Pieces of Me (A Pieces Novel)

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Chapter 14 - Danica

My tour is rapidly coming to an end. But the days also seem to be passing by in a doddle. I want so badly to be in Serbia, like last week. But the day will come soon enough. It’s literally around the corner. Just two more tour stops, Serbia included. I’m going to really enjoy my down-time when I get there.

My conversations with Aldrich have become even longer lately. What I find most interesting is how he keeps slipping up and saying the sweetest and strangest things. I have been equating them to be mixed signals. I feel as though Aldrich wants to give something more, but keeps hesitating to the extent that he holds back. I love talking to him, and I always make it a point to tell him that he’s given me another piece to the jigsaw puzzle I call Aldrich. There are some things that I just don’t dare ask him though.

For instance, his username is ‘dAldrich91’. He’s told me that the ‘91’ stands for the year his parents married. I can tell that Aldrich, obviously, is his name. But what does that little, lonely ‘D’ stand for? Is it his favorite letter? Is it the first letter in his last name, or his middle name? I mean, Aldrich is just a mystery waiting to be resolved. I am not Nancy Drew, but I am determined to be the one who solves his riddles and finishes his puzzle.

And that picture of his uniform . . . I practically swooned when I caught the shape of his torso. It is too bad his face was not in the picture, but I respect his decision to keep his full identity undiscovered. I am sure that when he is fully comfortable with talking to me, he will reveal himself to me. I hope he does soon though. Because I am almost certain I have figured out his facial features.

Just from overanalyzing the picture Aldrich sent me, I gather that he quite tall. I am thinking around Danny and Charlie’s height. Fair skinned; I think he possibly has extremely short stubble, but remains cleanly shaven for work. I’m thinking dark hair. Darker than mine, for sure. His eyes are tricky for me to imagine. I keep getting stuck between ocean, or sky, blue and coffee-brown. Maybe I just like the fact that darker eyes remind me of puppies. Or maybe I am just entertaining the general known fact that blue are swoon-worthy. Hell yeah, I’m entertaining the thought.

Oh, the fantasies of a woman with a crush. Yeah, I’m totally stuck in junior high. But honestly! Aldrich seems to be a dream brought to life. There are things he says and does that make me want to know him more. That make me want to meet with him more and more each conversation. He has such a genuine personality. It is amazing he isn’t tied to anyone.

I let out an exhausted breath as the day comes to a close. What was supposed to be only an hour of signing books and taking some pictures, turned into being the entire afternoon, and a good portion of the evening. I haven’t gotten Aldrich to meet me in any of the last stops, nor has he told me if he might like to meet up during my week of respite in Serbia. In any case, I know that Aldrich and I will continue to talk long after I return home. Hopefully, we will be able to work out something with the time difference. I don’t think I will enjoy switching back to regular emailing after having spoken directly to him.

I’ve finished my current work-in-progress and have decided to take a break from writing. Just until after the signing in Serbia. I need the downtime to take some new author photos and to update my website. I also have to write my monthly newsletter so my mailing list subscribers can see what has happened this month. I have an ongoing blog spot that has been getting too long. I think I should start separating it into a few separate posts. But then again, one long blog post would keep everything together. Ugh! The frustrations of an author.

I am in my hotel room. My suitcases are all packed again. I have my laptop out and am looking over the pictures I’ve taken in the last couple of months. I’ve shared some sneak peeks on my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook page. But the larger pictures are going into this blog post. As I continue scrolling, my phone rings. When I pick it up, I don’t even bother glancing to see who it is.

“Buddy the Elf, what’s your favorite color?” I ask, knowing Gramps will have a laugh.

“Oh, Danica, you,” he says with his usual throaty laugh. “How is my baby girl?”

“Well, at the moment I am a bit drained from having been looking through all of these pictures I’ve took. And hey! Isn’t it rather late for you right now?”

“Not quite, lil darling. Gram and I are visiting Britain.”

“Oh no!” I exclaim, grinning. “She dragged you to SherlockCon, didn’t she?!”

Gramps chuckles, “That she did, sweet pea,” he replies; I can hear him shaking his head. “So, technically, it’s rather early in the morning. Sun has barely risen, but you know I am always up before the sun.”

I smile, “That’s my Gramps. I miss you, old man.”

“I miss you too, young lady. You’ll be home before you know it. Your Gram was telling me that she told you to find yourself a lover . . .”

I start grumble, but both Gramps and I are laughing.

“She did tell me that,” I say, shaking my head as I shove my laptop aside and go to look out my window.

My cheeks suddenly grow warm and my fantasy-visual of Aldrich enters my mind.

“Danica,” Gramps says, clearing his throat. “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. Your gram just wants to see you happy . . . and she wants little babies to take care of when you’re busy.”

I giggle, “I know . . . It’s just a little embarrassing . . .”

“Baby girl, in the end, you will be grinning right alongside her. I bet you’ve already met someone, but neither of you have taken the first step. Am I wrong?”

“Wow, way to stab the heart of the matter, Gramps.”

His chuckle deepens, and despite my embarrassment, I’m grinning. I can never get anything past him. Or Gram, for that matter.

“He’s a really great guy, Gramps,” I whisper, as if Aldrich could come into my room at any moment. “Originally, he had emailed me about one of my books, and then we started talking more and more . . . He’s genuinely respectful, cautious about what he says. I don’t know what he looks like, but I’m sure he will feel more comfortable about that as we keep talking.”

I continue rambling. Gramps hears me to the end, all the while, chuckling softly. By the time I am done talking, Gram has joined the conversation.

“I knew you’d meet someone on your trip!” she exclaims, causing me to cover my face with my free hand, even though she can’t see me. “Oh, honey! Grab him while he’s got the sights for you. Men like him disappear like fresh cookies from the oven.”

“Gram,” I say, laughing nervously. “I don’t even know if those are his intentions! He might only enjoy talking to me and nothing more. I don’t force him to open up because I want him to do that on his own. Aldrich is very nice, and I think about him a lot, and . . .”

In the middle of my sentence, my phone alerts me of a new message. I glance at my screen and grin.

“Speaking of him,” I say, putting my phone on speaker as I open the message thread. “Aldrich just messaged me.”

“Oh, what did he say, hun!” Gram asks; I can almost see her jumping next to Gramps in excitement. I giggle and tell her to wait while I get the message open. When my eyes see what Aldrich has said, my smile becomes a frown.

dAldrich91: Danica.

dAldrich91: I don’t know how to tell you this.

dAldrich91: But my schedule has changed around a bit and I am working two shifts for the next couple of weeks.

dAldrich91: I may not be able to chat during that time.

dAldrich91: Please take care of yourself and have a safe journey.

“Looks like he’s going to be busy for a couple of weeks,” I softly tell my grandparents.

My disappointment echoes in Gram’s discontented ‘Oh’. After a few parting words with my grandparents, I end the call. I feel disappointed that I won’t get to talk to Aldrich for a while. However, Gramps’ final advice have me optimistic.

“Don’t let that stop you from reaching out to him,” he said, and he’s right. As usual.

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