As the aircraft touched down on the runway I looked out of the window in excitement.
New York City.
Anything was possible!
I leant back in my chair and waited for the seatbelt sign to come off so I could grab my bag. This past year had been such a whirlwind, I felt like I had aged ten years.
Finally I was off to college, to pursue my dream of being a therapist. It was actually happening! I glanced around the cabin and noticed most people were business passengers or families on a trip.
I take my phone off flight mode and send my parents a text to let them know I had landed safely.
This was so exciting!
I had arranged accommodation with the University, it was off campus but not far from Manhattan, so I was ecstatic. I was so nervous though, there was so much going on here and I was just from a small town.
I reached up and grabbed my bag when the sign went off, stretching gratefully. I followed the line of impatient passengers from the aircraft through the tunnel and into the airport. It was bright and busy and my heart lurched.
My phone beeped and I saw my parents were sending me good luck and be safe messages.
I smiled as I made my way to the baggage collection, managing to spot my bright pink suitcase immediately. I heaved it off and search for the signs to the taxi ranks, moving carefully through the crowd.
I already loved the buzz of the city- everyone was on their phones and moving quickly, going about their business. I grabbed a free paper from someone handing them out and made my way out of the revolving doors and into the crisp New York air.
I stood and breathed in the air as I checked my email on my phone for the address. I was concentrating so much I didn't notice someone falling straight into me.
"Oh shit, I am sorry. I didn't mean to literally fall into you."
I looked up and saw a handsome guy with a football jersey on, grinning at me.
He stuck his hand out and I smiled.
"That's great Josh, but I'm not talking to a strange guy in a strange city."
I stared back at my phone as he laughed.
"No, that's a good point to make actually. Are you here on business or pleasure?"
I finally found the address and looked around for a cab. There was a long line of them and a queue of people waiting. I made my way over to the line with Josh in tow. He was certainly persistent.
"Look Josh, I mean this in the nicest way. I'm interested in anyone as I've got a wonderful boyfriend." I smiled and moved away from him.
His face fell as he held his hands up.
"I'm sorry, just a sucker for a pretty face."
I laughed as he moved onto another girl, who seemed a little more receptive than I.
Eventually I was in a cab, riding through the bright lights of the city heading for my apartment! I was excited to meet my roommate, the rent was surprisingly good so I had hoped it wasn't going to be in too bad an area.
I marvelled at the Skyline as it fell into view and I inherited that famous New York Gawp I had heard about. The cab made its way through the traffic, the driver reluctantly answering my many questions, he seemed bored to tears to be honest. I sat back in my seat and marvelled that I was finally here!
Slowly but surely my cab pulled onto a residential street that actually was very pretty, considering it was still quite central. I pulled out my dollars and paid him, being sure to give him a tip as he pulled my luggage from the boot for me.
I had a longing for Cal suddenly, as I felt exposed and vulnerable. He hadn't been in touch before I left, telling me he was really shitty at goodbyes but that we would try the long distance thing.
I sighed, pulling my suitcase up to the steps to the door that read 11A. I searched my phone once more, making sure I was pressing the correct buzzer. I waited patiently as I heard footsteps come towards the door. I gulped trying not to be nervous, this was after all, my new roomy. The door opened to reveal a very striking brunette with large brown eyes studying me.
I stuck my hand out.
"I'm Gretchen, from Winterburg? You must be…" I racked my brain to recall her name.
She shook my hand limply and moved back so I could walk in, not offering to help at all. She wore black thigh high boots which left a gap of flesh between them and a long red shirt that hung over one shoulder. Her dark hair was poker straight and her lips were painted red. She closed the door behind me as I dragged my case in awkwardly. She folded her arms and sighed.
"So we share the top floor," She eyed my bags. "There's no elevator so it's gonna be a struggle with your things."
She reached into her pocket and pulled out a silver key.
"This is yours. I'll see you around."
She turned on her heel and walked out of the door I had just come in. I closed my eyes and wished more than anything Cal was here. How the hell was I going to get this case to the top floor?!
Why was my roommate such a bitch?
She literally had waited to let me in then she had left, without offering to help.
Urgh, was this what all New Yorkers were like? I gazed at the stairs, trying to think of a solution. My phone beeped and I felt my heart lurch when I saw it was Cal.
Settling in ok? I miss you already.
I felt tears prick my eyes as I imagined him back in Winterburg, in his cosy house all alone. He better be alone, I thought, texting him back quickly.
Roommate isn't too friendly. I have to get my case up three flights of stairs. Any suggestions?
I tried to be jovial but I just sat on my suitcase in frustration.
Leave it downstairs and pay someone to take it up for you later. Are you ok Raven?
I laughed in spite of myself. That was so Cal. Pay someone to sort it for you.
I started to type back my response as I heard footsteps come down the stairs. The guy had platinum blond hair, a shirt complete with a scarf and the tightest jeans I have ever seen. He glided past me and opened the front door.
I turned to see the guy from the airport beaming at me.
"Hey it's you! Ooh are you my roomy?"
