What seemed like moments later, was actually several hours. The sun was beginning to lighten up sky.
"What time is your water taxi?"
I frowned, "5:00."
The corners of his mouth tugged down, "it's 4:50. We should head down to the dock, do they know to pick you up here?"
I sighed, "yea. I texted them when I got here and gave them the address."
We stood their frozen. I didn't want to go.
"Come on." He took my hand and led me off the patio to a path. The path led to a long set of wooden stairs that crawled down the cliff that the house sat on, to the beach below. On the beach there was a dock that led out into the ocean.
We stopped at the top of the stairs.
He looked me in the eye. "Tonight has been incredible."
I nodded my head, "quite the New Year. A unique New Year."
He stepped closer and brushed my arm with his finger tips.
"A beautiful New Year."
He tilted his head towards mine. Are faces were inches apart. I could feel his cool breath against my cheeks.
Suddenly a loud drunken scream sounded from the patio and was pursued by more drunken cackles.
I jolted back startled.
He looked down, "we should go down."
I sucked in my bottom lip and chewed on it. Do we have to? "Okay."
As we waited for my water taxi to show up, we stood at the end of the dock looking at the sunrise over the ocean's horizon.
The false dawn painted the sky beautiful colors, which reflected off the waves in distorted shapes of shades of blues, purples and peaches. A strong ocean breezed blew my hair back whipping Luke in the face.
He smiled, "don't be sorry."
Instead of brushing my hair away from his face, he picked up a lock of it and smoothed it between the pads of his fingers. I shivered at the soft sensation of him tugging gently at the strands.
His breath felt cool against my forehead, "you're hair turns gold in the light." He said it more to himself than to me. He wasn't looking for a response. I stayed silent.
I turned my face up to him and studied him carefully, painting and storing every detail of his face into my memory. I knew that this would be the last time I saw him.
He let go of my hair and looked out at the horizon. The colors reflected beautifully off his face, casting shadows along his jaw.
Another gust of wind swept past us. I shivered.
Without saying a word he wrapped his blazer around my shoulders.
I looked down and smiled, "thanks."
He looked down at me, "of course."
I turned my head up and met his gaze. My heart beat rose. My breath caught. Not a word was uttered.
His tousled hair blew slightly in the wind. His warm brown eyes with flecks of green and yellow looked golden in the light. I wanted to run my hand through his hair. I wanted to kiss him.
The sound of motors broke the moment. His eyes swept back to the water, "here's your water taxi."
Disappointment panged through me. "Oh. Right."
"You got everything?"
I looked down, "yea." I saw my bare feet. "Oh! Wait! My shoes! I think I left them by the pool." I turned and started down the dock.
He grabbed my hand and pulled me gently back. "I'll get them, you stay here for the boat."
I scoffed and muttered under my breath, "God."
He looked taken aback, "what?"
I bit my lip.
You are perfect.
You are too good to be true.
I met his gaze and smiled, "you didn't have to do all of this just because you bumped into me."
I mentally smacked myself.
He chuckled, "that's not why I'm being so nice to you."
My heart pounded against my chest.
He beamed down at me.
"Of course not."
My insides jumped around frantically.
I hesitated, "well..." I took a deep breath, "why are you being so incredible to me then?"
He grinned beautifully.
"Because I like you, Leila."
The words were out of my mouth in an instant."I like you too, Luke."
He reached his hand up and brushed hair from my eyes. His hand slid down and cupped my cheek. He took a step closer.
I sucked in my bottom lip.
"Don't do that."
My words came out breathy, "what?"
His face was an inch from mine.
"Hide your lips when I want to kiss you."
My heart jolted inside my chest and my lips parted.
He kissed me.
My New Years kiss.
My perfect kiss.
I slowly slid my hands up his chest and around his neck. The hand cupping my cheek slid back around to the nape of my neck. His other hand slid around my waist to the small of my back and pulled me closer. I breathed in his deep sweet scent. I never wanted to stop.
The motor boat drew nearer.
He broke away.
He leaned his forehead against mine.
"Stay here, I will be right back with your shoes."
