Some say I took off with a certain Norwegian, had my way with him, and then returned to life in that covert West Virginia black ops.
Some say I took an extended vacation, visited my off-the-grid Dad in his bunker home.
Some say I donned a TBD, spent time with my posh mother in Georgetown (as if), and ate raw oysters everyday for breakfast (I’m controlling my gag reflex as I write this).
The truth is that I found nirvana, and, no, I’m not talking about Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl, although I’ve been playing “Come as You Are” a lot lately. I discovered the pure serenity of a North Carolina beach cottage in the middle of winter with the ocean roaring, the winds whipping, and no pesky tourists around. And, alas, no Tom. Life’s funny that way, you can find nirvana without the man you thought made the sun rise and the moon set, and that’s a bunch of malarkey, as my grandmother Ryan would tell you.
I just celebrated my 26th birthday. That’s old for a mouse. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. I hung out at a bar and grill, pretended I liked the Pittsburgh Steelers while quelling the fact that I really hate football. I’m a boys of summer kind of girl. (Max, Max, my Cy Young beauty, I’m available.) And, I stared at my cell phone wondering why no one needed me, the best hacker on the eastern seaboard. Okay, that last bit may be all in my mind and in my police record.
So, I didn’t pay attention when the door opened, the cold March wind stormed through, and then a familiarly scented man sat on the bar stool next to me. Actually a part of me must have paid attention, because I sat up straighter, kind of felt my nipples tighten, wiped my mouth with my napkin in case some errant blue cheese might be clinging in an unladylike fashion, and felt certain parts of me that will go unmentioned tingle. But I didn’t look over. Why? Because you don’t know how many times I thought Tom might walk into this gin joint looking for me and how many times I looked over only to discover that the newbie might be the type of Tom to jump on couches instead of jumping on me.
“We need you to come back,” he says.
My brain scrambles those words so that I hear his accented English say: I need you.
I wipe my mouth again while staring at the asses of football players in a huddle.
“We both know you all don’t need me.”
“We need a hacker. A good hacker. We need you.”
He reaches over, steals a fry from my basket. Now he has my attention. The moment I look at him, I’m lost. I’m always lost when I look at him. He bites the fry, his blue-green eyes smiling at me. For a moment, I wish I were that fry, with his teeth and lips all over me. I roll my eyes. I’ve always considered myself smart because you don’t get a police record at 14 for being a hacker and being dumb. You just get it for being caught. But this guy with his marble-mouthed English accent and his blue-green eyes, and those full lips that I just want to kiss and suck the hell out of. He makes me stupid all the time.
“I need one more day here,” I hear myself saying moments before I sip my Manhattan. Screw this. I chug the rest. Nirvana is in the past.