If Love Were By Design, page 22
“That’s right, it’s Mitchell. And this is my friend Kimmy Hutchinson.” Veronica introduced Kimmy to Nora and Colin. They chitchat a few minutes exchanging trivial facts about themselves. Veronica discovered Nora went to college for six years, and received a Communications degree. Colin came from a very privileged family, and old money. However, Nora praised him for becoming successful and wealthy by founding his own company.
“Where’s William?” Colin asked. “I’ve been looking for him for about a half hour now.”
“If you stay here, he’ll find us. We’re waiting for them to come back. He took Travis to the garage because he got a new car, or an old racing car.” Veronica said.
“Ah! That would be an old racing car. He likes those.” Colin said. “I thought he wanted a motorcycle, though.”
“I don’t know.” Nora said with a shrug.
“I think he’s getting one in the summer, but he’s still thinking about it.” Veronica said.
“I’m having a hard time finding anyone. I haven’t seen your parents either, Nora.” Colin said.
“They’re here somewhere. They came to the guesthouse to make sure I was coming to the party. I don’t know what possessed them to think I would come all this way and not walk across the lawn.” Nora laughed.
“Where’s Devin?” Colin asked. There was a slight disdain in his voice as he asked it.
“Philadelphia, I would imagine.” Nora guessed with a shrug. It went unnoticed by Colin because he was frowning not looking at her.
“Figures.” Colin huffed irritated. He then asked Veronica, “How long have you been dating William?”
“Two weeks. Not long.” Veronica said.
“And I hate to admit it, but I drilled her for nearly a half hour when I met her. She’s great! They’re perfect for each other.” Nora beamed at Veronica but she had spoken to Colin. “So you don’t have to quiz her. She isn’t after William for his money. She turned down a sports car for a cat—if that doesn’t tell you anything.” Nora grinned at Colin. “You’re too much like me. I always know what you’re thinking.” Colin looked at Nora in a way that couldn’t be mistaken for anything else but love.
“Colin!” William yelled, the moment he saw him. They hugged and clapped each other on the back. Travis and Colin did the same. William then took Veronica’s hand. “So, you met her.” He said, smiling and gestured to Veronica. He then added before Colin spoke, “I was keeping an eye out for you. How long are you here for?”
“Until tomorrow around noon, then I should get back.” Colin said. “You look happy.”
“I am.” William said, smiling. “And how does Nora look?”
“William!” Nora snapped and pushed his arm.
“Happy too, I would imagine.” Colin replied but didn’t look at her when he said it. “I wouldn’t know.”
“Colin, don’t answer him! You’re egging him on!” Nora implored him.
She was ignored as William spoke over her to say, “You should try to stay a little longer, at least for the weekend. You have to stop taking off so quickly. Nora and the girls will be staying at my condo for a while. You should stay at least a couple of days.”
“William!” Nora snapped again, and then glowered at him. She exhaled a gruff before saying, “Stop it! I’m going to get a drink! And don’t you dare talk about me behind my back!” She threatened William and Colin. Colin protested, saying he didn’t do anything. She rolled her eyes and added, “He’s all yours, Colin.” Then she left. Kimmy and Travis quickly decided to go dance and said they would catch up with them later.
William returning to the conversation blurted out, “Nora’s divorced.” Colin stared at William, and then his face lost all color as the gravity of what he said sunk in. “He’s getting married to some girl named Jennifer. I don’t remember her last name; it’s not important. But I’m sure she could use her best friend. You should stay.”
“What?” Colin cursed, calling Devin all sorts of names except his proper one. “He left her? I hate that man. I really do.” Colin stressed. He looked away in the direction that Nora left. “How are the girls? They’re here too, right? He didn’t take them from her, did he?” Colin asked with sudden fear in his voice.
“No. They’re in the guesthouse.” William informed him.
“Thank goodness, for that!” Colin shoulders slacked. “So,” Colin paused, “she’s living here now? Permanently?”
“She asked to move into the condo for a while, but yes, she’ll be in New York.” William divulged. “She wants to put her kids in daycare so they make friends and she wants a part time job to keep busy. It seems permanent.”
“I see.” Colin said. “Can I ask you a favor?”
“Anything.” William replied.
Colin removed a business card from his wallet. “Tell her to go here for a job. I’ll tell them she’s coming.” William took the card, read it, and then put it in his pocket. “I’ll come back up Monday. Don’t tell her I’m coming back. She’ll get mad at both of us, but mainly me.” Colin smiled.
“What are you going to do?” William asked.
“What I should have done five years ago.” Colin said. William smiled. “Excuse me.” He walked off in the direction Nora had gone.
“About time!” William said when he was out of earshot.
“What was that all about?” Veronica asked William.
“Me pushing Colin to pursue my sister. She always hated me doing it but I don’t think she believes Colin is truly in love with her. At least that’s how I explain away the fact he’s asked her to marry her before and she turned him down—poor guy. They’ve been best friends for years, and use to flirt all the time. That was until she got married.” He paused and added, “Okay, birthday girl. Let’s go find our parents, and then we’re going to dance and drink lots of champagne.”
