The taxi dropped me off at the corner.
I buzzed the intercom.
I buzzed again.
A muffled voice. “Yeah?”
“Jake. It’s me. Lila.”
“Lila? Thank God, Lila. What took you so long?” The door unlocked and I went into the plush, marble foyer of Jake’s building. Golds and blacks. A huge bouquet of silk flowers arranged in a Greek-style urn. I took the elevator up to the fourth floor.
His door was open and his silhouette was standing there, shirtless in pyjama pants. With his hair all askew and his chunky metal bracelet with its little red lights.
I never realized how many tattoos Jake had. Or how buff he was. He gave me a big, warm hug. Jake was a hugger and there was something so comforting about that hug I thought I might start crying all over again, but I held it together. “Jake.”
He ushered me inside and closed the door. “Have you heard from him?”
“I – yes. I got a couple of texts. I tried to call him but couldn’t get through.”
“We can’t find him. He’s not answering his calls.”
“What do you mean you can’t find him? Isn’t he at home?”
“No. He never went home. He went to Key West. But he hasn’t been in contact since. And I can’t fucking go down there. I can’t leave my goddamn ‘zone’. I’m about to call the cops, Lila. But I know he wouldn’t want me to. I’m worried he’ll do something crazy. You have to go find him.”
“What about … Shawna?”
“Shawna? Are you serious? She’s the last fucking person he’d want to see. I can’t even get in touch with him to tell him there’s no baby.”
“I got our lawyers to issue a court-ordered pregnancy test, where they lock you in a room and make sure you’re not faking anything. It came back negative. She’s not pregnant, Lila. Never was.”
“She was lying, Lila.”
“What? But, how? Why? How could she do that?”
“She wanted to break you up. She wanted him back.”
“Oh my god, Jake.”
“I know. She regrets it, now. She was all apologetic about it, to me. Crying and shit. Alexander doesn’t even know. He won’t answer his fucking phone.”
I couldn’t get my head around all this. “He never even came back with you?”
“No. He went straight to JFK. He got me to put Mark in as interim CEO and –”
“Yeah. He was by far the most qualified for the job. I’ve been working with him and we can keep Wolfe Enterprises on track, just. But I’m worried, Lila. Alexander told me not to worry about him, but I am. He’s never done anything like this before. He’s always been the one who helps everyone else. And now I can’t even help him. He needs help, Lila. I can feel it. You have to do it. You will, right? You’ll go down there and find him?”
Seven hours later, after three transfer flights, I was at the small Key West airport. The air was warm, balmy and tropical through the taxi’s open window. Jake had given me the address and the car dropped me off in front of a small two-story villa. It was beautiful with its palms trees and wrought iron, but much less grandiose than his Manhattan penthouse, his Paris hotel, his Hamptons beach house.
The door was unlocked. This, in itself, seemed like a bad sign. Alexander was usually careful; he checked locks and thought about the security of his properties and possessions. It wasn’t like him to overlook something like that.
I called his name, my heart kick-starting into an up-tempo beat. I was going to see him again, any minute. Would he be angry with me? Would he be happy to see me?
“Alexander?” I called again.
I walked into the house, shocked at how I found it. The place was a complete mess. There were bottles everywhere. A few pieces of furniture had been knocked over. The windows and doors were wide open, affording an enchanting view of a courtyard patio that led to a private white-sand beach and a long wooden dock that had a little roofed sitting area at the end of it. More bottles, and empty glasses. Several had been smashed. Even with all the fresh air circulating, the place had the distinct smell of alcohol.
I walked up the staircase, calling out to him again. No answer. The silence was deafening. I tried calling him again but got the same message about his full voicemail.
Upstairs, it looked untouched. In one corner of the large bedroom lay his discarded tux.
Where was he?
He’d obviously been here, drowning his sorrows like nobody’s business.
I had no idea what to do, where to go or where to look. I called Jake. “I made it,” I said. “The place is a mess, Jake. He’s been drinking a lot. But he’s not here.”
“Is the boat there?”
“No, there’s no boat.”
“We’ll give him til tomorrow morning to turn up, then I’m calling the police and the Coast Guard. Something might have happened to him.”
“Oh god, Jake. Where could he be?”
“He knows his way around a boat, Lila. He’s a competent navigator. He might have just taken some time out. I’m going to call you back in the morning. He’ll kill me if I involve the authorities. He hates any press. But if there’s still no sign of him by then, I think we’ll have no choice.”
“Okay. I’ll stay here. I’ll wait for him.”
After Jake hung up, I tried to keep myself as busy as possible. I cleaned the place up, collecting the bottles and putting them into a trash bag. I wiped down the kitchen and mopped the floor.
Then I went out to the dock and walked to the end of it, sitting at the very end, looking out to sea.
I miss you. Where are you? Come back to me.
I sat there and watched the sunset.
When it was dark and there was still no sign of him, I went back into the house. I went upstairs. I undressed and got into his bed.
My tears wet his pillows.
Come back to me.