Chapter 4: The Elevator
When I woke up, I was alone in the hotel room. Jack must be getting breakfast. I quickly get up, throw on my shoes, and head down the hall. I press the elevator button and wait for the 2 dings that signify it’s going down. The silver door opens from the middle and the first thing I see is Samantha standing in the center of the elevator. She is wearing a navy blue tailored business suit that was stunning on her. I can’t believe it. Why is she here? Now I have to share an elevator ride with her. My heart stops for a second and I freeze.
“You look better than I thought you would today.” She says as her accented voice compels me closer and I enter the elevator. I want to know where she is from. “I thought I said something to scare you off last night. But I couldn’t figure it out. You left so abruptly.”
The elevator is filled with the scent of her perfume. It smelt of the outdoors mixed with roses and the yearning for adventure. “Thanks, uh, sorry, I just didn’t feel well suddenly.” I respond awkwardly.
“Well, I’m glad it wasn’t me that you ran from, ’else I’d be heartbroken.” She says, watching me as I try to analyze her sentence.
Why would she be heartbroken? She’s gotta be joking. “That’s me, the heart-breaker,” I say with a smirk. What is this? Was I flirting? I don’t flirt...oh Jear Desus, I must sound so cheesy.
She leans in close and whispers sternly in my ear, “That better not be you.”
I lose all train of thought. She was so close. The elevator dings, saving me from myself. Thank goodness. I quickly turn away from her and shuffle out.
Luckily, I was on the right floor. Unfortunately, she seems to be following me to get breakfast. I find Jack in line and he sees her behind me. “Lucky you!” He whispers excitedly.
“I don’t think of it like that.” I respond as I grab a plate and start throwing random food on it. I can’t wait to sit down and eat with Jack. I grab a cup of apple juice and head to a table with only two chairs.
Jack sits next to me a minute later. “What’s up with you? You’re acting so high-strung.” He takes a bite of pancakes, dripping syrup on his black t-shirt.
“It’s her, Samantha. I don’t know what to say, think, or do. Everything just ends up wrong.” I explain and point out the drop on his shirt.
“Oh I doubt that. You gotta test this out, Ily, I mean she’s gorgeous, and she’s into you. What have you got to lose?”
“Everything.” I say quietly. Jack moves and motions Samantha to sit with us. I kick him under the table.
“Ouch...here take my seat,” he says as she gets to the table. Jack grabs an empty chair and slides it in the open space causing everyone to shift closer together. “So, tell me about yourself, Samantha.”
“Well, there’s not much to tell. I’m here on business, well mostly business. I did however, have quite an admirable night last night.” She says while looking directly at me.
“I’m glad to hear that. How long will you be here on business for?” He continues the conversation.
“Oh, not terribly long. I would say I have about a week left in the area.”
Thank goodness. I think to myself. I am so relieved to hear that she won’t be around for much longer.
Jack finishes eating quickly and excuses himself from the table. I realize I have not had food from my plate. I start nibbling on the strawberries, blueberries, and cantaloupe as we sit in silence. I’m glad the breakfast area is busy, people are constantly walking by us so sitting alone with her at this small table doesn’t feel so intimidating.
Why do I have to see her again? Can’t this be enough? Okay. Ha-ha God, you got me! Leave me alone now! I just want to be normal again and pretend this never happened. “When can we meet so I can return your money?” I ask when I realize I still have that to do before I can be rid of seeing her.
“If you don’t have any plans, I’m free later today. I should have some free time around lunch, we can meet up then.” Samantha suggests.
“Yeah, I think that will work out. I’ll see you later.” With that, I get up, throw away my plate of food, and walk towards the elevator. I never feel good about throwing food away. However, I have to get away from her before I go crazy. I push the elevator button and it opens immediately. Good, I’ll be alone on my trip. The doors to the elevator start closing and then I see a manicured hand sneak in and make them open again. I guess I won’t be alone.
Samantha walks into the elevator and stands next to me with her arm brushing against mine. Not again! This can’t be happening again. Why do I always end up alone with her?
“I can’t help but feel like you keep running away from me. Is there a reason for that?” She asks and the elevator closes momentarily locking us both in together.
