TO FALL IN LOVE...AGAIN

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CHAPTER 1

My phone was buzzing. I turned deaf ears to the droning sound. It stopped, but at another moment, it started again. I groaned. I murmured to myself — it better be important. I slid my hand under the pillow next to me to get the damn phone. Feeling obligated to answer the call, I looked at the screen. The bright light blinded me at the first squint. I hit the green phone icon to answer the call.

"Alice, is everything okay?" I asked her with a concerned tone.

"Jess, we all should go to Vegas for your birthday! We could eat in Caesars, drink at Cosmopolitan..." Alice sounded very excited.

Still yawning, I replied, "Sure, Alice." I agreed with her, expecting she'd let me get back to sleep. My eyes were nearly closing up on her.

"Yeah, I can't wait to plan our road trip," Alice continued with her happy hurrah, which hinted to me that she could go on and on. So I ended the call with "Good night Alice" and slid my phone, this time under the bed.

Rude? Oh well, it was after midnight, and I was halfway through my sleep.

My alarm went off in the morning. I got out of bed. Starting a coffee pot, I went to the bathroom to freshen up. Coming back to the kitchen, I poured a cup of coffee and took a delightful sip. I was about to sit—a series of knocks came on the door. The impatience hammering on the wood has to be from Alice.

Alice Levitz—Well-born and an only child. She's been my best friend since first grade. I was ten when my father died. She always made herself available—anytime and anywhere. More importantly, though, she makes me happy. Growing up, I wanted to be like her—go-getter and fierce.

"Here we go," I mumbled to myself and took a mouthful of coffee. Walking to the door, I switched my coffee cup to the left hand, turned the doorknob with the right, and put on a happy expression.

"Hey, you!" I greeted her with a big smile.

Her green eyes reflected sadness from the discrete phone call from last night, and boy, did she look mad!

"You know, you could have just ignored my phone call if you didn't want to talk." Alice gushed in; her sandy hair was in a messy bun.

"You called, to disturb my peaceful sleep, to tell me something about...hmmm... What was that again? Oh, eating Caesar salad and drinking cosmo in Vegas." I said, making fun of her calling up with a joke. It amused me, but not to her.

"Should I be laughing?" she was annoyed.

"I don't know, shouldn't you?" I giggled.

She threw her purse on the couch, made her way to the bathroom, and probably made her hair. I followed her and leaned on the door frame, sipping my coffee.

"I always plan. I like planning, trips, parties." A hint of soreness was still in her voice.

"Funny that you said like and not lovee..," I added and took another sip. Alice looked at me, devilishly—her trademark look.

"How's work?" I tried to change the subject before she broiled.

"Always Great! but don't ask Sage about her work; you'll just upset her." My mouth formed an 'O.'

Sage Olsen—my college roommate—funny, kind, and so utterly lovable. We got along well. I couldn't ask for a better friend than her.

"What happened?" I asked.

"Roxy, her coworker got fired."

"Oh, no! Was Sage upset?"

"She spent last night at my place."

"She did? Why didn't she come with you, then?" I was curious.

"She went to get some stuff, and she'll come over soon. Once she gets here, we all can sit and plan our trip together."

"You don't take any chance of wasting time. Do you?" I said.

"No, and you shouldn't either. So let's make omelets and get some mimosa," she commanded.

~*~

The doorbell rang.

"Great! Sage is here," Alice squealed and ran to the door.

' What made her get so excited? I guess I would never know.

It took a while for Sage to get along with Alice and me. At first, it was a pitched battle, especially with Alice. It took time for each to understand each other and slowly emotion-fold into this sweet and glorious friendship—with the unbroken bond between the three of us. We rocked!

Alice answered the door, and Sage yelled, "Vegas, baby!" Her mischievous brown eyes sparkled with excitement.

"Oh, you gotta be kidding me." I was surprised by her getup. She had a 'Birthday Girl' pink satin sash across her body accompanied by a gold crown displaying purple twenty-two in her red hair. "Hell no. I'm not going to wear that." I warned.

"Happy birthday to you..." Sage started to sing, then—"happy birthday to you..." Alice joined her, as well.

"Oh my god." I touched my forehead.

Alice carried the crown and slipped into my long blond hair, while Sage draped the sash on me.

"Happy birthday to you." Both of them closed me in with hugs and kisses.

"You guys are ridiculous," I said, but they continued to sign.

"But I love you both."

We giggled and went into the kitchen to make omelets. Then we sat around the coffee table drinking mimosas with breakfast. Alice got my laptop to look for deals to plan our trip.

Sage pouring herself some wine said, "Ooh, do you know there's a hottie living in your building? I saw him getting off the elevator." Sage took a sip of her wine.

"So hot, he sizzles," I commented.

"Cheers to that." Sage raised her glass.

"Cheers." We clink our glasses.

"It's about time, Jess. You need to get impured, like us. Hey, maybe this guy could free you from your sexual depression," Sage said.

"I'm not depressed," I denied.

"Ugh... The guy is a loser. Stay away from him." So much negative, coming from Alice, was unexpected.

"Why do you say that?" Sage asked her.

"One time, I smiled at him, and I got knitted brows in response," she said blandly.

