Chapter Fifteen - A Fish Out Of Water
“Uh, Ms. Reynolds.” Melody’s voice squeaked from behind me. Flustered, I turned and looked at the young woman who was sitting in my chair. She smiled at me and then pointed to the computer.
“I was wondering if you could help me? Mr. Wolf asked me to schedule his meetings for tomorrow and Thursday leaving Friday free. I’ve rearranged them with the people he was meeting on Friday, but I can’t add them into the company calendar.”
I smiled and nodded, before walking over to the desk.
I showed Melody how to add the events into the calendar that was synced between the two computers. It took less than a minute, and once she’d watched me do it once she had it.
“Thank you.” She grinned. She looked over into Brennan’s office. He was on a phone call, a serious look on his face. “You guys make a cute couple.”
The comment caught me off guard. More than off guard, how had she gathered that from such a small interaction.
“Oh, we’re not a couple.” I replied.
“Sorry! I just thought, the chemistry you have… it’s beyond palpable.” Melody’s face reddened, she looked down at the desk and sighed to herself. “I shouldn’t have assumed.”
“It’s fine, we’ve just worked together for a while. That’s all.”
Ha. I was beginning to believe my own bullshit.
I left the office and drove to my apartment. It was empty and cleaned sans my suitcase and spare keys which sat by the entrance way with a business card and a box of chocolates. The business card said “we’re moved that you picked us!”
I gathered everything and walked out the door locking it behind me. I handed my keys in to the super before leaving and driving to Tribeca. My car, an early 00’s Toyota corolla did not look like it belonged. I felt like an imposter, because I was. I drove into the parking garage, taking a ticket and parking in the 2nd of Brennan’s car parks. I’d been to Brennan’s apartment complex more than once, usually to leave a file at the reception. I’d never been up to his place, never seen inside. If Wolf Industries office space was anything to go by I was expecting similar minimalistic clean lines in black and white monochrome. I walked into the reception. The same receptionist I’d seen behind the desk a number of times sat there. She was slightly older with greying hair and kind blue eyes, She seemingly recognized me as I approached, and turned around for a brief moment before returning her gaze to me.
“Ms. Reynolds.” She murmured, standing up. She held out a black key card to me. “Mr. Wolf asked that we have this waiting for you.”
I took the key card and gripped my fingers around it tightly. Her gaze softened, she could probably see my nerves and she tilted her head.
“He’s in the penthouse suite.” she noted. “Would you like me to accompany you up?”
I nodded. “Please.”
She walked around from behind the desk and held out her hand for me to shake.
“I’m Anna, I’m not sure how long you’re staying, but I figure rather than you seeing me as a nameless person behind the desk I should share my name.”
I nodded. “Call Me Grace and uh, I am only here until after the weekend. I moved out of my apartment and Brennan offered his guest room until I leave New York.”
We walked to the elevators and Anna pressed the button.
“Oh, you’re not working for Mr. Wolf anymore?”
I shook my head. “We have different ideals, too much internal conflict.”
Although that conflict was beginning to not matter so much. The door to the elevator opened a minute or so later and we walked inside.
“Oh, he always speaks so highly of you.” She replied without skipping a beat.
I frowned, he talked about me? With the receptionist to his building? Anna and I had only had a handful of conversations over the three years I’d been working for Brennan, and they were always about work. Why had they talked about me?
“He’s lonely.” She said. “When I’m on the night shift at the desk sometimes he comes down and we talk and share a hot drink.”
My heart hurt at the thought of Brennan feeling lonely. I’d always assumed his nonchalance in life went to the bone, that he wanted to be closed off, but it was skin deep. I felt the sadness in my chest, but I had to wonder, why on these chats did I ever become the topic of conversation. Suddenly the elevator made me feel claustrophobic. I looked up at the screen with the floor level on it, we were almost there.
“I’m glad he has someone to talk to.” I replied, truly meaning it.
“I’m probably not his first choice.” She chuckled. “But, I’m glad too.”
When the doors opened we both stepped out, Anna showed me to the door and how to use the key card, Brennan’s apartment door opened and I pulled my case through the threshold.
