Chapter 6 - Danica
After my brief event in New York, I fly to London. I met a good number of my readers in New York. I signed so many books that my right hand feels like it will fall off, but it was so worth it. So many smiling faces. That’s my favorite part of the job. I get to see the smiles my books give people. I’ve slept some of the way to London, but now I am wide awake. Looking out the window, I can see the lights of the city coming into view. I smile and turn my attention to my open laptop. I must have left it this way before falling asleep. As I move the mouse to stop the screensaver, I notice my email open and the ‘New Message’ icon captures my attention. I grin and click the icon. Sure enough, it’s from Aldrich. I haven’t checked my email in a while because I’ve been busy with my book signing.
April 5, 2016
Subject: Question 2
I see. Then I suppose my next question would be irrelevant, but I shall ask anyway.
Is Adam a person from real life?
P.S. I am not sure if I feel the liberty to explain the circumstance as of yet. It is still rather raw.
P.P.S. That is good to hear. If something were to happen, I would feel bad. The world would have lost an enchanting author. :)
My heart is pounding as I read the last postscript. Either way, Aldrich seems extremely interested in asking his questions and he thinks I am an enchanting author? My cheeks grow at the thought. I’ve received many compliments, but never have I been called enchanting. Eagerness moves my hands to the keyboard and I tap away ferociously.
My reply is quite wordy compared to Aldrich’s sweet and simple response, but it doesn’t matter. I’m answering his questions in detail. Nothing left unknown. No rock unturned. All that jazz. Satisfied with my answer, I close the browser and and smile. I turn my attention back to the lights of the city. I’ve dreamed of visiting London for so long--not as much as I’ve dreamed of seeing Serbia, but close enough. I can’t wait for my tour to end and for my trip to turn into a vacation. I’m going to have a blast.
“Thank you so much, Danica!” shouts a young girl as she sprints away after taking a selfie with me.
“My pleasure, sweetie!” I call after her, laughing softly.
The girl’s mother smiles at me as she tries to listen to her daughter and guide her to their waiting car. I smile and continue on my way to the small bookstore, where I will be signing books for around an hour. I have always known that I have a young audience reading my books, but that girl has to be the youngest I’ve seen yet. My novels are clean and can be read by anyone from ages thirteen and up. I am not courageous enough to write anything beyond that.
“Excuse me?” As I am about to enter the bookstore, a young man, probably about eighteen or nineteen, steps towards me. His hair is golden-blond, and he’s nearly Charlie’s height. Just above six feet, I am guessing. He’s definitely a soccer player, hence the shin guards and jersey he is wearing.
“Are you Danica Kensington?” he asks as he digs his hand into the backpack he carries.
“I am,” I reply, nodding as he looks back up at me. “Are you here for the signing?”
“So I’m not late? Phew! What a relief! My sister would have my hide if I didn’t get these signed by you.”
“You’re here for your sister?” I smile as we enter the store together. “That’s so sweet of you! Why didn’t she come?”
His smile fades as he looks away.
“She’s sick in the hospital,” he replies, sighing as he looks back at me. “I’m Micah, by the way.”
“Nice to meet you Micah,” I say, offering him a smile as I touch his shoulder. “How about I sign your sister’s books before a crowd forms?”
“That would mean a lot, thank you!”
I chuckle and motion for him to follow me to the table I know is waiting. I put my suitcase of extra books aside and rummage through my purse for a Sharpie. I grin when my hand pulls out the strawberry colored marker.
“What’s your sister’s name?” I say, taking the small stack of books from Micah’s hands.
“Josie,” he says with a soft smile. “This is going to make her day. Thank you.”
“It’s my pleasure, Micah. Really, I’m always happy to put a smile on someone’s face.”
After personalizing each of Josie’s books, I snap a couple selfies with Micah and give him a hug. I feel his shoulders go slack slightly, but his arms tighten around my waist.
“Everything will be okay,” I whisper, “I promise.”
“She might not make it,” Micah whispers back, preparing to pull away. “How can you promise something if it will just . . . break?”
Micah pulls back, but I hold his shoulders as I make him meet my gaze. There is so much pain in his hazel eyes.
“Because that’s what the doctors told my grandfather about my Gram a year ago. A group of friends and family got together at my grandmother’s church, and they prayed together for weeks until she recovered. And I’m promising you that everything will be okay. I’m going to ask my Gram to keep your sister in her prayers, and she will also be in mine. If you or sister ever need someone to talk to, you can email me. Okay?”
