Page 6

I take the last few seconds to rally before Calvin comes into view. I’m generally not one for confrontation, but I know I’ll never stop overthinking what happened Monday night if I don’t at least say something. His feet appear first—black boots, turned-up cuffs—then his guitar case and legs—a rip in the knee of his jeans—hips, torso, chest, neck, face.

A traffic jam of emotions always clogs up my throat when I see his expression, and how transported he becomes when he plays, even in the chaos of the station. I push them down, digging for the memory that he left me shouting like a crazy person in the back of an ambulance.

He looks up right as I move in front of him. The shock of eye contact makes my heart roll over and I wince; my righteous indignation has deserted me. His eyes drop to my cast, and then return directly to the strings of his guitar. Beneath the shadow of his stubble, I can see a flush climb over his cheeks.

This acknowledgment buoys me. I open my mouth to say something just as an E train shrieks to a stop on the platform only a dozen yards away, and I’m quickly swallowed in the sea of people pouring out of it. Breathless, I look back through the crowd, only to catch Calvin packing up his guitar and jogging up the stairs.

Reluctantly, I move deeper into the station, nestled in the herd of commuters. It’s notable that he looked up, right? He doesn’t usually do that. It’s almost like he was waiting for me to appear.

The C train pulls into the station, too, and we all take a few steps closer to the tracks, closer to each other, ready to jockey for a spot inside.

And so begins my completely unnecessary ritual.

Robert is waiting for me in front of the Levin-Gladstone Theater when I approach. It’s probably more accurate to say that he’s waiting for the coffee I bring every Wednesday through Sunday. When I hand it over, I catch a flash of the telltale logo on the cup, and am sure Robert does, too. Madman Espresso is ten blocks away. If Robert realizes that I take the train every morning to an out-of-the-way coffee shop because I want to see Calvin, he doesn’t mention it.

He probably should. I need my ass kicked.

The wind blows Robert’s red scarf up and around his black wool coat, like a wild flag waving in the middle of the gray steel view along Forty-Seventh Street. I smile up at him, letting him have this quiet moment of transition.

Work is stressful for him lately: It Possessed Him has taken off in a really insane way in the past nine months, and all shows are sold out for the foreseeable future. But our lead actor, Luis Genova, only signed on for a ten-month run, which comes to an end in a month. At that point, screen legend Ramón Martín will take over, and with his intense Hollywood fame comes even more intense pressure on Robert to make sure the orchestra lifts Ramón into the Broadway stratosphere. If Robert wants to walk around outside a little and drink his coffee to procrastinate, I’m game. I’m not going to make him go into that building any sooner than he wants to.

He takes a sip, studying me. “How’d you sleep last night?”

“Painkillers and emotional exhaustion ensured that I fell like a brick into bed.”

Robert nods at this, eyes narrowed. “And how was your morning?”

He’s working up to something. I squint suspiciously back at him. “It was fine.”

“After what happened on Monday night,” he says, and lifts his cup, “you still went to see him at the station today?”

Damn it. I should have known he was onto me.

Maybe I will make him go inside. I pull open the heavy side-entrance door and bat my lashes in his direction. “I don’t know what you mean.”

Robert follows me into the cool shadows of the theater. Even with the sounds of people working behind the scenes and onstage, it’s quiet compared to the electric atmosphere of show time. “You go get me coffee at Madman every workday.”

“I like their coffee.”

“As much as I love that you bring me caffeine every morning, you and I both have perfectly functional coffeemakers in our apartments. You’re taking the subway ten blocks and back every morning for fancy espresso. You think I don’t see what you’re doing?”

I groan, turning to move deeper inside, toward the stairs leading to the second-floor offices. “I know. I’m a mess.”

Robert holds the stairwell door open, looking incredulous. “You still like him even after he left the paramedics thinking you were a jumper?”

“In my defense, I went there this morning in an attempt to confront him.”


I growl into another sip. “And I didn’t say anything.”

“I understand what it’s like to have a crush,” he says. “But do you think you should put him so squarely in your daily routine?”

As we ascend, I poke his side with my undamaged left elbow. “Says the guy who moved from Philly to Des Moines because he fell in lust with the waiter serving him a rib eye.”

“Fair point.”

“And if you don’t approve, then point me in the direction of someone better.” I spread my hands, looking around us. “Manhattan—particularly musical theater—is a beast for single women. Calvin was a safe but fun little diversion. I never planned on getting nearly murdered in front of him, let alone actually speaking to him.”

We emerge from the stairwell, and Robert follows me into his office. It’s a tiny room along a hallway with four identically tiny rooms, and is in constant disarray, with sheet music everywhere and paintings, photos, and notes on Post-its lining every inch of wall. Robert’s computer is, I think, one generation older than the desktop I took to college six years ago.

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