Hope was weak, and the pain medication was making her dizzy. The veterinarian insinuated she probably wouldn’t be hungry the few first days, and they would have to bottle feed her if she didn’t eat. However, they introduced her to tuna, and she was addicted to it from the first sniff.
They had a heating pad on the floor for her, set to low, and William lay on the floor next to her and watched her. Veronica appreciated how compassionate he was. He was genuinely worried about Hope. He stroked her head with one finger as he waited for her to get over her dizziness. Veronica thought it was the cutest thing in the world to see him so attentive to something as small and weak as Hope. He was sensitive, and she loved that about him. As a reward for being nurturing, she ended up giving him lunch on the floor so he wouldn’t have to move, and then she lay on the futon to watch them together.
“What exactly am I supposed to be watching for, again? Did the paperwork say anything about her dizziness? Because it’s worrying me.” He said.
“No, it doesn’t say anything about that. It’s about the stitches and a warning about her decrease in activity. Dizziness isn’t something they advised us to call about. She’s attacking that string okay while on her side. I’m sure she’s fine.” Veronica reassured him, but truthfully it worried her, too. “She’s eaten three times already today. That has to be a good sign. It must mean she’s healing.”
“I can’t wait until she’s running around your condo like a crazy woman. Then I’ll know she’s okay.” He said. He dangled the string over Hope’s head as she rolled onto her back. Four little paws were in the air, as she batted at the moving yarn. “I miss her snore, though.”
“Yes, that was adorable.” Veronica concurred as Hope got up, but she was so dizzy she managed only a few steps before falling. “Here, I’ll take her to the litter box.” She held out her hand for the kitten.
“I can do it.” He offered, and then asked, “Can I stay here tonight?”
“Sure.” Veronica said.
“My sister is taking the girls to my condo today. They’re probably there now. If not, they soon will be.” He stated.
“Not really. I’m going to be asking to come over here a lot.” He smiled. “Two nights over there I can handle. For how long I don’t know—a month, two, maybe three—but I don’t think so. If it gets hard living with two little girls that aren’t mine and my sister who I haven’t lived with for eleven years, I might have to find a new apartment for a while. I love her, but . . . we’ll see. So don’t think too well of me.”
“You could stay here.” Veronica suggested.
“No, you don’t have to say that. I wasn’t trying to get you to say that.” William said. “I don’t want to pressure you.”
“No, I mean it. I like you here.” Veronica affirmed. “Besides I’m closer to your work.”
He smiled, but looked at her as if he didn’t believe her. “If I can’t handle it, Babe, I’ll beg you to let me stay here, okay?”
“Okay.” She said and smiled.
He left to take Hope to the litter box, and a moment later the phone began to ring. She jumped up, and answered it. “Hello?”
“This is Dr. Teals. I’m calling to see how Hope is doing.” He said.
“Oh, she’s good except she’s dizzy. And I mean really dizzy! It’s worrying us.” Veronica said.
“Okay, that’s the medication, and it’s normal. It’ll wear off. She’ll be herself by tomorrow. If not, then call me. So is there any bleeding, or excessive tiredness?” He asked.
“No.” Veronica said again.
“Okay, good. Good! Anything else you’re concerned with?” He asked.
“No.” She said.
“Well, I’ll call next week then, if I don’t hear from you. You have my phone number in case you need to call me, right?” He asked. Veronica picked up the paper that had instructions on it, and the doctor’s number. As she looked at his number she confirmed she had it. “Good. Okay then. I’ll call back early next week.”
“Thank you.” She said, and they hung up.
“Who was it, Babe?” William called from the other room.
“The vet! He said her dizziness is fine.” She told him, and then turned to open the fridge to get string cheese. William came in a few seconds later to wash his hands. “Where’s Hope?”
“Exploring your spare room—particularly her kitty tree.” He said and smiled. “Are you hungry? We could order takeout tonight.”
“I’m eating this.” She replied lifting the cheese.
“Can I have one?” He asked.
“Yeah, there are lots in the fridge.” She said, and then got one out for him.
He watched her with a small dazed look on his face. She smiled and asked him what he was thinking about. He shook his head and smiled. “You’re beautiful, Veronica. Do you know that? Even at four o’clock on any given Saturday while in nothing but a long t–shirt. Okay, especially in nothing but a long t–shirt. You’re beautiful.” He said.
She smiled. “Thank you. You’re pretty hot yourself, especially in pajama pants and a watch.”
He smiled. “Tomorrow let’s go look at jewelry. I want to get you something for your birthday since you didn’t want the car.”
“I already got Hope.” She said.
“No, I got Hope. I told you to pick out a white one. She’s mine.” He said with a smile.
“No, she isn’t. She’s living with me. The fact she likes you more, right now, means nothing. You’re cuddlier with her, and hogging her that’s all. Once you leave, I’ll have her all to myself, and then we’ll see whose cat she is.”