Unable to find my words I nodded.
He pulled away from me.
I was left standing there, breathless and in heaven.
I couldn't stop myself from grinning ear to ear.
He jogged down the dock. My eyes followed his fit form as he jogged up the steps along the cliff side back to the mansion until he disappeared from my line of vision.
I steadied my breath and squeezed my eyes shut.
He just kissed me. He was perfect and he just kissed me! Me! Me! He likes me!
I pulled his jacket tighter around me.
It was the New Year. I spent my New Year with him. He was perfect.
But just like that, I was brought back down to reality.
He lived across the ocean from me. I was flying back to New York in an hour.
I was never going to see him again.
My heart panged.
Something tapped against the dock, shaking my balance. My eyes flew open and I grabbed onto the nearest pole.
"You called for the water taxi?"
I looked up and saw my water taxi waiting for me.
"Oh, yes. Just one second, I'm waiting for someone. I have to say goodbye."
The man looked down at his watch and shook his head. "Can't wait another second, I have another pick up to get to."
"Please! It will just be a couple of seconds!"
"No, you're either on the boat or off."
He got back onto the boat and started the engine.
"Last chance, Miss. I can come back around and pick you up at 9 AM."
I looked at the time on my phone. 5:15 AM. I had to catch a plane.
I looked back to the steps. He wasn't there.
I bit my lip. I had to go. But I had to say goodbye.
"Miss, I am leaving now. Should I come back at 9?"
I sighed as guilt flooded me.
"No, I'm coming now."
I took his jacket off and hung it on the nearest pole.
My heart ripped as I stepped onto the boat.
The second I sat down the driver sped away.
I yelped as I was plastered back into my seat. I twirled around in my seat to look back at the dock.
I saw him running down the steps.
I felt tears prickle and burn the back of my eyes.
He jogged down to the end of the dock. He stopped at the end. I saw my shoes in his hand.
I had forgotten that I wasn't wearing any shoes.
I tried to stand up and motion some sort of goodbye to him, but the boat hit a wave and I was thrown back down into my seat.
His form got smaller and smaller as the boat sped away.
Longing swelled through me.
He stayed there for as long as I could see him.
And that was the last time I saw him.
The next day as I was unpacking, I pulled out my New Years dress. There was a light champagne stain on the front of it. I brought the fabric to my face and inhaled deeply. My dress smelled of bitter champagne, smoke, and my mother's perfume. However, underneath that all, I smelt something deep and sweet. It smelt like him, Luke. I hugged the dress to my chest and swore to myself I was never going to wash it. Then I immediately sat down and recorded everything into my diary.
I hid the dress in the back of the closet.
The following week I saw it lying on my bed in a dry cleaner's bag. Both stain and smell, gone. The evidence of his existence, gone.
Ten years later...
The sun was setting. Beautiful colors splashed over Central Park outside my office window. Pinks, blues and yellows streamed through my window and bounced around the room highlighting everything. My dark hair was highlighted gold in the light.
I was sitting with my feet up on my window sill, leaning back into my comfy chair. A cup of tea was nestled to my chest and my diary from ten years ago laid open on my lap.
The last sentences on the page echoed in my memory.
I remember how he picked up a lock of my hair and smoothed it between the pads of his fingers. I remember shivering at the soft sensation of him tugging gently at the strands. I remember how his cool breath felt when he spoke his words against my forehead. "You're hair turns gold in the light." I remember the chilling feeling of blood rushing to my cheeks. I remember...
I stared out of the top floor of the La Mode office building.
That shook me out of my nostalgia.
I would be murdered if my mother walked in here right now.
My white silk blouse wasn't tucked into my gray pencil skirt.
My black blazer was strewn across my sofa.
My pointy heels were thrown under my desk.
I wasn't working.
And I still hadn't picked out the center-pieces for my wedding.
Yes, my wedding. I know, it shocked me too.
I was getting married in less than a week.
His name was Charles Davidson. He was the second best lawyer in New York.
The first best lawyer in New York: William Davidson, Charles' father.
He was also the wealthiest man in New York.
