One | When She Meets Him
The downpour was heavy, same as it was the night before. It hadn’t stopped since then. And Cassidy had been stuck at the central library for the whole night.
She wondered if her mother would be worrying about her. She wondered if her father would be losing his patience against informing the police about their missing daughter. But she knew all too well that that wasn’t the case. Heck, that wasn’t anywhere near the reality. It was just a thought and a hope that Cassidy always had whenever she was away from the house for hours more than necessary.
She knew all too well that her parents would either be in China or Japan or Paris or anywhere on the other side of the world, signing a new deal with some big enterprise. It was only three days ago that they had returned, late at midnight, from their week long trip to India. Another big capture for them. And they had celebrated by arranging another big meeting with another big company and were off the very next day for another business trip somewhere in Europe.
Cassidy sighed as she looked out of the window. It hadn’t been all the same before. They had been a perfect normal family, like every other of her ex-school mates. Fifteen years ago, it had been a fairytale life she led. A caring mother who would cook for her, drop and pick her from school, play hide and seek with her and would gush about the movies they watched together.
A loving father who would return home by nine in the evening with Cassidy’s favorite chocolates, her favorite toys and other amazing gifts, who would tickle her till she was in tears because of laughing so much, who would give her piggy back rides out in the lawn and who would take her to beaches every Sunday for picnics.
And then it all changed when one evening her father didn’t bring her any gifts but a news that they’ll be moving to New York. It was a hell news to little seven year old Cassidy. Seattle was her home, not New York, but she couldn’t explain that to her lovely father. He had already made up his mind to have his own start up company.
Miraculously, the Taylors and Co. became pretty famous and successful in the next two years of being founded. The growth of the company was a shocker to everyone in New York City. Many companies viewed Taylors and Co. as threat and formed alliance with others but nothing could stop her father’s company from growing into one of the biggest risk analysis companies in the country. Eventually, her father got busier, it was a given. Now there were no more father-daughter moments as he had to work till late night. She even stopped receiving any gifts from him. Slowly, her mother too, drifted apart, as she too, made herself busy in the company.
“We’re doing this all for you, sweetheart. We will earn money that will provide you anything you want for in this world.” Her mother had told her one night when she had complained about them missing her first poetry competition in fifth grade.
“Anything?” Little Cassidy had asked.
“Yes darling.” Her father had assured.
“Even you and mommy?” The innocent child in her had questioned her father.
Sure enough, both her parents had left without answering that question and at that moment she knew that she could get anything with the money her parents were earning but not them, or their time.
And at that moment, she had missed Seattle. She had missed her home, her mother, her father and her old normal life where her parents didn’t even miss her first ballet performance when she was four or her first painting competition where she had used herself as canvas and her dad had laughed joining her in painting their faces into clowns in third grade. And she knew she would give anything to go back to how it used to be.
She was sitting at her favorite spot in the library looking out of the window as the clouds refused to stop raining and only increased their peltdown. It was on the second floor, hidden in the corner, a small booth for two by the window that overlooked the busy streets and other realities of the Big Apple. Nobody came that side ever, it was hidden too much in the corner for anyone to notice it at first glance. And maybe that’s why she liked it there. Because she could be alone and undisturbed and find her solace.
It had been more than twenty four hours that she had been away from home. And no one had called her to ask her whereabouts. The only person who had cared about her after the temporary-yet-permanent disappearance of her parents was her older sister by two years, Danielle. When Cassidy’s parents had gone all MIA into business, Danielle had played the role of both. She had been her mother and father for next ten years before she had to leave for college. She didn’t want to leave her alone but Cassidy had insisted. And therefore, now she was, all alone in this big city for almost five years now.
Her phone beeped indicating it was seven in the morning.
She had to get home, she thought. Collecting her stuff which included her iPhone, Beats headphones, her hardcover copy of the HUNGER GAMES - MOCKING JAY and her Starbucks take-away cup, she made her way downstairs. Fortunately, the central library had Starbucks as it’s neighbor else it would have been difficult for her to spend the night here. Luckily, due to the heavy downpour since last night, many readers just like her were stuck here and the librarian had been too nice to let them all stay for the night.
It still hadn’t stopped raining but she needed to be at home. She was tired and her muscles were aching. She needed to sleep and after a long day of work and after being stuck in the library for the whole night, she sure wasn’t up for anything else. Well, if it was food then she could have made an exception.
“Leaving?” Bobby, the librarian asked her as soon as she stepped out in the main area.
“I’ve been here for almost half a day, Bobby. I need to sleep.” She nodded as she answered to the named person.
“Very well. Can’t say I can have that too.” Bobby said with a small smile and glanced around the library and counting the number of people still on the first floor.
Thirteen. That was the number she could see. How many were actually there, she had no idea.
“You could have asked Yasmin for help.” Cassidy smiled too, following Bobby’s gaze.
