Authors: Glynis Astie
Tags: #Romance, #Romantic Comedy
“Mom! It’s only been a week. What if he’s intrigued by the novelty of it all? He’s never been with an American woman before. Plus, he used to be such a player; I’m not sure it would be so easy for someone to change.”
“Sydney Bennett! I’m surprised to hear you say such a thing! You’ve changed quite a bit since you were a child. After everything you went through, how could you
become at least a little different? I’d like to think you’d give Louis the benefit of the doubt.”
“I know, Mom.” I sighed. “I don’t want to get hurt again.”
“Listen, Syd, I know you want some kind of guarantee, but you aren’t going to get one. Even if Louis told you right now that he wanted to be with you for the rest of his life, you wouldn’t believe him. You have to give yourself time to trust him. Just be careful not to ruin your experience by second guessing everything, OK?”
I thought it over for a moment.
“I’m here.” I exhaled slowly. “I’ll try.”
My mom laughed. “Trying is all you can do...and it’s good enough.”
The second week Louis was gone passed excruciatingly slowly. Kate was extremely busy at work and Maya had met a new guy, so I didn’t have my usual distractions. I went through my cell phone and tried to reconnect with old friends, but everyone seemed to be busy. Even Jess and Maggie were nowhere to be found. As a result of my newfound loneliness, I clung to Louis’ phone calls like a life raft. Probably not the best idea when you’re concerned about keeping someone interested. It would simply not do to appear needy.
Unfortunately for me, Louis’ week was far busier than mine. He wasn’t able to call as often, which fed my irrational notions that he was out philandering with buxom young women. (Laugh at my chosen expression all you want. I challenge you to turn a pithy phrase when you’re not in your right mind.) After two days without speaking to him, I was starting to get the shakes. I finally gave in and called him, only to have a sultry female voice answer his phone.
I was so shocked, I hung up and immediately called Maya. She promptly gave me a lecture about jumping to conclusions and told me to “chillax.” After two more days of not hearing from Louis, I considered our relationship to be over and began yet another post-dumbass rehabilitation process. Imagine how silly I felt when he called me later in the day with profuse apologies for not getting in touch with me due to a surprise hunting trip. He explained how he was carried out of his parents’ house in the middle of the night four days earlier and his cell phone was left with his cousin Monique…
By Friday, I was so eager for him to return that I became restless. Thankfully work was fairly slow, so I didn’t have to worry about any major damage due to my major distraction. Instead of catching up on filing, I decided to surf the internet for potential activities once Louis returned. I wanted to show him all my favorite places in the Bay Area. We could go hiking in Muir Woods, go to the beach and boardwalk in Santa Cruz, have dinner in the “rotating restaurant” in San Francisco (I could never remember what hotel it was at the top of, only that the view was awesome) and stay in a romantic hotel in Sausalito.
I suddenly realized I had no idea if Louis would enjoy hiking or the beach. From everything I had heard about his life so far, he enjoyed extreme activities the most. For someone like me, who was
athletically challenged, this was a bit concerning. I was certainly willing to try new things, but there was a limit. Would he be willing to slow down for me? Would I be exciting enough for him? The familiar feeling of insecurity started to seep its way through my consciousness.
Take a breath, Sydney. You’re moving way too fast. Stop thinking so far in the future. One day at a time, just like the theme song says. I started humming the familiar tune (ba da da...) and felt a little better. When Louis gets back, we will get to know each other better. There’s no need to panic. I gathered it might be a good idea if I stopped wondering what was wrong with Louis and start working on making sure he didn’t find out what was wrong with me. Otherwise, he would start running for those beautiful California hills...
The day of Louis’ return had finally arrived. I was filled to the brim with anticipation. I had been without Louis for two weeks and I had definitely reached my limit. I had last spoken to him the day before since he had fifteen hours of flying to do to return to California. I woke at seven on this lovely Sunday morning absolutely bursting with excitement. His flight was arriving at three o’clock, so I only had to keep myself busy for the next six hours, allowing for travel time to the airport.
I tried going back to sleep, but my mind was whirling. The mild trace of Louis’ cologne remaining on my pillow was extremely distracting. (I couldn’t bear to wash the pillowcase and erase his signature scent.) I tried reading, but I couldn’t concentrate. Finally, I put on a movie and managed to engross myself in something other than Louis for an hour. By then I was restless. I got out of bed and showered. I decided to go food shopping so I could cook Louis a delicious welcome home dinner. As I got dressed, I thought about how much better the food was in France and wondered if I could make him something which would live up to the standard he had become used to over the past two weeks. Then I remembered how disastrous my cooking became when my mind was focused elsewhere. That settled it; I would definitely take him out to dinner.
After I had changed my clothes three times, it had become abundantly clear I needed a break from obsessing about Louis. I decided to call my big brother, since I still hadn’t told him about Louis. I wasn’t sure why I was hesitating. Was I afraid he wouldn’t approve? Even as I thought this, I knew it was fairly unlikely. Charlie and Louis had many of the same interests and I had a sneaking suspicion they were going to be good friends. Whatever my subconscious had her panties in a twist about, Charlie had to hear about Louis from me. I took a deep breath and dialed his number.
