‹ Prequel: The More You Chase It
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Memories Are Wonderful

Getting to Know You

“I really like autumn,” I defended as James and I walked down the street. He wore a black Yankees hat to be less recognizable but his leather jacket was a bit of a give away. Luckily the cool Autumn weather meant not a lot of people were out.

“Autumn looks nice but it’s always windy. I feel like I'm in a cyclone.”

We were walking from a small sushi place back to his apartment. Having him back in my life made it hard for me to see my friends when he was in town. Not because he was needy or ever asked me to, but just because I liked to spend as much time as I could with him.

“But it smells like leaves and apple pie.”

A pleasant laugh escaped him, as it often did when I amused him. “I don’t think there is anything intrinsic in autumn that makes it smell like apple pie.”

“I know, but my grandmother always used to bake them in October.”

“My grandmother didn’t bake, or cook. She liked to eat though.”

I shook my head, “My grandmother loved baking. Especially muffins. And she would put everything in them. Dried cranberry, bits of apple, raisins. I have the recipe somewhere.”

These were the moments where it felt nice just walking together and learning more about each other. Although we had taken to kissing and various other innocent physical activities at either of our homes, when we were out in public we didn't hold hands or act like a couple. For all intents and purposes we were still two friends reconnecting, with a little bit of added benefits behind closed doors. And every time we were together like this I felt more comfortable and perfect with him than I had ever felt with Daniel.

“You can make me muffins, did you say?” he pretended to mishear me. Although he had been amazing at making Waldorf salads and knew his way around the kitchen better than you’d expect, he seemed to love my cooking.

“If you promise to keep me entertained I might.”

His animated eyebrows hinted at what was going through his mind but I was quick to set him straight, “you still haven’t finished reading me Faulkner.”

“How long do muffins take to bake?!”

His surprise was as adorable as it was amusing, “Well—“

Before I could finish my sentence I heard my name being called in question from the patio along the sidewalk, where patrons of a small sandwich shop sat and ate. Stopping, my eyes rested on Samantha. She was sitting at a small table of aged copper, the metal formed in intricate designs. With her was an unfamiliar man with light blonde hair cut close to his head. It appeared as if they were on some sort of date which made it peculiar that she was waving me over.

James and I walked through the small, waist height gate and to the table where Sam stood to greet me with a hug.

“Daisy! I haven’t seen you in a while.” Her tone wasn’t as inviting as her words and I felt in an awkward position.

“Hi Samantha, you know James.” I made a small gesture to which he nodded.

“Of course, this is Brett. Brett this is Daisy and that’s James.”

Brett also stood and shook both of our hands. "Wow, it's nice to meet you."

I assumed he was referring to James. It was still foreign to me when anyone treated him specially.

“If I could just have Daisy for a moment, will you two be fine on your own?”

James gave me a look of concern, whether for me or him self I wasn’t completely sure.

“I’m sure we can manage.” Brett answered awkwardly before Sam pulled me away.

When she spoke her voice was a harsh abrasive whisper. “What are you doing? Elizabeth would be heartbroken if she saw what I just saw.”

“We’re only friends.”

“But he’s your friend’s ex. You can’t just go around like that, like you stole her boyfriend.”

She had no idea what she was talking about, but I could see how it might look from her perspective. “He was mine first.”

“Just because he was your celebrity crush doesn’t mean you have some sort of dibs on him. She dated him and you guys should not be hanging out.”

The look on her face was a mixture of concern and surprise. Obviously she cared about Elizabeth, they had become quite close while Kate and I had been in England, but also it seemed as though she was surprised at how dense I could be about the situation. But like I said, she really didn’t understand.

“He wasn’t my celebrity crush. We have actually been friends for a while. We met at one of Elizabeth’s parties a year and a half ago.”

Not including the night by the water but for some reason I never really counted that. It was too brief and meaningless until we met again that night at the party.

“What? How did I not know this?”

I shrugged, she seemed to be calming down. “We kept it pretty low key and around the same time I started hanging out with you and Kate we were fighting and barely spoke.”

“Well still, if he was at her party and they started dating, there must have been something there. You don’t start with someone you’ve known that long unless there is.”

“It doesn’t really matter though does it? It’s over with them and James and I are reconnecting. It’s not the end of the world.”

Her features took the last step to fully relaxing, ‘I just don’t think we should tell Elizabeth, she finally stopped talking about him.”

I nodded in agreement because I wasn’t really planning on telling her anyways. It was just better if she didn’t know.

When we returned to the guys they were talking about movies. It took a while before the conversation wound down and James and I finally continued on our walk to his apartment. We were just a block away.

“So what did Samantha want? Is everything okay?” James seemed concerned once we were out of earshot.

I looked at the ground, my mind pondering what Samantha had said. “Everything is fine. I was just wondering... How did you and Elizabeth start dating?”

“What makes you ask that?” His warm eyes had a hint of disbelief in them, oblivious to my motive. I wanted to get a feeling of what he had been like with her. I wanted to compare us to them. From the corner of my eyes I saw him adjust his hat.

