Chapter 56

 

 New Year’s Eve came and I was glad I had not made any plans. My schedule had been so packed as of late. I just wanted to spend time at home reading one of my dance school books. The new semester’s getting ready to start, and the classes are getting harder all the time. Not to say I can’t do it, but I’ve been procrastinating a lot today. I just want to rest. I don’t know how long the dorm will remain quiet, but I’m grateful for these few moments I have alone.

Sandy came in the door.

I guess I spoke too soon.

“Mia, are you here?” “I’m here, Sandy.”

“I have some awesome news!” She’s jumping up and down with excitement.

“What’s up?”

“Only the best thing possible!”

I laughed. “Okay, so please don’t keep me in suspense.” “Remember the dance instructor I met a few weeks ago?” “Yes, I think I remember you telling me about him.”

“Well, he asked me out!” She giggled and jumped up and down some more.

“I’m happy for you, Sandy.”

“The best part is I have been trying to get his attention for weeks now.” Now I can see her smiling from ear to ear.

“Well, I am happy for you,” I say again, because I’m not sure what else to say.

“Thanks, Mia. So, what about you?” She’s not smiling anymore.

“What about me?” I grimaced.

“Mia, you know what I mean.”

“Oh. Are you asking if I have plans?” “Yes, I am.”

I shook my head. “No, I don’t. And I am happy with that.”

“Mia, you mean to tell me you are planning to stay here all alone for New Year’s Eve?”

“What’s wrong with that?” I asked.

“I know how exhausted you are. We both are.”

I began to pace around the living room. “Yes. See, you understand.”

Sandy came up to me. “Mia, can you stand still for a minute?” I stopped moving. “Okay.”

“I understand you want some downtime, but I still think you should celebrate the New Year.”

“Trust me, Sandy. I will.”

“Fine. I’m going to call you tonight before midnight, and if you don’t answer I will be happy because I know you are out celebrating.”

“I love you, Sandy.” I chuckled.

“Laugh all you want, but I’m telling you what’s going to happen, and you don’t want to be here when I call you.”

“Why not?” I smirked.

She lowered her head slightly and gives me an evil grin. “You don’t want to know.”

I turned my head and laughed. “Why don’t I help you pick out something for your big date?”

“Oh, I would love that!”

I’m so happy for Sandy. She’s thrilled to be going out. We have fun picking out the perfect outfit together. When she gets dressed, she looks amazing.

“I’m supposed to meet Robert at Pierre’s Italian place by Union Square. From there, we’re going to see the ball drop.”

I am so excited for her. “Wow, Sandy. Maybe I will see you on TV.”

“Hey. Maybe.”

“You really look beautiful, Sandy.” “Aww, Mia. Don’t make me cry.”

I laughed and waved at her. “Later, Sandy. Have fun.” She blew me a kiss. “Love you. See you later.”

After she left, it got quiet again, so I decided to take a long shower. It was nice to just be able to sit back and enjoy listening to some nice classical music. I could have stayed in there for hours, but I’m getting hungry.

Hmm, I may need to go out and get some grub, as Henry calls it. Lol.

He can be so funny, and he doesn’t even know it.

Speaking of Henry, he is probably wrapped up in another party today.

If I expected to get any food, I better move fast before it gets much later, and then I may not get back home in one piece with that large crowd of

people around me. Oh, and I need to call home. I don’t want to forget.

Things go much more smoothly than I expected them to. I’m surprised that when I took the subway earlier, I didn’t get bombarded by a huge crowd. I’m just hoping for the same when I get takeout from the Dreams Café.

Ever since Sandy took me there the first time, all I want to eat is their chicken salad. I just loved it. I used to make it from scratch at home, and I feel a bit spoiled for not making it myself now. I just want to relax tonight and ring in the New Year in my pajamas by cheering along with one of the shows on TV while they count down to the New Year. I haven’t felt much like celebrating this or any holiday since Leo died.

Each holiday brings a new twinge of pain with it, although I’m trying to work my way through it. I know I’ll always feel that void deep within me.

Okay, no more sad thoughts for the night. I need to focus on getting my

food and making it back to the dorm.

