It’s time for part two! You all liked the first part so much, so that’s exciting! Sad/happy news though, there might be a part three! I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to finish it all today. Hahaha, guess you’ll just have to stick around.
Today may be a little short, so to appease you all, I made a Spotify playlist for this story. Y’all can find it here!
Suddenly the man’s forehead crunched together. Hesitantly, he moved his hand to Adriane’s face and brushed aside her hair that she often shook down in front of her scars.
“Are these scars?”
“Why do you hide them?”
Flinching at both the man’s touch and his question, Adriane scooted back a little. Why should he care about this?
“Why does it matter to you, sir?”
“Call me Jacob. And it matters because it looks relatively new. When did you get these scars?”
Adriane took a shaking breath.
“I was in 9/11.”
The man’s eyebrows raised slightly.
“What are the odds… So was I.”
It hardly phased Adriane at all. Many people had been in 9/11. It wasn’t uncommon to meet someone who had been affected by that horrible day.
“It seems, sir, that the odds are fairly good. We live in New York City. The odds, I’d say, are high,” said she, with a barely raised eyebrow.
Jacob matched her expression.
“True-” he paused to brush her hair out of her face again, “-but I think I know you, so it makes it a little more interesting.”
Adriane’s eyebrow scooted a little further up her forehead. Frantically, she searched the man’s face, hoping for some way to realize how she knew him. It was for naught.
“I’m sorry,” she said, a little embarrassed. “I really don’t remember you.”
Jacob laughed a little.
“We’ll see, then. Let’s give it time.”
Standing up from his squatted position, he offered Adriane his hand to pull her up. It was only then that she noticed Jacob’s legs. In the place where one would see two normal legs, she saw two prosthetic ones. Hurriedly looking up to meet Jacob’s eyes questioningly, Adriane tried not to seem afraid or judgemental. Even though she was neither, she didn’t want to make him feel like she was.
To her surprise, Jacob didn’t launch into the tale of how he lost them. He merely nodded his head, smiled a pained smile, and said,
“9/11. Lost them for a good reason. I’d do it again.”
His response shocked Adriane. She hadn’t met someone like this before. Sure, she’d met people who were selfless but he seemed to be completely willing and wanting to do everything to keep people safe at the cost of his own life.
Her eyebrow still raised, but no longer in shock, Adriane took Jacob’s hand.
“So, I’m sorry, but I never got your name,” Jacob muttered quietly after she had stood up.
“Adriane Carmichael, sir. And you were Jacob…?”
“Jacob Allan. And in all honesty, please drop the sir.” His eyes twinkled as he paused. “It makes me uncomfortable. Feels like I’m in the presence of royalty or something.”
“Maybe you are in the company of a royal…” Adriane looked at him sternly until something in Jacob broke.
“I’m so sorry,” he rushed to say, “You’re not a royal, are you? Oh my gosh, please don’t be a royal.”
Adriane had never laughed as hard as she did then.
“Only a daughter of the King, don’t worry.” She winked. “I can’t help it if I’ve been raised well.”
Jacob grinned. Almost as quickly as it had appeared, it vanished. A blush seemed to replace it. Clearing his throat, he began again.
“So, I was wondering if you’d like to go grab some coffee or something? I kinda want to hear more about your 9/11 experience… I have a couple questions.”
Great, Adriane thought, he’s going to ruin my day with social interaction.
Hesitantly, she smiled. The smile felt fake on her lips, but he was asking her out! How in the world would she be able to react normally? She had just met this man, and now he was asking her out. Plus, dating aside, that would mean she would have to add an afternoon of socialization into her calculations.
He must have noticed the obvious worry on her face because he immediately spoke up.
“It’s fine, you really don’t need to. Honest. Gosh, I’m sorry. If you’re busy, you don’t need to. I didn’t mean to-”
“No-” Adriane interrupted his stutterings. “-I’d love to. I’m sorry, I kinda faded into thought.”
The words left her mouth and instantly surprised her. Had she just agreed? Gosh, she was an idiot. She just met this man!
Well, it was no use now. She’d just have to roll with it.
Throwing everything back in her backpack, Adriane hurried to not leave him waiting. She slung it across her back and turned back to Jacob as he started to walk down the sidewalk. She caught up to him quickly and the awkwardness settled between the two of them like morning mist settling between two mountains.
Puffing out her cheeks before beginning, Adriane silently cursed herself for agreeing to walk with this Jacob fellow.
He turned his head slightly. “Yes?”
“You asked me out…”
“Is that was this is?”
“Is it to you?”
“I don’t know… maybe?”
“Jacob, what answer is that? ‘Maybe?'”
Jacob shrugged. His cheeks were ruby red but he wore the look well.
“How about we call this a friend date?”
“Whatever you call this, let’s leave ‘date’ off of it. I don’t know you,” Adriane said laughing.
“Well, that’s perfect. I don’t know you either. Let’s go get coffee and get to know each other!”
Adriane hadn’t noticed it until then, but she had her hands just outside of her sleeves. She always tucked them inside the sleeves when she was uncomfortable, so it surprised her that they weren’t where they usually were. Shrugging it off, Adriane kept walking.
“Fine. You’re pushy.”
“I prefer the term ‘enthusiastic’, but thank you.”
They reached Jacob’s desired cafe, sat down, and ordered their hot beverages. As they’re waiter left, Jacob turned to face Adriane again.
Cringing, Adriane tried to smile.
“That was a question. You were supposed to answer.”
“Yep. Try again.”
Jacob smiled and propped his arms up on the table.
“I’m waiting. Go.”
To her, it seemed like he was a toddler waiting for storytime, His shimmery pale blue eyes sparkled with anticipation. Adriane only wished that the story was something better. Not the tale of how her life was ruined.
“Well… I was working as a receptionist in the Twin Towers. The plane hit us. No one saw it coming. I wish I could’ve done something to help someone, but I got caught in the fire.”
She gestured to her face, a tear rolling down her cheek.
“I should’ve done more. All I did was get scarred for life, both physically and emotionally. I wouldn’t even have made it out alive if someone hadn’t helped me. I just wish I could’ve been more helpful.”
Jacob leaned across the table and gently wiped the tear off her cheek.
“Don’t beat yourself up. You did all you could. It was hard on all of us. As for you not helping anyone, well, I don’t know about that.”
“What did you do there? At 9/11, I mean.”
“I was a first responder. A fireman, actually. I’m not one anymore, due to… injuries… but I was one then.”
Jacob’s face shone as he talked about rescuing people.
“I rescued a lot of people from those buildings. It was scary if I’m honest, but the saving didn’t get old. I knew that the people needed me, so I guess the fear never really entered my mind.”
Amazed, Adriane nodded.
“I just wish I knew who saved me. I never was able to track the person down.”
“I’m sure you’ll find him eventually,” said Jacob.
But at that moment, the waiter brought the mochas, so Adriane wasn’t able to see the sudden realization hit Jacob. She wasn’t able to see the sudden twinkling in his eyes.