Wednesday, November 26, 2014


**I hope everyone is staying safe and dry during this storm! As I head home (Philly) it's definitely bad down that way. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, see you Friday! xoxo**

Luckily since it was the week of Thanksgiving, it was pretty easy for me to slip out for my interview with Gathr on Tuesday morning. I fed Elena the same excuse I had given Colleen about a doctor's appointment and found myself ensconced in a cab on the way to Gathr's "offices" Tuesday morning.

As the cab carried me across town, I took a few minutes to shoot off some work e-mails and refreshed the inbox impatiently, waiting for Alice to confirm that she'd seen the list of things I'd left at her desk for her to do while I was gone. I swear, sometimes having an intern was more work than not having one. Since she was off Thursday for Thanksgiving, she was supposed to be coming in at 7:00 to make up for the time off. But knowing Alice, I was doubtful she'd saunter in before 10:00.

When the cab stopped at the address in Murray Hill I peered out the window at the building, perplexed. It looked just like a house. I paid the cabbie and stepped out onto the street, smoothing my outfit. I'd chosen an Anthro sweater dress with a simple blazer and low booties, since Jeff had stressed that it was casual. Plus, this way I could just shrug off the blazer and didn't have to change before heading to work to avoid any suspicious glances from coworkers. 

I took the four short steps up to the massive doorway and surveyed the available options. Luckily, one was labeled "Gathr" so I buzzed up. 

"Hello?" came a husky voice from the small, rusty box. This particular house had seen better days.

"Hi, my name is Danielle I have an appointment with Noah and Luke?" I said.

"Oh, you're early. Come on up," the voice responded. I heard the loud buzz and opened the door, simultaneously checking my watch. It was 7:56, I would call that right on time for an 8:00 appointment- but whatever floats his boat. 

I started up the stairs before halting. 

"Shit," I said aloud. I appeared to be in an old townhouse that was broken down floor-by-floor into apartments. But he hadn't told me which floor to come up to. I figured that the door had to be labeled, so I continued up the next flight of stairs. A long hallway stretched in front of me, wooden boards creaking in places that had been stepped on thousands of times before today. The door on my left was unmarked, and I didn't hear a single noise coming from beyond it so I walked past. At the end of the hall I was relieved to find a second door - much newer and solid-looking than the first one, marked with the words "Gathr" in brass letters. I rapped on it twice and stepped back when I heard two heavy footsteps approaching from the other side.

The door swung open, and I swear to the gods above us that my ovaries exploded. Was this a male model they hired to open the door? He had dark hair, nearly black, that hung in waves down his forehead and grazed his eyebrows. Several days' worth of scruff adorned his chiseled jawline and under his lightweight sweatshirt I could see hints of some serious muscles. So not the start-up nerd I was picturing.

"Hello, you must be Danielle Fitzgerald" he said, and I detected an Australian accent lacing his words. As if he had come here ages ago with a thick down-under accent, but years of living in the US had softened and molded it until it turned into a hybrid Aussie/American dialect. 

"Hi," I managed to squeak out. I stepped across the threshold and extended my hand to him, praying it wasn't covered with sweat. 

"I'm Luke," he said, shaking my hand firmly and leading me further into the airy space. They had converted an old apartment into their offices and painted everything white - floors, ceiling, even the doorknobs. It gave off a chic vibe- and you could still see the shape of old wooden floorboards and beautiful archways beneath the white. There were a few random desks, all with two-screened Macs on top. The whole room looked like it could house no more than a dozen employees. There was a kitchen off to the right, which still clung to the sense that it belonged in someones home. On the left wall, the company's logo was blown up and layered on. I instantly loved the space. 

I turned my attention back to Luke, who was watching me take everything in.

"This is great," I said, loosely gesturing my arms out at the room.

"Thanks," he said, nodding in agreement. "It's not much but we've made it our own. Start ups, ya know?" he shrugged and gave me a melt-your-fucking-panties smile. If he had asked me in that moment to quit Platform just to carry his child, I would have done it. 

"So," he said, leading me towards the back right corner and gesturing towards a conference-like set up. He took a seat on one side of the sleek table, and I sat down across from him. "Noah should be here soon," he said, interlacing his fingers behind his head and leaning back. I desperately tried to keep my gaze on his face, and not check to see if maybe this pose was causing his sweatshirt to raise up. His dark eyes studied me and I felt like I should say something - ask an intelligent question, comment on the speedy growth of their company that I'd picked up from my google searches - but my brain and my mouth had stopped working together. 

"How long have you and Jeff known each other?" I finally heard myself ask. 

He smiled, as if recalling the memory of how they met. "A long time," he said. "Too long. We went to school together." 

Before he could say more the door to the office opened and another guy walked in, making a beeline for us. I felt my face redden - was everyone employed by this company hot? 

"Hey man," the stranger said, clapping Luke on the back. "Sorry I'm late, traffic was a mess." He draped his coat on the back of the chair next to Luke and turned his attention to me. "You must be Danielle, pleasure." 

I took his extended hand and tried to reciprocate the firm shake. He hadn't said so, but I assumed this to be Noah. He was light to Luke's dark, and not nearly as jaw-droppingly handsome, but he was definitely cute. His dirty blonde hair was cropped close, showing off his wide green eyes. Maybe I had been watching too much Gilmore Girls lately, but his looks reminded me a lot of the every swoon-worthy Logan

"So, what have you two covered so far?" Noah asked, sitting down and opening up a notebook. 

"Nothing at all, I was just about to dive into things," Luke said. I pasted on a smile and looked at the two guys expectantly. 

"Well, Dani," Noah took the lead, and I fixed my gaze on him. "I'm not sure how much information Jeff gave you, but we're looking to bring in a sort of public relations, social media, marketing person to spearhead our outreach efforts. We haven't come up with a formal job description, or even a title for that matter. But we know we want someone young to fit in with the demographic - everyone employed here is under 30. And we want someone who will go out and hit the ground running. Bring out-of-the-box ideas to the table, and act on any opportunity they see." 

