My alarm went off and I wanted to cry. Not only did I have to pull myself out of my warm bed, Cayden's warm arms, but I also had to drag myself to work and leave Cayden behind. I hated Mondays. But I hated this Monday more than most.
"Don't go," Cayden said, pulling me closer against him.
"You're killing me, smalls," I said, giving in to his pull.
The thought of leaving my bed for my stuffy gray-walled cubicle was almost enough to make me call in sick. I still had 13 sick days. Hadn't used any. But I just couldn't do it. My editors knew I wasn't sick. They knew Cayden was here, and I just couldn't play hooky, no matter how badly I wanted to. But I did decide to use one of my three remaining vacation days on Friday so we'd have a 3-day weekend together before he went back to London.
"I wish I could stay right here," I said, pressing myself against him as close as I could get. "But I can't."
I broke free of his grasp and forced myself out of bed.
"I know you can't. Figured it wouldn't hurt to ask," he said. "I wish you had more vacation days."
"You're tellin me."
I dragged my feet across the carpet as I reluctantly headed to the shower. I took one more look at Cayden all cozy in my bed and rethought the whole calling-in-sick thing. I could potentially have a fever, right? Could I call in sick with the measles or dysentery or some other Oregon Trail type illness?
I brainstormed other potential diseases in the shower. As I washed my hair I thought maybe I could fake a bad case of head lice. No one would want a head lice outbreak in the office. We all worked in such close quarters. I lathered my body in bubbles. Oh, leprosy. That would be a great excuse. I took a deep breath while I was washing my face and started choking on the water. After 5 minutes of intense coughing I thought maybe I could fake bronchitis. Maybe an upper-respiratory infection.
But by the time I got out of the shower and examined my body for contagious diseases, it was obvious I had no good excuse to call in sick to work. Love sick, maybe.
Refreshed and dressed, I stepped out of the bathroom to see that not only had Cayden gotten out of bed, he'd also made my bed, stacking my pillows perfectly. He was sitting on the bed, bent over tying his shoes.
"Beautiful," he said when he looked up to see me in the doorway. It put an instant smile on my face.
"I thought you were going to sleep in," I said.
"Decided to get up and hit the gym. Then I'll grab a shower and meet you for lunch."
"Sounds like a perfect plan."
My flashing phone caught my eye as I was editing a front-of-book story. I picked it up and saw that I had a text message from Cayden.
I'm on the bus and I think I'm in the projects.
I laughed trying to picture my clean-cut and proper Cayden on a public bus in the Dallas projects.
The bus driver just got off the bus and went to the store. He left us on the bus!
I laughed and shook my head. I thought it would be impossible to get work done knowing Cayden was in the same city but I couldn't be with him. But it was surprisingly easy. Knowing I'd get to spend my lunch break with him and all night with him meant I didn't have to rush to talk to him at work between projects. Because of the time difference between Texas and London, I'm at work when he's at home and I'm home when he's at work, so our conversations are usually rushed emails or sporadic gchat messages.
Cayden took the bus downtown and hopped on the free McKinney Avenue trolly to meet me at my office in uptown. I took the elevator down to the lobby and saw him waiting for me in the lounge. He had his backpack with him and looked like an overgrown student.
I ran-walked up to him because I couldn't wait any longer to touch him. He stood and wrapped me in a hug, followed by a hungry kiss.
"Hungry?" I asked when we broke the kiss.
"Starved. Can we go to that sandwich place you always talk about?"
Cayden had an obsession with sandwiches. He thought Subway was the greatest restaurant chain on Earth. But I'll fight day and night that Mr. Goodcents is 90 times better. I grew up on Mr. Goodcents. It was my favorite place to eat when I was little. I remember going there after I'd get my braces tightened because it was the softest thing I could eat. The bread at Mr. Goodcents is like a cloud. A delicious, white, fluffy, edible cloud. When I moved away from St. Louis when I was 12, I moved away from Mr. Goodcents. I didn't have it again until I moved to Norman, Oklahoma, for college. And now it just so happened that the only Mr. Goodcents in the state of Texas was located across from my office. Lucky me.
"I hoped you say that."
We walked across the street hand-in-hand. I ordered my usual (turkey on white with provolone cheese, lettuce, and mayonnaise), and Cayden chose a Philly cheesesteak. The people behind the counter knew my order before I opened my mouth.
We decided to sit outside because it was a refreshing 75-degrees.
"So, how was your workout?"
"It was quite nice. I ran on the treadmill for a while and then lifted weights. How's work?"
"Not bad! I've been surprisingly productive today."
"Oh my god," Cayden said after swallowing his third bite. "This is so good!"
"I told you."
"So much better than Subway. The bread--- how do they do that?"
Cayden understood my obsession with Goodcents. We both had good taste.
After lunch, we walked around the corner to the postal office to get a spare key made for Cayden so he can go in and out of my apartment while I'm at work all week. i handed Cayden the freshly-molded key, and then came to a realization.
"Wow. Now you have a key to my apartment. This is serious."