In The Heat of Los Angeles
Power of Love (The Early November)
“You two have been working too much this week. Relax and have fun,” Pops said.
“We will try. Once we get back to the house I’m sure we will. Too many people around to…work.” Harry smiled at me, it was an uncomfortable smile. He was as nervous as I was. I saw Jessica look Harry up and down. Did she just bite her lip? Are you fucking kidding me? Do not check him out bitch. He’s mine. “Oh I’m terrible. How could I forget to introduce you? Harry Styles this is my Father’s new friend Jessie.”
“Very nice to meet you, Jessie,” Harry stuck his hand out to shake hers. She glared at me and then shook his hand.
“Nice to meet you as well. James has talked about how hard our Evie is working on everything with you.” Our Evie? What. The. Fuck.
“She’s great,” Harry said. “Everything about her just confirms for me that I made the right decision in every way possible. She is just absolutely wonderful.” I wanted to melt. He wasn’t talking about working with me. He was talking about being around me.
“Thanks,” I replied smiling at him.
“Did you FaceTime your Mom today?” Pops asked.
“Of course. Talked to Mom, Dad, and the boys. Had to cut it short. Mom was taking Topher to his art classes and then was taking the boys shopping for some new shirts for next week’s Cubs game.”
“Have you spilled to Jonny about the suite yet?”
“I haven’t. I want him to be surprised on Sunday. I told Mom and Dad to invite a few of his friends if they wanted but I’m guessing it will just be family. I just told Mom to decide who was there since we all know that is how it will go anyway. Mom makes the decisions everyone else just goes along with it.”
“That’s been true for at least the last 35 years.” Our waitress came back with our check and handed it to Harry who pulled his wallet from his pocket. “Ev, you should be picking up the check if this is work related.”
“Admittedly James, we got distracted from work. She was talking about how excited she is to get home to Chicago on Friday. This was more friendly and I was raised that when taking a beautiful woman out to a meal that you should pay for it.”
“You’re a good man, Harry.”
“We will let you get to your lunch and see you at the house,” I said. I leaned in to kiss Pop cheek.
“Of course. Don’t get into too much trouble before I get there,” Pops said. We exchanged pleasantries with Jessica and hurried out of the restaurant.
“I think I might puke,” I said as we got to the Jeep and I leaned against it.
“I might join you. Do you think he saw us?”
“He didn’t let it on. But he wouldn’t with you standing there or Jessica. It will be something he brings up when he gets to the house. He’ll either pull me into the kitchen by myself or up to the office. Then he’ll start his stern fatherly voice that he’s never been very good at but has always been tremendously frightening. And he’ll eventually start yelling at me in Italian.”
“Do you understand him when that happens?”
“Vaguely. His parents were insistent upon me knowing Italian. So I speak some but not when it’s being yelled at me quickly.”
“I’m sorry. I should’ve known better than to kiss you in public.” He was so apologetic. He pulled me into a hug knowing that I was freaking out. Just the smell of his cologne on his shirt calmed me.
“It’s not your fault. I wanted you to kiss me. I like kissing you. I just wish my father hadn’t seen me kissing you.” I looked up to him. “Fuck. Your stuff is in my room. The flavor of the week hasn’t been around long enough to have seen the house. He’ll want to take her on a tour and your stuff is all over my room.”
“Get in the car,” he said. We both jumped in and he drove through town. You could tell he was stressed and driving a little erratically. He pulled up to the gate and punched in the code I told him before pulling the car down the driveway and parking. We both practically ran into the house and up to my bedroom.
“Hey you two!” Nick yelled. “Don’t break your ankles while you run upstairs to have sex or anything.”
“No sex. Can’t talk,” I said as we ran into the bedroom. I quickly started to make the bed. The house normally looked lived in when we were here but my roommates were all the type to make their bed in the morning. Even at the beach house. I hated making my bed, especially at the beach house. As I picked up a pillow I saw a condom wrapper on the floor. “You know you could try to make it in the fucking trash can dude.”
“What?” he asked as he popped out of the bathroom, his arm loaded with hair product and moisturizers. I held the condom wrapper up.
“These belong in a trash can.”
“Well aware of that. You were the one that opened it, love. You missed the trash can.”
“Fuck.” I went over to where he was standing and kissed him quickly. “I’m sorry. I’m being a bitch.”
“You aren’t. You’re stressed out. Your father may have seen us kissing.”
“Yeah but I’m still sorry.”
“You are fine. We are fine. Even if he saw us kissing we can handle whatever his reaction is. You aren’t in this alone, Evie. If he starts yelling in Italian though you might need to translate it for me.” I laughed and kissed him again.
“Get your shit in your bag. We can hide it in my closet.” He walked into the closet and picked up his stuff, throwing it into his bag and following me into my closet. We shoved it into one of the cabinets with doors. He changed into his swim shorts and we headed downstairs. “I think I need a shot.”
“Probably,” Harry said as he followed me into the bar and I poured a shot of tequila throwing it back.
“That wasn’t enough,” I said as I poured another and also threw it back.
“What’s going on, Ev?” Joe asked. “It’s only 1:00. It usually takes you a lot more time before you’ve moved on to tequila shots.”
“We ran into her father at lunch.”
“That’s not too bad. Right?”
“He may or may not have seen us kissing.”
“Fuck.” I had made my way to the other side of the bar and Joe engulfed me into a hug. “You’ll be fine.” He kissed my forehead and started to rub my back. “You’re 25. You’re an adult. It’s going to be okay. I promise.”