“What do you want—earrings?” He paused, “What shape diamonds do you like the most: round, princess, oval, what?” He asked.
“Hearts.” She said. “But I don’t want earrings. I don’t want jewelry. I have Hope.”
He took a deep breath, “Fine, I won’t argue. I’ll stop asking and start doing.”
“No, don’t. Please. I don’t want earrings. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who think I’m still that money–loving girl who’s dating you for only that reason. I’d rather not be spoiled by you, and not give people proof that it’s true.” Veronica asserted.
“Who’s going to think that, that matters? No one! My family loves you already. My sister thinks you’re great. No one else matters.” He repudiated.
“It matters to me, Honey.” She retorted. “You haven’t been repeatedly called a gold digger in the gossip papers.”
“Okay, but that was before your name was in the paper, and before you became Marcus Yutan’s former shoe designer. Now you’re the owner of N. Y. Soles. That hasn’t been in the paper for months. Besides, no one would know I got them for you, anyway.” He declared.
“Seriously, please don’t. I don’t want jewelry!” She pleaded.
“So, is this why you didn’t want the car?” He asked.
“I just didn’t want one. Sorry, but I thought I was getting a cat. I had my hopes up for a kitten. I had no idea you were going to take me there, and it really isn’t until now that I’m deciding to say no to extravagant gifts.” She added, “If you’re use to giving big gifts, I’m sorry, but I’m not use to getting them, and it’s not the way I want our relationship to be. I want normal. Truly, I’m not comfortable with lavish dates and gifts. I’ve never been around someone who is rich. This is all an adjustment for me. Until now, I’ve said yes because I wanted to spend time with you, but if I’m being honest it’s overwhelming at times. So please don’t shower me with gifts and let’s stick to dating like we have been.”
“Huh.” He sounded calm, but his body language read a mixture of hurt and insult.
“What?” She asked.
“It’s funny,” he paused, “I’m rich, and yet I’m fighting over money with you.” He added, “I . . . didn’t know you hated that about me so much.”
“We’re not fighting. And I don’t hate it. Hate is a strong word.” She said.
“Well, then I don’t get it. I don’t. No one would know I got you anything. It’s ridiculous. The only person who would know is you. So obviously if not taking a sports car had nothing to do with anyone else but you, and not accepting jewelry has nothing to do with anyone else but you—then it’s you. You don’t like it about me.”
“Fine, get me earrings.” She snapped and waved a dismissive hand. “I’m not going to fight, and you’re turning this into a fight. So get the stupid earrings.”
“Okay, yeah, I’ll get them for you now.” He said sarcastically and then added, “Because you really want them.”
“Don’t be rude!” She said.
“Me? I can’t help it. I’m a giver. You’re telling me to not be myself. And so far everything I’ve wanted to get you, you’ve told me you didn’t want it. How should I react to all that?” He asked.
“I don’t know.” She said, but she didn’t want to talk about it anymore. She put the last bite of cheese in her mouth and left the kitchen.
“Please don’t leave. We’re still talking.” He said. When she didn’t stop he added, “Veronica, seriously. This isn’t over. Nothing is resolved.”
“I’m done.” She said.
“Hey.” He quickly caught up to her. He grasped her hand and said, “Please stop.”
“What?” She asked, annoyed.
“Do you want me to go?” He asked. “Or do you want to talk about this?”
“Preferably, neither.” She said.
“This is a big deal for me. I want to talk about it.” He persisted.
“I don’t,” she blatantly refused. “You’re starting a fight. Let’s drop it before we get mad at each other. I said get them for me. I don’t care either way.”
He stared at her for nearly ten seconds before he slowly nodded and said, “Alright, I will.” He leaned toward her to kiss her, but she turned away and left him in the hallway so she could find Hope.
Hope was on her kitty tree at the very top. When she saw Veronica she meowed. She wanted down, and to Veronica’s relief Hope
“Yeah.” He said. He then put on his jacket and overcoat. “I’ll call you tomorrow, probably around noon.”
“I don’t want you to leave!” She said.
“It’s okay. I should go. I should meet Nora at the condo so she feels welcome.” He said. He wrapped his arms around her.
“I’ll go with you if you wait for me to change.” She said.
“It’s okay.” He said. “You should stay here with Hope.”
“William, seriously, you’re going to leave after we fought?” She asked.
“You wouldn’t even kiss me. I can take a hint, Veronica. And I don’t want to make this any bigger than it already is, so let me get over it and I’ll talk to you later.” He promised. “It’s okay. I’ll call you tomorrow. We’re fine.”
“I don’t get it. Why this is such a big deal to you?” She asked. “This is the shallowest . . .”
“Alright.” He interrupted her. “I love you.” He began to lean forward to kiss her and then he remembered trying to kiss her earlier and he stood upright. He looked at her and waited for her to reply. He looked more hurt than ever when she didn’t, but Veronica was too upset that he was trying to leave to say she loved him back. When she didn’t say it he turned and headed to the door.
“Don’t you dare leave! Or I’ll be so mad; I swear I won’t talk to you for a week!” She warned him.