Read The Berkeley Method Online

Authors: J. S. Taylor

Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary Erotic Romance

The Berkeley Method

BOOK: The Berkeley Method
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Chapter 1

 

Him. James Berkeley. Gone for four days.

Me. Isabella Green. A wreck.

The unexpected phone call came at the end of last week.

James told me he had to go away suddenly. He couldn’t tell me where. He would be gone around seven days. There was no mobile phone reception where he was going.

Sure. Right.

The first day of his mysterious absence was spent using every ounce of self-control not to text or call him.

If he’s got no reception, then your texts will show up when he gets back, and you’ll look like a needy idiot.

But, of course, I couldn’t resist sending just
one
message asking how he was.

And then I sat for an hour, staring at the screen on my phone, willing him to text or call, wondering what was wrong with me.

Today is the fourth day since we last spoke – and it’s all started to hit me.

James and I knew each other less than a week. Just because I’ve never fallen so hard for someone in my life, doesn’t give me any extra rights.

I could imagine the conversation if anyone asked.
Oh, yeah, I met this guy and fell for him after a few days. Then he left without giving a reason, and I know my heart will never recover.
Uggh.

Now the waves of desolation and depression are so bad that the only thing I can do is lie on the couch, staring at my traitorous cell phone.

Why don’t you call?
I mentally scream at it.

Every second feels like an hour. How can I feel this so strongly?

A pair of slim brown legs arrive by my eye line, and I look up to see Lorna standing over me.

“You got it bad, huh?”

Lorna at least understands a little. She saw how it was with us. How fast it happened. Could he have changed his mind that fast too? Do I mean nothing to him after all?

I try to claw back memories of some of the things James said, to convince myself it was real and not a fantasy.

It has never been like this, Issy. I have never felt about anyone the way I feel about you.

The words pool an uncertain glow of warmth in my stomach.

I know he meant those words. I
know
he did.

I search for other reasons.

James met my mother. He
wanted
to meet my mother. He asked me to come visit his father in a few weeks. I have a huge pack of documents from the film he wanted me to star in. That memory brings another wave of uneasiness. Something might have happened with the film. It was something he mentioned before he left.

“You have to get up, Issy,” says Lorna. “You’re making yourself worse, moping in here. He’ll call, I know he will.”

“Why doesn’t he then?” I moan, holding up the blank phone screen. “Where in the world doesn’t have phone reception, Lorna? Where?”

Lorna seats herself gently on the couch next to where I’m stretched out. She’s wearing designer hot pants which show off her long model legs to indecent perfection, and a sleeveless chiffon top with buttons down the front.

Her wild Afro hair is clipped away from her face, pushing the riot of curls away from her perfect dark skin.

I know I make a terrible contrast. My long black hair is unwashed, and my grey eyes look gaunt. I haven’t bothered to get out of my sweat pants today.

“I don’t know how he doesn’t have reception, honey,” Lorna admits, “but the last time I saw James, he was crazy about you. He even sent over his fake wife to convince you to give him a chance.”

I give a little laugh at this. James Berkeley, world famous director, is married to legendary actress Madison Ellis. Or at least, that’s what the newspapers think. In reality, it’s a sham marriage, to boost Madison’s career.

At one stage, I freaked out, thinking James had lied to me about their relationship. So he sent Madison over to my house to talk me down.

“You should have seen your face when Madison showed up on the doorstep,” adds Lorna, trying to cheer me out of my low mood. “You misjudged him then,
didn’t you? Thinking he’d lied to you about his on-camera marriage. Maybe you’ve misjudged him now too.”

But something in her voice slips when she says this. I know Lorna is thinking the same as me. What possible explanation could there be for having no mobile phone reception for more than a few hours?

Sensing she’s said the wrong thing, Lorna looks down to the blanket I’ve tugged over myself and starts fiddling with the stitching.

“Remember this?” She smiles. “When we made this friendship blanket?”

I give her a little smile.

“Of course I remember. I did most of the work on it. You only came to that needlework class 'cause you thought there might be boys there.”

Lorna slaps her hand to her forehead, a wide grin on her face. “What was I thinking? I was so sure I’d find a class of sensitive, artistic boys.” Her face goes dreamy at the thought.

“And instead, you find seven old ladies and one handsome gay man.”

“Yeah.” She smiles. “It was worth that class to make friends with Alex.”

As well as an embroidery genius, Alex is a model like Lorna and has become a good friend to both of us.

Lorna strokes a patch on the stitched quilt.

“You always were amazing at this kind of thing, Issy,” she says, her fingers tracing a looping heart pattern of tiny neat stitches. “This quilt could have been worth some money if I hadn’t helped you with it.”

“This quilt is priceless,” I say defensively, pulling it closer to me and stroking a patch which Lorna made - a large clumsy star stitched in gold thread. “I love that we both worked on it. It’s a masterpiece.”

Lorna smiles.

“Listen honey, I’m serious. You have to get up. You can’t stay on the couch all night. I’m going to a bar with Alex and Sandy. We’re going to Camden, where all the
rrrough
kids hang.” She says this last part with a devilish grin. “You should come.”

