Nothing had changed about her. Her hair was still a fire red. Curly and messy. It was shorter, but still styled in the Grace Ashmore way. I reached down for her hand. I wasn’t sure if she would take it; I wouldn’t be surprised if she doesn’t. I’m literally her ex that she probably thought she would never see ever again. Yet here we are.
I almost dropped her when she grabbed onto my hand to help her get up. I pulled her up as she got balanced on her feet. She’s wearing heels. She’s wearing heels. I gave her the remaining papers that I picked up from the floor. She looked at me, not saying anything. I waited for her to leave; it’s what she was probably going to do anyway. But she didn’t. She just stood there, speechless.
“Can we get another order of what Grace was having?” I said to the guy behind the counter. He nodded and began to make another drink for her. I took out my wallet and took the money out for the drink. She could’ve left at any given time since I helped her up from the ground. But she stayed.
“Do you want to sit?” I asked her. She still hasn’t said anything, and it’s nearly killing me. I haven’t heard her voice in almost a year and never thought I’d be even in the same room as her, let alone get the opportunity to sit with her at the cafe, where we met almost two years ago.
She still didn’t say anything, she just sat at the table, our table. The guy calls out Grace’s concoction of a drink, in which I walked up to the counter to pick it up.
“You’re Jamie?” the guy whispers to me. I looked at him perplexed.
“I am,” I answered. The guy nods his head and gets some tissues and a lid for the drink.
“Hopefully this is the last I see of Grace like this,” he said in a more serious tone than before. I take the drink and tissues and take it to Grace. Did she talk about me?
I sat at the table across from Grace and handed her the drink. She took it, still not saying a word, and began to sip on it. I looked at her while she drank. Am I really sitting across from her?
“How have you been?” I finally asked. She looked at me, in deep thought. I wanted nothing more to hear her voice. I also couldn’t help but ask, and a part of me wish I didn’t.
“How’s little bean?” I asked, smiling. Grace began to gather her things to walk out of the cafe. “Wait, Grace!” I called out for her, but she didn’t turn around. It felt inappropriate to go after her. She’s not yours anymore.
The guy behind the counter must’ve seen her walk out the door, because it wasn’t long after until he came walking to where I was sitting. Aigoo, am I getting kicked out? God knows what this man knows about me. I looked at him as he sat in the seat Grace was sitting at before.
“She’s been running out of here for as long as I’ve known her,” the guy said.
“Does she run often?” I stupidly asked. Of course she did. She always runs.
“Only when she’s running late to work, never after a hangover,” he stated. I leaned back on the seat, trying to put it all together. Was I just wasting my time?
“She would talk about you a lot when she comes in here drunk,” he randomly said out loud. I looked at him, waiting for him to continue his thought. He looked at me and takes in a deep breath, followed by a sigh. He gets up and takes the drink from the table.
“What would she say?” I asked out of the blue. Here I am, in this goddamn cafe, asking a complete stranger about the woman I couldn’t stop thinking about since going back to Korea last year. He turned around and just stares at me.
“Maybe you should ask her, sonny,” he answered. Before I began to plead for some answers, I vote against it; Grace is not yours anymore.
I get up from the table and walk past the guy and out of the cafe. The air hits my chest harder than usual. I need to talk to her. I had an idea, although it would be slightly invasive, I know I needed to do it. I couldn’t stay in New York without knowing about Grace.
I followed a woman to a door in a long hallway. Not much of this place has changed, just the people who occupy these offices. The woman knocks on a door that is labeled, Arissa Johnson, Esq.
“Ms. Johnson? You have a visitor,” the woman says as she opens the door. Once Ari sees me, her face instantly changes.
“Bitch, it’s too early to go for lunch yet,” Ari says, straightening out the papers on her desk. I remember when I would constantly do the same every morning, in hopes that they stayed together as the day go. Maybe it’s some lawyer shit that they all do. I look at the woman, whose eyes widen at the change in Ari’s voice. I guess Ari noticed and began to clear her throat.
“Thank you, Kim,” Ari said without any tone in her voice. The door closes behind me, and Ari doesn’t wait to start off the conversation.
“You’re never here this early unless Bernie calls and says you’re drunk,” Ari said, clearly surprised at my presence. I took in a deep breath, not knowing how the hell I was going to word this next part.
I sit down at the chair across from her desk. Ari doesn’t notice that I haven’t said much until she stops what she’s doing. She looks at me when she does.
“You good?” Ari finally asks me. I shift in my seat, trying to make myself comfortable before I say what I need to say. Ari grows more concerned the longer I take to answer.
“Grace?” Ari questions.
“I saw Jamie today at the cafe,” I finally blurted out.