(1) Kathie Jane
I have a secret to tell.
The first apartment I spent the first years of my 20s in is not something I earned through hard work. My dad paid for it. My mom did all the redecorating. And the rest of the bills, I thank my trust fund for. While my younger sister left town for about five years to forge her own career, I remained a trust fund princess.
Not that I’m ashamed of it. It doesn’t warrant me to be better than other people. I simply had parents who worked their butts off to make me and Chassie George comfortable growing up. Although she refused to “sit still look pretty,” I on the other hand, embraced it.
She is a career woman. A journalist.
I am the socialite.
They’re not a far cry from our parents’ life choices. The beautiful apples never fell far from the beautiful tree.
Our dad, David Lewis took over Lewis Corporation when he was just about the right age. He was a born businessman and a wonderful family man. Actually, quite similar to Chassie who married our childhood best friend Nathaniel Forester and had a four-year-old son.
Although they got divorced, the two had proven love is sweeter the second time around. And have a more glamorous, upcoming wedding than the first. Also, a lot more invitations to make for. I’m talking about every single person in town who’s a fan of reconciliation romances.
While her career soared, I sat back and looked proudly and prettily as I followed our mother’s glittering footsteps. Although I skipped the beauty queen part, I partied my whole life and socialize (with my dad’s strict supervision in my teen years) and did charity alongside my mother.
Now, I’m stepping into the closest thing to independence. I just wish the man approaching me doesn’t look like he’s about to poop his pants.
“My apologies. The building double-booked the loading dock.” One of the concierges gulped uncomfortably.
It was fine, really. My move-in day was something I was really looking forward to because I found the perfect apartment. To further stress how perfect it is, I’ve been looking for the right one for about a year.
It’s not that my old apartment was a complete trash. It was for the convenience. The location allows me a drive in under ten minutes to the preschool I volunteered at. Now I picked my new apartment out of leisure. Mostly of excitement.
It’s one of the high-rises in the city. The kind that towers above all else – like the blasting traffic in the morning. And since my volunteering hiatus is going to be extended to catch up for more parties and friends, I figured I should treat myself to my dream apartment.
I have had the idea for quite a while. I told my boyfriend a hundred times that I am going to look for that one apartment I would love so much I’d prefer to stay indoors on Friday nights (he says there’s no such thing). Owen was kind enough not to respond with an eye-roll because he should be fed up by then.
Ronald – I manage to catch his name, swiped his hand over the beads of sweat on his forehead. I smiled, hoping it’ll somehow put him at ease. “It’s okay.”
His lips quirked up, but the sprouting smile slipped immediately when someone comes up from behind me. I was expecting another woman in a designer dress. A brown bob, enclosing a beautifully shaped face that has on the latest makeup palette they had on trend.
A neighbor bestie!
I turn around, my smile growing heavy when a man towered over me even in my five-inch heels. His semi-dark hair is perfectly styled. Distinctive brows that doesn’t give away even the slightest twitch match the stoic eyes behind dark-rimmed glasses. If there were anything other than apathy in his eyes, the glasses had it pressed down. However pristine looking, I still sense some curls that he must constantly have to straighten out irritably.
“Hi. I’m Kathie Jane.” I stepped forward, extending my right hand out of manners.
The man glances down to me in the briefest of moment and fixes an indifferent gaze on the concierge. I’m sure I’ve seen him somewhere. There’s something about him that I just can’t place a finger on.
Ronald’s Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed. Now I know the source of his fidgeting. And nervous sweating. The man hasn’t said anything to him yet, but the poor concierge already looks like he wants to bury himself alive. Ronald can’t be the one at fault though.
The man is that kind of person who doesn’t have to say a thing to make someone waver between crying and puking because he’s not happy. I shot up a hand to interrupt the tension. “Ronald, it’s fine. He and I will talk it out.”
He looks at me, face completely aghast.
“I’ll handle this with him.” I give him my most reassuring smile before turning to the man who never shook my still extended hand.
“Cade,” he mimics my introduction, his hand firm around mine.
I beamed. “This is just a little misunderstanding. Maybe, one of us can access the loading dock today and the other tomorrow.”
“I have to be out of town tomorrow,” he speaks, a touch of impatience in his voice.
There’s nothing a smile can’t fix, so my placating smile carved in place. “How about when you get back?”
He sighed, although not showing hostility.
“If you let me access the loading dock first, I swear I will help out.” I hold up my right hand.
His arms cross his chest. “I don’t think you have lifted anything in your life.”
“I can lift. Unless there would be a grand piano because I would let the movers handle that.”
His brow shot an inch higher. “No. I’m moving in this morning. I have a flight later today.”
It was on the tip of my tongue to tell the guy my afternoon is strictly reserved for my sister trying to shimmy her way into a wedding gown. And another ‘alteration’ because the gown has magically shrunk a few sizes the last time she tried it on, is something I should be around for. Not as a maid of honor, but the older sister who has to comfort her baby sister.
“No. I need to move in today. Listen, I,” I trailed off, my phone ringing inside my purse. I fumble for my phone, groaning when I dropped it on the pavement. I bended down at the same time he was, and I jumped back to avoid the embarrassment of bumping heads. Unfortunately, I just put us to a whole other level of embarrassment because my movement just shoved my chest up to his face.
Oh, my God.
He leaps back, his hand going over his left cheek where my boob made an awkward contact. He clears his throat, grasping for nonchalance.
I sweep my phone off the pavement. The ringing stopped, so I’m left with a load of embarrassment and awkwardness with the guy I just thrusted my boobs at.
“I’m sorry,” he mutters, voice low.
An embarrassed laugh rips out of my throat. “It’s all right. I think it happens all the time.”
He looks away.
“No, I mean. I don’t shove my boobs at people all the time.” Annndd, I just made it a thousandfold awkward. I shake my head. “Listen, about the loading dock—”
“It’s all yours,” he murmurs, a finger shoving his glasses to his nose.
He looks down to his watch, then turns to leave without another word.
I’m left to stare after him, my cheeks burning. I was itching for a neighbor bestie. But now, I hoped he won’t be a neighbor. I don’t want any constant reminder of this embarrassment. I flinched when my phone rings. Distractedly, I answered the call. “Yeah?”
“Kathie, I’m sorry I can’t help you out today.” Owen said something about a last-minute photoshoot that I’m too distracted to process and that Owen Brenner is on demand.
“Are you sure?”
“I just got the spare key. Thanks, babe.”
I blink. “Yeah?”
“I have to go, Kathie. I promise I’ll make use of the spare key.” He chuckles.