True to her word, Jess had been a masterful project manager, overseeing Action Item Number One on her To-Do-List: Get William a Job. I’d had plenty of nibbles, loads of close chances, and so many opportunities in my hands. After Riley had mentioned wanting to expand her next slate of productions globally like other shops were doing, Jess had tracked down a part-time opening at a studio that was importing its TV series to Asia. I’d worked part-time four nights a week teaching basic Japanese to a group of their executives, and the HR manager had loved my work. But the gig was temporary. The executives only needed basic skills, and the studio wasn’t committing to full-time employment. Then, the agency that had snubbed me for not having graduated yet called, desperate for help when a translator went on medical leave for knee surgery. But her knee healed in four weeks, and that was the end of my job there.
I’d come up short, and even though I wanted to rail against the system, the fact was this was how the system worked. Finding a permanent job for a non-citizen was phenomenally difficult. You had to have the most unique skills. I had them, but there were simply no openings.
“I hate the suitcases, too,” I echoed. “Let’s stop looking at them. Maybe if we don’t see them, I don’t have to go,” I said, wishing we could delay the inevitable by ignoring it. Pulling her up from the couch, I led her to my bedroom where I stripped her naked and she did the same for me. I joined her under the covers, tasting the salty streak of her tears as I kissed her while making love to her.
It wouldn’t be our last time. I was leaving on Monday, two days from now, and surely there would be many more times. The problem was, I fell deeper in love with her every second I spent with her, and that was going to make Monday suck even harder. The last two months with her had been the best of my life. Not that I had gobs and gobs of years to compare it to, but even at twenty-one, I knew a love like this came around once in a blue moon.
* * *
* * *
Lying on my side in his bed, I ran my hand down his waist, over his hips, along his thigh. I was memorizing him for later, even though he was imprinted on me. Even without him here, I could close my eyes and picture every muscle and line in his hard body. But in forty-eight hours, memories would be all I had left of him.
We had agreed that it made no sense to continue this long-distance. With med school starting in September, I wasn’t going to be in a position to fly to England and visit him on weekends. Nor did I have the kind of spare cash lying around to fund that sort of travel. The money from selling my life story to Riley had covered a full two and a half years of medical school, and that’s where every single cent went.
“I’ll miss you every day,” I said, my voice etched with sadness I didn’t even try to mask. I was sad; I was ridiculously sad. I wasn’t going to hide it. “Someday, when you’re old and married to some fabulous English woman, I hope you’ll still look back on me fondly as the girl you fell in love with your last year of college in America.”
He pressed a finger to my lips, shushing me. “You will be more than that. And I haven’t given up hope. Maybe I’ll land a job in London, and I’ll request a transfer here in a few months, and we’ll be together again.”
I shot him a look as if to say don’t be silly. “That only happens in the movies.”
“But you believe in the movies, don’t you?” he said, insistent in the possibility that there might be another us someday. He was always the dreamer; I was always more practical. I was science; he was words. The statistical probability of us working out was slim to none.
“Sure,” I said, but my answer sounded noncommittal even to me.
“You never know what fate has in store,” he said, then whispered something to me in Italian.
This time I knew what it meant, because he’d taught me. He’d taught me all the things he said when we were making love. His words this time were both beautiful and sexy, and they filled me with joy and sorrow as he told me how much he loved me, more than he’s ever loved anyone, more than he ever will, and how he’ll miss every inch of me inside and out.
Later that night, as I lay awake in his bed, staring out the window, searching for something that wasn’t destined to come true, I was blinded with a possibility. Out of nowhere, like a comet tearing through the sky, blasting a message just for me, I knew the answer. I had it with me all along. It had never been far away from me. It had always been a part of me.