I absorbed this, nodding my head when appropriate. 

"You work at that magazine now with Jeff, right?" Noah asked.

"Yes, I'm currently the Community Manager at Platform - that's how Jeff and I met. Although as you obviously know, he left about a week ago to start here." 

They both nodded at this. "Yeah he's already proving to be a great addition to the team. Not sure how he even ended up at a magazine with his degree," Luke said, speaking the words I'd been wondering myself ever since Jeff had told me about his background in Engineering. 

"Why are you considering leaving Platform?" Luke asked.

"To be honest, it wasn't something that I was really thinking about until Jeff approached me with this opportunity. I was recently promoted and have really been so swamped with new responsibilites that I haven't had time to consider a four-day weekend, let alone a new venture," I gave them a small smile, and was relieved when they both chuckled. 

"But from what I've seen and read, this seems like a great company. And Jeff is a good friend so I wanted to sit down with you guys to learn more," I heard the 'good friend' lie slip out of my mouth so smooth that even I almost believed it. 

Noah nodded and continued, "Well like I said, we just need someone with the right ambition. Gathr is pretty unheard of so far, but we want to change that. It's all about finding someone who will be a good cultural fit, more than someone who knows the ins and outs of a start up." 

We talked for another half an hour about the ways I'd grown Platforms digital presence, and about their visions for Gathr. It was hard not to feel passionate about this company after hearing Noah and Luke talk about it. They filled me in on stories of it's growth from simple idea, to prototype, from the investors they'd gotten on board and finally to where they were today. They'd covered a lot of ground in the few months since it's inception.

"Well Dani, it's been great meeting you," Luke said, standing up and stretching out his kinks. 

"You as well," I followed suit and stood, shaking his hand. 

"I think I can speak for both of us that we'd love to meet you again," Noah said, and even though I had no clue if I was interested, I felt a wave of excitement wash over me at their approval. 

Luke nodded. "We have a small project we can send your way - just a few questions, situational problems, that kind of stuff. If you're interested in taking this to the next level, I'll e-mail it to you today."

"That sounds great," I said, trying to convey my enthusiasm via my over-eager grin. 

"I'll walk you out," Noah said, coming around the table and falling into stride beside me. "I have to run an errand anyway."

"Okay," I said, as we headed together towards the door. We navigated the narrow hallway in silence and emerged into the warm morning together. 

"Are you headed to work?" he asked, shielding his eyes from the sun to peer down at me. His green eyes looked even brighter in the sunlight.

"Yeah, it's not too far so I think I'll just walk," I said.

"I'm headed up to midtown too, do you mind if I walk with you?" he asked. It felt weird, since a minute ago he had just been grilling me on measuring the ROI of social media but I nodded. 

"Of course," I said, and we headed uptown together. "Where are you headed?"

"Just a quick coffee meeting, 47th and Lex," he said. "Are you staying in town for the holiday?"

"No," I answered. "I'm from Philly originally and my family is down that way. You?"

"Hanging in the city, my family is on the West Coast so it's kind of tough to get away for just a day or two," he said.

"Where out west?"

"San Fran," he said, smiling as if just the name of the city could cheer him up.

"I love it there. I've only been once, and I was about 15 but I remember it being gorgeous."

"Yeah it's an amazing city. But then again so is New York," he said. "I don't get home as much as I want to. I just booked a week over Christmas, so that will be the first time I've been back since March."

"That's tough," I said. "I'm lucky that my family is just a quick train ride away."

As we approached 47th, I felt dismayed that he was leaving. It was refreshing to meet someone new, who I knew nothing about. As we got to the corner, I noticed a petite blonde watching us. Her gaze fixed on me, as if assessing the situation. When we got closer, her whole expression changed as she bellowed out Noah's name.

"Noah!," she said, enveloping him in a hug while keeping her gaze on me. "You're late," she scolded.

"I know, sorry, meeting ran late," he stepped aside to introduce me. "This is Danielle, one of the candidates for our marketing position. Danielle, this is Anna."

"Hello," I said, shaking her leather gloved hand. She returned my greeting with a narrow smile. 

"Shall we?" she said, turning her attention back to Noah.

He nodded, "It was great meeting you Danielle," he said. "Here's my card. Luke should be e-mailing you the project but if you ever need.. anything." 

I took the card from him, "Thanks."

He followed Anna into Starbucks, his hand on the small of her back. I wasn't sure why I felt a pang of jealousy at the duo I knew nothing about. 

I continued uptown, my head overflowing with information. This company sounded really exciting and it was a chance to be a part of something potentially huge. However, if it failed I'd be back to square one. I also knew nothing about marketing a start up. Plus, I was already attracted to both founders. That seemed like a recipe for trouble.

I dug around in my bag for my phone, intending to skim any work e-mails as I walked. I was greeted with two texts and a missed call from Elena. 

8:40 a.m.: Hey are you almost here?? There's some secret staff meeting happening at 9. 

8:55: Just tried calling you - come to the south side conference room when you get in. I think this has something to do with that shady call you overheard Colleen on last week. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Today's Post

Holidays + work craziness + me being a terrible human and not pre-planning = no post today. :( 

I'm sorry! Especially after you guys gave so many great and insightful comments last week I wish I could add more, but the post isn't at its best yet. I'll definitely plan ahead so that even over the holiday next week it'll be up Wednesday and Friday, and I promise to make them extra long. So any of you who are taking planes or trains home will have something to read Wednesday. 

Have a great weekend everyone, stay warm if you're up North like I am! 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Game Plan

**One day left to vote Team Dylan v Team Nick! Not sure yet if it'll affect the story line, since I already have an idea of what is next. But it's great to see everyone's opinion!** 

Dylan's train was due in at 1 p.m., so I had texted Ash asking her to make herself scarce for a few hours. Not that she had even returned home from Trevor's anyway. It was now 1:05 and he would be arriving at my apartment any minute, depending on how in demand the cabs were outside Penn Station.

