“I read some parts that were, ah, hmm, pretty detailed.”
She snorts. “And you assumed I wrote them.” She shakes her head again. “And here I thought you knew me. But heck, I so wish I could live up to that assessment for just one hot night. There is a mysterious eroticism to that woman’s life that’s just…” She shivers. “Haunting. It, she, affects me.”
In some small way it comforts me to know she is as affected by the words on those pages as I am, and I don’t know why. What in the world do I need comfort for? It isn’t logical. Nothing about my reaction to this unknown woman is logical.
“Once David and I finish with the journal,” Ella continues, drawing me back into the conversation, “he’s going to take pictures of a few intimate pages for potential buyers and we’re listing the journals on eBay. They’re going to bring in big money. I just know it.”
I gape, appalled at this idea. “You can’t seriously intend on selling this woman’s personal thoughts on eBay?”
“Heck yeah, I do,” she says. “Making money is the name of the game. Besides, for all we know it’s all fiction.”
Her words are cold and she surprises me. This is not the Ella I know. “We are talking about a woman’s private thoughts, Ella. Surely, you don’t want to profit off of her pain.”
Her brows dip. “What pain? It sounds like all pleasure to me.”
“She lost everything she owns at auction. That isn’t pleasure.”
“I’m guessing her rich man flew her off to some exotic location and she is living life in a grand way.” Her voice turns somber. “I have to think like that to do this, Sara. Please don’t make me feel guilty. This is money I need and if I didn’t do this, some other buyer would have.”
I open my mouth to argue, but relent. Ella is alone in this world, with no family aside from an alcoholic father who doesn’t know his own name most of the time, let alone hers. I know she feels she has to have money for emergencies. I know that feeling myself all too well. I too am alone. Mostly, but I don’t want to think about that right now.
“I’m sorry,” I tell her and I mean it. “I know this is good for you. I’m happy it’s working out.”
Her lips curve slightly and she nods her acceptance before she pushes to her feet. I stand with her and give her a hug. She smiles, her mood transforming into the instant sunshine I so often find she brings into my life. I love Ella. I really do.
“David and I are looking forward to a bit of that spellbinding action ourselves tonight,” she announces mischievously. “I have to run.” She laughs and waves a few fingers at me. “Enjoy your night. I know I will.”
I sink back into my chair and watch the door close.
The sound of pounding on my door once again takes me from bliss to panic. I sit up in the bed, disoriented and groggy, and eye the clock. Seven in the morning on my first day off from classes.
“Who the heck is pounding on my door?” I grumble, throwing the blankets off me and sliding my feet into the pink fuzzy slippers one of my students gave me last Christmas. I grab my long pink robe that is not fuzzy, but does say ‘Pink’ across the back. More knocking has begun.
“Sara, it’s me, Ella!” I hear as I shuffle my way toward the living room. “Hurry! Hurry!”
My heart flutters because not only is Ella clearly in some sort of panic, but unlike me, who doesn’t like to waste a second of any day, Ella doesn’t get up before noon on days she doesn’t have to. The instant I yank open the door, Ella flings her arms around me and announces, “I’m eloping!”
“Eloping?!” I gasp, pulling back and tugging Ella inside, out of the chill of the early morning. She’s still wearing her clothes from the night before. “What are you talking about? What’s happening?”
“David proposed last night,” she exclaims excitedly. “I can hardly believe it. We’re flying to Paris this morning.” She eyes her watch and squeals. “In two hours.”
She shoves something into my hand. “That has the key to my apartment. On the kitchen table, you’ll find the journal and the key to the storage unit. If it’s not cleared out in two weeks, it has to be rented, or it’s auctioned off yet again. So take it and sell the stuff. The money is yours. Or let it go. Either way, it doesn’t matter.” She grins. “Because I’m eloping to Paris, then honeymooning in Italy!”
Protectiveness fills me for Ella. I don’t want her to get hurt and I’ve never even heard her say she loves David. “You’ve only known this man for three months, sweetie. I’ve only met him once.” He always, conveniently, got called away when we’d been planning to get together.
“I love him, Sara,” she says, as if reading my mind. “And he’s good to me. You know that.”
No, I don’t know that, but while I try to find the right way to say it, she is already reaching for the door. “Ella-”
“I’ll call you when I arrive in Paris, so keep your cell handy.”
“Wait!” I say, shackling her arm. “How long will you be gone?”
Her eyes light up with excitement. “A month. Can you believe it? A whole month in Italy. I’m living a dream.” She hugs me and gives me a kiss on the cheek. “I’ll call and when we get back we’ll have a reception.” Her eyes soften. “You know I wanted you with me for this, don’t you? But David knew I had no family. He wanted to whisk me away so that it wouldn’t be painful.” She pokes at the tuckered spot that always appears between my brows when I frown. “Stop making that face. It’ll be wrinkled when you get older. And I’m fine. I’m perfect, in fact.”