Authors: Anita Claire
The Princess of Silicon Valley – Book 6
Jennifer and Rocket
Jennifer and Rocket
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Editing by Lisa Cerasoli
Cover design by Robin Ludwig Design Inc.,
Text copyright © Anita Claire 2015, All rights reserved
Table of Contents
With sweat dripping down my nose, I push up the face shield on my welding mask. My arms ache from holding the torch for so long. I wipe the sweat from my brow with my arm, then take a long look at the sculpture I’ve been working on. The idea behind it has been driving me crazy. I knew what I wanted to say, but it took me a while to figure out how to say it. It’s almost done. Satisfied, I stand up and walk around the wall of metal that looks as if it's liquid. In the right lighting, it casts an unexpected, but interesting shadow.
My skill has improved; this piece is coming out well.
I reach for my water bottle and lift it to my mouth before I realize it’s empty. As I walk toward the sink, I’m interrupted by the buzz of my phone.
My first thought was to ignore the message. I should stay in and finish this piece. I hesitate. When was the last time I went out?
Early, 8, pizza before dancing
Shit, it’s already five.
I fill up my water bottle and drink it down. I still have a couple hours before I have to shower and head over.
Arriving at Moe’s, I spot Cal, Kelly, and a couple more friends. I met Cal and Kelly last year when I road on the XC cycling tour. It was a transitional time for me; I rode for a few months before moving on with my life.
I give Kelly a big hug. She’s six feet tall, long and lean—pure muscle—with a wild riot of long, red curls, and an over the top personality. Not surprisingly, all the cyclists call her “Big Red.”
What does surprise me, though, is she’s brought three feminine, pretty, petite, women with her. Not what I expected. I’m used to Kelly and her wild cyclist chick friends. While racing, in one of my drunken stupors, I slept with Kelly and one of her crazy ass friends.
I shake off that memory as I check out Kelly's friends. The smallest has golden hair, though she looks part Asian. The middle one is a very pretty, wholesome looking Asian chick, and the tallest is a shy, pretty white girl, who can’t be more than five foot four, with a nice rack and long, shiny curls.
After eating some pizza and drinking some beers, the music starts up and the women head to the dance floor. The pretty Asian girl has a way of shaking her hot butt—I find it mesmerizing, so I target on that. Thinking I’ll dance for just one or two songs, I end up getting pulled in by her big friendly smile and bubbly personality. When the band breaks, she motions that she’s thirsty. Mesmerized, I follow her to the patio, grabbing a pitcher of water and a couple cups on the way.
The cool air feels good.
As I pass her a full cup of water, I introduce myself, “I’m Rocket.”
She guzzles down the whole cup, then presents it back to me, making it clear she wants more. She drinks this down, too, smiles, and gives a big sigh before saying, “Thanks, that was wonderful. I’m Jennifer.”
“You don’t strike me as a typical friend of Kelly’s. How do you know her?” I question. Man, I never took Kelly for the type that hung out with the nice, sweet, perky girls.
“We’re all friends from college,” she tells me as she takes a few more gulps of water.
“Are you still in school?” I ask.
“What? No, I’m a middle school teacher. I work in Mountain View.”
The preteen boys must be in love with her, even I find myself sucked in by that smile, long hair, and hot ass.
The music starts up and I tip my head toward the dance floor. She nods. I grab her hand.
Man, I haven’t felt something like that in a long time. We head back inside.
My arm vibrates from proximity.
There’s something about the way she dances that’s sucking me in. I was going to leave early, but find myself shutting the place down.
Still, I want more.
As my friends and I walk all four women to their car, I ask Jennifer, “Do you want to join us at an after-hours party?”
The two little girls with her both simultaneously yell out, “No.”
Jennifer shrugs a non-verbal sorry as she says, “Thanks for being my dancing partner.”
After the girls leave, my buddy, Cal, hits me on the arm. “Dude, where’s the after-hours party?”
I shake my head and give him a raised shoulder. He barks out a laugh as he heads to his car with a wave. “See you.”
Driving home, my ears ring from the music, but I have a smile on my face. I never realized how nice it was to dance with a clean-cut, sweet girl. Easily falling asleep, I wake up still thinking about Kelly’s friend, Jennifer. While brewing a pot of coffee, I head over to my computer. I don't know her last name, but I do know what school she teaches at. Actually, there are two middle schools in Mountain View. Each school has a website. Luckily there is only one Jennifer between them, and her last name’s Takahashi. There's a link that brings up an e-mail.
As I stare at her name on the address line, it hits me; I need a plan. While I search for inspiration, I fill my mug with coffee. I get an idea. I’ve wanted to check out the latest exhibit at the de Young in San Francisco. After navigating over to the museum’s hours and availability of tickets, I send an e-mail asking Jennifer if she wants to join me. Now it’s in her hands.