I tried to decide what props I would need to help fuel this serious conversation that Dylan (unexpectedly, the poor sap) and I were about to have. Cheese platter? Tea sandwiches? I wasn't even hungry, and I assumed that Dylan had probably grabbed a bite at 30th like he usually did. Instead, I paced the small apartment, trying to tame the butterflies in my stomach. What if this ended badly? What if he decided that this was too serious and wanted out? I surveyed my outfit in the mirror for the seventh time that hour. Boyfriend jeans, worn-in sweater that hung off one shoulder, loose curls and minimal makeup. I had chosen one of my least favorite tops just in case this ended badly. I had a habit of associating clothes with memories, and if this was a bad one I didn't want to have a hard time parting with what I'd been wearing. 

As I padded into the kitchen and opened the fridge again, my eyes landed on the half-empty (half-full?) bottle of Pinot. As I reached for it I reasoned with myself; just a glass to calm my nerves. While I watched the liquid pouring into a glass, I wondered for not the first time how many drinks per week constituted alcoholism. 

As I sipped the calm-inducing liquid, I mentally ran through my talking points. Was this really going somewhere, since we always seemed to fight? Did he really see a future with us? Why did I still not trust him? I forced these issues to the front of my mind, backing them with real incidences of when I had felt insecure, distrust and unsure. I was determined not to let my excitement at seeing him and my female anatomy do any of the talking until we had hashed out these issues. 

By the time the buzzer sounded a few minutes later, I had worked up to an emboldened version of myself that I wasn't even sure I recognized. I opened the door and gave him a stiff hug. 

"Hey gorgeous," he said, trying to pull me tighter. I resisted. 

Holding me at arms length, he gave me a confused expression. "What do I smell or something?" 

I returned his question with a weak smile. "I think we need to talk."

His face dropped, and I immediately regretted my first words. Quickly losing confidence at his dismayed expression, I tried to reword my thoughts. 

"I just mean, I have a few things on my mind I want to talk about.." I trailed. 

"Right now?" he asked. I admit, it did seem a little like an ambush. He was still standing in the doorway, bag slung over one shoulder and the brisk cold clinging to his body like an invisible cloud. 

"Yes," I nodded, leading him to the couch. 

"Do I at least get a kiss first?" he asked, in an effort to lighten the tense mood I had created. I leaned over and gave him a kiss on the cheek before settling back into the couch. 

"Okay so.. what's going on?" he asked, slinging his coat over the back of the couch and sitting down across from me. There was so much space between us, and I ached to close it. But I continued on with my preamble. 

"First off, I don't want you to think that this is about those transfer papers. Because it's not. I totally get why you turned that down," I began. He nodded slowly, still unsure where this was going. "But I just feel like.. it's been more than 5 months since we started hooking up, and I still don't trust you. And we never talk about the future. And I don't want you to move here right now - I mean, if you did it'd be great but it's not something I need- but I just want to know what you're thinking." 

He absorbed this, his poker face not giving away an ounce of what he thought. After an uncomfortable 30 seconds I was about to ramble more when he finally spoke.

"Dani..I've told you how I feel about you. And that I'm not the best at relationships. If I didn't want to be with you or didn't see a future with us, I wouldn't be with you." 

"I know but I just always feel like you're so distant. And the fact that Kara still says stuff--"

"This is about Kara again?" he interrupted. "I don't know how many times I can tell you that there is nothing going on there. Nothing.

I couldn't help but notice he didn't look me in the eyes as he said this. 

"Plus, you're out hanging out with your ex-boyfriend all of the time and I never say a word!" he was raising his voice now. "I mean you had dinner with him last night, jesus. You didn't even call me like I'd asked, and when I called you I got no answer. But I trust you, so I brushed it off. Yet here I am, after a two hour train ride, and you immediately start accusing me of being untrustworthy? I mean come on Danielle." 

His words stung, and for a moment I didn't speak. I had always assumed I was the injured party in this relationship, but he had a point. 

"Nick is just.. complicated. He's a part of my life. But I'd never let anything happen with him," I said, trying to believe my own words. 

"This isn't about Nick or Kara," I continued. "I just want to know about us. If you're really in this, or if it's just how you're passing the time."

"I could ask you the same thing," he said. 

I felt exhausted already, this conversation was not going the way I had hoped. 

"Every time we hang out, it's great. We have fun. But we never talk about anything," I said.

"What do you want to talk about?" 

"Us! A future. Anything." 

"You said this isn't about those transfer papers, but it kind of seems like it is," he said softly.

I shrugged.

"You're the one who is from Philly, don't you ever think about coming back? I mean, it is your hometown." 

"I know.. but the jobs I want, the career I want, is easier to get in New York. And you're in finance.. there's an entire district dedicated to that here!" I said in a meek attempt to make a joke. 

"Dani.. like you said, it's only been 5 months. I like you a lot. I love spending time with you. If you need some sort of grand commitment right now.. I can't offer you that. All I can tell you is I like how things are going."

"Me too," I said, feeling like we had accomplished nothing. 

"How about this," he said, reaching for my hand. "Let's enjoy this weekend. Then, take some time to think about what you really want from me. Because honestly, I don't even think you know. And I'll do the same."

"Okay," I said to him. Thankful that he had proposed a game plan. 

"And I'll still see you the weekend after Thanksgiving, and we can talk more then." 

I nodded, and finally allowed myself to crawl into his lap. Feeling safe, I exhaled and allowed his strong arms to wrap around me. I couldn't explain why but at that moment, I had a distinct feeling that I was losing something.  

