Pieces of Me (A Pieces Novel)

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Chapter 13 - Aldrich

The nights have become my favorite time of day. One reason being I do not have to get stuck hiding in an office when Karolina brings Michael to the hotel, which has been less frequent. I suppose the prime minister has kept his word and spoke with his daughter. Another reason is that there is hardly any commotion at night . . . and I can sneak a few moments to message Danica. She always replies immediately, or as soon as she is online.

My heart gently thumps in my chest. I mentally tell myself to calm down. I’ve yet another hour or so before I can let myself relax. When the time is right, I will check in with Danica. It’s been nearly a full day since I last spoke to her. I cannot help wondering if she is sick of talking to me yet. She discloses nothing of the sort, but it could just be her attempts of being nice. I am walking my rounds on the fourth floor when I hear a gentle scuffle of feet coming from behind me. I turn and suppress the urge to groan from frustration. Karolina. Wearing nothing, but a silky, rose-colored robe, and equally rosy slippers, I might have had trouble resisting in the past. But not in this moment.

“What are you doing out here, at this time of night?” she asks, adjusting the tie on her robe. “And I thought you worked as the valet.”

“It doesn’t matter where I work,” I reply, twisting my flashlight in my fists. “My father owns this hotel and can place my employment wherever he wishes. Why are you here? Don’t you own some fancy flat somewhere?”

“I can’t have Michael at the flat,” she retorts with a scoff. “My mother would hang me from my toes if she knew I had brought men to my flat.”

“I am supposing that means she doesn’t know that I was there, then?”

The question is legitimate, allowing I raise an eyebrow; this just got interesting.

“Oh,” I say with a sly grin, backing her towards the wall. “That’s right . . . We have a dirty past of dirty secrets . . .”

As expected, Karolina’s eyes light up and she starts to bring her hands towards my chest. I shake my head, chuckling as I back away, leaving her hanging. Karolina gapes at me, her mouth wide open when she realizes that I’ve played her. Wagging my index finger in her direction, I turn and walk away.

I chuckle the entire elevator ride down to security. Karolina honestly thought I would start something up again. Whilst Michael is, most likely, in one of those rooms. Right, like I would ever want to be a reason for any girl, woman, to cheat on her partner. I don’t like the idea of being ‘the other guy’. It doesn’t sit well in my mind. I settle into my chair, crossing my ankle up on the table, all the monitors in my visual. I pull out my phone and open my messenger app. Instantly, I see that Danica is online. Of course she is.

Danica93: Hello Aldrich!

Danica93: I was beginning to wonder when I would talk to you.

dAldrich91: Danica!

dAldrich91: How are you?

Danica93: I am well. A bit tired, but at the end of the day, it’s worth it. How are you?

dAldrich91: I am also well.

As I am typing my next message, Danica sends me a picture-collage of her with several people holding up her books. I smile, but instantly feel slight jealousy because I wish I could be taking a picture with her. I sigh and remember that she will be in Serbia, at my father’s hotel. I can easily catch a glimpse of her, at the very least.

I am . . . not scared really, but worried about meeting Danica. What if I do meet her and the chemistry we share through messaging isn’t actually there? It’s a possibility that I do not think I am prepared to face.

dAldrich91: I was just about to ask about your day. I suppose that collage answers my question. O.O

Danica93: e.e Yeah, I suppose it does, huh? What are you up to?

dAldrich91: Just came back from making a few rounds. Checking that everything is in order.

Danica93: And is everything in order?

dAldrich91: e.e It is.

Danica93: e.e That’s good . . . You should send me a picture of your uniform.

I blink in surprise. Danica has a point, but . . . I wouldn’t mind taking a picture of my uniform, just not with my face. I sit up and look at my attire. I could do it, just need to make sure the zipper is pulled all the way up to my neck. I pull my feet off the table and open my phone camera. I Isit straighter, squaring my shoulder. Happy with the angle, I snap the photo and send it to Danica. I bite the inside of my cheek, utterly nervous at what she might say. I’ve simply done she requested, just kept myself comfortable in the process.

Danica93: I knew it.

That’s all she is going to say? I am about to type an IM when she messages me again.

Danica93: I knew your shoulders would be above the average build.

dAldrich91: What? O.O

Danica93: You have a nice build.

I’m blushing now. Okay, maybe it isn’t as bad as I originally thought. I wonder what she might’ve said if my face had been in the picture. Though my imagination is ignited, I decide against letting it take flight. Though the thought of Danica finally know what I look like . . . I shake my head and start steering the conversation elsewhere.

dAldrich91: What are some things that you firmly believe in?

Perhaps this is the wrong question, but I do wish to change the subject for a while. Danica is rather determined. Relentless. And it is something I like about her.

Danica93: I firmly believe in family. Unconditional love . . . But sometimes that kind of love is not well received. You know?

dAldrich91: I do know . . . It’s hard for that kind of love to exist.

Danica93: Yes, and once attained, you have to work hard not to let it slip away.

Danica93: My grandma once told me that I was her little pot of gold.

Danica93: When I asked her what she meant, she said it was because I always did everything with a willing heart.

dAldrich91: e.e Oh . . . So, she inspired ‘Heart of Gold’ then?

Danica93: Did you read that one too?

dAldrich91: No, not yet. I bought it after finishing ‘Soul Bond’.

Danica93: Hmm, well . . . yeah, Gram kind of inspired that one.

Danica93: I should go. I’m falling asleep, and I can’t even imagine how late it is for you right now. And you’ve got a . . . something to keep your eyes on.

I smile and quickly send a reply when odd activity takes place on the monitors.

dAldrich91: Yes, it is rather late. But my shift does not end for another few hours.

dAldrich91: Once someone has come to relieve me, I will go home.

Danica93: e.e You will get rest then, right? Don’t want you exhausting yourself. Promise me, you’ll get some rest.

dAldrich91: e.e Obećavam, moja Danica.

Danica93: Oh! e.e You did not just say that to me . . . Serbian?

Danica93: You used a translator, didn’t you? Or do you actually know the language?

I suck in my cheeks, realizing my slip up. She does entertain the idea of coming to Serbia anyway.

dAldrich91: Which do you think it is . . .? o.o

I ask the question to let Danica conjure up her own theories. I will not be admitting it, simply letting her use her imagination.

Danica93: It could be either, but I know that I have mentioned my interest in Serbia to you many times already . . .

Danica93: I just don’t want my guess to be wrong. So forget I asked . . .

Danica93: You said ‘my Danica’ . . .

I did . . . Well, shoot.

dAldrich91: If I’ve offended you, I apologize.

Danica93: No! Quite the opposite, actually.

Danica93: I’ve never had anyone call me that before, that’s all.

Danica93: Be safe, moja Aldrich. Night.

dAldrich91: Night, Danica.

By the time I put my phone away, I cannot keep my smile at bay. Not a horrible thing when I think about it. Danica makes me smile.

The days have been passing much slower lately. I have marked the calendar and keep counting down the final hours until Danica arrives. I’ve never anticipated anything this much in my entire life. She’s really coming. I’m going to face my . . . it’s not exactly a fear per se. I am anxious to meet Danica in person . . . I want to ask her to have dinner with me.

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