Happy holidays! Here is my contribution to the Eight Ladies 2015 Short Story Challenge. I hope you enjoy meeting Maggie and George as much as I did.
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Maggie knew her time dating Antonio, aka the Manhattan Casanova, was limited, she just hadn’t realized their relationship was over until New York fashion week rolled around.
Gabriella had big dark eyes, legs that went on forever, and a long, thin neck. It was no mystery why she was nicknamed The Giraffe, especially in the leopard print gown she was currently modelling.
Rumor had it she was attempting to break free of an abusive relationship. Antonio never could resist a damsel in distress. During the show, he had eyes only for Gabriella and Maggie doubted he even remembered she was sitting beside him.
After the show they said their goodbyes, she hailed a cab, and that was that; an inauspicious end to what had been a whirlwind affair full of lavish parties, horseback rides through the park, romantic poetry, and thoughtful gifts.
Maggie had met Antonio on an unseasonably cold day in October on the Staten Island Ferry. She had no coat and he offered his. He was an ideal escort – passionate, witty, charming, and generous – but like the real Casanova, he was drawn to the quest for pleasure and sex like a moth to the flame.
She wasn’t foolish enough to have ever believed herself in love with him, so she felt no real heartbreak now. What she felt was mostly a disinclination to jump back into the dating pool anytime soon.
For the next few weeks her friends happily cast Antonio in the villain role, but she knew better. He was like rich, decadent chocolate cake – perfect for celebrations, but not meant for everyday consumption. In all honesty, she missed his friends more than she missed him; especially his good friend George. They had struck up a friendship during her time with Antonio and he had made her laugh more than anyone she’d ever known.
When she ran into George at the Met a month or so later while admiring the Van Gogh collection, she felt a rush of happiness. They walked through the galleries and then had ice cream in the park before going their separate ways.
Over the next few months, they saw each other more and more frequently, falling into a comfortable friendship over picnics, walks, movies, and 4th of July firecrackers.
It was September before he gave any indication that he was interested in being more than just friends, but she wasn’t ready and he didn’t push the matter.
At Thanksgiving he invited her to come home with him, but she declined. Meeting his family would signal a relationship and she preferred to keep him firmly in the “friend zone.” It’s not that she didn’t like him. She really did, but if they moved to the next step and things didn’t work out, she’d end up losing her best friend. She wasn’t willing to risk that.
As Christmas approached, she knew it was time make a decision. George had apparently reached the same conclusion. Inside the Christmas card he sent her was the message:
Start the New Year with me.
I’ll be staying in a little boutique Manhattan hotel for New Year’s Eve and have reserved room for you, in the hope that you’ll join me.
Meet me on the rooftop at 11:45. The view of the ball-top is something you don’t want to miss.
Maggie debated what to do.
She knew the offer meant more than just “celebrate New Year’s Eve” with me.
In the end, she knew she had to take the chance; to believe that the possibility of what they could have was worth the risk.
As she checked into the hotel the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, she couldn’t help remembering that last year at this time she was ushering in the New Year at a Broadway Terrace party – the most elite-ticket in town – with breathtaking views of the city, big-name musicians, and award winning cuisine. Dressed in red velvet and sky-high heels she and Antonio had danced the night away. It seemed a lifetime ago.
This year it was slim jeans, a turtleneck sweater, and boots to ward off the snowy weather.
When the clock read 11:41, she shrugged into her coat, wrapped a scarf around her neck, and pulled on her gloves. She had to have faith that she was making right decision; that she wasn’t about to lose her best friend.
With her resolve firmly in place, she left her room, found the stairs leading to the rooftop, and began the short climb to a New Year full of possibilities.
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