Friday, November 14, 2014

Decision Time

**Instead of dividing this into two posts for a bonus tomorrow, just giving you an extra long one today. Hope that's okay! Have a great weekend, xoxo**

Jeff and I set up a time for me to come into their offices (although he said that calling it "offices" was a stretch), early next week to meet with the two founders of Grindr. They were both buddies of his from college- Luke Fisher and Noah Duval. I did a quick google search of the both of them which turned up a few articles about their "forward-thinking new application", and some press releases about all of the funding that their company had recently received. I found a few photos, but they were all of the guys in groups with investors so I had no idea who was Luke and who was Noah. 

Since I was meeting them on Tuesday morning, I had to come up with an excuse to get out of work. Now I'm a pretty good liar when it comes to anything having to do with my friends or family, but lying to your boss is a whole different ballgame. On Friday afternoon, I tentatively headed into Colleen's office, armed with a vague excuse about a doctor's appointment. When I walked in, her chair was turned away and I could hear that she was on the phone. I started to walk out when something that she said caught my ear. 

"That's a huge cutback Scott," she said, and I realized that 'Scott' was most likely Scott Anderson, our Executive Editor. She listened silently for a few moments before speaking again. 

"Well I don't know why I was never included in those meetings since it affects half of my department. You can't just expect me to concede on these issues when all I've gotten is a handful of phone calls and no answers," with that, she spun around and slammed the phone into its cradle. I stood there like a deer in headlights, and the expression on her face was a combination of shock and rage. 

"How long have you been standing there Danielle?" Colleen asked me in a steely, cold voice.

"Just a few seconds," I said, trying to keep my voice as stable as possible. "I.. uh wanted to talk to you for a second about my schedule next week."

Colleen looked like she was suppressing an eyeroll, but nodded to the empty chairs facing her desk nonetheless. I perched lightly on the end of one and dove right in. 

"I have this doctor's appointment Tuesday morning and normally I wouldn't schedule something like that during work hours but I couldn't get another time," I said, realizing I was probably giving out more details than necessary. Rule number one of lying: be as vague as possible. 

Colleen didn't even look up at me. "That's fine," she said. "Just make sure that intern of yours has assignments to do while you're out on your.. errand," she said, saying errand as if I had told her I was skipping work for a mani/pedi. 

"Yes she already has plenty of writing assignments to keep her busy," I said, feeling the need to justify my managerial technique. Colleen continued to study the papers in front of her. 

"Will that be all?" she asked me, maintaining the same chilly tone she'd been using.

"Yes," I said, standing up. When she said nothing further, I headed out of her office and walked back towards my desk with my tail between my legs. I swung by Elena's desk, grabbing her arm and yanking her with me.

"Hey what the-", she said, stumbling along behind me. I drug her into the break room relieved to find that it was empty.

"I just walked in on the weirdest conversation," I said, as Elena mock-held her arm in hurt. 

"With who?" she asked.

"Colleen. I walked into her office to ask her something, and she had her back turned to me on the phone. I think she was talking to Scott Anderson. Anyway, she said something about cutbacks, half of her department, and that no one had been running things by her. She sounded really upset."

Elena's face grew serious and her already large eyes grew even wider. "Do you think there are going to be layoffs?" 

I shrugged. "I don't know, but it was really weird." 

"Shit," Elena said, leaning against the counter. "Shit.

I nodded. "But maybe it's something else entirely. But then I remembered that weird company-wide meeting they have scheduled for next Thursday," I said. 

"Oh my god," Elena groaned, placing her face into her hands. "We're going to be fired."

"Calm down," I said with an eye roll. "We know nothing yet. I just needed to tell someone." 

Elena extracted her hands and took a deep breath. "You're right. And if there do happen to be layoffs, at least we're the cheap youngins. Don't they usually fire the larger salaried people first?"

I shrugged again. "Who knows," I said, walking past her to pour myself my third cup of coffee for the day. "So what are you doing tonight? Are you still seeing Trey?" I asked in an attempt to change the subject. Elena and I hadn't had a chance to catch up in nearly two weeks. 

"Yeah," Elena said with a face-splitting grin. "We're going to dinner tonight."

"Wooow," I said. "It's been like, a month now hasn't it? I thought you said it was going to be casual." 

"It is!" she defended. "We only hangout like once a week, but he wanted to take me to dinner so I said yes," she said, standing up taller. 

"Well that sounds fun," I said, stirring some milk into my coffee. 

"Is Dylan around this weekend?" she asked. 

"Yeah, he's coming down tomorrow morning." 

"And what about Nick?" she asked. 

"What about him?" I replied with a laugh. "I haven't seen him since the premiere." 

"I've been watching the show," she said, and I couldn't bring myself to turn around and face her. 


"Yeah, it's pretty good. He gets a lot of camera time." 

To be honest, I hadn't watched any since the pilot. I avoided the show like the plague - any reruns, E! tweets, or internet gifs even remotely related to The Real Wolves of Wallstreet and I ran the other way. I had no real justification for it, but I just didn't want anything to do with alternate reality Nick. When I didn't answer, Elena spoke again. 

"Do you like the show?" 

"I haven't seen it past the pilot," I said sheepishly. 

"Really?!" she asked incredulously. "Why not?" 

"I don't know," I said, shaking my head slowly. "It just feels too weird. Plus, when I tell people - like my crazy college friends - that I don't watch it, it gives them less to go on when they're texting me about it." 

"I'd say that makes sense, but I have no famous exes to compare it too," she said with a wink. 

"Okay I should get back to work," I said wistfully. "Do you want to go to yoga on Sunday? I'm going to drag Dylan." I gave an evil smile.

"Oh man, he has no idea what he's getting himself into," she said with a laugh. "I'll text you to let you know if I'll make it."

When I returned home that evening, I had every intention of ordering chinese and curling up with a rom-com. Unfortunately, Ashley had other plans. Immediately after opening our apartment door, she bombarded me with a barrage of plans and I couldn't keep up with what she was saying. 

