If Love Were By Design, page 13
Veronica ordered material to make the shoes from the warehouse, but it would be another two weeks before she had everything she needed. So, the supplies she did have sat in boxes in her Queens’s apartment as she waited to move.
Everything was going smoothly. Andrea was hoping they could have their store open within three months, naming it N. Y. Soles. They found a perfect location, downtown next to all the other high–end fashion stores. It was an expensive space, but Andrea kept stressing that location was everything.
Andrea was the take–charge personality William described her to be. She was doing everything, including hiring a designer to decorate the store and making sure Veronica had everything she needed. All Veronica had to do was focus on shoes. Veronica wasn’t as busy as she thought she would be, either. She had time to pack up her apartment as she waited move to Manhattan. Veronica worked Monday through Friday from eight in the morning until four in the afternoon designing shoes. It was a dream–come–true. She was happier than she had ever been, and she had Kimmy and William to share it. Life couldn’t get any better.
“I hope it’s okay I’m stopping by. I’ve never come over unannounced.” William said upon entering her apartment.
“No, it’s fine.” She assured him, smiling. She was glad to see him. “Pop over any time. Seriously, Kimmy does it all the time. Actually, I thought you were her.”
“Wow, you’re almost packed.” He noticed when he reached her living room.
“I’ve been at it for the last three days. I’m getting excited.” She grinned.
“I’m eager for this move, too. You’ll be less than ten minutes from me.” He estimated. “So, are you expecting me to help you move?” He laughed. “Because I don’t have a truck. On purpose. I don’t lift anything except weights. But I would pay for your moving van and labor.” He laughed again, but in all seriousness.
Veronica laughed. “No, I’m going to hire movers. Are you kidding! My bedroom and dining room sets, and entertainment center are all oak. It’s bloody heavy. I’m not going to even try to lift it. Plus my couch is a hide–a–bed.” She said.
“It is?” He looked at it. “Does that mean I can stay over, and crash on your couch in your new place?”
“It’s so uncomfortable—I don’t know why you’d want to.” She said.
“So I can drink wine or beer and not worry about hailing a taxi home.” He said.
“Well then, yeah, I don’t mind.” She said. “If you’re drunk you won’t notice the bar poking you in the back. But don’t say I didn’t warn you when you’re at the chiropractor.” He laughed. Veronica, however, wasn’t joking. It was a terrible bed to sleep on.
“So where’s Kimmy?” William asked. “Have you asked her to move in with you?”
“I keep forgetting, and she’s been busy with school. I’ve hardly talked to her these past two weeks.” She said.
“Actually, I’m bringing her up on purpose.” He confessed.
“Oh, yeah?” She looked at him. “I’m listening.”
“So, Travis,” he paused so she knew where he was going with this, “is asking about her. He wants me (us) to invite both of them out. He’s upset about them not talking.”
“Really?” This surprised Veronica. She had heard so little of the breakup Veronica didn’t think Kimmy was concerned, and Veronica assumed Travis felt the same.
“I take it you two aren’t talking about him.” He observed.
“No, she’s been busy with school and when I did ask about him she said they looked at each other and knew it wouldn’t work out.” Veronica took a deep breath. “Sorry, William, but I did tell you she would break his heart.”
“He’ll be fine. But I will say that they didn’t look at each other and know it was over. He told me that he told her he loved her and thinks he scared her off.” William divulged.
“What?” She scrunched her nose. “That would be ridiculous.” She said, but after she did, she no longer thought so. “Alright, maybe not. So if we get them together, what were you thinking?”
“Do you ski or snowboard?” William asked her.
“Not well. And it’s midsummer.” She said.
“We could go camping.” He suggested.
“I don’t camp. I either stay in a cabin or RV. The last time I camped in a tent was the last time I’ll camp in tent. Plus, I don’t have time, unless it was a weekend thing.” She said.
“Alright, I have a cabin; it a great idea! I’ll arrange everything. We’ll go this weekend, tomorrow night unless you can leave during the day.” He said. “Is that too soon?