Waking up to a sunny blue sky on a Sunday makes me feel happy. The smell of coffee finally gets me out of bed. My roommate Kara, a high school teacher, is up and bustling around. Handing me a mug, she asks, “Hey how was dancing last night?”
“Fun, we met up with some friends of Kelly’s and danced until they kicked us out.”
“Any good prospects?” she asks over the top of her mug.
I shake my head. “Kelly’s friends are fun for a party. But to date? Never. Those guys are way too….”
“Wild, unsophisticated, rough around the edges…” Kara starts filling in.
“Yeah, all of the above.”
Before taking my shower, I decide to log into my computer. I’m about to delete an e-mail figuring it’s spam when the subject line
Visit to the de Young
catches my eye. I read:
I enjoyed dancing with you last night. I’m heading up to San Francisco to go to the new exhibit at the de Young. Do you want to join me? —Rocket
Going to the de Young would be fun, but really? He was kind of edgy and frayed. Do guys like that go to art galleries? Would I want to go there with him? My mouse hovers over delete. Thinking about it, I realize deleting it without responding would be rude.
Thank you for the invitation. Sorry, I have plans. —Jennifer
Again my mouse hovers over the send button. He was fun, so I change the e-mail to read:
Dancing was fun. Thank you for the invitation. Sorry, I have plans. —Jennifer
Still I hover over the send button. Sitting back in my chair, I stare at the e-mail. Why am I second-guessing myself? He’s definitely not my type. I like my men polished and sophisticated, which was certainly not him.
Many of my friends are into sports, not art. I love going to art galleries. No guy has ever asked me. Did Rocket call Kelly to see what I like? No, Kelly would have contacted me right away. Why would he choose art? Why is he asking me? My nerves jingle as I get up and walk around. Why do I find this e-mail so…disturbing?
Kira looks up from her book and asks, “Jennifer, what’s up? That pacing, did some parent send you a flame e-mail?”
I shake my head as I wonder why this e-mail is bothering me. Finally, I explain to her, “The guy I was dancing with last night invited me to go to the de Young.”
“That sounds like something you’d like.”
“Yeah, but would I like it with him? He was kind of rough and…blue collar, not my type.”
“If he invited you to a car race, I can see you saying no, but he can’t be too rough if he likes going to art galleries.”
“This is so confusing. I’d have to be locked in a car with him for an hour in each direction.”
“If he’s a creep, take the train back down, call me, and I’ll pick you up at the station.”
My heart’s pounding a mile a minute as I stare at the e-mail. My mind flashes back to a conversation I had a few days ago with my college friend, Hita. The two of us were complaining about our old boyfriends. We were talking about finding the right guys to date. Hita was wondering if we’re looking for the wrong traits when we choose guys. Maybe going to an art gallery with one of Kelly’s friends will give me a new perspective. It will be my way of shaking things up. Finally, I say out loud, “What the hell. You only live once.” I modify my e-mail to read:
I, too, enjoyed dancing. Thank you for the invitation. Sounds like fun. —Jennifer
Before I lose my limited bravado, I press the send button. Yikes! Did I really say yes? I’m going to be stuck in a car with this guy. What will we talk about? What have I done?
About twenty minutes later, an e-mail arrives.
What’s your address? —Rocket
Do I want him to know where I live? Could he be a mass murderer? No, he’s a friend of Kelly’s. Kelly gave him a hug when she saw him. Kelly wouldn’t be hugging a rapist, right? Taking a deep breath, I decide to give him my address. Within seconds, I get another e-mail.
I’ll be at your place by 1. —Rocket
Returning the e-mail, I give him my phone number.
Text me and I’ll come down, the front door of my apartment building is locked. —Jennifer
That’s three hours from now. I plan out my morning; I need to take a shower, review next week’s lesson plan, and update student scores on PowerSchool. Rats, I was going to spend the afternoon scrapbooking. I’ll have to wait till next weekend for that.
I feel urban and trendy with my cute new leopard print ballerina flats, skinny jeans, and motorcycle-inspired leather jacket. After getting his call, I run down the stairs.
He drives a truck. As in…a big pickup truck. This guy is so not me. I date guys who drive sedans, sports cars, even SUVs, but definitely not a truck. This truck looks like it’s been used for work, as in fieldwork. The cars I get into are used to commute, drive to the beach, or go wine tasting in Napa. Why did I say yes?
It’s too late to cancel; instead I plaster a fake smile on my face and wave as I head to his truck. It’s a huge jacked up truck. What’s with that? As I open the door, I wonder how to get in. At one point, I contemplated wearing a skirt. I’d never get into this truck wearing a skirt. I find myself crawling into the cab. How rude would it be for me to turn around now? Instead, the good girl inside of me maintains the fake smile as I give him a friendly, “Hey.” Surprisingly, the inside of this truck is much more like a car. Buckling my seat belt seems to calm me down as I look over at Rocket.
In daylight, he’s handsome.
