As Vera was leaving Dutch’s housewarming party, gathering her coat and purse at the door, she felt the touch of a hand at her arm. She turned around to see the non-loaner hottie she had made eye contact with earlier.
“Hi,” he said. “My name’s Greg Goodman. I didn’t get a chance to introduce myself.” He put out his hand. Vera tried not to eye him up and down, but he was too cute, with an effortlessly chic look about him. Classic-but-casual trousers, a collared shirt with a hoodie over it, and then a jean jacket to cap it all off.
Vera tugged at her wig, to make sure it was still in place. She almost responded with her real name, but then recalled the Loan Some rules: Do not date anyone at these events and do not give them your real name.
“Louisa Gradgrind.” She shook his hand.
“How do you know Dutch?”
“We used to work together. How do you know him?”
“Neighbor down the street. I wasn’t planning on staying long, but it ended up being a nice party.”
“It did.” She really wanted to stay and chat longer, but she could feel her interest in him growing, so she decided to just cut it off here.
“Well, I have to go. It was nice meeting you.”
“Here’s my card,” he said, pulling a business card out of his jacket pocket and handing it to her. Vera’s eyes went agog when she saw where he worked.
Greg Goodman, Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing and Sales Officer
“E-books?” she grimaced. “I don’t think so.” She handed the card back to him.
“You don’t like e-books?”
“No way. They put me out of business.”
“What business were you in?”
“I used to be a librarian.”
Vera stopped herself.
“I’ve already said too much. I’ve got to go.” She exited the house, and he followed behind her.
“At least tell me your name then?”
“I already told you. Louisa Gradgrind.”
“I mean your real name.”
His words stopped her in her tracks. She turned around to face him, careful to make sure none of the other loaners were around to spot how he had outed her. Luckily, they were alone. He walked slowly toward her, shortening the distance between them so that eventually they were face to face.
“Here’s my card,” he said, flipping the card between his fingers while donning a polite, school-boy smirk.
Back at her apartment, Vera placed Greg’s card on the desk in her bedroom. Then, she plopped herself down on the bed, eyeing the phone on her night stand, before picking up the phone, dialing a number, and twirling her fingers around the cord as she waited for a response.
“Vera!” said a man’s voice on the other end. “Honey, where’ve you been?”
“Hi, Dad. Sorry. I know. I’ve been busy.”
“When are you going to tell us about this new job? We want details.”
“I’ll have to explain it in person, but I can tell you it’s going well.”
“Okay.” He said this in a way where he was trying to use guilt to make her tell him more about the job. It didn’t work.
“I have a question, though.”
“What do you know about Mom?”
There was silence on the other end.
“I mean, it’s been 30-some years. You were a baby.”
“Do you have any idea what her whereabouts are nowadays?”
“Honey, is something wrong?”
Vera could see she was making her father uncomfortable, so she changed the subject.
“I was just wondering. Anyway, how’s Joe?”
Vera noticed another call was coming through her phone. It was from Loan Some, according to the caller ID.
“Actually Dad, can I call you back? I have a work call coming through the call-waiting.”
“Call-waiting? What year this is?”
“Love you. I’ll call you back in a second.” Vera didn’t want to argue with him yet again about why she should use her cell phone more often and come into the 21st Century.