The idea of a bar is so alien to how I feel, it’s almost nauseating.

I shake my head.

“Ok.” Lorna gives a deep sigh. “I’ll come back early. Bring you some ice cream, or something.”

“I’m not hungry.”

Lorna strokes my hair and then stands.

“Even with unwashed hair in your sweats, you still look beautiful, Issy. I’m sure he’ll call soon. And if he doesn’t, you can just take your pick of all the other men falling at your feet.”

This thought is so painful, my lips pinch shut in a grimace. I nod mutely and return my phone to its previous position, right where I can see the blank screen.

“They’re all bastards,” Lorna adds airily as she exits the room. “Don’t let ‘em get to you.”

I sigh to myself. That might be all very well for Lorna. But the chaos of emotions in my head is just too much to bear. As she leaves the room, the same bitter feeling of helplessness settles back around me.

Why won’t he call?

A sudden unwelcome thought spikes in my mind. He’s had a problem with drugs in the past. Perhaps it’s come back suddenly.

I squeeze my eyes shut, willing the confusion away. James swore to me that the drugs problem was all in the past. That couldn’t be the reason.

So
, why then? Why?

It’s only
four days,
I growl at myself,
stop acting like a crazy person
.

But I can’t seem to make the feelings go away. He sounded so distant the last time we spoke. Something was wrong. He wouldn’t say what. And he wouldn’t tell me why he had to leave.

The pain and desperation morph into anger. And suddenly, I am furious beyond words at James Berkeley. How could he leave me like this, with no explanation? Of course he must know I would worry! If he feels even a tenth for me what I feel for him, then how could he do this?

I hate him, I decide rashly, my temper spiking. I hate him for making me feel this way, after only four days without him.

When he does call, I will give him a piece of my mind.

You knew him for less than a week
, I remind myself.
Don’t scare him off by being a psycho. He’s entitled not to call you.

I despair over my lack of resolve, I really do. One minute I’m so angry, I never want to see him again, the next I am terrified my actions could push him away. How can I feel this much after only a few days? How can so much rest on one text or phone call?

For the millionth time, I double-check my phone hasn’t been turned to silent by mistake.

It hasn’t.

I scan the list of recent calls, hoping I might have missed something. The only calls are from a withheld number – which means my catering company has been calling. And I can’t bear to book in any waitressing shifts just at the moment.

I glare at the screen, sending waves of emotion at it.

Please call, please call, please call.

I’m almost surprised the screen doesn’t crack. But whatever psychic hotline I might imagine I have to James Berkeley isn’t working. The phone stays dead.

I twist on the couch, accidentally sending the phone skidding off the friendship blanket. It lands with a thump on the waxed wood floor of the Victorian apartment.

Damn. I hope I haven’t damaged it. On second thought, maybe I don’t care.

I lie back on the couch for a moment, too mired in my own depression to even bother picking it up.

Instead I let my best memories of the last few days float through my brain. James and I dancing the tango. Then back at his apartment. The Met Hotel. I still flush at that recollection. James found a part of me I never knew existed.

The yellow roses he bought for our first date are in a vase on the table.

Yellow roses – for jealousy. I’d read in an interview that James would never give red roses. Not since the death of his mother.

I have no idea the reason for that. But the memory brings a fresh wave of devastation.

Red roses symbolise love. James has given me roses twice. Once yellow, to show he didn’t like other men taking pictures of me. Once orange, for passion.

Obviously he never thought I was good enough for red roses. I almost groan aloud in misery. He never cared then, I decide. Why would he? James is a gorgeous famous director who could take his pick of women. What would he want with a drama school graduate who’s too shy to act and majored in script-writing?

There’s a sudden loud noise beneath me. I frown in confusion for a moment. Then I realise. It’s my phone. My phone is ringing.

 

Chapter 2

 

I twist under the blanket and half fall onto the floor. My lower half hangs over the couch, scrabbling for where my phone has fallen.

If anyone could see me desperately hunting for my phone, I would die of embarrassment. But I don’t care. It’s him. It must be.

My fingers snatch up the phone from the floor, and my eyes fix on the screen.

I almost throw it down again in disappointment. It’s my mother.

I let out a deep sigh.

“Hello, Mami.”


Carino! How are you feeling? You don’t sound good.”

I adjust my voice, trying for cheerful. My drama school training at least has some benefits.

“I’m good, Mami. What’s up?” I can hardly concentrate on what she’s saying, through the burning disappointment.

“I just wanted to see how you were, darling.” My mother’s warm Spanish accent is full of concern.

“I… I’m well,” I say, making a conscious effort to pay attention.

“That’s good. How is your wonderful new man?”

This is the last thing I want to talk about with my mother.

“Um. I’m not sure, Mami. He had to go away. I haven’t heard from him.”

There’s a silence on the other end of the phone.

“That’s not good, darling. You didn’t lose your temper, did you?”

My mother knows I have inherited her fiery Spanish temperament.

BOOK: The Berkeley Method
7.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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