" we have to be there by 9, which gives us like less than an hour to get ready but I already picked out an outfit for you and it's on your bed. It'll go great with those over the knee boots you just got but I couldn't find them, did you leave them in Philly? Anyway there's an open bottle of red on the counter if you want some and I need to go fix this eyeliner situation but..." 

"Ashley!" I yelped for the fourth or fifth time. I hadn't even gotten my coat off. Finally, my whirlwind of a roommate took a breath and looked at me for the first time in two minutes. "What is going on?"

"I told you, dinner with the guys!" she said, speaking to me like a toddler. 

"What guys?" I responded, shrugging off my coat and heading for the wine she had mentioned. 

"Trevor and Nick," she said, heading down the hall. 

Oh, no she didn't. I followed her into her room where she had sat down at her vanity to fix her makeup. "Excuse me?"

She didn't dare meet my gaze in the mirror, and I knew she had been debating how to weasel me into this all day. "Trev wanted to go to dinner, but I guess he hasn't gotten much time with Nick since the show started. And this was Nick's only free night. So he called me and asked if you wanted to tag along and we could make it a foursome."

"That's a fancy way of saying double date," I said, sitting on her bed. "And I have a boyfriend. Have you met him? His name is Dylan. He's coming over tomorrow. Because we're in a relationship. And when one is in a relationship, they typically don't go on double dates."

"It's not a double date," Ash said, "I really want to see Trev, and Trev really wants to see Nick." 

"So see Trevor tomorrow!" I said, exasperated. 

"He's going to Akron for three weeks tomorrow," she said. 


"I dont know, it's in Ohio. For work or something." She turned around so that she was facing me. "Please D? Pretty please. You are the one who was so excited for me and Trevor! If I don't see him tonight he'll probably forget about me while he's gone. Then it'll all be ruined, and then I'll blame you, and then you'll have to deal with me being depressed and playing Adele 24/7." 

"That is like the worst argument I've ever heard you make," but as I said it, I could feel myself conceding.

"Please?" she repeated. I sighed.

"Let me call Dylan. And don't give me any crap about being whipped, because I'm running this by him and if he says it makes him uncomfortable then I'm not going," I said, pointing my finger at her. 

"Deal," she replied. 

I walked into my room, already dialing Dylan's number. I knew he was working late tonight, which was why he hadn't been able to come up until tomorrow. 

"Hey babe," he said, and I could hear typing in the background. "What's up?"

"Hey," I started, not sure where to begin. "Sorry to interrupt you at work... but I just wanted to tell you something."

"How excited you are to see me tomorrow?" he asked, and I could detect a smile in his voice. 

"Well duh," I said, smiling too. "But remember how I told you that Ashley is dating Trevor.. uh, Nick's roommate?" 

"Yeah," he said, still typing away. 

"Well I guess he's going out of town for a few weeks tomorrow, and tonight is her last chance to see him. But he's doing dinner with Nick, and so she wants me to come so it's not weird. It's not a date or anything, mainly I'm just being Ash's wingwoman. But if you feel weird about it, I won't go. I mean it's freezing out anyway..." I said, a part of me hoping he'd tell me not to go. 

There was a long pause and even the strum of his fingers on the keyboard stopped too. "Dyl?" I asked. 

"Sorry. Hey. Um... I mean, I guess it's okay," he said. 

"Really?" I replied, not sure if I was surprised or not.

"Yeah. I mean you tolerate me hanging out with Kara. And I appreciate that you asked me first."

"Okay, thanks," I said, trying not to dwell on the 'hanging out with Kara' part. 

"Just do me a favor and call me when you get home?" he asked. 

"Of course," I said. 

We spent a few more minutes chatting before hanging up. I surveyed the outfit that Ashley had laid out for me, a high necked, sleeveless lace white top and black jeans. She had even accessorized it for me. Walking back into her room, I decided to mess with her before giving her the good news. 

"Hey," I said, as she looked at me expectantly. 

"Well? What did your ball and chain say?" 

"He wasn't cool with it, sorry Ash," I said. 

Her shoulders slumped and she dropped the mascara she'd been holding. "Okay," she said gloomily. 

As she reached for her phone, presumably to call Trevor, I stopped her. 

"Oh wipe your tears I'm kidding!" I said loudly. She looked at me like a confused puppy who had just been punished for no reason. 


"Dylan didn't care," I said. Ashley leapt up and flung her arms around me, squeezing me a little too tight. 

"Thank you thank you thank you!" she yelped. "This will be great! I promise! Not awkward at all. Okay now go get changed!" 

I laughed and retreated to my room to get ready. 

A few hours later, the four of us were sitting around a dark table at a mexican restaurant hear our house. We had finished dinner and were on our third round of margaritas, laughing and reminiscing about college. I felt badly since Ash didn't know half of the stories, but she seemed to be content just being next to Trevor. 

"...and you had piled the furniture so high she couldn't even get out!" Nick said, wiping away tears of laughter. In my buzzed state, I couldn't stop looking at his mouth. The curve of it when he laughed, the stubble lining the top of his lip, the whiteness of his teeth. Had he had them whitened for the show? I wanted to ask. But I kept my mouth shut and my hands in my lap, even though they itched to rest on his knee. 

"Should we get another round?" Trevor asked, and I glanced at my Marc Jacobs watch. It was nearly 12:45 and Dylan was due in at 9 a.m. 

"I should probably be heading back," I said. My remark was met with groans from the group. 

"Her lovah is coming in the morning," Ash interjected, which was the first mention of my boyfriend all night. Was it me or did I feel Nick stiffen next to me at the mention of Dylan? 

"We can head back to our place," Trev offered, more to Ash than anyone else. We settled up the bill, the boys splitting it between them against Ashley and my protests. 

We stood in the lobby of the restaurant, delaying the moments until we had to go back out into the blistery New York evening. 

