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Meeting Mr Anderson: Chapter 12

The rest of the afternoon rushes by. I push the thought of Anya’s text to the back of my mind. I shouldn’t have been looking at Jay’s phone, even if it was just left on the side. The nausea I’ve had all afternoon is my own fault. I can’t ask him about it, as he might think I was snooping. I replay her words in my head for the millionth time. You were incredible. What the hell could that mean? My chest tightens at the most obvious meaning. What if Jay is seeing Anya too? It’s only been two weeks. How well do I actually know him? Plus, I’m not even in the same country most of the time. He could do whatever, or whoever, he wants, and I would have no idea. Maybe this is what he does? Sees more than one woman at a time. But I don’t want to believe that. The way we are together, the way he looks at me sometimes. Surely you couldn’t be like that with more than one person. He’s an actor though, a great one. What if it’s all an act for him?

“You alright, gorgeous? You look deep in thought?” Matt asks, swimming over to me. It’s late, and we were all talking about where to go for dinner tonight. The others are all out of the pool now and drying off.

“Me? Yeah, I’m good.” I sigh.

“You can’t lie to Uncle Matt, you know?” He smiles, leaning up against the side of the pool next to me. He’s right. Matt knows me too well and can see when something’s troubling me.

“I saw a text on Jay’s phone,” I say, keeping my voice low.

“And?” Matt leans closer.

“It was from Anya Katiss. She said he was incredible, and she couldn’t wait to do it again.” The hurt creeps into my voice.

Matt frowns. “I’m sure it’s not what you’re thinking, Holls. The guy is so into you, anyone can see that. I just don’t think he would see her too. There’s got to be another explanation.”

“I hope so. I don’t think I’m cut out for this dating game, Matt.”

“Look, I’ll talk to Stefan, see what he knows. Those guys are together all the time. He will know if anything’s going on.”

“Thanks, Matt.” I smile. At least if the worst is happening, I will know about it and can walk away now before I get hurt.

“So, where did you and Stefan get to after breakfast? We were back way before you two.”

Matt smiles and looks up at the sky. “Oh, Holly, it was great. Stefan said he wanted to take me to a viewpoint on the way back. It was pretty, but I wasn’t looking at that view, you know?” Matt winks at me. “We had a deep chat, about what we’re looking for in a partner and where we see ourselves in the future.”

“And?” I say, encouraging Matt to continue.

“And we kissed!” Matt squeals, clamping his hand over his mouth and glancing to the side of the pool.

“That’s brilliant!” I beam at him.

“I know! Oh, Holly. He’s a dream. He really is. I’ve never met anyone quite like him. I’m enjoying getting to know him. I usually just jump into bed and realize they’re all wrong for me afterward.” Matt pauses. “This feels different.”

“I’m thrilled for you both, Matt,” I say as I put my arm around him. “You deserve someone who makes you happy.”

“So do you, Holly.” His voice turns serious. “Don’t write Jay off until you know what’s going on.”

“I know. I hope it’s nothing,” I say as Jay smiles and beckons to us both from the poolside.

“Come on, you two,” he shouts. “Let’s get something to eat.”

“Yeah! I’m getting hangry over here,” Rach adds.

“Alright, alright!” Matt shouts back. “Don’t get your panties in a twist! You’ll have to discount them if they’re creased!”

Rach glares back at him and sticks up her middle finger. Despite feeling uneasy about what’s going on with Jay and Anya, I can’t help but smile at my two friends. They’re enough to lift anyone out of a slump.

We head out for dinner at a Mexican restaurant Stefan recommended and have a great time eating tacos and drinking too many frozen margaritas. Jay spends the entire night with his arm around me, kissing me as much as he can without making the others feel awkward. The times I look into his eyes throughout the evening, all I can see is openness, not a hint of him hiding anything from me, anything like Anya anyway. My heart’s telling me I can trust him. I’ve never felt a connection with someone before that’s telling me I can let my guard down. But I have it with Jay. I must have gotten the text all wrong and there’s an innocent explanation.

As we are finishing dinner, Rach gets a text from a friend, so she says goodbye to us and heads off to have a drink with them. This is only a two-night stopover, so we fly home tomorrow.

“We’re going to go for a drive, then Stefan will drop me back at the hotel,” Matt announces to me and Jay.

“Okay, have fun. I’ll see you at checkout tomorrow,” I say to Matt and go to give Stefan a big hug goodbye. “It’s been so great to hang out with you this trip, Stefan,” I say. “I hope I see you again soon.”

“Me too, Holly.” He squeezes me. “I can see how much happier Jay has been recently, and all I can think is it’s down to you,” he says discreetly in my ear as Jay and Matt are saying goodbye.

