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Authors: Catherine Green

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BOOK: Life In The Palace
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Two chocolate bars, three bags of chips and two bottles of Diet Coke later, I put down my pen after writing notes on the last PowerPoint slide.

Now what? Seth’s not back until late Sunday night. Tomorrow I’m meeting Bernie for facials and chick flicks. Sunday, what’s left of the gang is doing Second Cup and the Tams. I feel like having an adventure.

I packed up my things and headed out to nowhere in particular. With a spring in my step, I walked down to the nearest Metro stop. As I scanned the Metro map to pick a destination, I had a brain wave.

Snowdon, I’ll take the Metro and then go the Indian food store. I’m sure I can find it again. We only passed it about five times. I definitely saw a café in the area. I’ll buy Seth a bunch of authentic spices. He’ll be pleased and it’ll be a cute ‘I missed you’ present without being cheesy or overly needy.

As I came out back into the sunlight at street level, I was relieved to see that I did know basically where to go. I turned right and headed down towards the flyover that crossed the freeway. After getting confused and crossing the flyover twice, I finally made it to
Bombay Bounty
.

Carrying a package containing a bunch of things I’d never heard of, but the sales assistant assured me were essential, I walked back towards to the station. I found a café that had big windows so I could sit right by the window and pretend I was outside while still benefiting from the AC.

I hadn’t even cracked open the book when my phone rang.

“Hi, I thought you were in non-stop band mode all day.” I beamed, then blushed because for sure Seth could hear the smile in my voice.

“I know but I came outside for a cigarette.” I could hear him smiling back.

“They don’t let you smoke inside? Some rock venue.”

He chuckled, “Ok, you caught me. I came outside to call my girl but it’s not so good for my rep to say ‘excuse me guys while I go check in with my lady friend.’ So instead I tell them I’m going outside for a smoke and they have the decency not to say, ‘But mate, you could smoke in here.’”

“Sorry to blow your cover.”

“You’re forgiven. How are you? How’s the cram-fest?”

“I finished,” I said proudly, “Now I’m on an adventure.”

“Climbing mountains? Wrestling tigers?”

“Nope. I left the student ghetto and went somewhere else … alone.”

“What induced such madness?” He was still smiling.

“I thought it time to broaden my horizons slightly. Also, everyone I know is busy or out of town. I decided to be a real Montrealer and go out. Later I might take a walk.”

I could just picture Seth nodding in agreement, “Sounds like a good plan. Where’d you go?”

“Snowdon. I didn’t want to do anything crazy like leave the Island.”

“You’re very wise. But we really should make a trip up to Ethan’s parent’s place before school starts. The mountains are beautiful. There are some great places around the lake where you can go swimming or canoeing.”

I stirred my drink slowly, “It sounds nice. I hear Canada has a lot of landscape.”

“I can’t promise you any moose, maybe some geese. If we go up now, then when we go back in a month or two when the leaves are turning, it’ll be even more impressive. Actually the ride to Boston is stunning in the fall. We could do that.” There was some weird undertone to his voice.
Why is he planning random trips to see fall leaves?
Suddenly the penny dropped.

“You want me to go to Boston with you to meet your parents?” There was a pause on the other end of the phone.

“I was thinking we could,” he said very carefully.

“Sure.” I kept my tone as light as possible.

“Just like that?”

I shut my eyes and let an image hang there for half a second, not long enough for me to even admit to myself the depth of my certainty.

“Yep, just like that. Look Seth, I don’t think you’re a liar. You made it fairly clear where you stand. We keep inching towards this, and then walking away from it. As I see it, it seems you’re pretty sure that I’m the one. I’m totally sure that you’re it. That’s big and fairly scary. And I’m quite happy for us to continue not to talk about it because it’s a bit more comfortable that way, but I’m just not freaked out that you want me to meet your parents. I might freak out when it actually comes to it, but I’m okay with the general concept.”

We both let my words sink in.

“You know those times when it’s guaranteed that five minutes after you hang up you’ll think of some smooth line you should have used, and kick yourself?”

I smirked, “Totally.”

“Can I call you back when I come up with the good line? Because right now the best I’ve got is ‘I love you.’ ”

My heart froze in my chest and the rest of me melted into the Formica chair. “That’s a good line,” I whispered. “I love you too.”

