Getting Over Edie Ch. 06bynerd4music©
Author's Note: Sorry to keep you waiting. Life plus insane writer's block equals me never getting anything done. Your patience, threats, kind words, etc. were much appreciated. ~n4m
"So are you ever going to reveal this new girl?"
Grady glanced up from his computer screen. He was putting the finishing touches on his latest blog entry when Gia's voice interrupted his productivity. He frowned slightly. Her question was the one on everyone's mind. His recent entries in his breakup series chronicled the new stage in his life.
He described his adventures with Arden to highlight his progress in the breakup/recovery process. Grady made sure to keep her identity a secret. He wasn't ready for the world to make assumptions, but mostly he enjoyed having those moments to himself.
Two weeks. Two whole weeks of solid hangout time was enough to convince him that moving on was the right decision. But he wasn't about to tell Gia's nosy ass any of that.
"Something I can help you with, Gia?" Grady chewed thoughtfully on his pen cap as Gia shot him a look.
"Oh come on, Grady. You know we're going to eventually find out who it is. Just save everyone in the office the trouble and just tell us who she is already."
"A journalist reserves the right to protect his sources, Amato. Besides, you and the rest of the Gossip Mafia need to focus on your own work instead of hounding me about my life."
Gia rolled her eyes and snapped her gum.
"Alright, alright" she conceded. "I'll ease up. For now." She made to head back to her cubicle but stopped suddenly, turning to face him once more. "Whoever she is, she deserves a gold medal. I can't remember the last time I've seen you look so enthusiastic about anything."
Grady was touched by her compliment. Gia was a strange creature; sure she was loud and bossy. She had a tendency to stick her nose in everyone's business and was known as "The Mouth" for a variety of undoubtedly scandalous reasons, but beneath the ridiculously tight sweaters and impossibly bright red lipstick...she was actually kind of sweet.
"Thanks, Gia. That's really sweet of you."
She smiled. "I can be a decent human being once in a while. Also, Nell wanted you to stop by her office before you leave today."
"I can only imagine what she has to say."
"Good luck." She paused for a minute, her sassy demeanor replaced by a slightly uncomfortable air. "Grady?"
"Is Benny seeing someone? I feel like an asshole asking you about it, but he hasn't exactly been around for me to question him."
That wasn't the question he was expecting. The naked hope in her eyes made him tell the truth.
"Yeah, I think so Gia."
He could tell she was crushed, but she kept her emotions in check long enough to squeak out a half-hearted chuckle. "Oh well. Another one bites the dust."
Grady played along with her, the awkwardness of the situation a little too much for the both of them. "Listen, Amato I'm sorry—"
"No it's okay," she said brightly. A little too brightly. She was faking it, but he wasn't going to call her out. "I gotta go. If Nell asks, just tell her I wasn't feeling well. I'm leaving a little early."
"Will do." He watched as she practically fled from his cubicle. Grady felt a little sorry for her. Benny was kind of a dick for stringing the girl along. Sure, she could be slightly clingy. But she didn't deserve to be crushed like that. Grady made a mental note to talk this shit out with his best friend. He didn't want things to get weird at work.
Turning back to his computer, Grady fell headlong into his work. It wasn't until his phone vibrated for the fifth time did he stop. "Hello" he answered distractedly.
"I was beginning to think you were ignoring me," Tony said.
"I've just been doing some layout work for my blog, man. What's up?"
"Well I'm free tonight. We've being trapped in the studio all week with Love in Chains, putting the finishing touches on the EP. It's due out in a few days. Everyone's kind of antsy, so we're kicking back tonight."
"Sounds good. What's the plan?"
"Well Gem's doing Friday night dinner at her place. Real small. Just a few people trying to relax. Are you up for it?"
"Yeah, man. Doesn't Gem live outside the city?"
"She does. Benny's driving us up there."
"Alright. Well I'm still at work but I'm leaving in a minute. Just have a quick meeting with Nell. I should be home in the next half hour or so."
"Okay, dude. It's like four-thirty right now. We'll pick you up around six. Sound good?"
"Yeah. See you later." Grady ended the call and started to gather his things. He was about to head for the elevator when he remembered Gia's message. He looped back around and walked towards Nell's door.
Grady was about to knock when the door flew open and Nell nearly collided with him. "Shit!" he exclaimed. "Sorry Nell."
Nell's calm demeanor never faltered, although Grady could see a hint of a smile on her lips.