“Evie,” Harry said from behind me. I turned my head to look at him, Joe still hugging me. His eyes were squinted and he was frowning at me. “Can we talk?”
“Yeah, sure.” I removed myself from Joe’s arms and walked towards Harry. He held his hand out to me and took mine before walking around the pool and down towards the mini beach so we could be alone. He sat down cross-legged on the sand pulling me to sit in front of him. “What’s up?” I asked as I sat down with one leg draped across each of his. He started to trace random shapes on my thighs.
“I think we should tell James. We shouldn’t just wait to see if he saw us kissing. We can survive whatever his reaction is. I don’t want to hide how I feel about you.”
“What are we supposed to tell him? That we have shared a bed every night this week? It makes us both sound irresponsible.”
“We aren’t though. And I don’t think we are just sharing a bed, we are sharing more than that. And if all this is to you is sharing a bed with me then maybe I should leave and Joe can share a bed with you.”
“Whoa! What are you talking about?” He looked down at his lap where he was still drawing on my skin. “Look at me!”
“What?” His voice had lost it’s normal cheeriness.
“Share a bed with Joe? What the fuck dude?”
“It’s nothing,” he said as he finally looked up at me and smiled. I knew the smile was forced. When he smiled his eyes lit up and his dimples were huge. Right now he looked upset and the dimples were nonexistent. “It’s nothing.” He leaned forward kissing me softly but it felt off.
“No. It’s not nothing.” I slid closer to him. “What’s up?”
“You talked to him last night when you couldn’t sleep. You took comfort in him when we got home from lunch and you were nervous about what James would think of us kissing.”
“Yeah, Joe has been one of my friends since I was 14.”
“Yeah, but he’s not the person who is going through all of this with you. I am. I want to be who you wake up in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep. I want to be who calms you down when you’re nervous about something. I don’t want it to be Joe.”
“I’m going to warn you, I very rarely sleep. I’m lucky if I sleep five hours a night. You’re going to regret me waking you up every night when I can’t sleep.”
“That’s fine. I want to be who you turn to when you need something. This isn’t just an excuse to fuck a beautiful woman. If that was the only thing I was looking for I wouldn’t mix business with pleasure. This is because I want you. So can we not be fucking children about this? Can we just talk to your father when he gets here?”
“Sure. But you realize that Joe isn’t going anywhere right?” I asked.
“Unfortunately, yes I realize that. And I don’t want you to force a person out of your life because of my insecurities about shit.”
“Yeah because you realize as much as I like you and I am really enjoying what is happening between us and where it could go, that Joe goes nowhere. We’ve been friends for too long for me to ever pick a relationship over him, let alone a very new one.”
“I know and who you are with your friends is part of why I like you. I just don’t like that when something is going on with us you don’t turn to me.”
“I can work on that. Can you not make the squinty frown face when you see Joe and I together?”
“I can work on that.” His hands grabbed my belt loops pulling me onto his lap so our faces were inches apart. “I’m sorry.”
“I am too.” I kissed him and without intending it to the kiss deepened quickly. It wasn’t every day you met someone that you had to have the come to Jesus talk with less than a week. It was a mini one but still, we’d had to discuss what we were. And what we’d decided was that when my father got here we were going to tell him. I still wasn’t sure what we were going to tell him because I wasn’t ready to call Harry my boyfriend because he wasn’t. I wasn’t sure what he was, but he was right. It was more than just sharing a bed. We were sharing a lot about ourselves. Sharing our time. Sharing sweet moments. And here he was sharing himself with me in a way that I’m sure he hadn intended to. “We can tell my Pops when he gets here. I’m still not sure what we are going to tell him though.”
“That we were on a date. That we have been spending time together and are enjoying each other’s company. That while we are being cautious because of our working relationship that we don’t want to have that prevent any potential relationship that could develop. And that I care about you.”
“I care about you.”
“See that wasn’t hard was it?” he asked.
“No, but if I keep sitting on your lap like this something might be.” He started to laugh really loudly. Loud enough that when I glanced up Eliza and Ty had their arms rested on the side of the pool.
“What are you two doing down there?” Ty asked.
“Does your talking always involve you sitting on his lap?” Eliza questioned.
“It’s my favorite kind of talking though,” Harry replied. I pushed him backwards so he landed in the sand. “I deserved that.”
“Yeah you did.” He rested himself on his elbows looking at me.
“I don’t mind this view at all.” I threw sand at him before he grabbed my hand pulling me down onto the sand with him. He leaned over to kiss me. “We are going to be okay. Parents love me. As seen by our FaceTime conversation with two of your three this morning.”
“They did love you. Mom really seems to think you’re coming to Chicago.”
“That she does. She told me on the phone the other day that even if you didn’t invite me that she would get a guest bedroom ready and I could stay at the house so that she could meet me. Said it had been a long time since you called home about a man.”
“It has been. It’s been a long time since a man made it to a second date.”
“How did I do on ours today?”
“Really great. Great enough that I think you deserve a third. Maybe we can grab a late dinner tomorrow night when we get back to Los Angeles. I have to be up early to get ready for a photoshoot Monday morning though.”
“We could just stay at yours. It’s closer to the office. When I talked to James on the phone about my audition he said that he’d arranged for it to be at the office since Christopher Nolan happened to be in Los Angeles for a few days. Otherwise I was going to have to fly home to England to audition.”
“We will have to go out and celebrate on Monday night.”
“I won’t likely know if I got a cast on Monday. Will I?” he asked.
“No, but we will know you survived your first audition. It’s something to celebrate.”
