"Start spreading the news, I'm leaving today…" I wake up at hearing the words to the famous Sinatra song flowing loudly from the kitchen. Ever since we'd moved to New York, my best friend, Penelope, sang it every morning at seven to wake Raven, our other best friend, and me up.
I dragged myself out of bed and walked out to the kitchen. Penelope was already dressed for the day, sitting at the table with a bowl of cereal and the theatre section of The New York Times open in front of her. I uttered a brief and barely audible 'good morning' and then headed to the fridge to grab a Pepsi for myself in order to awaken. I started heading back to my room when I realized that Raven was still asleep. I smirked and grabbed one of the red, puffy throw pillows off of our black pull out sofa and quietly crept into Raven's room.
"Raven…" I said in a sing song voice. I sighed and chucked the pillow at her face. She karate-chopped the air like an angry ninja and then accidentally rolled off the bed. We both snorted with laughter for a moment before I went to help her up.
"Did she fall out of her bed again?" Penelope called from the other room, which only made us laugh even harder. I left Raven alone to change into her clothes for the day and shuffled off back to my room and began rummaging through my closet, looking for something to wear to work. Luckily for me, it was casual Friday, and finding something was going to be quite easy for me. I pulled a pair of blue skinny jeans, a white t-shirt and a black leather jacket off their hangers and quickly dressed in them. I put on my red Converse, and then I was pretty much ready to go.
I emerged once again from my room and then sat down at the table, stealing the part of the Times that was left untouched. Technically, I supposed I shouldn't have been reading it due to the fact that I worked for the Brooklyn Eagle, but I would've much rather worked at the Times. I didn't think my boss was aware of my act of treason, but he honestly wouldn't have cared, and might've even agreed with me. I snacked on an orange from the fruit bowl whilst reading when Raven reappeared, now dressed and hair brushed.
"Oh, by the way guys, you won't be seeing me until late tonight. Graham's taking me out for dinner and a movie." Penelope mentioned with a smile.
"Sounds like fun," I commented. "That means Raven and I will have to find something fun to do."
"Hell yes! Me and Annabeth will have a party of our own and…eat tacos!" Raven stated.
Penelope laughed. "I'm sad I'll miss it."
I glanced at the clock only to find that it was time for me to go to work, so I ate the last bite of my orange, gathered my laptop bag, bid adieu to my friends and began my daily stroll to work, and that's when I let my thoughts take over. I immediately thought of Graham, Penelope's boyfriend. I had the worst love-hate relationship with him possible. By that, I meant that I loved him, which I absolutely hated him for.
He had been Penelope's boyfriend for nearly a year, and I had been hiding my feelings for at least that long. The worst part was probably that I knew she loved him, and yet I still fell for him. I felt like such a shitty supposed to be best friend for it, but I honestly couldn't help it. Feelings weren't just something you can press a button to turn off; they were uncontrollable and came and went as they pleased, because believe me, I would've switched mine off as soon as they had begun.
I tried to push these pestering thoughts away once I got to my place of work and put on a smile for my coworkers, though I avoided conversation with all of them, as per usual. I simply just wandered to my lowly and slightly depressing cubicle and was greeted by a manila file folder on my desk. I sighed, and began setting up my laptop before I even picked it up. Finally, after avoiding it for as long as I possibly could, I opened it up. Don't get me wrong, I loved my job, but I didn't always get the best assignments.
"Dear Annabeth," It read. "Your latest assignment is to write about the issue of food poisoning from local hot dogs stands. Please interview a hotdog vendor and at least one random passerby. Sorry about this, but it was the best one I could get for you. Love, Mr. Thomas."
I sighed once again and did a brief headdesk. "Good thing I don't like hotdogs…" I thought. I grabbed my notepad and a black pen, and started to walk back out again, but then stopped and went to Mr. Thomas's office and knocked.
"Come in." He said. I entered and he looked up from his large stack of paperwork. "Look, I'm definitely sorry, Annabeth, but that was the absolute best I could get for you. You know you're my favorite reporter here, so I don't see why you think I'm hiding all the good articles from you. It's just a slow news day."
"What? I don't think you're hiding any articles from me. I'd be completely stupid to think that. I'm more concerned with the fact that we've been having so many slow news days." I commented, an air of suspicion now appearing.
"We're competing with The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, you name it. There are over 50 different newspaper publishers in New York City and almost 20 magazines. I mean, for God's sake, even you don't read our newspaper. Plus, do you know how many TV stations there are? This may be one of the biggest cities in the country, but there is just not enough news to go around for us." He explained.
"Well, maybe we just aren't looking deep enough." I stated matter-of-factly.
