Chapter 20, Camie's Heart Goes Free

A Better Pair of Shoes, a novel
Chapter 20

Camie’s Heart Goes Free

My subconscious had caught wind of the seeming spark between me and Derek, and had begun creating pictures of us together.  Part of me was resistant, and part of me; not so much.  My mind kept reminding me that I was in town for Hannah, although my heart kept whispering, “why not?”

I had my presentation to make to Ms. Knox, and I needed to be focused.  I didn’t really need the money…but I was excited for the new business.  I also knew that she was planning a huge reveal party, and I knew it would be a great opportunity to get even more clients.  I hadn’t made a withdrawal from my savings in five years, and this way, I wouldn’t need to.  I got up and eagerly began getting dressed for my meeting.  While I was waiting for the boxes of clothes Kayla was shipping to me, I had gone out and bought a few pieces that I could use for work.  Not having lots to choose from, made it quite easy for me to get ready. 

            Just as I got into my car, the phone began to ring.  I saw it was Derek and couldn’t imagine what it was this time.
            “Hello.”  I answered with a slight tinge of annoyance, but didn’t fully understand why.
            “Good Morning!”  Derek was all the way alive and bursting with energy.  I remained quiet in hopes of helping him to come to the point.
            “I wanted to talk to you about Hannah’s Birthday week after next.  Did you have any plans?”
            “No.  I didn’t really stop to think about it.”  I admitted.
            “Well, can we meet to talk about it?  I’m thinking of throwing her a big party.  I thought it would be a great time seeing that we’re both here and all.”
            “Right!”  It made sense.  Yet I did get the feeling that Derek was trying to come up with ways to see me.
            “Where should we meet?”
            “How’s the café on 5th this evening around six?”
            “Great.”  Derek replied and I disconnected.

            I blew Ms. Knox, who I was instructed to call Tara away.  She was overjoyed with the design and could not stop talking about how everyone would be amazed.  I left her home with a check for one-fourth of my fee, and another check to purchase all the materials and to pay the painters.  She handed her keys over to me, and pleaded with me to call her as soon as it was complete.  I had three weeks to take potential, and create amazement.  I knew I could deliver, and so I left also overjoyed.  I went directly to the bank and opened a temporary account to hold the funds, which would automatically account for my spending.  This helped me to eliminate a whole lot of paperwork, and my clients were always impressed.  I then deposited my check into my business account, where once I received full payment, I would write a check to pay myself at eighty percent.  From there I decided to surprise Hannah, and pick her up from school.

            When I arrived at the school the bell hadn’t rung yet, and there were cars lined off all around of other parents waiting for their kids.  I decided to get out and walk up to the front gate, seeing that my coming was unannounced.  The bell rang out, and not a moment later, the entire school grounds was filled with children all dressed in white shirts and green skirts or pants.  I spotted Hannah coming from a short distance with her natural dark blonde hair in a curly, pony-puff that hung in the balance, with frizz all around.  She was about three feet five-inches with long skinny legs and arms.  Her face was oval and she also had freckles, except hers were more heavily distributed.  I waved and quickly caught her attention. 
            “Hi Hannah, how was school?”  I was happy to see her.
            “It was okay.  I didn’t know you were coming to get me.  Does Aunt Eri know?”
            “Yes indeed.  I spoke with her earlier.  I thought maybe we could stop and get some ice cream, and then I could drop you home.”
            “Okay.”  She obliged.   In the car, I quickly turned to her favorite station, which was now programmed.
            “So I was thinking about your birthday coming up.  Is there anything in particular you want to do or have?”
            “I don’t know.  I’ll think about it.”  Hannah definitely did not have a super entitled way about her, which was appreciated.  I was happy to see the great job Eri had been doing.
            “Okay well don’t think too long.  It’s just around the corner.”
            “I won’t.” 

