The limo disappeared and I was overwhelmed with emotion and I started to cry. I felt alone suddenly and the intensity of the feeling caught me off guard. It was stupid, I told myself. He’ll be back. It’s only a few hours. Rick put his arm around my shoulder to comfort me and I immediately felt embarrassed.
“I’m sorry. I’m just being stupid. I don’t know what’s wrong with me” I apologized.
“It’s okay. He’ll be back soon” he said, looking at me sympathetically. “He loves you. I’ve known Jon a long time and I’ve never seen him look at anybody the way he looks at you. Dorothea included” he added. I was immediately grateful for his compassion.
“Thank you. I promise I won’t make you spend the afternoon with an emotional basket case. I’m fine really. Where should we go first?” I said, resolving to pull myself together.
“Well, anything you would want is here somewhere. What are you looking for, exactly?” he asked.
“Clothes first. And somewhere to buy a cocktail dress, I guess. And then food for dinner. I have to feed that man”.
“Yeah. He has quite an appetite, doesn’t he?” Rick chuckled.
“Holy shit, you aren’t kidding!” I laughed back.
I looked around the plaza, but the stores weren’t familiar.
“I need help with that evening dress the most. I’ve never been in the market for something like that. Any ideas?” I asked and Rick thought for a moment.
“C’mon. I know the place” he said as he turned and I followed his lead. We stopped in front of a swanky-type place I’d never have gone into otherwise.
“Here. I think you might find something here” he suggested.
He held the door and I walked in. It wasn’t a large store, but it was well-stocked with beautiful things. I felt out of place immediately and figured I looked it. Trying not to show it, I casually browsed through the racks, noticing the price tags and swallowing hard. Shit! The prices were more than my monthly mortgage! I contained my reaction and held up a short black strapless dress. It just wasn’t me. This was going to be harder than I thought. I shook my head and Rick nodded agreement. A saleswoman drifted over nonchalantly.
“Can I help you?” she inquired.
“I hope so. I’m looking for something for a party later in the week” I explained and she nodded.
“What kind of party? Casual or formal?” she asked curiously and I felt stupid then as I didn’t know where we were going and I looked helplessly at Rick.
“It’s a cocktail party at the Hilton for the band. Lots of record industry execs and celebrities” he answered her for me and I thanked him silently.
“You’ll need something fancy” she nodded. She studied me then, with a finger on her lips, thinking. “Black is always safe, but with your hair and your eyes, I think green or blue. Let’s go over here.”
She led me to another spot in the store and I let her take charge. She held up different dresses and I shook my head yes or no as she piled them on the door of the dressing room. When she came to a deep teal blue one I caught my breath.
That was it, I thought. It was me. It looked like it was made for the Queen of the Fairies. There were layers of fabric, burnt out velvet and silk. And it had fringe. It had fringe. This was definitely me. It was almost Grecian style, draping loosely over one shoulder, gathered at the opposite side and ending in layers of uneven fabric edged with fringe just below the knee. It was gorgeous.
“You’ll need a wrap to go with this and I have the perfect one” the saleslady said, as she placed it on the door and returned the others to the rack.
I stood there looking at it, mesmerized. She returned with a long, scarf-like wrap in midnight blue silk. It was perfect.
“Try it on” Rick encouraged.
I hesitated, feeling almost a little dazed. The saleswoman handed it to me, urging me to go ahead as she opened the door of the dressing room. I took off my shirt and jeans and stepped into it, zippering the back, and peered at myself in the mirror. I barely recognized my own reflection. I slipped the wrap over my shoulders and twirled. The fabric swayed and swirled about my legs and I immediately hoped we would have a chance to dance. This was too wonderful to waste on just standing around. It was perfect. Dramatic and sensuous, rather than overtly sexual. I stepped out of the dressing room to model it, hoping Rick would tell me if it was something Jon would like. His reaction was inspiring. He caught his breath and smiled.
“You’ll kill him. Jesus, he’ll have a heart attack” he said to me as I looked him in the eye.
