Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Chapter Two: Narcissus

This is the second chapter of my project.  Please feel free to provide feedback. 

"Does this sort of thing always happen when you're around," Demi asked, smiling at him. His demeanor put her immediately at ease. He laughed, his blue eyes dancing.

"Not typically." he said. "What was your name again?"

"Demetra," she repeated. "My friends call me Demi."

"Demetra," he mused. "That is Greek." People said stuff like that to her all the type, as if she didn't know.

"Yes sir. It comes from St. Demetrius, patron saint of farmers."

"I seem to recall that there is a church to him at Eleusis."

"Yes, sir. Have you been there?" Demi could hear herself becoming a little excited that he was taking such an interest.

"I have traveled quite extensively," he replied. "Well, I was just checking to see if you were okay from the storm. I'll need to go check on some other things before the luncheon. It was nice to meet you, Miss Spyropoplous." She cringed at the mispronunciation, but smiled at him. He glanced at his watch and walked off.

It was hard to believe it was still so early in the day. Demi looked down at her scraped up hands and then at the discarded shoes. It was time to put herself back together; there was still a long day ahead. As the day progressed, she noticed how little everyone else noticed her. She had done all the work for the luncheon, but not even Bobbie had given her a thank you. She found herself blending into the background. But every once in a while, she would glance at Gus Gray in his sharp business suit and would catch him looking at her. He never even shifted his gaze; he simply smiled and then went back to his conversation.

That afternoon, Demi got an email from Bobbie. "Thank you for putting together the Luncheon. I think Mr. Gray was pleased." It wasn't even signed, but it made Demi feel a little better about it.

When she was at home that night, she changed into her pajamas, ate leftover Chinese food and found herself thinking of the storm. Her thoughts would wander to an image of Gus Gray's face. His beautiful eyes, his strong jaw line, his smokey gray hair. And she would shake the thoughts from her head. Again and again, her brain would wander back. He had an irresistible charm.

For the rest of the week, there was not much time to have those thoughts again. It was project after project at Tempest. Things continued there as if nothing had ever happened. The only reminder was the work crew in office repairing the broken window.

On Saturday, however, her thoughts were her own again. She still didn't know many people in New York. She would sometimes sit around her apartment all weekend and watch TV. She knew she should get out and thought about getting a dog to walk, but she was a little nervous. She sometimes fantasized about talking to Russell or some of the other admins at Tempest and going out with them on the weekend, but she never had the courage to do it.

It was about 10am on Saturday. Demi sat on her sofa in a pair of gym shorts and a tank top. Her legs were drawn up underneath her. She was on the phone, talking with her mother. Conversations with Mrs. Spyropoulos were strange to the uninitiated. She spoke plenty of English, but she would frequently lapse into Greek. Demi responded almost entirely in English to her. She was telling her mom about work and about the city. She was trying to make it sound exciting. That was somewhat easy to do since her mom had never been to a big city. At that moment, her doorbell rang.

"What is that?" Her mom asked, in Greek.

"The doorbell, ma. Let me answer it." With her mom still on the phone, Demi got up from the sofa and crossed the room to the door. She peered out from the peephole.

"Well, who is it?" in Greek.

"Um, well..." Demi stammered as the sight outside the door was somewhat astonishing to her as well. There was an FTD delivery guy holding one giant bouquet of flowers. "Um. Ma - I think I have to call you back." and, in spite of her mother's protests, Demi clicked the end button. She slipped the phone into her pocket and opened the door.

"Delivery for Demetra..." the delivery guy started to try for her last name, but she cut him off.

"That's me," she said. He handed her the flowers and took off. She went back in the house and set the flowers on the kitchen counter. Her phone was ringing in her pocket, but she ignored it. It was just her mother. She shook her pony tailed head in disbelief; she was still baffled as to who would send her flowers. She pulled the FTD card from its stick and gazed at little purple Hermes on the front of the tiny envelope for a moment not sure she really wanted to open the card. Her fingers shook as she pulled out the card. In very clear and legible handwriting it said:


It was a delight to meet you this week. Your luncheon was one of the highlights. It would be my honor to show you around New York. Please call me.


It included a telephone number as well. Demetra stared at it. She read it again and again, sometimes out loud. She had to sit down. She tossed her ringing phone next to her, her mother could be persistent. The gravity of what this meant was overwhelming. She had heard the stories, of course. They were hard to avoid. Was the admin pool luncheon a place where Mr. Gray would look for new mistresses? She couldn't. She simply couldn't.

On the other hand. She knew no one in this city. And now the rich and powerful owner of the company where she was just a temporary secretary wanted to go out with her. Wanted to pay attention to her. She never had that kind of attention before. She wasn't a child. Being nearly 30, she had moved to New York for the express purpose of leaving her small town life behind. She wanted to experience excitement. Maybe just one dinner would be okay? Maybe if she set some boundaries?