He laughed. "What do you want to do? Go into the sewers and interview the rats?"
I folded my arms, definitely not amused. "Mr. Thomas, while I do acknowledge the fact that you are my elder, I am not particularly enthralled by the way you're handling this. Why aren't you mad, like I am? Don't you want the Brooklyn Eagle to succeed?"
"Annabeth, you know I do, and I love that you're so passionate about this, but there is nothing I can do about this. I am an editor, but that does not give me super powers. Now, will you please just go and do what I asked you to?" He asked. He looked tired, with dark circles under his eyes and everything. The look his eyes seemed like he wanted to tell me something else, but I knew it was best not to pry.
I left his office without another word and left the Brooklyn Eagle's pathetic little headquarters. I began heading to Central Park to work on my article. Once there, I internally grumbled about my bonehead level assignment while sitting on a bench, with Graham not entering my mind once, surprisingly enough. I then felt my phone buzz in my pocket, snapping me out of my monologue.
It was Graham, speaking of the devil. I took a deep breath before opening up the message. "Hey," It read. "You want to meet me somewhere for lunch and hang out?"
I set my phone beside me on the bench, moving my hands to grip the underside of it tightly, which, unlucky for me, was covered in chewed up pieces of bubble gum, but I decided not to care at that moment. I looked down at my shoes, and then took a glance at my phone, and then back at my shoes and so on and so forth. "What does this mean? Should I say yes? No? GAH! DAMMIT GRAHAM! WHY DID YOU HAVE TO APPEAR IN MY LIFE?!" I thought.
"Excuse me, ma'am," Someone interrupted. "But it seems to me like you're phone is troubling you a bit."
I jumped, but didn't release my grip. "Uh…what makes you say that?"
"Well, for one, you keep looking at your phone like your confused, and second, your knuckles are turning white." He said, gesturing to my hands.
I stopped clinging to the bench and picked up my phone, closing out of my inbox. "Oh, no, it's…nothing. Here, you can have a seat if you want; though now you probably think I'm crazy."
He shook his head and sat down. "I wouldn't say crazy. Distressed, yes, but not crazy."
"Then I feel sorry for you if you get to know me." I commented with a slight laugh.
A grin briefly flashed across his face. "Eh, you can't be worse than any of my friends, or me for that matter."
I smiled, and then realized I hadn't actually looked him in the face since he originally appeared, so I decided to see who I was talking to. I could tell he was tall, even though he was sitting down, and he had short brown hair and dull brown eyes. He was an attractive man, but he looked sad, and sort of lost.
"So, what's your name stranger?" I questioned.
"Ethan. Ethan Faulkner." He said, and extended his hand to me.
I took his hand and shook it. "I'm Annabeth Walters."
"Annabeth? That's an exotic name." He mentioned.
"I don't know if I'd call it exotic…" I stated.
"Well it's not one that I've heard. It's a good name though."
"Thanks?" I said with a questioning look.
Another smile appeared, gone as quick as it came, which sort of bothered me. "What brings you and your confusing cell phone here to Central Park today, Annabeth?"
"Oh, yeah. I'm writing an article about hotdog vendors giving people food poisoning. I have to interview one of the vendors and a random person. You're not a hotdog vendor by chance, are you?" I joked.
"No, but I am a random person." He pointed out.
"Duh." I said, doing a facepalm at my own obliviousness.
I got out my notepad and pen and began asking Ethan questions. They were dumb questions, but then again, so was the article, therefore it was only fitting. We laughed at the stupidity until finally, I ran out of questions.
"Wow, that was really idiotic. Sorry about that." I said.
"No, that was…amusing. And stupid, but that's beside the point." He smiled. This time it didn't fade away as quickly as the others.
"You know, Ethan, you seem like a really cool guy. This means you and I and possibly our other friends need to hang out sometime. Here let me have your number." I said, getting out my phone and opening a new contact.
He looked me over for a minute, seemingly wary. "Okay." He replied, and then sputtered off his cell phone number.
"Great," I smiled. "I'll call or text you sometime soon and we can get together."
He was silent again for a second. "Look, I'm definitely not looking for a relationship right now, so I just want to make it clear that I only want to be friends."
I tilted my head a little in confusion. "Well, uh, that certainly wasn't my intention in asking for your number or anything."
"I figured, I just…uh, yeah."
It suddenly got sort of awkward between us. "So, uh, I'll talk to you later?"
"Alright. Good luck on that article, Annabeth." He stated, and then he strolled away.
I completely forgot about my text from Graham and was instead focused on the new potential friend I had found. Little did I know, a whole new realm of possibilities was just beginning to open up, not only for me, but for my friends as well.