“Girlfriend, we are CELEBRATING!” shrieked my best friend and partner in crime so loudly I stretched my cell phone several inches away from my ear.
I grinned, knowing the cause for celebration. Gabriela had been accepted to Harvard Business School, her lifelong dream. “Meet you at six! Don’t be late,” I said, chortling back at her.
“Six!” And with that, Gabriela hung up.
Spritzing perfume haphazardly over me I walked into my office to grab my prized alligator briefcase. It was not lost on me that life was about to change. This home office space was a luxury and I was going to have to do some serious thinking about what to do when Gabriela moved out. Ugh. I locked the door to the apartment and traipsed to the elevator. My plan would be to avoid thinking about it for at least another week, maybe two.
Gabriela and I looked distinctly out of place wearing business attire and kitten heels, perched at the end of the bar in the gritty, dark interior of Dean & Abe’s—a local hole-in-the-wall—at six on the button. Dean, our long-time third musketeer, had bought the bar two years ago with his cousin, Abe.
Dean & Abe’s carried a wide-range of beer and they mixed a mean cocktail. Tonight, however, Dean had splurged on a few bottles of Clicquot—meaning Gabby and I sipping from champagne flutes looked even more incongruous. Good thing neither of us cared.
Dean leaned over to refill our glasses. “When will you leave, Gabs?”
“We should plan a trip over Fourth of July,” was my suggestion.
Gabriela nodded her raven curls in agreement, then turned pointedly towards me. “What are you going to do about the apartment? You need a roommate.”
So much for leaving this topic alone for another week. I cringed at the idea of a new roommate. The only reason I lived with Gabriela was because she was the closest thing to a sister I’d ever had. She knew all my ugly idiosyncrasies and was my best friend, so when she found the amazing three-bedroom loft in Wicker Park, rooming together seemed the right decision.
“I have no desire to live with another person.”
That was the truth. I was a classic only-child—I liked my own room and my own bathroom, and I didn’t share well. My leftovers are my leftovers. Don’t touch them.
“Well…” hedged Gabriela. I obviously wasn’t going to like what was coming. “I think I found you a new roommate.”
Narrowing my eyes at her I took another sip of my embarrassingly expensive champagne. My silence provided Gabriela her opening. “Remember Laurel O’Donnelly? My friend from college?”
I shrugged. I did not remember Laurel O’Donnelly.
“Brown hair, worked on the school newspaper, wore glasses?” questioned Dean.
“That doesn’t exactly narrow it down,” I quipped.
Gabriela ignored me. “Yes. Kind of unassuming, pretty and sweet. You met her. We went shopping in Lincoln Square.”
“Seriously, I don’t remember, but whatever. Why does she need a roommate?”
“She just got into graduate school and is coming back to town.”
Dean’s eyes, brimming with concern, spoke volumes. The loft was more than a bit beyond my budget and Dean knew it. The location was spectacular, the space was light and bright, and the third bedroom served as my office. I owned my own graphic design and branding firm and worked from home. With Gabriela leaving, I would either have to get a new roommate, or move out on my own and give up the office space.
Dean’s voice was quiet, cajoling. “You should give it a try, Violet. You love that apartment.”
As much as I loved them, these two were serious downers. This was Gabby’s celebration—her night. This was not the time to discuss my looming predicament. My tone was firm and unrelenting when I said, “I thought we were celebrating.”
Gabriela and Dean took the hint and we were soon planning our Fourth of July escapades and dipping into a second bottle of Clicquot.