“Oh, she already does extra shifts five days a week. I just can’t have her Saturday off too now, can I?” Bobby shook her head.
Just like her name, the woman adorned auburn hair cut into bob. Small wrinkles creased near her eyes as she smiled making her look older than she already was. For being in her late thirties, she sure looked like a woman in her mid to late forties.
“Guess then you’ll have to deal with this all alone.” Cassidy shrugged.
“Or maybe I will call my nephew.”
“I wonder if Ethan will help. If anything, he’ll hit on girls, or even the women present here.” She snickered.
“Don’t have much choice, girly. Now, I won’t take much of your time. Go and have some rest.” Bobby offered a goodbye smile.
“Later then, Bobby.” Cassidy waved as she made her way out of the big wooden doors which seemed too old to be of this era.
The rain still hasn’t stopped and it was a miracle that there hasn’t been even a bit of water clogging. Back in Seattle, where her happy residence was, it would always get water clogged when it rained for more than a few hours and she and her dad would play with paper boats.
Happy Days. Cassidy smiled to herself.
When she let reality sink in a few moments later, she realized she had no umbrella, neither her car. All she had was a small satchel that was already heavy with the weight of the book she had been reading and her headphones. She shivered as the cool breeze hit her bare skin. Her loose boyfriend jeans covered her legs only till mid-calf and her crop-top was sleeveless. The only thing that seemed sensible right now was her flip-flops because she couldn’t bear her Converse getting dirty and wet in this rain.
She began running her mind. How to get home was the first and the most important question on her mind. She couldn’t possibly walk twenty minutes in this heavy rain to get to her not-so-humble abode. She could have called Mike or Bill asking either to pick her up but her self esteem was greater than using the vehicles her parents had bought which she swore to never use.
The door to the library behind her squeaked open and someone came out and stood right beside Cassidy.
“Shitty day, Shitty rain.” She heard the person mutter.
She glanced up to her right to see a boy her age, probably a year or two older, standing beside her and making cringing faces at the sight in front of them. He must have sensed someone’s eyes on him as he turned towards her. Cassidy looked away immediately, a hot blush rising up her neck. She had been caught staring!
“You caught up in rain too, eh?” He asked her.
Cassidy nodded even though her mind focused on his hot Canadian-British mixed accent rather than the question itself but she didn’t look his way. “Yeah, but unlike you, I don’t feel that rain is shitty. And for the day, well, it has just begun.”
She managed to say all that without croaking or stuttering. It was a surprise considering how much of an introvert she was and how much awkward her social life was, not to forget that it was a guy she was speaking to.
“I’m guessing you’re a pluviophile then, and an optimistic.” He said as he nodded towards the sky, his gaze now returning to the streets where the cars rushed and the traffic didn’t seem to mind the heavy rain.
“Lover of rain, yes. Optimistic, no. I’d rather say realistic. The day has just begun.” Cassidy offered, stealing a quick glance at him. She saw his lips curve up in slightest.
“Sure. But isn’t it bad that the start is bad already?” He asked.
“Maybe, but that doesn’t really offer the rest of the day being bad.” She reasoned.
“That’s exactly what optimists say.” He smirked.
When Cassidy didn’t reply, he nudged her shoulders.
“I don’t have a reason to be. Partially, you’re right.” She shrugged.
“I know.” His smirk returned, “And that’s what makes you a realistic, I guess, - you accepting that I’m partially right.”
A small smile grew itself on Cassidy’s lips.
“Aren’t you cold?” The boy asked, having noticed Cassidy’s attire. She felt herself blush in embarrassment again but controlled it, somehow. She nodded instead.
“I am. And I am stupid too.” She said gesturing towards her too summary dress for New York’s weather.
The guy chuckled.
“Getting home?” He asked after a few seconds of silence.
“Trying to.” Was her reply, followed by a sigh at the realization of the reality.
“And how are you planning on doing it?” He dropped another question, the one that she had been asking herself too.
Cassidy merely shrugged. “No idea. I’ve been trying to figure out the same for past fifteen minutes.”
A few moments of silence followed after she saw him nod at her last answer.
“Where do you live?” She heard him ask out of blue.
“Why do you think I will tell you that? For all I know, you could be a stalker.” The paranoid Cassidy said. Her only companion for past ten minutes smirked.
“Of course. Next I’m waiting for you to ask if I’m the guy with a chainsaw from Texas. I’m answering that already, yes, I have a chainsaw hidden in my back pocket.” He mocked.
Cassidy eyed him wearily. He was strange, weird, odd. Although, his looks didn’t do justice to her accusations at all. Bronze brown hair seemed soft as silk. Broad forehead, high cheekbones and sharp, chiseled jawline screamed gorgeous. And boy, those magnetic grey-ish blue eyes! They for sure made Cassidy’s breath hitch for a second. She stared at him as if trying to figure him out but not too much to be labelled as ogling. When she didn’t find any sort of danger in him, she sighed.