“Is it too much? Tell me” I demanded, immediately reaching for the price tag.
“No, no!” he answered, catching my hand before I could see the price. “It’s perfect. She’ll take it” he turned to the waiting saleswoman.
She was smiling. Her commission was probably more than my week’s salary I thought ruefully. Rick leaned to whisper in my ear.
“Jon’s gonna thank me for this when he sees you, trust me on this” he winked.
I nodded and disappeared into the dressing room, almost hating to change back into my own clothes. As we left the store it occurred to me that I had no shoes I could wear with such an outfit.
“Rick, I need shoes. I can’t wear boots or sandals with this!” I said anxiously.
“There’s a shoe store here. Relax” he said like a trooper, and I followed him to the next stop. I found a pair of espadrilles with satin laces and heels and breathed a sigh of relief. There was even a matching purse with peacock feathers around the edge.
“Mission accomplished” I announced.
“Next?” he asked.
“Is there a regular Department Store here? I could use some basic clothes and stuff.”
I had no idea what Jon had at his place and finding a bathroom wouldn’t hurt either, I thought.
“It’s all pretty high-end stuff, but there are a couple places we could try.” he said, scanning around and we found a Macy’s.
I felt a little more at ease then. I excused myself to use the ladies room and called my best friend quickly.
“I can’t talk long…” I began as I hurriedly told her the gist of what all had happened. She had a hundred questions and I promised to tell her the details when I had more time alone.
“Don’t worry about the cats, for God’s sake. I’ll take care of them as long as you need. Just call me when you can talk, girl” was how we ended it and I promised I would.
We passed an hour and a half as I loaded up the cart with everything I thought I would need. I bought panties and jeans, a blouse and a jean skirt and some tank tops.
“It’s still cold at night, you might want some warmer clothes” Rick suggested, so I added a sweatshirt and a warm sweater to the cart.
“Now, I want to find stuff for Jon. I don’t want to keep looking at that stupid t-shirt for another week” I commented.
“He actually has other clothes at his place, but a hint wouldn’t hurt him any” my companion chuckled. I threw in a couple “wife-beaters” so I’d be guaranteed the opportunity to drool over his biceps and I picked out a black micro suede shirt I just wanted to see on him.
"One more thing" I announced as I headed towards the toy department. Rick looked at me with a question when I added a life-size stuffed cat to the cart.
"I thought I should break him in gently" I said as I explained about my cats. He looked doubtful, but didn’t comment. Finally we were done and after checking out we sat down outside to smoke.
“What time is it?” I asked and. Rick looked at his watch.
“Nearly four-thirty” he answered. It had been four hours since I said goodbye to Jon. I was feeling anxious.
“How far is it to Rumson from here?” I asked, nervously.
“It’s about twenty minutes away” he answered. I did the math. He’d been with his family about three and a half hours, roughly. Chill out, I told myself.
“Let’s get a drink” I suggested.
Rick led the way to a nearby outside café and we sat down where we could keep an eye on the cart. I ordered a glass of wine to settle my nerves and Rick ordered a beer. We sat there silently, sipping our drinks. At about quarter after five Rick’s cell phone rang. My heart skipped a beat.
“It’s Jon” he handed the phone to me.
“Jon?” I asked excitedly.
“It’s me, babe. I’m almost ready to head back and collect you. I’ve got a quick stop to make and I should be there in about half an hour. Did you finish your shopping?” He sounded tired, but okay.
“All but the food, but that won’t take long. Are you okay?” I had to ask.
“It was rough at first, but it went better than I expected. I’ll tell you about it when I see you, okay?” he said, sounding calm.
I felt better. I was anxious to hear about it, but I’d rather wait until we could talk privately.
“Okay. Anything special you want for dinner?” I asked, trying to sound casual.
“Just you, darlin’. Be there soon” and he hung up. I swallowed the last of my wine and Rick drained his glass.
“Let’s get the food” he said. “Jon’s never late”.