Why is it that time speeds by when you want it to go really slow?
Emily had come to my apartment after work to help me pick out an outfit.....at her insistence. I didn't want to wear anything too encouraging. Of course Emily couldn't understand that. She was clearly smitten with Alex. I wondered if he knew she felt this way.
After debating about what I should wear Emily finally agreed that my dark indigo jeans were the best way to go and she picked out a low cut sleeveless top which I had bought in a moment of weakness and never worn. She said the plum color looked nice with my skin tone. I would have rather worn something that covered me a lot more. Emily had rolled her eyes.
Emily had tried to show me a new hairstyle too. Finally she gave up dissing my curly mop. “You should straighten it” She had said. That was a lot of work and why should I do that when people paid good money to have curly hair?
I finally shooed Emily from my apartment. I walked to the hall mirror and assessed my appearance. I tugged on the shirt. It was tighter than I would have liked. I tried to shuffle it around to make it fit better. I huffed and pouted at my image in the mirror. If only I ate more salads and traded the designer coffee's for water.
Who was I kidding? Coffee coursed through my veins.
I glanced at the clock. Wasn't he supposed to be here by now? I sat trying to be patient. Patience was not one of my best traits. I checked my watch. It showed the same time as the clock on the wall. I was being neurotic. Just because I was incredibly punctual didn't mean other people shared the same obsession.
There was a knock at the door. I could still fake an illness, my mind thought quickly, but I fought off the urge. Who knows maybe I will have a good time. Maybe Alex is exactly what I needed.
I answered the door and I took an appraising look at Alex. He wore jeans as well so I was happy that I had fought for that choice. He looked much like he did at work everyday except toned down. He grinned at me. “Hello Stacey.” he paused in the doorway looking me up and down. “Are you ready to go?”
I wasn't liking how he was looking at me. I felt uncomfortable already. “As ready as I'll every be!” I grabbed my jacket and bag off the counter. Alex insisted on driving as most guys would. I was just so used to feeling independent. I made sure I had my keys and locked the door behind me. We rode the elevator down in silence. Thank goodness it was a short ride. I hated elevators as it was. Ever since I was a little kid they'd make my stomach feel upset and I was feeling topsy turvy enough as it was without any extra help! When we exited the building Alex walked in front of me and I expected him to hold the fire door open for me, but instead he kept right on walking.....letting the door nearly hit me.
“Hey!” But Alex was already charging ahead and was unlocking his car door. It was a Mustang. Figures, I thought, it fit with my impression of him. I stood waiting on the passenger side as he leaned across and unlocked my side.
Once I was buckled up, I asked “Where are we going to go?”
Alex looked over. “Where do you feel like going?”
“Well, I've never been to the Broadway Roastery.” It always mystified me that it was called Broadway but was located on 8th street rather than Broadway.
“The Roastery it is.” He said, putting his car in drive and pealing away from my west side home.
For the most part we rode in silence.
“Can I turn your radio on?” I asked reaching for the dial.
“I prefer to to not listen to music.” He said putting his hand over the radio dial to prevent me from doing anything.
I was shocked. “You don't like music?” I'd never met anyone who didn't. It didn't seem natural. I mean, this was usually the type of car you'd see cruising the streets with music pumping out all the windows.
“Oh.” Music was such a big part of who I was. I sat back in my seat and watching the scenery go by the window. There were couples walking holding hands.....people walking their dogs.....it was spring and people were taking advantage of it.
Finally, when the silence was deafening we pulled into the parking lot. We walked into the establishment and the wonderful mixture of coffee and baking tickled my nostrils. Heaven. We stood at the counter and ordered our drinks. There was a showcase of pastries and I also ordered what looked to be a lovely danish. The cashier totaled up the order. I looked expectantly at Alex. He looked expectantly at me.
“Do you mind if we go dutch?” He asked.
Cheapskate. Yes I minded. I dug out my wallet and handed my portion over to the cashier. She smirked.
Alex grabbed his coffee from the counter when it was ready and without a word found a table and seated himself. I was left to wait alone for my own. I guess chivalry was dead. I took my tray and walked over to the table. I pulled out my chair and sat down setting my tray and bag on the table. I took the lid off my coffee to let it cool and picked up my danish. I took a slow bite and savored it. I set the danish down and then I spoke. “What would you like to talk about?” Music was out, obviously. “Tell me about yourself.”