"3746, Georgia’s Street. Twenty minutes down the road. Now what?”
“Great. We have to go the same way, though I live another ten minutes down the same road. Now, let’s go.” He grabbed her wrist and took a step forward.
As if on instinct, she yanked her arm out if his hold and glared at him in confusion. “What are you doing?”
“Taking us both home.” He shrugged.
“Yeah? And how exactly? If you can’t see, it’s still raining. If I had to get drenched, I would have long gone. Alone.” Cassidy said pointing towards the sky.
“Jeez, Woman! I have something - an idea.” He said as he shrugged out if his jacket, an expensive leather jacket to be specific.
When she didn’t understand, Cassidy raised an eyebrow in question asking him to explain.
“Well, my jacket will cover us up, our heads at least. Now come on.” He answered her unvoiced question and pulled her to his side, covering both their head with his jacket as he looked down at her.
She looked up at him, one question dancing in her mind. “Why are you helping me?”
He just shrugged. “We have to go the same way. Being a gentleman that I am, I can drop you off on my way to my place.”
Cassidy could all but nod.
“Shall we?” He asked after adjusting his jacket above them once more. Another nod from her and they made a run to the other side of the road.
“You know,” he began after five minutes onto the road, “Your plan to not get wet is being completely a failure because you keep walking out of the cover. I don’t bite, you know. You can scoot closer.”
“It’s fine. I’m fine.” Cassidy replied. She had never been this close to any boy, let alone share an umbrella, or in this case, an expensive leather jacket. Feeling weird was all she could do.
“Oh, of course you are.” He rolled his eyes. “I’m just saying for the sake of your bag. I don’t want my offer to help be a failure too if you really want to walk out of this.” He said nodding towards the jacket that has been their temporary shelter.
Reluctantly, Cassidy scooted closer. Her arm brushed against his side and she felt weird.
Another five minutes passed and Cassidy found herself snaking an arm around the said boy’s waist subconsciously and scooted closer to him to keep herself and her satchel safe from being drenched. She felt a hearty chuckle vibrate through his body.
“What?!” She asked, still red and hot from blushing.
“Nothing, it’s just that just five minutes ago you were walking as far away from me as possible under this rain and now you’re holding tight on my waist.” He replied.
Cassidy blushed again when he stated the obvious. Not taking enough time to recover from her embarrassment, she said, “I’m just trying to make sure your plan for helping me isn’t a failure.”
He chuckled again. “How thoughtful.”
The next ten minutes were spent in silence, a comfortable one, where Cassidy’s hold on the gorgeous boy went tight and his arms over her shoulders in a protective posture, covering both him and her from getting drenched. Still, the rain made sure to get their lower body drenched, if not for their heads.
Soon, they both reached to a stop. 3746, Georgia’s Street. The journey seemed too short to both if them. Twenty minutes flew by too fast than normal.
“My stop. Right here.” Cassidy said as soon as they reached in front of the big beige and brown colored manor on the said street.
The Taylors - was imprinted on the black nameplate with golden borders and in golden italics.
“Rich people, huh?” He asked as he eyed the manor. It looked elegant from where they stood, or from anywhere on the same street, probably the biggest mansion on the street.
“Unfortunately.” Cassidy whispered though the statement was rhetorical. Her voice returned to normal as she offered him to come in. “Want to come in?”
“Nah. I better be on my way. Just ten minutes more with the rain. 4985, Diamond Circle. That’s my stop.” He said as he stood under the watchman cabin, shrugging off water from his jacket.
“Okay. Thanks for the help, though. I really mean it.” She offered him a smile.
“Don’t mention. I’ll get going. See you around?” He said as he stepped out in rain again, covering his head with his jacket again.
“Yeah, see you around.” She said as he turned around and walked in the direction of his home. He made sure to wave over his shoulders and Cassidy found herself waving back, even though he couldn’t see her.
“You’re back, Miss Taylor.” Mike, the watchman in his late forties smiled at her. “I see you brought a boy.”
“It’s Cassidy for you, Mike. And he isn’t some boy. He just helped me in rain.” Cassidy answered.
Mike nodded in understanding. “Alright, I’ll get you back to the porch. You’ve been gone since yesterday morning. How was work?”
Cassidy nodded as Mike picked up his umbrella from the side of the drawer. “Yeah, I know. The work was same, the usual. All summer jobs are same but at least it helps me pass my time doing something productive. And I stopped by the library too. That’s when it started raining and I got stuck until this morning when he offered to help me.”
By the time she explained this to the old man, they were already outside the main doors of the house.
“I understand. Now go on in and change into something warm. Ask Margaret to prepare something warm, okay?” Mike smiled.
“Thanks Mike. I will! See you later.” She returned his smile and ran into her house, the house which could never be home.