Unexpectedly Yours (Page 2)
He’s been under so much pressure recently, I’ve hardly seen him at all. He warned me when we started dating five months ago that his surgical residency at one of the top hospitals in LA didn’t leave him any free time. I didn’t mind: I’m still in school, too; I just started a master’s degree in psychology, and sometimes I lose sleep over my reading lists and deadlines, not to mention the days I volunteer at a crisis hotline as part of my research. I understood that his career and my school work wouldn’t leave much time to be together, but we had such a great connection, we both swore we’d make it work.
The first few months went by in a whirl, stealing moments together: a breakfast here, a late-night movie there. It was fun, snatching whatever time together our crazy schedules allowed. I would drop by the hospital to grab lunch with Matt in the cafeteria, and he would deliver triple-shot coffees when I was pulling all-nighters in the library. One night, he even showed up at my apartment just to kiss me before turning right back around and heading to the hospital for another twelve-hour shift.
It was romantic and thrilling to begin with, but I have to admit, the novelty is wearing off fast. I want something more than fleeting kisses and trading texts. I want something real. I told my friend Tegan that it feels like we’re in a long-distance relationship, even though we live a couple of miles apart. And more and more, whenever I make time for us and plan a special dinner or date, he gets called back in on some emergency and I’m stuck alone at a table set for two.
I’ve tried to be understanding, but still, I wonder how much longer we can keep this up. I’ve been hinting at moving in together so we can take the next step, and I’m hoping that having this time together over the holidays will give him that spark to make a change.
Can’t wait to see you, I type out a quick text. I have a special night planned!
I look up just as we approach the Brooklyn Bridge. My heart catches. The Manhattan skyline is sparkling under the grey, cloudy skies. Towering buildings and glittering lights, already shining in the darkening afternoon.
As the cab drives closer, I hug my arms around myself and smile. This is going to be the trip of a lifetime, I can just feel it. Matt will finally relax, and then everything will be OK. I’ll finally have the Christmas I’ve been dreaming about.
And maybe it will even snow.
I’ve never been filled with the Christmas spirit, but this year, I’m officially done with the holidays.
Keep your merry reindeer. Tell Santa where he can shove it. What I need is a soft bed, a stiff drink, and a willing playmate—and not necessarily in that order.
“Are you sure you can’t make it?” My mom’s face fills my cellphone screen, messaging all the way from London. The room behind her is filled with antique furniture and a towering Christmas tree, and I can barely see her for holly wreaths.
“I’m sorry. I was stuck at the airport all morning, but they cancelled my flight and every plane crossing the Atlantic is booked solid.” I explain. “You guys will just have to celebrate without me.”
“But the holiday vacation was your gift to us, a family trip to England…” she looks upset, so I reassure her with a grin.
“Don’t worry about me, Mom. I’ll have plenty to keep me busy. You guys just have fun.”
I hang up, sending thanks to whatever higher power sent freak ice-storms raging over London. I’m sorry not to spend time with my folks, but I can see them all the time back home in Texas. No, this was a lucky break. Instead of sitting through a week of jet lag and forced holiday cheer, I have nothing but time. No carol concerts, no Christmas dinner, and no watching schmaltzy movies for the hundredth time. Just a perfect, no-stress, zero-bullshit Christmas in New York: me, a bottle of bourbon, takeout pizza and ESPN.
What more could a guy ask for?
Back at the hotel, the woman at the front desk, Patrice, lights up when she sees me. “Mr. Kelly,” she beams. “I thought you were all checked out.”
“Change of plans.” I drop my bag and flash her my best charming grin. “Any chance you can squeeze me in to my old room? Turns out I’ll be staying a couple of days longer.”
“Let me just take a look…” Patrice clicks at her computer a moment. “Actually, there’s someone scheduled to check in tonight.” She pauses, looking around. There’s nobody but us in the lobby, so she gives me a wink. “But we just had a cancellation and our executive penthouse suite is free.”
“Darlin’, as long as there’s four walls and nobody around to hear me snore, I’m all set.”
She giggles. “The penthouse it is. And, I didn’t want to ask before, but…” She trails off, biting her lip with an anxious expression.
I’ve seen that look on a thousand faces, I know exactly what’s coming next. You don’t spend five years as the lead guitarist in a major rock band without recognizing when a fan’s got a favor to ask.
“Let me guess, you want an autograph?” I smile, putting her out of her nervous misery.
She blushes. “It’s just, my daughter is a huge fan.”
“Not you?” I tease.
She looks stricken. “Oh no, I am too. But I got her your CD for a gift, and if it was signed, she would think I was the best mom ever.”
I laugh. “No problem. Just bring it in tomorrow and I’ll swing by to sign.”
“Thank you,” she breathes. “Oh my gosh, you’ve just made her Christmas!”