Chapter Sixteen

Ralph was putting away the camera when I stepped out of the room to take a phone call. A quick work-related issue resolved and I was finished. I had an unanswered text message sitting in my inbox collecting pixelated dust, if there is such a thing. Wendy was inquiring about my availability for the night. If I had my way though I’d be in Sofia’s bed by midnight, but there was no way I could say such a thing. My plan was to have the message remain unanswered.

According to Melina as well as several articles, women enjoy mystery that a man can bring to the table. Also, if you’re “too available” you set yourself up for appearing as “needy.” The plan is simple: Wendy and I had spent time together the other day. By calculations tomorrow should be the day I should inquire about plans, making it exactly three days since our last encounter. Not too far away and not too close together.

The question remains: if I choose to make my move on Sofia tonight would I want to wake up in her bed, shower in her bathroom, kiss her goodbye, and leave to see Wendy? Perhaps that is something I should consider at a later date.

Sofia has expressed interest but this does not equate to the guarantee of my place beside her in bed. A foundation needs to be built. Stories need to be formulated. Alibis, so to speak, need to be solid. I’m committing a crime, one that does not have a physical body count but many have become victims of. If I’m to do this I must tread carefully.

Ralph appeared in the hallway with the equipment, handing me the tripod and lighting stands while he hauled the camera and lights itself. By this time my co-workers had already left. Ralph remained because I decided to use his camera and my lighting equipment despite having top of the line material right in the office. I felt more comfortable using familiar devices for certain jobs. Other times I didn’t care. My lighting equipment added the right amount of atmosphere with the lens on Ralph’s three year old camera. Its funny, I can pick up any camera and use it like I have been for years but I cannot tell you the specs used. The logistics of the equipment go over my head; I just have this ability to pick something up and look like I’ve used it a million times. I have no idea what ratio I used to film in or why the lighting works. Trial and error, and its worked.

“I’m hungry. What’s good around here?”

“I have no clue. But we are in Queens which means should you want Greek food there shouldn’t be a problem finding a decent restaurant.”

“I had that two nights ago,” Ralph said leading the way out of the day care center and onto the street. “Remember that girl I told you about from myspace.”

“The blonde with the green eyes?”

“No, the short brunette with the braces.”

“Oh yes, I made a remark about your shaving preparations prior to the date.” I chuckled. “Go on.”

“Well she’s from Brooklyn but we came out here for some ‘fine dining’ and then made our way to that bar in Astoria.”

“Didn’t you say she’s only twenty?”

“No that’s the blonde. So I was still hungry by the time we hit the bar, right,” Ralph and I hauled the equipment into the trunk of his SUV. He slid into the driver’s seat but I told him to hold on. “We have to wait for Sofia.” “Why?” “Professional courtesy.” He shrugged.

“So, anyway, I ordered this Greek dish that we shared and this chick has an allergic reaction to one of the ingredients. Her face swelled up and turned red. It was crazy man. How’d she not know what she’s allergic to?”

“It happens. Remember when I found out I was allergic to raspberries only after eating that piece of pie? I had no idea. Sometimes you just don’t until your body negatively responds to it.”

“I know everything I’m allergic to.”

“Because you’ve consumed everything the world has to offer.”

“Can’t help that I’ve got a fat mans appetite.”

Just then Sofia walked out of the day care center and approached the car. Despite the chill in the air she wore no jacket or sweater, nor did she appear bothered with the bite of the wind. “All set guys?” She was now five feet away from me. Her eyes burned into mine. I could smell the sweet tang of her perfume, the peach shampoo in her hair. Thinking about her in a sexual capacity aroused me very much. I wished to possess her that very moment but planning must be made. Behave yourself, Johnathan.

“We didn’t want to leave wouldn’t letting you know.” I said.

“Thank you for the professional courtesy. Have a safe trip back to, err….where exactly are you heading?”

“Ralph is dropping me off at the office so that I may work on your commercial. He’s going home to do God knows what.”

“But, its a Friday.”

“So?”

“You work Friday nights?” She glanced at her watch. “By the time you get to the office it’ll be after five.”

“So?”

“You want to spend your Friday night at your office?”

“Why not join me?”

“Beg your pardon?”

“I can be done by about nine. Let’s say ten. Bring a bottle of wine and I will order Chinese. Or, whatever you’re in the mood for. I can show you the finished product sooner rather than you needing to make room for the trip at a later date.”

She shook her head with a bewildered smile. “You’re absolutely strange, Johnny Wexler.”

I hated being called Johnny. “I don’t see how. I enjoy working.”

“You should find time to play, too.”

“Work IS play for me.”

She crossed her arms, stood silent for a moment. Finally with a shrug she said, “alright. Should I call before coming in case you change your mind?”

“Inform me around nine-thirty that you are en route. If you leave from here that leaves me with an hour to spare.”

“What if I leave from home?”

“Where do you live again?”

“NoHo, but I’m in the process of moving.”

“To…?”

With a grin she said, “Brooklyn.”

Interesting turn of events. I must make a mental note of this. “And where have you been spending the last few nights?”

“Both apartments. While getting used to the new one I’m saying goodbye to the old one. It was my first apartment when I left home.”

“Why the change then?”

“Change is good, don’t you agree?”

“That I do. So, it was time for one?”

“To say the least.”

“Where were you planning to spend the night?”

“I was thinking Brooklyn but now I’m not so sure.”

The tone of her voice combined with the look in her eye as she said “I’m not so sure” led me to believe her confliction was brought on by my invitation, which also led me to believe she was considering sharing her bed with me. Or at least wanted the option. I had to leave any notion that I was “hip to her jive” was present.

With a straight face I said, “no matter where you leave from, I should be done upon your arrival.”

“Very well. I have your information. I will see you tonight.”

We shook hands, the electricity from the touch was palpable. As she turned to head back inside I caught a sliver of a smile on the corner of her mouth. The plan, it seems, is moving along accordingly.

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