Chapter One - SarahA Chapter by Shelly Meyer
The first chapter is from the perspective of my heroine, Sarah Miller, and her very first encounter with Andrew Collier.
“I shouldn’t have done it,” I said, shaking my head. “Maybe I can stop the mail before it gets picked up.” I hurried toward the front door but Kelly came after me and grabbed me by my arm.
“It’s done, Sarah,” she told me. I sat down on one of the chairs in the front lobby and put my face in my hands. “Besides,” she said, sitting down at her desk, “I think its sweet.” I looked up at her. She was grinning at me with that very sweet smile of hers.
“What was I thinking sending a letter to a twenty-four year old movie star? I’m forty, for Pete’s sake.”
“So? It’s not like you asked him to sleep with you. All you asked for was a couple of autographed pictures. I thought the letter was kind of funny, too. If nothing else, he’ll get a laugh out of it. The worst that could possibly happen is that you get your pictures sooner.” She smiled at me again.
“You’re probably right.” I sighed and stood up. “I’m sure he doesn’t even have time to read the letters himself.” I walked toward the door to the back office. “I need to get back to work.”
Back at my desk, I pulled a copy of the letter I had sent out of my desk drawer and read it silently.
You probably get a thousand of these letters a day from fanatic teenage girls claiming to be madly in-love with you. First of all, I’m not a fanatic teenage girl, and if I were ten years younger, I wouldn’t feel so much like a creepy old lady hitting on a young guy.
Anyway, without sounding like that creepy old lady, I’m forty, by the way, but I don’t look it, I wanted to say I think you’re a beautiful person, inside and out. You’re very down-to-earth and real. You also have great taste in burger joints. I think you’re an amazing actor and they couldn’t have found a better Will (the character he played in his latest movie) if they tried.
Okay, so I’ve seen “Two Hearts” and “One Life” a million times and now I’m wondering when the third movie is coming out?
Can I ask you a huge favor? Can you please send a couple of autographed pictures for my daughter and me? Her name is Nina and mine is Sarah. I know, typical question you’re probably asked by everyone, but I had to. At least I didn’t ask you to come to Denver to sign my chest, unless you wanted to. I’m kidding, of course. (I groaned at that).
It would mean the world to my daughter, and me, to be honest with you.
Okay, now for the really creepy old lady stuff…my contact info. I’m not really expecting to hear from you personally, but a girl can dream, right? Even a creepy old lady.
I had included every bit of contact information I had available to me, including my work phone number, email, and instant messenger name.
I groaned again and shoved the letter in my purse, hoping it would never again raise its evil little head. Unfortunately for me, Kelly felt the need to remind me of it nearly every single day for a month.
“Have you heard anything yet,” she’d ask.
“No,” I would answer happily. “And I hope I don’t. I feel so weird about it.”
“Feel weird about what,” my friend and co-worker, Chris Keller, asked one day in late January. He had been completely oblivious for an entire month. I had sent the letter on December first.
“Boy, you’re really with it, aren’t you?” I laughed at him.
“Seriously, Sarah. What’s going on?”
I sighed, searching for the best way to explain my stupidity without actually sounding stupid. Kelly’s bubbly voice piped in before I had a chance to open my mouth. “She sent a letter to a movie star. She thinks it was creepy, but I think it was sweet.”
“You would.” I smirked at her.
Chris laughed. “How old are you? Fifteen?” I punched his arm. “Ow,” he groaned, rubbing his arm, but he was still laughing at me.
I pouted and stormed off. I wasn’t really mad or hurt. It was just for effect.
I only acted my age when it was absolutely necessary. Acting my age made me feel old and I didn’t like that feeling. I had always looked ten years younger than I actually was, until my recent divorce. It had put a lot of undue and unwelcome stress on my appearance. I wasn’t very happy about that. I had begun to fight it with anti-aging creams and make-up. I felt like I was losing.
At this stage I was probably looking closer to my actual age than thirty. My eyes were puffy and dark and I was beginning to see more crow’s feet. Not good. The stress of my divorce had taken its toll on me. The bad marriage had probably contributed to it, as well. Good riddance, though.
Still, I refused to act forty. It made me feel younger, so I didn’t think so much about looks.
I have short, straight auburn hair and a million freckles. I’m pale, but that comes from being a red head. I have green eyes and my nose is slightly upturned at the tip, kind of like a ski jump. I have a small mouth and thin lips, which I hate because I have always wished I had been blessed with that little cleft in the center of my top lip. No such luck there. I’ve always had to make one, which always looked “made”. Honestly, I am pretty ordinary looking.
Chris knew I wasn’t seriously upset, so he didn’t bother coming after me. I went back to work. It was almost five o’clock anyway.
I drove home that evening, secretly hoping there would be a picture or something from Andrew Collier in the mail. I knew there wouldn’t be anything there, but I hoped that, just once, something good would happen for me. I had been alone for nearly a year and I thought it was my turn for a little happiness. I thought about Chris just then. I’d had crush on him for over a year. He knew it, but neither of us ever mentioned it or acted on it. We were good friends. He was always helping me with things around my house because he knew there were things I couldn’t do by myself. He was always there when I needed him.
I drove up to my mailbox at the end of my street and opened it. Nothing. Exactly what I had expected. Seriously, what did I expect? Movie stars, especially ones as huge as Andrew Collier, didn’t have time to read the thousands of letters they received every day. It had been nearly two months since I sent mine. I decided to give up hope on this one.
When I got to my house, Chris’s truck was parked out front. He never mentioned he was stopping by, plus, it was too cold outside to move anything into my storage shed out back.
