Pieces of Me (A Pieces Novel)

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Part 2: Chapter 11 - Aldrich

For the first time in my life, after the void left by my mother, I feel like I am missing something. This summer, talking to Danica . . . It feels as though . . . I’m missing someone to give my care and love to. And I want to give it to Danica. She’s so kind and thoughtful and intelligent. Not to mention beautiful. Talking with Danica has made me extremely aware of her. Our emails became instant messages as she is now in a similar time zone. She’s so perky and joyous.

Danica has been sending me pictures from her tour trip. She truly is beautiful when she smiles, and so genuinely happy. I just want a piece of that joy to touch and fill me too. I wish I could tell her where I am. I wish had told her from the start. What’s wrong with me that I can’t simply tell her? I am utterly and completely confused about my behaviors.

“How does it feel to be working two jobs?” Jordan asks when I return from parking a car. “Your weekends consist of you being here as security in the evenings, and throughout the week, you are parking vehicles.”

“It’s not so bad,” I reply, shrugging as I place the keys into the box. “It brings diversity to my week.”

“And . . . have you spoken to that girl lately?”

The question, though expected, catches me off guard. I tell Jordan one time about Danica, and he brings it up every day.

“I haven’t,” I say, shaking my head, turning my head to smile at an elderly woman and her son. “Have a good day!”

“Likewise,” the woman smiles, nodding gently. “What is your name, young man? Your full name.”

I tilt my head to the side and answer, “Aldrich Dante Djokovic.”

“A strong name . . . I could not help overhearing, but you spoke of a girl just now?”

Jordan has disappeared to take care of a new guest, and the woman’s son is busy scrolling his mobile. I meet the woman’s gaze and nod.

“She truly must be something wonderful,” she says with a knowing smile. “Your cheeks are completely flushed at the mention of her. If she makes you happy, what are you waiting for?”

“She doesn’t live here,” I reply, shaking my head. “And it is not like that . . . We exchange messages, that’s all.”

“Ah, but your tone says otherwise. Do you have plans to meet her at least?” The woman’s green eyes twinkle, daring me to say ‘no’.

“I don’t know,” I say earnestly. “She has a busy schedule, as do I . . .”

The woman nods, her silver-black hair dropping into her face. She pushes it back and nudges her son.

“We will be returning for the author’s book signing,” she says, taking her son by the arm gently. “My son is eager to meet Danica Kensington.”

At the mention of Danica’s name, I drop the pen I have been holding. I quickly bend down to pick it up, but my fingers have grown limp. Once I do grasp my pen, I straighten and try not to appear flustered. In truth, the thought of any guy wanting to meet Danica is infuriating. Jealousy. I shouldn’t feel this way. I’m not Danica’s boyfriend or anything. We’re just friends. Really good friends, actually.

Jordan arrives with the woman’s car and she gives me one final glance. With a smile, she waves, and drives off. There is a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach. A feeling that if I don’t step forward and claim Danica, I will miss my chance. But how will I do that?

“She may not even like me that way,” I mumble to myself.

I pick up my phone and open the messenger app, eager to see if Danica is available to talk. Sure enough, her icon indicates that she is online. As I am about to start typing a greeting to her, I see that she is already typing. I freeze and wait.

Danica93: Hey! I was wondering when you might be online.

dAldrich91: Hello Danica. You were?

Danica93: Yeah! Think of our conversations as part of a daily routine. If something doesn’t go according to my daily routine, I lose my wits.

Danica93: Also . . . I like talking to you.

I can only stare at my phone screen. Okay, so she likes talking to me. Could mean nothing more than just that.

dAldrich91: That makes sense, perhaps.

Danica93: You say that a lot.

dAldrich91: What?

Danica93: ‘Perhaps . . .’

dAldich91: Oh. o.o

Danica93: LOL How was work? No unwanted visitors, I hope.

dAldrich91: Work was good. How was your day?

Danica93: It was okay, I guess.

I narrow my eyes, watching the little dots at the bottom corner of our conversation has Danica is typing something. But then, the dots stop. A long moment passes and nothing.

dAldrich91: o.o Are you okay?