“If it gets me a fourth date I will call it a reason to celebrate.” He moved my hair out of my face. “I’m glad we talked and that I got a second date.”
“Me too. We should probably join everyone so we can at least tell Jimmy ourselves rather than him getting here and finding us rolling around in the sand.”
“Yeah, he hates it when I call him Jimmy. Most of his friends call him that. The boys will all call him Jimmy, except Ty. He’s always worried that it will get him in trouble if he isn’t as professional as possible with him.”
“So calling him Jimmy and sleeping with his daughter is probably not a good idea?”
“Oh I’m sure you’ll get away with calling him Jimmy. It's pretty much only me that can’t.”
“So after we have the conversation with him do I have to avoid touching you in front of him. I caught a peek of your bikini that you have on beneath this top and these tiny shorts. I’m going to want to kiss you and touch you.”
“I’ve never really been in a relationship that had a lot of PDA that he would’ve witnessed. My Mom and Dad wouldn’t have a problem. It’s just that the only one Pops ever really met was Drew who hated touching me in public. To him PDA was immature and disgusting. The only time it was appropriate to touch me was in a room where we were alone and even then it was pretty much the bedroom.”
“Well, he was fucking crazy then because I like kissing you all the time and it just let’s people know that you are mine.” As he kissed me his hand slid up the back of the top I still had on pulling me closer to him.
“Didn’t realize we were gonna get to watch a porno on the beach today,” Ty said. I flipped him off. “Rude!”
“We need to go up there don’t we?” Harry asked.
“Yeah, we do. Though admittedly I would really just rather lay here and make out with you for a while.”
“Your father will be here soon.”
“I know. It almost makes me excited to get back to LA. We can just hide in your house and no one will be there to interrupt us.”
“So true,” he said as he moved so he was hovering above me. He looked as if he was ready to do push-ups.
“What are you doing?” He lowered himself in a push-up kissing me.
“Kissing you,” he replied as he raised himself up again. He smiled before lowering himself into another kiss.
“I like this game.” He laughed before lowering himself again and kissing me. He kept repeating it because it made me giggle.
“Hey Jimmy!” I heard Nick yell loudly. Harry froze above me.
“Move,” I whisper shouted. He quickly moved and we both sort of snuck up to the pool level. I saw Pops in the bar area.
“Hey Evie,” Pops said. I went over and sat down at the bar. “Need a drink kiddo?”
“Yeah, I think there’s probably some open rosé in there somewhere.” He reached into the fridge pulling out the bottle and pouring me a glass.
“Harry, can I get you something?” he asked.
“Casamigos on ice please,” he replied sitting next to me. He rested his hand on my thigh rubbing it gently. It was below where Pops would be able to see. It was his way of telling me we’d be okay.
“A man who drinks tequila on ice? I approve. Malibu I switch it up from scotch to tequila. Feels a little bit more appropriate for warm weather.”
“I can see that,” Harry said laughing. I saw Jessica come out of the bathroom in the tiniest string bikini I’d ever seen. She had a sheer cover up that was barely hanging on her hips. She sat down at the bar next to Harry. Again she looked Harry up and down.
“Harry, you have so many tattoos,” she said as she reached forward to touch one on his upper arm. “How many do you have in total?”
“I think like 60 or something,” he replied. He was humoring her but I saw him look at me sympathetically. It’s like he knew that I was going crazy watching her touch him.
“I really like these birds,” she said as she reached forward to touch the birds on his chest. I felt my blood pressure rise.
“Thank you.” He was being polite. Why was he so fucking polite?
“Evie has tattoos right?” she asked.
“Yes,” I replied at the same time as Harry. His eyes went wide realizing he’d answered her.
“I have several. Most of them are small. The one most people notice is the G on my wrist. It’s for my Mom, Grace. She’s the most amazing woman in the world.” Yeah, bitch. Way better than you. Pops handed Harry and I both of our drinks. “Pops, Harry and I wanted to talk to you for a bit. Can we go into the kitchen for a minute? Alone.”
“Sure,” he said. Harry stood up and followed me to the kitchen. We both sat down at the island while my father stood on the other side of the island. “What’s up kids?”
“Well, we wanted a chance to sit down and talk to you about some important things,” I said. “Umm…we just have a few things to talk about.” I didn’t know how to come up with words. I was normally so good with words but had forgotten how to talk.
“What you saw today wasn’t a business meeting. It was a date,” Harry said. “Our second actually. I rather like your daughter a lot. Not just as the person guiding my career but as a woman and a person. I like spending time with her and would like to continue to spend time with her. To get to know her and see where our relationship goes.” He grabbed my hand and held it in his.
“Uh yeah, what he said.” I started to laugh. “Sorry. I’ve been terrified about telling you all week. If you’re upset with me I can understand.”
“I already knew this. But I’m glad you both decided to tell me.”
“You knew?” I asked.
“Yeah, your mother called me the other morning after you got off the phone with her.”
“I should’ve fucking known.”
“She knew you were terrified about telling me. We are your parents. The only thing we want is for you to be happy. I know you’re capable of separating personal from professional. Two of your clients are on rafts shaped like food in our pool. I just need to know that my little girl is happy.”
“I’m happy.” I looked at Harry and smiled. “Really happy.”
“I also need you two to promise that the second your relationship influences the decisions you make professionally that you will come to me. If we need to have one of the senior agents take Harry on as a client we can. But I want you to be able to prove that you were the right decision as his manager. And prove that you can manage to have a personal and professional life.”
“If I think she’s making a decision based on being my girlfriend and not my manager I will be the first to come to you,” Harry said. I turned to look at him.
