“How are you? We could go home...” I asked Vera, as she was sitting before her plate 10 minutes later. She didn’t pick up her fork, she wasn’t smiling. She was stony-faced and I didn’t like it. At all.
“If it’s okay with you...”
“Hell, girl! Do you really think that I am enjoying seeing you like that? It hurts me.”
“Sorry... Let’s ask for the bill.” She waved to the waiter and he came to us very quickly. I used this opportunity to look at Tyler’s table. He was throwing glances in our direction since the moment he sat on his stool. I was sure as hell, that he will follow us outside as soon as we will leave the building.
Another 5 minutes and we were out. This day started terribly and was continued in the most horrible way. We waited for the taxi when the door to the restaurant opened. It was him. Tyler was in a rush, I could tell.
“Vera, wait... Please, can I talk to you?”
“No. I don’t want to.”
“Vera, please... I missed you so much.”
Just then our cab pulled to the driveway. She didn’t wait for it to stop, she briskly walked here and climbed inside as soon as the car went to a halt. I followed her, but so did he.
“Tyler, don’t,” I warned him, trying to close the door.
“But Tasha...” His face was grimaced in pain. I wouldn’t even imagine, that I will see him like that one day.
“No, Tyler. Your father was pretty clear. She knows everything without your explanation. Go, because I am afraid your fiancée will throw a tantrum...”
“My father? Wait, what does it mean?”
“Can we leave?” The driver was impatient.
“It means, that your father came to your apartment and explained this whole thing with the arranged marriage to Vera...”
“But I thought...” He stepped back from the car, I used this opportunity to close the door. As soon as I did this, the driver started the car. I turned my head and looked at Tyler. He was standing outside the restaurant, staring at our taxi. I couldn’t understand his emotions, but I was sure that he was confused.
“Vera, look at me.”
I was staring at the window, following with my eyes the streets of the city, which were so familiar to me. My heartbeat was returning to normal, it was calming down. Happened exactly what I was hoping to avoid. I saw Tyler. Seeing him with Penelope, I don’t know, but somehow I felt only emptiness. 5 months later, he still was with her. 5 months later, he still was going to marry this woman. Not me. Guess, I was hoping, that he will break up with her and he will try to find me. That he will go against his father’s wishes. But he didn’t. I sighed.
My best friend was waiting for me to look at her. She wanted to be sure, that I will be okay. I closed my eyes for a few seconds and turned to her. Tasha was worried about me and I felt guilty because of it. Soon it will be her wedding, she should be enjoying this time. But because of me, it wasn’t possible right now. I will need to make sure, that days before the wedding she would be happy.
“I am okay.”
“Bullshit.” She wrapped me in her arms. “Listen to me, Vera. Listen carefully, okay?”
I nodded, wondering what it was about. Had he told something to her?
“Douglas loves you. He was looking at you with so much care in his eyes and here also was so much pain.” I tried to pull away from her, but she only tightened her grip, not allowing me to move. “Vera, he didn’t give a damn about his Italian woman. He’s crazy about you and he will go nuts if he will marry her.”
“It doesn’t matter anymore.”
“It does! He talked to me, hoping to know something about you. Even the little hint about you and he won the jackpot, he saw you. Damn! How was he looking at you! I felt sorry for him! Do you hear me?”
“Tasha, they came to the restaurant to have dinner together. I saw an awful lot of their photos! They were together everywhere!”
“He was ignoring her! She’s nothing to him, I am sure of it.”
“But he will marry her!”
“Hell, we’re going in circles with you!”
“Drop it, Tasha. Please, I am begging you.”
“Ladies, I don’t want to ruin the moment, but we arrived at the destination.”
I used this opportunity to pull away from Tasha. She paid for our ride and we both climbed out of the car. I walked to the front door, trying to create a distance between us. I wanted to show her, that I don’t want to talk about Tyler and his wedding anymore.
“Vera, think about it. About what I said.”
“I will be in New York for only 3 days. I want to spend this time with my friends. I want to support you and Jake at your wedding. I want to be in a good mood. If I allow myself to even think about Tyler, it will ruin everything! So please, Tasha, let it go.”
We stared at each other, staying in the dark hallway of the house. I waited for her answer. The atmosphere was heavy, but I was feeling really hopeful. Suddenly, the lights were on, we both turned our heads to the living room. Jake was standing here, he was half-asleep. I guess, he was sleeping on the couch and we woke him up.
“Girls, what time is it?”
“It’s only 11, granddad. Why are you home? You’re supposed to be having fun at your party!”
“Nah... I am good. I came home an hour ago and kind of drifted to sleep, watching some bullshit.”
“Come with me, our bed is way more comfortable.” Tasha walked to him, kissed him and took his hand in hers. Before the door to their room was closed, she turned to me and smiled. “Goodnight, Vera.”
I walked to my room, changed into my PJs, washed my face and went to bed. I took my phone from the bedside table and looked at it. There was a message from Nate, he wanted to know how my evening was. I called him back, I needed to hear him. I was hoping, that he will give me much needed reassurance.
“Hey. Are you already at home?”
“Too. I was actually planning to go to sleep.”
“Are you in your bed?”
“Uh huh. You?”
“Too.” I started giggling, Nate followed suit. I relaxed a little. Just talking to him was good for me.
“How was your day, Vera? Did you like the restaurant?”
“SPA was good. Heavenly even.”
“Don’t tell me any details, please.”
“Because if you will tell me more, I will start to think about you in your underwear, or even naked... I will be needing a cold shower.”
“You’re impossible!” I smiled because of his silliness. I knew that he was joking. At least a little. Because if I will allow myself to think about him without his clothes, I will be the one who will need the cold shower.
“So, how was the restaurant? I was here twice and it was delightful!”
“The restaurant was perfect! Thank you again for your help with the reservation. The food, the atmosphere! I don’t even know how to describe all of this!”
“Was here any celebrity? Last time, when I was here, I saw Halsey.”
“No...” I trailed off, remembering Tyler.
“What is it?” Nate fell silent. I wasn’t saying anything too. “Shit! Don’t tell me that Tyler was here!”
“Fuck! I am sorry, Vera. Did he see you?”
“What did he tell you?”
“Nothing. He was with his fiancée, so I refused to talk to him. But he wanted.”
“What? What do you mean by it?”
“He talked to me. He was trying hard to find you. To know where you went.”
“I promised you, that I don’t tell him anything. So I didn’t. Sleep, Vera. You need it.”
When I was lying on my bed, I was thinking back to our conversation with Nate. I made him upset. He wasn’t happy to hear that I saw Tyler. That he tried to talk to me. Fuck! What a mess! I have already missed my life in LA. It was a lot easier there.