Pieces of Me (A Pieces Novel)

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Chapter 15 - Aldrich

My heart aches having to tell Danica that I may not have time to talk over the next couple of weeks. Security, and my job as a valet, have increased in hours. All due to the book event in the next few days. And perhaps to keep my mind off Danica. Danica will have her plate full as it is and I do not want to distract her any further than necessary. And I’ve concluded to wait until her event is over before approaching.

“You’re working again?” asks Alana as I walk by the concierge desk. “Dante, you’re pushing yourself too hard.”

“It doesn’t matter,” I reply, shaking my head.

“Sweetheart,” Alana places her hand on my shoulder, making me face her. “Who is she?”

I blink in surprise, uncertain of what she means, yet understanding completely.

“Your silence speaks volumes,” she laughs, shaking her head. “I knows it’s not Karolina, so who is she?”

“What makes you so sure there is a girl?” I ask, clearing my throat.

“Because your father has that same look when he thinks of your mother,” Alana replies softly.

I sigh and look at the floor as a gentle smile creeps across my face. Danica.

“You’ll know who she is when this event starts,” I explain, looking back up. “She’s one of the authors and we have been messaging since before the Karolina mess.”

“Oh, really?” Alana smiles, “That’s good for you, Dante! Tell me about her! You have time; come in here.”

She grabs my elbow and pulls me towards the office behind her desk. With the door slightly ajar, she starts asking me a million questions a second. I chuckle and humor her. I tell her everything, leaving nothing out. Alana’s eyes sparkle, the way a young child might when receiving a new toy. When I explain my confliction about letting Danica have a picture of my face, Alana puts up her hand to stop me from speaking.

“You know what she looks like, but not vice versa?” she asks, tilting her head to the side in puzzlement. “What is so bad about letting her see your face? You’re a handsome young man, you know?”

“I’m nothing special,” I say, shaking my head. “And she might not even like me that way at all.”

“On the contrary, Dante. From what you’ve been telling me, I think she likes you very much. Sending you pictures of things she does during her day. What more, she respects you to an extreme extent if she doesn’t push matters further than they need to be pushed. And you obviously like her. You’re too humble for your own good. Suviše skroman! The moment she gets here, you had better talk to her, or I will. I know her name, what she looks like, and I will be watching for her.”

Alana flashes a mischievous grin, which tells me I will have a whole heap of trouble if she gets to Danica before I do. How my father is friends with her is questionable, considering they are nothing alike. But I guess it is true what they say about opposites attracting.

“I want to ask her to dinner with me,” I say, turning my phone over in my hands. Danica hasn’t replied to my last message. She is respecting my wishes. I wish she would bombard me with message after message. I don’t want her to hold back . . . but that is just what I’ve been doing, isn’t it?

“And you will,” Alana says, touching my shoulder. “Or else I will create a plan to get the two of you together, unawares.”

I chuckle, “Not gonna let you do that,” I shake my head. “I’ll ask her, with my own voice. I promise.”

“And I know you will keep that promise, Dante. You’re a man of your word, like your father.”

I nod as she embraces me briefly. She leaves the office before I do. The look in Alana’s eyes is seared in my brain. The excitement it gave her to know about Danica. Meeting Danica in person will be good for me. I am certain of that now.

I collapse in my bed after a full three days straight of work. I’ve barely slept more than a few hours. All I want is to sleep. That is, until my phone alerts me of a new message. I fumble for my phone and sigh when I see a single message from Danica.

Danica93: I hope you’re well . . . I miss talking to you.

My heart stops. She misses me. My thumbs hovers the keypad, natural instinct to message her and have the last word. I hesitate; what do I say? I miss her too, but can I tell her that because she told me so? Yes. The voice in my head, though soft, might as well be shouting at me. I tap away at the keypad and press send before I change my mind.

dAldrich91: I miss you too.

My shoulders feel lighter all of a sudden. My thumbs continue tapping the letters as I write Danica more.

dAldrich91: Not talking to you is making my day go wrong. I’ve been occupied with my work and satisfying everyone around me . . . Even so, I wish I had more time for you right now.

dAldrich91: We’ll be talking again in no time. You’ll see.

With that, I send her a picture of my bare feet and my fingers crossed. I relax into my pillows, rubbing the exhaustion from my eyes. When Danica replies, a few moments later, she sends a short video. And the way she says my name, my real first name, pronouncing it perfectly, makes my stomach flutter.

“Aldrich, you don’t know how scared I was to even say that I miss you,” she says, her cheek turning pink in the yellow lamplight. “I didn’t want to . . .” Danica makes a face as she tries to think of the right thing to say, which makes me chuckle. “I didn’t know if it would be a weird thing to say. It’s just . . . we have talked so much over the last month or two, and . . . I like talking to you.”

After I finish watching the video, Danica sends another.

“It’s not often that I find comfort in talking to people outside of my grandparents, my brother, and Danny,” she goes on, shrugging. “And I’ve never met anyone like you, Aldrich. Something about you . . . the way you talk in our messages and our conversations take so much part in my day . . . I’m only an hour away from Serbia right now. I missed my train so . . . I had to bunk at a bed and breakfast for the night. The next train is early tomorrow. I should sleep.”

Before I can say anything, Danica messages me.

Danica93: Expect loads more pictures from me. But I won’t bother you too much. Take care, Aldrich! *hugs*

dAldrich91: You won’t be bothering me, Danica. *hugs back* Take care, moj slatki.

After this, I find myself watching Danica’s videos again. Just hearing her voice, seeing her flushed cheeks. Her saying that she misses me . . . I had better not turn into a chicken when the time comes to ask her to dinner. She will say yes. I know she will.

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