"Nothing lasts forever."

It started with a tube of bright red lipstick and ended in the rain.


3. Him

No proof, not much, but you saw enough.

She had been waiting at her window seat for a while now. She had tried to convince herself several times already that it was because of the optimal lighting, but every time, a shrewder part of her stood up and said, with tiny glasses perched on her nose, “You’re such a bad liar, Hailey.” So she set down her book and satisfied herself with staring at a spot of an unknown origin on the other side of the glass.

She was wasting a lot of time right now, she told herself. There was that new report that her boss had sent to her three hours ago, and then she would have to take Vincent out for hot chocolate at one point or another this weekend. Why didn’t she get started on those now that she wasn’t boggled down with obligations?

She hurled her book across the room at her dining table. It crashed into the bowl of fake fruit in the center of the table with a satisfying thump and skidded for a couple seconds before sliding off the edge and landing on the ground. She couldn’t help wincing. Now she would have to pick up the fake fruit too. Why didn’t she think before she acted?

“Come on, Calvin!” she shouted at the window. “Why are you late?”

Men weren’t supposed to be late. They were supposed to be early, if not at least on time. But now it was already twenty minutes past three. And for God’s sake, he wouldn’t pick up his damn phone.

She yawned and stretched against the side of the window. A nap didn’t sound too bad, considering she hadn’t had a full night’s sleep since the summer of junior year back in high school.

She leaned her head against the side of her window and closed her eyes. Maybe she should just leave and do something useful—something she didn’t do very often. But maybe she should wait more. And maybe she should sleep a little… She had all the time in the world in her hands after all.

Someone was tapping very loudly by her ear on the window. She parted her lips, which had fused together, probably from their inactivity, and opened her eyes slowly, hoping that she didn’t look like a ruffled cat. Who in the world would be here at 5:30PM on a Saturday afternoon? God, she hoped it wasn’t Teagan. She thought her friend had already had enough of seeing her mope around by the bar instead of on the dancefloor.

But when she turned her head, she met a pair of very green eyes, which were still visible even in the blue-peach sky. She spat out a curse, jumping onto her feet. Her shirt had sagged down while she was taking her nap, but she couldn’t bring herself to care. Why was that bastard here—two hours late at that? If he wanted to give up on her, he should have made that decision a long time ago.

She walked as quickly as she could with her numb legs to the front door. When she opened it, he was already there, leaning against the doorframe as if he owned the place, that infuriating asshole. “What?” she snapped.

Yet as soon as he stared at her squarely in her eyes, it seemed like every emotion she had been experiencing in the past three hours drained away to be replaced with something else. Something else—she wasn’t sure what it was, but she stepped aside to let him in.

“You’ve got a nice place here,” he remarked as he stepped in. He turned around back to her. “I always knew your house would be something like this.”

“Like what?” She closed the door behind her and crossed her arms.

“Small. Cozy. Comforting. You know. Like the acoustic stuff you listen to.” He shrugged. “It looks like something straight out of a magazine, if I have to be completely honest.”

“Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”

“Good. I like the color scheme.”

“Thank you.”

There was a lull in their conversation as he stared down at his hands and she self-consciously fiddled with the buttons on her phone. Then he stood up abruptly and held up his keys in his hand. “Come on, we’ve got appointments to keep. Do you need me to wait for you to get anything?”

She dropped the package of instant coffee on the countertop. Pulling at the bottom of her shirt, she said, “You can go wait in your car; I’ll be right along.” When he was out of earshot, she muttered, “You hypocrite, you. Keeping appointments, my ass.” Nevertheless, she hurried to her closet, grabbed an overcoat and her house key, and joined him outside.

He had a ridiculously fancy car. As she opened the passenger door of the unlocked car, she vaguely wondered how much money he had handed over to own this gem of a convertible. He had already revved the engine, and as soon as she closed the door and before she put on her seat belt, he pulled out of her short driveway smoothly.

“You rebel,” she said.

He glanced up from the steering wheel with a wicked glint in his eye. “But you love it.”

And even though it was so cheesy, she felt herself melt. What in the world? She was much too old to fall for a couple of pretty words like a teenager. But maybe it wasn’t her. It was him. He was all over her thoughts already, and she saw his green eyes everywhere as if he was following her. And there he was, casually flirting with her like it was nothing.

They drove on for a while comfortably. She stared out the window at all the flashing lights, the derelict buildings, and the mist over the bridge. For a second, he turned on the radio, which was blasting some mindless pop music. As soon as he caught her glance, he turned it off, but not without a smirk. “Irritable today, aren’t you?”

“Be quiet.” But then, after a pause, she continued, “Why do you have a car?”

“What do you mean?” And oh her heart, he looked so relaxed as he fiddled with the dials on his car, like something out of an old ‘50’s film—Guys and Dolls, perhaps. How did he do that? He didn’t even have to look at her, and there she was, on her knees for him.

“You live in New York City. Why in the world would you have a car in New York City?”

He shrugged. “Why don’t you have a car? You live in New Jersey.”

“Unlike you, I appreciate the value of buses and subways.” She rolled her eyes at him.

He leaned her head toward her, raising his eyebrows as if he was holding up a glass to her. “True.”

She swallowed. He still kept eye contact, and vaguely, in the back of her mind, she wondered how he could keep driving like that. She took a breath. “What?”

He straightened in his seat and turned his attention back onto the road. “Nothing.”

She bit her lip and stared down at her hands. In the light of the street lamps whizzing by, they looked much too pale, like the rest of her. She played with the buttons on her coat idly, pulling and picking at them as if they were loose threads on an old t-shirt. She liked this—being with him without any music or noise or distraction between them. Maybe it was something beyond his pretty face, but she couldn’t know now. Not yet.

