"So, are we going to Al's and then to the hotel?" Cayden called from my living room where he was packing his things. I was in my room packing my own overnight bag.
"Yeah. To Al's place, and then we can go swimming at the hotel pool before dinner," I called back.
Al is the executive editor at my magazine, and he's pretty much a bad ass. His resume includes impressive editing positions at Rolling Stone, Spin, and EW (to name a few) so he always has fun stories to tell about hanging out with celebrities—like the time Milla Jovovich pursued him at a photo shoot when she was only 13, or the time he took care of Peter Frampton's muse. But his stories weren't the only thing luring us to his loft. It was the loft itself.
Al had the whole staff over for lunch one day after a particularly crazy week of shipping (for my non-magazine readers, that means when we ship the issue off to the press, which usually entails some severe last-minute editing and tweaks we should have made weeks before). The second I stepped into his Deep Ellum loft, I said, "Cayden's got to see this."
Cayden loves the loft look. The industrial-looking kind with exposed brick, big windows, and cement columns in random places. That's exactly what Al lived in. His bedroom was open to the living room, which also housed the kitchen and a long wooden kitchen table Al had built himself. The living room area was higher than the rest of the apartment; the couches and TV were on what looked like a shallow platform, or a stage.
"That's actually my DVD collection," Al had said, pulling out an 8-foot-long drawer from the side of the platform, lined side to side with DVD cases.
Cayden had fallen in love with the Merc, but the Deep Ellum loft was beautiful in a completely different way. The Merc is new, shiny, modern, bright, updated. Al's loft is old, authentic, dark(er), weathered. I actually didn't know which I preferred, but I was interested to see what Cayden thought.
"OK, I'm ready when you are," Cayden said, stepping into my room.
"Umm, where are your pants?" I said, observing his short shorts that showed off his defined thighs.
"These are my swimming shorts. We're going right to the pool after Al's, so just figured I'd wear these there."
I tried not to laugh, but I couldn't stop the smile from forming on my face. I shook my head and tried to keep a straight face. I didn't want to embarrass him, but he couldn't wear those to Al's. I'd die. I'd have to walk around with a big sign that said, "Don't worry, he's European!"
"Babe, aren't those a little short?"
"Well, they're swim shorts. Aren't swim shorts short here?"
"Well, not THAT short. They're fine for the pool, but can you throw some pants on before we go to Al's?" He looked down at his shorts, incredulously.
"You mean people don't wear these outside? What about when they go for a run? Don't guys wear short shorts when they're running?"
"Yeah, but we're not running. So... pants?" I couldn't think of a nicer way to ask.
"But they're not ironed properly," he said, convinced it was a legit excuse.
"They JEANS! They don't need to be ironed! Just throw them on and you can wear your short shorts in the pool and iron your jeans before dinner. Deal?"
"Fine. But when we move in together, you're going to have to get used to the shorts," he said, half serious, half laughing.
"I have a feeling things will be clothing optional in our place."
"You're right, Al's place is beautiful," Cayden said when we got back to my car.
"I know, right? So what do you like better? That or the Merc?"
"Hard to say really. I still want to see the Davis building," he said, ducking into my car.
I didn't care if we lived in a cardboard box on a street corner in East Dallas, I was just thrilled to hear him talk about a future with me. Of course, I knew he saw me in his future, otherwise he wouldn't have been dishing out hundreds of dollars (pounds?) in plane tickets to come visit me.
I pictured what it would be like to live with him. We'd throw dinner parties on our hypothetical rooftop with twinkle lights strung around the banister. We'd make breakfast together, him dressed up in his slacks and perfectly fitted button down, me in my jeans and a tube top paired with a cardigan to take it from weekend-wear to work-wear. We'd meet our friends for happy hour after work and then we'd come home buzzed and have sex on the living room floor.
"Dinner is at 6 right?" Cayden asked, squeezing my thigh while I drove.
I checked the clock and saw that it was already 4. So much for a splash around in the short shorts.
"Yep, so it looks like we only have time to check in to the hotel and shower, and then head to dinner. Sorry, no pool time today," I said, squeezing his hand.
"That's OK. I'm excited to see this hotel. It looks great from the photos."
I'd booked us a room at NYLO in Plano because Cayden had sent me a link to it the year before when he was going to come visit me in Texas, before he broke my heart. He was drawn to the loft-style rooms and I was drawn to the surprisingly affordable price tag. I'd actually been the NYLO once before, for that Tres Generaciones Tequila event I'd taken Brady to my first week back in Texas (you might remember it from Ch. 21: Tequila Shots). But I'd never stayed a night there.
Twenty minutes later, we pulled into NYLO's parking lot. Surrounded by open field, the four-story brick building almost looks eerie. But as soon as we stepped inside, the eerie sensations were replaced with that of swanky, stylish, comfort. Egg-shaped, hollowed-out plush chairs hung from the ceiling, dangling near slate-colored walls.
"Hi, I have reservations for tonight under the name Whitney," I said to the man at the front desk.
"Wait. Are you that Whitney? Like fairytale Whitney?" His eyes bulged at the word "that."
I laughed and shrugged my shoulders. "Guilty. And this is Cayden." I saw that his name tag said Everett.
"Oh my god. I've only read half your blog but I printed out the rest of it and it's at my house, but I didn't catch up yet! Don't tell me what happens!" He said, covering his ears and stepping away from us.
"Well, then forget you saw us here so you won't know what happens this chapter."
"My best friend read the whole thing, and she would just die if she knew I was talking to you," he said. The other guy behind the desk looked from me to Everett and back to me, a confused look on his face. Everett noticed.
"Oh, I'll fill him in. Now here are your keys, and enjoy your stay!"
We held hands in the elevator on our way up.
"I wonder what he's telling that other guy right now," I said, glancing at Cayden. "I hope it's not, 'she's a dirty, dirty sex blogger and they're probably going to do it in the hotel bed right now.'"
"Well, would he be wrong?" Cayden said, leaning down for a kiss.
We opened our hotel door and walked in with our jaws dropped.
"Holy crap. It's beautiful!" I said.
"Much better than the photos," Cayden agreed.
I pulled out my camera and Cayden ran and jumped on the bed.
"OK, we have to be at the restaurant in less than an hour, so start ironing your clothes now," I joked. "I'm going to take a quick shower, feel free to join me."
I pulled off my clothes, leaving a trail to the semi circle shower. I turned the knob and felt the warm water pour down from the Rainshower head.
"Babe?" I called out from the shower.
"Yeah?" he answered from what sounded like where the bed was.
"Umm. There's a mirror. IN THE SHOWER. A MIRROR. IN THE SHOWER."