"Never mind that," she said, waving away his apology with a flick of her wrist. "I'm just glad you ran into me now. I was about to leave for the evening."
"Oh. Well I'll walk with you to the elevator." Grady gestured politely for her to lead, and he quickly followed behind her. "So what's up? Gia said you wanted to see me?"
"Yes." Nell pressed the down button before fixing her gaze back to Grady. "I received a call earlier from ChatTV. Dahlia Monroe wants to interview you."
Grady was shocked. "Wait, what? Are you serious?"
Nell adjusted her white framed glasses and shot Grady a look. "Yes, Mr. Kade. I am quite serious." The elevator opened and they both stepped inside.
"Nell...that's freaking awesome. Dahlia Monroe's show is kind of a big deal."
"It's more than 'kind of'. This kind of exposure is beneficial for you and the magazine. I sincerely hope you take advantage of this opportunity."
"Absolutely," Grady said.
Nell shot him a rare smile and the elevator signaled their stop. "Good. I'll see to setting up a meeting with you and Dahlia. Have a good evening."
She breezed out of the elevator, her commanding presence practically forcing people in the lobby to jump out of her way.
"So I got some interesting news today," Grady announced. He was in the backseat of Benny's SUV as they headed out of the city to Gemma's Long Island abode.
Tony, who was sitting in the passenger seat shot him a curious look. "What's up, man?"
"Dahlia Monroe wants to interview me."
Benny chuckled. "Get the fuck out! She's so hot."
"What? That's awesome. Is this about the blog?"
Benny shot Tony a look. "What else could they possibly talk about? Hair care tips?"
"Shut up," Grady muttered. "Yeah Tone, it's about the blog. Nell told me she's interested in getting to know me."
Grady didn't even have to look up to see the leer on Benny's face. "Uh-huh. One of the most popular web radio hosts in New York is just dying to get to know you, and you're just sitting there playing it cool?" Benny scoffed. "I would be fucking pumped. Dahlia Monroe is so unbelievably hot!"
"I'm pretty sure she's a lesbian," Tony chimed in.
Benny rolled his eyes. "Who the hell told you that?'
"It's just one of those rumors you hear a lot in the industry."
"The industry? Listen to this guy. Whatever. I'm sure your facts are wrong, as usual. So are you going to do it?"
Grady nodded. "Of course. It's good for the magazine and my career. I guess I'm just a little nervous. Talking about Edie in front of people is going to be a little hard."
"Why?" Tony asked. "You seem to be doing quite well."
He was silent for a moment. It was true; he was doing much better. He slept soundly through the night and didn't wake with his head pounding and his chest aching. It was a good feeling. Plus, there was Arden; but his friends didn't know about that.
"I am," he replied sincerely. "Things are good."
"Then concentrate on that part. All the other
stuff is extra."
Grady nodded. Tony was speaking a fair amount of truth. He didn't need to rehash and worry about trivial matters, but focus on the future. An interview with Dahlia Monroe was a great opportunity. He couldn't let thoughts of what Edie might think get in his way. Besides, wasn't he past feeling like this?
"You're right, man. I'm definitely going to do it."
"Yes!" Benny exclaimed. "I need to go with you to her studio. I would love to meet Dahlia."
"Whoa there meathead," Tony said. "Aren't you dating someone?"
Benny rolled his eyes. "Calm it down, old lady. Stevie and I aren't 'going steady'. We have a mutual understanding. What we have isn't exclusive."
Tony snorted. "Two weeks ago you couldn't admit you were sleeping with her, now suddenly you have a 'mutual understanding'? Benny you're so full of shit, it's practically seeping out of your pores."
Grady chuckled as the two bickered back and forth. His mind drifted to thoughts of Arden. He couldn't wait to see her tonight. It'd been a few days since their last hangout session. He'd been busy with piecing together his latest article, and she'd been swamped with a new class schedule. Her dance semester was super packed with several classes. She'd been running a little ragged, but wasn't too tired to grab a quick meal or a cup of coffee with him.
Since that night at her apartment, there were plenty of kisses and touches, but nothing further. It didn't bother him; in fact, he was quite comfortable with the pace. Sure, he wanted her, but he didn't want to rush and potentially ruin the camaraderie he enjoyed. She was practically the only real female friend he ever felt truly comfortable around, and that made her special.
And to be honest, he was also a little concerned about the rest of the group. He was beginning to understand why Benny and Stevie were sneaking around. He wasn't worried about them giving him shit, but more concerned about what telling them meant. It was giving life to whatever was brewing between the two of them. Right now it was in that dream state, where everything and nothing felt real. Announcing it to the world would force him to define things.
