Sure Thing(15)

by Jana Aston

This man is a distraction. And while I’m enjoying the distraction, I can’t risk one. If I get Daisy fired this week she’s not getting paid for this tour. If she’s not getting paid then I’m not getting paid—and that’s a problem. My savings have dwindled to almost nothing and I can’t live on my sister’s couch forever. Or go to jail. Do people go to jail for impersonating another person if they had that person’s consent? I’m in way over my head. And I will never get a new job with an arrest record.

“So what am I to call you during the daytime?” Jennings asks, interrupting my thoughts. “Am I to call you ‘love’ or is that reserved for when we’re alone?”

Oh, yeah. Forgot about that problem.

“You can call me Daisy,” I say as breezily as possible. “The ‘love’ thing is just a sexual fetish.”

“I thought it was an Anglophile fetish,” he reminds me. He’s really turning out to be a pain in the ass. Which reminds me about last night. He might have a bit of an ass fetish with his roving fingertip. I had no idea a finger there could make me orgasm like I did. No idea. None. Nada. I sorta want him to do it again.

“That’s what I meant, guv’nor,” I say in a stupid British accent. Holy hell, someone stop me. “It’s my sexual Anglophile fetish,” I add in my normal voice with a nod. I sound insane. I cannot believe this guy wants to have sex with me. Well, maybe he won’t after this. That’d solve at least one of my problems right now, wouldn’t it? I really like having sex with him though.

Why is nothing in my life simple?

The friends I graduated with are married and on their first kid—if not their second. I’m playing twin switcheroo with my sister, hooking up with a stranger and finagling ways for him not to call me by my sister’s name while we’re having sex. Because he thinks I’m her. Sort of. I suppose technically he thinks I’m me and he’s just confused about my name. Right? No, that’s not right either. He thinks I’m a tour guide, which I most definitely am not.

I’ve got issues.

“I like barbecue potato chips,” I blurt out. Daisy hates them, which has been great for keeping her out of my snack stash while I live on her sofa, because who wants to share their unemployment potato chips? So I’ve just shared something about myself with him. Something about Violet and not Daisy. Then I physically slap myself on the forehead, because potato chips? Really? It’s as if I’m trying to guarantee he never sees me naked again.

“Are you all right?” Jennings looks at me, confusion creasing his brow. He’s got really nice eyelashes, I note. Super thick and dark.

“Yeah.” I nod and look out the window. “I’m just tired.”

“I should imagine so,” he replies and I don’t need to turn to look at him to know there’s a satisfied smirk on his face because I can hear it in his voice. I turn anyway because I’m a glutton for looking at his face. He’s attractive, and comfortable in his skin. Perfect jaw, full lips. I like to examine the few tiny lines I can find—they add character that intrigues me. Then his pocket rings so I look at his crotch instead. He tucks left, as it turns out. And now I’m thinking about sex again.

He pulls the phone from his pocket and glances at the screen before hitting the ignore call button.

“How far are we from our first stop?” he asks as he taps out a text. I wonder if it was a woman. I bet she doesn’t even eat potato chips. Probably nothing but grilled chicken and kale. Do they have kale in London? Then I wonder why I’m wondering. Of course they have kale—it’s not like London is in another universe. They probably eat it with their fish and chips or something.

“How would I know?” I mutter.

“Because you’re the tour guide, Daisy. That’s how you’d know,” he says slowly, looking me over. “Are you sure you’re all right?”

“I’m fine!” I wipe my palms against the fabric of my skirt and try to remember what the notes said. “We should be there in less than twenty minutes,” I announce. I think that’s right. One stop was twenty minutes and the other was two hours, who can remember which order they were in? A real tour guide, likely.

Maybe she’s one of those women who eat whatever they want and don’t get fat. Whatever. I can eat whatever I want like… twice a year and not gain a thing. “Will twenty minutes be suitable for you?” I ask as he taps away on his phone.

