The Only One(4)

By: Melissa Ellen

“Sounds good,” I responded, starting to feel a little stressed.

A two o’clock meeting didn’t give me much time to meet Valerie at The Ivy for lunch. It had been awhile since we had caught up, and now it looked like I would have to cut our lunch date short.

I spent the rest of the morning responding to emails and getting as much work done as possible. My day had just been derailed by this unexpected meeting. It appeared I would be working some this weekend to catch up on the time I was losing this afternoon.

I was just wrapping up some final touches to a rendering when my phone vibrated on my desk with a text.

V: Just finished the campus tour. Still on for lunch?

I looked at the clock, seeing it was already almost noon. Shit. I had been so focused I lost track of time. I saved my work and rushed to pack up my things, responding to Valerie as I headed for the door.

“Don’t forget, drinks tonight!” I heard Joce yell from behind me.

“I won’t! Just text me the time and place,” I waved at her as I ran out the door.

Valerie was already at a table on the patio when I arrived. She was looking as stunning as ever in a little, emerald green sundress with her long brown and golden hair down in wavy locks. She looked casual enough, but I was sure her dress probably cost more than my rent. She had been watching for me, and when she saw me approach, she stood, waving with excitement.


“Hey, Val!” I hugged her as I reached the table. “You look cute. I love your dress.”

“Thank you! I’m so glad you could make it.”

“Me too, but I’m afraid I had an unexpected meeting come up, so I won’t be able to stay as long as I’d hoped,” I apologized.

“Oh, it’s fine. I know you’re a busy professional woman, now,” she winked at me, grinning.

The server approached us, taking my drink order. We went ahead and ordered our lunch, so I wouldn’t be rushed to make my meeting. We visited and laughed about random things like clothes and the boys she had been dating. I was enjoying my time with her and hadn’t realized how much I had missed her.

“So how was the campus tour?” I asked as we ate our lunch.

“Good, just a typical campus, I guess,” she shrugged, impartially.

“I’m kind of surprised your family is on board with you coming all the way to California, instead of following in the family footsteps at Harvard.”

“Well, I wouldn’t say they were exactly on board. Dad obviously would prefer me to go to Harvard and get a law degree or something boring like that. But I want to be an actress. Mom finally negotiated that I could come out here as long as I attended college and got a degree.”

“An actress, huh?”

“Yep!” she grinned ear to ear.

I didn’t know if Valerie had any acting talent, but she definitely had the face for it. I could see her gracing the red carpets as one of the glamorous Hollywood starlets someday.

“Well, it would be great to have you living here. I still can’t believe they let you come all this way alone.”

Valerie’s family was extremely protective of her. I was a bit surprised when she told me she was flying out here and her mother wasn’t joining her for the trip.

“I am eighteen now, Ava.”

I gave her a raised eyebrow as I tilted my head, knowing her age didn’t make much difference.

“Ok, they may have sent a chaperone with me,” she conceded and then changed the subject to me and my job.

“Speaking of work,” I looked at my clock, “It looks like I better head out or I’ll be late. How long are you in town for?”

“Just the weekend.”

“Well, let’s meet up again before you go. I hate that I couldn’t take a longer lunch.”

“Sounds good to me!” she smiled. “I’ll text you, later.” We hugged and kissed our goodbyes before I rushed to my car, leaving for my meeting.

I cursed the highway Gods, when I got stuck in the Friday afternoon traffic on the way to the meeting. I looked at my GPS, and I was sixteen minutes out for my meeting that started in thirteen minutes. As soon as I made it to downtown and parked, I sent Tom a text apologizing and letting him know I was on my way up.