Page 1

~**Chapter 1**~

Today was the start of a new life. As I woke, I felt the sunlight on my face and I knew that today would be like no other. I had to get up and live it to the fullest. I had so much to think about but in the midst of my early morning daydream, voices started ringing in my ears. “Kate! You’re going to miss your plane if you don’t get up!” My roommate screamed from downstairs. I managed to grab all my bags and race out of my room. But before I left, I turned around to say goodbye to my adolescence. It was hard to believe that I had already been at Wake Forest for four years and that the real world was upon me. Yesterday, I walked for the very last time as a college student and today I was officially an adult. And to be honest, it scared the daylights out of me. I had always known my surroundings extremely well. I guess that’s what you get when you live in North Carolina your whole life. Raleigh had been my home for eighteen years until I started college. I knew every street in my town like the back of my hand. I could tell you the exact day that the trees would start changing from green to a vivid yellow, red, and orange. I knew everyone by name and everyone knew everyone’s business. That was one good thing about leaving, I could start over. “Kate, seriously I am not going to take you if you don’t get into the car immediately.” My roommate was always a stickler on time. Whereas me, I just went with the flow. Whichever way the river ran was where you could find me. And today, the river was taking me on a journey all the way to Europe. I finally got all my things loaded and as I turned around to take a mental picture of my old life, a single tear rolled down my cheek. I wasn’t sad in an unhappy way, I was more scared about closing the final chapter on this part of my life and starting a completely new book. I always knew what was coming and was never surprised but today, I knew nothing. I did not know what to expect and that was the hardest thing to cope with. The ride to the airport took less time than I expected and as I unloaded my bags at the check in it really started to hit me that this was the last time I would see North Carolina for a long time. I took a deep breath and let it fill my entire body. I was ready. I turned and said goodbye to my roommate and thanked her for dropping me off. I really did not know her very Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

well because it had been a random housing arrangement and I was never at home. I liked to spend most of my time outside under the trees…pondering life and its many wonders was a hobby of mine. Sitting down under the large oak tree in the center of campus doodling on a pad of paper was my all time favorite. Drawing was my escape when I felt life was too hard or when I just needed a time to forget about my hectic day. “Ma’am, can I have your name please?” I snapped back to reality. “Oh, sorry sir. Kate Brooks.” I pulled my luggage onto the scale and I knew that each of my bags would be just right under the 45-pound limit. “Do you have your passport Ms. Brooks?” I handed the man my newly made passport. “Your flight is running on time today Ms. Brooks and you will be leaving out of Terminal C.” He points me to the right direction and tells me to have a good flight. To be honest, I was completely terrified of flying. I had been on some short trips before but I had never once flown overseas. I believed that my flight was on time but to just make sure I went over to the departure screen and looked myself. 12:10pm flight to London, England. ON TIME. Terminal C. I had never been one to dress up to get on a plane but I decided that I needed to make a good impression today so I put a little effort into my appearance. I had on black dress pants and a simple white blouse with a small-healed peep toe shoe. I had to be somewhat classy. I was headed to meet my new boss. I had been offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to work overseas at a production company of upcoming British films. It was hard to believe that everything I had worked for in college was paying off. As I reached my gate, I pulled out my ticket and passport for the last time. I boarded and quickly found my seat. I had specifically asked for the aisle seat because I can sometimes get a tad claustrophobic. Once I had my carry-on underneath the seat, I pulled out my ipod and sleeping mask. I did not want others to know how frightened I was of flying so I made sure to occupy myself. Before I knew it I fell asleep to the classical piano workings of Yiruma. “Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to welcome you to beautiful London, England. We ask that you pull your seats to an upright position and prepare for landing.” It was amazing at how few times I woke up during that long flight but luckily it was almost over. I pulled out a mirror and propped it awkwardly between the headrest in front of me Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

so that I could see my face. My long dark brown hair was not a complete wreck but it definitely needed some work. By the time I fixed my make up, the plane had already taxied to the gate and it was time to get off. I glanced out the window and remembered that it was early morning in London. My nerves started kicking in as a got off the plane and headed to baggage claim. I had been told that someone was going to meet me there but they hadn’t really given me a good description so I walked around blindly hoping someone would find me first. It did not take long for me to notice a tall man with a black suit standing by the door with a sign with my name on it. I walked over and before I could speak he was taking my bags. “Ms. Brooks, I have been eagerly awaiting your arrival. I hope you had a wonderful flight,” he said in a proper British accent. “I did, thank you. I don’t mind carrying my bags,” I tried saying but he was already ten feet ahead of me walking out the door, so I sprinted to catch up. I followed him to a sleek black town car that was in a special reserved spot directly in front of the airport. “Your car, Miss.” He opened the door for me and then quickly went over to the driver’s side. Once he started to pull away, he pulled down the partition that separated the front from the back. “Your itinerary is in the notebook next to you. I am going to take you to your new house and if I am not mistaken you have today to catch up on sleep and adjust to the time difference. Tomorrow you start work.” I wouldn’t have noticed his name but when I opened the notebook it said James was picking me up at the airport at precisely 6:34am. “Thank you, James,” I said politely. “Do you know of a place where I can get a Starbucks or something like that? I could really use a caffeine fix right now.” “Yes, Madam.” He said so properly that I had to remind myself that he was talking to me. As I sat in the limo I watched the sun rise on my new life. I was there. I was finally there. The limo came to an easy stop and James opened the door for me before I could even reach for the handle. I stepped out on the cobblestone path and looked at my new home. There were about ten brownstones that aligned the road and mine was directly in front of me. I glanced Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

up to get a good look at it. It was a two-story townhouse that had beautiful dark brick detailing. The roof came to a single point at the top and there was a cute little balcony that could be accessed from the second floor. The front door was made of a beautiful mahogany wood. There was also a little wrought iron fence that came up almost to my waist that surrounded the property. I opened it and made my way to the front door. I quickly turned and said thank you to James who just nodded and went on his way. Should I knock? I was really apprehensive because I was not sure if my roommates were there yet. I had been told that I was going to be living with two other people but they did not tell me their names or anything about them. I figured I would knock first and then if there were no answer I would just open it. My hand rose toward the door and I tapped my knuckles against the wood a few times. I heard nothing from inside so my hand slipped down to the silver knob. I turned and pushed the door. My eyes immediately fixated on the staircase that wound to the upstairs. I continued to walk in and drag my bags behind me. I sat them down and closed the door. To my right was a lounge area or living room with a large couch and television. Next to the TV was the largest collection of DVD’s I had ever laid eyes on. To the left was the kitchen. I was never one to cook but on occasion I did make one mean chocolate pie. I explored the kitchen thoroughly and found that every cabinet had already been filled with plates, cups, bowls, utensils, and anything else that a kitchen needed. From the kitchen table there was a picturesque view of our tiny backyard. Although it was tiny, it was covered in flowers. There was a tree directly in the center of the yard and as I looked closely I saw that there was a bench underneath it. I would definitely have to use that. It was a perfect little getaway. The house was pretty small but it sure did have a lot of character and I hadn’t even been upstairs. I made my way to the winding staircase and slowly walked upstairs, taking in the gorgeous scenery from the circular window above the front door. The ceiling in the foyer had a chandelier hanging from the top. The sun that shown through the circular window made the chandelier sparkle and it lit up the room with spectacular natural light.

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Upstairs were the bedrooms. I still hadn’t come to the conclusion whether my roommates had moved in or not so I opened the first door I came to slowly. I shifted my body around the door to see if anyone was in the room but it was dark. I hesitantly flicked the light switch on. The light showed that the room was in fact empty other than a full sized bed and dresser that did not look occupied. I went and looked in the other two rooms and found that they were as empty as the first. I was slightly happy that I had been the first to arrive but I didn’t want to pick a room without consulting the others. The one and only downfall that I saw was that there were only two bathrooms and one shower throughout the house- one upstairs and one downstairs. I guess we would be sharing and that was okay with me. I dragged myself downstairs and started the menial task of bringing my bags up. I didn’t put them in a specific room so all my stuff made a temporary home in the hallway. I decided to head downstairs and sprawl out on the couch and take a little nap. Before that though, I had to change out of those clothes. I opened my bag in hopes that I would find my favorite Wake Forest sweat pants. Under a few t-shirts, I finally located it and pulled them out with a random t-shirt that happened to be next to it. I remembered that James had told me to look at my itinerary so I took that out of one of my bags and brought it down with me. The silence of the house started to overtake the small room I was sitting in and I took in the calm serenity knowing those moments would be few and far between starting tomorrow at work. I pulled out my binder and opened to the first page. I hadn’t noticed the welcome letter that was tucked in the front left pocket the first time but I did then. I pulled it out and started to read it. Right when my eyes started focusing on the words, I heard a car that sounded like it had stopped in front of the house. I got on my knees and peered out the window that was behind the couch. An exact look alike of the limo that had dropped me off was parked on the road again. I jumped from the couch and ran to the closest mirror to make sure that I didn’t scare my roommate right off the bat. I quickly took a hair twisty and threw my hair up in a high ponytail. It didn’t look the best but it sure did look better than the mess it had been.

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It didn’t take long until I heard a knock on the door. I walked over and turned the doorknob to welcome my new friend. A spunky, medium height girl greeted me with a large hug that almost knocked me over. “Hello! You must be Kate! It is just so great to finally meet you.” Her British accent gave every word a sophisticated sound. “Um, yea I am. Come on in.” I said as she pulled away from the hug. “I’m Olivia.” She pulled her short chess nut hair behind her ear and started picking up her bags. I immediately started helping her into the door and after everything was inside she went and sat on the couch. She waved for me to come join her and seemed eager to get to know more about me and I felt the same about her. “How did you know my name?” I asked confused. “They wouldn’t tell me who I was living with when I asked.” “Well I had Daddy pull a few strings.” She said with pride. “I don’t like going in blindly so I asked him to get me the names.” “So…I didn’t take a room yet because I wanted all of us to have a fair shot.” I said after a slightly awkward silence. “I wonder when Dimitri will get here. Oh, that is our other roommates name by the way. Dimitri Pivetta. He’s from Italy!” She wasn’t looking directly at me while she said this because she was scanning the surrounding areas. Before I could even get a word out she jumped up and grabbed my hand. “Would you mind showing me the rest of the house?” This was more of a demand than a question but I followed her to the kitchen anyway. “Tell me more about yourself Kate.” She was opening all the cabinets and looking at the dishes with a disapproving look. “Well, what do you want to know,” I asked. “Why are you here? Are you single? What do you want out of life?” She laughed. “Wow. Okay.” I stopped and sat down at the kitchen table. “I have always wanted to work in the film industry and when my professor told me about this opportunity in London, I looked into it. I love working with pre-production and I find the process of going from words on a script to a real life performance amazing. Also, I had never been out of the United States so

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this seemed like a once in a lifetime opportunity.” She nodded to acknowledge my statement and continued exploring the kitchen. “I was shocked when I found out that I had gotten the position here and never in my wildest dreams would I have expected all this.” I laughed and continued answering her odd questions. “I am not seeing anyone right now, if you really must know. My job is my main concern and guys complicate that. Besides, every guy I come across seems to have their job ahead of everything else in the world, so I have decided to do the same.” “So you aren’t looking for love?” She eyed me curiously. A little taken aback by the question, it took me a second to respond. “Lets just say it is not in my list of priorities. I have been just fine alone and I don’t need a man to change that.” “All you Americans say that and then…well, I guess I will just have to watch you and see how it plays out.” This was definitely not the conversation that I had planned on having with Olivia. I did not like talking about my love life. I had always been told that I needed to get a grip and not be so cynical about love. Oh well. That is what I was and I did not plan on changing it at the present moment. My past was my past and it did not need to follow me everywhere I went. Reason number one I wanted to get out of North Carolina. I need to start my life on my own terms. I have always had people know all my business but I guess that is what you get when you live in a small town for over two decades. I am not a romantic. I believe that what happens in all those novels is just purely fiction. I always wondered why no one ever had a happily ever after or a Prince Charming, then I came to the conclusion that the only reason these characters are in books is because only an imagination could come up with them. There is no real life experience that Jane Austen had when she created Mr. Darcy and if there was, I certainly wasn’t going to acknowledge it. Our minds have this image of the perfect guy but our world does not create them. So we indulge in novels to get the life we can only dream of. I did not see why people did that to themselves. Why have all these unrealistic expectations in men that never come true? Why always be disappointed? Just live your life and not worry about meeting the perfect guy because I hate to break it to you, he probably doesn’t exist.