"Are you sure you're okay to walk back?" Ashley asked me. We were only about a 10 minute walk from our house.

"Yeah, it'll be fine. Gotta walk off all of that food," I said, smiling and giving her a farewell kiss on the cheek. I hugged Trev then turned to Nick. As I stood on my toes to hug him, he pulled back. 

"Let me walk you," he said. 

"No, really, I'm fine," I protested. 

"Danielle, it's past midnight. You're not walking alone," he said, and I recognized the stern face he was giving me. I wouldn't get my way on this one. 

"Fine," I said, turning back to Ash and Trev. "See you guys," I gave them a small smile and pushed the door open.

We walked about a block in silence. 

"You didn't have to walk me you know. I'm a grown woman." 

"It's not safe, plus I didn't want to be the third wheel as those two made out the whole cab ride home," he said, sending me a half-smile. 

"True," I said. We spent the rest of the walk discussing safe topics - work, the weather and the upcoming holidays. 

"Well, thanks," I said to him, as we approached my door. I dug my keys out of my coat pocket and stood in front of Nick awkwardly. 

"Do you love him?" Nick asked, taking me completely off guard. 

"Nick..." I said, knowing I wouldn't give him an answer. 

The silence hung over us for a while before he spoke again. "Can I at least come in for a night cap?"

"Who says night cap anymore," I said with a laugh.

"Gentlemen like myself. And as a gentleman, I hereby promise not to try anything on you if you let me inside."

"Nick..." I said again, feeling myself weakening. Before I could answer, the air broke with the shrill ring of my cell phone. I knew it was Dylan without even looking. Apparently Nick could tell too. 

"Have a good night, D," he said, giving me a kiss on my cheek. With that he turned and walked away into the night. 

Later on as I laid in my bed, I finally allowed myself to think about the situation I had been avoiding for weeks. I still had feelings for Nick, and it was clear he felt the same way too. But I was head over heels for Dylan. I made the executive decision to have a serious talk with Dylan when he got here. If he had turned down a transfer once, who is to say he won't do it again. We needed to lay the groundwork for our relationship before someone ended up getting hurt. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Someone on the inside

It was well past 8 o'clock on Tuesday evening when I finally got around to reading the email that Jeff had sent me about the new company he was joining. I skimmed my inbox past the holiday groupons and retail sales to where it had sat untouched in my inbox since Friday. Glancing around - it felt wrong to read an email about a new job when sitting at your current one - I confirmed for not the first time that night that I was one of about three people in the whole office at this hour. 

I pulled it open and clicked through a bit. Their website design was crazy colorful and eye-grabbing, which was exactly what you'd expect from a young start up. It was called Gathr (I assumed pronounced 'gather') and from what I could gather (see what I did there?) was a marketing platform that perused all of a company's social media channels, compiling intel, information and analytics about how often things were being shared. 

I rubbed my eyes, careful not to mess up the now 14-hour old mascara job, and leaned back in my chair. I didn't want to leave Platform, at least not in the eager way I had wanted to before my promotion. But I was still so early and unestablished in my career that any decisions I made now would probably set the path for the rest of my life. 

I replied to Jeff, figuring that it wouldn't hurt to at least meet with the guys he had mentioned. The company was intriguing, if a bit out of my league tech-wise. Making a mental note to call my Dad and discuss it later this week, I shut off my computer and headed home.

As I walked into my apartment, I was ridiculously happy to see Ash sprawled out on the couch watching The Mindy Project. Between work and going to Philly, I hadn't spent more than 30 seconds at a time with her since last week. 

"Hey you!" I  said, dropping my keys and absentmindedly flipping through a stack of mail she had left on the table. 

"Hey!" she said, pushing a handful of popcorn into her mouth. "How was work?" 

"The usual," I replied, shrugging off my trench coat and going to sit with her on the couch. I helped myself to a handful of her burnt popcorn.

"So.." she started. "How was the wedding?" Ash asked, lowering the volume on the television where Mindy was undoubtedly spewing off hilarious one-liners to Danny.

"It was... good," I started, before filling her in on all of the details - from Kara's bathroom remarks to the papers I had found in Dylan's room. She absorbed each detail quietly, nodding her head when appropriate but otherwise not interjecting.

"Jeez," she said once I'd finished. "Well for starters, don't worry about Kara. From everything you've told me she just sounds like a drama queen who is looking to shit all over everyone else's love life." 

"I get that feeling too," I said, picking at a loose thread on my blouse.

"As for the transfer thing... I don't think it's that weird that he didn't tell you. Especially since you never even seemed to want him to move here. I think you can let it slide."

I nodded, "I did let it slide. I just felt so... weird that he didn't want to tell me. I don't know, I kind of get the feeling that he keeps a lot of stuff from me." 

"I can see that," she replied, throwing me off a little at how quickly she agreed. But I kept my mouth shut, not wanting to seem defensive when I had just accused him of what she was agreeing with.

"Anyway," I said, eager to steer the subject away from my looming doubts about my relationship, "How was your weekend? We hardly talked."

"It was good," she said, as a sly smile pulled at her lips. "I saw Trevor." 

"Oh did youu," I remarked, wiggling my eyebrows. 

"Yes, we went on an actual date in fact," she said, keeping her gaze away from mine. 

"Ah! Where!" 

"He took me to this Italian BYOB near his place," she said, and at the mention of 'his place', I immediately thought 'Nick's place'.

"How was it?" I asked.

"The food or the man?" 

"Both," I replied with a grin. 

"Food was okay, man was fabulous. I slept over." 

"Oh my god!" I squealed, nearly jumping off the couch. I was so excited that Ash was finally actually pursuing a good guy. Determined not to let my mixed feelings about the fact that he was Nick's roommate interfere, I kept the grin on my face long after it was necessary. "I'm so excited for you."