“Hey, little sister!”
“Hi, Charlie! How are you?”
“Crazy busy, but otherwise alright. How is life with the Frenchie?”
I sighed. Everyone in my family had a really big mouth. “I’m sorry I haven’t told you about him yet. Did you get the scoop from Kate or Mom and Dad?”
“First Kate, then Mom and Dad. Kate and Mom are happy for you, but Dad is seriously questioning your judgment.”
I laughed. “When hasn’t he? I think he’d be happy if he could make all our decisions for us.”
“No kidding. He always has something to say. One of these days Zoe’s going to tell him where he can go.” My brother’s wife, Zoe, was as strong willed as my father, with just as many opinions. Unfortunately, most of their opinions were on the opposite end of the spectrum from each other. When the two of them got together, we all knew there would be some intense debating. It could be funny or it could be ugly. You never knew what to expect. It was one scary ticking time bomb.
“I don’t know how you handle the stress sometimes, Charlie. Those two might kill each other one day.”
Charlie snorted. “My bet is on Zoe. Dad isn’t as spry as he used to be. It must be all of those doughnuts.”
“Or the chocolate bars or the ice cream...the list goes on. Mom said he’s getting out of control. She told me she’s started hiding food from him. He desperately needs to lose weight.”
It was certainly true. Dad used to be pretty svelte when we were younger. Then his metabolism finally caught up with his outrageous eating habits and he morphed into a much larger version of himself. With his snow white hair and beard and his big round belly, he was the spitting image of Santa Claus. His poor mother wouldn’t be happy with his appearance since she took her role as a good Jewish mother pretty seriously. It’s a good thing she didn’t live to see the transformation.
“So, tell me about this guy. I want to hear about him from you, not everyone else in the family.”
I sighed dreamily. “Where do I begin? He’s intelligent, funny, worldly, sexy...the list goes on.”
“He does sound far more interesting than the last few guys you’ve been with. Dad said he was in the army?”
“Yes! He had to serve a year in the French army. He was a paratrooper. He’s such an adrenaline junky; he absolutely loved it. He keeps trying to get me to go bungee jumping.”
Charlie scoffed. “Like that would ever happen! He doesn’t know you too well yet, Syd. How amazing since you’ve known him for so long...”
“Stop giving me a hard time! You and Zoe were exclusive from the
night you met. Everything went pretty fast and YOU were still in college.”
He laughed. “You got me there. Please take it easy, OK? There’s no need to rush into anything.”
“Charlie, we’re just dating. It’s not like I’ve agreed to marry him. You need to relax!”
“That’s pretty funny coming from you.” He was right; the irony was ridiculous. “But seriously, you’re my little sister. It’s my job to protect you and it’s hard to do from three thousand miles away.”
“Don’t worry; Kate considers herself to be your right hand ‘woman’. She’s close enough to help you get the job done.” I smiled. “I appreciate your concern. I love you, Charlie.”
“I love you too, Sydie.” I hated the nickname, but put up with it since Charlie gave it to me the day I was born.
I glanced at the clock and remembered I still had to finalize my outfit for the airport pickup. This might take a while. “I have to run, my brother. Say hi to Zoe for me!”
“Will do. Say hi to Louis for me. Tell him I’ll break his legs if he hurts you.”
I laughed. “Nice. Um...while I’m sure Louis would absolutely show you the proper respect as my big brother...did anyone tell you Louis was a five time national champion in Thai boxing?” Charlie was very smart and certainly strong, but no one in our family had any kind of athletic ability. It was a large deficiency we were all painfully aware of.
“Seriously? He was a paratrooper AND a national martial arts champion?”
“Oh...and a bodyguard.”
Charlie pretended to choke. “Where did this guy come from?”
“I have no idea.” I laughed. “Try to imagine me keeping up with all that.”
“It does paint a funny picture.” He paused. “But if anyone can do it, you can. And you just remember how lucky he is to have you.”
I blushed. “Thanks, Charlie. I wish we lived closer. I miss you.”
“I miss you too.” He cleared his throat. “Now, I know you have to go prepare yourself for Louis’ impending arrival, but there’s one thing that we need to discuss.”
Uh oh. I wasn’t sure I liked the sound of this. “What is it?”
“When are you going to introduce him to Kate? I need someone on the inside to further evaluate him.”
“Charlie, I’ve only known the man for three weeks and he’s been out of the country for two of them. I don’t want to freak him out by introducing him to my family already.”
“You know, I could just call Kate directly. I’m sure she would be able to orchestrate an ‘accidental’ meeting’.”
I gasped. “You wouldn’t!”
I could hear the smile in his voice. “Oh, but I would. I’ll give you one more week to set this up. If not, I’ll have Kate work her magic.”
“Charlie!” I whined. Why did I become a five-year-old in his presence? “I’m not ready to prep him for that level of interrogation. Do you know how hard I’m trying to make myself appear normal? This really wouldn’t help matters...”
