Merry in Manhattan - Part 4
Are you ready to read the end of Lane and Chris’ holiday story?
It’s been so much fun to write this, and I’m really glad I jumped back into short fiction. I love my novels and they are my passion. But, working on something shorter is a nice break and it gives a great sense of accomplishment. (Especially since a novel can take several months or even years to complete!) I can’t promise that I’m going to post flash fiction on a regular basis, but I do want to do more. I wonder if this is the right platform for it though. I love having it on my blog because then I have a “main hub” for everything and people don’t have to click around to different websites. Yet, I also know that people don’t usually go to blogs to read fiction online. So, maybe Wattpad or something is a better option? I’m not sure yet.
“Terrance is there?” Mom asked Christmas morning during our video chat.
I looked over my shoulder to the bedroom door, as though Terrance was going to pop his head in at any moment. He’d (thankfully) slept on the couch all night. I’d been tempted to throw him out, but it was late and cold outside. I wasn’t that heartless. “Yeah, he just showed up last night. Did he tell you anything?”
She shook her head. “Never said a word to me. Although you have been flaunting that new guy of yours online the last few weeks. Maybe it finally made him get his head out of his ass.”
She looked at me innocently. “All of those pictures you don’t consider flaunting?”
“I wasn’t… he’s just a…” Friend? Co-worker? Guy I kissed last night? Great. This was far more complicated now than it was supposed it to be. “We weren’t flaunting.”
Well… maybe we were a little.
“I need him to leave though!”
Mom only shrugged. “It’s your apartment, do what you want. I need to go to my Christmas massage. Have a great day sweetie and I’ll talk to you later.”
“Merry Christmas, Mom,” I said far too glumly than was appropriate for the day.
The moment we ended the chat I heard Terrance talking to someone out in the living room. Was he calling home to wish them a merry Christmas? Oh no. Oh no oh no oh no oh no. I hurried out of my room to find Terrance waving and closing the door and Chris walking away.
I shoved past him and ran out to the hallway. Chris was already stepping onto the elevator.
“Babe! What are you doing?” Terrance called after me.
But it was too late. The elevator door shut before I could get to it. He didn’t even look over his shoulder at the sound of me calling after him. I bounded down the steps in the faint hope I’d beat him downstairs. There was no such luck. When I got down to the bottom floor Chris was already driving off in a cab.
Lucy’s jaw dropped as I told the story. It was that weird time between Christmas and New Year where no one truly knew what day it was. When Lucy saw that I didn’t join Chris at the Kwanzaa party, she’s called me right away since Chris didn’t give her any explanation as to why I wasn’t there. If he wasn’t going to talk about it, apparently she’d be sure I was.
I should have been more concerned about her apparent lack of respect for his privacy but… in all honesty, it felt good to be sharing the whole thing with someone. I confessed how it all was a ruse and we’d had a deal where I would save him from Alexis and in return I’d get his office. I even told her about ice skating after her party and how it seemed like things were changing between us.
“So… what happened with Terrance?” Lucy asked before returning to her tea.
“Apparently he told Chris we’d gotten back together. I threw him out of the apartment the second he told me. He claims that he thought we could ‘work it out.’” I played with my new key chain and twisted it around my fingers.
Lucy scoffed. “Ugh. Men. And what about Chris?”
“I’ve tried talking to him. Calls, texts, even emails. He won’t reply to anything.”
Lucy leaned back in the chair and considered me for a moment. “Chris… he seems like nothing bothers him, but it’s not true. He had a pretty bad break up a few years ago, and everything with his family… it takes awhile for him to trust someone. He totally should hear you out and not believe that Terrance guy and I’m absolutely going to give him a piece of my mind. But, I’m not totally surprised.”
I stuck the key chain back in my pocket and looked out the window of the cafe where we were sitting. Everything was still decked out in it’s holiday splendor, but now that Christmas was over there was a sort of gray tint to everything. “So what do I do?”
“Do you like him?”
As much as I hated to admit it, I really did, and told her so.
“Then show up New Years Eve. I’ll send you the details. Amanda and I will take care of the rest.”
The party was at Chris’ penthouse - because of course it was. Even though we’d spent nearly every day together the last few weeks, this was the first I’d been to his place. It was… huge. It was like a house and it made my head hurt to think of how much rent must be.