Danica93: Oh, yeah! I’m fine! Don’t worry!

Danica never uses that many exclamation points when we talk. Something seems to be wrong, but I am not going to push the subject. I think she would have said something if she really wanted to talk about it. The little dots start bouncing again and a new message appears in the conversation.

Danica93: I am sorry that I keep mentioning this, but do you think of yourself poorly? Is that why you don’t want me to see what you look like?

I chuckle; here we go again.

dAldrich91: No, I do not think poorly of myself. How is your brother? Charlie is his name, right?

I grin as I wait for her reply. I purposefully sidepass her advances about the topic. In other words, I am worried what her reaction might be if she does see what I look like. My raven-black hair is nothing special. I wear caps when it is is dirty. I don’t wear glasses, but my eyes are fairly blue. I’m tall, but that is not something a girl like Danica will appreciate. I think I would tower over her like a skyscraper.

Danica93: He’s good . . . I think he’s dating someone, but he hasn’t mentioned anything about it.

Danica93: I know him too well not to know something is different about him.

dAldrich91: Hmm o.o - That is interesting.

Danica93: What does the 91 in your username stand for?

Danica never fails to ask me questions. And as much as I enjoy humoring her, I am just not sure how to respond most of the time.

dAldrich91: It is the year my parents got married.

It’s not a lie. It is the year my parents married. But also the year I was born. Perhaps it is safe to say that my parents married because of me.

Danica93: Oh . . . My editor is excited with my new novel idea. I won’t be able to share much about it until later in the year, but I am very happy with where it is going.

dAldrich91: I’m glad, Danica.

Suddenly, a picture of Danica appears on the screen. She is wearing a huge grin and a doe-eyed filter. I sigh softly. The woman is beautiful. I had been considering her a girl, but there is nothing girlish about Danica. She’s is all woman. A thought comes to my head. A thought I never want to admit to anyone, but . . . I want to kiss Danica.

Danica93: Danny just texted me . . . I told you about that, right?

I tilt my head to the side as I start to reply. Danica has told me that she had buried feelings for her good friend, Danny. How their friendship had always been playful, flirty banter. Around the start of her tour, Danny called Danica and told her that he was seeing someone, but that he had been worried about telling her because he had thought she felt more for him then she let on. Which she did, but had not realized it until it was too late.

dAldrich91: Yes, you told me about that.

Danica93: Danny wants to make things official with Amethyst. Like . . . he wants to put a ring on her finger, official.

I blink in surprise. From what Danica has told me, Danny has only been dating Amethyst for a couple months. A proposal like this seems rushed.

dAldrich91: Would you think it is too soon for them to marry?

Danica93: Well . . . I’ve never seen Danny so happy and Amethyst is equally in love with him as he is with her.

Danica93: I’m happy for them. If Danny wants to seal the deal, that’s his choice.

dAldrigh91: e.e Oh.

dAldrich91: If I were Danny, I would marry you.

I stare at the conversation. I sent that without thinking what I was saying. I cannot take it back, but how to cover it up.

dAldrich91: I should go, and you told me a few days ago that you would be on a train to your next stop, correct?

Danica93: :( Yeah, okay . . . you’re right. I do have a train to catch. I’m already at the station right now.

Danica93: Have a pleasant evening, Aldrich.

I smile as I am about to reply, but am interrupted by the voice of my father.

“Dante,” he says as I turn to look at him. “I am taking Claire and Laila out for dinner. I would like for you to join us.”

I grimace, “You know Laila and I have not been getting along recently.”

“Which is precisely why I wish you join, because it will give you both a reason to get along.”

I sigh, nodding. “I’ll only be a few more minutes.”

“Dress nicely, please.”

“Yes, Dad.”

I turn back to my phone screen and quickly finish my reply to Danica.

dAldrich91: Have a safe trip, Danica. I’ll be thinking of you.

Again, sending something without thinking. I quickly close the messenger app before I say anything further. I am sure Danica will bring it up in our next conversation. I chuckle to myself and hurry to change for dinner.

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