Sunday, July 20, 2008

TWENTY

"It's great to see you again, Karine!" Trina greeted me with a warm hug. "How have you been?"

"I've been well," I replied as Sidney pulled out my chair for me. We had met Troy, Trina, and Taylor at a steakhouse only a few blocks away from our apartment. "Taylor, how's school going?"

Sidney's 12-year-old sister shrugged. "I'm on holiday break until the second week of January. I would rather be out for the summer."

"So, Karine, how's work?" Troy asked.

I tried to maintain a neutral expression and plastered a fake smile across my face. "Work's going well," I replied robotically. There was an awkward silence, and I realized the Crosbys were expecting me to elaborate. But I had nothing else to say.

"Karine isn't feeling very well," Sid said, almost apologetically. "She thinks she's getting a cold." I nodded, that stupid smile still fixed on my face.

"Oh, no," Trina replied sympathetically. "And this close to the holidays. Well, take care of her, Sidney."

"Speaking of the holidays, I understand you're stealing my son for Christmas," Troy joked.

I forced a laugh and nodded again. I probably looked like a freaking bobble head. "My parents bought us plane tickets and told us we were spending Christmas in Montreal…I hope you don't mind."

"Of course not," Troy replied. "You'll just have to spend next year with us."

My fake smile grew even wider as I tried to hide the pain that came with Troy's mention of 'next year.' Next year, I would be in Paris. Next year, Sidney and I probably wouldn't be together anymore.

I passed the rest of dinner by never allowing my painfully false smile to leave my face. I didn't talk much, limiting my conversation to brief, vague sentences. I hid behind the excuse that I was getting sick, even though I knew I wasn't. My physical state had nothing to do with the common cold. I was exhausted and stressed because I knew my life was about to do a complete 360 degree turn in a very short time.

"Go to bed," Sid ordered when we returned to the apartment. "You look terrible."

"Thanks," I replied sarcastically. I trudged into the bedroom and pulled on a pair of flannel pajamas. "I'm sorry I was so weird at dinner. I just feel like I'm going through a cloud right now."

"Do you want me to call Christopher and tell him you won't be in tomorrow?"

"No, I have to go to work. I'll probably be fine after a good night's sleep."

"Okay." Sid brushed my hair out of my face and kissed my forehead. "If you need anything, I'll be in the living room. Are you warm enough?" he asked as he tucked me in.

I smiled at his concern. "I'm fine," I promised, resting my hand against his cheek. "Just don't try to cook, okay?"

Sid laughed and kissed my hand. "Okay."

***

"Karine! Karine!" Sidney's voice sounded almost frightened and he was shaking me awake.

"Huhhh," I groaned, turning to face him.

"You were yelling in your sleep. Something about Paris?"

My stomach lurched. "What…what did I say?" I stammered.

"You kept yelling 'I won't go.'" Sid smirked. "You know, for being French, you really hate that city."

"You have no idea," I replied bluntly.

***

I spent the next week cleaning out my desk and discreetly moving things from the office to my apartment. Sidney was on a two-game road trip to Philadelphia and New York from Tuesday to Thursday, so in that time I buried boxes of office supplies and documents deep in our closet where I hoped he wouldn't find them.

On Friday, I entered the office to find a large banner hanging above the door. "Au Revoir, Karine!" it read in huge red letters. I contemplated turning around and leaving the building, but instead gritted my teeth and was greeted by all my coworkers gathered around a large cake decorated to look like the Eiffel Tower.

"Pittsburgh didn't keep you long, did it?" Brad said as he handed me a slice of cake.

"I would rather be in Pittsburgh than Paris," I mumbled.

"You don't want to go?" he asked, looking shocked. "Why? It isn't because of Crosby, is it?" I noticed Brad said Sid's last name with a hint of contempt in his voice.

"I don't want to talk about it."

A few minutes later, Christopher called me into his office. "We have everything arranged in Paris," he said brightly, handing me a manila folder. I opened it and found a plane ticket and information regarding my apartment and new job.

I hesitated before picking up the plane ticket. My eyes flew to the departure date: February 14th. Valentine's Day. This has to be some kind of sick joke, I thought.

"Is there a problem, Karine?" Christopher asked, reading the disgusted expression on my face.

"Probably not," I replied bitterly. Christopher looked at my strangely and I gave him a half-hearted smile. "Is there any reason for me to be in the office today?"

"Well, no, not really. I mean, unless you wanted to say goodbye to everyone."

"I'd rather go home," I replied sharply.

"Alright. Well, good luck in Paris. I know you'll do spectacularly." I shook his hand and quickly left the office, not even glancing at my coworkers as I walked out the door.

5 comments:

Summer said...

Two posts today since I didn't get a chance to update yesterday =)

gpat08 said...

Thanks for the new posts - this story is a favourite of mine! You are an amazing writer....and I can't wait to see what is going to happen!

stovgirl said...

This story is awesome. You are a great writer, and I am can't wait to see what she decides to do.

Lauren said...

This story is one my favorites too - I was so excited to see TWO new chapters!

And she can't leave. She just can't. They are too cute together. :)

giveupon-me said...

oh wow.
this is getting good.
keep it up! update soon please =).
-ashley