Begin Again

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Five: Seventy-Two

When my eyes opened I found myself in an unfamiliar room - a pink room. Oh fuck, my instant thought is that I hooked up with some girl and stayed at her place the night. That’s a complete no-no. Based on the twin sized mattress that I’m laying on, I can’t imagine how we fucked with such little space.

There’s a poster on the wall, a photo of the band twenty-one pilots, a small desk in the corner with a potted plant in the corner and some papers scattered over the remaining surface. The bed sheets that cover me are white with black silhouette’s of the Eiffel Tower.

I decide to get as far away from here as I can before this mystery chick reappears but as I lift the blankets I notice that I have clothes on; that’s something that doesn’t usually happen when I wake up after sex.

Maybe I didn’t have sex. That’s possible, right?

The door opens and when Violet walks through the door, I become more confused. How did she manage to find me? What the hell is even going on?

“How’s your head?” She asks me and I’m not sure how to answer which is a clear indication that my head isn’t all that good, “I have some Advil and water. You refused to take any last night which could have helped you from whatever you’re feeling now.”

As I sit up I can’t help but notice Violet’s eyes glance towards my bare chest. I couldn’t blame her, I’m a good-looking guy.

“Did we have sex?” I asked her with no shame in my voice. I’m not shy when it comes to talking about sex and Violet is definitely someone I would have sex with. Who am I kidding? I’d sleep with any girl. I don’t have a type, really.

Violet laughs and shakes her head, “Gosh, no. I found you outside of the bar you were drinking at last night and I didn’t know where you life so I brought you here.”

I furrow my eyebrows, “Where is here?”

“My apartment in Brooklyn,” She answers.

I spit out the water she gave me, almost choking on the Advil I just swallowed, “I’m in fucking Brooklyn?”

My words had gotten the best of me, again. I know that what I said would be taken out of context because it could easily be taken wrong, I understand that much. Violet’s expression changes and she seems offended, “Do you have a problem with that?”

“No, I just...” I scratch the back of my head and shrug my shoulders, “I’ve just been told that if I came to this area of New York, people don’t exactly like seeing my type around.”

“What exactly is your type?”

“Wealthy,” My answer rolls off the tongue with ease because that’s the truth. Rarely have I been to Brooklyn, everyone always made it seem like someone of my stature wouldn’t be welcomed here. I’d rather not take my chances.

“Wow,” Violet huffs, “You’re a judgmental ass.”

I manage a smile, “It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been told that.”

When it came to communication, I’ve never been good at it. I say things without thinking, things that would normally offend someone, but I don’t try to. I’m an honest person, at least. I’d like to say that I’m authentic.

“I’m sure you’re used to people just brushing off your insults, huh?” She asks me and I can tell that she isn’t exactly forgiving of the comment I made, “Anyway, since you’re obviously sober now you should probably get going. You know, before anyone finds out that you’re in Brooklyn.”

“Jesus, I’m sorry, Violet.” I sigh softly, feeling like a complete ass for what I said. I stand from the bed and walk towards her hesitantly, “Please just let me make it up to you. Let me take you to dinner, a nice place an--”

“Because I can’t afford to dine at a nice restaurant?” Violet challenges me and I’m completely at a loss for words. A moment after the room fills with silence, Violet grins at me, “Don’t worry about it, Thomas. All is forgiven, without dinner.”

I feel relieved when I realize that she’s joking, if I upset her I feel like I would be dishonoring Jade in some way by being unintentionally rude to her family, but at the same time I feel like I was using my insensitivity as an excuse to take Violet to dinner. I’m not interested in her, not in a romantic way but there’s no harm in having her as a companion.

“Please go to dinner with me,” I look at her with pleading eyes feeling far more desperate than I wanted to, but after this morning she may not want to see me again, “If you have a bad time, I promise that you never have to see me again.”

Violet takes a deep breath, her eyes moving anywhere but in my direction. I know that I’m hard to say no to which is obviously why she won’t make eye contact with me, “Thomas...”

“Violet,” I say back, giving her a small smirk as I wait for her to look at me.

When she does, she gives me a smile and I know right away that my charm worked, “Fine. Tonight at six o’clock, okay? I need to be home by eleven because I have work tomorrow.”

“I’ll have you home by 10:59.”

I spent the rest of the day prepping for dinner and making reservations at a nice restaurant in the Upper East Side. I was continuously remembering the first time I brought Jade to a nice restaurant, she had been so uncomfortable and reluctant to order anything more than a free water. After that moment I knew how much I wanted to keep helping her experience things that she never had the opportunity to.

Her laugh had been my main focus that night, the way she laughed with her entire face in the most beautiful way possible.

Throughout the day I left Mason various text messages and voicemails. I’ve been feeling extremely guilty since I had the argument with him the other day and I wanted nothing more than to fix it.

Mason is more stubborn than he let on, though. I understand his reason completely because I disrespected his relationship which I shouldn’t have done. I had nothing but friendship with Jenna, our past is simply that. I know the only time I would be able to get Mason to talk to me is when we returned to work on Monday, I would just have to wait until then.