“There's not much to tell really.”
Uh-huh. “Well, amuse me.”
“I grew up here in toon town.” He sipped his hot coffee. Alex had not bought a danish. “My parents are both teachers. I don't have any siblings.”
“What do you do when you're not working.”
“This and that.”
This was like pulling teeth. Some ladies man!
“Do you like football?” I hadn't met many people who weren't Rider fans. “I can't wait for the new season to start.”
“I'm not really into competitive sports.”
I polished off my danish and licked the frosting from my fingers. I needed a napkin. I looked around the restaurant to see if there was a dispenser somewhere. There was someone at the counter. Alex was not going to volunteer to get me one either. That much was clear.
He leaned towards me. “Let's say we blow this Popsicle stand and go somewhere more comfortable?”
“Oh come on Stacey, there's no reason to beat around the bush. We both know what we want from each other. I'm not stupid. You've been into me since you first started working at the bank.” He reached out to touch my hand, but I recoiled.
My mouth was gaping open. “What would give you the impression that I would want to do anything with you?” I grabbed my coffee and started to push my chair back but he was quicker than I was. Alex jumped up and in the process knocked the hot coffee over and onto me spilling it down my new blouse. I yelped as the steaming hot liquid seeped down to my skin.
“Be quiet! You're making a scene.”
“I'm making a scene? I'll show you a scene.” I yelled. “The least you could do is show me a little respect!” The volume of my voice was increasing. I was becoming a little hysterical. Someone gently touched my shoulder as I reared back in surprised.
“Hi Stacey.” He grinned while his brilliant blue eyes twinkled. “What's going on here? You didn't trick this poor guy into buying you a coffee like you did me, did you?”
“We are on a date.” Alex snapped.
“Is that what you call this?” I stood up. I grabbed His arm and began walking way briskly.
“Wait!” Alex shouted. I stopped abruptly. Alex reaching my side. “Don't tell anyone about this, okay?” He whispered.
“Sure, sure, whatever.” I said. I would say anything to escape. I made my way to the restroom where I abruptly stopped realizing I still had His arm in a death grip. “I.....I need to clean up.” I stammered tugging at my tight shirt that was now ruined.
“C'mon.” He said, taking my hand and plunging through the ladies room door. “I'll help you clean up.....if you'll let me.”
Inside the restroom, I looked at my reflection in the mirror. My eyes were starting to well up. I was a wreck.
“What was that all about?” He asked.
“Ugh!” I threw my arms up. “A huge mistake!” And then the tears really started to flow. So much for being a strong independent woman.
“Don't....don't do that.” He said gently brushing my cheek. “That guy out there is the bigger fool. Don't let it get to you.” He took my bag from me and plopped it on the restroom vanity. “I seem to remember a top in here.” I almost smiled at the remembrance of bumping into him that first morning. He fished it out and dangled it in front of me.
I took the tank top from him and went into a stall. I was still sniffling, but he was right. “I need to know something.” I shouted to Him.
“I need to know the name of the guy who saved me.....” I opened the restroom stall door. “I told you my name, but I don't know yours.”
He looked guarded. He bit his lower lip. “Um.....Reese.”
Like a reeses peanut butter cup. He was yummy to look at all right. Eye candy.
“Well I owe you a debt of gratitude, Reese, for helping me out of that.....that.....whatever that was.”
I shook my head disbelieving, making my curls tumble.
He reached over and tucked my hair behind my ear. I thought I'd died. The electricity in his finger tips as they briefly touched my skin shocked me. Reese chuckled. “How about I take you home?” I liked that plan. “Where are you parked?”
“I didn't drive here.” I told him. “I didn't bring my car.”
He didn't either. “Oh. Well then we do have a predicament.”
I dug around in my monstrosity of a purse. “I think I have some bus tickets in here somewhere.” After taking out several items and getting Reese to hold them I came up with two little rectangles. “Victory!” I smiled. I held my bag open for him to drop my belongings back into. I stuffed my coffee stained top inside as well.
“Its a wonder you can find anything in there.”
“I know, but when a girl has a small purse its never big enough.” I put the strap over my shoulder. “I kind of thrive on my disorganization.”
“I find myself wanting to know so much more about you.” Reese looked into my eyes.
