Pieces of Me (A Pieces Novel)

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Chapter 12 - Danica

I can’t help grinning at my conversation with Aldrich. I can tell he sent a couple messages without thinking first. Not that I mind. I’ve managed to get him to talk to me a little more each time. Every day, he reveals something new about himself. I think of Aldrich as jigsaw puzzle. I have managed to find the border pieces, but the complete picture is still a mystery. The thing is that every time I bring up a subject that pertains to Aldrich and him revealing himself a little more, he either changes the subject or shuts down. I have learned how to read between the lines so that I don’t push too far.

Danny has been bugging me for my input on a ring for Amethyst. Wanting to propose to her is a big step for Danny, especially so soon in their relationship. But he says that he knows Amethyst is the one. I already told him what I thought about it. I am all for love at first sight, but sometimes there is such a thing as too soon. However, I am happy for him. I really haven’t seen or heard Danny being so happy in a long time.

If I were Danny, I would marry you, Aldrich had said. That is one that will go down in the books. I’ve got butterflies just looking at these messages. I close my eyes and put my phone down. Once it is out of sight, I open my eyes and try to steady my breathing. This has only ever happened once before. So . . . Is this feeling real? In any case, I do have a train to catch.

I’m on a train from Milan to Madrid, Spain. From there I will go to Barcelona. I am kind of bouncing all over the country at this point, but once the tour is over, and I am in Serbia, everything will be like cool school. I really cannot wait to get to Serbia. I can’t really explain it, I just want to go there. I stare out the window, staring at nothing, yet admiring the scenery as it goes by. My phone vibrates and I pick it up from in my lap. I blink at first when Aldrich’s username appears in my notifications, and break out into a grin.

dAldrich91: Is your journey proving to be a safe one?

Danica93: Yes, quite safe. Thank you for your concern.

Danica93: How are you?

dAldrich91: e.e I am acceptable. How are you?

Danica93: Acceptable . . . e.e

dAldrich91: Did you rest at all?

Danica93: Some, but not quite a full siesta. Did you,or do you have, work today?

dAldrich91: I have a nightshift . . . security guard, and whatnot. How is your writing?

Danica93: It’s coming along. I decided not to write during this particular train ride.

Danica93: Once I get to Spain, I will do a bit more writing than usual. I do have a deadline some some of my work.

I smile as I wait for Aldrich to reply. I find myself snapping a quick selfie, making a funny face. I send it to Aldrich, making the caption ‘When your inner child chooses to shine’. I chuckle softly when I see that Aldrich has seen the message.

dAldrich91: e.e Cute.

dAldrich91: What will you do when your tour is over?

Danica93: Aside of continue my writing . . . I’m not sure. I mean, I guess I will have other tours and stuff, but now and then it’s good to enjoy some down time at home.

Danica93: I know my grandparents will love having me back home.

dAldrich91: How close are you to them?

Danica93: Fairly close, I guess. I talk to them about everything.

dAldrich91: Hmm. e.e

dAldrich91: I have to go. My shift starts soon. Take care of yourself, Danica.

Danica93: Okay, you too!

I giggle softly, watching as Aldrich’s ‘online’ icon changes to ‘offline’. That’s a first! Usually, I am the one to get conversations going on messenger. Aldrich is so easy to talk to, even more so than when I talk to Danny. I mean . . . I don’t talk to Danny as much as before, but even now, I talk to Aldrich more than I ever spoke to Danny.

My signing starts in half an hour, and I am super early. My reason is that I want to look around the bookstore for some Spanish editions of some books I like. I’ve seen the covers online and think they would look lovely on my shelves.

Giada, mira, es ella!

I turn around and see two girls coming towards me. I smile when I see that they each have a book of mine tucked in their arms. I am not fluent in Spanish, but the girls know some English. I gather from them that they are here for my signing and are so excited to meet with me. I snap a few selfies with each of them before they run off to wait for the signing to start. I return to my search for the books, which I find after five minutes and quickly make my way to the check out.

When the signing begins, the line is flocking. The majority are teenage girls and women, no surprise there. But I do see some men here with their wives or girlfriends, or sisters. I try my best to chat with each person as they come to my table. I take as many pictures as I can as well. I ask for tags, because I love it when readers share pictures with me. So many smiling faces. This is the reason I love sharing my books with people.

“You do not look American,” says Julio, a young man who has offered to accompany me back to my hotel. “You have a . . . como se dice esto . . . May I say in Spanish?”

“I will try to understand,” I reply, smiling in return.

Julio grins bashfully. “Te pareces de Italia o tal vez Francia.

I chuckle, “Really?”

Julio nods, his cheeks flushed. I seem to make a lot of men blush. I wonder if Aldrich blushes . . . There you go again, Danica. Thinking of Aldrich. I sigh as Julio and I stop in front of the hotel. I thank him for walking with me. He hesitates to leave, looking intently into my eyes.

“Is something wrong, Julio?” I ask, touching his shoulder gently.

“Nothing is wrong . . .,” he replies, shaking his head slowly. “I wondered . . . Queria saber si salieras conmigo a comer?

I start to smile. “Oh . . .” How to let him down nicely . . . “Julio, it is a lovely offer,” I say, “Me voy en la mañana.

Julio’s countenance fades, his shoulder slumping in defeat.

“It’s not that I wouldn’t want to have dinner with you,” I go on quickly, sliding my arm around his shoulders and giving him a gentle squeeze. “Es el tiempo . . . Otherwise, I would love dinner.”

Entiendo . . .” Julio sighs, looking at the ground as he scuffs the bottom of his shoes against the pavement. “It’s alright . . .”

I pull my arm away, pinching my bottom lip between my teeth. Julio looks up and offers a small smile. He gives a small wave before turning down the street to catch a cab. I frown; I always feel bad about rejecting dinner dates and stuff. Gram would always tell me not to feel bad. She said that if you feel bad about saying ‘no’ to someone, you’ll never get anywhere because you’re always saying ‘yes’.

With heavy shoulders, I lug my bag into the hotel entrance and head for the elevator. On the way to my room, my phone connects to the central WiFi and releases a million notification alerts. I wait to be in my room before checking any of them. To my surprise, the majority are from Aldrich, on all of my social media platforms. My heart is pounding as I jump into the bed and settle into the pillows. I check each notification and find that Aldrich has followed me on Twitter, Tumblr, signed up for my newsletter and has liked my Facebook page. I grin and go to the last notification, which is a couple messages on my messenger app.

dAldrich91: Danica!

dAldrich91: e.e

dAldrich91: You will never guess.

dAldrich91: I read ‘Soul Bond’

dAldrich91: Amazing!

I start laughing, falling over in the bed. ‘Soul Bond’ was my first novel, filled with sarcastic humor, witty characters and one heck of a road trip. Completely based on a road trip I took with Charlie and Danny before college. We had so much fun in that week that we extended the road trip another week. We drove all the way to Maine just to have a fresh lobster dinner. And then we drove through the Niagara Falls. We had a blast. When we got home again, I had to put the trip into a story. And it became a hit overnight.

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