“Will you go to him first when I kick the shit out of you for calling me your girlfriend? I’m not your girlfriend. We’ve had two dates buddy. Two dates.” Harry laughed pretty hard and I heard my father chime in.
“If you are sitting me down to tell me that you’re dating him it’s probably safe for him to say that.”
“Not true,” I defended myself.
“You didn’t let me meet Drew for six months. I had to find out from Kris that you and Anthony had gone on dates together. You just said that you were at Bricks and Ivy with Anthony as his pity date. I found out after the fact that you’d been seeing him. You’re two dates in and felt that you needed to tell me. And your mother claims he’s coming to Chicago.”
“Yes, she does,” I replied. “So you aren’t mad?”
“No. I’m disappointed that you didn’t feel comfortable telling me yourself before your mother did. And that you sat here stumbling and made Harry tell me. I'm proud of you and this doesn’t change that.”
“Well, Dad found it hilarious. Says you’re supposed to call him to discuss this,” I said laughing.
“Oh I will. Your mother had fun calling me and telling me about it. She loves when she knows something before me. Usually that happens with your romantic life.”
“So we are okay?” I asked.
“We are perfect, Evie. I’m happy for you both. Take good care of her though, Harry.”
“I will,” he said as he leaned over to kiss my cheek. I smiled at Harry and then my father.
“You aren’t pissed? I fully expected you to yell and scream.”
“She did, actually. She warned me that when she gets in trouble she gets yelled at in Italian.”
“By all three parents!” I practically yelled. “None of you have been upset. I’m seeing my newest and probably biggest client. And you aren’t in the least bit upset? Aren’t you going to scream and yell and shit. Seriously. You’re just gonna be cool about it?”
“Perché mi mentiresti? Come potresti essere così ingenuo? Feel better now?” My Dad started to laugh at me. “Ti amo. Data chi vuoi. Non farmi urlare in italiano.”
“What did he just say?” Harry asked.
“He asked why I lied. How I could be so naive and then told me he loved me. He doesn’t care who I date and that I shouldn’t make him yell at me in Italian.” I couldn’t stop laughing.
“I’m going to need to learn Italian aren’t I?” Harry asked.
“No, she only ever hears it when she’s in a lot of trouble. You guys are fine. Evie, if you think I didn’t notice him flirting with you at dinner the first night you’re crazy. And you both conveniently showed up at the office with wet hair right around the same time the next morning. And you’re never late. It didn’t take much to figure out that you didn’t stay at home.”
“Oh my god.” I felt my face turn red. My head dropped onto the island as Harry started to laugh at me.
“I also saw you two kissing at Café Habana today. If you were trying to hide from me you probably shouldn’t go to my favorite restaurant in Malibu or perhaps also not make out in public. But it’s okay. You’re both young, single, and attracted to each other. It’s fine. Evie, you’re fine.” Harry hugged me as he laughed.
“Love, you should stop hiding. It’s gonna be okay.” I turned to look at Harry.
“I sort of hate you. Did you tell him too?”
“I did not. I swear.”
“He didn’t. Why would you think he did?” Pops asked.
“Because he fucking called Mom on Wednesday. I forgot my laptop at his house Wednesday morning. He was threatening it and holding it hostage to see if he could convince me to leave work and ‘work from home’ also known as work from his pool. So he decided it would be super funny to look in my laptop. He started sending texts to people as me, luckily it was Eliza and Kammi. And he found Mom’s number and called home.”
“Oh that’s just awesome. How did Grace take it?”
“She invited me to Chicago next weekend when Evie goes home.”
“Are you going?” Pops asked. “I assume so because Grace doesn’t take no for an answer. She’s determined I’m going to get home for Jonny’s birthday even.”
“Evie has not invited me yet. So I don’t know if I’m going. Why aren’t you going?” Harry asked.
“Fear of traveling with Evie and Jessica. And I’m not sure that a few months into our relationship Jessica will be okay with my flying to Chicago for a weekend with my daughter to celebrate my ex-wife’s oldest son’s birthday. Especially when the child isn’t mine.”
“Pops, what does it matter? She might not survive until next weekend anyway.”
“Why do you say that?”
“She referred to me as ‘our Evie’ like she’s my mother. She’s barely old enough to have been my babysitter. She does that one more time and I’m going to find a way to cause her pain.” Pops and Harry both started laughing.
“You haven’t appeared to stop him from calling you Evie,” Pops said as he gestured to Harry.
“I actually quite like that he calls me Evie. Plus I’m sure Grace told him to call me that. When he called me Evie for the first time I thought that The Circus was going to have a heart attack.”
“I didn’t know that I shouldn’t call her Evie, but she told me I could keep calling her that. So I have. But she did look like her head was about to fucking start spinning when Jessie called her that.”
“Yeah, she got her retaliation. Our entire lunch was ‘I can’t believe your daughter introduce me to Harry Styles as Jessie, she knows I hate being called Jessie.’ You could be less mean to her, Ev.”
“I could but that would be a lot of work. So I’m guessing it’s not going to happen.” I just watched my father shake his head and laugh.
“Well, you two are fine with me. I’m happy for you. And if she decides you are allowed to go to Chicago maybe I’ll change my mind. I would like to catch the game on Sunday.” With that my father walked back out onto the deck. I turned to Harry and he smiled before leaning forward to kiss me.
“How was that so easy?” I asked.
“He knows you’re smart and going to make smart decisions. He also evidently thinks I am a smart decision.”
“I’m sorry that I froze and you had to tell him.”
“It’s okay. You were nervous. I was fine being the one telling him that we are together.”