“Hey, goofball. What are you doing here?” I greeted him with our usual friendly ribbing. “I don’t remember hearing you say you were stopping by.”
“I wasn’t planning on it, but I wanted to apologize for hurting your feelings earlier.” He walked in the house behind me. My house was freezing, as usual. The furnace was broken and I couldn’t keep my space heater on all day while I was gone.
“You didn’t hurt my feelings. I knew you were joking, and so was I.” I turned on the heater and then the oven to try to get the place warm faster. “Would you like some coffee or soda or something?” I turned on the kitchen faucet. “D****t!”
“The pipes froze again. Did it really get that cold today?”
Everything in my house was falling apart. If I could have afforded to move, I would have in a second.
“I am going to get that fuse for your furnace.”
“It’s not your problem, Chris, but, thank you.” I smiled and sat down on the couch next to him.
“Are you sure everything’s okay?” He put his arm around my shoulder and I leaned in close to him, mostly to get warm.
“Yeah,” I answered quietly and look up into his blue eyes. He was so adorable. He hadn’t shaved in a couple of days, so he was little scruffy. His smile was sweet and he smiled often. I liked that about him. He was always optimistic and I wished I knew how to be more like that.
He still had his arm around my shoulder and I was still looking up at him with a smile on my lips. “You didn’t really come over to apologize, did you?”
He shook his head. “No, not really.”
“Then why did you come over here?” I sat up and faced him.
He sucked in a deep breath. “Do you remember when you told me you had a crush on me?”
“Oh, jeez.” I laughed, embarrassed, and looked away. “Yeah, but let’s not go there, please.”
“That’s why I’m here, Sarah.” He took my chin in his hand and gently pulled my face toward his. I had no choice but to look at him.
“I should have said something then, but I was afraid to. I just ignored it. I’m sorry I did.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I really like you, too.”
“You don’t have to…” He stopped me with his lips on mine. It was very soft and sweet. I let out a quick laugh, mostly from nervousness.
“Um, yeah.” I looked at him and smiled. “Are you?”
“Absolutely.” He smiled back and leaned in again.
The second kiss was a little more passionate. His hands cradled my face. I put my hands on his.
“Wow,” I sighed when he pulled away.
“This is why I came over here.” He took my hands in his. “I should have done this months ago.”
“Isn’t it going to be kind of weird at work now?”
He rolled his eyes and pulled away. “Why do you have to look at it that way?”
“All negative? I just told you I like you and kissed you and you’re worried about things being weird at work.” He shook his had and chuckled.
“It’s not a bad thing, Sarah. Just be happy, would you?”
“I can do that.” I smiled sheepishly.
“Listen, I can’t stay too much longer, but I had to come over here and tell you how I feel.”
“I’m glad you did. Thank you. Really… thank you.”
“Any time.” He pulled me up off of the couch and put his arms around me. “Yeah, I really do need to get that furnace fixed for you. It’s freezing in here.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“And I’m going to insulate those pipes, too. Are you going to be alright here tonight?”
“Yeah. It was colder than this the night I took Nina to see “Two Hearts”.”
Chris rolled his eyes again. “Can we not talk about Andrew Collier again, please?”
“Yes. I’ve given up on that whole thing, anyway.”
“Thank God.” He chuckled and kissed me. “I’ll come by this weekend and see what I can do about that furnace.”
“Okay. Thank you.” He kissed me one more time and stepped outside.
“Jeez woman. It’s warmer out here than it is in your house.”
“Maybe I’ll sleep in my car tonight.” I winked at him. “Drive careful.”
“That’s no fun.” He smiled sideways and headed for his truck.
I closed the door and leaned against it, a huge smile on my lips. I was suddenly very warm.
I slept very well that night and woke up feeling good. In the morning I had my mocha, checked my emails and took a long, hot shower. I was thankful that the pipes had thawed overnight. It was casual Friday, so I put on a pair of jeans and my black cashmere cardigan. I applied my make-up meticulously and made sure I looked just right. I even took the time to curl my hair and pulled it up off of my face. I was feeling better about myself than I had in months.
For the first time in weeks I didn’t complain about the other drivers on the road and I made it to work in record time. It was going to be a great day. I could feel it.
Chris was already at the office, as usual. “Good morning, beautiful.” He was standing behind me in the kitchen as I fixed my coffee. He wrapped his arms around my waist.
I turned to face him and smiled up at him. I guess I had never thought much about how tall he was. “Good morning.”
He bent down to kiss me. We were the only ones in the office so I wasn’t worried about getting caught.
“Did you stay warm last night,” he asked, stepping away from me so I could finish making my coffee.
“Surprisingly, yes.” I sighed, remembering the passionate kiss the night before.
“I should have stayed with you.”
“I would have let you, but we both know what would have happened if you did.”
“Your point?” He chuckled. “Well, it is Friday. Maybe this weekend?”
“Maybe.” I was still smiling.
He stepped toward me again and put his hands on my face. I loved that feeling. He bent down and kissed me again.
“Don’t mind me,” we suddenly heard someone say from the kitchen door. We stopped quickly. I was startled and a little embarrassed. It was our boss, Valerie Wilson.
“Uh, yeah,” Chris stammered. “We, um…”
She waved it off. “I don’t judge. I didn’t see a thing.” She winked at me, made her coffee, and then walked to the door. “Please, continue.”
I giggled nervously. “Maybe we should get to work before we get busted again.”
The day was flying by. Before I knew it, it was almost noon and I was about ready for lunch. Valerie was walking quickly to my desk as I was getting up. She had a big smile on her face; it was almost mischievous. I figured she was stealing a minute to talk to me about the incident with Chris. “What’s up?”
