From Across the Room

She was the writer, he was the inspiration


8. Geting To Know Me

When I woke up, it took me a couple minutes to realize…or remember where I was. It took a minute or so for me to process I was at Harry’s house. I rolled over and Harry had disappeared. I sighed and pushed the covers back and made my way downstairs.
“Hey sleepy head.” Harry said before I could even fully get out of bed. He was holding a mug and it looked like he had just showered. “I uh…I woke up before you and thought you could use some tea. That and I needed to shower. I felt like I smelt funny.” I smiled a little and graciously accepted the tea.
“I think you smell fine.”
“Yeah, now I do.”
“Whatever you say…uh thanks for the tea.” I whispered.
“Yeah of course. How are you feeling? Did the nap help a little?”
“That’s really all I’ve been doing…is napping. But I will admit, actually talking about it felt better.”
“You haven’t told your friends?”
“I’ve told the few who didn’t know that he was back in town. Beyond that, I didn’t talk about it; I didn’t want to either for that matter. Zuru and Marisole saw him wherever they sat him, I told Pryia and Analia, but I never talked to any of them about it. There’s really not much to say. They all watched me fall apart because of him.”
“Fall apart?” I smirked a little and shook my head.
“Have you read any of my books?” I asked Harry.
“I honestly can’t say I have. Now if you ask Gemma…I’m sure she’s read them all.”
“Well then you can ask her about the ending o my most recent book and it’ll all make a lot more sense; there’s a lot more to it then what I told you. I just told you to the cliff-notes version. But it is what it is. I went through it, it’s in the past, and now it’s back and I have to find a way to handle it. It’s one thing to move forward when you know you don’t have to deal with whatever is bothering you, but when it comes back, in human form, and is no longer away, it makes it very different. You need to find a new way to cope, a new way to move forward, a new way to function…it’s hard at first, but I’ll be okay.”
“That’s very…logical of you.” Harry said.
“Well…just because I’m a writer doesn’t mean I can’t be smart.”
“I never said that. Writers have to be smart.”
“Have to be? Some of the dumbest people could write a best seller; take those every single topic in the world for dummies books.” I pointed out. Harry laughed and I smiled again. It made me  realize that I smiled around him a lot, no matter how I felt.
“Okay, point taken.” Harry joked. “But those people still need to have a knowledge of what they’re talking about.”
“Yeah and they’re also dumb enugh to dumb it all down.”
“That’s almost insulting to the author of those books.” Harry pointed out.
“Maybe, but I am a writer and all competition, no matter the topic or genre of book is no good to me.”
“Okay, fair enough. So…are you up to doing anything?” Harry asked as I sipped the tea he brought me.
“I’m really not sure.”
“We are quite a bit of ways out of the city…doing something here can’t be all bad.”
“Yeah, but I don’t know where Myles is so everywhere could be bad news.”
“Oh come on…nothing?”
“Nope, not today.”
“Well that ruins everything.” Harry said, throwing his hands up over dramatically.
“Okay what the hell did you have planned?”
“It was nice…I wanted to go for a walk or out for a picnic.”
“For what? Another date?”
“Well yeah…this qualifies as hanging out, not a date. I need to make a good impression.” Harry said, smiling. I know he was trying to get me to laugh and just to get me out of the house, or any house for that matter, but…
“You already have.” I finally said.
“Excuse me?”
“You already have made a good impression on me.” I said. “I don’t remember the last time a guy took me out on a date, or called me when he said he would, or the last time I felt like I could fall asleep next to someone and feel safe, or even open up to a guy…and yet, you’ve done all of those things. You showed up at my house when you sensed I was upset over the phone, you showed up to our first date and didn’t stand me up like I thought you would, you put thought and effort into the few dates you took me on, you wanted to include me in just a regular day at the beach with your friends that I barely know when you barely know me…it just goes to show you care and…it impresses me. I don’t really know how else you can impress me…I don’t know.” I shrugged and went back to sipping my tea. When I looked back up, Harry was just staring at me. “What? Did I say something wrong?”
“Uh nothing bad. I’m just surprise that I impressed you that quick.”
“Oh please, with my track record with guys, it doesn’t take much.”
“And what kind of track record is this?” I scoffed and rolled my eyes,
“I’ve dated guys only after my money, I’ve dated guys who were dared to date me- this was back in high school just to clarify, I’ve dated drug addicts, alcoholics, theifs…you name it, I’ve probably dated it. I’m pretty sure I even dated a guy who was pretending to be someone else but I never actally confirmed it. I only had my hunches with that one. I left before I could find out. I didn’t want to stick around and end up dead or something.” Harry started laughing but then went serious.
“You really weren’t kidding when you said I was polite.” I smiled and almost laughed at Harry’s half joke. I knew he meant it to be serious but it had turned into a small joke with us. 
“No, I wasn’t kidding. But I sort of just gave up after Myles….then you showed up.”
“Yup…you can thank Lottie for that.”
“Ever think Lottie did this on purpose?” I asked.
“What do you mean?” Harry asked.
“Lottie always has a hidden agenda, no matter what it is. Have you ever thought that she sent Louis to get the book signed, knowing he would bring you and your firnds, and that we would meet?”
“That sounds really diabolical…even for Lottie.”
“I don’t put anything past Lottie these days. Shes tricked my agent and publisher so many times because I’ve missed deadlinesmore times than I can count.”
“How did Lottie end up friends with your agent and publisher? Isn’t that just weird?” Harry asked.
