My stomach was in knots the whole journey making me want to turn around the plane, however there was no chance of that happening. When the plane finally comes to a rumbling stop, my nerves strangely calm. I realize that I was clutching the sapphire jeweled locket. It made my heart warm to believe that I was actually gripping something my father longed for me to own. I finally stood and exited the plane to meet Buddy.
As people parted, I glanced around quickly. A sign with "Mason" written on it catches my eye. A rather tall man in a business suit stood casually looking around. He had thinning hair and looked to be about the age that my father should be, if he were still alive. His towering frame wasn't intimidating though, he had a soft look upon his face, making him approachable.
"Buddy?" I cautiously asked the man, getting his attention.
"Are you Grace?" He beamed down at me. When I nod he opens his arms, setting a very welcoming tone to our first encounter. He could tell I was hesitant. "I understand if you don't want to hug a stranger."
"No," I shook my head before smiling. "It's fine," I wrapped my arms around him. He led me to the baggage claim after we embraced. There was a silence while we were waiting, it wasn't awkward at all, however as we stood, I observed him looking at some e-mails on his phone.
"Something entertaining you?" He murmured with a smile.
"You remind me a lot of my father."
"You remind me a lot of my daughter." He replied just as quickly.
"You have a daughter?" I was suddenly curious about this man's life.
"Yup, and you will get to meet her as soon as we get back to the apartment." Buddy slid his phone back into his pocket.
"Fair enough," I shrugged. My luggage rolled in front of us. He helped me pick it up and carry it out to the car that was awaiting us. "Is this your car?" I looked at the sleek black automobile that looked like it cost more than some of the houses I lived in.
"Yup," he gave the bags to the driver who placed them in the trunk. Opening the door for me, I thanked Buddy and slid in, not expecting any of this at all. It took a little while to get to his apartment. Meanwhile, he pointed out buildings and restaurants, explaining what they were and little stories that went with them. It was like my own personal tour. I laughed at his clever jokes and his smooth talk, it all reminded me of Father.
It didn't feel like a long journey but soon the car came to a stop. We were "at the heart of New York City", as Buddy stated it. It was an enormous building that shined and sparkled in the sunlight. The city was so glamorous, it was almost a fantasy world. Buddy helped me out of the car and the driver put our luggage on the corner. I was about to grab the bags when the bellman snatched them before me. After a doorman opened the large glass doors for us, I was introduced to even more luxury. The walls were golden and reflected the area of the room, making it seem bigger than it was. The lobby furniture was all white and modern looking. We hopped in the elevator and 37-storey later the doors opened. As Buddy talked to the bellman I walked in, a daze setting over me. The windows were two-storey high showing the city of New York. The furniture was sleek and modern, just like the lobby. There was so much room and it made me feel so small. Not even Rod and Lily could afford this.
"How do you like it?" Buddy asked when the bellman left.
"I love-" I was stopped by a screech that came from the top of the grand staircase. I looked up to find a girl who had to be my age with a shocked expression. I watched as she raced down the steps and a tall thin woman calmly fallowed her. The woman had to be Buddy's wife and the mystery girl's mother. She was thin as paper and her hair was slicked back in a very proper bun on the top of her head while she wore a gorgeous T-length pure white dress. Meanwhile the girl almost knocked me over with a hug.
"Heather, calm down there, sweetie," Buddy laughed as Heather pulled away.
"Sorry Dad, it's just so awesome to see her after all this time," Heather laughed pushing her long dark hair over her shoulders. Up close, she was flawless. Her eyes were green and her skin as pure as it could possibly be. I couldn't find a scar or freckle anywhere. She stood a little taller than me which obviously came from her parents.
"I'm sorry, do we know each other?" I asked, slightly confused.
"From a long time ago, my dear," the woman who was just as stunning as her daughter, joined the conversation.
"What do you mean?" I turned to Buddy.
"Grace, this is my wife, Cindy." He introduced us. We shuck hands but I repeated my question. He invited us all to sit on the couch and after Cindy poured us all some tea, Buddy started talking.
"A long time ago, your father and I started a business together here in the city. It was an advertising company. Pretty soon we both had gotten married and had babies on the way. Heather was born first, then you were born a few weeks later. When your mother passed, he had no idea what he was doing. He was grieving and trying to raise a little girl at the same time. So, we practically raised both of you guys together, we spent a lot of holidays and Sunday brunches together. We would bring you and Heather to the park to play, you even went to pre-school together." He pulled out a book of photos that I flip threw.
He was telling the truth.
Birthday, Christmas, summer evenings; they were all there. A small bleach blonde me and black-haired beauty, Heather, would stand next to each other with giggling faces. My eyes filled with tears and my mind filled with questions.
"How do I not remember any of this?" I shook my head as some of the tears started to escape.
"You were so traumatized by your motherless home and your father's death, it's not surprising that the only thing you remember about your childhood is memories of him," Cindy calmly reassured me with a hand on my back, almost like a motherly touch that I was unfamiliar with.
"You have to think about the positive," Heathers angelic voice chimed in. We all looked at her, "We have a chance now to reconnect."
She was right. Anything that I had possibly related to a family was sitting with me now. I couldn't let this chance slip out of my reach. I smiled at them all, "I am so-blessed to have you guys now."
"I'm glad you accepted our invitation. Now to get to the second half of your present," Buddy reached for an envelope in his jacket pocket. When he handed it to me he said, "Happy Birthday."
I hesitantly open the envelope, not sure what my father would leave me at this point in my life. When I saw all the big words and numbers, I wasn't quite sure what I was looking at. I gave Buddy a puzzled look and he answered my unspoken question, "Your father was a very smart business man and saved up a lot of money for you. He invested it in the right places that only raked in more money over the last 18 years. This is your bank account." He looked at the sheet and points at a number at the bottom. "That's how much is in there right now."
My jaw dropped and the letter fell from my hands.
There was so many zeros, I didn't even take the chance to count them all.
It took a long time to grip what was happening. Cindy kept asking if I were okay and Buddy just chuckled a little. I finally got words out of my mouth,
"Yes, yes I am."
"I think this calls for celebration," Buddy stood, clapping his hands together.
"What kind of celebration, Darling?" Cindy asked.
"Not for us, my dear. I have a friend whose son is opening a new club tonight. I left Grace and Heather's names at the door. I thought Heather could show you a night out on the town. What do you say?" Buddy beamed at me warmly. It was as if he genuinely cared. I glanced over at Heather who was excitedly bouncing in her chair.
"Today has been kind of a whirlwind, so why not?" I accepted.
Banana Girl: Thanks, I hope you like it as the plot develops.
Anne: Oh girl, it gets so much crazier.
Please tell me what you think! So much more to come!
Chasing Grace - Chapter 2Arriving in the Big Apple.
By joslyn miller