The week went quickly. I spent my days in recording sessions and Cait’s were spent in legal wrangling. She’d somehow found time to have her hair and nails done, and she wore a bit of mascara and blush. She often felt down when we met for dinner—always in the hotel—but since my days were far less grim, I could make her laugh before the meal was over.
Besides the Empire State Building, I showed her the Statue of Liberty and the World Trade Center Memorial. I took her to museums and galleries. She enjoyed the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens and one evening, we had daylight enough to see Central Park. Every night ended at the Velvet Room.
Too soon, it was time for her to leave.
I exited the lift in time to see her checking out at the desk. Crossing the lobby, I stood behind her as she finished with the clerk.
“I hope you’ll come back to stay with us again, Ms. Flynn. We’ve enjoyed serving you.”
“Thank you,” she said, as she folded the paperwork into her handbag. “I’ve enjoyed staying here.”
She turned to leave and was startled to find me there.
“You didn’t think I’d let you go without a proper goodbye, did you?”
I took up her suitcase and led her to a quiet side area.
“I didn’t want to get you up so early,” she said, raising an eyebrow but not quite meeting my eyes.
“Some things are worth an early rise, aren’t they? I’ve enjoyed our time together.”
“Me too,” she said.
I lifted her chin with my fingertips. “Would you allow me to kiss you before you go?” I asked her softly.
I felt her breath catch and she locked her eyes with mine. “I . . . I guess so.”
She didn’t sound entirely sure and I gave her a curious look, but she’d be gone in minutes.
Though the kiss was soft and sensuous, her muscles stiffened slightly. Holding her hands, I pulled away.
“In a few weeks we’ll be finished recording," I said. "We’ll have a slight break before we leave for Europe on the first leg of the tour. I’d like to see you again.”
She took her eyes from mine and pulled away further, though she continued to let me hold her fingertips in my hands. “I . . . um . . . I don’t think so.”
I hadn’t expected that at all.
Not at all.
I dropped her hands and took another step back. “Why?”
“Nicholas, I’m not really your type.”
“Pardon me?” I wasn’t sure what she meant.
She met my eyes quickly before looking away again.
“I’m not gonna have sex with someone I just met.” She seemed embarrassed to say the words. “I’ve really gotta go.”
“Oh,” I said. “Oh!” Understanding flooded me. I cut off her escape. “You know, there’s a lot of fiction written about me regarding my love life.” She met my eyes again briefly.
“I’ve been a fan for a long time,” she said. “I’ve kept up with you. It can’t all be lies.”
I ran my hand through my hair. “I thought we’d gotten to know each other over the past week. I’m hurt you think . . . .” I shook my head as I studied my shoes. I couldn’t turn it back around on her—make it her fault.
I didn’t want to turn into my dad.
Clearly, I’d missed something. I took a deep breath. “I should let you go.”
She turned away.
“Wait!” I said. “May I call you, at least?”
“Mmm . . . .”
“If I did though, would you answer?”
She turned to give me a quick glance. “Maybe.” She turned and walked away.
I followed slowly out to the sidewalk in time to see Larry help her into a Yellow Cab. I watched as it pulled away into traffic.
“Mr. Trent, you okay?” Larry asked, returning to me, his brow furrowed.
I took a deep breath and shook my head. “I really don’t know what just happened. I think you could say I’m gobsmacked.”
He patted my shoulder. “Women,” he said, and raced away to open the door.
I heard a familiar laugh and turned to see Evan and Kippy burst through the door. Taylor and Reuben followed behind them.
“There he is,” Reuben said. “Nicholas. Breakfast.”
Evan laughed. “The most important meal for making music, old man.”
Their youthful exuberance always made me smile and this was no exception, even though I felt empty of Cait.
“Let’s go,” Taylor said, sliding his arm around my shoulder. “You’ll be all right. If it hurts, you know it’s love.”
I shook my head and followed my mates to breakfast.
* * *
I rang her in three days’ time. She didn’t answer. I left a message, but she didn’t call back.
A week later, I rang again and she answered. She sounded happy to hear from me and we talked briefly, going over our respective days, her’s as a florist in a local supermarket, mine full of writing and recording. I considered it time well spent in becoming acquainted.
I began calling her a couple of times a week. Sometimes she would answer, sometimes she wouldn’t. She would acknowledge the fact that I’d called but didn’t explain why she hadn’t called me back. As confused as I was about where all this might lead, I couldn’t stop myself from grinning when I thought about her.
Nights, I’d put myself to sleep going over scenarios where I’d see her. She’d be delighted I was there. Or she wouldn’t, and I’d practice what I’d say to plead my case. Perhaps her marriage had been so perfect she was unwilling to risk her heart again.
Of course, I had demons of my own. Pieces of my past I didn’t care to tell anyone. Ever. My miserable childhood in Lancashire. My miserable parents. My escape into the guitar. The horror that had driven me away from my home.
As far as I was concerned, my escape had been a success beyond any expectation. Yes, sometimes loneliness overtook me. Yes, sometimes regrets threatened to drown me. Most of the time I could recover through music or a nice, long run. The worst of times required a night of hard drinking and, yes, sex with a willing stranger.