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These are not feelings that I normally share with people I have only known for twenty minutes. So I was sure Olivia was not getting the answers that she really wanted but I was not going to give her all my pessimistic views on love before dinner. We had months to have those conversations. I abruptly changed the subject. “So, Olivia, tell me a little bit yourself. You seem to already know all the basics about me.” She had stopped wondering and had taken the seat across the table from me. She was leaning backward on her chair and it looked like it was going to slip out from under her at any second but it never did. “Okay. I’m Olivia Ryall and I am twenty years old.” Her accent made the statement sound not so scripted. “As you might have guessed, I am from England. Surrey to be exact.” Before Olivia could get another word out, which slightly disappointed her because I have a feeling that she enjoys talking about herself, we heard a powerful knock on the door. “Oh gosh, that must me Dimitri.” Olivia jumped from the chair and sprinted to the door. I casually stood up and followed. The door was already open and Olivia was already in the arms of Dimitri, giving him the same welcome she had given me. To say he was tall would definitely be an understatement. Compared to my 5’5’’ stature, he had to be least me six inches taller than me. He was crouching over in Olivia’s hug because she barely stood to his shoulders. Luckily the Italians are affectionate people because if Olivia were to do this to an American man, they would feel completely overwhelmed. Dimitri looked past Olivia and met my glance. “Ciao! I’m Dimitri Pivetta.” His Italian accent was beautiful. I had to pull myself back to reality after a split second image I had of me running through Italy. “Hi Dimitri. It is so nice to finally meet you. I’m Kate Brooks.” He got past Olivia and made his way to me. I could finally see him completely, and it was not a bad sight to say the very least. He was wearing a tight t-shirt that said Italia on the front and through the thin shirt every muscle could be perfectly seen. I could tell that he was going for the comfort style because he was also wearing a pair of dark denim jeans. His face was very soft which confused me. He looked like such a masculine figure and to see his soft features threw me off. He had a

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very odd eye color that took a slight shade of grey but worked with his image. He was very clean cut and had very short buzzed brown hair. I glanced at Olivia and could tell she was on the verge of salivating. She was not looking at Dimitri like a roommate. If I could have seen into her thoughts, I think she was already as far as the wedding. Her rambunctious attitude was subdued as she planned her future with Dimitri. Dimitri reached out his hand for what looked like a handshake. I extended my hand to meet his but instead of a handshake, he took my hand and gave it a slight kiss. I should have figured because it was a very European gesture. “Kate, it is very nice to meet you too. Has anyone ever told you that you have the most gorgeous emerald greens eyes?” He was staring straight at me but not in a creepy way. He released my hand and I quickly folded my arms in embarrassment. “No, but thank you for saying so.” I could feel the blood rushing to my face. I have been good at taking a compliment. Now the foyer was completely full of luggage and it was getting a bit hard to walk around. Olivia finally stopped her daydreaming and walked over beside me. Dimitri had turned around to finish bringing all his bags in and Olivia jumped at the opportunity to whisper something in my ear. “Oh my goodness Kate. He is beautiful! We are the luckiest girls in London!” I wasn’t about to shoot her down so I figured I would stay silent and let her fantasize. Frankly, Dimitri was incredibly good looking, but there was no thought running in my mind about me liking him in more ways than just a friend and roommate. “We should all go choose our rooms now that everyone is here!” Olivia jumped a little and clapped a few times to show her excitement. I had never been around someone so peppy in my life. This was going to be a huge culture shock. “Of course,” Dimitri chimed in. “Where would you like to stay Olivia? I don’t really have a preference.” He looked at me. “Kate, do you?” “No.” I muttered. “Fantastic. I’ll go look then. Thanks!” She looked like we had made her day by letting her choose her room first. She raced upstairs giving Dimitri and me a second to breathe. “She is quite a character isn’t she?” He said jokingly.

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“It seems that way and I have only known her for thirty minutes.” I pulled my hair out of the ponytail and tucked it behind my ear. “Hey! You can come up you now! Come get a room!” Olivia’s voice rang through out the front of the house. Dimitri and I walked up the stairs to meet Olivia. She had claimed the first room on the right that had the balcony. We found her sprawled out on the bed with a grin that filled her entire face. “So you are sure that it is okay that I have this room?” She inquired. “Yes Olivia,” Dimitri and I said at the same time. “You next Kate. Go choose your room,” Dimitri said. I walked out of the room and went into the one directly across from it. My room was not large but not cramped. It was perfect. My little hideaway. The view was very serene and tranquil as it overlooked the backyard. I did want to move the furniture around a little bit though. “Dimitri?” I asked. “Yes?” He came into the doorway and leaned against the wall. “Could you help me move my bed over there.” I pointed to the window. I really wanted my headboard to be flush with the wall under the window. For some reason I always had my bed that way. It gave me a sense of familiarity. As much as I loved that I was finally out of North Carolina, it kind of made me nervous but I wasn’t about to show that to Dimitri and Olivia. I was going to be confident in my new surroundings and not have any regrets. After my bed was in place, I thanked Dimitri for his help and went down the hallway to retrieve my stuff. One of my favorite things to do is set up a room. I always looked forward to moving into a new dorm room or a new apartment while I was at school because I loved to transform the bareness into a homey feeling. I have always been one to find peace in my bedroom. Anytime I am angry, scared or upset I like to go close myself off from the world. Dimitri took the far room at the end of the hallway, which gave him some space away from Olivia and me. I figured he would want to have a little bit of personal guy space. All three of us did not really see each other for a few hours while we unloaded our stuff. I put my sheets on the bed first and then started unpacking my clothes. I had gone on an Ann Taylor shopping spree the week prior to buy all new business attire because I didn’t have Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

anything appropriate to wear for work. I made sure to hang all those clothes neatly in the closet so that they wouldn’t get wrinkled. My other clothes were thrown into the dresser without much thought. I think I had two full drawers of t-shirts. That was my normal outfit when I was home and at school. I could be found in my favorite pair of jeans and a Wake Forest shirt all the time. You knew there was a wedding, funeral, or some other special occasion if I was wearing anything fancy. It wasn’t that I didn’t like to dress up, it was just a hassle. I did like to look nice though and that was a goal of mine for London. I would only wear my t-shirts in the house and never around town. It was going to be quite a challenge but I had the willpower. After my room was adorned with pictures it was officially done. I could not go anywhere without pictures of my family and friends. I had brought my favorite quote that I had framed and hung it on the back of my door. Like a leaf in the wind, I go where the wind takes me. I wanted to put in it a place that I would see every morning. The final touch of my room was putting a framed picture of my family next to my bed. It was a picture that had been taken four years earlier. All six of us from oldest to youngest; Dad, Mom, me, Joey, Rebecca, and Emily. At the time, I was 17; Joey, 16; Rebecca, 13; and Emily, 11. It was by far my favorite picture of all of us together. “Hey, we were thinking that we should all go out to dinner tonight.” Olivia had appeared in my doorway and she had changed into more comfortable clothes as well. “Yea, that sounds great to me. How are we going to get anywhere though?” I realized that we had all been dropped off and we didn’t have any mode of transportation. “Oh did you not finish reading your itinerary?” She gave me a disapproving look. “There is a car for us parked in front of the house. You probably saw it when you came in.” I had a feeling that Olivia was going to be a stickler on doing everything on time and having a plan for each day. “I glanced at it but I must have missed that part,” I lied. “Okay well, it’s 3 o’clock right now, so I figured we could get a shower schedule started so that everyone will have time to get ready.” She looked at her watch and then back at me. “You have the longest hair so I thought you might want to go first.” “It really doesn’t matter to me. It doesn’t take me that long to get ready. I can jump in the shower about an hour before we leave and have plenty of time.” Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

Olivia looked very confused and dumbfounded that I could possibly get ready in an hour. “We are going to leave at 6, is that okay with you?” “Sure. I’m actually going to take a nap for about an hour so you can go ahead and shower if you want.” I was starting to get really tired from all the unpacking I had done and also meeting people always seems to exhaust me. Especially meeting someone like Olivia. “Okay. I’ll see you later then. We can pick out our outfits together!” She smiled and closed the door behind her before I could resist the outfit thing. I could hear her skip down the stairs and flip on the TV. I turned off my overhead light so that the only light came from a small lamp next to my bed. I turned down my newly made bed and crawled under by super cozy down comforter. I set the alarm on my cell phone to go off at 3:59pm. Don’t ask me why but I always put in really bizarre times and it was something I had done since I was a little girl. I was asleep before I knew it. I guess I was a lot more tired than I thought.