I wait at the restaurant of choice for Violet to arrive. I had a driver pick her up so I wouldn’t have to drive to Brooklyn. Embarrassingly, I’m not familiar with Brooklyn so I preferred to not risk getting lost tonight - that’s what I told Violet, at least. The truth is, I was told by some clients to not drive my BMW in Brooklyn because I would get jumped. Now, I don’t know if that’s true, but I knew for sure that I won’t be taking that risk with my car.

“You look like someone who got stood up,” Violet says as she approaches me from behind, “Shame, a pretty boy like you could do better.”

Pretty boy? I chuckle and shake my head, “Actually, I’ve never been stood up.”

“Well, aren’t you lucky.”

“Some would say I’m blessed with strikingly good looks,” I joke as I guide Violet to the door and open it for her. As she steps in front of me, I place my hand on the small of her back, before walking in behind her.

I notice her looking around, then finally she turns to me with her brows raised, “Fancy place... Have you been?”

“Oh yeah. My grandmother always brought me here when I traveled to New York with her.” I walk to the check in counter, waiting to be seated, “It was her favorite place to dine here in New York.”

Violet smiles and refrains from saying more. I hope my mention of my dead grandmother didn’t creep her out - oh, yeah. I brought you to my dead grandma’s favorite restaurant. No big deal. I internally scold myself, that is the definition of idiotic. Maybe I shouldn’t get so personal.

When we are seated and menus placed in front of us, Violet gives me a smile, “So what did you and your grandma usually eat here?”

I briefly recall the memories I had here with my grandma, remembering being a young boy and digging into a large plate of spaghetti with three tasty meatballs on the top, “Well, I was young so I stuck to spaghetti. Don’t get me wrong, it was amazing but my grandma love the sea food here. She would get shrimp one day, salmon the next, she even tried the fried octopus which I’m still wry about.”

“Octopus?” Violet seems disgusted as she opens the menu to look for something more her taste, “Do they serve pizza?”

“Unfortunately, no.”

I begin to scan the menu but stop abruptly when Violet squeaks, “Holy shit. Are you kidding me with these prices?”

“Uh... No?” I raise an eyebrow, unsure how to answer, “You gotta remember, this is quality food, Vi.”

She seemed to be distracted from the menu, looking at me with a small smile painted on her lips, “Vi?”

“Is that a touchy nickname for you?”

She shakes her head, allowing me to hear her giggle genuinely for the first time, it sounded like music, sweet, sweet music, “No, it’s fine. I just didn’t know we were on a nickname bases, Tom.”

I cringed at her attempt to nickname me, having to object instantly, “No, no. Not Tom, please. Sounds too old - Tommy is fine, or Thomas.”

Violet continues to laugh and we engage in hours of conversation through the evening. Surprisingly enough, none of our conversation revolves around Jade, we talk about ourselves and actually learn about each other. Violet works at a small bookstore, but she knows little to no information about books. That was very different from Jade, but Violet isn’t Jade. Violet is just a few months younger than me which makes her Jade’s older cousin, and she loves cats.

“I have a British shorthair named Wilson,” She says before taking her phone and showing me a photo of the ugly thing. I’ve never been a fan of cats but I manage a very fake smile instead of telling her that her cat is hideous, “I had another, but she escaped my apartment window and never came back.”

“Sucks,” I tell her, laying my fork down and looking across the table at her, “Do you mind if I ask you about her? I know we’re learning about each other, I’m just curious of the memories you can share with me... I always want to learn more about her.”

I worry that I’ve made Violet uncomfortable but before I can take back my request, Violet sits up straight and tucks a red curl behind her ear, “Where to start? Well, when we were young we were really close. We would go to each other’s birthday parties and help blow the candles out.”

My body eases, comfort settling inside of me when I hear Violet speaking of Jade. This was Jade long before I ever met her, but at the same time I was imagining her; what she looked like, the contagious smile she always carried around. Regardless of how old the stories may be, they were her stories and that made me all the more closer to her.

“For one birthday she had given me one of her stuffed animals, all on her own, too.” Violet smiles at the memory, “I mean, her parent’s obviously handled the gifts but she wanted to do her own thing.”

“Sounds like something Jade would do,” I reply, reaching over and placing my hand over Violet’s, “She helped me... In more ways than I can even tell you, but when I was at my lowest point, I met her and she brought me to life again, the first time since I was little I felt like someone actually cared about me. Someone wanted to see me happy instead of themselves.”

“She was selfless,” Violet says.

I nod in agreement, “Extremely. Nothing I did for her would ever compare to what she did for me, and that was giving me a reason to live. Which is why losing her was so hard.”

To this day, I often wake and wonder if I will ever be one hundred percent again. Since Jade the closest I’ve been to feeling my best was at most a seventy-two percent, and when you’ve been one hundred; seventy-two feels pretty lousy.

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