Walking through the opened door, I force a smile to Oliver. He smiles softly back and watches me as I make my way behind the reception desk.
“So you got something for your friend Amy?”
“I did,” he replies, shaking the bag in his hand.
“What did you go for?”
“A bolster cushion,” he grins, sipping casually on his macchiato.
“Well, I hope she loves it,” I reply, not quite knowing what else to say. Silence surrounds us, but just as it begins to feel awkward Amalia comes out from her studio almost ready for her next class and smiles when she sees Oliver stood awkwardly with me.
“Come back for another gift?” She smirks as she picks up her coffee.
“Yes, I asked for almond milk,” I smile to her as she nods sipping from the cardboard cup and walks away, music suddenly playing softly as she hides.
“Well, I don’t want to keep you,”
“No— you’re right. I guess I better get going. Should really get back and wrap this up,” he tells me, holding the bag up again and with a small smile, he turns and heads out of the door.
I look down to the cardboard cup in my hand but catch myself looking up and watching as Oliver looks both ways before crossing the road outside the studio. But what surprises me next is when I see him walk into the publishing house across the street.
“Mali—,” I call out, but as she peers around the corner she smiles when she sees a couple of her regulars walking in, mats hanging over their shoulders.
"Talk later?" She smiles, her attention returning to the women in their yoga attire.
“Afternoon ladies, come find a spot, I’m still waiting on a few more before we start,” the chattering women nod and smile as they walk into her studio, pulling off their trainers as they do.
With my head buried in one of my newest book purchases, I’m surprised when the women from Amalia’s class all walk out an hour later, not realising how immersed I’d gotten with the story.
“What you reading?” Amalia asks making me jump.
“A book,” I reply sarcastically, my eyes narrowing.
“I can see that— but what’s it called?”
“The Trouble with Hating You,” I tell her. I’d always been a sucker for romance, boyfriends one through five had been evidence of that.
“Let me guess, it’s a romance?” She smirks.
“Got it in one,” I reply, my tone flat.
“You need a man in your life Sunday, all you really need is some di—,”
“Stop right there,” I warn with a hushed tone.
Hearing her stifled giggles behind me, she disappears back into her studio again, organising her room ready for her next class.
As we lock up a few hours later, Amalia hugs me goodbye and turns to walk home. She’s lucky that she doesn’t live too far from the studio but I make sure to give her a wave when I drive past.
My car. I loved it. The second I saw it I knew I wanted it, sure— it was a little dishevelled but that added to the charm. I’d got it for a bargain. I think the old man that was selling it had no idea of its value and even when I’d offered more than what he was asking for it, he refused outright.
There was just something about a classic car, and this was most definitely a classic. Red in colour, she was beautiful. I’d always wanted a Chevrolet Chevelle and here she was. I remembered sitting on my dad’s lap as he let me drive his slowly down one of the empty roads. Some of my happiest memories had been spent with my parents at the weekends.
But all that changed when they died, and now here I was. My own boss, in a city I’d never imagined living in, and I was finally happy.
Pulling up outside my house, I smile as I turn off my car and make my way up to the door. Unlocking it, I push it open and drop my bags and shoes on the floor, throwing my keys in the dish on the console table. The second I close the door, I instantly feel relaxed. I'm home, safe inside my own little haven.
Picking up the mail, I quickly look through to see if there’s anything urgent but it’s mostly junk mail.
Climbing the stairs and unzipping my hoody, I head straight for the bathroom. But as I switch on the shower, my phone vibrates in my pocket and when I pull it free I smile when I see Amalia’s name on it.
“Hey, guess who I bumped into?”
I roll my eyes, breathing in deeply before I ask, “So?”
“So— he’s been asking for your number,”
“He can get it from work, you know, on the business cards,”
“Not our business number, your number,”
“Oh no—,” I panic, “Amalia you are not giving that man my number, no way, over my dead body,”
“Yeah— I kinda already gave it to him, oh well—, it was lovely catching up, I’ll see you at work tomo—,” she hangs up before I can scream down the phone. I’ll kill her. I’ll get one of the carry straps for the mats and literally throttle her with it.
With a deep sigh, I lay my phone down on the cistern of the toilet and sigh shaking my head. This is the last thing I need. I don’t want or need a man, I’m quite content on my own. I like living alone, I like— well I don’t, I hate being alone, but still, she shouldn’t have just handed my number out.
Irritated, I undress and leave my clothes on the floor in a crumpled mess and climb into the tub, the water from the shower cascading down my hair and onto my body. My muscles relax as I pull my shampoo from the shelf behind me. The scent of coconut fills my senses as I wash my hair clean of the day and sigh with relief when I finally relax.
It’s still a little chilly outside so I decide that once I’m out of the shower and dried off, I’ll pull on my cosiest, fluffiest pyjamas and watch a movie before getting an early night.
When I moved in and the house had been decorated, I, for a split second thought about getting a pet. But when I agreed to pet-sit Amalia’s schnauzer, he’d cocked his leg on my brand new drapes, and I decided that pets were a no-no. Besides, dogs were a huge responsibility and cats were just assholes, I’d found that out when I tried to help a stray that had taken up residence on the fire escape outside my apartment and it scratched me when I tried to give it a bath, so that pretty much made up my mind.
Cosying down into one of the many throws I'd bought for the house, I signed into Netflix and chose ‘Safe Haven’. I always loved a good Nicolas Sparks novel and this movie was perfect. An hour later, with heavy eyes, I heard the faint vibration of my iPhone and slowly pull it from under the throw, grimacing when I see that it's an unknown number. Most likely a cold-caller, I'm now too tired and most definitely not in the mood to talk, but when I answer, I quietly gasp when I hear a voice I definitely didn't expect.