“There’s a young man up front with an enormous bouquet of flowers. He says he has to give them to you directly.”
Puzzled, I stood up and walked to the front office, with Valerie at my heels. “Who would send me flowers? Chris, maybe?”
“They’re not from Chris,” she told me.
I stopped short and turned around. “What do you know?” I was very suspicious.
She was still smiling. “You’ll see.”
I looked sideways at her and opened the door to the outer office. On Kelly’s desk was a huge arrangement of the most beautiful and fragrant flowers I had ever seen. They made the entire room smell incredible.
Then he stepped out from behind the vase and showed himself. “Sarah?” His smile was breathtaking. I knew him instantly.
I felt light-headed. I couldn’t catch my breath. “Will you excuse me for a minute, please?” I ran back to the kitchen. I bent over, trying to breathe. Valerie, Kelly and Chris were right behind me.
“Are you okay,” Kelly asked. “You look like you’re going to pass out.”
“I’m alright. I just need to sit for a minute.”
“What happened,” Chris asked, sitting down next to me.
“What do you want me to tell your…um…friend,” Valerie asked, concern in her voice. She glanced at Chris.
“Sarah, that is him,” Kelly said, setting a glass of water on the table in front of me.
I looked up at her, but spoke to Valerie. “Could you ask Mr. Collier to come in here?”
Chris sighed and I looked up at him. He looked hurt. “Andrew Collier?”
I nodded. “Chris, I didn’t know. I’m sorry. I didn’t expect him…”
He stood up quickly, pushing his chair to the floor in the process, and stormed out of the room. A few seconds later I heard his office door slam.
Andrew was standing in the doorway. “Are you alright, Sarah?” Just the sound of his voice was making my head spin. I nodded and took in a deep breath. He stepped inside and picked up the chair and sat down next to me. “Are you sure?”
“Yeah.” I gave him a little smile. He was absolutely amazing-looking in person and up close, especially with his messy dark hair and five o’clock shadow. His smile lit up the entire room more than the fluorescent lights and his blue-gray eyes were mesmerizing. I swear I thought I would pass out if he kept looking at me the way he was; like he felt the need to put his arms around me. “What are you…I mean, how did you…um…Why?” I was shocked and more than a little confused.
“I needed to bring you the flowers. I’ll tell you, this office is not easy to find. Thank God for GPS. And to answer your why…because your letter really caught me off guard, and your picture, well, I was incredibly intrigued by it. You’re more beautiful in person.”
I chuckled. “So are you.” I looked toward the door. We were being watched by everyone in the office. When they saw that I had noticed them, they scattered, mumbling to each other. “I, um, need some air. Do you mind?”
“Not at all.” He stood up and helped me to my feet. I was still a little dizzy. Six feet, one inch. Damn, he was tall, and beautiful; exactly what I expected.
We stepped onto the elevator then, and walked outside when we reached the first floor. He held the door for me. It was unseasonably warm today, not at all like yesterday. Not usual for late January, but this was Colorado. I didn’t mind one bit. At that moment I could have been standing in the middle of a blizzard in shorts and a tank top and I don’t think I would have noticed or cared.
Andrew and I sat down on the grass facing each other. “So, are you surprised,” he asked.
“That’s the understatement of the year.” I shook my head and smiled. I was having a hard time looking at him. His eyes were hypnotizing. I could get lost in them. I was playing with the grass, thinking of something witty to say to him. “I’m just wondering…” I had to make myself look at him. He had his head cocked and he was grinning. Oh, God, stop! “Why are you here?”
“I told you. Your letter intrigued me. I had to meet the woman who wrote it.” He took my hands in a friendly gesture.
“Disappointed,” I asked.
“Hardly. You’re actually more than I expected.” He was still smiling. “What about me?”
“Are you kidding?” I tried not to laugh. I failed. “Remember I said, ‘You’re beautiful, inside and out’?”
“Yes, but pictures don’t always do a person justice. Yours didn’t.”
“Neither do yours.” I shook my head and grinned. “I feel like an idiot.”
“I’m forty years old. You’re twenty-four. What was I thinking? Jeez, what were you thinking by coming here?”
“Are you sorry?”
“Not at all. Don’t get me wrong, but I honestly didn’t even expect the pictures. I hoped, but I definitely never expected to be sitting here with you, having an actual conversation. This is the kind of thing girls dream about, but it never actually happens, you know.”
“Well, I, for one, am ecstatic to be here. I’m glad I came, Sarah.” He stood up and pulled me to my feet. I looked at him nervously.
“I’m glad, too.”
“I had better get you back to work.” I pouted and he chuckled.
“Where are you staying?”
“The Brown Palace, downtown. Do you know it?”
“Everyone knows the Brown Palace.”
“How far is it from your house?”
“Twenty minutes, when there’s no traffic.”
“That won’t do.” His forehead creased as he thought about that.
“Well, my house is a piece of crap, but…” I stopped, thinking about how bad my place really was.
“I was going to ask you if you wanted to stay at my place while you’re here, but I’m too embarrassed by it. You’re used to big houses and luxury hotel suites.”
“Sarah,” he laughed again. “I lived in a pop-up travel trailer while we were filming “Two Hearts” and “One Life”.”
“That may be, but my place is falling apart. It’s…gross.” I wrinkled my nose and he touched it gently. It sent a shiver up my spine.
“I really don't believe that.”
“Fine…would you like to stay with me while you’re here,” I reluctantly asked him.
“Yes, I would.” He smiled and put his arm around my shoulder and we walked to the front door of the building.
We went upstairs and he walked me to the door. “So, I’ll see you later?” I think my knees were shaking.