I must be distracted with everything else I have going on. Or maybe it’s just all the noise and commotion at Dreams that keeps me from hearing someone calling my name until they’re right up beside me.

“Mia. Hey, Mia.”

I looked around. To my surprise, I see Alona Neal waving at me. “Oh, my goodness. Hey, Alona.”

“What are you doing here tonight?” “Oh, just getting takeout.”

“You mean you are not going out to celebrate the New Year?” “No, not tonight.”

“Well, you have been working very hard, and I know your new classes will be even more intense.”

“Yes, they will, but I plan to give them my all.”

“You will, Mia. You always do, and I have to say I couldn’t be more pleased.”

“Thank you. That means a lot.”

“I’m only saying what is true, Mia.” I couldn’t help but notice she’s all dolled up. Her reddish hair is pinned up, and it looks very stylish. She’s also wearing what looks like a new and expensive dress.

“Well, you look lovely, Alona. Where are you headed?”

“Aw, thanks, Mia. I am actually going to a Broadway show, and then I’m going to head to Times Square with my main squeeze.”

“Oh, that sounds like one amazing night.”

“I know. I am excited. We have only been seeing each other for a few months, but I am having fun.”

I smiled. “Oh, I am happy for you.”

“Thank you. Well, I gotta run. I was just waiting on my coffee, and it looks like it’s ready. Happy New Year.”

“Happy New Year to you, Alona.”

Once she’s gone, I began to get that empty feeling again. There are all kinds of people out tonight, and most of them look like couples who are all excited about the New Year. Also, the city is all lit up, and even as cold as it is out tonight everyone looks like they’re having one amazing time. Meanwhile, here I am all alone.

Well, there’s nothing

I can do about it now. This is what I said I wanted, so I can’t complain.

Soon after I got my salad, I took the subway back home. Couples hold hands, and friends converse about their plans. It’s not that I’m trying to listen. It’s just that some of them are right next to me, and I can’t help hearing what they say. The ride takes about thirty minutes altogether. I’m not quite back to my dorm yet when I notice someone waving at me from afar. I know I should have worn my glasses, but I didn’t think I would need them.

“Mia. Mia!”

“Henry?” I call, immediately recognizing his voice.

I walked up closer to where he is standing. “Hey, Henry.”

 

What is he doing here? 

“I’m glad you are here.”

I’m a bit surprised to see him. “So, what are you doing here, Henry?”

“Well, I wanted to go out to celebrate the New Year, but I didn’t have anyone to go out with me.”

I stay quiet and look down at my feet.

“I’ve been so busy with parties and art shows lately, I asked to be off tonight.”

“Wow, and was that okay with Trina?” I try not to roll my eyes.

He grabbed his hair and let out a grin. “Mia, can I just ask you something? You are not fond of Trina, are you?”

I shook my head. “Ah, no, I am not.” “It’s funny to hear you ask about her.” “Well, I’m glad I amuse you,” I teased.

He laughed. “Only in a good way. To answer your question, Trina was not okay with it, but in the end I had my way.”

“Hmm, okay. I believe there is a song about that.”

“Yes, I know.” He smirks. “So, imagine my surprise when a little birdie told me you were home with no plans.”

“Oh, you mean my roommate?”

Sandy!

“Yes, and she means well.”

So, this is what she was talking about.

“So, I came by to see if you wanted to join me for dinner.”

I held out the takeout container. “I, uh, actually just went out to get dinner.”

Henry stared at me for a bit. “Okay. Well, then, I guess I will go.” He looked so defeated.

I instantly felt guilty. “All right, Henry. I will have dinner with you.”

“Thanks, Mia. I promise you, this is only as friends.” “Okay. Thank you, Henry.”

“Shall we?”

“Well, can you give me about twenty-five minutes to change into something more appropriate?”

He extends an arm and bows regally. “Certainly, my lady.”

I immediately walked into the dorm and put on one of the dresses I bought while I was out with Sandy. It’s a lovely black dress that I think is perfect for this night. I make sure to fix up my long, wavy hair and put on some makeup. Luckily, I found some amazing black pumps to go with the dress. I’m ready in fifteen minutes, but I still feel bad about making Henry wait for me.