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~**Chapter 2**~

Before I could even dream my alarm went off. I reached over and turned on my lamp so that I could get my bearings. I didn’t know the room well enough to navigate in the dark just yet. I walked over to my closet and pulled out all my shower necessities. I could hear Olivia across the hall in her room blow-drying her hair so I knew the bathroom was free. I stumbled a little over some of the stuff on the floor that I hadn’t given a home yet. My hand reached toward the light switch and the overhead light brightened the room. On my way down the hall to the bathroom, I ran into Dimitri. “Oh, were you about to get in the shower?” I asked him. “No, no. You go ahead.” “You sure?” “Yea, I’ll just keep unpacking. No problem.” He walked back into his room and closed the door. The bathroom was about the size of a closet and would not work with more than one person at a time. But it fit one person perfectly. It was a very European bathroom. The shower was actually a bathtub with a showerhead. The bathtub was an oval shape and looked like it wouldn’t be comfortable to lie down in. I stepped into the shower and closed the curtain and the rod was at the exact same height as my head. I am not that tall but I would guess that Dimitri’s head would stick out of the curtain. The water was icy cold when I turned the knob and I jumped back a little in surprise. It look longer than I wanted for the water to heat up but after a few minutes it was finally at a normal temperature. I had never been one to take long drawn out showers. I don’t understand why it takes people so damn long. You get in, wash your hair, shave if you need to and then get out. This process should take no longer than 15 minutes, yet I know for a fact that most girls find it impossible to be in less than 30. I mean, what the heck are you doing in there? Sorry, just a huge pet peeve. Anyways, I was out of the shower, dried off and back in my room twenty minutes after my original start time. I knew that I could be fully ready in a matter of minutes but I decided that

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I was going to put some effort into it tonight. It was the first night out in London with my new roommates and there was plenty of time for them to see me in my house wear. I went into my closet and tried my best to find an outfit. I didn’t want to wear something that I would wear to work, but I also didn’t want to wear something that I would normally put on. I decided on a pair of dark denim jeans and a green tube top with a bolero jacket. I normally don’t ever wear heels but I decided that a slight heel tonight would be okay. We all walk out the door and head toward the car on the street. Olivia had given Dimitri the keys and he did not object to driving. Once we were all in the car, Olivia gave the directions to the restaurant. I figured she would be the best navigator so I let her sit shotgun. I also think she really liked staring at Dimitri’s face as he concentrated on driving. A short drive led us to a pub looking restaurant. I was not a picky eater so I said I would go anywhere. We parked and walked in together. The street was very old fashion looking. It looked as though these stores and pubs had been around for hundreds of years. The outside did not even do this place justice either. We walked inside and it was a little dark but I could tell that there was extensive wood and brick detailing on the walls. The booths were made of solid wood and were a little uncomfortable to sit on and by the look on Dimitri’s face; I wasn’t the only one who thought so. I looked around and noticed that most of the people were men. There was a bar in the far left corner with a few TV’s that had the soccer game on. The soccer craze in England can be compared with the fanatical obsession to football in America. I don’t know how Olivia had found this place. It seems like it was a place you could find only if you already knew where it was. “I really like the atmosphere of this place. How did you hear about it?” I took a sip of the water that I had ordered. “I’ve been here loads of times. It is my favorite place to go with my friends from home. We don’t come often, only on special occasions.” Special occasions? I mean it was a nice place but not a fancy place. Why would you want to come here for a special occasion? Before I could ask I figured it out myself. This entire place was a male hideout. Olivia and her friends come here to stare at the extremely good looking guys who probably come here

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to get away from girls and to just watch sports. She confirmed my theory when she started panning the room with her man-seeking eyes. I picked up the menu to hide my smile. “Do you know what you want yet?” Olivia asked Dimitri and me. We both nodded and ordered when the waiter arrived. Amidst our eating, Olivia tried to divulge into Dimitri’s life by asking him every question imaginable. But luckily he didn’t really seem to mind. Thank goodness he had the patience for this because I could already tell that Olivia was going to try my patience often. “Dimitri.” He looked up with a smile. “Kate and I are dying to know more about you. Please enlighten us!” I don’t remember how my name got put into the conversation but I went along with it because I was interested in hearing his story too. “To be honest, I am pretty boring,” he laughed and then continued with a more serious answer. “I am from a very small Italian town right outside of Tuscany and this is not my first time in England.” He waited for the next question, which was inevitable. “And your family? Are you a typical mama’s boy?” I have figured out that Olivia doesn’t have a filter for her mouth and I cringed the moment her lips muttered this question. I hoped Dimitri wasn’t easily offended by her stereotypical few of Italian men. “My family is rather large and I don’t see them very often. I am the youngest of six and the only one that is not married.” He paused and I figured he wasn’t going to answer Olivia’s second question but then he started talking again. “I guess you could say I am typical ‘mamas boy’ as you call it. My mother and I are extremely close. I had to promise her about a million times that I would be safe and that I would call her everyday before I got on the plane to come here.” “That’s so sweet. I have a big family too. Not as big as yours, but I am the oldest of four,” I add. “It’s so cute about you and your mum!” Olivia had stopped eating and was staring at Dimitri. “I bet that it’s hard being the only single one in your family.” Oh I knew where this conversation was going. She was so stupidly obvious. “I didn’t say I was single. I said I was the only one not married.” He corrected. Olivia picked up her fork and stuffed some food in her mouth. “Well that figures. She’s beautiful isn’t she? Supermodel-esq? What’s her name?” She seemed less enthused to ask these

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questions because she wasn’t directing them at anyone. They were more questions to herself but Dimitri answered anyway. “Beautiful can’t even begin to describe.” He took a deep breath and confidently said, “He is the most beautiful man I have ever laid eyes on.” I immediately looked up and almost dropped my fork. Olivia started coughing from nearly choking on her food. I quickly pushed my water in front of her. “Breathe Olivia.” I said out of the side of my mouth in hopes Dimitri wouldn’t hear. “He?” Olivia said as she gasped for air. I could tell she was in complete shock. I could see all the future plans draining out of her mind. This was certainly a curve ball. Dimitri was gay? I would have never seen that one coming. But I guess that does explain why his face was so flawless and soft. No straight man could pull that off naturally. “Yes.” He said calmly. I’m sure he was used to this reaction. I mean it was bound to come up sooner or later and for Olivia’s sake, now was a much better time. “What is his name?” I was surprised by this news but it didn’t really change anything for me. I had never really been around gay men but it didn’t bother me in the least. This meant that it didn’t matter how I looked walking around the house and that was a major plus. The only comparison I had to gay men was from the show Will and Grace. Dimitri was undoubtedly a Will. If he had been a Jack, I would have known from the moment he opened the door. “Mark.” He didn’t seem fazed at all that Olivia still had her mouth hung open like a thirsty dog. All she needed to do was stick out her tongue and she would have looked exactly like a water-deprived pup. “Good for you Dimitri.” I really didn’t know what else to say. I hoped that was an okay answer. “So, Olivia.” She snapped out of it and tried to play off that she hadn’t just been coma tose for the past minute. “Does me being gay bother you?” I didn’t feel that he was looking for a specific answer; I think he just wanted to make Olivia feel insanely awkward for a split second. It worked. Olivia stuttered to find the right words. “Urm, no. I, you…me…Kate and I are perfectly okay with it right?” There she went again bringing me up. I had a feeling she did this to share the awkwardness so I helped her out.

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“We are perfectly okay with it.” I smiled and looked at Dimitri who looked like he was going to bust a gut from holding in his laughter. “Sorry about that Olivia, but I just had to. I knew this would be a conversation topic soon enough and I like to have fun with it. Don’t be embarrassed,” he said and looked at her with caring eyes. She looked as red as a cherry lollipop. “It is always a weird subject. But imagine how you would have reacted this morning if I had said this.” He looked at me and held out his hand to recreate this morning’s scene. “Ciao, I’m Dimitri Pivetta. I like men. Hope that is okay.” I busted out laughing as he shook my hand. He gave Olivia a smile to indicate that she should laugh as well. A grin finally appeared and the night went on normally. As we signed our checks and began moving out of the booth toward the door, Olivia snapped her fingers in my direction to get my attention. “What?” “Kate, don’t look now but that man at the bar is staring at you.” I turned my head slightly in the direction of the bar. “I said don’t look!” Olivia hissed. “No he’s not.” There had to be a TV or something above my head because I was surely not that interesting to watch. “He’s been looking over here on and off all evening!” She was looking for some way to prove it to me when she gasped. “What?” Her change in breathing took me off guard. “He’s walking over here.” I could barely understand because she spoke at a lightning speed that was incomprehensible to normal human beings. I eyed Dimitri and gave him a let’s get out of here look, and he understood. “You lovely ladies ready to go? We should get to bed. Long day tomorrow. First day of work.” He started getting up and I followed suit. Olivia was still sitting until she caught the glare I was giving her and she quickly jumped out of her seat. I walked to the door and made it out before the guy got within arms length. Olivia gave me a disappointed look. “Kate. He was cute. What were you thinking?” “That I was ready to go.” I knew she was going to ramble about this all evening. Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

Just as we were getting in the car, I heard a voice coming from the restaurant. “Miss?” Before I knew he was talking to me, a tall shaggy curly blond haired man stood within inches of me. He had a very prominent jawbone that made his face look rugged yet sexy. What shocked me most were his eyes. Even in the darkness I could see his radiant green eyes glowing at me. “Miss,” he said again with a breath-taking accent. “You forgot your bag.” He handed me my purse that I must had left slung across the back of my chair. “Thank you,” I muttered. I turned back to get into the car. “I’m Alec. Alec Mallinson.” Okay, what did I care? “Thank you Alec for bringing me my purse.” I wasn’t about to tell him my name. I stepped closer to the car. He shuffled toward me and awkwardly said, “Do you come here often? I usually know all the locals but I haven’t ever seen you around these parts.” Why did he feel the need to have a conversation? I had already thanked him twice. What else did he want? “No she’s new here,” Olivia blurted out. I glanced at her again but this time my glare didn’t work. “This is Kate. She’s from America.” I could have killed her on the spot. First, there goes my strategy of not telling him my name, and secondly, if he didn’t already know I was from America by the way I talked then he was a complete idiot. “Welcome then Kate.” He reached out to shake my hand. I hesitantly lifted my hand to meet his. He had a firm grip. One that I wasn’t used to. All the guys in North Carolina had a soft handshake but Alec’s was a powerful one that intimidated me momentarily. “Thanks.” I withdrew my hand back to my side. “We were actually just leaving. Early work day in the morning, I’m sure you understand.” I tried to give a sad look but I’m sure it came off as sarcastic and unfriendly as I’d intended it. “Oh yes. Well, Kate. It was very nice meeting you. And you as well.” He glanced at Olivia who was standing beside me and also to Dimitri who looked displeased that he was still there talking to us. “Maybe I will see you again sometime.” He met my eyes and I instantly looked away. “I don’t know…” As I tried to finish my sentence and get in the car, Olivia’s voice overpowered my hopeful goodbye. Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

“We will be here Friday night actually. Maybe we will see you here.” She looked so proud of herself. My anger was pulsating throughout my body. I snatched her hand, opened the car door and shoved her inside. I looked back at Alec to see him smiling. He had gotten exactly what he had hoped for. It was not happening. Over my dead body was I going back to that pub on Friday. “Excuse her.” I said looking at Olivia through the window. “She has no idea what our plans are for Friday yet. But again, thank you and I really have to get going now.” I turned and got into the passenger seat of the car. As we drove off I could see Alec standing in the middle of the road with one hand in his pocket and the other one waving goodbye to the car. I slumped into my seat and closed my eyes. I didn’t want to start things off badly with Olivia but she had gone way to far tonight. I decided that I would sleep it off and talk to her about it in the morning. Dimitri drove home in silence. I could tell we were on the same wavelength and that eased my mind. I was the first one in the door and walked immediately up to my new room. I muttered goodnight to both Olivia and Dimitri and shut the door behind me. What a day it had been. I changed clothes in rapid speed and jumped into bed. I had to think for a second on what time I needed to set my alarm for the morning. I wasn’t exactly sure and I didn’t want to be the one running late in the morning, however lateness seemed to be genetically ingrained into me. I think I was asleep before my head even hit the pillow. I had exactly eight hours and forty-two minutes until my alarm would go off and I planned to use every second of it in deep dreamless sleep.

