WHO: Alexa & Iain WHEN: (eventually) Thursday night WHERE: all over/Iain's place WHAT: It's fun and mysterious to show up at your ex-husband's house after disappearing in the middle of the night years ago, right?
Toronto had suited Alexa well. With two and half million people it was easy to let lost among them, which in the beginning had been all that Alexa had wanted. The summers were hot and humid and the winters snowy and cold, and unlike her home town in Florida it actually had real seasons, all four of them, in fact.
Her apartment was a two story townhouse in Greektown - an area which was no longer quite so dominated by Greek-Canadian families as it had been after the war, but still enough so that she didn't quite fit the area demographic. (She could have picked Chinatown - the Chinese population of Toronto was larger than the Chinese population anywhere else she'd lived, but doing so would have just put her in that 'between' place anyway. Not quite white, not quite Chinese.) The dividends from her novels easily paid not only for the house but for the repairs she was constantly performing on it. The place didn't need them, but Alexa had always found a huge amount of joy in renovations. Maybe it was just that there was nothing quite like taking a sledgehammer to a wall.
For some of the neighbours, the only thing they ever saw of Alexa was her appearing in the front yard to tip cladding into a skip, her dark hair up in a messy bun and a dusk mask half obscuring her face. So she suspected that it was somewhat of a relief and surprise to them when the FOR SALE sign went up.
Alexa was running away, even she was aware of that. At Toronto Comic Con she'd met a nice comic book artist and she'd even gone so far as to actually call him again after they'd slept together, something she almost religiously avoided. With two marriages in her past, she had no interest in following that path. Besides, he was only going to hurt her once he got to know her well enough.
So it was inconvenient that she was somewhat developing feelings for him.
Easier it was to start ignoring his phonecalls, to tell him she wasn't interested when she finally did answer, and to - a little dramatically - decide it was time for a complete change of scenery.
Perhaps she didn't think she was picking New York for any particular reason. She told herself it was because she'd lived there before and enjoyed it. She told herself she had connections to publishers in the city. She told herself it was a better place to be a published novelist.
She did not tell herself that it was where she and her last husband had lived, very happily and then very angrily, for so many years.
Her first night in New York she booked herself into a nice hotel and drank a bottle of expensive champagne in the bathtub before ordering another to be sent up.
She woke with a hangover, the TV on and the towel she'd fallen asleep in somewhere on the floor. None of this was all that unusual and she made herself a Bloody Mary to get the (very late) day started and starting googling for properties.
But three nights later she hadn't gone any further than that, but she'd made herself popular downstairs in the hotel bar. (She couldn't remember the bartender's name, but she thought she remembered him being a good kisser?)
It was surprisingly easy to let a few weeks pass living in a hotel, even if she only occasionally opened the word document of the novel she was supposed to be working on. There was a gym and she would spend a couple hours in their most afternoons, letting her mind wander as she worked with the weights, feeling the strain in her muscles that meant they - at least - were doing their job like they were supposed to.
If anyone was concerned about the number of wine and spirit bottles that came out of her room, no one mentioned this to their paying guest. Hotels hold secrets, it's what they were for.
One night Alexa pretended it was completely fine to get drunk and then go find Iain's Facebook. Just like the last time she'd done so, however long ago that had been, there wasn't much unlocked content to see. A couple photos, a few birthday wishes. The +ADD FRIEND button at the top of the page tried to tempt her, but Alexa held her ground there.
"I'm not a stalker," she muttered at the screen and then closed the laptop.
So it was interesting that one week later she was standing outside the place where Iain now lived, having very successfully performed some stalking to find it. She had cultivated her image tonight like it was something she'd written for one of her own characters - her dress and lips were red, her hair was twisted up with a few tendrils hanging loose (Iain had always loved it that way), and the tree she leaned against in front of his home made the streetlights dance and play over her like licking flames.