“I don’t know.” I respond quickly and shake my head.
She turns and faces me, squaring herself in front of me. “Do I intimidate you?” She asks with a smile, already knowing the answer.
“Yes.” I whisper with a big gulp. I feel like my heart is about to jump out of my chest, but why?
She steps back a couple inches. I let out the breath I didn’t know I was holding. “I don’t know how I feel about that.” She gives a fake pout. I watch her a little longer and the desire hits me again. I want to kiss her. I need to kiss her. I look down at the floor, I can’t take this anymore. I can’t do lunch with her. I’ll just have to feel guilty about stealing the hundred dollars and never see her again.
“What are you thinking about, dear?” She says and puts her hand on my cheek, tilting my head to look her in the eyes again. “Is it this?” She leans in and kisses me. It was so tender and took my breath away. Then she applies a little more force and I was kissing her back. Do I even know how to kiss? Apparently I must.
The elevator stops and dings once. She steps next to me again with her arm against mine as a family enters the space with us.
We reach my floor and I clumsily scramble past the others and out of the elevator. I walk a few feet and lean against the wall. I can’t believe what just happened. She kissed me. Why? What? How? How did those few seconds shatter my brain....? Oh gods...now what am I going to do? Just don’t think about it! Pretend it didn’t happen and you’ll be okay.
I walk down the hall trying to forget about it and keep a straight face. I open the door. Immediately, Jack asks, “What are you hiding?”
There’s no point in lying, “She kissed me.”
“What? No way. Where? How was it? What’s next?”
“Well, we were in the elevator and it was the best thing I have experienced. Nothing is next. There can’t be anything next. This can’t happen.” I say what’s on my mind. “I don’t know what to do, think, or feel. Why did it have to happen with a woman? Why is my first attraction to her? It can’t be right. I will just never see her again and everything will be back to normal in a week when she leaves forever.”
“Now tell me you don’t believe that. I know you don’t. Your life was changed the instant you saw her. You may not be the person you thought you were, but that doesn’t mean it is wrong. You will have to learn and discover your true self now. Love isn’t wrong. Even if others may not agree or understand, it’s not wrong. Love Ily, you deserve it!”
“Thanks? I don’t know. I’m in shock. I need to lie down.” I say as I plop on the bed. The whole room just zones from view almost immediately and I fall asleep.
I don’t know how long I slept, when I woke, I hear Jack on the phone telling dad I could use an extra day or two off and that he will help out with what I would have done. Well at least I can relax knowing I won’t have to face mom and dad today.
“I got the hotel room another night. We can head to your place and grab extra clothes when you want.” Jack says when I was coherent enough.
“Thanks, I don’t think I would have lasted long around them.” I try and think of how my parents would react. I know they love me, and they support me. But they’re always pushing me to get a boyfriend. I don’t know what they’d think if I was all smiles and happiness because I kissed a girl. Could I tell them right away? I can’t tell them about this. It’s probably nothing and will go away soon.
“I know you won’t be able to keep a straight face. That’s why I called them. So what are we going to do today?”
“I suppose we could go to a movie, or go bowling, I haven’t been to either in a while. Either sound fun to me! Shit. I forgot, what time is it? Around lunch time I was supposed to give Samantha her money back.” I feel giddy inside knowing I would get to see her again. Why not...I should let go a little and experience what life has to offer.
“It’s eleven. This gives us time to run to your place and back. You should text her.”
“Yeah, probably. What am I going to say!?! Do I act casual like it’s all business, or should I mention something about the kiss. I don’t think I can. Here, you do it!” I say as I toss Jack my phone. He gets a huge grin on his face and now I’m regretting my decision. I put my face on the pillow and wait.
My phone chimes. “There, all set. Let’s go get clothes.” He hands me back my phone. And I look at the text he sent:
‘Hey, it’s Ileana. There is a strip mall by the hotel with many places to eat. Let’s meet there at 12:15.’ That wasn’t too bad, I guess.
She responded with:
‘I can’t wait- S.’
I mean the S at the end is a little weird, but it seems like the conversation was better than I would have done.