His heart beat faster as they pulled into the driveway of a modest brick house. The quickened pace continued even as they made their way up to the front door. Before Tony could knock, the door flew open, revealing a breathless Gemma.
"There you are!" she exclaimed happily. "We've been waiting for you." The petite woman stepped aside, as the men lumbered in.
"Sorry we're so late, baby" Tony replied, planting a sweet kiss on her cheek. "Benny here drives like an old ass lady."
"My car is my baby. I'm not about to get into an accident."
"Gem, please no. I'm not trying to hear another bickering session between these two," Grady said.
"I had enough of it in the car."
Gemma chuckled as they followed her down a hallway. Her house was a decent size and unlike the vibrant colors of Arden's apartment, the décor was decidedly muted. It was tasteful, modern, and chic. They made their way to a dining room with a large circular table.
Dax, Stevie's bandmate was already seated at the table, sipping a beer and checking his phone. For a brief panicky moment Grady was paranoid that Dylan and Edie would be there as well, but he forced those thoughts out of his head. No way would his boys let him be ambushed like that.
The guys greeted Dax and sat down. Few minutes went by before Stevie huffed into the dining room and plopped between Benny and Dax.
"Fucking ridiculous," she muttered.
"They kicked you out, huh?" Dax asked, his green eyes full of amusement.
Stevie scoffed, irritation marring her darkly gorgeous face. "You drop ONE plate and suddenly it's a fucking federal crime."
Grady hid a grin behind his hand as Benny awkwardly patted Stevie's shoulder.
"Poor Stevie. She's not the domestic type at all." Dax turned to Benny. "Good luck with getting her to cook you a meal, bro. I've experienced Stevie Knox's cooking skills firsthand. She'd probably poison you."
Tony and Grady cackled as Stevie shot Dax a murderous look. "Fuck you, Jones. I've had to put up with shit from the Domestic Goddesses in the kitchen. I'm not about to hear it from you."
"You just keep your ass away from Gemma's good plates," Arden said as she breezed into the dining room. She was carrying a large platter full of garlic bread. As she set the platter on the table, her eyes met Grady's. She smiled broadly before ducking her head. Grady returned the grin. "Hey boys," she said. "Can I get you some beers?"
"Sure," Grady said with a nod. His eyes immediately zeroed in on her outfit. She was wearing a festive African-print dress in vibrant hues of gold, umber, and green. The dress stopped about mid-thigh, showing off her gloriously long legs. The sweetheart neckline showcased her cleavage and when she leaned over the table, Grady was treated to a lovely sight.
He grinned when she caught him looking and mouthed 'later' before heading back into the kitchen. It was only a couple minutes later that Arden returned with beers for the boys and a bottle of wine. She sat down next to Grady just as Gemma brought out a large serving dish full of some sort of pasta.
Dinner was relatively nice; the conversations and drinks flowed easily as everyone enjoyed the meal. Gemma was a skilled cook, and her Cajun chicken pasta was delicious. "Dammit Gem, Grady and I are gonna need to hit the gym extra hard after food like this," Benny said.
Grady nodded. "But it's worth it. I haven't had a home-cooked meal in forever."
"Well whenever you feel like you need a break from takeout, I'll cook for you anytime," Gemma said with a smile.
"You hear that Tone?" Benny asked. "Your girl's gonna cook for us."
Tony shrugged. "She cooks for me all the time." His smile was smug as he laid a sweet kiss on Gemma's cheek.
"Ugh," Stevie said with a shudder. "Get a room."
"We're in my house," Gemma shot back. "All these rooms are mine."
Grady snorted as Arden shook with silent laughter. It was nice to kick back and enjoy the company, especially with a certain person in particular.
His eyes kept meeting hers and he was fighting hard to keep a stupid grin off his face. Reel it in, Kade he warned.
The guys were on clean-up duty, much to Benny's consternation. It was only until Gemma threatened to never cook for him again did he shut the hell up and scrubbed the pots. Grady, Tony, and Dax had to laugh at the giant temper tantrum he was throwing about washing dishes.
After the kitchen was spotless they all gathered in Gemma's tastefully decorated living room. Benny settled into the recliner while Stevie surprised the hell out of everyone by sitting on his lap.
The look she shot the group forced them to stifle their laughter.
"Hey Gem, where's the little guy tonight?" Grady asked. He and Arden sat on the sofa, careful not to appear too close.