“I’m sorry that you’ll be leaving New York.” She said softly before walking back into the elevator.
I watched as the elevator door closed and then stepped into the apartment. I closed the door behind me and pulled my case behind me as I turned. His apartment was not at all what I was expecting. The floors were dark oak, and the walls white, but decorated with rustic art. He had a beautifully stained wooden dining room table, had chairs for six, though I doubted it ever sat that many, sitting by the kitchen. It wasn’t monochrome, Brennan’s personality was splashed throughout the living area. It was warm and inviting.
I walked through the apartment, down into the hallway, I checked through the doors, figuring the guest room was the one that was most sparse and left my case by the door.
I watched TV for an hour or two before boredom began to take over. I glanced at the time on my phone. It was almost 5. Brennan would be home in an hour or so himself. I turned the TV off and looked over at the kitchen.
Brennan had told me to make myself at home, so I stood up, walked to the kitchen and rifled through his fridge and pantry. Judging by the lack of what I would have considered bare essentials I assumed he didn’t cook much, if ever. I was however, surprised to find all of the ingredients for Chicken fettuccine alfredo. I started cooking, and the apartment began to fill with food smells that only served to make me hungry. I was finishing up as the door opened.
“Oh, Hey.” He exclaimed as he placed his keys and wallet down on the table. “You cooked?”
He walked into the kitchen and pulled two glasses out of the cupboard behind me, I heard the pop of a wine bottle.
“You didn’t have to cook.” He continued.
I laughed. “I know, I was bored. You hungry?”
“Starved actually. I worked through lunch.” He murmured walking the two glasses of wine over to the table. He placed them down, and then walked back to where I stood serving the pasta into the dishes.
“Can I help?”
I shook my head. “Take a seat.”
He smiled and walked back to the table, sitting down facing me, watching as I worked. When I was finally down I walked with the two bowls over to the table and placed one down on the placemat in front of him. The first mouthful was always the best, ever since mom had taught me to cook I always savored the first bite. Now more than ever.
“Holy shit.” Brennan exclaimed, his mouth full of pasta. “This is amazing.”
“Thank you.” I replied.
“You can cook for me any time.” He said, twisting and scooping another forkful into his mouth. “Seriously.”
“Are you offering me a job as your personal chef?” I laughed.
“Would you take it?” he replied after swallowing his mouthful.
I shook my head. “I cook to relax. Or to curb boredom.” I smiled and ignored the bare emotion threatening to surface. “Mom taught me, and she told me, as long as I knew how to cook I could make someone smile. Even if it was just myself. It’s cathartic in a way.”
“I wish I could have met your Mom. She sounds pretty spectacular.”
I nodded. “She was.”
“Well, I’m surprised you found anything to cook with. I don’t know how to cook. The last time I tried, I burned ramen.”
“Well, I don’t believe that. You bought the chicken last night.” I mused.
“And I would have burned it to a crisp if I’d ever cooked it.”
“Well lets be thankful that wasn’t the case then” I smiled.
Once we were finished I went to clear the table but Brennan didn’t allow it. He took the dishes from me, poured me another glass of wine and proceeded to clean up after me.
“My mother didn’t teach me how to cook.” He smiled, placing a plate into sudsy water. I bit back a laugh, he looked a little silly still dressed in his button up shirt and suit pants doing the dishes. “But she did teach me that the easiest way to show appreciation for a good meal, is to help with the clean up.”
“My Mom, would have liked your Mom.” I murmured. “But uh, you do have a dishwasher.”
Brennan looked behind him where the dishwasher sat flush between the cupboards. He looked over at me and grinned.
“I know, I just wanted to put some effort in. Show off my cleaning skills?” He finished his sentence with a question, before laughing and flicking his wet hand in my direction.
“Well, you wash a good dish Mr. Wolf.” I laughed.
“I know you’ve probably found the guest room, but I should probably give you a tour. So you can uh, get to know the place.” Brennan said a few minutes later, walking out of the kitchen. “For when my parents are here.”
“Oh, yes. Of course. Lead the way.”