Micah nods and I see the pain slowly subside in his eyes. We embrace once more and Micah goes on his way. I say a quick, silent prayer for him before setting up my table. People start entering the store and a clerk asks them to form a single line. I hope Micah and Josie do contact me. Micah didn’t mention anything about his parents, and I didn’t ask. I don’t think anyone should have to deal with something like that alone.
As I pack my suitcases, double checking that I have not left anything behind, my phone rings. When I glance at the caller ID, I chuckle. Charlie is calling me. His contact picture is of the two of us at Forever Twilight in Forks. Of course, this was back when I was obsessed with the books and Charlie took me for my birthday.
“Hey babe!” I say, plopping onto the bed on my back. “It must be awfully late . . . or early?”
“It’s nearly midnight,” Charlie replies with a chuckle. “What time is it there?”
“Seven a.m., to be precise. Why are you up so late?”
“Just wanted to check in and see how you’re doing. By the way, Gram told me to let you know that the church is praying for Micah and Josie. Have they contacted you at all?”
I sigh, “Not yet, but I’m sure they will if they feel like it. How’s Montoya? I haven’t heard from him since before I arrived in New York.”
“Oh . . . damn! He wasn’t kidding when he said he wasn’t gonna tell you yet.”
I sit up. “Not gonna tell me what, exactly?” I ask, narrowing my eyes as if Charlie can see me.
“Um,” Charlie hesitates and I hear muffled voices on his end. “How about I just let him tell you? He’s right next to me.”
There is some shuffling as the phone is passed from my brother to Danny.
“Hey, Danica,” Danny says in a low voice.
“What’s this that you don’t want to tell me?” I ask, point blank. “Did you finally realize you needed to put a ring on my finger?”
I grin, but it fades when I hear Danny sigh.
“Danny, what’s wrong?” I lower my voice when I sense his discomfort. “C’mon, where’s the snarky backbiting banter?”
“Don’t be mad,” Danny replies, his voice soft and solemn. “I just . . . I know you’re always teasing about this stuff, but . . . I met someone.”
Something inside me comes to a massive halt. Danny met someone? Why would he not want to tell me that yet? And why is it hitting me like a truck at full speed?
“Oh?” I say, clearing my throat as if there is a lump stuck in it.
“Yeah . . .” Danny also clears his throat. “Danica, to be honest, I didn’t expect to like her. We were just hanging out and then . . . I like her. A lot, but because of the way you and I banter and goof around, I feel like I would be -stop looking at me like that, Charlie!”
I crack a sad smile when I hear Charlie’s laughter. There’s a scuffle, a few grunts and then the sound of a door closing.
“Charlie’s been on my case since all this started,” Danny says with a sigh. “I’m sorry, Danica.”
“Don’t be sorry,” I say quickly, hoping he doesn’t hear my odd disappointment. “It’s not like we’ve ever been together, right? We just goof around and get on each other’s nerves. You’re a good friend of mine and I’m glad you found someone who makes you happy.”
I swipe at the single tear that escapes and rolls down my cheek. Why am I crying? Danny and I have only ever been friends. I take a deep breath, a very quiet one. I don’t want Danny to know that I’m losing my wits.
“Danica,” Danny says; I hear him sigh, with reluctance. “. . . I honestly . . . You’re sure that you’re okay with this? I know it was only fun and games between us, but some of the things you said, I know you meant them. I know you care about me as more than a friend.”
I squeeze my eyes shut as reality hits me. Of course I care about Danny as more than a friend. He always came around with Charlie and he was the first boy to ever help me see my worth. Charlie helped too, but Danny was there flirting with me.
“Don’t go turning this around,” I say with a shaky voice. “You said so yourself; it was all just fun. It meant nothing. As soon as I come back from this trip, I’d like to meet her.”
“She reads your books,” Danny adds, still speaking in a soft voice. “She really likes the one about the heart transplant. Said it made her cry for hours when it was over.”
I half-laugh, half-sob. “Yeah, that’s the favorite, I think. That’s awesome, Danny. R-Really. Listen, I have to go. I’ve gotta catch my flight.”
“Okay. I love you, Danica.”
I hesitate as a pang in my chest makes me want to double over. I roll into a fetus position as I whisper back, “I love you too, Danny.”
When the call ends, I’m sobbing.