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"He got my note, and just maybe he liked it! Whatever the case, he felt a face-to-face response was in order, and that had to be a good thing."

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18 – Love Letter

I couldn’t deny it any more.  After spending an evening in his company, and then replaying every blissful second over and over in my mind like a pathetic junkie, I had to admit to myself that I was truly obsessed—worse than I had ever been before.  It was bad.

I’d seen Ash off and on after that first encounter at Tinsel Town, though I don’t think he was aware of that.  Never on Mondays, though.  I determined that Monday must be his day off and then I had a new reason hate Mondays all the more.  I wondered what he did with himself when he wasn’t babysitting me.  Was he a car enthusiast, like Lidia?  Did he enjoy music?  Maybe he traveled to interesting places, happy to get away from the boring monotony of watching me living my stupid life.  Was there someone special?  I switched off my questions after that one popped up.  I felt a familiar stab in my chest the instant I’d thought it.  I quickly turned my mental channel to something more enjoyable.

I’d had the most wonderful dream about him recently.  It was very vivid and pleasurable.  In fact, I was certain I’d had this dream before, but this time his face and voice were very clear, whereas before they had been muddled.  We were walking in a field of fireflies at night.  He was holding my hand and telling me that he loved me.  I was telling him that I liked chocolate and the color magenta.

After I had invited him over for dinner it occurred to me, belatedly, that he could have gotten fired over that.  There had been two agents in the past, both of whom I was sure had been dismissed because of my interactions with them.  That was fine; I didn’t feel bad about them at all.  In fact, getting them fired had been my aim.  I’m not a mean spirited person, but I have no patience for self-important, discourteous behavior, especially when it’s directed at timid people like me.  I had a feeling that these ‘security’ personnel made a decent wage, and although I hated the waste that their care over me incurred, I’d be darned if I’d allow a jerk to profit from it.

One watcher had been following Sam and me around the mall on a Saturday and settled into a booth directly behind us at Ruby Tuesday’s when we all took a break for lunch.  This fellow was fairly new in the rotation, but had made himself noticeable right away simply through his body language, but also through stunts like sitting too close—it creeped me out.  He exuded self-importance; something I had instantly picked up on, like a whiff of dead mouse in the garage.   I have nothing against important people, but treating others rudely to create a false sense of superiority offended me on many levels.  None of the other personnel stood out in any way, (apart from the impossibly handsome one, though even he was hard to spot in most cases) so I wondered about this new guy, and how he came to be one of them.

I ordered a quiche, which came with the salad bar, so I’d been up a few times, back and forth to get this and that and I had noticed him being very rude to his waitress, more than once.  In fact, at one point, from where I was standing at the salad bar near the kitchen, I could see her inside near the service line waiting for a plate of food to be redone at his insistence, while wiping her eyes with a tissue.

I was curious about something so after Sam and I left the restaurant, with him following right on our heels, I did an about face, nearly knocking into him, and marched right back over to the table where he had been sitting.  The waitress was standing there and the bus boy was moving in that direction.  Just as I suspected, he’d left her a penny, which she was holding up to inspect in disbelief.

I went right up to her and handed her a ten—my entire cash reserve.

“He’s an idiot.  You’re a great waitress.  Just walk it off.  Oh, can I have that?”

I took the penny out of her hand and walked swiftly away and back out into the hall where I knew he’d be loitering around.  Then I marched directly up to him and said, “I think you forgot something.”

He looked like a deer in the headlights, or maybe more like a skunk in the headlights.  He must not have anticipated what I was about to give him because he opened his hand expectantly while at the same time looking away, or maybe around to see if anyone else was watching.  I pressed the single penny back in his palm and said, “This is for poor service.  I hope it was worth it,” and I turned and stormed away.

I never saw him again.

My Goth friend had been shadowing me in stony amazed silence.  As I stomped off in no particular direction, still seeing red, she said, “Who are you, and what have you done with my non-confrontational best friend?”

As time moved forward and winter phased into spring I began to actively seek opportunities to be out and about.  At first I didn’t consciously understand my own motives.  I just thought I was making up for lost time from after the funeral.  But when I began to reflect on the difference in my moods after outings that included an Ash sighting and those that did not, it occurred to me that the common thread to a pleasant and successful venture was the thrill of spotting my perfectly cast angelic looking guardian angel.

