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OK, you guys are getting another installment of The Day Ginger Snapped and you'll probably get one more next week while I finish up July's story. Make sure you buy your own copy though or you'll miss the ending.
Alden was released from the hospital two days ago and this will be the first time I've seen him since then. Now, I'm standing outside the door of his Tribeca apartment building, holding a bottle of wine and wondering what I was thinking when I accepted his dinner invitation. Wondering what he was thinking when he offered to cook for me.
I knocked on the oversized door and bounced on the balls of my feet while waiting for Alden to open the door. He appeared a few moments later sporting a fresh haircut, bruises that were almost completely faded and only a hint of the black eye that had looked so bad when the bandage was removed from his face a few days earlier. The cast was still on his arm and it would be for another couple of weeks. The small jagged scar over his lip added a touch of mystery to his face and he no longer wore the knee brace, but there was a slight limp to his walk.
Alden was wearing a long sleeve v-neck shirt with the sleeves pushed up to his elbows, jeans and flip-flops. I was immediately glad that I had decided to go casual with a simple dress and slip on shoes. Alden smiled as he opened the door then he leaned in and kissed my cheek before inviting me into his beautiful loft apartment.
I looked around and marveled at how my whole house could fit inside this loft. Isn't New York supposed to be famous for how small the apartments are? Alden's place had red brick walls that were decorated with black and white photographs, hardwood floors, floor to ceiling windows, a small terrace that looked out over a beautiful view of the city and a skylight. The furniture was black leather. The kitchen had stainless steel appliances, an over sized refrigerator, a long bar that served as a cooking island and a place to sit while talking to the cook in the kitchen.
One corner of the loft was dedicated to Alden's video games, large screen television and a drum set. Another corner was filled with books, a reading lamp and an over stuffed sectional couch.
There was a large staircase that led up to a balcony. I couldn't even bring myself to think about what else was at the top of the stairs.
"OK, if this is how all writers live, I have definitely got to change professions."
Alden laughed that laugh of his that I love. The laugh that I can almost hear in my head even when he's not around. "Well, I'm sure that there are writers who live in awesome places, but then there are poor writers like me, who live in their grandparents unused city loft."
"This is your grandparents place? Where are they?"
Alden poured a glass of wine for me from an open bottle he had sitting on the counter as he answered. "They retired and moved to Connecticut a few years ago. I'm the only grandchild, so when I asked if I could live here while I tried to write the next great American novel, they just couldn't say no. I'm still working on that novel while picking up freelance writing assignments to pay the bills."
"What's your novel about?"
"I'll let you know just as soon as I know myself." Alden smiled as he clinked his wine glass against mine, winked at me and took a drink.
"Dinner smells delicious. Is there anything I can do to help?"
Alden took my hand and lead me to the leather sofa. "No, we're having lasagna, salad and garlic rolls with tiramisu for dessert. Let's sit and talk for awhile before we eat."
"You made tiramisu?" I was impressed!
"Well, no, I bought that from the Italian market down the street."
"I see and did you happen to buy the lasagna from the same market?" I asked laughing.
"What do you mean? Don't you smell it cooking?" Alden asked while pretending to be offended.
"Oh, I smell it cooking. But you should know that ordering a half baked lasagna that I finish cooking at home is just about the only meal I know how to make."
Alden laughed and so did I. "I added extra cheese."
"I'm sure that will give the meal that homemade taste most people strive for when cooking." I raised my glass in a toast to him and took another drink.
We sat quietly for a moment watching the city lights through the window. Alden put his arm on the back of the couch behind me. "I hope you know that you'll be washing the dishes after we eat because I can't get my cast wet."
"I hope we're using paper plates." I said as I turned toward him and curled my legs up on the couch.
Alden playfully tapped my head with his cast and we both laughed.
"Do you still hurt?" I asked hoping he wasn't still in the pain he had been in when I first arrived at his hospital room.
"It's nothing a glass of wine and an aspirin can't heal."
"Do you have any idea who mugged you?"
"No, they were just kids really. There were four of them and only one of me. That's the only reason I ended up with as many bruises as I got." Alden puffed his chest out in an attempt to look tough.
"Yeah, I'm sure." I laughed again.
Alden sat his wine glass on the table, stood and reached for my hand. "Let's go out on the terrace. I think there's a full moon tonight."
I sat my glass down, took his hand and followed his lead. There were two chairs and a small table on the terrace, but we stood by the waist high wall and looked out at the view.
"OK, I have to ask just what your grandparents did that allowed them to get such a great apartment with this amazing view."
"Grandma taught high school literature. I think that's where I got my love of books. Grandpa was an investment banker. He's all business and she's a dreamer. The ying to his yang."