"Erm no..I am sharing with Nancy? You have just missed her actually…"I mumbled, looking at his case pointedly. "There are no elevators."
The guy with the blond hair just looked bored.
"Floor 2. I'm Nicholas."
Josh reached his hand out to which Nicholas shuddered.
"I don't shake hands unfortunately. Germs."
He sniffed and ran his hand through his perfect hair. I stared at his waist which must've been the width of my thigh. Wow.
"You're kidding me right? I'm sharing with a germ phobe. Brilliant."
Nicholas glared at him.
"I am NOT a phobe of any kind. I just don't like to take risks with strangers."
I smiled secretly, aware that was the second time today Josh had been called a stranger. Nicholas looked at me disdainfully.
"Are you going to sit on that until an elevator magically appears?"
I flushed, standing up quickly.
"No. I am going to probably break my back getting it upstairs. But thank you for your concern," I found myself replying sarcastically.
Nicholas's eyebrows shoot up at my response.
"Oh, you have spirit. I like that."
I glared at him. I wanted to dislike him but his demeanor had something about it I quite liked.
"Look curly, I can take it up for you. Seeing as your wonderful boyfriend isn't here. You can buy me some beers later. Deal?"
I felt myself smiling broadly.
"Yes, deal. I can't do this on my own, I hate being such a girl...but I really can't drag that case up there. Thank you so much." I gushed.
He nodded, his playful side suddenly replaced by a tired version.
"No worries Curls. I got this."
He reached down and carried my suitcase in one hand and his in the other. Nicholas and I met eyes and lifted our eyebrows up.
"How galliant of him. He must be very strong," murmured Nicholas, watching Josh as he walked up the stairs effortlessly. I was truly grateful as we followed him up the steep stairs. By the second floor I was completely out of breath and holding onto the railing for dear life. I heard my phone beep as I pulled it out.
Raven, don't tell me you are trying to drag that case up three flights of stairs...
I grinned as I typed back.
No, someone else is doing it for me. Gretchen 1, NYC 0.
No sooner had I sent the text did a ping come straight back. I smiled knowingly.
Who is he? Don't forget, you are mine. I do not share.
I heard Josh calling me from the floor above.
"Curls! Come on, I'm not up here for my health."
Nicholas had disappeared into his room. I followed the direction of the stairs, my legs protesting. I made it to the top floor and gasped.
Josh eyed me carefully.
"Are you ok? You really need to get fit. You are gonna be doing this at least twice a day?!"
I pulled out my key and ignored his comment, rolling my eyes.
"Thankyou Josh. I owe you."
The door swung open and Josh pulled my case in for me.
"There you are my lady. Right, I will meet you on the second floor at seven pm. You owe me those beers. Ask your roomy to come. Is she hot?"
He looked at me wickedly.
"Stupidly actually. Really hot." I shrugged, walking into the apartment.
"Yeah?" Josh looked interested. 'Definitely bring her. Laters, baby.'
He tipped an imaginary hat and smiled as he backed out of the door closing it softly behind him. I walked into the main room and saw a mustard sofa with cream throws and cushions tossed over it casually. The floor was natural wood, the windows were bay fronted and overlooked the street. It was open plan so the kitchen was tiny, a coffee machine and a hob dominated the small side. I smiled to myself and squealed.
Oh my god! I am in NEW YORK CITY!
I opened a door and saw a small but tidy bathroom, complete with a mirror over the basin and a shower in the corner. I walked on and saw what must be Nancy's room, it screamed her. Black sheets on the bed and a blood red chair in the shape of lips. There was a floor length mirror with fairy lights hanging over it with make up on the floor in front of it.
I moved along and opened the door to what was clearly to be my room. The bed was in front of the three large windows with a bedside table on each side. A lamp sat on each table, and along the side of the wall near the bed I saw a wardrobe. A desk was on the other side, with room for my books and my laptop.
I loved it!
I pulled my case in, and started to put my things away. My phone rang and I saw it was Cal.
"I wasn't joking."
I heard his voice and my insides melted. I fell backwards onto the bed.
"I know. His name is Josh and he was kind enough to bring it up to my room for me. He is probably going to be more interested in my roomy than me, so please don't worry. I just owe him some beers."
I twirled with my hair, remembering Josh calling me 'curly' and thought I would leave that bit out.
"Your roommate cannot be hotter than you. Although I am praying she actually is. Are you coming back yet?"
I heard the longing in his voice.
"No, I'm not qualified yet," I teased.
"So whats your plans city girl?" Cal asked curiously.
"Well Josh said I owe him some beers so he is going to come here at seven. He wants to meet my hot roomy."
There was a silence on the other end and I laughed nervously.
"I have to get to know people baby…"
Silence. I rolled my eyes. This was ridiculous.
"Listen, be safe. Don't be on your own with him. Ok? Don't trust anyone. I love you."
With that he hung up and I stared at my phone in surprise. I get that he is jealous, but what did he expect me to do?
Not speak to anyone?
I sat up and hugged my knees. I had no idea where we were heading tonight but I should probably get a shower and get ready.
It was five pm now.
New York City waits for no one