From there I progressed to orchestrating ‘lost and found’ scenarios, but only if he was around, and of course, never on Mondays.  I’d ‘lose’ my iPod anytime I downloaded new material, so he could hear what I was listening to.  I left books behind so he could see what I was reading.  I loved a news parody website called ‘The Onion’ and I’d print off bogus articles from there that made me laugh and then leave them laying around for him to find.  I wanted to make his job as interesting and enjoyable as I could with what little resources I had to work with.

There was, however, a serious potential flaw in my logic to consider:  Was I truly making things interesting for him, (after all, tastes in entertainment are highly subjective) or was I simply working to confirm what he must already suspect:  that he was watching the most foolish and forgetful person on the planet?

Finally I got to the point where I couldn’t stop the mental stream of fantasizing and the old familiar sick twist of my stomach and polar emotions began creeping up on me.  I really wanted to believe that he was fond of me like I was fond of him, but he was probably just fond of having an easy job. Could he ever possibly be interested in me for reasons other than work?  Since he knew my life inside and out, and the complete lack of anything remotely interesting associated there, the answer was probably no.  After all, nothing had changed since the last amazing guy I fell for didn’t want me.  I still wasn’t cool, gorgeous or grown up.

My mind kept spinning back to the one and only time I’d actually had him to myself, first at his house for five minutes and then in my kitchen for five more.  He was kind and polite and smooth and divinely handsome.   And then there was the Ash of my dreams.  Holding my hands, hugging me and telling me how much I meant to him.  I had to hand it to my subconscious, when it came to pleasant mental concoctions featuring the men I loved, mine were world class.

One day I was toying with the idea of leaving a love letter behind for him.  I wasn’t sure if I could really go through with it, but I thought it might be therapeutic to get my feelings out in the open, so I sat down at the computer and began to type.

Please don’t be mad at me.  I’m not trying to get you in trouble or fired.  I’m just frightened that you’re going to disappear before I get the chance to tell you how I feel about you.   I know I’m too young for you.  I know you’re just doing your job.   And I’m so sorry if you don’t want to hear this…

But, I think I’m in love with you.  I can’t stop thinking about you.  I dream about you all the time.  Sometimes I see you when you’re on duty and it makes my day.   When I don’t see you, I miss you, and I wonder where you are and what you’re doing, wishing I was there too.  I feel happy when I think of you, more than that, actually, but then I turn around and cry because I’m probably wasting my time hoping for something that won’t happen.

It’s scary to confess all of this, but dealing with the suspense is even worse.  I can brave the embarrassment.  What I can’t brave is not knowing where I stand in your eyes.  If you don’t return my sentiments, then please don’t worry.  I won’t make things hard for you.  I promise.  I care about you too much to be mean.  Just please tell me either way so I can breathe.

Normally, with any other creative endeavor, I would make so many passes and edits that the end product was only a vague evolutionary ancestor of the first draft.  But with this note, the apologies, the confession and the pleas keyed out perfectly from my mind and onto the screen—no correction or fine-tuning was necessary.  I read it over one time, instead of a hundred, saved it, and didn’t make a copy for myself.  Desperation had an unexpected side effect:  efficiency.

My main concern was that he might not be the one to find my note.  Sometimes I’d see him and leave something behind, but then another agent would collect it.  A note like this would be highly damaging if someone besides Ash were to discover it.  How could I get around that, short of handing it to him myself, which would probably be even more damaging?

He looked to be the youngest person on the team, which perhaps meant that he was also the most technologically savvy.  I decided to take a chance using a trick someone had played on me in class once.

I had worked for the better part of a week preparing a presentation for a Senior English project.  My document was up on one of the class computers and I had walked away to make sure that the printer was on-line when an error had popped up.

When I came back, my file was still open, but there was nothing there—nothing but blank pages.  I clicked the undo button from the Edit menu, but nothing had been deleted.  I nearly had a panic attack induced seizure and the freak-out must have given the perpetrator exactly the sadistic pleasure they’d been going for.  Sam came to my rescue and wordlessly put my document back the way it was by highlighting everything and changing the font color from white back to black.  Someone had done the same thing to her recently.

I don’t think I would have figured that out.  But I had a feeling that in his group, if anyone could figure it out, it would be the one person I’d want to.  Just to provide a slight hint, I named the file ‘Change_The_Color’.  Then I left it behind on a jump drive one afternoon at Panera just before Sam, Trevor and I headed off to the movies.