“Of course. I’m going to have some lunch then check out of the hotel, then I’ll meet you here later and follow you to your house.”
“Okay.” I looked down at my feet, too nervous, again, to look at him.
“Hey,” he whispered.
“Yeah?” I looked up at him and he bent down and kissed my lips softly. My entire body tingled. I thought I was going to faint. I was light-headed again and my legs felt like Jell-O™.
“More than okay.” I gave him a huge smile and he walked backwards toward the elevator. I watched him until the doors closed, then I walked to the landing and watched him walk to the front door.
“Bye,” I called to him.
He looked up and smiled and waved, then he walked outside. I went inside and immediately had to sit down. I was breathing heavy and every muscle in my body was weak.
Kelly was at my side instantly. “Oh my God, Sarah. He kissed you.”
I could only nod and try to breathe. I knew there was a huge, stupid grin on my face. I wondered if he was feeling the same as I was.
“What did you two talk about?”
“I asked him what he was doing here. Then I started babbling about how weird it all was. Oh yeah, then I invited him to stay with me while he’s here.”
Kelly gasped. “Oh my.”
“Stupid, huh?” I shook my head.
“Andrew Collier is staying at your house. You’re going to spend an entire weekend alone with him.” Now she had a big, stupid grin on her face.
“Beautiful,” I heard Chris say, angrily, from the other door.
Both Kelly and I looked up at him. He scowled at me then walked away.
“What was that about?”
I shook my head. “I’ll deal with that in a minute.” I looked up at her. “I can’t do this. What am I thinking? He’s too young.”
“So? He’s gorgeous, and it looked to me like he was really into you. If you don’t make a move, you’re crazy.”
I shook my head and stood up. “I have to deal with this Chris issue.”
“Yeah, what is up with that, anyway?”
“I’ll fill you in later.” I was screwed. What was I going to do? I had to talk to Chris, but I knew he was angry. Maybe I should give him some time to cool off? No, we needed to work this out. “Can I talk to you,” I asked him as I stood in the doorway of his office.
“Why don’t you go talk to your new boyfriend?” He didn’t even look up at me. This whole situation was hurting him.
“That’s not fair. I didn’t know he was going to be here.”
“I know, but you didn’t have to kiss him.”
I sucked in my breath. “He kissed me, Chris.” I couldn’t believe he was spying on me.
“I know that.” He finally looked up at me and stood up. “You left with him, and you were acting like a teenage girl when he showed up.”
“I was in shock. I’m still in shock.” I walked toward him. “If you remember, I told you yesterday that I had given up on even a picture of him.”
“I get it. I guess I’d probably act the same way.”
“Yeah, you would.”
“Can we just forget it?” He looked somberly at me.
“Anyway, I think I found the fuse for your furnace. I’m going to pick it up tomorrow morning and bring it by in the afternoon.”
Worry was obvious on my face. I bit my bottom lip. “About that.”
Chris rolled his eyes and turned away. “I know he’s staying with you,” through gritted teeth. “That’s just great.” He spun around to face me again.
“It just sort of slipped out.”
“Sure it did.” He leaned in very close to me. I could feel the heat of his breath on my face. “What do you want, Sarah? Me or him?”
“Are you serious? This isn’t a competition. I don’t even know him. I thought you and I were trying to make something happen?”
“We were…until Mister Perfect showed up.” He began to pace. “How old is he, anyway? Sixteen?”
I began to laugh quietly. “You’re jealous.”
“You think?” He closed the door, then, before the entire office came to see what was going on.
“You have nothing to be jealous of. And, for your information, he’s twenty-four.”
“Oh, that makes it okay?”
“Chris, please. You don’t have anything to be jealous of.”
“You asked him to stay with you.”
“I told you, I just blurted it out. I guess I thought it was better than some lonely, impersonal hotel room.”
“What difference does it make?”
“A lot. Which hotel?”
“The Brown Palace.”
“And that’s worse than your house?”
“That was low.” I stood and started toward the door.
“I’m sorry.” He walked toward me and put his arms around me. “I didn’t mean it. I am jealous. I’m sorry.”
I turned around and wrapped my arms tight around him. “You don’t have to be. Do you know how long I’ve waited for you?”
“Me, too, honey.” He bent down and kissed me. I stood on my toes to get more of it. He pulled away slowly. “We had better stop before we start something we can’t finish.”
“Alright.” I sighed and opened the door.
“I’m still coming by tomorrow to put that fuse in.”
“I hope so.” I smiled at him.
“Hey, one last thing,” he stopped me.
“Who’s a better kisser?” He was grinning.
“You really have to ask?” Even I didn’t have an answer to that question. “I’ll see you later.” I smiled weakly at him and left. I could hear him laughing as I walked to the front office to talk to Kelly.
“Okay, so what’s going on with Chris,” Kelly asked me when I got to her desk.
“Please don’t tell anyone, alright,” I told her. “I’m not even one hundred percent sure what’s going on or what’s going to happen now with Andrew showing up here like that.”
Kelly was like a giddy little kid about the entire Andrew Collier arrival. “Really, Sarah, what are the chances of this happening? Things like this don’t happen.”
“I know. I’m still kind of shaking.”
“You see. I was right.”
“I told you the worst thing that could happen was that you’d get an autographed picture. I think you got the better deal.” She grinned at me and I had to laugh.
“I don't know about that now.” I let out a deep sigh and began my explanation about Chris. “I’m serious, Kelly, you can’t tell a soul.”
“The only other person who knows is Valerie, and that’s only because she caught us this morning.”
“What were you doing?”
She gasped and grinned. “You’re kidding!”
I shook my head. “No. He came over last night after work. I wasn’t expecting him to show up. You already knew he shows up at my house out of nowhere pretty regularly to help me with stuff around my house.”