He chuckled. “It’s so easy to get a rise out of you. Though I miss seeing your face when I reduce you to whining.”
“I know. It’s my prerogative as your big brother.” Suddenly there was noise in the background. I could vaguely hear Zoe’s voice and some scuffling.
“Syd?” Apparently Zoe had wrestled the phone out of Charlie’s hand. “Don’t listen to your brother. Relax and enjoy yourself. He’s only giving you crap because he misses you so much.”
“Thanks, Zoe. I miss you guys too.”
“We wish you lived closer.”
“I was just telling Charlie the same thing.” I sighed. It’s just so beautiful out here. You can’t blame me for wanting to get away from those New York winters.”
She laughed. “Not at all. I get it. He does too, but he totally blames Kate for luring you away to the sunshine.”
“I’ll be back for Thanksgiving. That’s only three months away.”
“We can’t wait to see you. Now go get yourself ready to see this man.” She lowered her voice. “And don’t forget to call me at work and give me the good stuff. Your brother can’t handle it.”
I threw my head back and laughed. “You kill me, Zoe. I’ll give you a call as soon as I can.”
“Good. I love you. Here’s your brother.”
“I love you too. Bye, Zoe!”
Charlie’s voice came back on the line. “What are you two conspiring about?”
“Nothing! Stop being paranoid. I love you to pieces, my brother. Even if you are extremely overprotective.”
“Can’t be any other way, little sister. I love you too. Talk to you soon. Remember what I said.” He hung up before I could say anything else.
I shook my head and hung up the phone. I missed my brother and my parents. I loved living in California and living so close to Kate, but it was hard to be so far away from the rest of our family. With Louis’ family in France, it might make sense to move back to New York in a few years....oh my God! How did I end up on that train of thought? I immediately felt sorry for Louis. He was dating a lunatic.
After I shook the crazy out of my head, I perused my closet for the perfect outfit in which to greet Louis. None of the clothes I had tried on previously were quite right. I must have tried on ten other options before I registered the rumbling in my stomach. To pass the time, I made a big Sunday brunch for my roommates. They were so grateful, they cleaned the kitchen afterwards so I could leisurely get ready to pick up Louis.
I took a long bubble bath and gave myself a mini facial. I leisurely dried my hair straight and used Jess’ flat iron to create the fresh from the salon look she’s perfected. Then I FINALLY decided on an ensemble for the airport. I put on my favorite jeans, a light blue beaded tank top and gray flats. I added silver drop earrings and pink hued makeup. When I finished putting myself together, I admired my handiwork in the mirror. I looked innocent and fresh. Perfect!
As I left for the airport, my thoughts of Louis were anything but innocent. Two weeks away from him had been hard. I had never been this attracted to a man in my life. And to have such amazing sex and have it taken away so quickly (and for so long) was cruel. I had plans for Louis as soon as I could get him back to his apartment. As my heart rate quickened, I noticed I was speeding. Not just “I didn’t realize I was going five miles over the speed limit, Officer” speeding, but full on bat shit crazy speeding. I had to get a grip. It simply would not do to get into an accident on the way to the airport. I certainly didn’t want to add to the waiting!
I turned on the radio and flipped around the stations until I found a song I liked. I settled on “Keeping the Faith.” Anything by Billy Joel made me happy. I concentrated on the lyrics. Billy was another wise man. Keep the faith, Sydney. One way or the other, everything would work out, whether I was meant to be with Louis or not.
I pulled into the airport parking lot and took a deep breath. I took one last look at myself in the overhead mirror and adjusted my makeup. No “wishful makeupping” this time. I had no doubts I would see Louis. And I planned to see all of him as soon as possible. I paused in awe at the change Louis had brought out in me. I was becoming much less inhibited. Was this a good thing?
Focus, Sydney. I took a deep breath and got out of the car. I made note of the floor and color of the parking lot as I walked to elevator since I’m very good at forgetting this vital information. It would be rather embarrassing to get lost in the airport parking lot, particularly when you have very important things you would like to do as soon as possible. I felt my face flush. Thankfully no one was around to witness the evidence of my latest bout of horniness. I
to get this under control.
I checked Louis’ flight on the board and saw it was on time. He would be landing in ten minutes! Granted, he had to get his luggage and go through customs before I could actually see him, but I felt better knowing he would be safely on the ground and on his way to me as soon as possible. I was so nervous and excited I could hardly contain myself.
Forty-five minutes later, the flight information board flashed Louis’ flight number, indicating the passengers had finally cleared customs. This was it! There was a large video screen next to the information board which showed the people who were about to come through the doors into the waiting area. I scanned the groups of passengers for Louis. Ten minutes later, I was starting to get antsy. Where was he? If he had missed his flight, he would have told me. I checked my phone again, but there were no messages from Louis.
My mind started to race. Did something happen to him? Is he alright? Wouldn’t someone have called me? Maybe his family doesn’t have my number. Maybe they don’t think I have the right to know if something happened to him. Should I call someone? Who would I call? I don’t have anyone’s phone number. Argh! This sucks.