Chapter 9 - Aldrich
I don’t go to work today. My father spoke to the prime minister, but Karolina has yet to relent. After three days of this nonsense, I give in to Dad’s request that I take some time off. Afterwards, I will be working in a different of the hotel business. I like my valet job, but perhaps it is time for something different. I walk around the house in utter boredom. I played computer games from the moment I woke up this morning. That got old fairly quickly, so now I am just sulking about. Laila and Claire are out shopping. It’s their day off. Thank goodness. To be honest, Laila has been showing more interest in me and goes out of her way to show it.
Last night, before I left to my apartment in the back of the house, Laila had changed into her nightgown. It was a lovely little thing, hugging her body like a glove. But what bothered me was how she deliberately attempted to bend over in front of me. I had purposefully turned my head away and closed my eyes. Claire entered the room just then and scolded Laila. She ushered her daughter out of the room and offered several apologies. I told Claire it was fine, but she said she would speak with Laila and make sure she doesn’t do anything like that again.
I decide to go into the den. Perhaps watch a bit of television. That is, until I remember something that is more important.
“Danica,” I whisper to myself. I turn on my heel and rush towards the back door. I make my way to my room. The moment I get my computer on, I see the email notification in the corner. I grin. Just what I needed.
April 14, 2016
Subject: Re: Off Topic
Around my age is sufficient information. The question now is whether I am older or younger than you.
And they are not ridiculous notions. To be quite honest, I haven’t enjoyed a conversation this much in a while. Granted, I talk to Charlie and Danny (my brother and his friend) often enough, but our conversations don’t flow like this.
While we remain “off topic”, I was wondering if you wanted to meet up somewhere? I’m traveling all over the place right now. I am going to be in Rome, Italy next week. Is that near you? Or better, look at my tour schedule on my website, see if there is a location near you, and tell me if anything is doable.
Danica Kensington - Author
P.S. Aww, I’m glad. It makes my day knowing I could do that for you. I like making people smile. Say the word, I will do everything in my power to make sure you’re smiling.
She wants to make me smile? She wants to meet up somewhere? My heart is pounding in my chest. I click on her website and go to her tour dates. I scroll slowly, analyzing each of the dates that have already passed. When I come to the last tour date, I feel as if the time has frozen. I remember that she is coming here. Of course, Danica is coming here. It’s the whole reason why I went to look her up in the first place. I go to start my reply, typing as if nothing can stop me. But then I backspace and delete everything.
“I can’t let her meet me,” I say to myself. “Not until she knows more about me.”
But I don’t know how to tell her more about me! I sit back in my chair with a frown, raking my fingers through my hair. Great, now my forehead is sweating. Because of a girl. A girl who is smart and beautiful. And she’s honest. Completely honest with a stranger she has never met before. And I want to meet her face to face. So badly. I sigh and start my reply again. I go for something that will appease both mine and Danica’s desires to meet each other. Danica will not force the matter further.
April 18, 2016
Subject: Re: Re: Off Topic
Still off topic . . . I have seen some of your tour schedule. I appreciate you saying that you would like to meet with me. I wouldn’t want you to go out of your way during your tour. Besides, with my current work schedule, I do not think I would have the time to get away.
However, it would be a privilege and a great pleasure to meet you. Truly, it would be.
P.S. How do you say this . . . Just receiving your emails is making me smile.
Once I have sent my reply, I sit back with a sigh. What on earth is wrong with me? I can’t make a straight decision to let Danica in more than I have been. I just . . . I can’t bring myself to let her in and I don’t like it. I’m pulled two ways. I know I feel connected to her because of Aching Heart. Is that all I feel? No . . . it’s a real connection. Connection that goes deeper than a book plot and a few emails. Suddenly, I wish I could take back my email and go back to the email I started with.
My father decided to place me on security detail for a while. It only until Karolina and Michael stop coming to the hotel at unnecessary times. I don’t mind sitting in an office all day. Including me, there are four guards. Two make rounds through the hotel, while I and another guard sit, watching monitors. It’s not a bad job . . . it’s just boring. My valet job has more diversity than this.
“I’m going to the facilities a moment,” says Georg, walking towards the door.
“Take your time,” I tell him, waving him off. “I’ve got this.”
“I know you do,” he releasing a throaty chuckle. “That is why I am choosing to leave you on your own for a bit. It has only been a couple of days and you’ve already got the job mastered to a science.”
I grin and turn back to the monitors as Georg closes the door. I all but glance at the screen that shows the entrance of the hotel, and I grimace. Karolina. I am utterly convinced the girl has no sense of when enough is enough. I grumble and switch the camera view to a different angle to watch as Karolina passes each camera. Michael is not with her today. Technically, I could work my valet job. It’s Michael I am not allowed to go near.
“But I don’t want to be anywhere near her,” I groan, pushing away from the desk. I go to the only window in the office, which looks out over the main lobby. I see Karolina talking to Alana, gesturing with her hands. She looks up to where I stand, wearing a smirk. She wiggles her fingers at me in a wave before saying one last thing to Alana.
As Karolina walks towards the elevator, I see Alana turn around and look up at me apologetically. I shrug and pretend to make myself smile, using my index fingers to push the corners of my mouth up. Alana smiles and dismissively waves her hand to where Karolina once was. I nod and return to my seat in front of the monitors. I am in no mood to deal with Karolina today. I grab my phone and text Georg. He replies, letting me know that I can disappear, that he is just down the hall. Relieved, I grab my set of key-cards and head for the exit.
“Why must you disappear like that?” Laila asks when I am about to head towards my apartment. “What do you have against me talking to you?”
“I have nothing against you,” I reply, shaking my head, with my hand on the doorknob. “I . . . I don’t feel comfortable around you. You’re a nice girl, but I am just not interested in you as anything more than a friend and employee. And the other evening? When you made various attempts to show me . . . beneath your nightgown? I don’t like girls like that. If you ask me, a girl with such motives should rethink her mental state.”
With that, I leave and march straight to my room without turning back. I don’t care what Laila’s reaction is, or if I’ve hurt her feelings. If I’m honest, and I know I am, what I’ve said to Laila, she will take to heart. Once I’ve booted my computer, I go directly to my email. What I find makes me smile.
April 18, 2016
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Off Topic
Utterly and completely still off topic . . .
I wouldn’t be going too far out of my way. Think of it as a personal mission to become acquainted with someone such as yourself. Are none of the places that I will visit near you?
I don’t want to seem pushy. I’m sorry. I just think it would be nice, you know? To meet you . . . it would be a pleasure. An honor. You are unique and I can sense your genuineness.
Perhaps whilst we are further away from the original topic, the question I now ask is personal. You do not need to answer it. Out of my curiosity . . . Are you seeing anyone?
Danica Kensington - Author
P.S. I have to admit that my heart fluttered in my chest just now. If just receiving my emails makes you smile, I should like to make it a habit.
Danica does not feel rejected, at least. She thinks it would be an honor to meet me. And she wants to know if I am seeing anyone? Her heart fluttered in her chest? It’s not just me.