I tried not to think about what was happening while I watched the movie.  But I knew it was either one of two things:  Ash was figuring it out…or he wasn’t.  I had a feeling it would end up back in my purse somehow before the movie was over and I’d have to wait until I was home to see if he had typed any response.  And then it occurred to me that maybe his response would be a rejection; and having a written refusal, that I could review over and over again, might be the makings of Heartbreak Debacle two-point-o.

I decided to focus on the movie and skip the negativity until I had something for sure to be negative about.  I also decided to leave my purse in the seat next to me to give him an extra opportunity to place my response, since by the end of the movie there was no jump drive inside.

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It was a pretty decent sized audience for a matinee and it took a while to merge into the exiting crowd pushing out the main aisle.  Sam and Trevor had no problems cutting into traffic because of the invisible barrier they enjoyed as part of their special Goth super powers.  If they’d been holding me between them I could have gotten in on that, but I was lagging behind and had to wait for an opening like a mortal.

I was thinking about how it would feel go to a movie with Ash and hold hands on the way out, and all during the movie, for that matter.   As if in answer to my fantasizing I felt a warm firm grasp around my left hand as I was pulled slightly backwards and into the last row.  I wasn’t scared, or even surprised.  He got my note…and just maybe…he liked it!  Whatever the case, he felt a face-to-face response was in order, and that had to be a good thing.

He pulled me back towards the center of the row, searching my face to make sure I wasn’t alarmed.  What I was could best be described as euphoric.  His gorgeous, magnificent face was peering down at my own, and his expression was every bit as euphoric as mine had to be.  Then he spoke to me.

“I think this is yours,” he said in a smooth, quiet voice.

He still had my hand and turned it up to place something small and plastic inside:  a jump drive, but it didn’t feel like mine.  It felt more rounded.


He closed my fingers around it and pulled my hand up to the spot over his heart, resting it gently on his chest, adding, “and this,” he said through lips graced with a wonderful warm smile.

Yes!  He loves me too!  I knew it!

My instincts had told me he loved me but I didn’t believe them, fearing disappointment or delusion.  Now I swore I’d never doubt them again.

This was like a dream come true and since something I’d always dreamed about was what it would feel like having his hand on my cheek, I took a chance and moved his free hand to the prerequisite spot.  It felt every bit as good as I’d imagined—soft and warm.  And just like before, facing him was like standing in the sun.  I could feel my skin glowing in response to his warming presence.  My instinct was to reach up and kiss him, but I wasn’t remotely bold enough for that, so instead I turned his hand that I was holding to my cheek and kissed the top of that.  I was a little embarrassed with myself, but it felt so good I didn’t care.

He must have really liked that because his breathing picked up and suddenly I was in his arms in the middle of a wonderful close embrace.  I squeezed him back as hard as I could.

“I knew it,” I said softly, my words finally catching up with my mind.

I could have held on to him like that forever.  It felt so good and perfect and right.  But then he said, “I have to go.  And you need to go back and get your purse,” a little smugly, it seemed.

I considered our very recent embrace, and the jump-drive in my hand and thought, No, not really…I’ve got exactly what I need right here.

Then he pulled my hand up and kissed the top, just like a gentlemen from a BBC period piece.

“They’re coming,” he said softly, looking over my shoulder at the now empty aisle.

We were the last people in the theater.  He needed me to go now.

“Oh, Okay.  Here. Call me.”

I had decided that if somehow he’d want to engage me further after my jump drive inquiry, I should give him a way to do that.  As part of that plan, I had recently dug out the cell phone I’d been given in Iceland along with the instruction card with its phone number printed on the top.  Now I handed him that card and wondered how quickly I might hear from him, knowing I’d be in a high haze until I did.  He took the card from my hand and kissed it, winking at me in the process, which pulled an involuntary nervous laugh out of me.

He’s even cuter than I thought!

I couldn’t stand it and I had to look down and walk away.  At the end of the row I knew I was supposed to go back to my seat, but I was having trouble remembering why.

Oh!  My purse.  Right.

I turned back around to look at him one more time but he was already gone.

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Chapter Index | 2 Comments

2 Comments (Leave a comment »)

  1. Love this new development.

    Comment by Mona-Lisa Plaza — January 26, 2013 at 7:54 pm

  2. I can totally relate to Ellery’s feelings at the end of this chapter because I felt the same way at the end of last school year.

    Comment by Branden Dale — July 9, 2010 at 10:23 pm

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