That is, if you like your men dressed shabby, covered in tattoos, with a ring on his lip and eyebrow, and in desperate need of a haircut. His frayed black T-shirt hugs his arm and chest, highlighting his muscles. What could he do to get them that size?
Unable to keep my eyes off his multicolored arms, I blurt out, “Is that the
Sistine Chapel ceiling
Damn, he has one nice smile.
He nods, “Yeah, a buddy of mine is a great tattoo artist.” He unconsciously rubs his hand over the arm we’re talking about. “I’ve got a montage that includes the
Birth of Venus
and Van Gogh’s
on my other arm.”
“I take it you’re into classical art?” I say in what I hope is a friendly and polite voice.
He nods as he navigates out of my apartment complex and onto the freeway.
Nervous energy runs through me as I wonder why some redneck would want to be with me. Or is he a hipster? My brain buzzes from nerves as I uncontrollably blurt out the first thing that comes to my mind.
“How do you figure out which art you’re going to wear, and which you’re going to look at?”
Jeeze, Jennifer, can you try to act cool?
“Lots of choices, I guess it’s what strikes me at the time. Classical art works better on skin. A Rothko would be a disaster.”
“Why do you drive such a big, jacked up car?”
Damn, there I go again, asking one more stupid question.
“I bought it when I was welding the oil fields in Wyoming, it's still practical since I’ve yet to fix my road.”
What am I doing with this guy? I like my men educated, cultured. Not welders who live on unpaved roads.
My unfiltered mouth takes over again as I ask, “Let me get this, you’re an art loving, truck driving cyclist…welder?”
“I was a welder, sculpting with metal is my vocation.”
“What happened to cross country cycling?”
He looks straight ahead; one of his hands is at the top of the steering wheel, which highlights the planes of his toned arm.
Damn, why does that look so good?
His other hand’s relaxed and leaning on his leg. He doesn’t respond. Did he hear me? Should I repeat the question, or did I upset him? I feel unsure of what to say next as I stare out the window.
He breaks the silence by saying, “Cycling was a hobby that turned into a transitional activity.”
Turning my head to look at him, I ask, “A transition from what to what?”
Again, another long pause while he continues to stare straight ahead at the road. His jaw muscles contract. Have I overstepped the boundaries of acceptable conversation?
“I got a degree in art. There weren’t any jobs when I graduated from college, especially for artists. The oil industry was hiring, I knew how to weld. I took a job where I could get one, doing my art when I had free time. After a few years, I wanted to do more with my life. I went back to school for computer science…programming. I did welding gigs in my spare time for extra cash. I got away from my art, lost my purpose. Cycling became the activity that I did to relax. I cycled with Kelly between finishing school and starting my job.”
“Are you doing what you want to be doing now?”
“Yeah, I’m a programmer at a gaming company. My sculpting training comes in handy; it’s a great challenge. On weekends, I get to work on my art.”
We sit quietly for a while. He’s not a big talker. He has a better job and more education than I initially thought. Checking him out, I wonder. He’s a handsome guy—lean, muscly, with great bone structure. Why doesn’t he take better care of himself? Get a good haircut, wear better clothes, and shave.
After a few minutes, the silence makes me nervous. I ask, “What type of art do you like?”
He answers quickly, “Well-executed art, where the artist has something to say and lets the art do the talking. History has always interested me. I like learning what influenced the artist; it gives depth to what they’re saying.”
Talking about art seems to relax him. He’s surprisingly articulate and contemplative, not adjectives I’d apply to any of Kelly’s cycling friends.
After another pause, he asks with a flat, non-judgmental tone, “Are you into art?”
No one’s ever asked me that.
“I like creating with my hands, but crafts, not art. I like going to galleries, getting the audio tour, and being educated on why a piece of work is interesting or important. I know people in the art community consider audio tours to be
“Only pretentious, insecure dicks,” he quickly responds. “I think artists want people to understand and enjoy what they create. It’s an honor to have people interested enough in your art that they want to learn what you were thinking.”
“I looked up the de Young, are we going to the post-WWII modern art exhibit?” I ask.
“Are you familiar with that time?”
“I’ve seen Roy Lichtenstein and Jackson Pollock’s works, but I can’t say that I’m familiar with the other artists, or really understand why they were considered to be good.”
The air in the truck starts to relax as we fall into an easy flow of conversation.
Rocket explains, “This show has a bunch of the leaders in the New York movement. It’s my favorite modern art period. The Americans were doing interesting work. They were rejected by the art world for being American and started working inward, creating their own style. Since the critics weren’t interested in them, they created works for themselves, which they could share with each other. This gave their creativity a lot of freedom. Like all art, it reflects what was happening at the time. WWII changed America. Instead of looking to Europe for leadership, we became proud of our own ideas, our own leadership.”
This is not what I expected from this rough looking guy.
We drive in silence for a while, he then says, “Taking an audio tour sounds like a good idea; there’s always something new to learn.”