She picked up her phone. 3 missed calls and two voice mails. All from her mother. She threw the phone down again. It was early. She couldn't possibly call him now. Maybe a shower. And then maybe a walk and then she would realize how dumb she was being.

In the bathroom mirror, she paused to really study herself. It was a new look. One that said "rich and powerful man is interested". She pulled the rubber band out of her hair and let the brown curls spill around her shoulders. She looked at her dark brown eyes. Demetra had never thought of herself as pretty before. In the town where she grew up, she looked a lot like everyone else. She had been very isolated in the Greek Orthodox community. Gus Gray had traveled the world. And now he wanted to go out with her. She couldn't help but be a bit curious about his thoughts. She kept leaning toward calling him.

She took her time in the shower. She loved the feeling of the hot water. Her thoughts were racing and she wasn't able to keep them from coming. After more than enough time passed and she couldn't avoid life any more, she turned off the water and stepped out of the shower. She put her guy shorts and tank top back on and pulled her wet hair back. She slipped on her flip flops and grabbed her little backpack. She left the apartment, locked her door and went for her walk.

As she walked, Demi would hold her phone in her hands. Occasionally she would slip it back into her pocket only to pull it out and look at it again. The FTD card was in her backpack. She put it there on purpose so that she would have to really work for it before making that call.

She strolled through the mall in Central Park, thinking about all the movies that she saw with this scene exactly. Romantic comedies, mostly, that didn't end like real life ended. Even a movie like Enchanted, which just proved to her that New York City was a fairy tale. Or the casual walk down this very mall by Harry and Sally as their relationship evolves. Or the nighttime wintry beauty that was the love story of Jon Cusak and Kate Beckensale in Serendipity. Demi could imagine a love story of her and Gus - he would leave his demanding wife and confess his undying love for Demi right here in this park. There would be an engagement on one knee and a gigantic diamond ring. There would be tears. Demi's parents would be overjoyed at the success of their new son in law - who was, by the way, closer in age to them than to her. But the real world didn't work that way and Demi was not dumb enough to think that it did. She knew if she called Gus Gray back she would likely experience a few weeks of being treated like a princess and then never see him again. If that happened, she would probably no longer have a job at Tempest Enterprises. She may not even have a job with the staffing company. The best she could hope for was to keep it all a secret.

After walking aimlessly, Demi found herself at the Bethesda Fountain. There were people everywhere. Children playing. In spite of the noisy conversations and children laughing, Demi found it a rather peaceful place. She gazed at the statue of the angel gently landing upon the fountain. Chapter five of the gospel of John said that an angel blessed a pool in Bethesda with healing properties. But before that, as Demetra had learned, it has been sacred to Fortuna the roman goddess of luck and even before that for Asclepius, the son of Apollo and the god of healing. Demi sat on the edge of the fountain and turned to look in to the water. The water was clear and reflective and again she saw herself as she had in the mirror. Here her reflection was wavy in the movement of the water. This was it. If she was going to do this thing, now was the time. She dug the FTD envelope out of her back pack. She traced the little Hermes icon with her finger and said, "For a little Luck and a little heath!" She pulled out her phone, flipped it open and began to dial the numbers carefully. She prayed that Mr. Gray was a professional - that he wouldn't give her the phone number of his own home where Hannah Gray might answer the call.

It rang. Her heart began to race. She thought about hanging up. She was about to click the end button when it picked up.

"Hello?" asked his voice. She hesitated for a moment and he repeated it.

"Mr. Gray?" she said.

"Yes," he responded.

"Hi, um...this is Demi. Demetra Spyropoulos. I wanted to call and thank you for the flowers." She felt like a complete idiot.

"I'm glad you got them." he responded. "I hear lots of noise in the back ground. Where are you?"

"Central park. Bethesda Fountain, actually. Why do you ask?"

"I'm in New York for a couple of weeks. I would love to see you. I know you're new in town and don't know you're way around. I can meet you in central park."

Demi knew this might be what happened. Well, not the meeting in central park thing, but the invite. But she said exactly the wrong thing. "Sir, I am flattered. Would your wife want me spending the day with you?" She immediately regretted the words. But to her relief, Mr. Gray laughed.

"She and I have an understanding. Besides, she is at our summer place in Olympia Washington right now. And don't worry, Demetra, there is no pressure. I would just like to spend some time with you."

"Well, I just went out for a walk. I'm not really dressed to go out."

"We can continue your walk and then you can go back to your place and change. I would love to take you for dinner at least."

Demi looked at her reflection again. The water shimmered and she wasn't sure she liked the person looking back as she said these words. "That would be great, Mr. Gray. Would you like to meet me at the Bethesda Fountain?"

"Certainly," he said. "And please, call me Gus."

And that was the end of the phone call. She looked at her phone for a moment watching the "end call" and the call time flash on the screen. "My god," she thought. "What have I done?"

To Be Continued...

No comments:

Post a Comment