We wave as they leave, Stefan’s words repeating in my head. Is it down to me? Surely Stefan would know if it was actually someone else. Jay’s staring off into the distance, distracted suddenly.

“You okay?” I ask, squeezing his thigh underneath the table.

“Oh, yeah, I’m brilliant when you’re here,” he says, winking at me.

“Alright, Mr. Cheese.” I giggle.

“What, can’t a guy tell the truth without it sounding cheesy?” he says, putting his hands up in protest.

“Okay, okay, fine. How about you show me instead?” I say, reaching up to put my hand in his hair and drawing him to me for a kiss. He kisses me back, his fingers caressing my cheek. I can’t put my finger on it, but he seems different since the others left. Less light and carefree.

“Am I coming back to your place, or are you coming to the hotel?” I ask him as I pick up my bag and get ready to leave.

Jay rubs his hands across his eyes. “I’m sorry, Holly. I can’t tonight. I need to go home and make a work call that could take a while, and then I’ve got an early breakfast meeting tomorrow.” His eyes meet mine, but he seems miles away.

“Oh, er, okay, sure!” I force my voice to sound light. This is the last night I have in LA until I come back again in another week. I swapped onto another LA flight by giving up some days off, but I still have a one-night New York trip to do in between first.

“I’ll drop you back at the hotel,” he says, getting up and taking my hand, and although we chat on the journey, it seems like there is something hanging unsaid in the air between us.

We pull up to the hotel and Cooper smiles and waves from his valet desk. I wave back and then turn to Jay.

“So, I’m back in a week,” I say, looking at him, searching his face for a clue of how he’s really feeling. He smiles at me and I’m still just as clueless.

“I know, and I will count down the days, believe me, Berry.”

He leans over, dusting my bottom lip with his thumb before taking it between his lips and sucking. I close my eyes and melt into him as he gives me a slow, deep kiss that feels heavy with emotion.

“See you in a week,” he whispers, pulling back and staring into my eyes before he jumps out and opens my door for me.

“A week.” I nod as I climb out of the car.

As Jay drives off I feel like I’m missing something. It’s like he wanted to say more but decided not to. Cooper is talking to another hotel guest as I pass, so I give him a small smile and wave as I head into the hotel and up to my room, alone.

I have one day off when I get home before my flight to New York, so I go for a run and do some yoga. Then I get all my washing sorted and phone my mum to catch up.

“Hi, darling. It’s so nice to hear your voice.”

“You too, Mum.” I smile as I settle down on the sofa with a mug of peppermint tea. It’s always such a comfort hearing her voice.

“How are you?”

“I’m good, Mum. I’ve just flown with Rach and Matt, so that was fun.”

“Oh, how are they both? You must all come and visit me and your father again. That was such a fun weekend when you all made it down,” she says.

I remember the weekend that she means. We were lucky with the weather and had a great time at the beach, having barbecues and taking Mum and Dad’s dog, Muffin, for long walks. Mum loved having us all there. She must enjoy the activity of having guests when it’s just her and Dad now that me and Sophie have moved out.

“They’re good, Mum. How are you and Dad?”

“We’re okay, love. Your father’s helping Ted next door put up a new fence, the other one blew down in all those gales we’ve been having.” I smile as Mum chats, and I imagine her sitting at the kitchen table in the house me and Sophie grew up in.

“I’m going to go in a minute, Holly love. I’ve got a pistachio cake in the oven. It’s a new recipe I’m trying.”

“Okay, Mum. Speak soon. I love you.” I smile. That’s just like Mum, always baking.

“Love you too, darling.”

I hang up and think about how much I miss home as I sip my tea. I will have to go back soon and visit.

I pick my phone back up to check the time. It’s just after two in the afternoon, six in the morning in LA. Jay will just be waking up. After we said goodbye in LA Thursday night, I didn’t hear from him again until I landed back home Saturday. He said he had a work call that night to make and an early meeting Friday morning, so I didn’t expect to, but it’s the first day since we met we haven’t texted each other or spoken. I swallow down the growing, uneasy feeling. I’m just being stupid. He was busy with work and he was texting me yesterday, just like usual. Nothing else is going on.

I decide to send him a text to wake up to.

Me: Morning, handsome. How did you sleep?

I sit back and finish my mug of tea before my phone beeps with a message. My stomach leaps, as it does every time I receive a message from Jay.

Magic Cock: Not as good as if you’d been in my bed with me. Can’t wait to kiss those gorgeous lips of yours… both pairs.