“Okay. Well, I feel better. Do you?”
“Of course. I can kiss you and not worry that you are going to have a panic attack about your father finding out.” His smile was so huge. He looked so happy that we’d come clean about what was going on. I stood up and kissed him before walking back outside. I grabbed my glass of rosé off of the bar and went to the cabana where Kammi had moved to talk to Jessica. Pops was with Nick and Joe lighting cigars. Harry came and sat next to me on the couch.
“So Jessie,” I said. I heard Harry start to giggle next to me. “Are you auditioning these days or you still taking time off?” Jessica has decided about three weeks into her relationship with my father to ‘take some time to herself’. Every single time I went to my father’s house I saw her walking around like she lived there. I’d asked the housekeeper the last time I was there if she’d moved in and she said that she was pretty sure she had but that it wasn’t because Pops had invited her. I figured she wasn’t able to get any roles, she’d been fired from a TV show she had been on for part of a season and thought that James Scarcello was her meal ticket. He didn’t notice that she didn’t have anywhere else to live. If she needed to have a night away I’m sure she stayed at friend’s houses based on her social media posting. I hated the idea that this woman was taking advantage of my father.
“I’m thinking it’s time to start auditioning again. Your Dad has been encouraging me to get back out there. He’s such an amazingly supportive man.”
“Oh don’t I know.”
“Harry, James tells me you have your first audition on Monday.” She was sitting in a chair close to him. I watched as her hand found his thigh in his painfully tiny swim shorts. “I’d love to help you prepare.”
“Eliza helped me this week, thanks for the offer but I think I’m ready.”
“Well, if you need anything.” I watched as her hand started to move. “I’m here for you. Anytime. I know that you’re auditioning for some big names, I’d be happy to give you my secrets. Maybe next weekend we can work on things. I know that Evie will be in Chicago.”
“Harry, honey,” he turned to look at me, surprised at the nickname. I normally called him dude or buddy. “We should probably call Mom to let her know that we decided that you were coming home to Chicago for the trip.” I heard Kammi start to laugh. “I know she’s excited to finally meet my new boyfriend.” I glared at Jessica before leaning in towards Harry and kissing him. It was more than a simple kiss. I bit his lip as I leaned back.
“What was that?” he whispered. “You called me your boyfriend and you invited me to Chicago.”
“If that bitch doesn’t back off of you I am going to drown her. You, are mine.”
“I like the way you say that.” He smiled at me. “Is the Chicago invite real?”
“It is. Come home with me. Mom was right, she knew I would bring you home.
“Well, thanks for the offer, Jessie,” Harry said. “But Evie and I are going home for the weekend. It’s Jonathan’s birthday and we need to be there to support family.”
“Hey Nick,” Kammi yelled.
“Yeah babe,” he replied.
“Harry got the invite to Chicago.” I watched as my father and two of my best friends started laughing.
“It’s about time Ev. Put the guy out of his misery.”
“Wait? Are you two together?” Jessica asked.
“Yes,” I replied. “We are together. So if you could get your fucking hand off of his leg I’d appreciate it.” Her hand snapped back quickly. “As if I didn’t dislike you already for using my father for his money, moving into his house without him asking, and calling me Evie all fucking day, you have your hands on my boyfriend. Now if you could kindly stop touching him I’ll consider letting you keep the fingers.”
“Evie, calm down,” Pops said. “Jessica, your flirting is wildly inappropriate. It’s my daughter’s boyfriend. You saw them kissing when we walked into the restaurant. Leave Evie alone and stop calling her Evie so that she doesn’t try to drown you.” I watched my father walk over to where his girlfriend was sitting. He bent down and whispered in her ear before kissing the top of her head. I watched her body language change.
“You called me your boyfriend,” Harry whispered in my ear as he pulled my legs across his lap.
“I might’ve done that.”
“Your temper is sort of cute.”
“Yeah, try telling my Dad that. He gets to deal with two of it. Grace seems sweet, I get this from her.”
“That had to be fun teenage years at home,” Harry said laughing.
“Oh it was. We eventually started yelling at each other about things and then Dad would jump in the middle and calm us down.”
“I’m really glad I get to meet everyone next weekend,” he said.
“I’m excited to have you meet them. They mean a lot to me.” I rested my head on his shoulder and smiled. I felt a huge relief from having told my father about him. The anxiety I’d been fighting all week had lowered. The voices full of their negative self-talk in my head were silenced. And I was just settling into a calm feeling and realizing that I felt really happy. The negative talk would start up again soon. I know how my mind works. I’m the most confident person in the world if you ask me about my job. I don’t question that I’m better than my competition. But when it comes to men, I often did question things. And knowing my luck I’d start to worry that things were progressing too fast because it seemed that way. I’d just called him my boyfriend when I wasn’t sure if I felt like we were ready for that. While it was fast something just felt right, which of course made me feel like something was wrong.
Spending the afternoon around the pool hanging out with my friends, my father, and now boyfriend type person was exactly what I’d needed. The last month at work had been stressful. I’d had a shake up on my team where an agent tried to leave and take their largest client with them. That of course meant lawsuits and depositions and things I hated dealing with. Up until Monday I felt like my life had been dominated by our corporate lawyers being in my office invading my privacy. Having the last week be as wonderful as it had been, despite being slightly stressful, made me forget about the shit that had been going on. Watching my father interact with a man I was spending time with was nice. It was something I never imagined I’d get to see. Admittedly it was funny to watch Harry attempt to smoke cigars with everyone. He was out of his element with them but trying really hard to fit in.