“Yeah.” She was, literally, leaning forward on her chair.
“Okay, so he shows up out of nowhere last night. Actually, he was waiting for me when I got home.”
“Yeah. Anyway, I thought it was pretty weird, too. It was too cold to move anything out to my storage, so I had no idea why he was there.”
“You know he liked you already, didn’t you?” I cocked my head and smirked. “He told me yesterday he was going to talk to you.”
“And you didn’t say anything to me?”
“He swore me to secrecy. See, I can be trusted with a secret.” She gave me another big, toothy grin.
“Good job.” I smiled back. The phone rang, then, so I waited for the call to end.
“Go on,” she told me when she hung up.
“Yeah. Last year I had told him I had a crush on him, so he already knew I liked him. It never went any further than that. I was pretty much okay with that, until he showed up last night. He told me he had been too afraid to tell me back then. We were both going through so much at the time.”
“I remember. That’s about when I started here. You were both in the middle of divorces.”
“Right. So, now everything has changed. We talked for a little while, then he kissed me. I couldn’t believe it. It was so nice and sweet.”
“Did you guys…you know?”
I knew she was hinting at sex. “Oh, no,” I assured her. She looked a little deflated. “Oh, my God, Kelly. Come on.”
“What,” she asked with mock innocence. “I didn’t want details or anything. I just figured…”
“I suppose it might have this weekend if I hadn’t had asked Andrew to stay at my house.”
“How did Chris take that news?”
“He wasn’t thrilled about it, to say the least, but he’s tolerating it. I guess that would be the right word. I mean, it’s not like he asked me to be his girlfriend or anything. He just told me he likes me and he said he’d come by tomorrow to put that fuse in my furnace.”
“He’s checking up on you, isn’t he?”
“I guess he is now, but he was planning to put it in this weekend anyway.”
“That’s going to be kind of weird with the two of them in your house at the same time isn’t it?”
I shrugged and inhaled the sweet fragrance of my bouquet. “Probably, but they’re just going to have to get over it or I’ll kick them both out.” I laughed nervously and looked down at my feet.
“You like them both, don’t you?”
“Well, yeah. I mean, as much as I can, I guess. Chris is a really good friend. He’s so funny and sweet and generous.”
“And cute,” Kelly added.
“Yes, and cute. And Andrew, he’s also sweet and funny and he flew thousands of miles to see me.”
“He’s also gorgeous.”
“Thank you for pointing that out. I was not aware.” I smirked at her.
“What are you going to do?”
I shook my head. I was confused. There was Chris, who had been a great friend to me for over a year and helped me out without me even asking and then finally telling me he had feelings for me. Then there was Andrew Collier, the mega movie star, who I never expected to show up in a million years.
“I have no idea what I’m going to do, but I’m sure the minute Andrew steps one foot in my house he’s going to run screaming.”
“Chris wouldn’t do that. He hasn’t done that, and he’s been there hundreds of times.”
“Yeah, and cleaned some really nasty crap for me.”
“I can’t tell you what to do, Sarah, but I, personally, would make the safe choice.”
“You know, for being only twenty-two, you’re pretty damn smart.”
“I know.” She smiled.
“I need to get back to work. Valerie is going to kill me if I don’t get some work done today.”
Before I got to my desk, Valerie called me into her office. I knew it was about Chris and me. She and Kelly were the only ones who knew about us.
I closed the door behind me and sat down across from her.
“What’s happening with him?”
“He’s jealous. He thinks I’m going to break it off with him because of this Andrew thing. I’m not.”
“What are you going to do if something happens with Andrew?”
“I’m not going to let anything happen. I hardly know him. I’m too nervous to look him in the eyes. Besides, the second he steps foot in my house he’s going to regret ever coming to Colorado.”
“I doubt that will matter. I just want you and Chris to be careful and take it slow. You’ve both been through so much in the past year.”
“I know, and I have no intention of hurting him. I know I don’t want to get hurt, either.”
“Please be careful.” She looked at me thoughtfully.
Valerie had become a good friend in the last year, in spite of her position as my boss. She had always been very easy to talk to. She was definitely the best boss I had ever had. She was genuinely concerned about everyone in the office. She knew when something was wrong and she listened. Valerie truly cared. I loved that about her.
“I’d better get to work.” I stood up and went to the door. “Thank you.”
“Any time.” She gave me a sweet smile and I walked to my desk.
I tried to get my work done, but it wasn’t possible. Anita Ortiz and Marie Vallejo, two of my co-workers who had been waiting all day to grill me about Andrew, stopped by my desk to chat with me.
Anita was the first to interrogate me. She and I regularly talked in the morning before work. We would talk about family and events and random stuff about work.
“I want to know everything,” she demanded happily, leaning on my desk. Anita was only a few years older than I was, so we easily related to each other.
I sighed and smiled up at her. “What do you want to know?”
“Everything, girl. Come on. I’ve been waiting to talk to you all day about this young man.”
“His name is Andrew Collier. He’s…”
“Why does that name sound so familiar? You know, he looks so familiar to me, too.”
I pointed to the picture of him I had take out of a magazine and pinned up on my cubicle wall.
“No,” she said in disbelief.
“Yes. He played Will in “Two Hearts”.”
“That’s the guy who was here? How?”
“Yeah, I wrote him a letter the beginning of December. For some reason he felt he needed to come to Denver to meet me.”
“Wow. Is he nice? What’s he like?”
“He’s very nice. All I really know about him are the things I’ve seen in interviews and magazines, but we did talk for a while when he was here.”
“Are you going to see him again?”
