Home > Last Night at Chateau Marmont(7)

Last Night at Chateau Marmont(7)
Lauren Weisberger

Brooke shrugged. “No reason in particular. He seems perfectly pleasant. Just a little boring.” She hadn’t meant to say that, but she couldn’t think straight.

Julian’s face broke in a massive smile, one so bright and beaming that Brooke forgot to feel embarrassed. “That’s my cousin you’re calling boring.” He laughed.

“Ohmigod, I didn’t mean it like that. He’s seems really, uh, great. It just—” The more she stammered, the more amused he appeared.

“Oh, please.” He interrupted her, placing his wide, warm hand on her forearm. “You’re absolutely, exactly correct. He’s a really great guy—honestly, as sweet as they come—but no one’s ever described him as the life of the party.”

There was a moment of silence as Brooke racked her brain for something appropriate to say next. It didn’t much matter what it was, so long as she managed to keep her fan status under wraps.

“I’ve seen you play before,” she announced, before clapping her hand over her mouth in reflexive shock.

He peered at her. “Oh yeah? Where?”

“Every Tuesday night at Nick’s.” Any chance of not appearing downright stalkerish had just come to a crashing end.

“Really?” He seemed puzzled but pleased.

She nodded.

“Why?”

Brooke briefly considered lying and telling him that her best friend lived nearby or that she went every week with a group for happy hour, but for a reason she herself didn’t entirely understand, she was completely truthful. “I was there that night at Rue B’s when the jazz quartet canceled and you did that impromptu performance. I thought you, uh, I thought it was awesome, so I asked the bartender for your name and found out you had a regular gig. Now I try to go whenever I can.” She forced herself to look up, convinced he’d be staring at her with horror, and possibly fear, but Julian’s expression revealed nothing, and his silence only made her more determined to fill it.

“Which is why it was so weird when Trent brought me here tonight . . . such a weird coincidence . . .” She let her words trail off awkwardly and was filled with instant regret at all that she had just revealed.

When she worked up the nerve to meet his eyes once again, Julian was shaking his head.

“You must be creeped out,” she said with a nervous laugh. “I promise I’ll never show up at your apartment or your day job. I mean, not that I know where your apartment is, or if you even have a day job. Of course, I’m sure music is your day job, your real job, as it should—”

The hand was back on her forearm and Julian met her eye. “I see you there every week,” he said.

“Huh?”

He nodded and smiled again, this time shaking his head a little as if to say, I can’t believe I’m admitting this. “Yeah. You always sit in the far back corner, near the pool table, and you’re always alone. Last week you were wearing a blue dress, and it had white flowers or something sewn on the bottom, and you were reading a magazine but you put it away right as I came on.”

Brooke remembered the sundress, a gift from her mom to wear at her graduation brunch. Only four months earlier it had felt so stylish; wearing it around the city now made her feel girlishly unsophisticated. The blue did make her red hair look even more fiery, so that was good, but it really did nothing for her hips or legs. So engrossed was she in trying to remember how she’d looked that night, she hadn’t noticed Trent return to the table until he pushed a bottle of Bud Light her way.

“What’d I miss?” he asked, sliding into his seat. “Sure is crowded tonight. Julian, dude, you know how to pack ’em in.”

Julian clinked his cup with Trent’s bottle and took a long drink. “Thanks, buddy. I’ll get you back after the show.” He nodded to Brooke with what she swore—and prayed—was a knowing look and walked toward the stage.

She didn’t know then that he would ask Trent for his permission to call her, or that their first phone conversation would make her feel like she was flying, or that their first date would be a defining night in her life. She never would have predicted that they would fall into bed together less than three weeks later after a handful of marathon dates she had never wanted to end, or that they would save up for nearly two years to drive cross-country together or get engaged while listening to live music at a divey little place in the West Village with a plain gold band he’d paid for entirely on his own, or get married at his parents’ gorgeous seaside Hamptons home because really, what were they proving by refusing a place like that? All she knew for sure that night was that she desperately wanted to see him again, that she would be at Nick’s in two nights come hell or high water, and that no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t stop smiling.

2

Suffer One, Suffer All

BROOKE stepped into the hallway of the maternal medicine ward at NYU Langone Medical Center and pulled the curtain closed. Eight down, three to go. She rifled through the remaining files: a pregnant teenager, a pregnant woman with gestational diabetes, and a first-time mother struggling to nurse newborn twins. She checked her watch and did a few calculations: if all went as smoothly as she anticipated, she might actually get to leave at a decent hour.

“Mrs. Alter?” Her patient’s voice called out from behind the curtain.

Brooke turned back inside.

“Yes, Alisha?” Brooke pulled her white scrub coat tightly around her chest and wondered how this woman wasn’t shivering in her paper-thin hospital gown.

Alisha wrung her hands and, staring at her sheet-draped lap, said, “You know how you said the prenatal vitamins were really important? Like, even if I haven’t been taking them since the beginning?”

Brooke nodded. “I know it’s hard to look on the bright side of severe flu,” she said, walking over to the girl’s bedside, “but at least it got you in here and will give us a chance to get you started on the vitamins and discuss a plan for the rest of your pregnancy.”

“Yeah, so about that . . . is there, um, like some sort of samples you could give me?” Alisha refused to meet her eyes.

“Oh, I don’t think that should be a problem,” Brooke said, smiling for her patient’s sake but irritated with herself for neglecting to inquire whether or not Alisha could afford the prenatals. “Let’s see, you’ve got another sixteen weeks . . . I’ll leave the full supply with the nurses’ station, okay?”

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