Our dinner was nice. Everyone pitched in cooking again, except Jessica who had grown unusually silent during the afternoon. We all sat down to an amazing meal and full of great conversation. My father interacted with Nick and Joe really well, he always had. He had also become the surrogate father to my three roommates when they were in Los Angeles. It was nice to have a chance to all spend time together. Shortly after our dinner Pops and Jessica headed back to Los Angeles. We decided to leave the house and head to the beach to walk around for a while. We didn’t want to have the inaugural Malibu trip of the year and miss a chance to visit the beach, even though we could see it from the house. It didn’t last long. The water was still pretty cold and Kammi insisted on going back to the house. We lit a fire and sat around talking. The way that Harry so flawlessly fit in with everyone else made me so happy.
“Today was great,” I said as we were rinsing off the chlorine in the shower at the end of the night.
“It was.” He bent down to kiss me. “You know you don’t have to worry about the fact that you called me your boyfriend. I get it, you were in the heat of the moment and really upset. You seem like you don’t want to put a label on us yet and I can be okay with that.”
“It actually didn’t make me feel like I wanted to throw up when I said it.” Harry started to laugh at me.
“I’m glad the idea of dating me doesn’t induce vomiting.”
“No, it’s not that. But I don’t really want to rush us.”
“Love, everything with us seems sort of like it’s moving at an accelerated rate of speed based on how this started.”
“I know. It’s weird right?”
“A little. But I like weird.”
“Me too.” We barely bothered to dry off before stumbling into the bedroom and into bed. The sex felt a little different tonight. The eye contact lasted longer. The kisses more sensual. We weren’t stumbling or clumsy or trying to impress each other. It was whispered words and shared sensations. We made love for what felt like hours, kissing until I felt drunk off of him. We finally fell asleep as the sun started to peak in through the windows. Thankfully my roommates didn’t barge into the bedroom in the morning as they typically did. We slept for a few hours before waking up and getting ready for our day. We’d all decided we’d do brunch at the house and go home as we all felt like it. Joe opting to drive Eliza back with him because they wanted to check out some place on the way home. Ty headed home with Nick and Kammi during the afternoon so that he could start getting the looks for tomorrow’s photo shoot ready. Harry and I stayed to pick up and close up the house.
“Thank you for bringing me this weekend,” he said as he came up behind me kissing my neck.
“Thank you for being amazing. Any weekend you’re here you are welcome to steal me away to Malibu. Especially if we get a repeat of last night.”
“I’d take a repeat of last night every night.” He turned me to look at him. “There’s something about the way your face looks when you are experiencing that level of pleasure. I will never forget it.”
“You’re cute.” He kissed me again. “Let’s not stay at my place tonight. Let’s stay at yours. I’ll just drive into work in the morning. I want some alone time. We’ve had three nights in a row with The Circus. It’s time for some us time.”
“I like that idea. Where do you want to go to dinner?” he asked. “I was promised a third date.”
“The third date is the sex date. You’re obviously looking forward to it.” He started to laugh. “What if I cook for you? We can stop at the store on the way home and I can grab stuff to make.”
“That chicken parm your brother mentioned?” he asked. I nodded.
“It’s my specialty.”
“Sounds wonderful. Are we ready to go?” I nodded. We grabbed our bags and I locked the house on the way out the door. I threw the keys to Harry.
“I want to enjoy the ride. You drive.” He smiled at me as he put the bags in the back and then pulled his hair into a tiny bun. “Oh I like when your hair blows in the wind with the top down.” He laughed at me.
“Makes it hard to drive.” We climbed into the car and he leaned over to kiss me before pulling the car out of the driveway and onto the PCH. As usual when I was a passenger I was taking pictures of the drive and how beautiful it was. Few things in the world made me as happy as driving on the PCH. I snuck a few pictures of Harry as he drove. The look of concentration on his face, the sunglasses covering his eyes, and a few wispy pieces of his hair blowing in the wind. He finally noticed he was being photographed and turned to make a funny face at me. There was something about him that made me feel like this was all going to be okay. That I could shut off the crazy voices that snuck into my head today, that told me everything was moving too fast. There was just something about what was going on that told me we were going to be okay. That anything that came along we could face it together and be okay.
When we pulled into the grocery store that feeling got tested slightly. There were few girls, probably late teens, with camera phones taking pictures, of course this was going to become part of my life if I kept hanging out with him. The anxious feeling left as soon as he grabbed my hand in his. He made a goofy smile at me, he must be able to tell that I felt uncomfortable about it.
“You’re okay,” he said. “And if you’re nervous just think about this, you look gorgeous so at least if someone takes a picture you look hot.” I couldn’t help but laugh at that. We moved through the grocery store together as if it was something we’d done a million times. I’d made a list before we left Malibu and he would look at it, grab an item and steal the pen stuck in my bun to check off the item before shoving the pen back in my hair. We got to the check out and he used his size advantage over me to block me from paying for the groceries. We carried everything back out to the car and of course had the same teen girls waiting.
“Harry, can we get a picture?” They asked as they approached. He put the groceries down in the backseat before going over to them.
“Sure,” he replied.
“I can take the picture,” I said. They handed me the phone and I framed the photo for them. “Okay on three. One…two…three.” I took the picture. “One more, H keep your eyes open.” He laughed a little. “One…two…three.” I looked at the picture before handing the phone back. “Much better. Tired Eyes here was struggling to keep his eyes open.” He stuck his tongue out at me.
“Thanks,” the girls said.
“We absolutely love you Harry,” the red head of the group said.