“Actually, he’s going to be staying with me this weekend.”
Anita gasped and nearly fell off of my desk. “You’re kidding!”
I shook my head. “Nope. I just asked him and he agreed.”
“Well, what is he doing here besides bringing you beautiful flowers and causing you to nearly pass out?”
“I don’t really know.” I realized I hadn’t asked him if he had another purpose for coming to Denver. “He kept insisting he was here to meet me because my letter “intrigued” him.”
“That’s amazing, Sarah. Are you nervous?”
“A lot, actually. He seems so sweet and he’s absolutely gorgeous, but…” I bit my bottom lip. I wasn’t sure I was ready to tell her about Chris just yet.
“But what?” She was waiting for the whole story.
I waved it off. “I just have a lot going on right now. I don’t know.”
“Sarah, I know you better than that. What’s really going on?” She did know better.
I groaned. “It’s Chris.”
“What about him?”
“You didn’t hear us arguing in his office earlier?” Their offices were next to each other.
“No. I had an appointment. I wasn’t here. What about Chris? I know you like him. Why were you arguing?”
“He showed up at my house last night and told me he liked me, too.”
“Oh, wow.” She looked away from me. She was staring into space. “Great timing, huh? I knew he was going to tell you, but…”
“Yeah. It’s nothing, really.”
“No, it’s not nothing. Spill.”
“He just asked me yesterday if you still had your little crush on him. When I told him you did, he said he liked you, too and he wanted to make sure you still felt the same way before he made a move.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me. Does everyone know about this?”
“I think it’s just me, Kelly and Marie.”
“How does Valerie know?”
“She caught us kissing this morning.”
“Oh my.” Anita began to giggle hysterically.
“Shh. It’s not funny,” but I was laughing a little, too.
“I’m sorry.” She was attempting to control her giggling. “What are you going to do now?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never been in this situation before. I honestly don’t know what to do.”
“You’ll figure it out.” She patted my shoulder and stood up. “I have work to do. Keep me posted.”
“Absolutely.” I put my head on my desk and groaned in frustration.
“Sarah.” Marie’s voice shocked me back into reality. I jumped.
“What,” I whined and looked up at her.
Marie was one of my closest friends at work. I could tell her just about anything and knew she wouldn’t tell another soul. She told me secrets and was certain I wouldn’t tell anyone else. We would never betray each other’s trust.
Marie Vallejo was no taller than I was, Hispanic with long dark hair, curvy, and really beautiful. She had big, dark brown eyes, a smile that lit up a room, and a contagious laugh. She could come to work, sans make-up, and still be gorgeous. I envied her for her youth and beauty.
“Come on, buddy, spill.” Marie knew who Andrew Collier was. She, too, was a die-hard “Two Hearts” fan. “Andrew Collier?”
I had told her about my letter ages ago. Neither of us would have ever dreamed he would show up here.
“I can’t believe it, either,” I said after I had told her the same story I told Anita.
“You are, like, the luckiest woman on Earth.”
“I wouldn’t say that.”
“Seriously. You’ve got this hot British actor flying from England to see you for no reason, and then you have Chris finally admitting he likes you.”
“You call that luck?” I laughed. I was mentally drained.
“Confused is more like it.” I put my head back on my desk. “What am I going to do, Marie?”
“Well, I’m still shocked Chris isn’t freaking out about Andrew staying with you this weekend. He does know, doesn’t he?”
“Yeah,” I sighed and ran my fingers through my hair. “And he did freak out. What am I going to do?”
“Just see how things go this weekend.”
“I don’t want to hurt him. I have been waiting for a year for him to tell me how he feels, and now…”
“Andrew shows up.”
“Exactly. Why did I write that damn letter?”
“You didn’t know this was going to happen.”
“Yeah, I know, but now I’m stuck. I wish Chris would have told me last year how he felt. I never would have written that letter.”
“I think he was trying to tell you, Sarah. He was at your house all of the time, out of the blue, helping you. I think that was his way of telling you.”
“I get it, and I know, but neither one of us pushed the issue.”
“You don’t know how many times he told me just wanted to grab you and kiss you.”
“No, he didn’t.”
She nodded vigorously and smiled. “Yeah, he did. I think he loves you.”
“No, no. I’m not ready for that.”
“Neither is he. Listen, Andrew is sexy, sure, but you have no emotional attachment to him at this point, although that might change after this weekend.” She looked at me, then, her forehead creased. “Just don’t sleep with him, okay?”
“I wasn’t going to. My head is too messed up right now to put myself in that situation.”
“Good girl.” She looked at her watch. “It’s four. I don’t suppose you’ve gotten any work done, have you?”
“Not really. I probably won’t, either.”
“It will be okay. You’ll figure it out and by Monday you and I can gossip at lunch.” With that, she grinned and walked away.
Between the friendly interruptions and my brain in a fog, I could hardly concentrate on my job. There was no way any of this had happened to me. I had to have fallen asleep at my desk and was dreaming the whole thing. I, literally, pinched myself. Nope, I was awake.
The hour dragged on, but when five o’clock finally arrived, I rushed to get out the door. Chris had left two hours earlier to pick his kids up from school, but I hoped Andrew would be waiting, either in the front office or downstairs in the lobby. Kelly told me he called and said he might be late.
He had kept his word, though. Andrew was chatting with Kelly at the front desk. She was completely in awe of him. Who wouldn’t be? He was absolutely gorgeous. He looked up just then and gave me a knee-weakening smile. “Are you ready?”
“Yes.” I breathed deep and picked up my flowers.
“Let me take those for you.” I opened the door for him. “Have a good weekend, Kelly,” he said as he walked out.