"Arrogant, eh.." I prompted.

"I can already see you with him," Sage remarked.

"Oh! you predicting that?" Alice said in a teasing way.

"I predicted about you, didn't I?" Sage made her eyebrows dance. I felt that there was a secret conversation going on between them. "Am I missing something here?" I asked, looking at both of them.

"No," Alice yelled out.

"Do you see him often around here?" Sage asked, bringing him in the conversation again.

"Ya, I saw him at the mailbox a couple of times. I think he just moved in."

"And did you mingled?" Sage asked.

"No." I ate a big bite of omelet. "But, this one time..." I paused to swallow, "... we were in the elevator, and I sneezed, and he said bless you."

"Gross," both said simultaneously and grimaced.

"I know, that's why I take the stairs," I said defensively. "Besides, I don't just want to jump and hump the next guy I see. I want my first sexual experiences to be with a special person."

"Please, God, make it happen." Alice raised her glass and drank her mimosa.

Alice found my laptop on the nearby side table. "I'm using your laptop to look for our hotel room," she declared while grabbing it.

"Okay," I told her, and I began to clean the mess around the kitchen.

"What is this?" Alice questioned while looking at the laptop screen. "Are you leaving us?" Alice said she read my email.

'Ah, crap, I forgot to close the email window on my laptop.' I blamed myself.

"What are you guys talking about?" Sage was confused; she peeked in and read the email.

"Wow!" Sage exclaimed. "The money is awesome. You should take this job."

"Sage!" Alice scolded her.

"What? Did you see the numbers?" Sage questioned Alice.

"It's in San Diego; read the whole damn thing, first." Alice was starting to get frustrated.

To clear up the matter, I began to explain to them. "My manager—Patricia, and I joined the firm around the same time. We formed a good team and developed a work style that produced a perfect harmony; working around and rolling things together. Now Patricia has been promoted and transferred to our San Diego branch. She is asking me to join her there and offered me a promotion."

After my father died, Mom and I moved from Florida to San Francisco. I graduated from Stanford. I was excited about this offer and tempted to say 'yes.'

"Right now, it's just an idea." I took the laptop and closed all the windows, and opened up a blank one for Alice.

"I left Florida for you, and now you want to leave me? Us?" Alice was angry.

"Alice, it's not like I'm leaving now." I tried to console her.

"What do you mean by now?" Sage asked, making the situation tense.

"I'm not going anywhere. I love you guys. So now let's plan our trip. Please." I handed the laptop to Alice.

"We're not done yet. But we'll talk about it later." She glared at me and snatched the laptop.

We spent all afternoon planning. Since my birthday was falling on Sunday—Fourth of July, we were to drive to Vegas on Thursday and return on Monday.

~*~

The day finally arrived. I grabbed my stuff and tucked my sunglasses in my shirt. The elevator came, and before the doors were wide open—I sneezed.

"Bless you." A man's voices came from the elevator.

I looked up, only to be disappointed because he was the guy in the building that Sage talked about the other day. The same guy from last week said ′bless you′ to my sneeze, and he was here again in this damn elevator. 'Ugh'... why do embarrassing things only happen to me?

"You say something?" He asked as the elevator door was closing.

"No. um... Nothing." I was embarrassed. I pressed 'L' for the lobby.

The rest of the ride was quiet. The guy wasn't even trying. I thought to myself—I would have just taken the stairs if I didn't have to carry all this luggage. I took off as soon as the elevator stopped—I was out of the elevator and through the glass doors.

Sage and Alice were waiting for me in the black Aston Martin parked outside the building.

"Hurry up, Jess," Sage was in the driving seat; she opened the trunk and yelled, "It's open."

Alice was lying in the backseat with her eyes shut.

"Catching up on sleep over there?" I patted on Alice's legs.

"She's in a sleep coma.." Sage joked. I giggled.

"Yes, practically, I am! I didn't get any sleep last night." Alice broke her silence in her dozy voice.

I loaded my luggage in the trunk. "Why? Did Ethan keep you busy all night?" I mocked Alice, and she chose to ignore me.

"Let's take a selfie," Sage interrupted.

I went around the car and took my seat in the front. We took over a dozen photos with different poses, and Sage immediately uploaded them on her Insta.

"Let's go!" Sage dropped her cellphone in the cup holder and grabbed the steering wheel. "Vegas Baby!" ecstatic Sage, accelerated the car engine. Listening to the sound of screeching tires, I'm sure she'd left a skid mark on the road.

~*~

In no time, we were out of town and on route fifteen. It was a wise decision to travel on Thursday—the traffic was lenient. Friday would have been worse. We made a couple of stops for food and gas.

After Sage, Alice drove, and then I took most of the driving after Barstow.

Driving on this excitement byway, with wind teasing my hair.

These two tones of friendship, one confident, and one positive.

And Me.

I'd heard about love, read in the stories, and seen in the movies. I believed in love but had never fallen in LOVE.


~I don't know if love will ever come my way or not?~

~But my playful age and thin waist,~

~Smile on my lips.~

~A heart so desired, thumping with excitement.~

~ I'll be—just fine.~

~:xXx:~

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