Posh girl. About 20." I look around for a woman about that age. "Brown eyes, platinum blonde hair, and she was wearing that ugly green dress again."
"Thank you so much. Tell that to the firemen." I say as I leave him.
"HEY!" I call out to the girl matching his description.
"Yeah?" she says drunkenly. "What'd you want? I'm sold out, sorry."
"Sold out?" I ask, eyes narrowed.
"Yeah. No more meth, honey. Smoked the last of it with that fella. He paid me good for it too." She smiled drunkenly at me. "You should have been with us. It was such fun."
"Fun." I snarl. "Did you set this place on fire? Were you in Room 332?"
"Yeah. How'd you know that? Some kind of psychic or something?"
"You set the place on fire, right next to my room. I think you'd better sit down." I push her to the ground, my hand on her shoulder as I stand beside her.
"You gonna turn me inta the cops?" she is slipping into a slurred speech.
"Yeah." I say, looking around. "What's your name?"
"What's it matter to you?" She looks up at me. "No one ever asks my name. They just ask what I charge for my wares."
"Wares. That's an awful large word for a tramp like you to be using. What's your name?" I ask again, losing patience.
"Diana. Jenny Diana."
She sighs and looks at her feet. "Jenny is my first name. Jenny Rodriguez."
"There we go. It's not a good idea to lie to me, Jenny. I can tell truth from lie at a wink. And you'd best tell the truth."
"Why? You jus' gonna turn me in either way. So what if I tell the truth or not?"
"Do you believe in God?" I ask, kneeling beside her.
"Yeah. I was raised Baptist. They threw me out." She wraps her arms around her knees. "Mom and Dad threw me out too. Said I wasn't good enough."
I chuckled. "Good enough?" I roll my eyes. "No one is ever good enough. Not even me."
"You!" she laughed. "You're a world famous blogger, with everyone's attention on you all the time, and you don't hang around guys, all the gossip about you doesn't make any sense, and it's all messed up. You are perfect."
"Very funny, Jenny." I look her straight in the eye. "I have fear issues. I don't hang out with guys a lot because I expect to get hurt. I run away from everyone and everything because I get afraid of the people who are close to me. Kid, you gotta get some help."
"That's what people say! I don't believe it! What person would give me the time of day? They only give me the time of night!"
"Kid. It's okay. I know a guy. He's pretty cool and doesn't talk much… but he wrote this great book. You know Him already."
"You're telling me that I should go to church. Right?"
I look off. "Church. Silly place. Full of corrupt and broken people. But here we are. Church is awesome sometimes. Stuff happens, life happens and there is nothing we can really do about it." I get up and pull her to her feet. "Come on you. I know a church down the street. The preacher was an old buddy of mine and he'll help you out if you're with me. Come on." I throw my arm around her shoulders and start walking, leaving all but my briefcase behind.