Chapter 4 - Live a Little
“Frankly Kate, you’re acting as if I’m a child.” Nana scolded Kate, creasing her brows at her.
“And how exactly am I doing that Nana, by asking if you want some chamomile tea?” Kate said fluffing her nana’s pillow.
“It’s not that. It’s you asking if I’m going to be alright staying on my own as if I’ve never been on my own, and now you are literally tucking me into bed. The only thing missing is a lullaby or a bedtime story...” Nana threw Kate a frantic look. “You’re not going to pull a book out of nowhere and start reading to me, are you?”
Kate let out a small sigh and shook her head. Of course she was worried: this was the first time that she was going to leave her grandmother alone. Mrs Kirby had agreed to stay a few hours more, but that was before she had gotten an emergency call, and the last thing Kate heard as she rushed out the door was “accident...husband” and “I’m sorry.”
If it had been a leisure outing she would have cancelled in a heartbeat, but tonight her job literally depended on her presence at that so called ‘gathering,’ and after the day that she’d had, she pretty much doubted that she would be able to squeeze in another miracle.
“I think that you are overthinking this.” Kate said, switching on Nana’s night lamp.
“Are you sure it’s me and not you? You’ve asked our neighbour Mrs. Jones to keep an eye on me, and I have a long list of numbers on the fridge - typed, mind you, just in case I can’t make out your handwriting.”
“Nana please, I’m trying so hard not to panic right now and you are not helping.” She glanced down at her grandmother who was laying in the bed.
Nana looked so fragile. She was no longer the same woman that Kate had known. Nana was the kind of person who always put others first and always had a smile on her face, no matter what. Everybody loved her; how could they not? Just the sight of her petite plump self walking on the sidewalks was enough to bring a smile on their faces.
But now, she had lost so much weight that she hardly even looked like her nana. Kate could see right through her smile and behind her pale blue eyes that fought to hide the real pain that lived there. She had seen her nana lose her kaleidoscope of colours, and good heavens it hurt to see her holding on by a thread, hoping that by some sheer miracle she would live to see the birth of a new day.
For months Kate had fought off the thought that had constantly haunted her at the back of her head.
What would she do if she died?
“You know what? Screw this!” Kate exclaimed, fighting back the tears that were burning through her lids. “I’m not going. I’ll probably get fired but hey, it will be a good excuse to move to another state, right?” She smiled sitting by her nana’s side.
“Oh no you don’t. You, young lady, are going. I’ll be fine Kate, I may be old but I’m tough and I refuse to let you stay home because of me. Now, off you go. Mrs. Jones is probably waiting for you to leave so that she can start smotheri--....I mean taking care of me. There’s really nothing to worry about.”
Kate took her grandmother’s hand and gave it a light squeeze for reassurance.
“Are you sure, Nana?” She asked hesitantly.
“Yes, Kate. Now go, and while you’re at it please try and find yourself a handsome prince who’ll sweep you off your feet.” Nana smiled sweetly at her.
“Of course you’d say that. Fine, I’m leaving, but call me if anything - and I do mean anything - happens, okay?”
“Yes! For the hundredth time, yes. Now the sooner you leave, the sooner you’ll come back.” Nana shooed her with her hands.
“Well...” Kate said, getting up from the bed and patting down the folds on her black pants suit. “... I guess I’d better leave then.” She bent down and placed a kiss on her nana’s forehead.
“Goodnight Kate, have fun.”
“I highly doubt any reporter is going to have fun working while the rich drown themselves in expensive champagne and fish eggs.” Kate muttered rolling her eyes.
“It’s called caviar, dear. Live a little.” Nana said throwing her a wink.
“I know what it’s called nana, and I do live, just not while I’m working.”
“Of course you do my darling.”
Nana’s voice sang as Kate closed her bedroom door.
The crystal chandelier sparkled as it overhung the crowded banquet room of Hauts-de-Seine Hotel. Kate stood with her back pressed against the big mahogany door, fiddling with the tip of her green scarf securely wrapped around her neck.
So this is what the upper side calls a gathering, she scoffed to herself as her eyes rested on the room full of people. Even security was tight but, of course, what did she expect? She was in a room filled with rich snobs who probably thought that somebody might try and steal their expensive Yves-Saint-Laurent scented air. Her eyes rolled involuntarily at the mere thought.
The Q&A had just ended and Mr. Price had invited all the reporters to stay behind for the celebration. Hence there she was, standing in the corner waiting for Carl with her drink while at the same time scanning the room for any sign of Price so that she could start begging.
“And one champagne for the lady.”
Kate smiled, taking the chilled glass of Crystal champagne from Carl.
“Thanks.” She mumbled, bringing the rim to her lips.
Her back hit the mahogany door for support and a small moan escaped her as the liquid settled in her mouth. She could feel the tension leave her body as it evaporated into thin air. Never had ever she felt like this before. She had drank champagne before, but dear heavens above, this felt like the promised land, nothing she had tasted before.
The bubbles felt like a thousand little kisses dancing in her mouth, kisses that she never wanted to stop.
“That good, huh?” Carl smirked.
Her eyes flashed open giving Carl a shy look.
Damn it, he had just caught her enjoying one of the things she so continuously expressed that she hated about the rich folks.
She could never comprehend why anybody would prefer to pay ridiculous sums of money for something when they could have for less. In her opinion, if you wanted to stay rich then that made more sense - but then again what did she know? She was living from paycheck to paycheck.
Kate swallowed the bubbly liquid, trying her best not to focus on the warm sensation that it left as it glided down her throat like a smooth caress.
“I suppose.” She said, composing her half slumped body from the door. “That’s if you like this kind this kind of stuff.”
Carl chuckled. “You mean the kind that doesn’t taste like piss?”
He gave Kate another teasing look before taking a sip of his champagne glancing around the room.
His thick brows frowned lightly.
“Seems awfully crowded for a ‘controlled gathering’, doesn’t it?” He said bringing his gaze back to Kate.
“Yeah, makes it kind of impossible to spot the man of the hour.”
“You still think that you can get a word in with him before we get kicked out?”
“I don’t have the luxury to think other wise. After this glass I’m going full-on stalker mode.” Kate said, gulping down half of the content. “I can’t believe I’m about to grovel and beg,” her face masked with disgust. “Me, Kate Dawson. Nana would probably drop dead with laughter if I tell her this.”
Kate smiled at the sound of Carl’s laughter. Her heart fluttered at the soft melody and her eyes stilled on his hard-boned face.
She had been around him long enough to distinguish between his real laugh and his trying-to-be-polite laugh, and this was a real one. She always loved seeing that side of him, the side that made him look younger. With his eyes clamped shut, pink lips spread apart and well-shaped head slightly tilted back.
If only he hadn’t friend zoned her, she thought. Her smile faded as she averted her eyes from him, fearing that they might be a dead give away.
They were friends and that was that. The last thing they needed was an awkward moment that could jeopardise her friendship with Carl.
“Maybe we should keep this between us. I’m quite fond of your grandmother.”
“Agreed.” She smiled, trusting her now empty glass in Carl’s hand.
“Now, if you’ll excuse me...” she began, patting down her black pants suit, “... I have a man to find. God, Nana is really missing out tonight.”
“Good luck.” Carl shouted, watching as Kate waved before disappearing into the crowd.