03 September 2010

Chance Encounters

It took just over two hours in light traffic to get from wedding central outside Mishawaka, Indiana, to downtown Chicago, where I had a lunch meeting with Alma Rodriguez, head of Rodriguez + Stevens, a medium-sized PR firm focused on small businesses.

Though I was planning to really downplay the lunch part, it’d been a long time since I’d had to zip up a pencil skirt, and if there was room for lunch in my old faithful Banana Republic number, it definitely wasn’t much.

Which turned out okay because Alma wasn’t much for lunch, either: She barely had time to breathe let alone eat for all the talking she did.

Even so, she didn’t set her fork down the entire time. It’s like she forgot it was there, in her hand, wobbling dangerously about with her emphatic gesticulations.

Hand talkers make me nervous, but I liked her. A lot. She was funny and warm and clearly passionate about her work.

And she was interested in hiring me as a project manager.

I don’t even know what a project manager does, really.

But Alma thinks I can do the job, and I don’t think she’s the kind of woman who suffers fools.

I told her I needed some time to think it over, and she said that was just fine.

On the way back to the parking garage, I ducked into a Starbucks bathroom to pry off the skirt and Spanx – which I threw in the can – and changed into the sundress and flip flops I’d thrown in my tote for the drive back.

But I ended up walking right past the garage, past my favorite old haunts. Past Whiskey West. Past Em’s apartment. Past my old office building. Past the Tasting Room, where I decided to sit outside with a glass of wine to people watch.

That’s when I saw Preston walk by.

So I called him.

And watched him take out his phone, look at the display, and decline the call.

So I sent him a text: I saw you do that.

He looked at his phone. Looked around. Put the phone back in his pocket, and kept on walking.

So I sent him another text: I’m serious. And you are an ass.

At least that’s what I meant to say. Autocorrect thought I meant to say ace.

That got his attention.

I watched him text me back: I am definitely an ace.

And then keep going down the street.

So I had to spell it out: Violet’s not your best color.

He stopped dead in his tracks, looked down at his sleeve.

Then my phone rang.

Preston: Where are you?

Me: Across the street.

Preston: Well why didn’t you say so?

He started jogging back my way, and I have to say this for the guy: He sure does know how to move.

I stood up to give him a hug, which turned awkward because he was going in for a handshake instead, and I noticed a scar cutting through the end of his right eyebrow. It hadn’t been there the last time I’d see him, and without even thinking about it, I ran my index finger across it.

He flinched.

Me: I’m sorry. Does it still hurt?

Preston: No. You just surprised me is all.

Me: Why are you so jumpy?

Preston: Why don’t you like my shirt?

Me: Because it looks like an Easter egg.

Preston: It does not.

I raised an eyebrow.

Preston: So what are you doing here?

Me: What did you do to your head?

Preston: When do you head back down to Em’s?

Me: Why have you been ignoring me?

Preston: Did you miss me?

Me: Yes!

Clearly Alma wasn’t the only emphatic one today. I retrenched.

Me: Well. You know. A little.

He just smiled.

Preston: It’s been awhile, hasn’t it?

And I thought about Sarah and her stupid, stupid insinuations. And that made me blush. And knowing that I was blushing made me blush even more.

So I went inside to order us a bottle of white.

When I came back, Jill was sitting at the table.

And then Jack called to tell me Tony Volcano was flying him into South Bend first thing Friday morning: I’ll see you at the rehearsal, Snack Cake.

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