“You, too.” She smiled at me.
“Are you sure you want to see my crappy house,” I asked him as I guided him onto the elevator.
“It can’t be that bad.”
“You’ll see. It’s not too late to run away.”
“I’m not running away.” He laughed and followed me to my car.
“Do you need a ride or do you have a car?” Oh, God, what a stupid question. Of course he had a car. How else would he get here?
“I rented a car.” He didn’t even acknowledge my stupid question. What a gentleman. “I’ll follow you.”
“Good plan. This way you can get away quickly.” I put the flowers on the floorboard of the passenger seat.
“Would you quit?” He grinned and shook his head, then he walked to his rented Ford Focus Hybrid. I knew there was a reason I liked him. He was environmentally friendly.
“I drove home a little slower than my normal, careful pace. Andrew wasn’t familiar with the city and I didn’t want him to get lost. It was still a bit dark out at five. Thankfully, I only lived a few miles from the office.
He parked behind me in the driveway. I got out of my car and grabbed my flowers and waited for him. “Are you ready to see my meager living arrangements?”
“Absolutely.” He grinned and took the flowers out of my arms and followed me up my paint-chipped front porch steps. I opened the door and let him go in first. He set the flowers on the coffee table.
“Well, this is it.” I held the door open. “You’re free to run now.”
He walked toward me slowly, smiling sweetly, and closed the door. “Shh.” He leaned down and kissed me gently, the same way he had this afternoon. It made my entire body tingle. “Now, are you going to give me a tour or do I have to get nosy on my own?”
“Uh, yeah. Sure.” He held my hand. “Well, this is my living room, obviously. A couch, chair, television. The basics. I have cable, of course.”
“Of course.” He smiled, then his forehead creased as he stepped forward and looked at my floor. “Why does only half of your living room floor have wood installed?”
I sighed, embarrassed by my explanation. “My ex-husband thought getting drunk was more important than making this place livable.” I shook my head. “Funny thing is, he was a carpenter.”
“We have to fix this. You can’t live with half a wood floor. You have a beautiful fireplace, though. I wouldn’t change a thing there.”
“Wonderful.” I crossed my arms over my chest and took in a deep breath. I could smell his cologne. It was intoxicating. “Anyway, to the left is my computer room. This is where I spend most of my time on the weekend.”
“Not this weekend, I hope?”
“No. Of course not.”
“What’s with the seventies linoleum floor? This has to go.”
I rolled my eyes and pulled him toward the master bedroom. “This is my bedroom, which I never use. The master bath doesn’t work, so I use it for storage. The rest of the wood for the floor is in there.”
“And no flooring or carpet in here, either? Sarah, you can’t live here like this.”
I showed him the other two bedrooms and the bathroom and he proceeded to critique everything. He wasn’t mean about anything. He seemed more concerned about my safety and well-being.
I told him about the bad roof and the broken furnace, but that Chris was going to fix the furnace this weekend. He listened intently. I figured he was making mental notes about what I needed to fix.
We were sitting on the couch when he asked, “Are you and this Chris fellow dating?”
“I don’t really know what we’re doing, to tell you the truth. We’ve been really good friends for a long time, then yesterday, all of a sudden, he…”
He nodded. “I ask because you’ve mentioned him several times.”
“I didn’t realize. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. I don’t want to intrude if you two have something going on.”
“I don’t know what we have. We haven’t even been alone for anything more serious than a kiss to happen.”
“Do you want something to happen?”
“Yes…and no. I mean, he kind of freaked out when you showed up today. The jealousy thing bothers me a little. When I told him you were staying here this weekend, he really blew it. He thought you and I were planning to…” I chuckled.
“If he’s not comfortable with this…”
“He’ll be fine.” I put my hand on his knee, then pulled away, realizing what I had done. “I explained it to him. It’s fine, really.” I smiled nervously and looked at him.
“Good.” He smiled back at me and caressed my face. My stomach flipped. Why did he have to do that? This was not easy for me. In my whole life I had never been confronted with this kind of situation. I had never had two men vying for my affection before. This was confusing and scary.
We spent the next few hours talking about how and where we grew up, our likes and dislikes and, basically, where we wanted our lives to go.
I already knew quite a bit about Andrew from reading about him. He grew up with two loving and supportive parents who encouraged him in whatever he chose to do. He had two older sisters. He grew up in Barnes, an upper middle class suburb of London. The rumors about him and Karen, his co-star in “Two Hearts” and “One Life” were untrue. They were only good friends. He traveled back and forth between London and Los Angeles regularly, but he wanted to settle in L.A. soon and bring his parents out to live there with him. He was a sucker for red heads with green eyes, but I think he was just humoring me with that one.
I was afraid of what he was thinking of me as I told him about my sad and pitiful life. There was no way he would want anything more to do with me after tonight. If he left in the middle of the night, I wouldn’t blame him. I wasn’t going to think about that now. I let him talk and the more I got to know him, the more I wanted to know. It was getting harder and harder to fight my attraction to this sweet, caring, sexy man.
Before I knew it, it was nearly nine o’clock and neither of us had eaten dinner.
“What are you hungry for,” I asked him. He raised and lowered his eyebrows and had a seductive grin on his face. “Quit.” I giggled and gently pushed his shoulder. God, even touching him in jest sent a current of electricity through my body. What was wrong with me?
“I’m teasing.” He thought for a second. “How does pizza sound?”
“Sounds good to me.” I ordered a large pepperoni and some soda, then grabbed some cash from my purse.”
“My treat,” he told me. “Come, sit down.” He patted the couch seat next to him. I sat down and looked at him. His expression was serious. It was coming. He wasn’t going to stay. I had scared him off.
