Plus One(3)

By: Aleatha Romig


Maybe I could make up an accident like the one Kurt’s friend had. Would two ski accidents be too coincidental?

As I ride the special elevator up to Gaston’s and tap my finger against my chin, I contemplate possible stories. Perhaps in a series of unfortunate events, Timothy stepped off the curb and got hit by a car. I practice the story in my head. “It was so sad. He never saw the taxi and it didn’t see him. You know how traffic is in the city…”

A smile forms as I add gory details: broken leg, arm, and maybe a rib or two. That could work, but depending when the wedding is, this terrible accident would need to happen soon. My mood lightens as I ponder the consequences of his morbid demise. No, not demise. Just an injury. The pieces start to fall in place. Timothy’s make-believe accident could be more beneficial than just saving him from the wedding. It could also save me. After all, what kind of a girlfriend would I be if I left my nonexistent boyfriend alone to recuperate from his pretend accident?

As the elevator doors open, a smidgen of relief fills me. Just as quickly, the thoughts of my cousin’s wedding and ex-boyfriend’s injury fade away into the chic ambiance of Gaston’s. Stepping into the dimly lit foyer, I’m enthralled with the decor. High above, the ceiling is filled with small, twinkling lights mimicking a starry sky. Near the entrance the hostess stands in a pool of blue light. The couple who rode the elevator with me moves ahead and speaks to her.

Not only must guests clear the sentry on the first floor, we also must make it past this woman to get inside. As I wait, I gaze toward the wide archway leading to the prize—Gaston’s. My breath catches as I take in the beauty. Beyond the array of tables covered in linen and lit by flickering candles, the walls don’t exist. Instead, they’re made up of floor-to-ceiling windows filled with the most beautiful view I’ve ever seen.

Through the glass, the sunset’s final orange and purple blush beams from the horizon, illuminating the restaurant and showering it in a bronze glow. Outside, the windows of Manhattan’s buildings blaze in radiant glory.

Even after nearly three years, I can’t help but marvel that this is where I live, that the grandeur of New York is all around me.

“Miss?”

The hostess brings my attention back to my mission at hand—getting inside the archway. “Yes, I’m here to meet Shana Price. I believe we have a six o’clock reservation.”

After a quick search of the electronic tablet, the hostess smiles. “Yes, I see the reservation. Let me show you to your table. Ms. Price is already seated.”

I follow the petite hostess as she weaves between tables. Even at this early hour, most of the seats are filling with happy patrons. Their hushed murmurs add to the posh feel as I think about Shana.

We’ve been roommates since we both moved to New York. It was a lucky match. Both recent college graduates and from small towns, we were paired by a realtor site when we both followed our dream jobs to the big city.

My job is with Buchanan and Willis Pharmaceuticals while hers is with Saks. Yes, Saks Fifth Avenue, as in the one on the actual Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Though if you saw Shana, you would swear she looked like a model, her dream job is being a buyer.

When she’s not in New York, she’s flying to fashion shows and inspecting textile companies.

After receiving her text earlier today, I texted back and asked why we were going to Gaston’s and how in the world she got a table. Her answer was that we’re celebrating and money talks.

I’ve heard that before about money; however, as I gaze around the upscale surroundings, I’m pretty sure that even if all my money got together and shouted, it would barely make a whisper compared to the monetary clamor of the other patrons.

Near a large window filled with the majestic skyline, I spot Shana. When our eyes meet, her perpetual smile grows and her arm pops up as she waves my direction.

“Your table,” the hostess says as she pulls back my chair.

“Thank you.”

The hostess’s response is a quick nod—maybe only the movement of her chin, it’s hard to be sure—and a pivot as she disappears into the maze of tables.

“I’m so happy you could meet me,” Shana says with her blue eyes sparkling.

I shake my head as I lift the satin napkin. “What in the world happened? Did you win the lottery?” I lean closer. “I didn’t know you even played.”

“I don’t, but I did.”

“I’m so confused.”

“Well, it was kind of like winning the lottery and we need to celebrate.”

The word celebrate brings back memories of Scarlett’s wedding. I push the thought of my mother’s call away and concentrate on Shana. As I do, the slippery napkin escapes my hold. Quickly, I slide from my seat to retrieve it.

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