“Suitable?” he repeats as he keeps typing without looking at me. “I should think it’ll be fine.”

I should think it’ll be fine, I singsong in my head, annoyed. Until my own phone rings. It’s resting face up on the small flip down tray in front of my seat—and it’s Daisy, her name flashing across the screen in what feels like foot-tall letters. I slap my hand over the phone and send the call to voicemail as fast as I can. Why didn’t it occur to me to change how I have listed her in my phone? I flick my eyes to Jennings to determine if he noticed that the person calling me was, well, me. So awkward.

He seems absorbed in tapping out an email on his own phone so I breathe a sigh of relief and open the contacts so I can change Daisy’s name. I wonder if I should change it to Violet? I hit the backspace button to retype before deciding that it will only confuse me more if my phone display tells me I’m calling myself. Ugh, what a mess. This is most surely going to end in disaster, but if it doesn’t, I say a silent pledge vowing to never, not ever, let Daisy talk me into one of her shenanigans again. No matter how unemployed I might be or how convincing she might be. I backspace again and type ‘Sister’ onto the screen before hitting done and tapping closed on contacts.

That’s when my phone rings a second time. I recognize the number even though it’s not programmed into my phone. It’s a job recruiter I’ve been working with. Yes! But I can’t answer it right now. Not on a bus with no privacy and background noise. Dammit. I stare at the screen longingly for a moment before sending the call to voicemail while saying a silent prayer she’s got good news for me.

It’s not like she’s going to change her mind because I couldn’t answer the call, right? That’s ridiculous. I’ll call her back in the next hour—just as soon as we get to Mount Vernon. We’ve got a walking tour of George Washington’s estate scheduled and I think once the tour starts I can fall behind the group and return the recruiter’s call, along with Daisy’s. I probably don’t even need to follow the group through the walking tour, do I? When I tagged along with Daisy that one time she gave them free time to take pictures, visit the gift shop and all that jazz before they boarded the bus again. So I’ll just deliver the group to the beginning of the walking tour and give them a spot to meet me at after and that’ll free up a couple of hours for me to return calls and check my email. Perfect.

“Are you avoiding someone, love?”

It appears I have Jennings’ attention again, his eyes on the phone I’m holding and nervously tapping my fingers against.

“No,” I reply coolly. “Are you?” I question with a nod to his phone.

“Not at all.” He laughs.

“Okay,” I retort for lack of having anything else to say. Then I thump my head against the headrest and groan.

“Everything all right?”

“I’ve just got a lot going on.” I shrug.

“Tell me about it,” he says and he seems genuinely interested and I wish I’d met him as Violet.

“Do you ever wish you could start over?” I ask.

“You’re pretty young to be worried about starting over, aren’t you?” He says it quietly, then frowns while examining my face. “You’ve got your whole life ahead of you.”

“I’m almost thirty.” I sigh.

“You’re twenty-six, Daisy, you’re not almost anything.”

“I’m on the wrong side of twenty-five, is what I am,” I grumble and rub at my forehead with my fingertips. “When you’re under twenty-five and your life goes to shit you can just shrug and be like, ‘I’m only twenty-three.’ Once you pass twenty-five…” I train off and shake my head. “Get it together, right? At a certain age it’s just, this is your life. This is who you are.” I throw my hands up to emphasize my point a moment before I remember he’s almost forty and on a vacation courtesy of his grandmother. Awkward. “Sorry,” I say. “I just feel like I’m running out of time.”

“Daisy, you’re twenty-six, not terminal.”

“I suppose,” I agree, but I smile because he’s smiling and it’s contagious.

“So what are you in a rush to accomplish then? What exactly is it you’re running out of time on?”

I glance at him, wondering if I should continue. He still looks as though he’s genuinely curious about what I have to say, so what the heck. I’m never going to see this guy again when the week is over and we’re not in a relationship so there’s no need to be politically correct.