“I can take a half day. But I would have to call Kimmy first. She might find it too soon.” She paused. “In fact, let me call her now. I should ask her about Travis.”
“Oh, no don’t! Wait until another phone call. I don’t want her to suspect quite yet.” William said.
Veronica laughed, “She’s going to kill me when she finds out what I’m doing.” She called Kimmy with the speakerphone on to include William, so she wasn’t being rude.
Kimmy answered on the fourth ring. She spoke loudly over music. When Veronica asked her what she was doing, Kimmy said she was on a work break. Veronica waited until there was a pause before she conveyed the purpose of her call. “I got an invitation from William. He asked me to stay at his cabin this weekend and I want you to come with us.”
“He totally wants to sleep with you!” Kimmy blurted out. “I told you he likes you.” Veronica clicked the phone off speaker and put the phone to her ear.
She quickly turned and left the room. “I told you, he’s just friendly and a naturally nice guy! He can’t help it!” She hissed at her when she entered her bedroom. “Besides, we don’t plan on being alone. He asked both of us to come! Now, do you want to go, or not? We would leave tomorrow during the day and probably come back Sunday afternoon.” Veronica tried not to sound so angry and it wasn’t until her last few words that her voice started to return to normal, but she still had to speak loudly to be heard over the music.
“Alright, I’ll go! I’ll call in sick tomorrow, calm down. I’ll call you when I get off work tonight. I haven’t seen you in forever. Maybe I can come over, as long as I have time to pack. I have a lot laundry to do.” Kimmy said.
“You can, but it might not be the two of us.” She said.
“Oh, no! He’s there, isn’t he? That’s why you yelled at me.” Kimmy concluded, and then laughed hysterically. “Did he hear me?”
“You were on the speaker–phone!” Veronica whispered loudly. Kimmy laughed harder. “It’s not funny! That’s so embarrassing! I don’t even know what I’ll say to apologize about that!”
“It is funny! At least now you’ll know. Either he’ll deny wanting to sleep with you, or he’ll say nothing because he’s waiting for you to make all the moves (because he knows you do everything at a snail’s pace).” Kimmy said. “I’ll hang up so you can talk to him. But I’ll drill you later so memorize every word he says.”
“Goodbye, I’m hanging up! I’ll call you later so I can tell you when you need to be ready.” Veronica said.
They hung up, and Veronica came out of her room and looked at William. He was sitting on her couch waiting. He looked up at her when she entered the room. “I’m so embarrassed. I don’t even know what to say. She’s my best friend so what am I going to do?” She asked rhetorically.
“Did she believe you when you told her I’m ‘just friendly’?” He asked while smiling.
“You heard that?” She asked.
“It was hard not to, sorry.” He apologized.
“I’m so embarrassed.” She said.
“Don’t be.” He laughed. “It’s funny.” He stood from the couch. “Well, I should go. I came by unannounced. I don’t want to hang out forever on top of that. I’m sure you have stuff to do.”
“No, I don’t. Do you have to go?” She asked. “It’s seven o’clock. I was about to order take out Chinese Food.”
“I have to work
“Kimmy said she might stop by after she gets off work.” Veronica said.
“You’ll see her tomorrow.” He reminded her.
She thought about it. “Alright, I’ll quickly pack a night bag.”
“I have time. Pack for the weekend. I’ll help you, and then you don’t have to come back tomorrow. I’m sure you could work from my condo.” He added, “It’s not like you have an office right now.”
“Yeah, that makes sense. I might as well take the entire day off tomorrow. It’s pointless to take my sketch–pads and stuff for a few hours’ work.” He said it was okay if she wanted to lounge around. They went into her bedroom and she began tossing items into her suitcase: shorts, t–shirts, and pajamas. He took everything out and folded it before placing them back into her suitcase. She hid panties, bras, and a bikini under a pile of socks. She added, “I don’t think I’m forgetting anything.”