"Calm down," Ash said, laughing at my over-eager response. "It's only been like two dates, it'll probably all fall apart." But even as she said it, she couldn't suppress the tiny smile that was forcing its way onto her face. 

We chatted for awhile longer about the details of Erica and Ryan's wedding, Ashley's date and other miscellaneous things. Around 11:00 I became too aware of the heaviness of my eyelids, and was about to go call Dylan before taking a hot shower when Ash stopped me.

"Dani?" she asked tentatively, as I was heading back to my room. 

"Yeah?" I asked, turning to face her but keeping my eyes on the work email I had been reading. 

"There is one quick thing I meant to tell you.. and I don't know if you even care or want to know," she started, and I instantly knew that it was about Nick.

"What?" I asked, trying to sound calm and nonchalant. Internally I was bracing myself for a blow.

"On Saturday when Trev and I got home from dinner, it was pretty late, like 1:30 or something since we grabbed drinks after. Anyway, when we got back to his place, Nick had a girl over."

"Oh," I said, trying to sound indifferent. "Well, um, who was she?"

Ashley shrugged. "I didn't get an introduction, and when I asked Trevor he said he had never seen her before. I'm sorry, I don't know if you want to know these things or not..." she trailed. 

"No, Ash, it's totally fine. Thanks for telling me. But really, what Nick does is his business. I mean I have a boyfriend... it's only natural that he should be dating too. Especially since he's on that show now," I gave her a weak grin to try and prove that my words were genuine. "I wish you'd been on the inside a few months ago, but now.. it just doesn't matter to me."

Ashley nodded but didn't say anything else. 

"'Night", I said, heading back down the hall to my room. I flopped onto my bed and gazed at my phone. I had come in here to call Dylan, I reminded myself. But instead I found myself scrolling through until I found Nick's name. I hovered over it for a beat too long before shutting the phone off altogether. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Something Awkward Part 3

**A bit short today, crazy busy week! But since I gave you two short ones, I promise a bonus next Saturday (11/15). Also, I see some of you have already noticed but I created a Team Dylan v Team Nick survey to the right! If you're reading this on mobile, just scroll to the bottom and hit "View Web Version", then you can see it. It runs through the next few days. Have a great weekend!** 

The rest of the wedding was uneventful, and Dylan and I were home and after some much-awaited sex, fast asleep by 1 a.m. 

When we woke up on Sunday, we lazily lounged around for a few hours while I dreaded getting back on a train to NYC. I ached to stay another night since him being in the wedding took away a lot of our time together, but I knew that I'd regret it when I had to wake up at the crack of dawn in order to get back to the city, changed and at work in time Monday morning.

"What time do we need to leave?" Dylan asked me, draping his arm across my stomach. It was almost 3 o'clock and we had yet to leave bed, aside from walking downstairs to make breakfast. 

"My train is at 4:30, so in about an hour," I said, nuzzling into the nook where his arm met shoulder. 

"Alright, I'm going to go shower then. I have to go to a dinner with the guys after I drop you off," he said, extracting himself from the tangle of limbs.

"Dinner with the guys?" I asked, watching with angst as he got out of the bed that had been our cocoon for almost 14 hours. 

"Yeah, we're doing a little post-wedding celebration thing, all the groomsmen and Ryan." 

"Shouldn't Ryan be with his new wife?" I asked, confused. 

I hated that there was still a part of me that didn't trust him when he said things like this.

Dylan shrugged. "I don't know, I think she's busy with some post-wedding errands or something. Ryan just mentioned he'd be alone his first night as a newlywed so we told him we'd grab dinner." 

"That's weird," I said, frowning. But to each their own I suppose. 

As Dylan left the room to shower, I started gathering up my stuff from his room. No matter how organized I tried to stay when visiting, my clothes always ended up all over his room. I was retrieving a tube of mascara that had somehow found it's way to his desk when I noticed a piece of paper with the address of Dylan's work's NYC office on the top. I pulled it out and scanned it, trying to sort through the legal jargon that made no sense to me. It looked like it was from when he had inquired about transferring back in September. As far as I could tell, the letter seemed to be offering him a position in New York in the next quarter. Which, since this was dated late September.. would be now. 

I was still holding the paper when Dylan walked back in his room, wearing nothing but a towel that had settled low on his waist. I ignored the piece of me that wanted to unwrap the towel and get down to business, knowing we had to talk about this.

Dylan looked at my face - which I'm sure portrayed how shocked I felt- then down to the paper, and back up to meet my gaze. 

"What is this?" I asked, confused. 

He took the paper from me and scanned it. "A work thing," he said, handing it back to me. 

"It says stuff about you transferring to New York," I said, frustrated with him. He had walked over to his closet and was sorting through a pile of jeans. 

"Yeah, I told you that I filed the request a few months ago," he said. 

"This looks like it says that you were granted that request, effective the fourth quarter.. isn't that now?" I said. 

He sighed and sat down on the bed, reaching his arms out for me. I didn't budge.

"Okay, about two weeks after I inquired they told me that it was possible... but the position they had was pretty much a demotion. Or if not a demotion, at least just a horizontal move."

"So you turned it down?" I asked.

"Yeah," he said. "A while ago... it just didn't seem like a smart career move."

"Why didn't you tell me?" I asked, trying to keep my voice even. 

"I didn't want you to be pissed at me for saying no," he said, shrugging. 

I rolled my eyes. "You've got to be kidding me. Dylan, of course I wouldn't want you to uproot your entire life to take a position that isn't what you want," I said, sitting down next to him. "How could you think I'd be mad?"

"I don't know," he said, nuzzling my neck.

"No, you can't change the subject," I said, pushing him off of me and standing back up. I waved the piece of paper in an attempt to get my point across. "You should have told me."

"I told you, I didn't even think about it. I wasn't going to take that job, why upset you?" 