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~**Chapter 3**~

“Kate! Dimitri! Lets go!” I was frantically running around upstairs getting all my stuff together. I had woken up on time but as usual I was running late. Olivia had been ready for over an hour and was waiting for us at the bottom of the stairs. She was impatiently leaning against the wall with her arms crossed across her chest. Every two seconds she would look at her watch and yell up to remind us to hurry up. Dimitri got down before I did so of course I was the one holding everyone up. My old habits seemed to have flown over seas with me. The main problem had been figuring out an outfit. I finally decided on a tailored Ann Taylor black suit. The jacket cut in on the sides to give me a smaller looking waist and the pants hit perfectly one inch above the ground and covered my three-inch heel. I had on a blue silky top under the jacket, which gave the outfit some color. At least that is what the lady at the store said. I ran a brush through my hair one final time before I sprinted down the stairs. I was lucky that I didn’t fall because one slip would have probably landed me in the hospital. Olivia was now standing at the door as if to show us the way out. I was getting more and more anxious about the first day of work and Olivia wasn’t making it any easier. “Stop looking in the mirror Kate. You look great! Now can we please go?” I had tried to glance one more time at my hair. Normally I could have cared less but I felt the need to make an exceptionally good first impression. Once all three of us were in the car, Dimitri finally spoke. “Olivia, darling, this can’t happen every morning. We are going to get there in plenty of time. No more caffeine pills for you.” She glanced at him but didn’t really seem to care what he said until he said the last part. “I did not take a caffeine pill,” she exclaimed. “Okay, well, we are going to put duck tape over your mouth if this morning routine continues.” He gave her a half smile so that she would know that he wasn’t kidding. I loved that he had taken charge of that conversation because everything that he had said out loud was swirling around in my mind. However, in my head I saw us giving Olivia a depressant for breakfast. My theory was that she was such a hyper overactive person that a depressant would bring her back to normalness. Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

I stared out the window the entire time we rode to work and there was little conversation. I think we were all a bit nervous about our first day. Once Dimitri pulled in front of the office, a valet took the car and we walked inside to the front desk. “Hi, we are supposed to be meeting Mrs. Anderson,” Dimitri told the woman. “Ah yes, we have been expecting you three. Welcome to Corporate Films Inc.,” she said with a friendly smile. “If you go over to the elevator and go to floor eight, Mrs. Anderson is awaiting your arrival.” She pointed to the right and we walked past the lobby to the elevators. “You all ready?” This was the first time I had ever heard a stutter in Olivia’s voice. “There is nothing to worry about, just be yourselves, that’s how we got this job anyway,” Dimitri assured us. He was extremely good at calming our nerves. “Here we go,” I said as the elevator stopped and opened to floor eight. Standing directly in front of us was, I assumed, Mrs. Anderson. “Welcome, Ms. Brooks, Ms. Ryall, Mr. Pivetta.” She looked at each of us in the eye when she said our names. She already knew the difference between Olivia and me. She continued, “If you will follow me, I will show you around the office. It is really a pleasure having you here but just know that this job isn’t easy. You will have to be on point every second. It can get quite busy around here so do your best to not get in the way. There is a kitchen in the back with coffee and food if you ever need anything. Ms. Ryall and Ms. Brooks, you two are working with the pre-production department and Mr. Pivetta, you are with styling.” We walked around the corner to see more offices and people hard at work. Most people had movie posters plastered all over their office walls. There were many framed autographed pictures of famous actors and actresses that had worked on films with the company up and down the hallways. Mrs. Anderson stopped walking. “Mr. Pivetta, this is your stop.” She pointed into a large room filled with racks of clothing. I think Dimitri was walking into his heaven. He grinned and whispered to me and Olivia, “Good luck! See you later.” Mrs. Anderson continued to walk around some offices until she came to a large wooden door. The title above the door stated: Pre-Production Office- Staff Only. “Alright ladies. This will be your home from now on. Just to give you a few rules. First, whatever you see in there is not to be repeated anywhere outside this office. Second, many famous actors and actresses come by this office to do raw script readings. Please do not act like crazy fans. You are representing our company at all times. Be very professional and always ask what you can do to help them. If Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

they offer an autograph or something then you are more than welcome to accept.” She paused and opened the door. “If you have any questions, I am here for you. My office was the first one on the left when you got out of the elevator.” She moved over to the right and knocked on a smaller door. “They are here,” she said to the person inside. “Splendid, send them in,” stated the voice. Mrs. Anderson turned back to Olivia and me. “You ladies will be great. Have a fantastic first day and it was lovely to finally meet you.” She scurried off before Olivia and I had the chance to thank her. We walked into the office and the man behind the desk motioned for us to take the two seats across from his desk. The man explained all the details of our job. We were going to be in charge of copying the original scripts so that there are enough copies for each character. We also were in charge of righting press releases that had to deal with the new movie. There were many other small aspects to our jobs but those two were the main objectives. He got up from his desk and walked us to our new cubicles. Olivia was across the hall from me but we could still see each other and I could definitely still hear her. I sat at my desk and turned on the computer. I hadn’t checked my email the entire time I had been in London. I had brought my laptop but the battery had died on the plane and I had been too lazy to find the charger. I signed in and had four emails that I actually cared about. The other ten I immediately deleted. I opened the first one, which was from my sister Rebecca. She wanted to know if I was enjoying myself yet and how my roommates were. I had expressed my feelings to her about meeting my roommates and she knew I was anxious. She also told me a little bit about how she was doing in school and that she had had dinner with Joey the night before. Rebecca was always the one who told me way too many details about her life, but now that I didn’t see her everyday I began to appreciate her attention to detail. The second email was from Wake Forest congratulating me on graduation and wishing me luck in all my future endeavors. The third and fourth email was from my mom. She just figured out how to send emails to my three siblings and me at the same time. The email was pretty generic to the four of us just asking how we were doing and stuff like that. I don’t know Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

why she insists on sending an email to Emily considering she lives at home, but I guess she didn’t want to her to not feel special. My mom was still working out all the kinks in her emailing and she must have pressed send twice because both emails were the exact same. I replied to Rebecca first and then to my mom. I told both of them about Olivia and Dimitri. I didn’t have that much time to be very detailed, which I’m sure will anger them because they both like to know about my every move, but I didn’t want to get in trouble on my first day of work. I leaned back in my chair and got Olivia’s attention. “Hey, what should we be doing?” I whispered. “I don’t know. He didn’t tell us.” “Maybe we should go ask.” I looked around to see if anyone looked knowledgeable. “No, we can’t. We have to make it look like we know what were doing.” She insisted. “But we don’t know what we are doing,” I pressed. She rolled her eyes at me and tried to think of what to say. “This is just so cool!” She couldn’t hold in her excitement any longer. That’s when I remembered what I had been meaning to say to Olivia all morning. “Can we please talk about last night?” I narrowed my eyes at her. “Wasn’t that place fun? I know I had a great time.” She was avoiding the guy subject. “Olivia, you know what I mean. I don’t really appreciate you telling my name to a complete stranger! You need have some verbal awareness.” My voice got louder but I immediately shifted back to my indoor voice. “That wasn’t your business.” “Oh come on Kate. You know he was super cute. I just figured I would help out fate a little bit.” “Fate?” I said angrily. Olivia was officially on my crazy list. “Yes. Did you not notice?” “Notice what?” I was now confused. “Both of you have the greenest emerald eyes I have ever seen. How many people have you met with eyes like that?” She looked absolutely convinced that she had all this correct in her head.

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“Oh, I see. We are meant for each other because we both have green eyes.” I said in an extremely sarcastic tone. She had completely gone off her rocker if she thinks that people are perfect for each other by the color of their eyes. “Yes, the greenest ones I have ever seen.” She gave me a satisfied look because she was completely oblivious to my sarcasm. “Next time I’ll get you some liquid courage.” I gave her a look that ended our conversation and I went back to my desk. If she was inferring that she was going to get me drunk next time, she had other thing coming. I only drank on special occasions and I never had too much. I never wanted to be that girl. The one who stumbles around mindlessly spilling the contents of her drink all over herself and innocent bystanders. The one who can’t seem to get a sentence out in the right order. And definitely not the girl who makes a guy think that she is easy. The rest of the day consisted of us doing menial tasks that were asked of us. They told us that a new script would be coming in the next few days and we would have more to do then. Everyone around the office was extremely nice and helpful to Olivia and me. They asked how we liked the house that they had provided; everyone wanted to make sure we had settled in comfortably. We met up with Dimitri at the elevator and we were all so exhausted that none of us even spoke. Once we were back at the house, all of us immediately changed clothes and then met in the kitchen for dinner. We had picked up some food on the way home so that we didn’t have to cook. Dinner consisted of one or two sentences every once in a while but most of the time we were silent. I left the table first and put my plate in the dishwasher. We had all decided to go watch some TV together so that is what we did for the rest of the evening. Friday came and it was a bittersweet feeling. I was glad that we were about to have a weekend off of work but Olivia had been talking about going to the pub non-stop all week. I had told her multiple times that I didn’t want to go but she pretended not to hear me every time. It was lunch break at work and Olivia and I had been invited to watch a raw script read and we had gladly accepted. The room was extremely small but the actors didn’t seem to mind. I looked at Olivia to make sure she was still sitting in her chair. It wouldn’t surprise me if she accidentally wondered over and sat right in the middle of all the actors. The film was a comedy and the actors were doing a fantastic job getting into character. We had been told by the director to take notes during Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

the reading so Olivia and I were frantically writing down everyone’s opinions. This was by far the coolest thing we had done at work so far. I couldn’t even fathom how crazy it will be when we have multiple films going at once. Once the reading was over, our boss told us that we could leave early. He told us that we had done very well this past week and he wanted to reward us with a half day. He told us to go out and have some fun and when he said that Olivia glanced at me with a smile. “I am so excited about going to the pub tonight!” I had given up on saying that I didn’t want to go because it was a waste of my breath. “Hello ladies.” Dimitri had been let off early as well which was good considering we all rode together and he had been made our permanent driver. “Dimitri, will you please convince little miss no fun,” she paused and looked at me, “that tonight is going to be fine.” “Kate, do you really not want to go?” He already knew my answer but for some reason I said the opposite. “I’ll go. Just promise me that you won’t leave me alone if that guy shows up.” “Promise,” Dimitri said immediately. “Olivia?” I asked. “I’m thinking.” Dimitri laughed a little and I hit her in the arm. “Ouch Kate! Fine…I’ll try. That’s all I can promise.” I didn’t want to press the subject any longer so I nodded to show her I was satisfied with her response. Once again Olivia asked me if I wanted to shower first. I declined and allowed her to go. While she was in the shower, Dimitri and I sat on the couch and chatted. “Are you having a good time at work? I know you were anxious about it.” He always looked at you directly in the eyes when he spoke and that was one of my favorite traits about him. He had a way of making you feel like the only person in the world. It was nice to be able to have someone to talk to even though I hadn’t known him long at all. “Yea actually. I was pleasantly surprised though. I thought we would be the lowest on the totem pole and that they would treat us that way. I guess they weren’t lying when they said that they were excited about us being there. I mean I even had people come up to me and ask if we had settled in comfortably. Who does that? Don’t get me wrong, it was extremely nice and much appreciated but I have always heard all these awful rumors about the ‘real world’ and how Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