“Not really…she was an assistant there after I got my first book published for another agent there, I believe her name was Maria. She was here on a work visa and once Maria left so did Lottie. But anyway, she grew close to Britta and Jeania because Maria worked closely with those two; they helped train Maria so…they ended up being friends and stayed friends after she left. I met her while I was there as well…and they were so close that we naturally clicked.”
“That’s interesting. How about Pryia?”
“Childhood friend; we were neighbors.”
“And Zuri?”
“Are we going to ask about all my friends?”
“Well I want to know more about you so…yeah.”
“Okay, fine. I met Zuri when I moved here. She was like my first friend here besides Lottie. I met Analia at University. I was taking night classes for awhile with her and so was she. We always sat in the back together and kind of clicked. Marisole and I met when I went out with Analia one night. They were friends from childhood…similar to me and Pryia.”
“Interesting? Again? What a small vocabulary. Okay, how about you and your friends?” I asked.
“Louis is my childhood friend. Our parents are best friends so we just grew up together and went to school together. Niall was the new kid at school so I kind of just invited him in. And Liam was someone I met at Oxford and he eneded up moving to this area our freshman year so…we just clicked as well.”
“Yeah, I need to turn it back on you every now and again.”
“Hello?! Anyone home?” Harry and I both headed downstairs to see a women standing there.
“Hey mom…” Harry finally said.
“Oh don’t sound so surprised. Who is this?”
“You’re home early?” Harry said, hugging her.
“Yeah, we cut the deal earlier than expected and I got a couple days to come home before our next trip. Who is this?” She asked again.
“Oh, this is Bethany.” Harry finally said.
“Bethany, this is my mom…Anne.”
“Please, do actually call me Anne. Harry isn’t just calling me Anne for shits and giggles. I nodded, suddenly nervous. Yes, I was a grown adult, Harry was a grown adult, but it was still weird meeting someones parents…or parent, in this case, for the first time.
“Nice to meet you.”
“So out of curiosity…are you an author?”
“Uh, yeah…”
“Okay, I thought I was going crazy. I recognized your picture from the back of the books Gemma has sitting in her room.”
“Oh.” I said, laughing nervously. Harry must’ve noticed my discomfort and took a small step closer to me.
“Well, do you guys have dinner plans?”
“Uh we do, actually. I didn’t know you were coming home early…” Harry jumped in.
“But we can cancel.” I said quickly. Harry looked at me, almost with a look of confusion mixed with shock. “I don’t see my family much either and I always tell harry that family is important so if you would like to have dinner with us, we’d be honored. I mean, at least I would be.”
“Oh that sounds wonderful! I mean, I am in no mood to cook…I was thinking pizza.”
“Pizza sounds perfect.” I said.
“Great! Now where is your family that you don’t see them?”
“California; it’s where I’m from…I just came here to travel and ended up falling in love with London and moved here. I go back to California for birthdays and holidays so I do see them, but only a few times a year.”
“Well that is impressive. Let me go clean up and I’ll order the food.” Anne said.
“Okay.” Harry and I said together. Once Anne got her suitcases upstairs, Harry turned to me as we walked into the kitchen for me to put my mug in the sink.
“You didn’t have to do that.” Harry said.
“Why? Don’t you want to see your mom? You said your family travels a lot.”
“Well yeah, but you didn’t look all that comfortbale talking to her.”
“You have to keep in mind most people already recognize me so it automatically makes me feel awkward. But she is your mom. I need to make a good impression. But this also just means that you have to meet my family when they come to visit since I’ve met a good portion of your  family already.”
“Okay, that’s fair, however I sense hesitation within that comment.”
“Yeah…only because we haven’t put a title on our relationship besides the fact that theres promise and were taking it slow. So that alone makes me nervous because my brother, Chris, he is engaged to be married in like 6 months. I’m the next oldest and my parents are kind of on me about finding a good guy for once. And I know they mean it in a humorous way but I also don’t want to be alone forever. I mean, Chris has known his fiancé since college and shes an amazing person. She’s got a great job as an English teacher in a middle school back in California and is the nicest person ever, so I have high standards against me and I don’t want my parents to jump to conclusions or to scare you off, or turn me off to you.”
“Well that’s bluntly honst…the last part I mean.”
“Yeah…I mean, my parents have done that to me a couple times in high school to semi decent guys because lets be real, what guy in high school is somewhat decent anymore?” Harry laughed at my joke and nodded in agreement. “So…I don’t want that to happen with you and especially since it wouldn’t be anything you did.”
“Well I appreciate the honesty and I can promise they wont scare me off. However I just hope by the time they get here at the end of the month, we’ll be more comfortable with each other.”
“You make this almost getting to know each other relationship sound promising.”
“I like to think it is. I don’t know what’s going through your head but I know I see something here.” Harry said.
“Okay, pizza is ordered and should be here soon!” Anne said, walking back downstairs. Out of her pantsuit, she looked more like a mom and that’s when I noticed how much Harry looked like her.
After dinner, Anne went to bed and Harry aand I got into his car so he could bring me home. It was a pretty quiet ride on the way back to the city but I didn’t seem to mind it.
“Okay, and we’re here.” Harry said, hopping out and getting the door for me. I smiled as I got out of the car. “I had a fun day.” Harry said.
“I did too.” I said slowly. Harry leaned in to hug me and for the first time, it didn’t fel awkward; it felt like a real hug.
“Have a good night. Harry said as he walked me to the front door of the complex. I was quiet for a minute, not ready to let the night end quite yet.
“Do you want to stay?” I asked quickly and quietly.
“Really?” Harry asked, sounding surprised. I slowly nodded and looked down.
“Yeah…I don’t want the night to end yet.”
“Sure, I’d like to stay.”