When we left the restaurant Alex was gone. We walked to the closest bus shelter which was a few blocks away. It would take us downtown and then I'd get a transfer to get me home. As we walked people would glance up, some would look surprised while some would stop and stare. What was with people? Hadn't they seen a good looking man before? It was probably that my eyes were all red from the crying episode in the restroom. Yeah. That had to be it.
We sat in the bus shelter and waited. I hadn't had the presence of mind to see what he was wearing before but now that I really looked at him he made my heart flutter. He was wearing a grey t-shirt with a blue shirt over top. His jacket was a wine color leather jacket. Very nice, I thought. I was so plain in comparison. He had a hole in his jeans on the left knee. Trendy.
When the bus approached he took my hand. My heart skipped a beat. We walked to the very back of the bus and sat down. He let me have the window seat. “So....” he started. People were turning in their seats and looking. I didn't care anymore.
“So.” I replied. Reese smiled a lopsided smile. I didn't really feel the need to talk. I felt so comfortable with him.
“Besides working in a bank and drinking americano coffee I don't know anything about you.”
“What would you like to know.” He was still holding my hand and I was so happy that he was.
So I told Reese about growing up north of the city in a much rougher town. That I was the youngest of three siblings who were much older than myself. That I didn't speak to my parents much. They were retired and traveled a lot. I rambled on and on and he just nodded and took in all the information. He looked me in the eyes with interest like no other man had ever looked at me before. He listened. He nodded in agreement with me. He shook his head in amazement. He cared.
Before I knew it we were at the bus mall downtown.
“You don't have to go all the way home with me.” I stated.
“I would feel best if I did.” We were out on the street now. We had gotten transfers. “You shouldn't be out by yourself late at night.”
I didn't want to argue with him. I did want to spend more time with him. We found our transfer and saw that this bus was almost empty as we had a wide variety of seats. There were only a couple of other people getting on this bus. I looked at my watch which was on my left arm, my fingers were still entwined with Reeses. It was almost 10.
“It's my turn to ask you questions.” I said now. “What's your favorite color?”
“Green.....no, maybe orange. No I think it's actually green.” Reese answered. “I like yellow too. What's yours”
“Blue.” I said. “What did you eat for lunch today?”
“That's an unusual question.” And I was an unusual person. He smiled. “I had a tuna sandwich.” I frowned. “Something wrong with tuna?”
“I don't like tuna.”
He let go of my hand and crossed his arms in front of him. “Well then I guess we can't be together. I eat tuna almost every day.” He saw the disappointment on my face and then I realized he was joking and I smiled again. Instead of taking my hand again he put his arm around my shoulders.
Heart – beat – skip – ping.
I tried to continue. We would be at the bus stop a block from home soon. “If you could be any animal what kind of animal would you be?”
“Yup.” I answered, waiting.
“I would say.....if I could be any animal.....I'd probably be a wolf.”
My wolf man. Really? My? I felt so possessive.
“You don't like wolves either?”
“No its not that.” I replied. “I'm trying to figure out what that means.”
“What animal would you be?”
“A bear.” I thought. “Yup, definitely a bear. I've always like Winnie the Pooh and I do like honey.”
“Tut tut looks like rain.”
I was confused. “What?”
Reese pointed to out the bus window where rain drops were gently splashing against it. The bus was pulling up to the stop now. We weren't that far from my apartment. I grabbed his hand and began to run but the rain was coming down harder. By the time we reached the building my hair was damp and my face was dewy. Reese insisted on walking me right to my door. I led him through the security doors and stopped in front of my door, marked 13. I leaned with my back against the door and rummaged in my bag for my keys. When I looked up he was leaning into me with one arm against the wall.
“I'm going to come here tomorrow and take you out on a proper date.” Reese confessed.
I melted under his gaze. “And when should I expect you?”
He laughed. “When you least expect.” He said it like it was a joke. A joke I didn't quite get. Reese took my key, unlocked the door and opened it slightly, then handed me the key back. I was still looking at him. It was crazy. I couldn't look away. He took my hand again and just held it between his hands. Then he looked at me with those blue eyes that gave me butterflies on that first day at Starbuck's. He reached over and tucked my soggy hair behind my ear again, smiled and then turned to walk away. “Tomorrow.” He said as he was disappearing down the hall.
In a daze, I entered my apartment. I shut the door and slumped against it falling to a seated position on the floor.
Oh My God.