it’s not a friendly place. I feel very at home though.” After realizing how much I had said about myself I turned the spot light to Dimitri. “What have you been doing all week? Since we never see you, Olivia and I have been extremely curious about what you’ve been up to.” “It is an interesting environment in there. I have always loved styling and I feel so honored to have this job but some people take things way too far. The other day, I didn’t pronounce the designer correctly and I thought they were going to hang me with a belt.” He shuffled on the couch for a second to find a more comfortable position. “I can’t help that I have an Italian accent. I still forget that letters are pronounced differently in English sometimes.” “Don’t worry about it. I’m sure you are doing a great job.” I gave him a nudge because he looked disappointed in himself. “Your English is great by the way.” “Thanks. I’ve been speaking it for years but I sometimes forget the little stuff. I even lived in America for a little bit.” This caught me by surprise, I figured he had lived in Italy is entire life. “You lived in America? Where?” I asked with much curiosity. “I actually lived in New York for about eight months. I tried to pursue a modeling career but it wasn’t for me. I started working with styling and that’s when I figured out that was my passion.” He jumped up a little and reached for his pocket and pulled out his cell phone. “Sorry, it’s my mother. Do you mind if I take this?” “No, of course not!” He stood up and walked into the kitchen. I heard him say hello and then after that all I could make out was a rapid language change into Italian. “Kate? I’m finished!” Olivia yelled from the top of the stairs. “Okay, thank you. I’ll be right up.” I turned off the TV that we hadn’t been paying attention to and walked upstairs. As I was walking out of my room with all my shower supplies, Olivia appeared at her doorway. “Can I do your hair tonight? Please? Not that you can’t make it look absolutely lovely yourself, I just really love helping people get ready.” She gave me one of those pathetic puppy faces that five year olds give their parents when they want another scoop of ice cream. “Uh, sure. And don’t think I don’t know what you’re up to. I’m not stupid you know.” She was making this a big deal in the hopes that the purse boy would be there tonight.

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“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She turned around and went back into her room satisfied. An hour later, I was sitting on a chair in Olivia’s room with a hair dryer, straightener and curling iron within an arms length of me. She had a freaking hair salon in her bedroom. It was ridiculous how many hair gels and anti-frizz junk she had. I was getting a little afraid but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings so I didn’t say anything. After a while it was quite relaxing having her do my hair. The only restriction I had was that I couldn’t look in the mirror until she was finished. I closed my eyes and took a little nap while she pulled the brush through my hair. I would have to let her do this more often. That way if it looked completely heinous, I could use the excuse that I didn’t do it. It was a win-win. “Done.” She stepped away from the chair and allowed me to get up. She had done a very nice job. I don’t know how she did it but my hair was shiny and straight, yet it had a nice wave to it. “Do you like it?” I realized that I hadn’t said anything yet. “I do. Thanks.” She narrowed her eyes thinking that I was lying. “I would tell you if I hated it. Trust me, I would tell you. And I like it.” She started to believe me, which was good. “Can I do your make up too?” I knew this question had been boiling inside her the entire time she was doing my hair. And hey, that was one less thing I had to do also. “Yea. Let me get dressed first and brush my teeth and then I’ll come back.” “Okay. I’ll be waiting.” She jumped backwards and landed on her bed. We all finally made it out the door at a decent dinner hour and made our way to the pub. My palms were all sweaty and I was shaking my leg up and down, which was a bad habit when I got nervous. I really truly didn’t want to see this guy tonight. He was more Olivia’s type anyway. That’s when it dawned on me. I would try to set her up with him. That way she would stop harassing me about guys and he wouldn’t look at me. It was a fantastic plan. Once we were in the restaurant, I started to relax. We had been there almost a half hour and still no sign of him. Thank goodness. He must have misunderstood Olivia. “Where is the cute guy?” Olivia said in a not so quiet voice. “Right here.” Dimitri smirked. He was the much-needed comic relief in my life. “That’s right.” I nudged him and we both laughed. Our dinner was great and I figured it was about time to go but I was so wrong. Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

“Let’s order drinks!” Olivia waved to get the attention of the waiter. “I don’t know,” I said. It had been a long week so one drink wouldn’t hurt. Besides, I said I didn’t like to get drunk. I didn’t say anything about having a social drink at dinner. Before Olivia could object to my answer, I withdrew with, “Okay, but only one.” The waiter had read her mind and already had two peach martinis’ on a trey when he walked over to our table. He sat them down in front of Olivia and me without a word. “Wow. You are a mind reader!” Olivia didn’t hesitate to take her drink and immediately take a sip. “The two gentlemen at the bar send their regards to the two lovely ladies at this table.” The waiter turned and pointed to two men whose backs were facing us. I didn’t even have to ask who the one on the left was. I could tell by the shaggy blonde hair that it was Alec Mallinson. Dimitri let out a sigh and shook his head in disapproval. “Oh, well tell them thank you very much,” Olivia said. I was curious to watch the men at the bar but I restrained myself. I could see Olivia looking over my shoulder at them and then she suddenly looked away. They must have seen her eyeing them. Thank you Olivia, A.K.A Ms. Obvious. “These are really good,” she had already finished her drink and I pushed mine over to her. “Here, you can have mine.” “You can drink Kate, I’m the driver.” Dimitri said seriously. “No, on second thought I think I’ll pass tonight, but thanks.” I sat with my arms folded in my lap. I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of me enjoying his annoying gesture. “Excuse me miss?” A lovely British accent rang in my ear. I turned around to see Alec’s friend uncomfortably close to me. I didn’t say anything but just looked at him. “Would you care for some bangers-n-mash?” I don’t know what he said but it sounded dirty. “What about a bevvie?” “I beg your pardon?” I said in an offended tone. I figured he was using some slang English words but I didn’t know what they meant. Olivia was just laughing at my lack of knowledge. Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

“You will have to excuse him.” Alec had appeared almost instantaneously. He turned to his friend. “Why are you giving this beautiful lady a hard time?” He winked at me and I rolled my eyes. “I am very sorry, Kate.” Oh good lord, he had remembered my name. Had he written it down or something after Olivia had purposely leaked it the other night? Or was he one of those freaks who could remember stuff like that? Of course I remembered his name but women generally remember that kind of stuff. It’s like encoded in our DNA or something. Olivia noticed I wasn’t speaking and to urge me to open my mouth she impolitely kicked me from under the table. I reached down to rub my leg that was now throbbing and I threw her an irritated look. “It’s fine.” I said to Alec nonchalantly. He took a seat from another table and pulled it up to ours. He placed the back of the chair flush to our table and straddled the seat folding his arms in front of him. “I’m Alec.” Did he think I was stupid? “Yes, I’m aware. You told me last time.” “Well, I am impressed that you remembered.” “I’m Olivia,” she interjected. “And this is Dimitri.” “Nice to officially meet you both.” Alec reached out to shake Dimitri’s hand but it was not reciprocated. It was time to start my plan. “Olivia, why don’t you tell Alec where you are from? I’m sure you two would have loads to talk about.” Olivia eyed me cautiously but before she could say anything Alec spoke softly. “I was actually hoping to get to know more about you.” He leaned closer to me. What was he thinking? I’m pretty sure I wasn’t giving off any kind of vibe that I wanted him to do this. He was clearly misreading my signs. “Why?” I realized that I sounded extremely rude but it seemed it was the only way for him to get a hint. “Well aren’t you just a vibrant ray of sunshine this evening.” He didn’t look angry in the least. He looked happy. Why did he look happy? “It was a long work week.” I tried keeping the conversation simple but he had other intentions. Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

“And where do you work?” He looked like he sincerely wanted to know so I decided to let down my guard. The one conversation I didn’t mind having was one about work. “At Corporate Films Inc.” He looked up in thought. “I know a few people that work there.” He waited for a response from me that he wasn’t going to get. Then he continued by saying, “Do you like working there?” “It’s only been a few days, but yes.” I had relaxed in my seat a little bit. Talking to Alec wasn’t that bad. “And is this your first time in London?” There it goes. I knew the personal questions were simmering inside him. “Yes.” “Do you like it?” “Yes.” He didn’t seem agitated by my lack of answers. “I see what’s going on.” Huh? “You want to play 20 Questions.” Not exactly. I would rather play, Go Away. But I figured it couldn’t hurt. All I had to say was Yes or No. No further explanation was needed. “No, but go ahead and let’s make it 10 questions.” I sat up in my chair to show that I was getting prepared for his questions. “Deal.” He smiled. Dimitri and Olivia looked very intrigued also. We still all didn’t know each other extremely well and I guess they figured they would benefit from this interrogation session as well. “I’ll start out simple,” Alec said. “Are you from America?” Well that was a waste of question considering he already knew the answer. “Yes.” “Are you from the south?” He must have been to America before because that was USA Lingo. “Yes.” “Did you just graduate from college?” Was it that obvious? “…yea.” “Do you like peach martini’s?” “No.” Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

“Ah, well that explains why you didn’t drink your present. I’ll make a mental note of that.” He rubbed his perfectly defined chin in quest to find another question. “Were you forced to come here tonight?” That was easy. “Yes.” Olivia sighed but didn’t interject. “Are you regretting it?” “No.” I was glad I had come but I hoped he realized that it had nothing to do with him. “Are you seeing anyone?” Wow, that was blunt. “Yes.” I see Dimitri every day. “Liar!” Olivia said so forcefully that it looked like she was having a body spasm. “Fine. No.” I corrected myself. “You have three left,” I reminded him. “Indeed I do. Do you like to dance?” “No, No, and No.” I was a terrible dancer and I wasn’t just being modest. “Will you allow me to pay for your dinner?” He said in a more serious tone. “Why?” I quickly asked. “Ah, you are breaking the rules. You can only say Yes or No.” He leaned back and waited for my response. “Yea…” I didn’t see the big problem but I made sure to add, “If you feel the absolute need.” He nodded, “I insist.” “You have one last question. Better make it good.” I said with a hint of my usual sarcasm. “Will you go on a half date with me tomorrow night?” “What?” He looked at me to remind me of the rules. “I know but it’s not fair if I don’t understand the question.” “I seem to have had a half date with you this evening. Buying your dinner constitutes half. I would like to do the other half tomorrow by picking you up and being with you when you order the food that I intend to pay for.” “Oh.” I looked desperately for advice in both Dimitri and Olivia but I couldn’t ask them anything verbally. Olivia was nodding her head and mouthing say yes while Dimitri was mouthing no.

Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

“The game isn’t complete until you answer my final question.” Alec leaned closer. “Come on Kate. It’s just dinner. You don’t even have to talk to me if you don’t want.” That sounded promising. “No.” I had made up my mind. “Well that’s too bad because you’re going anyways.” He started to get up and then looked back at me. “I’m always up for a challenge. I’ll pick you up tomorrow at 8.” He made sure to take the check that was sitting in front of me before he walked away. “Oh Kate! What is your problem?” Olivia pressed. “What? I don’t want to go. Besides, he’s bluffing. He doesn’t even know where we live.” I had realized that after he had walked away and it left a smile across my face. “You are one difficult person to figure out,” Dimitri said. “I find it hilarious.” I knew he would be on my side. We left moments later and Olivia babbled all the way home about my date that I knew wasn’t actually going to take place.

Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

~**Chapter 4**~

Saturday mornings have always been my favorite time of the week. At home I usually got up and made a stack of pancakes and then got ready for the day. My Saturdays normally consisted of catching up on sleep from my hectic school week but this was going to be a different Saturday. I wanted to go exploring around London today. I opened my laptop and checked my email before I went down stairs. I could hear some noises from the kitchen so I figured Olivia and Dimitri were already ready for the day. I put on some comfy non-sloppy clothes and made my way to the kitchen. “Good morning,” Dimitri said with a yawn. “Morning,” I said in response. Both of them were sitting at the table so I walked over and took a seat. “It is a lovely day!” Olivia smiled. “It will be in about an hour when I’m fully awake,” I corrected her. There didn’t seem to be one thing that made her unexcited. She always had on a smile. Happy people in the morning make me angry. However, Olivia still wasn’t used to my early morning emo mood, so I tried not to be excessively rude. After a few minutes of sitting at the table, I got up to get a bowl of cereal. I had to reach for the box because Dimitri had unloaded the groceries and forgot to put them at a level that normal sized people could reach. “Do you need me to get that?” Dimitri asked. “No, thanks.” I was determined to get it myself. And after a hop onto the counter I reached it with great ease. The ice-cold milk slid down my throat and into my empty stomach. I could drink milk at every meal; it was by far my favorite beverage. I tried to reduce the sound of my crunching by muffling my mouth with my hand. It didn’t work. I had to be the loudest cereal eater on the planet. I looked around to see if Olivia or Dimitri were staring at me but neither were. Dimitri had picked up the paper and was locked into reading an article. Olivia was staring off into space. I wish I knew what went on in her head. She had a brilliant mind but sometimes I just wondered if it was still working in there. Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

As much as I harp on Olivia, she had become what I could call a good friend. We had had some good conversations and she was actually very easy to talk to. Well, she did talk most of the time but her stories were fascinating. She was by far the best storyteller I had ever known. The way she would put certain emphasis on a word or change her voice to sound more like the person who had actually said it was absolutely hysterical. I had learned a lot over the past week about my job and my roommates. Nothing too crazy yet, but I was sure something was bound to happen soon. “Did you have any particular place in mind you wanted to go to today Kate?” Olivia asked sweetly. I had asked her to take me around London today and show me some tourist sites. She seemed really excited about it of course but then confessed that she didn’t know London as well as we thought. Most times that she had been here was in a car driven by her butler and she had never really been to any of the tourist places. “I only have one request but other than that, we can go anywhere and everywhere,” I responded. “Okay, and what is your request?” “I was looking at the map and we are really close to Reagents Park and I was hoping we could go there for a little while. It’s such a gorgeous sunny day, and I know those are rare occurrences. But mostly, I would like to go draw for a little bit. I haven’t had time since we got here and I’m in one of those moods today.” Her nod told me she knew exactly the place I was talking about. “And what is this mood? So that I can prepare myself.” She gave me a look as if it where a plea for me to be in a good mood. “My drawing mood. It’s very dark and cynical.” She looked at me with a funny look. “I’m just messing with you. It’s a happy drawing mood, no need to worry. I’m happy Kate today.” I laughed a little because I still wasn’t fully awake yet. “Oh, okay,” she looked relieved. “We can go there first. The sun will be perfect for you to draw.” How did she know stuff like that? The sun will be perfect. Sometimes I think that she just makes this all up but I have learned to just go with it. A few hours later, I was walking through Reagents Park. It had to be one of the best days of the year because it seemed everyone had the same idea that I did. Olivia walked beside me rambling on about something that I didn’t care about. I kept nodding to show that I heard her. Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

Dimitri had passed on our invitation to come out today. He said that he wanted to get some stuff done for work and to just relax around the house. We had left him the car, incase he wanted to go anywhere, because the park was within walking distance of the house. I loved to people watch. It was also a major hobby of mine. I could sit around and watch people all day. The grass was full with people just sitting around enjoying the sunshine. One particular group of people intrigued me and I walked to a bench across the walkway from them. It was a family of four that were having a picnic together. The husband and wife were staring into each other’s eyes while the two little boys ran around them. It was a perfect thing to draw. I loved to capture emotion in my drawings and it was the only time that anyone usually saw a sentimental side to my personality. “You are going to draw a family? But those two people are in love,” Olivia pointed out. “And?” I took a seat and pulled out my sketchpad. “You hate love.” I eyed her. “Olivia, didn’t I tell you that I was in a happy drawing mood?” “Yes.” She looked a tad confused. “These people are happy. I’ll be back in my cynical mood soon enough,” I said sarcastically. “Or would you rather me draw dead people?” She finally sat down and watched me draw without another word. She was hovering and I hated when people hovered over me, but I decided to let her for some strange reason. I only had a pencil because it was too much of a hassle to bring my pastels or inks. I lightly sketched the family but put most of my detail in the children. Because I have younger siblings, I have always been good around kids and I seemed to understand them easily. This normally surprised people when they found out because I apparently don’t look like I would enjoy kids. I finished my drawing after about half an hour. Olivia looked bored out of her mind. “What would you like to do now?” I asked her. “Lunch. Please. I am starving.” She rubbed her hand across her stomach. I wasn’t extremely hungry but I was up for a little something to eat. “Sure, you pick and I’ll follow. Just make sure it’s within walking distance.” She nodded and starting walking at an extremely fast pace. We walked for only about five minutes until we came to a small looking hole in the wall. She walked in and sat at the first table. Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

“Is this okay? You can get anything from here.” She breathed heavily. “Yea it’s great.” I picked up the menu and tried to find something good and cheap. I settled on a garden salad with a water. After we ordered, I felt my pocket vibrate and realized that it was my cell phone. I looked at the caller ID but did not recognize the number. I don’t know why I thought I would; I didn’t know anyone’s number around here. “Hello?” I asked politely. “Kate. It’s Dimitri.” “Oh, hey! Having a fun day?” I mouthed to Olivia that I was Dimitri because she was trying to figure it out without much success. “Oh yes. I just wanted to let you know that I signed for a package that was delivered for you today.” “Really? I wasn’t expecting anything.” Maybe my mom had sent me some stuff that I had forgotten. In fact, I was sure that it was from her. “I hope that’s okay that I signed for you, but there was no one else here.” I think he wasn’t sure if I was going to be mad or not and that is why he felt the need to call. “Oh no, don’t worry about it. Thank you for doing it. Olivia and I are about to finish up some lunch and then we were going to come back to the house.” I looked over to see that Olivia had devoured her entire meal. “Okay. See you soon.” He hung up before I could say bye. “What was that about,” Olivia asked. “Dimitri said that I had a package at the house.” I reached under me and picked up my bag to show that I was ready to leave. Olivia understood and we went to the front to pay. “Your package is in the kitchen Kate.” We walked through the door and I heard Dimitri’s voice from the couch. I went to my room first to put away my sketchbook and then went to the kitchen to open the package. I couldn’t figure out what I had left at home but I would see soon enough. On my way to the kitchen, I got distracted and went to the living room instead. I joined Olivia and Dimitri on the couch to watch some TV.

Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

I ended up falling asleep and dreaming I was a part of the TV show that we had been watching. It was a strange dream that I really don’t know how to describe. It involved something with me getting arrested or something like that but it was too blurry to remember. I woke up alone and I realized that I had completely taken over the couch. There was a blanket around me that I assumed Dimitri had put over me. I got to my feet and walked with the blanket wrapped around me to the kitchen. “Geez, you can sleep like an animal.” Olivia appeared from the backyard. “What time is it?” I tried to look for the clock but my eyes couldn’t seem to focus on the numbers. “7:30. You were out. Did you not get a good night sleep last night?” She was looking at me like I was crazy. What can I say, I love to sleep, but I didn’t intend on taking a three-hour nap. “I guess it was built up from all week.” I couldn’t think of a better answer because I honestly didn’t know why I was so tired. Oh well. “What have you two been doing?” “Nothing really. Dimitri has been up in his room most of the time and I have been on the phone for a while.” I could bet money that she would be able to talk non-stop for three hours. I went over to the fridge and pulled out a bottle of water. I was going to go sit and talk to Olivia but I made a last second decision to go to my room instead. I was hoping that I had a new email from Rebecca updating me on life at home. To my satisfaction I had one new email in my inbox from Rebecca. Kate, Things here are boring as ever. It hasn’t even been two weeks since I got home from school and I am wanting to go back already. It is so hard to believe that my freshman year is already over!! Wake Forest just isn’t the same without you! Oh, so you wouldn’t believe what Joey did the other day. He brought home a girl and completely embarrassed himself. You would have died laughing. I don’t even think I would be able to describe it accurately. She was nice but you have to help me plan a way to get rid of her. He has terrible taste. Anyways, Emily and I have been at the pool most days. Mom is starting to drive me crazy, but you know how that is. I really want to hear more about that guy from the bar. Weren’t you supposed to meet up with him or something? Write me back soon please!! I am going out of my mind here! Anyways, I hope you are having a great time over there! Miss you!!

Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010


Rebecca always seemed to remember the weirdest details about my emails. Earlier in the week, I had sent her a short summary of my days and had included a few words about a guy at a bar who brought me my purse. I would have to tell her about my latest meeting with him when I got more time. I knew she would be mad if I didn’t send anything back so I shot her a short email back. Rebecca, I know you want to hear all about my awesome life, but I don’t have much time to type at the present moment. Please try to leave Joey’s girlfriend alone, I know that you think no one is good enough for him but you have to give her a chance. The best way to deal with Mom is to just stay on her good side. Summer after freshmen year is the hardest to adjust to, but you can do it. Send everyone my love! Miss you too! ~Kate

I closed my computer and set it on my bed. I leaned over and picked up my ipod that I had slung on the floor the previous day. I put in my headphones and picked up my sketchpad that I had worked on in the park. I wanted to add some color to the picture I had done of the family. My taste in music couldn’t even be placed in a single category. Every time I turned my ipod on was a surprise to what I would find. While I got my pastels from my drawer, I listened to my all time favorite band. I had completely fallen in love with My Chemical Romance. I started bobbing my head to the beat as I assembled all my supplies on my bed. I was in my own little world. I turned around and almost dropped all my things. “Good lord Olivia!” I screamed. I hadn’t expected her to be standing in my doorway and it scared me to death. I could feel my heart racing as I tried to breathe normally. “Don’t creep up on me like that!” I yelled. “Gosh, sorry. I said your name like five times but I didn’t see that you had headphones in,” she explained. “Can I help you with something?” She just stood there. Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