When I stepped out to meet him, I can’t help noticing how he stares at me. “Wow, Mia. You look beautiful.”

“Thank you, Henry, and you look quite handsome.” He smiled. “Okay. Let’s head out to dinner.”

“So, where are we going?”

“I thought I would take you to my loft. I’ve prepared a fabulous dinner for us there.”

“Oh, okay.”

His place? Just the two of us?

I knew he said this was just a dinner between friends, but still.  I couldn’t shake this strange feeling in the pit of my stomach. For now, I’m just going to ignore it and enjoy this night.

As soon as we get to his loft, Henry turned on the lights leading up along his terrace.

Wow, he has really outdone himself.

The lights were all up along the top of the roof of his loft/art studio.

He’s even hired a chef to cook the food for us.

I inhaled sharply. “Wow, Henry. This is exquisite.” “Thank you, Mia. I’m glad you used that word. I love it.”

I smiled. “So, what is on the menu?”

“Ah, I’m so glad you asked. Our chef has prepared a lovely dinner for us tonight.”

I rubbed my hands together. “I’m curious now.” All I know is that the aromas coming from the grill smell delicious. I can’t help but smile as Henry directs me to the dining area. The display on the table is impressive. “Henry, are you having more people over?”

He shook his head. “No, Mia. Just us and the chef.” “But this is so much food.” I gasped.

“Well, Mia. I thought it best to have more food than we needed rather than not enough.” He grinned. “Now sit.”

It’s about nine in the evening when we start on our dinner. I’m having a good time talking to Henry, but I’m also so nervous. Usually, Sandy is here with us. And if we’re out by ourselves, we’re always in a more public place. I’m not sure it’s a good idea for me to be at his loft.

He noticed my hesitation. “Mia, are you okay?” I nodded. “Yes, Henry.”

“It’s just that you seem a million miles away now.”

I smiled. “Oh, Henry. I still can’t believe any of this.” “This makes me happy to hear, Mia. Now, on to dessert.” “What? I can’t possibly.”

“Oh, come on now. Something special for the New Year.” “Henry Watson, I am never going to fit into my clothes now.” I

blushed at the implications. “Please, Mia. You are perfect.”

As the hours wind down, Henry brought in the champagne. It’s now about twenty minutes till the start of the New Year. Boy, New York looks amazing tonight!

“This city is so beautiful, Henry.” I sighed.

“Yes, it is. I have lived here for about three years now, and this is one of the things I enjoy most.”

“New Year’s?”

“No, silly, the city at night.”

“Oh, okay. Now I feel daft!” I grinned at him. “Mia, you are not daft!” he exclaimed.

“Well, thank you.”

Suddenly, I’m closer to Henry than I’ve ever been before.

He  looks into my eyes.  “Well,  it  is  time  now.”

. “Happy New Year, Mia.”

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“Happy New Year, Henry.”

Then we kissed. I couldn’t explain how it happened, but it did.

I broke away from him, and I wasn’t able look him in the eye. “Well, I, uh, gotta go.”

He placed a hand on my arm. “Mia, I am sorry.”

I pushed him away. “No, I am fine, Henry. I think I had too much champagne.”

“Well, let me call a cab for you.” “No, I can do it. Thanks, Henry.” “Happy New Year, Mia.”

“I’ll see you around, Henry.” I can’t believe what just happened. I kissed Henry.

Why did I do it? I’m just not sure what it means.

 Back at the dorm, I paced back and forth. I was so confused.

Then there’s a knock on the door. I opened it and am shocked to see Henry.

“Mia, I am sorry.” He looked down at the floor. “No, Henry. Don’t be.”

“I’m sorry for kissing you.”

“Henry, I was the one who kissed you.”

Does he regret our kiss?

“Well, I wanted to kiss you.”

It’s pointless. I have to admit  I’m attracted to Henry, and I’m not sure what to do about it.

“So, what do we do now?” he asked.

“I am not sure, Henry, but I am willing

Is he reading my thoughts?

to take it slow.”

I’m wanting to take things slow, actually. Really slow.

“Really, Mia?”

I nodded. “Yes, Henry.”

Then, he came closer and hugged me.

Maybe I am ready now.

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