Authors: Tia Siren
He put his arm around my back and led me out and I led him towards my apartment just a block down the street. We stopped outside my door and I searched for my keys.
“I’ll just call Maggie; she’s usually in by now.” I said while dialing my phone. She was indeed up and came down to usher me inside. As I stumbled up the four stairs leading to the door I stopped and turned back to John. He stood there with his arms outstretched and ready to catch me if I were to start falling.
“John, you were a great guy tonight.” I said, I leaned in and gave him a kiss on the cheek, “but not that great.” I giggled and hiccupped at my stupid joke.
By now Maggie was pulling me inside and I caught one last glimpse of John. He had a content look on his face; a sly smile curved up his cheek as the door shut.
“Cassidy, don’t tell me that he didn’t live up to your standards, again.” Maggie said.
“I’ll tell you more in the morning,” I said, “But the short version is that I don’t like liars.”
Then I fell to my comfy bed and forgot everything.
I couldn’t tell how long she’d been shaking me for, but I could say that she must have been at it for a while.
“Wake up Cass, there’s someone downstairs!” sounded the voice of Maggie.
My head wasn’t interested in moving at all, but the rest of me rose up on reflex.
“What is it, Maggie?” I said, trying to fight back a yawn.
“There’s a man at the door for you.” She said.
I sauntered to the door while attempting to brush the sleep out of my eyes. Everything was still a bit blurry and somehow I still felt a little drunk. Yet, I pulled myself together as best I could and opened the front door just a crack.
Just outside the door was a man dressed in a rather nice suit.
“Miss Cassidy?” he questioned.
“Yes?” I replied.
“Mr. Harris sent me for you. This is for you.”
He handed me a phone which started ringing almost as soon as I took it. A photo of John illuminated the screen and I answered with more than a few questions racing in my head.
“Cassidy, I didn’t think you’d believe me unless I actually showed you. C’mon down my way for the weekend, see my ranch and have some fun.” John said, “Once in a lifetime opportunity, don’t miss it!”
I pulled the phone inside with me and closed the door, staring at Maggie for a second.
She stared at me trying to figure out what was going on and it gave me an idea.
“Okay, I’ll go,
you have to bring my friend Maggie as well.” I said while smiling at Maggie.
Without skipping a beat he responded.
“Of course! I wouldn’t have it any other way.” He said.
“Alright, we’re in,” I said not bothering to wait for Maggie’s reply.
“Great! If you want to leave now, the car is for you. I wanted to come escort you myself but business is business. Take the car wherever you want for the day. I’ll meet you at the airport later.”
The line went silent and I tried to reconcile everything that just happened.
“Maggie, I need you with me on this. I need you there. It’s our weekend off and I want to know that there’s someone nearby I can trust.”
Maggie stared with a blank face and her tongue hanging out. I had a feeling she didn’t know what was going on, so I figured it would be a good time to explain.
“Maggie, according to John he’s a bit well off. He owns a ranch in Texas and he wants me to come for a visit. I don’t want to go unless I have someone there that I know I can trust and you’re the only person I trust right now. It’s only for the weekend and then we’ll be right back here. I promise you.”
She shrugged, “I think I can handle that, I didn’t have much else going on. I’ll start packing.”
I followed suit and started packing as well. I had no idea what I should be prepared for; I also had no idea if we weren’t being conned into anything so I threw a can of mace into my purse for safeties sake and hoped I wouldn’t have to use it.
An hour later and the two of us opened the door to the gentleman still standing there waiting. Upon seeing him like this I started feeling a little bad that we hadn’t invited him in for to wait.
“I am feeling like a jerk. Sorry we didn’t invite you in.” I said.
“Quite alright, Miss. It wouldn’t be proper anyhow. Shall I carry your things?” he began picking up my bag, which made me feel even worse.
“It’s okay, I got this; it isn’t too heavy or anything. Please lead the way.”
The ride was smooth and quite luxurious. We even made a stop for some snacks on the way to the airport. We learned that the drivers name was Marvin as well. I pried and found out that he was John’s personal driver which gave a little more credibility to the man who was spiriting us away for the weekend.
The car pulled up in a hangar at the airport where a small personal jet was waiting with a pilot standing at the end of the stairs leading inside. I had to slap myself again to see if this was real only to once again feel the familiar sting on my cheeks.
“Miss Cassidy, we’ve prepared a bottle of champagne aboard to enjoy while you wait. Mr. Harris should be joining us shortly.”
He helped us into the craft where a flight attendant waited with a bottle in hand.
“Please take a seat wherever you’d like.” She said.
I sat on the couch propped against a series of windows and took in my surroundings. The seats were rich leather with an embossed letter ‘H’ at the head. There were 4 rows of seats that swiveled back and forth which Maggie was enjoying at the moment and in the front was a large television that was currently turned off.
The flight attendant came over and took my things; carrying them off to storage.
“Maggie, I think I was selling John short. This seems a bit too real to be a prank.” I said.
Maggie giggled like a schoolgirl and continued to play in the chair.
“You know, Cass. A girl could get used to this. How did last night go? You never told me.” She replied.
“Last night? Well, it was a fun date, as far as date’s go. But, we never really talked about anything aside from small talk. He seemed a bit standoffish. I stopped even trying to flirt.”
“You wouldn’t mind if I were to ask him out then, would you? I thought he was super cute. Maybe he just wasn’t into you that much.”