When she asked me to stay, I was genuinely surprised. We decided to take it slow so I saw nothing happening tonight, but again, it was surprising. I followed her up to her place and it was dark, probably meaning Pryia was either asleep or out and asleep didn’t seem too logical with the little I do know her.
“So…” Bethany said slowly.
“I mean, I am kind of emotionally drained. Do you want to just watch TV in my room?”
“Sure.” We walked up to her room and you could tell that she felt a little weird about letting me stay even though she brough it up. “Are you sure you want me to stay?”
“I know I’m acting or coming off as a little weird about it but I do want to get to know you and I feel like getting to know me at night it one of the best ways to do so.” She slowly said.
“So this is new to you?”
“I don’t remember the last time I had a guy stay the night to be honest. Myles never stayed over much because Pryia hated him, and obviously for good reason, but the bet way to get to know me is to see me at night because that’s when a lot of my emotions, feelings, thoughts, everything you really need to know about me comes out.”
“I feel like it’s that way for a lot of people.”
“Yes, but there is a difference between late night phone calls or late night texts. Being with them in person is how you really get to know a person.”
“Okay, I can agree with that.” I said.
“I’m going to change real quick…I’ll be right back.” Bethany said. I nodded as she walked off to the bathroom in her room. I made myself comfortable on her bed but also a decent distance away from where it looks to be where she sleeps.
“You look more comfortable.”
“Don’t judge me!” Bethany joked as she crawled up next to me, turning to TV on and flipping through channels before settling on Castle.
“Castle? You like this show?” I questioned.
“I love cop shows…they’re my favorite.”
“Okay, I can deal with that.” I joked.
“Oh shut up!”
“Nah, my sister likes these shows too. I feel like it’s a girl thing; watch enough cop shows and you females can get away with murder.”
“That’s the point.” Bethany joked. I smiled, realizing she was getting more comfortable with me here.
As we watched the show, she got quiet and more drawn into the show. She was slowly making her way into her sleeping position, or at least I assumed her sleeping position since she looked like she was getting more and more comfortable in her bed.
“I have a confession.” She finally said.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“I like you.” She finaly said.
“Well I like you too.” I said, kind of surprised.
“No, I mean…I see something with you. It took Pryia bitching me out…” Bethany joked, making me smile. “But, I do see something with you. It’s still scary for me to admit due to my past and I know it keeps comin up, but it’s a part of me. I just want you to know me and I want to know you. I don’t want to base all of my feelings off the past week and the politeness, all joking aside.”
“I can agree with that; the getting to really knoe each other part. I wouldn’t wqqnt to jump into anything just becase you said this to me. I still want to get to know you even more. Feelings can come on really fast and disappear really fast if you don’t really know a person.”
“Exactly…I just don’t want to fuck thisup so please forgive me if I make you feel like I don’t like you or anything. I just wanted to tell you the truth so you wouln’t get thoughts like that.”
“Well I like that you can open up to me.” I said.
“I just…want you to know who I really am before moving forward even more.” Bethany slowly said.
“And I want you to know me even more before we move forward. I think the hanging out and dates and maybe a night here and there wouldn’t be a bad idea.”
“Yeah, I like how things are right now.” Bethany said.
“So then this is how it will be.”
“Okay.” Bethany whispered.
“So, my mom didn’t scare you off?” I asked. Bethany laughed a little and shook her head.
“No, she was sweet. Once I got used to her she reminded me a lot of you.”
“How so?”
“She just has.” Bethany shrugged as she turned the TV off.
“Sleep time?” I joked.
“Do you want something more comfortable to change into?” Bethany asked.
“You have guys clothes?” I questioned.
“I like guy pajamas…they’re very comfortable and roomy and I always get like massive size.” I laughed and nodded.
“Yeah, that would be nice.” Bethany got up and grabbed a t-shirt and basketball shorts for me and tossed them over. I went and changed in the bathroom and by the time I got back, all of a minute or two, Bethany was basically asleep. I turned off the side lamp and crawled into bed with her. She snuggled up to my side to my surprise and I wrapped my arm around her and we slowly fell asleep together.   


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