Finally, he pulled to a stop. She looked up. They were in front of a parking garage that was part of a sleek, modern white building in one of the more upscale neighborhoods of the city. “This is it,” he said, glancing over to her.

For some reason, the first thing that came to her mind was “What’s your job?” Immediately, he laughed and pulled into the garage itself, stopping briefly to scan his ID.

“You know, I wonder about that too,” he remarked wryly. “Nothing of importance, really. My parents had a huge part in the apartment purchase.”

She nodded and kept her silence as he parked in one of the marked spaces. They sat for a while. She wanted to say something, anything, but this was his territory, not hers. Say something.

“We’re here, so let’s hop on out,” he said after a little exhale. He took out his key and opened his own door without taking a single glance at her. She shrugged as she opened hers. She couldn’t really expect him to be a gentleman, could she? After all, she was in the Big Apple, not some small town in Georgia.

The elevator ride up to his apartment was quiet, not unlike their car ride. She was starting to believe that he was as taciturn as he thought she was. The elevator pinged when it hit the 11th floor. He turned to her and wiggled his eyebrows. “And here we are, my lady.”

“Cut out that bull, please.”

He laughed. “As you wish.”

Her lips twitched. “The Princess Bride, right?”

He shrugged sheepishly, and then he let her walk out first. The hallway leading to all of the apartments was exquisite. Hailey hadn’t seen so many paintings of fruit baskets gathered in one place in her life. As if he had heard her thoughts, Calvin stopped by a painting centered on a glistening apple. “Don’t worry about those other fruits, babe,” he said seriously, “because you’re the apple of my eye.”

She giggled and poked his arm. “You’re full of cheesy lines today, aren’t you?”

He shrugged. “I’m not an artist. I can’t make something out of nothing. Stop with those high expectations, Hay.”

Even though she smiled fondly and continued on confidently as if nothing at happened, her heart stuttered once, twice, before it resumed its normal rhythm again. What was he doing to her? It had been a long time since her giddy days as a teenager when the highlight of her day was hearing her boyfriend call her “Hay”. She was in all sorts of knots today, and she wasn’t sure if they were good or bad.

He had to hold her arm when she had apparently gone too far. “Hold your horses; we’re here.” She stuck her tongue out at him as he opened the door, shaking his head.

“You’re really mature,” he said. Before she could respond, he pushed open the door and ushered her in.

Dear God. What was this? She was facing a full view of the New York skyline from his amazing windows. Before she knew it, she was stumbling over her kitty heels to the couch right next to it. She didn’t know she could see so many lights—all of them artificial—at once. Of course she rarely stayed in the city once night fell; she would have to stay back to see this more often. It had been so long since she had been stunned into silence, and she vaguely surprised herself by being so amused by the twinkling lights of the Empire State Building in the distance.

“Hey, you didn’t even let me give you a tour.” Calvin joined her side, resting his arm around her waist. She felt her body flush, and the lights were all but forgotten. Almost.

“How much did you pay for this place?” She looked up at him, and, unsurprisingly, was hit by a full view of that jaw and those eyes looking down at her.

“You’d have to ask my parents.” He shrugged. “They said that if I was going to live in New York, I’d better live in a safe place.”

“And you couldn’t get it yourself?” Hesitantly, she leaned her head against his shoulder. When he didn’t shrug her off, she took as a good sign and closed her eyes.

“To be honest?” He chuckled. “It’s kind of hard to get a nice apartment that doesn’t have closets listed as rooms when you’ve got a student loan weighing you down.”

“Oh, right.” She felt like asking more about him—who was he, truly?—but she knew that she herself wouldn’t be willing to say anything about herself. So she kept quiet and listened to him breathe. It was as comforting as any piece of classical music in her CD player.

“You know, I never told you,” he started, “but if I had gotten over to your place earlier, I would have officially asked you to accompany me to dinner.”

Her heart beat wildly. “What do you mean?”

“My mom held me up. I couldn’t turn her away because she had brought one of my cousins from France, who’s only staying around here for two days.”

“Oh.” Maybe she was expecting something bigger, like how his mother wanted to make a dramatic announcement about her cancer diagnosis. But again, big announcements like that would take much, much longer than two hours. “So?”

“I was going to ask you out.” When she opened her eyes, he met them steadily. “Like on a date. I made a reservation at a fancy French restaurant. I can’t pronounce its name, in case you’re wondering.”

If her heart was functioning normally, she would have been wondering what the restaurant was called since she knew practically all the high scale restaurants in New York. But it wasn’t, so her mouth dropped open a tiny bit. When she was sure her voice wouldn’t sound like a bullfrog’s croak, she mumbled out, “And?”

“It’s a little late now,” he said sheepishly, his fingers tapping out a pattern on her waist. “I’ll have to make a call and pay for the inconvenience later, but we can still hang here if you want.”

Of course she did. So she placed a hand on the nape of his neck and pulled his face down closer to her, whispering, “That would be amazing.”

And she kissed him.

A delicious shiver ran down her spine. She felt him clutch her to him even closer, and they both fell against the couch. Her lips moved gently with his, and she wrapped her arms around his head. And God, she could feel the flush traveling down her neck as he broke apart from her and trailed down the arch of her throat…

Right then, in that moment, with her fingers curled in his mop of dark hair and one of his hands resting softly on the back of her head, she finally admitted it to herself.

Maybe she liked him a little too much.


And here's the installment for the day! As I've said to you guys, thank you so much for checking this out :) I hope you have a wonderful day and keep on commenting~

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