“Oh yea. Come down stairs.” That is what she wanted to tell me? “I was just about to work on my drawing. Can it wait?” “No. You need to come down now.” I sat my stuff down on my bed and followed her out the door. She was always so incredibly impatient. I walked right behind her and then suddenly stopped. I turned back around to go upstairs but it was like Olivia read my mind and quickly turned around to grab my wrist. She led me down the stairs like a child. I couldn’t speak. My mouth was wide open and I was in utter shock. “What are you doing here?” I was freaking out. “Well Kate, you don’t look very ready for our date. I’m only five minutes early. Do you need more time?” Alec was standing at the bottom of the stairs with his hands in his pockets. He looked extremely good but that didn’t stop me from being extremely irate that he was actually in my house. “Our what?” I had completely forgotten about what he had said at dinner last night. “How did you find out where I lived? Are you stalking me?” I started shooting questions at him. He just stood there with a smile. He walked closer to me but I stepped back. How on earth did he know where I lived? It was freaking me out. “What part of, I’m going to pick you up at 8, did you not understand last night?” This wasn’t fair, his accent was hypnotizing. He continued to move toward me. I was speechless. He walked up and whispered, “I told you I was up for the challenge.” I had forgotten that Olivia was standing in the room and when I looked around, Dimitri had also joined us. He looked just as shocked to see Alec as I did. “Olivia, darling, would you get the thing I asked about please?” Alec directed his attention to meet Olivia’s eyes. She immediately turned around and walked into the kitchen. She returned holding the package that my Mom had sent me. “What are you doing with that?” I asked her with a confused expression. “Why do you have the package from my Mom?” “You thought that was from your Mum?” Alec interjected politely and shook his head slowly. Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

I turned to look at him and threw both hands on my hips as I tried to look intimidating. “And who else would it be from?” I hadn’t opened it yet but she was the only person that knew my address. “It’s from me, you silly girl. If you had opened it, you wouldn’t be so surprised right now.” Alec reached forward and took it from Olivia’s hand. He sat it on the floor and motioned for me to come open it. “What is it?” I hadn’t moved. “Are you always like this? Just come open it and you will find out.” “Could you hold on just a second?” I tried to say politely. I took all I had not to throw all of the southern girl courteousness out the window that had been bred in me for over two decades. “Sure.” “Olivia, can I see you in the kitchen please?” I didn’t wait for an answer. I shoved her to the far end of the kitchen so that I could talk at more than a whisper. “What the hell were you thinking? Why did you let him in? Are you crazy! Have you gone completely mental?” I had to take a breath and Olivia jumped at the opportunity to speak. “Kate, what was I supposed to do? He was standing there so pathetically adorable. I couldn’t not let him in when he looked me in the eyes and said ‘please’. He’s very convincing Kate.” She tried to add some humor by showing me the face he gave her. It didn’t work. I was furious with her. “What if he kills me or something? We don’t even know him!” I figured he wasn’t a psycho murderer but I wasn’t sure. “Don’t be ridiculous.” She lowered her voice. “He can probably hear us!” I didn’t care. “You need to take a deep breath and go back out there.” She took my hand and led me back to the foyer. “Be nice,” she hissed one final warning before we emerged from the kitchen. Dimitri was sitting on the stairs with his elbows propped up on his knees and his chin in his hands while Alec was on the complete opposite side closest to the door leaning against the wall. “Sorry about that.” I said looking at Alec. “It’s no problem. Is that all out of your system now? I would rather you get it all out here before I take you out in public,” he said in a joking tone. “You might scare the children.” Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

“If that’s the way you feel, then there is no point in you standing in my home right now.” I had taken a step toward him in hopes that he would be intimidated. It didn’t work. “Will you open the box now? Or do I need to do it for you?” He stayed leaned against the wall with his arms crossed against his chest. “I think I can handle it.” I walked over and got on my knees so that I could open the package. There was no return address on the box. I peeled back the packing tape and it made a loud ripping sound. I noticed that Dimitri had stood up to look over my shoulder and Olivia had moved closer so that she could see also. I really hated people hovering over me but I decided against yelling at them. I could understand their curiosity, as it was just as high as mine. I reached in the box only to pull out another box. “You have to be kidding me. There aren’t like five boxes in here are there?” I shot Alec an angry look but he was just smiling. That box inside a box thing was a popular gift trend when I was in middle school and I absolutely loathed it. “No,” he said calmly. I opened the smaller box to find a note and a single rose. The note read:

Kate. I told you I wasn’t going to give up that easily. I figured you would think I wasn’t planning on coming but this is a reminder to be ready at 8 O’clock this evening. PS. Sorry if the rose died already. I’ll get you another later. “You didn’t even sign your name,” I pointed out. “Were you expecting anyone else?” “I wasn’t expecting anyone,” I corrected. “If you had opened this when you received it, which if I’m not mistaking was here this afternoon, then you would have expected someone.” He hadn’t moved from his position against the wall but he did a smirk to his face. Who did he think he was? He paused and then continued. “Would you like to change or go in that?” “What’s wrong with what I’m wearing, and who said I was going anywhere?” I looked down to examine my clothes. Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

“Kate. Are you stupid?” Olivia was really close to my face but her voice was loud enough to be heard anywhere in the house. “You’re going. Now get upstairs and change. Go!” She turned to Alec. “Would you mind waiting a few more minutes?” “Not in the least.” “Great. We will be right back.” She hurried me up the stairs and slammed my door behind us. She was rummaging through my closet at lighting speed. Before I could blink she picked out on outfit for me to wear. “Put this on. Luckily your hair isn’t a complete wreck. I can fix that in like a second. I’ll have to do a quick make up job as well.” I just stood there. “What on earth are you waiting for? Change!” I obeyed. Fifteen minutes flew by. “You look stunning.” Alec met me at the bottom of the stairs and held out his arm for me to take. That was not happening. “Thanks.” I ignored his arm. “Are you going to inform me where you are taking me?” “No. I’ve already let Dimitri know where we will be. He is fully informed on our evening so that he can come rescue you if I decide to kill you.” He had indeed heard me in the kitchen. I was a little embarrassed and I am sure that it showed all over my face. “Sorry about that.” I said ashamed. He seemed nice and he had gone to all this trouble so I decided to put on a semi-smile. “Have a great time,” Olivia said as a way to get us out the door quicker. “Are you ready Ms. Brooks?” He walked toward the door and opened it for me. I didn’t give a verbal response, but I did nod and walk behind him. I turned around to wave goodbye to Olivia and Dimitri. Dimitri mouthed, “It will be fine. Have fun.” We walked to the street and he opened the front door of his slick black Mercedes for me like a perfect gentleman. It shouldn’t have surprised me in the least that he would have such a magnificent car. A kind of car that people from my hometown only look at in magazines or see on TV. I settled into the obnoxiously comfortable leather seats, closed my eyes and said a little prayer in hopes that I would make it back from this hellish night alive.

Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

~**Chapter 5**~

Alec Mallinson sure wasn’t one to give up easily. I would have to remember that for the future. I allowed him to lead me into the restaurant with his hand on my waist. His touch was very light and I had to remind myself that his hand was still there. He knew he was treading on thin ice. We arrived at a table in the back of the room after being quickly escorted by the host. I was amazed that we got such good seating because it was a full house that night. Every table looked occupied. I looked up at the magnificently high ceilings. It looked like the inside of an old church that could have easily passed as hundreds of years old. The large wooden beams seemed to be holding the building from collapsing down on the peaceful atmosphere. It was way too fancy for a first date, but I decided that I was going to enjoy myself. I started to feel a twinge of regret for being so cold to Alec at the house. The service was impeccable and we were brought two glasses of red wine that were on the house before I even opened my menu. The warm garlic bread was brought shortly after and I had to restrain myself from eating the entire basket. “What do you think?” he asked. “I am very impressed. I figured you’d be taking me to a dark alleyway,” I said with a smirk. He seemed to understand my sarcasm and laughed with me. “To you. And your job and to your first time in London.” He raised his glass in a toast and I tapped my glass to his. “Besides, I save dark alleys for the second date.” I was starting to appreciate his extreme sarcasm as well. “Why thank you very much,” I said responding to his toast. This wasn’t nearly as awkward as I’d imagined. “Now, Alec. Your name seems to be the only thing I know about you. It doesn’t seem fair. It’s your turn to spill some secrets.” I really knew absolutely nothing about the handsome man sitting across from me other than that he had some internal GPS talent that found where people lived. “Well how incredibly impolite of me. What would you like to know?” “How old are you? I could guess but I would rather you tell me incase I am completely wrong.” I thought he was around my age but I wasn’t sure. Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

“Twenty-five. And you?” “Twenty-one, but almost twenty-two,” I added. Three years difference didn’t sound as bad as four. “Ah, so you have a birthday coming up.” He did catch on quick. “June 2.” I hadn’t realized that it was so close. “Well that’s less than two weeks away. Happy early birthday then.” He smiled and that is the exact moment when I noticed that he had the most adorable dimple on his left cheek. He was getting more and more attractive every time he spoke. “Thanks. Wow, I didn’t notice that it was coming so quickly. I have had so many other things on my mind,” I explained. “I understand. I’m sure your job is stressful.” A waiter came over and whispered something in Alec’s ear that was completely inaudible to me. Alec nodded and the waiter walked away. “Sorry about that.” “You are very popular. Everyone seems to know who you are.” I had noticed that a few people had said hello to him when we walked in and while we were eating. “Oh yes. Extremely,” he said with a straight face. After we ate our food, which was absolutely delicious, I started thinking of more questions that I could ask him. “This was fantastic. I will have to give my compliments to the chef.” I looked around for the waiter. “You are too kind.” I was confused. “Oh, do people not do that over here?” I thought that maybe it was just an American thing to do and that maybe for some crazy reason it was inappropriate here. “I’m sure they do.” I continued looking for a waiter. “You don’t need to do that,” he insisted. “Are you opposed to me telling him thanks?” “You already have.” He winked. Oh no. Had I met the chef when we entered the restaurant without realizing it? I stopped searching and looked blankly at Alec. “I’m the chef, Kate,” he let out a huge grin that accentuated his dimple.

Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

“What?” He had been sitting with me the entire time. He had to be lying, unless he was a magic chef and could make food with his mind. “I own this restaurant.” I believe my mouth fell open and I quickly closed it. “I’m the head chef here. And I guess I technically wasn’t your chef tonight, but that is my recipe.” “Wow, Alec it was amazing. This is all yours?” I scanned the room again. “Well no, I have a partner but this was all my idea. Not bad is it?” He asked seriously. “No, it’s fantastic. You own your own restaurant at 25. It’s incredible.” It all started to make sense now. That is why everyone knew who he was. The waiter was asking him some sort of question that had to do with the kitchen. Everything was falling into place. “How did you start this? Where did you go to school? Tell me everything.” I was extremely interested. I loved when people were as dedicated to their work as I was. “This is the most excited I have ever seen you. I like it. I’ll have to tell you that I own a restaurant everyday.” He seemed amused. “You’re so funny,” I started but then became serious. “I just love the fact that you had the passion to do this. Now will you please tell me how it all came about?” I insisted. Just as he started to tell me his story, a man that was about the same exact height and figure as Alec walked up to the table. From far away it would be difficult to tell them apart but up close they looked nothing alike. One of the main differences was that this man didn’t have the radiant green eyes that Alec possessed. His hair was shorter than Alec’s but just as blonde and his voice was much stronger. He sounded like he had a bit of a half Irish half British accent. I couldn’t pin point it. “Sorry to interrupt,” he said to Alec and looked at me apologetically. “You came at the perfect time.” Alec turned back to me. “Kate, this is Seth, my other half. Without him this business would have never happened. He actually was the one who made your meal this evening.” He turned back to Seth. “She thought it was fantastic. I took the credit of course.” Both men laughed. Seth reached out his hand, “Kate, it is nice to finally meet you. I have heard about nothing else all week.” I shook his hand blushing. I looked over to see that Alec was a little embarrassed too but he didn’t show it nearly as bad as I did. “You too. And the meal was great. I’m glad that I was able to meet the actual creator of it.” I found it funny that Alec and Seth seemed to still be laughing about it. Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

“I was just going to ask a question about a new recipe, but I will talk to you about it later,” Seth said to Alec. “No, come sit. You will make this story more fun. I was just about to tell Kate how this all got started. She seems very interested.” Seth took the invitation and sat down. “And it is a great story Kate,” Seth added. “Okay. Well let’s hear it,” I urged them. I sat more attentively. “It all started about four years ago,” Alec said. “Seth and I have been mates since college. We met in an intro to philosophy class if I’m not mistaken.” He looked over at Seth who nodded in agreement. “We both were pre-law majors at Oxford University. He was the rebel and I was a strict rule follower.” He laughed. “You wish you had had as much fun as I did,” Seth added. “Well, we became good friends that year and it all just started going downhill from there.” “Our father’s had the same plan for us,” Seth continued. “Oxford, then Law School, and then masters of the world.” Alec and Seth laughed again. “Let’s just say that our father’s had outrageous expectations of us that we felt we had to fulfill,” Alec said in a serious tone. I sat quietly and took in everything they both said. “Being who we were, it was expected that we would follow the family rules,” said Seth. “It was after our business law class or some god awful class like it, when we decided that we no longer wanted to walk to path of our fathers.” “Seth didn’t want to. I was a little apprehensive,” Alec added. “Anyways, we both had a love for cooking. So we started taking classes from this lady who lived close to the school. She was the nicest woman. Never charged us a dime. She said that it was a miracle that men wanted to learn the art of cooking and that was payment enough for her.” Seth leaned back in his chair as if he were remembering the good old days. “I must say that we had natural talent but without her, we would be no where near where we are today.” Alec took a sip of his wine to indicate to Seth to continue the story. “We never told our fathers about the cooking thing. They would have been so angry. So, we stuck with our pre-law major until graduation. We could still go to law school if we really had the desire. We sure did have the grades for it. I was never as good as Alec, seeing as he Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

finished first in our class, but I wasn’t far behind.” He nudged Alec to show some friendly competition. “Why do you always tell people that?” This time he did look really embarrassed. I really liked that he didn’t like to flaunt himself. “Because it is something to be proud of!” I finally spoke after a long time of listening. “She’s right,” said Seth. “Anyways, graduation rolled around and we didn’t apply for Law School. I don’t remember who actually came up with the idea for a restaurant…” he looked at Alec for help. “I dunno, I think it was a joint idea.” I could tell he was lying because he had already told me that he had come up with the idea, but I guess he was just being a nice friend. “It doesn’t matter anyway, but yea, we got this grand idea to open a restaurant here in London. We knew it would be hard work but we were so desperate to do anything but go to law school that we really started planning it.” Seth paused for a second and grabbed Alec’s untouched glass of water. “What did your dad’s say?” I was curious because it seemed like they both had very powerful families. They both eyed each other as if they were recalling a painful memory. “Alec had it the worst. Poor bloke. His father almost wrote him out of the family will. Mine of the other hand, was a tad more supportive. He just told me that if it didn’t work out it was my fault and to not look for his sympathy.” Alec spoke softly. “My father and I didn’t get along for a long time after that. However, finally after all these years, he supports me. Luckily Seth and I have done a very good job being both businessmen and chef’s.” “Yes, we are very talented.” Seth smiled and it made me laugh with them. “And now you have been brought up to the recent year of you sitting in our restaurant,” Alec stated. “Did we leave anything out?” He asked Seth. “I think we got most of it.” “I don’t know what to say.” I tried thinking of something inspirational or insightful to tell them but I was coming up with nothing. “I could never have done that. I give you both major props for pursuing something that you were passionate about. Not many people do that anymore.” Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

“You must have done something right to land the job you are in right now,” Alec stated. “Not really,” I corrected him. “I just applied.” “You don’t give yourself enough credit. I don’t think you realize how hard it is to get that job.” After he said that, I realized that I didn’t really know how hard it was for me to get the job. I had never really thought about it. I never thought I was actually going to get it, but I also never thought that I was really that special when I did get it. He continued, “You beat out thousands of applicants. Were you not aware of that?” “And how on earth would you know that?” Where did he get all his information? His brain must be filled to capacity. “I told you that I know some people who work there,” he explained. “Yes, but you never mentioned who.” “Never mind those details, just know that you are one special woman.” He went from joking to being completely serious. He was staring straight into my eyes. The realization that if this conversation had happened with any other male in the world, I would have been officially creeped out. ‘One special woman…’ I repeated to myself. I knew he intended those words to have a double meaning. His undeniably beautiful accent took away all the possible peculiarness of the statement. I couldn’t have said the same if a guy from Wake Forest had said that to me. I probably would have been freaked out and left the table immediately. But for some reason Alec’s voice had no inflection of anything but pure innocence. I allowed the rush of happiness to run through my body. That was the first moment that I remember having a true connection with Alec. And I liked it. I liked it a lot. “Just out of curiosity, how did you know where I lived?” I had been dying to ask him that all evening. “You don’t think I’m going to give away all my secrets tonight, do you? What would be your incentive to go out with me again?” His charming smile was contagious. I had almost forgotten that Seth was still sitting at the table until he stood up. “I guess I should go feed our customers. It was great meeting you Kate. I hope to see you around soon.” He turned to walk away. “Thanks again for the meal.” I quickly yelled at him. “It was my pleasure. See you tomorrow Alec.” He was out of sight in the blink of an eye. Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

“You two are hysterical together. Do you realize that you act like teenage girls at a slumber party?” I smiled to show that I wasn’t trying to be rude. “We have been told that on numerous occasions actually,” he let out a laugh. “Not the slumber party part of course. He’s the closest thing I’ve had to a brother.” “I can see why you two get along, he seems very sweet.” I let out a huge yawn that I unfortunately couldn’t control. I tried to hide it by putting my hand over my mouth but it did no use. “Gosh, we have been here for over two hours already. You look exhausted.” He realized that his statement didn’t come out sounding the way he had expected and immediately began to back peddle. “Not that you look bad. You look positively ravishing,” he smiled hoping that he hadn’t dug himself into a hole. “Right, well you don’t have to lie, but I am a tad tired.” I couldn’t understand why I was so exhausted. I had taken a nap already today. “In no way was I lying. I would say that I would get the check but you see, that’s the good thing about being the owner, I don’t have to get a check.” He smirked, got out of his seat, and was by my side almost instantaneously. He pulled my chair back a little to help me get up easier and held out his arm. This time I took it. “You are becoming friendlier with every passing second,” he was delighted that I didn’t ignore his arm for the second time. “You were starting to bruise my ego.” “I thought you liked the challenge,” I made sure to add because he had been so keen on telling me that. “Challenge one completed. Are you done hating me yet?” “You’re growing on me,” I smiled and took my hand that wasn’t wrapped around his and patted his shoulder. He let out a sigh of a relief and said, “Challenge two completed.” We walked to the rest of the way to the car in silence. Not because we didn’t want to talk, but because we were both satisfied. He opened the car door for me again and then whipped around to his side. Just as we got in the car, I saw a raindrop on the windshield. Moments later, it was pouring. Thankfully we had gotten to the car before the downpour started. The sound of the rain plus the comfort of Alec’s leather seats almost put me straight to sleep but I somehow managed to keep my eyes open the entire way home. Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

“Home sweet home.” Alec turned off the car and started rummaging around in the back seat. “Thank you Alec.” He was still searching for something. “For what?” “A wonderful evening. You went to way too much trouble. I am in no way worth all the hassle that I put you through tonight.” He turned back around with an umbrella tightly gripped in his hand. “That is where you are wrong. You are completely worth it. You don’t give yourself enough credit. And I am delighted that you had a good evening.” I blushed again. “Why are you so nice to me after everything?” “Because I can see beyond your words. I see into your eyes and that is how I know there is more to you than I can even imagine.” He got out of the door and opened the umbrella. He came over to my door and maneuvered the umbrella so that not one raindrop reached my skin. He had his arm around my waist as he walked me to the door and then dropped it as soon as he saw Olivia peering through the living room window. We stood in front of the door for a second before either of us said anything. I spoke first. “Thanks again for a lovely evening.” There was no hint of sarcasm in my voice. “I plan on having more if you accept.” I couldn’t really see his face clearly because it was dark outside. “I would love to.” I couldn’t believe the words that were coming out of my mouth. I did have a good time but I really needed to focus on nothing but work. I decided I could deal with that later. I was getting really cold from standing out in the rain. “Have a good night Kate.” He leaned in and gave me a slight kiss on the forehead. I opened the door and waved goodbye. I was instantly bombarded with questions from Olivia and there were lots of ‘I told you so’s’ that I tried to ignore. I walked to the kitchen, got a water, and sat at the table. Dimitri was already sitting there. It was nice that he wasn’t freaking out but I could tell he was dying to ask questions as well. “Go ahead you two.” I held out both of my hands as to say, bring on the questions.

Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

“Where did you go?” This of course came from Olivia because Dimitri already knew that information. “A restaurant.” Dimitri laughed a little because he knew I wasn’t giving Olivia all the details. “Was it romantic?” She was trying her best to visualize my date. “You could say that. The food was amazing and the chef was extremely nice.” Dimitri snorted a little because he was trying to hold in his laughter. “What am I missing? You two always keep stuff from me!” She pouted and crossed her arms. “Alec is the chef at the restaurant that he took her to,” Dimitri finally stated. “He can cook?” Her eyes brightened. “Apparently,” I said. “You better not let this one go, Kate, or I’m going to snatch him up!” She said in a sarcastic yet serious tone. It didn’t really bother me that she was like this. She fawned over every male that crossed her path. She was indeed a hopeless romantic. I felt kind of bad for her because she was the one looking for what I seemed to be running away from. Why does this kind of stuff happen at the most inconvenient times? Where was this guy when I was looking for love in high school? Life never seems to go as planned. And that drove me insane. Exhaustion took over my entire body and I said goodnight to Olivia and Dimitri. Olivia looked painfully disappointed that she didn’t finish interrogating me but I figured she wouldn’t forget to ask me in the morning. I laid in bed and for the first time when I thought of the name Alec Mallinson, a smile crept across my face.

Property of Amanda L. Pinto 2010

Just a Little Keepsake  

book i wrote