“But maybe it will be better now?” I asked. “With a little of the Becky water under the bridge? He was quiet through it all, but I have the sense it was pretty cathartic for him to register that he didn’t need anything from her.”
“I agree,” Hanna said. “It seemed really good for him. I was ready to Hulk-smash her, but he handled it better than I ever would have. I’m sure a lot of that has to do with you.”
“I would agree with that,” Will echoed.
“Is it weird that I see Pippa and I’m immediately thinking about Jensen?” She looked over at her husband, and when he shook his head, she turned back to me. “You guys were so cute together. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen him happy like that.”
I wiped my mouth with my napkin before speaking. “I don’t think it’s weird, but I do think ‘Jensen and Pippa’ was just a vacation fling. The holiday, in large part, is why he was happy.”
She stared at me, disbelieving, and I could tell that she did not agree. “So you don’t mind if it ends?”
The thought of this caused a twinge of pain to twist through me.
“I do mind. I don’t want it to end.” The words were so raw they left my chest feeling a bit achy. “But what do we do? I live in London.”
“I like him,” I admitted, suddenly wishing I’d taken Hanna up on the offer of wine. “I . . . wanted it to keep going. But—distance aside—I don’t want him to need to be convinced of anything. I wouldn’t feel good about any of this if he called me only because someone had yelled at him to do it.”
Hanna winced a little at this, understanding. “Would you ever consider moving here?”
I thought this over, holding in my thoughts for a few breaths even though my immediate reaction was an enthusiastic yes. I loved the Boston area, loved the idea of living somewhere else for a bit, even if I would miss the Mums and Ruby and my other friends in London. But I craved a change. I already had friends here—people who I once aspired to know, whose esteem felt like a goal to me, and who now seemed eager to spend time with me, too.
Nodding slowly, I said, “I would move here for a good job, or even a job that allowed me to move and be comfortable.” I met her eyes, saw the tiny gleam there. “I wouldn’t move here for Jensen. Not like this.”
She smiled guiltily. “Well, I have a few names of contacts who are expecting to hear from you when you return to London. A couple are at Harvard, but there are a few at firms in the Boston area.” She stood, walking to the buffet near the windows and picking up a folded piece of paper.
“Here,” she said, returning to hand it to me. “If you want any of these opportunities, they’re there.”
I sat in Grandpa’s car in their driveway for a few minutes after we’d said our goodbyes. We’d made tentative plans to see each other on Saturday, but Hanna was fairly certain she would have to go into the lab to help one of her graduate students at some point, so I felt a bit as if I’d just said goodbye to them for an indefinite amount of time. Ruby and Niall had returned to London a couple of days ago, and I would see them soon enough, but I felt more than the momentary sadness of a holiday ending. I felt a connection to the place and the people here, and the idea of returning to rainy London, and a shit job, and a shittier boss, made me . . . grumpy.
I reached for the keys in my purse and felt the paper Hanna had given me at dinner. Pulling it out, I realized it was actually two pages, single-spaced and full of names. Professors looking for someone to run their lab, privately funded campus institutes, engineering firms looking to hire someone into a position much like the one I was already in . . . each job described there seemed realistic, and Hanna had put so much time and thought into this. If I wanted to come to Boston or New York, there were at least twelve opportunities for me to pursue.
But then I saw what other information she’d provided.
It was typed, like the rest of the page, so clearly Hanna had meant to include it all along. As if knowing I wouldn’t already have his address.
I stared at the page. Even the sight of his name in stark black and white made me feel tight and restless in my skin. I wanted to step toward him, feel his long arms coil around me. I wanted to get a goodbye that felt like a see you soon, and not the see you around that I got on Sunday, and which—so far—hadn’t come to pass.
I felt a surge of now or never climb into my pulse. Turning the key in the ignition, I pulled from the driveway. Instead of turning left, though, I turned right.
Jensen lived in a stunning brownstone on a wide, tree-lined street. It was two stories tall, but narrow, with impeccable brick and a freshly painted green door. Ivy trailed up narrowly along one side, as if it had recently been pruned, and its delicate fingers held on to the wide white-framed window facing Matilda Court.
A light was on in the front room. Another in the deeper spaces of the house. The kitchen, maybe. Or the den. In any case, I knew Jensen well enough to know that he wouldn’t leave both on if he weren’t home. One lamp on in an empty house: safety-minded. Two lamps on in an empty house: wasteful.
A chilly wind blew a tangle of leaves down the street, and several of them passed over the tops of my feet, pulling my attention to the ground. It was dark—late enough that no one was out walking, no cars were pulling up at the curb.
What in the bloody hell was I doing here? Looking for another serving of rejection? It wasn’t exactly true that I had nothing to lose: I still had my pride. Coming here after being blown off by a text message had a certain aura of desperation to it. Was this what it had come to? Had Mark and his thrusting bum taught me nothing? I looked up at the window again, groaning inwardly. I left London to get over one man, and opened my heart up to another to stomp on?