            I dropped Hannah off and headed to the mall to find something to wear that evening.  My mood was changing.  I wasn’t as down as when I’d left Miami, and I was getting tired of wearing what felt like scrubs.  I missed the glamorous side of myself, but felt that part of me might alienate my family.  I found a cute pair of form fitting distressed jeans with cute cut outs.  I paired it with a black pair of ankle strapped wedges and a funky wide arm blouse.  I spotted a salon in the mall, and decided to get my shoulder length wrap cut into a diagonal bob.  With time quickly creeping up on me, I opted to get dress right at the mall.  After all, this wasn’t a date, and I wasn’t treating it as one.  I simply felt more of myself; although I didn’t neglect to wear my fiery red lipstick. 

            I got to the café with five minutes to spare.  I walked in and walked right up to the table where Derek was sitting without him even recognizing me.
            “Hey, I didn’t even…”  Derek looked spooked and was frantically trying to regain his composure getting up for me to sit.
            “What a transformation.  So is this Miami I’m looking at?”
            “Camie.  That’s what most people call me.”
            “Where’d that come from?”
            “I don’t know.  My best friend Kayla nicknamed me Camie, and it just stuck—something about my caramel colored skin.”
            “Well that makes sense.  So you just woke up and felt more like Camie today?”  Derek smiled.
            “Something like that.”
            “I like it.  Now the yellow mustang makes sense.”  Derek was still in awe.  I smiled.  Just then I noticed a band setting up in the front of the room, and the steady flow of people coming in.
            “Is there something going on here tonight?”
            “Just some music… Nothing fancy.”  Derek deflected.
            “How are we supposed to talk with music going on?”  I asked, oddly annoyed at the set up that I already knew was a set up.
            “Well the band doesn’t go on until seven so we’ll have time to talk.  And then dance.”
            “You haven’t forgotten how right?”
            “What are you up to Derek?”
            “I’m not up to anything just expressing my interest.”
            “There’s too much history between us for that.  We had one civil conversation, and now you think we can just jump back into a relationship?”
            “Whoa. Whoa. Slow down.  I said dance.”
            “I heard what you said.”
            “Look if you tell me you’re not interested, I’ll let it go.”
            “I’m not interested.”  I quickly responded.
            “I thought we shared a moment the other night.”  Derek look humiliated.   
            “I’ve had enough moments for a lifetime.  I’m looking for more.”
            “And how do you expect to find more when you’re not willing to explore.”
            “We did.  Hannah is living proof.”
            “Ah, come on.  You think I’m the same person I was ten years ago?  Look at you; I know you’re not the same person I knew, and I’m more than curious to know the person you’ve become.  If you’re afraid just say you’re afraid, but don’t give me…I’m not interested.  The heart is always interested.”

            The waitress delivered two glasses of root beer, spinach dip with tortillas, and a basket of boneless barbeque wings to our table.  I thought for sure she was mistaken.
            “Thank you.”  Derek responded.
            “Are you expecting more people?”
            “Nah. Just wasn’t sure what you would like.  I did remember you loved root beer though.”  Derek still appeared to be disappointed, but not quite defeated.
            “You did good.”  I quickly decided I’d give my heart more room to roam; and just like that... I dropped another bag.  We shared a smile. 
            “So I was thinking we could do a party for Hannah.”  Derek went slower.
            “Can we talk about it tomorrow?”  I felt my heart move in and began occupying the space I had provided it. 
            “Let’s just enjoy the night.”  I directed.

            That night we danced, we laughed, we ate, and we talked.  I didn’t get home until eleven-thirty and still spent another two hours on the phone with my high school sweet heart.  I was amazed by how much Derek did remember about me, and how much of it was still really relevant.  Not to mention, how much we had in common even now; everything from music, to foods, to movies.  I wanted to know and share more, but we finally had to call it a night.  In bed, I thought about and recounted the night’s events, and found it hard to sleep.  Luckily, I was working from home the next day while the condo was being painted.  I finally must have fallen asleep sometime after three.  The next day I woke up at ten, and saw that I had missed a call from Derek.
            “Morning Jen!  Thank you for last night.  It was the most fun I had in a long time.  I can hardly wait to see you again.  Call me!”  It made me smile some more.

A Better Pair of Shoes, a novel © Grace Call Communications, LLC Copyright ©2010, 2016, 2017 by Natisha Renee Williams All Rights Reserved