“Well, we’re learning more about each other. I don’t think it’s too unusual a question.”

“No, I guess not.” His hand rubbed the little stubble on his cheek, it was hard to see his eyes the way his hat was now resting on his head. “I suppose it started because when I was home I would always go to this coffee shop near your apartment while you were away. I don’t know why. I thought you had sold your apartment but in the back of my head I hoped you’d go there when you got back. Anyways, I’d always bump into her and you know how talkative she is. After the spring semester was over and summer started and you still weren’t back I had no idea when you would come back.”

As he spoke I tried to pay particular attention to what he was saying, despite the cool nip in the air. His words were ones I was so curious to hear. Yet, I didn’t know why the story seemed so important to me.

“Dave was telling me to get a girlfriend. She was nice, and she was closer to my age.”

The last bit surprised me. Not that she was closer to his age, but that it had mattered enough for him to mention it.

“Plus, she wasn’t weird around me so I asked her out.”

After the finish of his story I paused for a moment before asking, “Does the fact that we’re 5 years apart bother you?”

“No, you’re more mature than she was.”

His answer got a chuckle from me. “No I’m not.”

“Well not all the time, but when it counts you are.”

Before the conversation got too light-hearted and joking I had one last serious question. “Did you love her?”

His head jerked to look at me. His building was coming into view but his eyes were scanning my face, judging my expression. Then he looked back down at his feet and shook his head, “not really.”

“Okay.” I ended the conversation, having my answers and not needing to drag it out.

We walked in silence the last couple of minutes to the building.

Inside his familiar apartment we sat together on his bed and stared at the ceiling. The sound of Joy Division settled over the room softly. It was a nice way to spend an autumn afternoon before I had to go home and work on my paper.

“Why is it, that when I’m with you a day feels like a second?” James asked, his body turned towards me, his elbow resting on his pillow, his head on his hand.

I shrugged, “do you space out a lot? That could be why. Maybe I’m too boring.”

“I think the problem is that you’re too interesting.”

I laughed, how could I not? “We’ve been lying on a bed for an hour and you call me interesting? I’ve been staring at the ceiling most of the time.”

“You lay and stare in an interesting way.”

There was a second bit of laughter from me, but James had a tone of seriousness in his words.

“Hold on a second,” he said turning away and digging in the drawer of his bedside table. When his attention returned to me he was holding a little green camera.

“Are you kidding me? Do you have like a camera fetish or something?” I asked. It felt somewhat like déjà vu.

His hands fiddled with it for a moment as he answered, “I like taking pictures. I wouldn’t say I’m a photographer but it’s fun.”

He snapped a couple of pictures before handing the camera to me. “try it.”

There was scepticism in my gesture to take it from him. “and what do I take pictures of?”

A look of amusement occupied his features as he watched me hold the camera awkwardly. “Whatever you want. It doesn’t have to be a nice shot, or a nice angle. Just anything that might go unnoticed.”

My first picture was of the lamp beside his bed but that was an accident. The picture however, turned out kind of interesting. The second was of James sitting on the bed, resting with his hands behind his head against the wooden headboard. Then they began to get more specific. I took a picture of the vein running up his arm, more visible with his hands behind his head, and I laughed. The pictures would probably come out awful but there was something fun about it.

“James?” Dave’s voice came around the corner as I was snapping pictures. “Are you home?”

When he appeared in the doorway of the bedroom to take a peek I snapped a picture of him, much to his surprise.

“What the—?!”

James and I started laughing at his startled jump. I wondered how well it turned up in the picture.

“Hey.” James greeted as he took the camera from me and put it down on the table.

“Hi Daisy, I didn’t know if anyone was home. I thought you might have left music on”

James and I got up from the bed. He turned the music off. It was time for me to be heading home although there was still sunlight outside. I had a lot of paper to write.

“It’s okay, I have to get going.”

James walked me to the door, and as he said goodbye I could see Dave watching TV in the living room. A part of me thought I could see him watching us from the corner of his eye.

“Stay for dinner?” James pleaded one last time. It was hard to resist his hopeful eyes.

“I can’t. I’ve got to get this paper done.”

He nodded, understanding my dilemma.

“I’ll call you tomorrow though, okay?”

“Alright. Good luck on your paper.” He leaned in to kiss my cheek and I smiled as he pulled away. But to my surprise, his arms pulled me close to him and he gave me rapid pecks on my cheek, neck, and forehead. I must have been a giggling mess for anyone who, like Dave, saw.

“Bye James,” I said loudly as I pulled away from his grasp and gave him a peck on the lips. With James still looking at me, I closed the door behind me. I paused for a second, able to hear Dave’s voice.

“So is she going to be moving in with us soon?” He didn’t sound annoyed at the prospect but it was only a joke anyway. I still waited for James’s response, curious as to his thoughts.

Us? You don’t live here, you loafer. You've got your own place."

And with that their conversation was dropped and I made my way down the hall to start towards my apartment wondering where James and I were headed. In the elevator I made the resolution not to think about it, and instead enjoy how we were now. That wouldn't be hard.