“If you are, it’s not like we can’t run out and get it.” He said. He zipped up her bag and waited as she stuffed several pairs of shoes and slippers into the front pockets. “This is a good idea. We should have thought about you storing clothes at my house a long time ago. I keep thinking each time I come over here for dinner and a movie that it would be nice to have spare clothes so I could change out of my suit.”
“I wouldn’t mind. Kimmy has clothes here because she is always stopping by to borrow mine. I even see you more than her nowadays. I’m sure I could find somewhere to stash your stuff.” She said but she couldn’t think of a place off–hand. “I will definitely have enough room in my new condo.”
She turned off the lights as they left her apartment. They stopped to eat pizza on the way, and got to his place around nine o’clock. He made her a bed on his futon and flattened it. They watched a rerun while they waited for the news to begin. However, by the time the show was over, William was fast asleep.
She watched him sleep, and felt a strong sense of affection toward him. It wasn’t the first time she allowed herself the luxury, and she knew it wouldn’t be the last. As she turned off the television, she couldn’t tear her eyes away from him. The moment she lay her head on the pillow, he rolled toward her, and pulled the blanket up. He was almost asleep when he suddenly reached out and turned on his phone alarm to wake himself in the morning. A few minutes later he was breathing heavily.
The city lights outside made the room glow like a night light. She was torn between touching him or not; the only thing holding her back was her own fear that she would get hurt. Was she setting herself up for another let down? It took her ten minutes to decide to put her arm around him. It was as if she was deciding if she would allow herself to love him despite the possibility he wouldn’t love her back. After all he was a nice guy, and maybe that was all he was—not in love. In the end she took the risk, and moved close to him. He was warm and felt good. She smiled when he wrapped his arm around her waist, and a moment later his heavy breathing began again.
Veronica woke up to an alarm. William rolled away from her, found his phone, and turned off the alarm. “What was that?” She asked groggily.
“It was my alarm. Go back to sleep.” He said as he untangled himself from her.
“What time is it?” She asked him.
“Six.” He said. He added, “Sorry I fell asleep on the couch again. It’s starting to become a habit.”
“If I minded, I could have wakened you.” She said.
“Go back to sleep and I’ll call you later.” He said and got up. Veronica was asleep within five minutes.
She woke a little before nine o’clock. She took a shower, changed, and then went to the kitchen. William left a note explaining the coffee maker, and he told her to make herself feel at home. She slowly drank her coffee sitting out on the balcony. She ran into the kitchen when she heard the phone ring. William was supposed to be calling her. However, when the answering machine kicked on it was Chip’s voice on the other line. “Veronica? Mr. Berks said you would be at his place. I’m calling to let you know I made your reservation. Also, I’m supposed to get Kimmy’s number from you.” Veronica picked up the phone.
“Hello?” She asked into the receiver. “Hello? Chip?”
“Veronica?” Chip asked.
“This is.” She said.
“Oh, this is Chip. I’m Mr. Berks’s assistant.” He repeated.
“I remember you. And I heard you talking, before I picked up the phone. You have the plane reservations?” She asked.
“I have you electronically ticketed for a 3:00 p.m. departure. Do you have Kimmy’s phone number?” He asked and she gave it to him. “Oh, good, I’ll call her and tell her. Also, I’m supposed to remind you that his maid is coming today. Her name is Norma Jean. She has a key, and arrives around ten. She should only be there for about two hours, and you don’t have to leave. Actually, I’m hoping you’ll stay there, so you could buzz up Kimmy when she gets there. I’m not authorized to allow people up to his house, and Mr. Berks is in an important meeting this morning and can’t call. He said you should be staying there. So, you’re staying there right?” She told him she was. “Good. Perfect. I’ll arrange for a taxi to pick you up from his place at one o’clock. He’ll meet you at the airport. You’re flying first class, flight 1640.” He added, “Oh, I almost forgot, when you buzz her in, it’s the black button by the door under a small television screen. You can’t miss it.”
“Okay.” Veronica double–checked the flight number with him and airline as she wrote it down, then they hung up.