I took a deep breath. Sometimes I wondered if his past relationship had been a lie, since he was clearly terrible at knowing how to be a boyfriend. 

"Just forget it," I said, dropping the paper on the floor and walking back over to my half-open bag. I settled down and continued to fold my clothes, my back to Dylan. I felt him come up behind me and kneel, his strong arms wrapping around me awkwardly.

"Look I'm still on their radar if something better comes up," he said, kissing my neck between words. I felt shivers run down my spine but I refused to give in. 

"I didn't ask you to move for me, this was all you. I don't know why you thought I would be upset." 

He turned me around, pulling me into his lap as he did so. We were perilously close to falling backwards. "I'm sorry, I didn't want to get your hopes up by mentioning it."

"Okay," I said, even though I still felt unsettled. When it came to Dylan, it always felt like there was a portion of the story I wasn't hearing. 

"Kara said something to me yesterday," I said. 

He looked puzzled by the change of conversation. "Kara?"

"At the wedding, she said how she didn't even think we were still together. I believe her exact words were 'cut the cord'." 

I felt him stiffen, and his face grew stern. "She's such a bitch," he said, mostly to himself. "Seriously, all she does is try to stir up trouble. She clearly wanted to get under your skin so she just says shit."

"I kind of got the same vibe, but still," I said. 

"Wait.. is that why you marched onto the dance floor yesterday and practically jumped my bones in front of hundreds of people?" he asked, a smile playing at the corners of his lips.

I smiled guiltily, "I was drunk and worked up from her comments," I said. 

He laughed, "You're ridiculous. You don't need to stake your claim on me, everyone knows that we're together." He used his hands to cup my face, lacing his fingers back through my hair. 

"It doesn't matter if they know, it just matters that Kara knows," I said, turning my mouth towards his hand. 

"Forget about Kara," he said, returning to the work he had been doing on my neck. I leaned my head back and tightened my grip around him, and suddenly forgetting about Kara was the easiest thing in the world. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Something Awkward Part 2

If Kara had sat down in Dylan's seat with the intent to tell me something, she never had the chance. Like some kind of incredible act of fate, Dylan entered the room with his bridesmaid on his arm, dancing wildly during the introductions. Instead of lining up along the dance floor, each couple was walking over to their seats. Just 30 seconds after Kara had sat down Dylan was lurking over her chair looking perplexed.

"Kara?" he hissed, not wanting to cause a scene right before Erica and Ryan were set to walk out.

She smiled up at him slyly, before shifting down a few chairs. Dylan sat down in his now-empty seat, and leaned over to give me a quick kiss. I gave him a forced smile before fixing my gaze on the newlyweds. 

Their first dance was to "Better Together", which I found adorable since almost every other wedding song I had heard lately was "All of Me". When the song ended, salads miraculously appeared on our plates and I dug in. Our table had filled up and I was dismayed to see that Kara and an unidentified man were both sharing table number 3 with us. 

"What'd you think?" Dylan asked me as I attempted to stab a walnut with my fork. 


"My entrance!" he said, as if it was so obvious. Clearly he hadn't given the fact that Kara had been monopolizing my attention one ounce of a thought.

"Oh.. right, it was great!" I said, sending him another fake smile. My eyes kept straying to Kara every ten seconds. She was wearing ivory which I found completely tacky, seeing as we were at a wedding. 

The next hour passed in a blur of appetizers, entrees and more wine. Dylan seemed to know everyone at our table but he kept his attention focused on me. When it came time to dance, he swept me onto the makeshift dance floor and impressed me with his moves. I was laughing out loud and covered in sweat, and had almost completely forgotten about Kara until I saw her walking out of the ballroom later in the evening.

"I have to go to the bathroom," I said to Dylan, mid-YMCA song. He nodded and stepped into another group of friends to resume dancing. 

I swung by our table to grab my clutch and exited the ballroom the same way I had seen Kara leave. I don't know what it was that possessed me to follow her, but I had felt like she wanted to say something to me earlier and it was killing me to know what. 

I headed down the corridor, the thick walls muffling the music from the dance floor. As I swung open the door to the bathroom, I heard a few other people in the stalls and saw a brunette reapplying her lipstick in the mirror. I didn't actually have to go to the bathroom, so I stood next to the girl and fussed with my makeup and washed my hands, killing time until Kara emerged. 

A few minutes later, she came out of a stall followed by another girl, wiping her nose. Classy.

I re-washed my hands, pretending like I had just came out of the stall too. I kept my eyes focused down, scrubbing under my fingernails. I felt Kara's cool gaze on me as she approached the sink to my left. 

"Hey Dani," she said, and I lifted my gaze, pretending to act surprised at her arrival.

"Oh, hey," I said nonchalantly. 

"I'm really glad you came, you know, considering," she said. I felt a jolt of confusion rush through me, even though I had been prepared for her to say something like this. 

"Considering what?" I asked sweetly, shaking the excess water from my hands and reaching for a pre-folded towel. 

"Well I just haven't seen you around in a while, and Dylan never mentions you. Honestly, most of us though he had cut the cord," she shrugged before applying a coat of an orange-based lipstick that was completely wrong with her skin tone. I felt the anger bubbling up inside of me as I reasoned with myself. She could absolutely be saying this to get under my skin. But what if Dylan never mentioned me? Not that he had any obligation to, but how hard is it to interject the words "my girlfriend" into conversation once in awhile? 

I took a deep breath before continuing. "We're better than ever," I said, lacing my words with the same sickly sweet tone as she had used with me. 

I sulked past her, both relieved that that was all the ammo she had but also irritated that people thought Dylan and I were no longer together. Fueled by the indignation, I marched onto the dance floor and found Dylan right where I had left him. The music had slowed a bit and I coiled myself around him, as if to stake my claim. I kissed him, long and hard, and I could feel his appreciative response. If anyone in the room had questioned whether or not he was single, they wouldn't anymore.