“Thank you. I love you ladies too. Thank you for your support.”
“You’re Harry’s new manager aren’t you?” the blonde asked.
“I am. I’m Everlee,” I replied shaking their hands. “It’s nice to meet you all.”
“Nice to meet you too.”
“Well it was nice to meet you,” Harry said. “But we need to head out. Evie is cooking me dinner tonight. The perks of having a manager who is a foodie I guess.”
“Thanks for the picture,” the brunette said and they walked away. We got in the Jeep and headed back to his house. We were most of the way there when he turned to me.
“Shit. Should I not have called you Evie in front of them?”
“No, it’s okay. My father calls me Evie in interviews. Mom and Dad call me Evie all the time. It’s not unusual for my family to do it. Just new to get used to someone else saying it. If the world knows you call me Evie I’m okay with that.” We pulled into his driveway and parked. We carried our bags and groceries into the house. I started to put the groceries away as he carried our bags up to the bedroom. I’d started cooking by the time he came down and then he snuck outside. When he came in he put my keys on the kitchen counter. “What were you doing?” I asked.
“Threw some of our clothes in the wash and moved your car. You don’t have a roof on it. There’s a bit of rain in the forecast. I put my Range Rover outside so your car wouldn’t get rained on.”
“That was sweet.”
“It smells delicious in here,” he said as he sat down and poured himself a glass of wine. I had a white sauce started and was doing a fry on the chicken.
“Thanks, my Nonna Scarcello taught me how to meet this as a kid. Said it was the first meal she made for my Papa. She claims it’s what made him fall in love with her. I think she’s crazy. My Papa says he was already in love with her it was just the parm that made him admit it.” Harry started to laugh. “I’m going to have to go visit them next weekend. I know it’s a lot to throw my whole family on you in a few days but if you wanted to go with you could. You’ll meet the others at Jonny’s part. The Scarcello side clearly won’t be there since Jonny is a Ferrera.”
“Nonna and Papa?”
“Nonna is what Italian kids call their grandmothers. Most grandfathers are Nonno but I got in trouble enough as a kid if someone said Nonno I immediately started crying thinking they were saying ‘no no’ so we stuck with Papa.” Harry started to laugh. “The Fazio grandparents are Grandma and Grandpa, they wanted to be more traditional. That’s the most Americanized of my families, despite the fact that only my Papa Ferrera was born in Italy. He moved here when he was 18 to go to school and met Nana. They met through some group for Italian American families that had taken in Papa and tried to help him adjust to America.”
“Your family sounds amazing. I’m excited to meet all of them. And I’d love to go visit your Nonna and Papa with you if you’re okay with that.”
“I’d like that. Nonna is determined that I’m too much like her son and never going to end up happy except in my career. She will love you.” Harry started to laugh. I put the pasta in for the boiling water and stirred the sauce a bit. “Do you mind if I FaceTime my Mom to tell her you’re coming home?”
“Not at all.” I grabbed my phone off of the counter and FaceTimed Mom.
“Hey honey,” she answered. She was also clearly on her phone as she was walking around her bedroom. It was about 9:30, almost 10:00 there.
“You look tan.”
“Malibu will do that.”
“How was Malibu?”
“Really good. We told Pops. Evidently you already had.”
“I did. I wanted him to be reminded that he had no right to be pissed off at you for this and to work through his parental issues before he talked to you about it. Glad to hear he did. He called Dad earlier.”
“Well thanks. I’ve got Harry here.” He snuck in behind me.
“Hi Grace,” he said.
“Hi Harry, did you have fun in Malibu?”
“I had a lot of fun. A wonderful chance to spend some time with Evie before she takes off for work this week.”
“Did you make a decision on Chicago?” Mom asked.
“We did. He will be coming Friday. I haven’t booked him a flight yet or anything but I am hoping I can get him a flight in before the boys are out of school so that he can make it to dinner.”
“That will be fun. We are all excited to meet the guy that has our Evie playing hooky from work.” I laughed at her. “Where are you two?”
“Harry’s kitchen. I’m making dinner.”
“What are you cooking?”
“Chicken parm with white sauce.”
“Nonna’s recipe?” I nodded. “That’s a big deal.”
“So I hear. Evidently this is the meal that makes a man fall in love with a woman.”
“Not, just a man. It was the first meal her father made for me. And I’m not going to lie. I made it for Marco too. The first night that we had dinner together at that tiny little apartment after we’d started dating it was what I made for him.”
“Well, I’m prepared mentally and emotionally for this meal,” Harry said.
“I hope that I don’t mess it up. There’s a lot of hype going into it now.”
“You’ll do great, Evie. You made it for me the last time you were home and you know I love it.”
“I do know you love it. So does Dad and the boys. Mason was actually the one who told me to make it for him.”
“Oh Mace,” Mom said laughing. “Well, Harry we are all excited to meet you in person. Will you be staying until Wednesday with Evie?”
“As long as she lets me.”
“If he doesn’t have work or need to rush home to London I’m keeping him in Chicago the whole time. Take him to see Nonna and Papa and I figure he can either have a day of fun in Chicago on Tuesday with Dad or he can come to Evanston with me.”
“You should go to Evanston, Harry. It’s beautiful and Evie loves it there. We can make Dad entertain him on Monday. I took the day off to spend time with you and the boys since they don’t have school. Maybe Dad and the boys can entertain Harry so we can have girl time.”
“Sounds fun,” Harry said.
“Well I’m getting ready for bed, early morning tomorrow.”
“Same here. Photo shoot all day for that article in LA Magazine.”