Amanda met me at the door and took my coat and showed me around, introducing me to everyone I didn’t know yet. For a brief moment I saw Chris in the kitchen chatting with Levi. Our eyes met and for a second I thought he was excited to see me. A smile played on his lips, but then he lowered his head and with a pat on Levi’s shoulder, exited the room.
I threw my hands in the air. “He shouldn’t even be mad at me! I should be mad at him for ignoring me!”
And I was mad. Clearly he didn’t like me as much as I thought he did or else he would have given me a chance to explain. This whole thing was ridiculous.
Amanda handed me a drink. “He’s not mad at you. He’s just… being Chris.”
I took the drink and took a sip. “That’s what Lucy said too. Trust issues.”
“I mean, he’s being an idiot, and his avoiding you has gone on way too long,” Amanda agreed. “Just… it’ll work out. You’ll see.”
“If you say so-”
“AHHHHH I’M HERE!”
My blood curdled at the sound.
Alexis. She burst into the penthouse with arms raised and heels clacking along the floor. Even I cringed when she walked into a room now and my first instinct was to check on Chris. But no, he had to fend for himself this time. With a roll of my eyes I walked as far away from her as possible because if I knew one thing, I knew she’d go right for Chris. If I was away from her, I was away from him.
The party went on, and Lucy and Amanda made sure I enjoyed myself. We drank and danced and I even flirted with a guy or two. It would be fine. I could make friends and do this on my own. Without Chris.
Alexis shrieked from the patio and everyone turned to look. She burst back into the room and scampered toward me. She grasped my arm and pulled me toward the patio. “Oh my god Lane, you have to help me! My necklace fell off!”
“Alexis, were you even wearing a necklace?”
“Not anymore!” She dragged me outside and I rubbed my arms. Damn, it was freezing out there. “Look down there!” Alexis demanded.
Twinkle lights were strung along the railing and more hung on the bricks walls to illuminate the space. But even then, I had no idea how we were going to see a piece of jewelry. I grabbed my phone and turned on the flashlight and I crouched on the ground to search “Alexis, are you sure you dropped it?”
“What’s going on?” Chris appeared at the porch doorway and stepped out.
Alexis grasped his shoulders and spun him around. “I lost my necklace! I’m so glad you came out here to help! You and Lane look out here, I’ll go back inside.”
“Wait - but-”
She rushed inside and shut the door. He grasped the handle and pulled but it wouldn’t budge. She’d locked it. From inside Lucy and Amanda merely smiled and waved and silently toasted me with their champagne glasses. Of course. There was no necklace.
“She didn’t loose anything did she?” Chris asked.
“I don’t think so.” I sat on my heels and looked up at him. Well… yet another time when I really shouldn’t have been wearing a skirt. Chris chuckled at the sight and extended a hand which I gratefully accepted to stand back again. “I think this is their way of making us talk.”
Chris smiled and didn’t let go of my hand once I was on my feet again. “Yeah… I guess so. I wasn’t sure if you were going to come.”
“Lucy told me to.”
“Right.” He looked down at our linked hands. “Look … I’m sorry I didn’t call you back.”
“Or text… or email…”
He chuckled humorlessly. “Yeah… at first it was because I was mad. But then I was embarrassed. Then I figured it was for the best.”
“Why for the best?”
He sighed and looked anywhere but at my face. “Because if you are back with him, then why should I bother? And if you aren’t, you shouldn’t be with someone who wouldn’t even hear you out."
I shifted so I met his eyes and he had no choice but to look at me. “Chris. Terrance came thinking it was going to be some great grand gesture. He was jealous of you. Our plan worked a little too well I guess. He must have seen how much I liked you.”
He raised his brows. “You do?”
I groaned. “Don’t make me say it again. Your head is going to grow too big.”
He genuinely smiled for the first time all night. “You know, I’d been trying to find a way to ask you out for months.”
I pulled my head back a bit. “You what?”
He shrugged. “The whole scheme was Levi’s idea.” He gestured toward the window where Levi waved.
“Did Lucy and Amanda know?”
He shook his head.
“Who even knows about her.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. All this time, and I had no idea.
Chris stroked my hair and wrapped his arms around me. Which was nice not just because it was him, but also I was freeing. “I’m sorry.”
“You already said that.”
Not able to resist anymore I rose to my tiptoes and kissed him.
“Lane, it’s not even midnight yet-”
“Oh shush and kiss me already.”
Holidays in the city. Definitely better than my small town.