Sign Your Name on My Heart

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Chapter 10

The last day of the convention, there was no sign of Evan or his entourage or his blonde beauty on the elevator down. Of course, I intentionally left my room early so that I wouldn’t run into anyone else, either literally or figuratively. That didn’t stop my wishful thinking.

When I got to my booth, I had a sudden urge to pack it all up right then. I didn’t feel like seeing all the cosplayers or anyone else. The feeling was strong enough to compel me to pull out the transport crates.

But I stood there sipping at my steaming coffee and stared at the empty crates. Placing a fist on my hip, I wondered why I should let a man impede my income. Settling comfortably into my chair, I placed my tablet on my knee and began to draw as I awaited the last of the buyers and browsers.

The day started slow, but it wasn’t long after events got rolling that the warmongers, wizards, and plain old people arrived to reconsider all the art they’d wanted to wait on. Some of them actually bought a few items, and some had put off the best sellers too long and were disappointed enough to find them sold out that they bought a few of my originals instead. But none of them were famous English actors barely disguised beneath baseball caps smelling of patchouli.

I snuck off for a late lunch and crept by the autograph table with a big Evan Emsworth sign out front. Unsure whether I was relieved or disappointed to find Evan had disappeared for his own break, I went in anyway. A long line of fans still lingered in hopes of snagging his signature on their purchased photographs of him or whatever else it was they wanted him to sign. Ignoring the eyes on me as I cut to the front, I caught the attention of a volunteer behind the table. She lifted her eyes with suspicion at me, but the badge around my neck gave me a modicum of authority.

“Hi, could you give this to Evan?” I asked, handing her an envelope with his name on it. I didn’t know if he’d already checked out of his room, but I did know he looked at everything people gave him. She seemed to hesitate again, so I lied: “I found it on the floor, I think a fan might have dropped it.”

It felt stupid, but I couldn’t stop myself. Hidden inside the envelope was a sketch I’d drawn of myself and Evan holding hands in the coffee shop while the rain hit the window beside us. I knew it was self-indulgent, but I’d thought, at least for a short while, that there was a spark between us. Maybe it was just that he wanted something temporary, or maybe I was just delusional, but it was too late to change my mind about giving him the drawing because the volunteer took the envelope from me and said she’d put it with the rest of his gifts.

Early Monday morning, I packed up the last of my goods, leaving the convention, the hotel, the city, and my heart in the rear-view mirror.

Sticking closer to home along the coast-based convention circuit, I focused on setting up booths at the smaller comic and art-driven gatherings. These had their own types of celebrities, but they didn’t attract the brouhaha that the actors did, and I much preferred the more subdued followers and the humble artists. Well, most of them were humble anyway. In any case, I was glad not to be amongst the more famous, even if my art didn’t sell as well. I never wanted to experience the loss of freedoms and privacy that came with being too well-known.

These thoughts made it slightly easier to put Evan out of my mind. I told myself I was glad he hadn’t been seriously pursuing me. I didn’t want to be followed by fans and paparazzi, photographed and interrupted while trying to accomplish mundane errands or enjoy downtime. He’d said his life wasn’t always like that, of course.

It didn’t help, though, that he was quite funny and charming.

But I wasn’t going to think about that.

The earlier warmth of the summer was cooling down as autumn approached and the circuit was winding down for the season. On all my social media pages, I'd opened commissions for art again. I’d need the work to sustain me when online sales alone didn’t--at least until the conventions started up again. If I had any sort of “fan base" who bought my art, they were all in the virtual world.

Which made it all the more odd when someone approached my booth, placing a print and marker on the table in front of me. The person didn’t say anything, but it was clear even from the corner of my eye that they were intent on asking for an autograph. Sometimes buyers did that when they purchased an original piece of mine though I hadn’t had any buyers so far on the last day of my last convention. I thought perhaps it was a return visitor who’d been too shy to ask the first time. I was busy woolgathering as I colored in the lines of my current WIP, so when I looked at the print on the table, I thought I was imagining things.

It was the sketch I’d placed in the envelope and given to the volunteer at Evan’s autograph table, hoping he’d find it somewhere amid dozens of other letters, cards, and gifts. The pounding in my chest was suddenly the only sound I could hear, but the familiar scent of his patchouli mix filled my senses. My lips fell apart of their own accord as my gaze drifted up to meet those warm, chestnut eyes once again.

Whether by habit or preference, he had a baseball cap pulled low over his forehead, its bill almost touching his rectangular spectacles. He looked just like he had when we’d first met, except all the stubble on his face was gone. The raging dragon in me wanted to grab the scarf around his neck and demand answers to questions my mind hadn’t fully formed while the pining girl in me wanted to jump over the table and hug him. But I didn’t want to get ahead of myself.

“Hi Evan,” I said instead.

“Hallo Wendolyn.” That sunny smile of his came with the greeting, his eyes twinkling as he teased me with that old childhood taunt. I couldn't even be mad about it. “I’m glad you announce where your booths will be on the webpage listed in your book. I never had a chance to ask for your number.”

Probably I’d have ignored his calls or text anyway. Probably.

Maybe not.

“I thought you were going back to England after Wisconsin,” I said, adding in my mind: with your rich, skinny, and long-haired blonde girlfriend.

“Yes, and I did. But then I saw you were going to be here. So... I flew back.” His cheeks turned a little pink and he gave me a slight grimace as his hand went to the crown of his cap as if he meant to smooth out his hair, but when he remembered he was wearing the cap, he gripped the back of his neck.

Setting my art supplies on the table, I stood up and raked my fingers through my unruly waves. But then I crossed my arms over my chest. “Surely you didn’t come all this way for me to sign this. I mean, technically, it’s already got my signature.”

I gestured at the print on the table. He looked down at it and back at me, shifting his hips nervously.

“No, not really,” he admitted. He paused, but nothing followed except his stare.

Walking around the table, I stood in front of him with my face tilted up to his. My arms were still crossed, and I was quite sure I could outstare him. So, I waited for him to explain why he flew across the Atlantic to a little coastal comic convention.

“Well…” Evan began, inhaling a breath. “The thing is that we never finished testing that theory of those thirty-six questions.”

I raised my brows and gave him a sideways glance. “Seemed to me the theory was already null and void before we even began since one question I failed to ask was whether you already had a girlfriend.”

He sighed quietly. “Ask me now.”

After a moment of hesitation and contemplation, I finally relented. “OK. Do you already have a girlfriend?”

He shook his head. “No. And I didn’t then, either. I did once, but I broke up with her when I realized she was more interested in my connections than me. That’s exactly what she came to the hotel for that night, too. I tried to explain to you, but you weren’t listening. And then I couldn’t find you later when I finally got five seconds free.”



It was my turn to shift uneasily. “Sorry for being presumptuous. Again.”

Evan put his arms around my waist, pulling me up closer to him, and my hands migrated on their own to his shoulders. “Well,” he said, lowering his head to mine, “Maybe we can test that theory again over a latte. With a little heart in the cream.”

My little heart was thundering away.

“We could,” I agreed.

Then he finally kissed me.

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