“Is something wrong?” Wait for it.
“No. Not at all.” He took my hands and put his lips on my palms. Every time he touched me, my insides had spasms. “I’m really enjoying myself with you. I’m honoured that you’ve allowed me to stay with you.”
But? “I’m glad you agreed.” I smiled at him, but waited for the let-down. It never came.
“I so badly want to be your friend; a good friend, maybe even best friend. You’re such a wonderful person, Sarah. I feel terrible that you’ve had such a long run of bad luck. I want to change that for you. I want to make it better for you.” He looked away and sighed. “I look at this place and I want to fix it. All of it.”
“Shh.” He put his finger to my lips. “Let me finish, please.” I nodded. “You can’t live here like this anymore. So much around here needs to be fixed and I want to be the one to do that for you.”
“No.” He looked hurt by my sharp tone. “I can’t let you do that.” My tone softened and he relaxed. “I could never afford to pay you back.”
“I’m not asking you to. I don’t want you to.”
“Please don’t spend any money on me, please. You hardly know me. Why would you…”
“I want to know you. I want to spend this weekend getting to know you better. I want to continue getting to know you long after this weekend.”
“I do, too, but I still can’t let you spend thousands of dollars on me or my house. I can’t give you anything in return.”
“You already have. Don’t you see that? Your friendship is all the payback I need, or want, for that matter.”
It was obvious I wasn’t going to win this debate right now. It would have to wait for another time because the pizza arrived. We sat on the couch and ate and talked about other things.
“I have a radio interview on Monday morning to promote the third movie. We’re going to start filming “Silence” next month.
“This whole thing must be so overwhelming for you. I can’t imagine how you’re dealing with this sudden fame.”
“It’s crazy, really. I hide out a lot.” He laughed. “I never expected it to be this big.”
“I’ll tell you, I’ve read the books and I saw “Two Hearts” and “One Life” at the midnight openings. It was actually a present for my daughter, but I’m the one who became obsessed.
“I was going to ask you how you’re able to get around town without being mobbed.”
He leaned in close and whispered. “No one knows I’m here. Shh.”
“The whole city will before the weekend is over. Kelly will announce it to everyone on her social network.” I frowned. “She means well, but still.”
“It’s alright, really.” He patted my knee.
He finished his slice of pizza and went to the kitchen to get another. I watched him and still couldn’t believe Andrew Collier was in my kitchen, stuffing his face. Again, I felt as if any second I was going to wake up, like this was some kind of very surreal dream. If it was a dream, I, seriously, did not want to wake up.
Andrew caught me looking at him and smiled, a mouthful of pepperoni pizza puffing his cheeks out like a squirrel. “Sorry.” I blushed and looked away.
“No.” His mouth was still full. He came back and sat down next to me again and took a drink of his soda. “It’s fine. I like it, actually.”
“You have teenage girls staring at you and chasing you and screaming your name all of the time. I’m sure you’re sick of it.”
“They aren’t you.” He grinned again and leaned over and kissed me quickly. I blushed. “Does that bother you?”
“Not at all. I just keep wondering…” I was afraid to ask.
“Well,” I took a breath and continued. “Why? I mean, I know you told me why, but really, why? You’ve seen me, you’re sitting with me in my run-down house, you’ve talked to me for hours, but you aren’t running away.”
“Why would I want to? You’re amazing. You’re funny and smart and beautiful. I’m thoroughly enjoying all of it.”
“Really.” God, that beautiful smile again.
“And you aren’t disgusted?”
“Not in the least.” He took my hands. “Stop this now, alright? I’m having fun with you. I want to continue to have fun with you.”
“Okay. I’m done.”
“Good.” He kissed me softly and kept his lips on mine for what seemed like an eternity. When he finally moved away, I was out of breath and my heart was racing again.
“So, what do you have planned for tomorrow,” I asked once I had found myself. “I mean, it’s not like you can go to many public places without being spotted and mobbed.
“I’ve gotten used to that. I’m open to whatever you have planned.”
“Hmm. I have to go to Wal-Mart™ and get some groceries, but you don’t want to go there.” I chuckled. The image of being surrounded by crazy teenage girls made me a little uneasy.
“I want to go with you.”
“You really don’t. Have you ever been to a Wal-Mart™? It’s crowded and obnoxious for normal people. I don’t even want to imagine what’s going to happen if a celebrity showed up, especially you.”
“I want to go with you,” he insisted.
I couldn’t help but laugh. “It’s your funeral, buddy.”
“I’ll risk it,” he told me quietly, “as long as you stay by my side.”
“Do you really think I’d leave you to the wolves?” We both laughed.
By the time I finally looked at the clock on the cable box, it was after one in the morning. I got up and went to change into some sweats and a t-shirt.
“We should probably get some sleep. I don’t do very well with little sleep.”
“Do you mind if I stay up and watch the telly for a while?”
I shook my head and grinned. Maybe some day I would get used to his British slang, not to mention that sexy accent, but I was certain it wouldn’t be soon. “I don’t mind at all,” I told him as I lay next to him on the couch and closed my eyes.
I got comfortable under the covers on the couch. He took my feet and put them on his lap and began rubbing them. My eyes shot open. He was looking at me with a sweet smile on his lips. “Too much,” he asked.
“No way. It feels great.” I grinned and closed my eyes and got comfortable again. If Andrew Collier wanted to rub my feet, I would let him. It didn’t take me long to fall asleep.
© 2012 Shelly Meyer
AboutI am a published author with two novels published, "The Letter" and "Portland Authority". I am currently writing the sequel to "The Letter", entitled, "Yours, Truly". I work full time as an article/bl.. more..
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