His breathing was heavy. My heart started again and it seemed to be trying to break out of my chest.

Seth sighed, “Isn’t it funny how even the good things in life take a bit of getting used to?”

“I know you think it will be easy but in real life you’re hoping that you’re not making a fool of yourself and wishing you’d brushed your teeth.”

He laughed, then I heard someone call him. “Shoot, I gotta go. I imagine we can finish this later.”

“For the rest of our lives. I hope the gig goes well.”

“Yeah, whatever. It’ll be alright. I’ll call you later?”

“You can call anytime, even if it’s late.”

“Sure, bye love.”

I held the phone in my hand long after he’d hung up.
He loves me. Seth loves me. He said it. Ok, so he pretty much told me that yesterday. But it’s different to hear him say the words. Maybe I should have bought him more saffron.

Just as my heart rate was beginning to steady, the phone rang again. Without looking at the caller ID, I picked up.

“Hi!” It was a very enthusiastic hi.

“I’m not Seth,” Spike deadpanned. “Unless there’s something you’ve been waiting to tell me, I don’t think you really are that pleased to hear from me.”

I cringed, “Sorry, Spike. I just hung up on a call with him. Are you on a break?”

“No, I don’t work Friday’s, but you don’t have to remember that.”

I cringed again, once I would have remembered.

“To what do I owe the afternoon call?” I quickly deflected my guilt.

“I was actually concerned about your well being. In the absence of Mr. Wonderful, I wanted to check that you hadn’t resorted to reading
Twilight
fanfic.”

I laughed, “I’m not even within spitting distance of my computer.”

“You do have an iPhone.”

“I’m talking to you on it.”

“Are you trying to avoid the question?” Spike would make a great lawyer.

“There is no fanfic being read. Right now I’m sitting in a coffee shop in some random neighborhood of Montreal that I came to so I could broaden my horizons by seeing new parts of the city. I was planning on reading a book and enjoying my iced coffee before you interrupted with accusations of pining.”

“You go girl,” her tone was softer; apparently my anger had put her at ease.

“And I’ve never read
Twilight
fanfic,” I added.

“I just thought Seth is so much like Edward that …”

“Seth is not like Edward,” I jumped in. “He’s not dead.”

“He is too good to be true,” she shot back.

I sighed, “Yeah. What’s up with that?”

“Yesterday he promised you his undying love.”

“We actually talked about it today.”

“Is he a lesbian?” Spike yelled, “You people spend an awful lot of time talking about the dynamics of your relationship. If Seth is really a code name for Stephanie would you just come out and tell me, because it would make a lot more sense.”

When I stopped laughing, I said, “Seth is a not a lesbian. He’s a real male, man, he was born one.”

“That answers my next question.”

“Go friend him on Facebook and you can see for yourself. He was joking the other day that he wanted to friend you, he’d find it funny if you did it first.”

“I might just do that. But can we be serious for a minute? He’s beyond hot and the coolest guy that ever lived, I’m down with that. You’re much better looking than you give yourself credit for and you are cool. Look who your friends are. What I’m having trouble with is this whole soul mates thing. Lot of girls fall head over heels for some guy and start thinking he’s their eternal destiny. But it’s just not your style. What’s up with that?”

I thought for a minute before I answered her, “It’s probably the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to me, but I think he might actually be my soul mate.”

She thought about it, “But really for real?”

“I told you it was weird. Look, you’re the one who told me to go for it in the beginning.”

“Which was sound advice. I just want to make sure you’re okay.”

Spike’s a good friend.

“I’m okay. He’s funny, deep without being annoying, he really wants to spend time with me, he listens to what I say, we could spend hours talking to each other. I think if I spent the rest of my life hanging with him I’d still have stuff to say. When I’m with him the whole world feels complete, but not in an unhealthy he-heals–all-my-wounds sort of way, in a real he’ll stand by me while I work through all my own shit way. Whatever I become, he’ll be there.”

Spike said nothing.

I took a deep breath, “It scares me senseless. I thought I’d go to college, date a few guys, graduate, get a job, live with someone, if it didn’t work out I’d live with someone else then when I’m thirty marry whoever I happened to be with.”