My mother was in heaven.
Too bad his father was still married.
Interrupting my thoughts, a knock sounded at my door. I jumped about five feet in the air. My tea splashed down my blouse and I swore loudly.
I ducked under my desk trying to find my heels while simultaneously trying to tuck in my shirt.
I shouted from under the desk, "Come in!"
I heard the door open. I jumped up, banging my head on the mahogany desk and swore again.
Relief flooded me and I relaxed back into my chair. Thank god it was only Amy, my secretary.
"Oh Amy! Thank god! I thought you were my moth-"
"Leila! What on earth? You look like you just came out of a hurricane!"
I cried a little on the inside.
"-er. Oh. Mom." I cleared my throat. "Nice to see you too."
She bustled into my office carrying a gold clutch and a Starbucks coffee cup. She went to sit down on my couch and picked up my blazer with disdain.
"I hope you don't let Charles see you like this. This behavior is very unattractive."
"Wow mom, I love you too."
She scooted to the very edge of the cushion and shooed Amy away. Amy scurried out of the room with glassy eyes. Oh dear, what had my mother said to her this time?
"You should really consider getting a new secretary, that Jamey reminds me of a mouse."
I rolled my eyes, "Her name is Amy, and compared to you everyone seems like a mouse."
"Don't use that tone with me. I hate how you use that sarcasm. It's so distasteful."
I groaned. That wasn't sarcasm.
I had been working for my mother for five years now. Why I hadn't run away to China by now? I had no idea. On the plus side, it was a good pay, a really good pay. I was a millionaire. At twenty seven years old, I was a millionaire.
I liked the work. I had complete control over the arts section of La Mode. It was my little baby. I was currently working a de stijl section. It was my favorite style of art.
Anyways, I moved into a studio apartment in Tribeca after graduating with my film and media studies major from Yale. As soon as I made the terrible mistake of giving my mother a copy of my key, my studio apartment was completely revamped to look like the luxury section of La Mode. Sure, it was nice. But I had lived with it my entire life. Anyways, after I missed the electricity bill one month, my mother all but dragged me into the office I was currently sitting in. I was smacked in the face with the position of Arts Coordinator for La Mode.
Yes, yes, this is the life that girls would scratch out eyes for, but working with your mother as your boss is bad enough. Working with my mother as my boss was a thousand times worse. As soon as my mother discovered that she wasn't young anymore, she decided to cling onto me as if she could suck my youth out of me. In a motherly way, of course.
She had all but arranged my marriage to Charles.
She was the one who originally set us up. She somehow talked me into going on a date with him. As soon as I began dating Charles on my own free will, she brought on the real horrors. She had forced weekly waxes, manicures, hair dos and much worse that I do no wish to repeat.
Then it all suddenly was okay. Because I was for the first time in my life happily in love. Charles was fun. His parents were similar to my mother. We had similar pressures, similar stories, similar lives. Charles didn't let his parents bother him. He did what they wanted him to do and he did what he wanted to do. The two never collided. He showed me how to do the same. He knew my world and I knew his.
He proposed several months ago. He pulled out the ring in front of both our families. Everyone was happy. Including me.
"My god, Leila! Have you been listening to a single word I've said?"
The sound of my mother's voice slapped me out of my reverie.
"The centerpieces! You have to pick out your centerpieces! Must I do everything?"
I sucked in a deep breath. It wouldn't matter what centerpiece I picked, my mother would end up picking out which one she liked best anyways.
"How about the lavender?"
"Lavender?! For a centerpiece? Leila, have I taught you nothing?"
"What's wrong with lavender?"
"What is wrong? Why, everything! Fine, I will chose. We will go with the calla lilies."
I smirked. Now, was that so hard?
My mother prattled on for another twenty minutes or so as I lost myself to the darkening colors of the sunset. Finally she left for a meeting with some designer.
As soon as my office door slammed shut behind her I untucked my shirt and kicked off my heels again.
Slight plot twist? Yep! Let me know how you guys like it. And don't worry, parts of what happened ten years ago may return in Leila's future ; )