At exactly ten o’clock a woman with blond hair and glasses came into his apartment. She looked surprised to see Veronica there, but a moment later smiled and said hello. They talked for two minutes as Veronica explained whom she was, but she had a sneaking suspicion that Norma didn’t exactly trust her. Her suspicion was confirmed a few minutes later when she overheard a phone call she was making, to make sure Veronica was supposed to be there.
Veronica was going use the restroom, but when she heard Norma whispering into her phone about her, she turned and went back to the living room. She picked up her phone and decided to call Andrea to tell her that she was going out of town but could be reached if needed.
“Hi Veronica!” Andrea said.
“Hi, I’m calling to tell you I have two more sketches done.” Veronica began to say.
“I’m sure they’re nice. I can’t wait to see them. Listen, I have two things to tell you, so I’m glad you called. First I put my feelers out looking for an assistant for you. I had someone apply who says he knows you. Lester Benazir. Does that name mean anything to you?” Andrea asked her.
“That’s Marcus’s assistant. He applied?” She asked sounding shocked.
“Yes. Is he any good?” Andrea asked.
“He’s very thorough and devoted. I’m shocked to hear he’s looking for another job.” She said. “But I don’t think I need an assistant. What would I need one for?”
“Trust me, it’s necessary. Would you rather have a girl? I’m not sure what you’re comfortable with. I asked about Lester because his resume looked impressive.” Andrea said. “I think it’s either him, or a girl named Austen Marsh. She’s been working at a nonprofit law office downtown for ten years, but it’s closing down . . . she looks promising, too. How about I set you up an appointment with her next week so you can meet her to see if you get along? I’ll make one with Lester as well.”
“I already know I get along with him.” She said.
“Well, we should go with our gut and hire him then. I’ll call him, and let him know.” Andrea paused. “Okay, the second thing is that I’m looking at your pretty little face right now on the cover of New York City Slander. Have you seen it?”
“What? No!” She gasped.
“There are actually several pictures of you.” An
“What? No, not again!” Veronica groaned. “Can you tell it’s me? I mean, am I recognizable?”
“This is a good thing,” Andrea quickly opposed. “We could spin this. I think now that your name is out there . . .”
“My name is in the paper?” Veronica asked. “My parents might see that. And William and I are not having a whirlwind romance. We’re friends.” She said. But it was hard to admit it. Only because she wished they were more than that.
“This is publicity! This will be perfect! I’ll call my friend who works there, and you should have an interview with her. You can set the record straight, and I’ll make sure she writes about N. Y. Soles. I couldn’t ask for a better advertisement for the opening of this store. Everyone will see it. People love this kind of gossip. All of New York is reading about you’re so–called whirlwind romance.” Andrea informed her.
Veronica cringed. “My parents!” She determined right then that she would go get one of these newspapers. “This is horrible.”
“No. We’ll clear this up in one interview.” She added, “I’ll set this interview up for this weekend. It can be in the paper by next week.”
“I can’t this weekend. I’m going out of town. That’s why I called you. I’ll be taking my phone if you need reach me.” She decided not to say, “I’m going to a cabin with Kimmy, Travis, and William.” It would only have made the rumors look true.
“Oh, no problem, it can wait a week.” She said.
They hung up, and Veronica immediately left the condo, telling Norma she would be right back and please ring her up. She went downstairs and searched until she found New York City Slander. She bought the paper, and didn’t dare look at it until she was back in the privacy of William’s home. She lay the paper flat onto his counter and gasped. The front page had an eight by ten picture of her and William kissing. Although, it wasn’t a clear photo of him because all she saw was his chin, ear, and hair. “Oh, my gosh!” She gasped. How did anyone take that picture? Underneath that picture was another of her and William having ice cream at a restaurant. His arm was stretched across the table. Veronica remembered being there with him, but she didn’t realize until that moment how it looked. It was as if he was waiting for her to take his hand. At least that’s what the picture looked like. There was another picture of them at the art gallery, and she remembered when they went there, too. However, the picture made it look like they were holding hands. There was a fourth picture as well taken at the aquarium. It was dark, and they were facing each other in front of a glass window that looked into the sea turtle tank.