“The usual,” Spike added.

“Exactly, instead it’s like the rest of my life turned up before I ready for it. I’m all busy being cookie dough and here’s my future baked and ready for the taking. This is the best thing that’s ever happened, that probably will ever happen, to me and all I can think is holy crap, now what?”

“It is huge.”

“I almost wish I was making it up,” I confessed, “because then I’d still feel like I lived in the land of the normal. Instead I’m here in the middle of some fairytale but I’m still just Chloe.”

I slurped the end of my drink in her ear since Spike definitely wouldn’t mind.

Spike took the time to formulate her answer. “Ok, so you landed in the middle of Epic. It’s surprising, but you can manage this. It’s not like you have to fight all the dragons straight away. Right now, everything is sweet. You’ve got four more years of school. Seth over there has a good few years of med school left, since we presume that the band won’t actually pan out. So you don’t actually have to worry about anything hardcore, like marriage, for a good five or six years. By which time you’re twenty-four or five and it’s a bit early, but not white-trash early. Just think of yourself doing some sort of urban chic MTV before reality shows got trashy sort of thing.”

“Okay,” I said with much doubt in my voice.

“You just need to re-frame it. Think The Real World instead of The Lord of the Rings.”

I nodded, “It might work.”

“Can I change the subject?”

“Sure.” I was ready for an intensity break.

“Jared’s got a boyfriend.”

“No way!”

“He has the whole summer. He never said anything. I had to have Martin ‘I wish I was called Slasher’ tell me.” Spike was indignant.

I laughed out loud and then stopped because I didn’t want to admit Stacy had predicted it. “Who is he?”

“Some kid called Benny. He’s cute, long eyelashes and full lips. Jared is quite smitten.”

I dared to be brave, “Why didn’t he tell you himself?”

“He claims I was too busy with my own little summer fling. But Martin says he was worried what I’d say, whether I’d like this Benny kid.”

I hated to admit it, but I could see where Jared was coming from, “Do you like him?”

“He’s a sweet kid. He’s in the year below us at City High. If Jared’s happy, then so am I.”

“So that’s it, Jared’s out now?”

I could practically hear Spike shaking her head, “Not exactly. He says there’s no reason to tell his parents and he should wait until it’s at least convenient for them to throw him out of the house.”

“He does have a point.”

“He does.” Spike was quite begrudging. “I don’t think they’re really going to throw him out, but you can only lead a horse to water.”

It was my turn for a subject change, “How’s Fred?”

Suddenly Spike was soft and mushy, “He’s all good. There’s a tattoo convention in San Diego. Doug’s planning a stand. Fred asked if I wanted to come with him.”

“How long are you going for?” I tried not to smile at blissfully smitten Spike.

“Four days, maybe more. We thought we might ride around a bit on the way back. I’ll keep you posted.”

“I guess you get a road trip after all.”

We chatted a while longer about the goings on of our friends back home. It was amazing how I’d only been gone a few months and already Ricky Ray’s latest exploits seemed much less vital news. I let Spike tell me about it and made all the right noises in response.

It was only when I noticed that the strip mall the café was in now cast a shadow across the road that I realized how much time had passed. I gathered up my things and headed out. Soon the street was lined with trees and those duplex things they have all over Montreal. I turned down a random side road and wandered into the heart of the neighborhood. It was peaceful, walking around and looking at things. This wasn’t the rest of my life; it was just a couple of hours on a summer afternoon.

The afternoon slid into early evening. I stopped on a park bench and watched some guys playing ball. There wasn’t much breeze, but now that the sun had set the baking heat had subsided. I felt totally relaxed. Until a slight niggling in the back of my mind pushed for attention.

Shoot, I need the bathroom. I went before I left the café, but I knew that second bottle of Coke would catch up with me sometime. This park is not exactly full of bushes to run into. Maybe there’s a pubic bathroom here? Oh, I think there is over there.

I headed over to a small brick hut. The door was locked. Shoot.
The park’s only officially open until sunset? Why close a park? What’s going to happen to it? Ok, now what do I do? If I just keep walking straight I should get to the main road and then hopefully there’ll be some shop I can run into.

BOOK: Life In The Palace
5.44Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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