Maybe she was right. He did seem a bit distant in our conversations so maybe he just humored me the rest of the night. Still, this would be an interesting weekend.
“Maggie, he’s all yours if you think he’ll be into you. I’ll just try my best to enjoy the weekend.”
Maggie nodded and bit her lip. She would always bite her lip like that when she was really interested in a guy she liked. I could see the two of them getting along well. She grew up on a farm in Iowa so she knew a thing or two that I didn’t. If John really did own a nice ranch I could see nobody better to be by his side.
And yet, I felt a sting of envy when I thought about anyone but me with him. I casually put aside my envy and decided that maybe drinking would help me relax a bit more this weekend.
I pulled the bottle from its chilled, silver holster and poured myself and Maggie a glass.
“To the weekend, and to new memories.” I toasted.
We chimed our glasses and sipped just in time for John to arrive.
“Why hello there, y’all ready to get going?” he said.
I nodded an emphatic yes as he took a seat across from me in the seat adjacent to Maggie.
“So, John, how long is the flight going to be?” she asked.
“About three hours or so, it’s not as far as Europe at least. I may have holdings there, but that doesn’t mean I like to travel all the time.” He replied.
“Do you have a pool at your house? I’ve been dying to go for a dip all summer.” Maggie asked.
“Of course-“ he replied, only to be cut off by Maggie.
“You gotta come for a swim with me. Maybe you can call a friend for Cassidy and we can all have fun!”
“I’d say that sounds mighty fine to me.” He said while Maggie grabbed his arm laughing. It looked like they were getting along well which caused the sting of envy to jump into my head again. I finished off my champagne and poured myself another glass. If this keeps up it’ll be a long weekend.
I continued to drink and chat through the entire flight. Maggie worked her charms the entire way, barely leaving John’s side for more than a moment. I didn’t want to get in her way of happiness so I kept my mouth shut and my drink full.
John looked out into the expanse, “We’re almost there, should be landing anytime now.”
And, without fail, we began to descend. I looked out the window and didn’t see any civilization nor did I see an airport.
“Where are we landing?” I asked.
“On my ranch.” He replied as though it were obvious.
I watched out the window as we inched further and further toward land until I felt the jostle of wheels hitting the tarmac.
“Welcome home!” shouted John.
Upon exiting the plane I was greeted with a few smiling faces and another man holding to the reins of a small group of horses.
“Do y’all like riding? My favorite thing after a flight is going for a ride.” He said.
“I’ve never tried. I don’t think I’d be much good.” I said.
John waved his hand.
“Nonsense, I’m sure you’re a natural.” He took me by the hand and led me to a beautiful spotted brown horse. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to own a horse and ride regularly. Now was as good a time as any to learn.
I put my foot into the stirrup and tried to climb up but wasn’t having any luck. John came to help, grabbing me by the waist and hoisting me into the saddle.
I balanced myself fearing that I may fall off while Maggie slung herself into the horse next to me like an old professional.
“I used to ride all the time as a kid, so this is just like when I was growing up. Hey John,” she waved at him, “fancy a race?”
He hopped into the saddle of the black horse and smiled.
“I reckon it wouldn’t be much of a race, Maggie. Horace here is the fastest horse in the stable and has been my best friend for quite some time. I don’t think you’d be able to keep up.”
“It’s no fun if it’s a sure thing, John. Let’s see if you can catch me.” Maggie spurred her horse onward.
John followed, throwing his horse to a gallop and giving chase. The look of happiness on his face was palpable.
I tried to follow suit, but I couldn’t even tell how to get the beast I rode to move more than an inch. And, after a moment passed, I climbed out of the saddle.
“Don’t worry about it,” said the stable hand, “there’s plenty more time for riding. I could lead you back to the house if you’d like to ride now.”
“It’s alright, I would just like to keep my feet on the ground for a while and get adjusted.” I said.
A car was parked nearby with a driver waiting. I couldn’t even see John and Maggie anymore. I sighed deeply and nestled into the back seat. After a few minutes of driving I managed to spy a house. Even from a mile away it looked massive and somewhat intimidating but at the same time it felt inviting.
The four story mansion hovered above the flat plain. The wood exterior looked weathered and rustic as though the house were a bit older. Off to the west I could see the stables where a few horses grazed nearby. In front of the large double doors that marked the entrance stood another man, dressed in jeans and flannel button-up he stood patiently waiting for the car to stop.
“Welcome to the Harris family mansion.” He said, opening the door.
He took my bags from the trunk of the vehicle and carried them as he led me inside.
“This house was built in the late 50’s for Mr. Edward Harris and Mrs. Betty Harris upon the arrival of their first son, John. They’ve since moved to a different house but John maintains the grounds and the family business.”
We continued on past the dining hall.
“As you can see the house has regularly been updated, we have our own generators and are completely energy independent.”
We began to climb the staircase the hooked around the back of the entry hall.
“John runs the family business, Harris Enterprises. A fortune 500 company specializing in many things, including: alternative energy, farming, housing, banking, private investment and imports and exports. You name a business, and the Harris family probably owns a stake in it.”
I could feel myself shake a bit at the knees as he continued talking. It seemed so surreal that I would meet someone like John and in a grocery store no less.
I snapped out of my thoughts as I was led into the room I’d be staying in. The room itself was easily larger than my entire apartment. Oak beams streaked across the ceiling and the balcony looked out upon the yard in the back.