*SPOILER ALERT* For those who have read the book, here’s a little peek into Alex’s head the night he picked Isa up from the Bar.
“God damn it!” My hands pound on the steering wheel as I weave in and out of traffic. I stop myself right before the last syllable and my lips curve into a slight smile. She’d be glaring at me by now before reaching out to swat me playfully. My thoughts of her are interrupted by the ringing of my phone.
“Hey, it’s me. Are you almost there yet?” It’s her best friend Betty. Well, I’d like to think, her other best friend, Betty.
“Not yet, I’m stuck in fucking traffic. But I should be there in less than an hour.”
“Okay. I didn’t tell her you were coming to get her. She’s going to argue against it and I just can’t deal with it right now.” Her voice fades in and out. She’s driving home from a convention with Leigh.
“Got it. Don’t worry, I’ll be there soon,” I say, as I turn into a side street hoping for a short cut. “How is she? Is she upset?”
“No, she’s actually the opposite that’s why I’m worried. A calm Isa means a bottled up Isa. And you know how she gets when she internalizes stuff. Take care of her, okay? Just make sure she gets home safe and sound and I’ll call her in the morning.”
“Yes, boss.” I say as I hang up the phone. What I really want to say is that I would make it my life’s commitment to take care of her if I could.
I finally make it in a little over an hour and jump out of my car, leaving the keys in the ignition. I know the guys at this bar. This has been THE bar for many, many years. For some reason, I don’t see her at first. She’s tucked away at the end of the bar, right where the counter meets the wall. There’s a guy sitting right next to her and you can tell from his body language that he’s putting the full moves on her. His left arm is now on the back of her bar stool and their shoulders are touching. I see her only because she throws her head back in that giggle of hers that drives me crazy.
Three steps later, I’m right by her side. “Dude, she’s with me.” I recognize the guy from the International School I attended. Another jock. Football, this time. He ignores me at first until she jumps up, excited to see me. My God. She is beautiful. She’s wearing this dress that’s way too short and her endless legs stop at another sexy pair of four inch heels. All that running that she does is so worth it.
She trips and falls right into me. Her arms wrap around my neck and I hold her close. Too close. I’ve held her before but this time it’s different. Her full weight is upon me and I press on to her even more. I think I’ve crossed the friend line. No. I’m sure I have. But I don’t care. I caress her back as she nuzzles into my chest and asks me to take her home. I half-carry her into the car and as I strap her into the front seat, she looks at me with those soulful doe eyes and asks me why I always save her. Because I love you, I want to say. And this is what people who are head over heels in love do.
She’s a chatterbox in the car on the way to her house. I try not to say a word, hoping she’ll open up about her latest discovery and tell me how she’s feeling. The sweet sound of her voice fills the silence and I finally have to laugh when she asks me when my last oil change was. We arrive at the house and I hand her off to Mellie. I kiss her forehead before sending her off upstairs. For a while, I remain in the dark entranceway unsure of myself. I should probably leave so she can sleep this off. Before I decide what to do, Mellie is back downstairs.
“She’s asking for you, sir Alex,” she whispers as she shuts off the hallway lights and bolts up the front door.
“Thank you, Mellie. Don’t worry about the front door. I’ll lock up when I leave.”
I run up the stairs hoping to catch her while she’s still awake. She’s sitting up against the headboard, tucked under her blanket, her smiling eyes half closed, her voice croaky and tired. She pats the space next to her and asks me to stay until tomorrow. I want to. She’s wearing mismatched pajama tops and bottoms. It’s just so her – always making a fashion statement even when she goes to bed. The top she wears is a button down and as she leans over to prop some pillows up on my side for me, I see that she has freckles on her chest. I want to kiss them so badly, feel every single raised bump on her flawless skin with my lips. Why am I so nervous? It’s not like I haven’t done this before. In fact, I’ve been doing this for so long. Meet a girl, take her home, stay over for the night.
And yet, here I am. Pitifully grateful for the chance to hold her close. Ecstatic to have gotten a glimpse of her secret freckles.
Maybe it’s because she can never be mine.
“Night, Alex. This is why I don’t drink. It makes me so tired,” she says as she lays her head on my chest. I wrap my right arm around her and feel her chest rise up and down against me. Her hand is gently tracing circles on my torso and I’m closing my eyes, accepting every touch. I am ruined. From this moment on, the slate in my brain is wiped clean and I have no memory of any other woman in my life except her.