Three Weeks Later
I got out of the taxi and George rushed over to help me with my bags.
“Ms. Jones, I didn’t know you were coming this weekend? I thought all your cases were done for this session.”
“I am.” I lugged the painting of Perseus out of the back seat and George grinned at me. No, at the painting. I froze for a moment. “Do you think Jordan?” I pointed to the Round Robin.
“No, he’s not here today. He works on Sunday and Monday this week. I’ll have someone bring up your things.”
I tightened my lips. “Thanks, George. Have a good night.”
“You too, Ms. Jones. You too.”
I walked towards the elevator, painting in hand, and my purse strapped across my shoulder. The gold doors opened with a ding. I punched in my floor and inserted my key. My room was dark and everything was like I left it. Why would the room change? Other people must have stayed here in the month that I was gone. I sighed and sat on the office chair facing the Washington Monument. I pushed and swiveled in the chair. With each rotation, I captured a glimpse of Perseus’s purple fur, the large canvas face staring back at me unblinking. His cute little cat eyes were calling me a coward. I should have gone straight to Jordan’s place but, I was afraid. What was I going to say? This wasn’t like facing the media with no speech in hand, no talking points. I needed to apologize. Apologize for leaving him and hope to god he wanted me. I took a deep breath, grabbed my purse and the painting. I walked out the back of the hotel and towards the front of his building.
I swung open the door to his building and tried to find the elevator to his floor. The door man, older than George and shorter, found me. He asked if I was lost. I smiled and told him I was trying to reach Jordan Wickerson.
“Let me call up first.” The man had kind eyes, dark brown that twinkled in the bright lobby light. He picked up a phone and dialed.
“Mr. Wickerson. I have Ms. Jones down here to see you.” He paused. How did he know my name? “Yes, I will send her up. South side, yes, sir.”
“Follow me, Ms. Jones. Would you like me to carry that for you?” He looked down to the painting I was carrying.
“No, thank you. What’s your name?”
“I’m Nicholas Crammer. Thanks for asking. You can call me Nick.”
He led me to the elevator and inserted his key and stepped out. The ride seemed like it took forever, each turn of the gear or passing of the floor, a noise rumbled in the shaft echoing below. I watched the elevator floor indicator change with each ascending floor. My heart raged in my chest and my breathing became uneven. I swallowed, wishing I would have taken some time to think about what I wanted to say.
The elevator opened to his loft. I stepped out, the painting of Perseus clutched in my hand. He walked towards me, looking amazing, relaxed in a pair of dark jeans and a grey henley shirt. I stopped breathing. It had been a month since I had seen him last.
“Hi Katie. I didn’t know you were in town. Is there a new case you’re working on?” He titled his head as if he were checking his mental calendar. Was he keeping track of my cases?
“Yeah.” I shook my head. “No, there’s not.”
The look on my face stopped him in his tracks. Seeing him in front of me so familiar, so handsome. A day’s worth of stubble on his face and tiny paint splatters of gold and red on his shirt. I wanted to fall into his arms. I needed to kiss him. I needed to apologize.
“I don’t want this picture,” I said.
“I don’t want this picture.” I said, but tripped over the words as I said them. This isn’t what I wanted to say. Not what I needed to say. This was all wrong. I should have planned this out better.
“Did you want something else?” He moved closer to me covering the distance but stopped short, an arm’s length away. He might have well been a continent away instead of three feet. His eyes glanced at the other canvases leaning against the wall.
“No.” I shook my head. The words jumbled in my head. “I don’t want a souvenir to remember you by. I don’t need a painting.”
Tears filled my eyes. He stared at me, his blue eyes were dark and his face pinched in confusion.
I handed the Perseus painting back to him. He took it but said nothing. I looked at the floor and was losing my courage.
“What are you doing, Katie?”
“For once, I don’t know.” Yet again my words failed. I looked up at him, my eyes pleading for help.