The wind blew and I shivered. Alden moved closer to me and I inhaled his scent. He stood behind me for a moment, rubbing my arm with his uninjured hand before asking if I was cold. I let him know that I was and we went back inside.
Alden busied himself with taking the lasagna out of the oven while I refilled our wine glasses. We sat side by side at the kitchen bar and started to eat. Alden took one bite and asked how I liked the lasagna that he had slaved over for a whole fifteen minutes before placing it in the oven. I let him know that the extra cheese made it perfect.
I loved how easy the conversation between us was. I loved it, right up until he asked about California and Seattle. Without giving any details I let him know that I found one winner and one loser in California. Then, I admitted that there was no old boyfriend in Seattle and that I had
just run there to hide.
Alden took my hand, looked into my eyes and asked why I had done that. "You could have come back to New York," he said. "You could have protected me from the muggers."
"Right! I would have thrown them your wallet and then run in the other direction." I said as I showed him my wallet pitch.
Alden laughed and then asked about home. "When are you going back to Florida?" He wanted to know.
I put my fork down and took another long sip of wine. "I should be there now. I just keep putting it off. I left thinking I was going to find some kind of answers that would change my life. I haven't found anything and now Chad's there..."
"Wait, who's Chad" Alden interrupted.
"Chad is the guy who dumped me."
Alden laughed as hard as he could. "Well, that explains a lot. What kind of name is Chad? No wonder the guy was such a jerk. Chad isn't even a real name!"
I laughed too. I couldn't help it. "He didn't just dump me. He embarrassed me. And from what Linda has told me, he's living in my house while I'm away."
Alden stopped laughing. "So, when you go back will you forgive him and let him stay."
"I don't know...I mean no, I can't forgive him or take him back. I just don't want to see him. I don't even want to hear what he has to say."
Alden smiled again. "You could always stay here."
"Right. I could just take over your house like he's taken over mine." I said as I finished the last of my lasagna.
"The difference would be that I wouldn't mind if you did."
"Again, I have to say that you don't even know me."
"Well, you could change that. Tell me everything that there is to know about Ginger." Alden said as he sat back and crossed his arms over his chest.
"There's nothing worth telling. Nothing that would go into a best selling novel. Nothing that will make me sound even remotely interesting."
Alden stood and motioned toward the couch. I followed him. We sat side by side and his arm once again went around my shoulders. "We’re going to tell each other everything right now. The good, the bad and the really embarrassing. I'll go first." He said. "What would you like to know about me?"
"I don't know. Just tell me everything." I leaned back into him and smiled as I waited for his response. "OK, I'll give you the five minute biography of Alden Cassidy, but you have to promise to do the same thing when I'm done."
"Deal." I said.
"Well, I'm an only child born to parents that were both also only children. I grew up here in the city, but while I was in college my parents moved to Chicago. My first girlfriend was named Nola. I was three and she was four. It was a serious relationship, but we eventually grew apart and ended on good terms. I fell out of a tree when I was five and broke my arm. I'm an Eagle Scout, I love to camp. I hate marshmallows. I'm more comfortable in jeans than I am in a suit. I love to watch sports, all sports, on TV. I played baseball in high school and college. I love the work I do, but it makes for a solitary life and that makes it hard meet people, especially girls I want to
spend time with. When I do find one I want to see again, I usually have her over and try to pass off professionally made lasagna as homemade. My all time favorite memory is of the day I sat behind a beautiful, but broken hearted girl on an airplane. I'm really just a nice guy. A
Prince Charming looking for his Cinderella."
I looked at the smile on his face and laughed. I couldn't help it. "Okay, you're full of it!"
Alden faked being offended and pointed to himself. "I left out the part about how I never lie and I always keep my promises. I got you into that hospital like I promised your friend I would, didn’t I?" He pointed at me. "Now, it's time for you to keep your promise and tell me everything about Ginger."
"Oh please, you don't really want to hear my story." I said and sat back against the couch so that I could see out the window.
"Oh, but I do. Now get to talking and don't leave anything out." Alden laughed.
I exhaled, sighed and rolled my eyes. Then I decided that it was now or never. I could let him know the person I am and see what he says or I could walk out forever. Before I could change my mind, I started talking without looking at Alden. I was afraid that looking at
him, seeing his smile, would cause me to lose my nerve. If I was going to explain who I was to this man, I had to do it without looking at his beautiful face.
"Well, just remember you asked for it. You already
know about my old boyfriends so I'll skip over that part
of my story. It’s the most depressing part anyway.“
“Just quit stalling and start talking already.” Alden encouraged me.
Well, here goes nothing…or maybe everything.