I smile. That’s more like the Jay I know. Cheeky and flirty. Maybe he was just having a bad day before and had a lot on his mind. He works a lot, and Stefan said he’s constantly getting offers of new contracts and ad campaigns. They go to a lot of meetings. It must get quite busy sometimes. My stomach unclenches. I didn’t read the text properly and got the wrong idea. That’s all there is to it, I’m convinced. Well, ninety percent convinced. Okay, eighty-five percent convinced. I run my hands down over my face. I’m going to give myself an ulcer at this rate. I go and pack for my New York flight in the morning to keep myself occupied.

The flight is turbulent. Coming into JFK airport, we have to circle for over an hour to get a landing slot on the runway. We just keep flying around and getting bumped about by the weather. I’ve never handed out so many paper sickness bags. Even some crew needed them. I’ve held on to my stomach somehow, and for that I’m grateful. After we land, the passengers’ faces look as relived as I am to be on stable ground.

We are fortunate that we stay in the center of Manhattan for this trip, right near the Empire State Building. It’s still mid-afternoon in New York when we get to the hotel, so I have a quick shower and head out for a walk around the shops, calling in a Starbucks order to grab a peppermint tea to take with me. It’s still only around midday in LA. I pull out my phone and reread the last message Matt sent me after I landed a few hours ago.

Matt: Hey, gorgeous! How was your flight? I can’t wait to catch up after you’re back from your next LA. Sucks that we won’t have a day off together until then. Love you.

I smile. I’m so lucky that I have such a good friend. Matt told me he brought Anya up in conversation with Stefan. All Stefan said was that he didn’t think Anya was dating anyone and that he wouldn’t know if she was anyway, as he only knows her in a work capacity. Matt couldn’t dig any further or bring up Jay as it might have looked suspicious.

I sigh and take another sip of my tea. I’m no closer to understanding what her text was all about. Jay hasn’t mentioned her to me at all. Maybe the text wasn’t even meant for him and she sent it in error, but how likely is that? I look up. Wow. I’ve walked farther than I thought. I’m near the Rockefeller Center now, where the Magnolia Bakery is. It’s one of mine and Rachel’s favorite places to get cupcakes. Just the smell of it is incredible. I swear you can taste the sugar in the air. Looking in the window probably consumes calories. Their cupcakes are just so pretty. They come in lots of pastel colors and they have a big dollop of icing on top, no scrimping. I head inside and buy one for now, and two to take home for Rach and me. It’s become a bit of a tradition for us to do this if one of us is in New York. I pick three different colors and pay the cashier before leaving and heading back to the hotel, devouring my cupcake far too fast on the way.

It’s early when I wake up and after trying, and failing, to get back to sleep, I decide to get up early and try to nap later, before the flight home. I pull on my running gear and get ready to head out to Central Park for a run. I love going out around six or seven in the morning in New York. It’s when the city is waking up, with steam rising out of the road drains, just like in the movies.

I can call Jay for a chat later when I get back. He’s three hours behind in LA, so it’s far too early to try now; he’ll be asleep. I imagine his toned, tanned body stretched out underneath his white sheets. It’s been four days since I saw him, and three more days until I fly back there. How my nerves are handling it is beyond me. It’s like torture having to go so long in between seeing him. When I’m with him, everything feels so intense. Everything is intense! We talk and laugh, and the sex is just insane. I don’t know what it is about him, but I don’t feel embarrassed to let go when we are together.

I finish tying the laces on my trainers and put some money, my room key card, and my phone into my armband. I grab my headphones off the side and walk out the door, ready to burn off yesterday’s cupcake, and a whole load of unused sexual energy from thinking about Jay.

It’s a bright, crisp morning, and the three miles to Central Park whizz by. I’m panting, sweat beading on my brow by the time I get there. My mouth is dry, so I head across to one of the street vendors at the edge of the park. He’s just setting up for the day, unpacking the papers and magazines.

“Just a water please.” I hand him some money in return for the cool bottle. I stand and drink half of it in one go.

“Hard start to the day, eh?” He grins at me as he continues cutting the string holding the bundles of magazines together.

“You could say that.” I laugh. “It’s all good for us though.”

“I’ll take your word for it.” He chuckles.

“Thanks again,” I say, holding up the water bottle. He gives me a nod and I look down at the magazines he has in his hand. I freeze as I recognize the person and place on the front cover.

“Sorry, can I just see that for a moment, please?” I ask, my eyes glued to the picture.

“Sure, here you go. This week’s new Celeb Central, that is. Was only released this morning.”

“Thanks,” I croak out as I hand him some more money for the magazine.

“You alright? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” I hear him ask.

I fake a smile and nod. “Oh yeah, I’m fine. Thanks,” I say, walking off. I can’t tear my eyes away from the picture in front of me. I recognize it as the outside of Jay’s house. The caption reads, “She was seen leaving Jay Anderson’s house early Friday morning.” There in the picture, walking out the front door and looking every inch the stunning supermodel, is Anya Katiss.


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