November 21st, 1990
Flight from LHR – LAX
Pacific Shore Hotel, Santa Monica, California
It’s easy to fall in love with a place where the palm trees sway in the light ocean breeze and the sky is always clear. The hard part is being in such idyllic surroundings, alone.
I could hardly wait to get to my room and ring David but when I did, battle axe (aka his secretary) picked up. The last thing I wanted to do was argue with her, so I left a message and shortly afterwards, he rang me back.
“I’m in room three two o,” I said.
“I’ll meet you in the bar at eight. Gotta go.”
Not allowing myself to read too much into his words, I met my crew in the bar and wasted no time using the drink chits the hotel provides. By the time I spotted David in the lobby, I was two Long Island Iced Teas into the evening, feeling pretty mellow.
At the sight of him, dressed in smart but casual work clothes, his hair freshly windswept, a sliver of guilt ran through me, which I choked down as I made my way over to him.
“Hi,” I smiled, kissing his cheek. “How are you?”
“Wiped,” he stated, his smile faint. “And hungry.”
“Fancy a drink before we eat?”
He shook his head, his expression stern. “Let’s get outta here.”
I waved to my crew in the bar, through the glass wall and gestured we were, “going out.” Andy, who I worked with for the first time today, gave a “thumbs up” and a look of approval that made me laugh.
David took a left out of the hotel and didn’t reach for my hand like he usually does. In my head, I was making excuses for his apparent lack of interest, attributing it to work stuff and how stressful it must’ve been for him to leave before a holiday weekend.
We didn’t speak until he stopped outside a tiny Mexican restaurant we’ve passed many times before, not two minutes from the hotel.
“Is this good?” he asked.
“Looks great,” I smiled.
Over the menu, I asked if he knew what he wanted, hoping he’d get my meaning and leave the work day behind.
“Something quick,” he said. “I don’t want a late night.”
In retaliation, I ordered a pitcher of Margarita’s, a starter and a main course. My stomach was churning with an unfamiliar feeling of not really knowing what to say, so I drank way more than I should’ve, immediately regretting it the second I stood up and excused myself.
In the restroom, I looked in the mirror and wondered if David sensed I’d been with someone else. Maybe I should come clean and tell him, I thought, just get it all out in the open, but when I returned to the table, his smile looked sincere.
Finally, I thought. That’s more like it.
Sadly, it was short lived and the moment I placed my knife and fork on the empty plate, he flagged down the waitress.
“La cuenta, por favor.”
In the hotel lobby, I waved to the stragglers at the bar and asked David if he was interested in a nightcap before we went upstairs.
“No to what?”
“Oh,” I uttered. “You’re not staying?”
“With the early start tomorrow and the drive, I need a good night’s sleep.”
I felt the anger rise and could no longer contain it.
“What’s happening tomorrow?”
He glared at me in a way I’ve never seen. “You cannot seriously be asking me that.”
Not missing a beat, I retorted, “I seriously am.”
“We’re going to San Diego. For Thanksgiving. With my folks.” He said it like he was reading the phone book.
“Really?” I sneered. “It’d be nice if you’d given me some notice.”
“I asked you like a million times,” he hissed.
“Yeah, then you kept changing your mind!”
I knew the lobby was no place for a scene, so, forcing myself to sound calmer, I asked if he really wanted me to go with him.
“I just told you I did,” he said, not looking at me. “I’ll pick you up at nine.”
He turned and I watched the back of him disappear through the door.
Avoiding any eye contact with the remaining crew I knew were watching from the bar, I made my way to the lift but ended up taking the stairs, by which time I was in tears.