Gemma cuddled close to Tony on the loveseat.
"Milo's with his dad tonight. It's his week to
Dax looked around the room. "Whoa, why do I suddenly feel like a seventh wheel?"
Arden laughed easily. "Well if you would stop being so difficult, with those impossibly high standards, maybe you could actually find a girlfriend."
Dax rolled his eyes before shooting Arden a smile. "It's not being difficult if I want a girl I can actually have a real conversation with that doesn't involve referencing a Kardashian."
"Sounds fair to me," Tony interjected.
"Besides dude," Benny offered. "Grady and Arden aren't paired up. Relax."
Grady could feel five pairs of eyes watching him and Arden on the couch. He huffed. "You guys are nosy as hell."
Arden chuckled. "Whatever. I'm probably the only woman in New York who isn't infatuated with the famous Grady Kade." Her smile was small and sly.
Grady ducked his head to hide his laughter. "I'm sure women aren't infatuated with me."
"Right, because Dahlia Monroe wants you on her show just for shits and giggles," Tony said.
"What?" Arden exclaimed. "Grady that's so cool! I love her show."
"Yeah," he said, nodding his head. "Just heard the news today. We have to work out a few things with her people, but as of right now, it's a go."
"That's so awesome. Congrats!"
His face lit up at her wide, genuine grin and the brightness of her fawn-like eyes. "Thanks," he said. A strong urge to grasp her hand overtook him, but he bit down that thought. They were still hanging out with their friends and he wasn't about to go down that road, at least not with an audience.
They sat around, shooting the breeze and watching some random action movie on cable. An hour later Stevie announced that she and Dax had to leave.
"We're laying down the last two tracks for the EP." She turned to Tony. "Are you working with us tonight?"
Tony shook his head, wrapping his arm tighter around Gemma. "No, Gizmo's covering the boards now. You'll be fine. Just call me if there are any problems."
"I should probably get going too," Arden said.
"I've got an early dance class."
Stevie nodded. "Cool. Benny will give us a ride back into the city."
"I will?" he shot her a quizzical look, but quickly changed his tune when he saw her eyebrows furrow. "I mean, yeah no problem." Benny turned to Grady. "You ready to go, man?"
Grady fought to hide his laughter. "Yeah, I'm ready." He kissed Gemma goodbye and thanked her for dinner before promising Tony that he'd call him tomorrow.
The car ride back to Brooklyn was mainly filled with a hilarious argument between Benny and Stevie about the realistic aspect of the action movie they watched earlier. Grady was glad his friends were pre-occupied, because it gave him a chance to have his own private conversation with Arden.
His eyes drifted to Benny and Stevie in the front seats, voices raised before his hand snaked out and grasped Arden's fingers, giving them a gentle squeeze. Her gaze met his and she smiled. "Hey," she said softly.
"Hey." Grady couldn't help the warm feeling in the pit of his stomach at the sight of her shy grin. "Sorry you have an early class. I thought we would hang out, since I'm off tomorrow."
Her thumb traced small circles on the top of his hand as she shot him a conspiratorial grin.
"There is no class. Well, at least not tomorrow. I just wanted to get out of there so we could spend some time together."
Grady chuckled, shaking his head. "Smooth, Finch. Real smooth."
"Smooth is my middle name. So are we going to my place?"
"Yeah. But how are we going to pull that off without them noticing?"
Arden waved his question away. "Don't worry. I've got that covered too." She leaned forward, clearing her throat loudly. "Hey Benny, just drop both of us off at my place."
Benny stopped his conversation with Stevie and shot Arden a look in the mirror. "Okay, I guess. I don't mind taking you all the way home, man."
Grady was about to speak up, but Arden stepped in. "Well that's cool except the other day Grady let me borrow his zip drive so we could swap music, but he's got a presentation tomorrow and his notes are on there."
She winked slyly at him and he couldn't help but admire her skills. The girl really was smooth.
Benny shrugged. "Whatevs. Less driving I have to do." He returned to the conversation with Stevie.
Twenty minutes later, Grady found himself in Arden's apartment. "Do you really think Stevie went to the studio?" Arden asked, stepping out of her flats.
"In my mind, yes" Grady replied. "I never want to think about her and Benny engaged in any kind of indecent act."
Arden chuckled as Grady shuddered. "Speaking of indecent," she said, gently tugged the front of his red thermal Henley, bringing him closer.
"I've wanted to do this all night."
It was a soft kiss, the passion behind their lips escalating it into a full on make-out session.