Unexpectedly Yours (Page 6)
I try to block out the chorus of blame. Then I realize what he just said to me on the phone.
He checked with the hotel. It was too late to get a refund on the room.
He tried to cancel.
My rejection hardens to anger, sharp in my gut. He called behind my back, tried to cancel the reservation. He would have left me stranded here in New York with no warning and no place to stay—all because he didn’t have the guts to break up with me back at home?
I repeat the word out loud, stronger. “Asshole!”
It feels good. I leap up, and check myself in the mirror by the door. I quickly wipe away my smudges of tearful mascara, smooth my hair down, and take a deep breath. The sexy vintage dress I picked out to wow Matt clings to my body, showing off my long legs and a hint of cleavage.
I’m here in New York, I’m suddenly single, and there’s a gorgeous man in the bar who wants to show me a good time. The psychology student in me says that I’m in denial: deflecting my rejection and avoiding my real feelings.
The woman in me says, why the hell not?
“Screw you, Matt,” I tell my reflection. I grab my purse and coat and scarf and head back downstairs. My pulse races as I step off the elevator and sashay through the lobby. Part of me is panicked he’s found another girl to pass the time with, but then I see him, still alone by the bar.
Still hot enough to melt the snow on the sidewalks outside.
Maybe it’s denial and avoidance. Maybe it’s something more. But some instinct I can’t explain propels me across the bar, and brings me to a stop right in front of him. “Hi,” I start, my heart pounding in my chest. He looks surprised, opening his mouth to speak, but I keep talking. “My name’s Sophie,” I blurt out. “It turns out I’m free tonight after all. Do you still want to go to dinner?”
It’s the easiest question of my life.
“Yes,” I say, before she’s even finished asking it. “Let’s go.”
Relief flashes across her face. “Oh, good.” Sophie exhales with a rueful grin. “I figured you might have changed your mind.”
“Not at all.” I watch her carefully. “But what changed yours? Your boyfriend not going to show?”
She presses her lips in a thin line. “He’s not my boyfriend anymore,” she finally answers.
I have a hundred questions right now, starting with, "Is he crazy?” and ending with “How about ordering in—from my room?” But I can see from her reluctant expression she doesn’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to screw up a good thing before the night is even started, so I push back my curiosity and remind myself, this isn’t the kind of girl to fall for my charming bullshit lines.
Instead, I gesture towards the exit and offer her my arm. “After you.”
I take her to one of my favorite spots, a real old-school New York deli just a couple of blocks from the hotel. Anika would never step foot somewhere without valet parking and a wine list, but I have an instinct that Sophie will get a kick out of the noise and bustle, the huge chalkboard menus and the way the cooks yell out their orders across the room.
She lights up the minute we walk in. “It’s just like the deli in When Harry Met Sally!” she exclaims, clapping her hands together.
“That’s Katz’s, downtown,” I chuckle, leading her to a free booth in the corner. “But they’re packed with tourists these days. This is the real deal. Best pastrami melt in town.”
Sophie slips off her coat and gloves, revealing her figure-hugging blue dress. She looks like an old-fashioned movie star, with her tiny pearl earrings and the seam of her stockings running up the back of her legs. I watch her hips shift as she moves, mesmerized. I’m not the only one: every guy here turns to watch her walk across the room. By the time she slides into the booth, she’s blushing bright pink. “I’m kind of over-dressed,” she whispers, looking down self-consciously.
“You look amazing,” I reassure her. “They’re all just wishing they were sitting in my place right now.”
She just gives me a suspicious look, like she can’t trust my compliments. “Thank you.” Sophie replies carefully, then reaches for the menu.
And then I realize, whatever happened to send her marching up to me in the bar, she still hasn’t forgotten everything that happened before then. How I made a fool of myself dialing every girl in my phone before going to hit on her—and how she called me on it right away. She’s not one of those fluttering fangirls trying to get backstage after the show; or those cool model It Girls who love getting photographed with me for the tabloids.
In fact, as I watch her scanning the menu, ignoring me completely, I wonder. Does she even know who I am?
“I’m Austin, by the way,” I say casually.
Sophie’s eyes snap up. She gasps. “Oh my god, I can’t believe I didn’t even ask you your name!”
I smile. “That’s OK.” I watch for any sign of recognition, but none comes.
“I’m sorry,” Sophie says. She shakes her head. “I guess my mind is just all over the place. Nothing about today has worked out like I planned.”
I exhale. I’m surprised to feel relief. I’m not going to complain about the perks that come with being a famous rock star, but it’s nice to escape from it too: to sit across from a woman and not wonder if she’s going to text all her friends the minute I go to the bathroom, or sneak my coffee cup into her purse to sell on eBay.