“Well enjoy dinner. Don’t forget to call Dad tomorrow when you get a chance. He wanted to go over the menu with you for Jonny’s party. Not sure why he isn’t asking me.”
“Because I’m his only daughter and I don’t get home much. He knows I need to get my favorites. He at work?”
“Yup, you know how it is. Around here his Sunday nights are busier than his Mondays.”
“They are. Alright Mom, love you.”
“Love you too Evie Mae. See you Friday, Harry.”
“Can’t wait,” he said before we ended our call. I finally had everything ready to put the oven to melt the cheese so I found a few bowls that I could put our servings in and then put them in the oven before sitting down next to Harry at the counter. “I am really excited about Chicago.”
“I’m glad. It will be fun especially since I leave so early Tuesday morning.”
“Should we book my flight?”
“Sure.” We got my laptop out and went through the motions of ordering a ticket. I of course managed to get my credit card info in and processed before he could even get his wallet out.
“You didn’t need to pay for that.”
“I wanted to. You’re flying to meet my family. The least I can do is buy the ticket.” He bit his credit card so as not to have a reaction. “We both have a black card, buddy. I can afford your ticket. It’s only one way. We’ll fly private home.”
“Oh will we.”
“We will. I don’t really fly commercial that often anymore. The benefit of your company having several private jets.” I smiled.
“Well fine. You can pay for this ticket but when you come home to London to meet my family. I get to pay for your ticket.”
“Or we can take a private plane.” He laughed.
“You’re a pain in the ass.”
“I am and proud of it.” Once dinner was done I put both dishes on the counter, grabbed some bread and refilled each of our wine glasses. I sat patiently waiting as he took his first bite. He closed his eyes and elicited the tiniest moan.
“I can now see why so many people in your family fell in love after this meal. It’s delicious.”
“Thanks,” I said as I took my first bite. “It’s my favorite food in the world. You can actually get it at a restaurant in Chicago. Dad pays a dividend to Nonna to use it. She tried to refuse but Pops made her take it.” Harry laughed.
“Isn’t that what your Dad called you on the phone yesterday?”
“It is. It’s what he’s called me since I was little. When he opened his first high end Italian restaurant he named it after me. He used to take me to five star restaurants all over Chicago that freaked out about kids in the place but I was just a tiny adult with him. Grace, which is named after Mom obviously, is the sort of place you go and get what the menu is for the night and it’s like a five course meal. The menu changes weekly. It’s probably his most popular restaurant right now. His first restaurant was Ferrera’s it’s a steakhouse technically but a lot of steakhouses have great Italian food so you can get some pasta there. But Bambina was this totally different experience. And he let me help pick the menu, the decor, the location, everything.”
“How old were you?”
“I was 12,” I replied laughing. “It’s the only restaurant that Pops is still a partner in. He invested in Ferrera’s but Dad insisted on repaying it. There are three owners listed as the owners of Bambina.”
“Who?” Harry asked.
“Pops, Dad, and me. When I turned 18 they both gave me part ownership in the restaurant. The menu tells the story of the development of the restaurant and has some amazing pictures of me and Dad when I was really little together. And it’s got the most bomb ass kids menu you’ll find at a five star restaurant in Chicago.”
“That’s really cool. And if this is on the menu I can imagine it’s all good. This is seriously delicious. You’re incredible.”
“Thanks.” We finished dinner and put leftovers in the fridge. Harry would be able to have it again for dinner on Tuesday when I was gone in New York. After we’d cleaned up from dinner we went upstairs to go to bed. We laid in bed talking about his audition the next day before we finally fell asleep. It really had been the perfect weekend.
NotesI don’t even know where to begin with this chapter. SO MUCH happened and all of it makes me so happy.
They’ve come clean with James and found out that Grace had already told him. Oh Grace, mother’s intuition told her she needed to spoil the news for Everlee so that it wasn’t a knock down drag out fight with her father. I’m sure at some point we will get a sit down between father and daughter where he reveals what that initial reaction had been. But for now Evie and H are running with it! We got to see them both a little bit jealous and declaring that they wanted to be the only person in the other’s life. He laid down the law about her seeking comfort in Joe and she called him her boyfriend in the heat of the moment! Thankfully it didn’t want to vomit because she’s bringing him to Chicago! I can’t wait to see what this very close family thinks of Harry. The approval of her father means a lot but the acceptance of him into her family in Chicago is probably equally as important.
I’m excited to continue to write the development of their relationship. I’ve known from the beginning that Malibu was going to be the first big sign of change. From her on out we get to learn about what they will be like together and how their lives will work together. With as much as they both travel and that he lives in TWO COUNTRIES it won’t be easy. But Everlee has the feeling that things are going to be okay, which is probably as scary as the opposite for her. Anyone else curious if the chicken parm made him fall in love? I know I am!
I’m excited to hear what everyone thinks of it. Good and bad. :) The last week for me has been rough but it started to look up Wednesday afternoon. I spent time with friends who get the fears I go through daily as an entrepreneur that told me I was doing everything right and helped me remind myself that it’s okay to be terrified. Then I got the chance to spend time with someone who has a way of calming me that no one else does. He can read me and knows just what to do to make me laugh or be okay. Someone who can be honest with me and tell me when I need to calm down and just breathe. It made a world of difference in just the short time we spent together. Wednesday was a good reminder to me that if something small can set me off in the way that a few things had that I just need to take the time to step away from life and do something that makes my life feel better. And I did and now I feel more like myself.
So I hope you loved it. Let me know what you think. :) No idea when chapter eleven will be coming but as always I’ll keep you updated on it.