We leave the hotel and walk on the cracked sidewalk to the parking lot that we left Jack’s beat-up truck in. It appears to be in the same condition that we left it. Unlike the dance floor and pavilion, they are now a complete mess and a crew is cleaning it up. We hop in and start driving to my house.
“What am I going to wear?” I think to myself out loud.
“I don’t know, I’m sure you’ll find something suitable.” He responds having overheard me.
“You need to help me out. You’re a part of this now. You tempted fate and got me into this.” I guilt him into helping me choose an outfit.
We arrive at my house, sneak past my parents, and get into my room. “I have no clue what to wear.” I repeat to Jack as I open my closet.
He scoots past me and starts rummaging through my clothes. He pulls out a black off-shoulder shirt with a lacy pattern. “I think this would be perfect!”
“I don’t think so. It’s a little too revealing for me.”
“That’s the point,” he explains, “Don’t be daft, she’ll love it.”
“Okay, fine.” I give in too easily because I do want to show off a little. I pack a couple extra outfits and jammies. I grab the shirt from Jack and a pair of Jean shorts and go put them on.
“Grab anything else you’d need.” He hollers to me. “We don’t have much time.”
On our way back, I start questioning everything, “How should I act when I get there?”
“Like yourself. It seems that’s what she likes.”
“Yeah, but I don’t understand what’s going on with her or me. What am I supposed to do if I start feeling weird again?” I try to explain my frustration.
“Define weird. And, you’ll just have to find out what’s going on between you two.”
“Weird as in nervous, giddy, scared, awkward, and a bunch of other mixed feelings.”
“Just breathe through them. You’ll do great. You are only returning the money to her after all.” He calms my worries a little and I start taking deep breaths while watching the trees go by in the fields.
We get to the food court around five after twelve. “Please don’t leave. I need you here so I don’t freak out as much.” I grab onto Jack’s arm as he starts turning away from me.
“Don’t worry. I’ll be waiting right over here.” He points to a bench by the food court door.
“Thanks.” I say as we part ways and I walk slowly towards the tables to see if she is sitting anywhere. I don’t see her. I grab a table that faces the entrance of the food court so I don’t miss her. A couple minutes go by before she arrives exactly one minute early.
She is wearing the same navy blue suit as earlier but now she has sunglasses and a fedora on. She is accompanied by two men, who I assume are bodyguards. When she gets about a hundred feet away, she raises her hand to dismiss them and continues towards me by herself.
“Hello, Ileana. It’s so good to see you again.” She says formally and sits down across the table.
“Likewise. Here.” I hand her the hundred dollars and start to get up.
“Oh keep that. It was meant as a tip.” She says while handing it back.
“Uh...well this was why I came to see you again. I thought you wanted it back.”
She slightly lowers her sunglasses and looks down at me eagerly. Wow...how have I never noticed that her eyes were light grey? “Is it now?” She says, sounding amused. “I thought you just liked me.”
“Uh...” My mind blanks. What am I supposed to say? Is she asking if I like her? I barely even know her. If I say no, then she may go forever. But if I say yes, she might take it the wrong way. I don’t know her. But she kissed me...and I kissed her back. Do I like her?
“That was a joke dear. Lighten up a little.” She says smiling bright at me.
“Oh, I knew that. I mean I didn’t know, but I figured. Or hoped. I don’t know. Why did you make me think I had to return the money?” I awkwardly reason trying to continue the conversation.
“I didn’t make you think anything. You suggested returning it and continued bringing it up. I never said to return it. I just went along with meeting up with you again. If I plainly asked, I didn’t think you would accept.” She explains her deception.
“So, since this meeting is under false pretenses, I would like to know why you wanted to meet today.” I demand.
Her phone rings. “Hold on, dear.” She answers and steps away. After what seemed like a heated conversation, she returns and says, “It seems I have to go, doll.”
“You can’t just leave without answering!” I raise my voice.
“I can and will do as I please.” She says and walks to me. She comes in closer and my heart starts to race. She whispers in my ear, “I can’t wait to see you again, Ileana.” She kisses right below my ear and stands up. She trails her fingers across my shoulders as she walks behind me giving me goosebumps as well as a stomach full of butterflies and she leaves without another word.