“Thank you for running to Luigi’s to pick up our dinner tonight. I can’t believe the oven broke.” Winnie said as she took a bite of her mushroom ravioli.
“It was my pleasure Winnie,” I smiled.
“How is your spaghetti?” she asked.
“Delicious,” I replied.
I didn’t want to tell her that I had purposefully ordered the cheapest thing on the menu because I felt guilty that she was buying me dinner that night. I also didn’t want to tell her that I saw Wes with that girl who had come into the book shop earlier. A felt a pang of jealousy when I watched her reach across the table and hold his hand – but ultimately I didn’t really have a right to be. I was going on a date with Jeremy this Friday and I was excited. Jeremy was nice, handsome, and had an obvious love for books. We had things in common to talk about. Wes was my boss, I would never truly know him for that reason alone. I moved to Peterborough to start fresh, be a new person and have real experiences. I was beginning to think that my infatuation with Wes was because he was unattainable making him a safe choice. I would never have to worry that he would hurt me – he would never take the opportunity.
The next morning I arrived at the shop and Wes was already inside. He looked up as the bell rang to signal my arrival and his features softened when he saw that it was me. I walked behind the counter and shrugged my jacket off.
“Morning Wes,” I said.
“Morning Riley,” Wes responded. As he did every morning he handed me a takeout coffee cup and like I did every morning I pretended to enjoy it.
“How was your evening?” I asked as casually as I could.
“It was …” Wes paused, “Eventful.”
“Do anything fun?” I asked as I opened a box that had just arrived. I tried to sound casual even though the thought of him telling me about his date with the blonde made my skin crawl.
“I went to dinner with an old friend,” Wes said as he typed something into the computer.
I nodded my head forgetting that he couldn’t see as his back was to me.
He turned around and looked at me, “No that’s a lie. It was a date. Just not a good one.”
He was single. My stomach flipped at his admission. Why? He was my boss and I was going on a date with Jeremy. I liked Jeremy. Right?
“I’m sorry it didn’t work out,” I said trying to hide my glee.
The day went by quickly and so did the next. At the end of the day on Friday Wes asked if I would be willing to work just the morning the next day. I agreed before saying good bye knowing that I could use the extra money.
I walked to Winnie’s house as quickly as I could. The cold December wind whipped the air into my face causing it to quickly numb. When I entered the kitchen I saw Winnie making dinner. She was humming to herself happily as she mashed some potatoes.
“Beatrice?” I asked her.
“Have a good evening.” I said as I entered my bedroom to get ready for my date.
“And you have a nice time with Jeremy.” Winnie called to me.
After I finished showering I looked at myself in the mirror. I didn’t have any make-up or options for clothing. I didn’t know where Jeremy was going to take me. I threw on my long sleeve white shirt and skinny jeans knowing that they were the nicest articles of clothing I had. My hair wasn’t drying quite right but I had nothing that would help the situation. My best bet was to wash my hair again and hope that it would dry right the second time. I looked closely in the mirror and could see that my red hair was starting to show at the roots. I would have to fix that this weekend.
There was a knock at my door. I opened it to see Beatrice holding a bag.
“My mom told me you had a date tonight and I thought you could use some help getting ready.”
I gave her a happy hug and let her in my room.
“I don’t know what to do. My hair isn’t drying right and I don’t have many clothes.” I let out an exasperated sigh.
“Okay calm down,” Beatrice chuckled, “I brought you an outfit – well actually I brought you a few. You’re about the size I was before I had Harrison and I figured you could use some more clothes. I also brought you my old straightener. It still works great. And some make-up.”
I looked in the bag at the clothes and straightener that Beatrice had so kindly brought for me, I could feel the tears building in my eyes, “Thank you.”
“No time for thank you. We have to get you ready for your date.” Beatrice ushered me into my small washroom.
Beatrice curled my hair in a loose beach wave. She did my make-up, the most perfect smoky eye I had ever seen. We decided that for tonight a grey sweater dress with black pantyhose and a pair of fashion boots she had brought would be perfect. Classy but still casual. When I was ready I looked in the mirror.
“Wow Beatrice,” I smiled at her in the mirror, “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to thank you enough.”
“What are friends for?” she shrugged.
Friends. It was such a nice word to hear.
I gave her and hug and then walked out into the kitchen.
“Pweety,” Harrison pointed at me and we all laughed.
I did a twirl and looked at Winnie.
“What do you think?” I asked.
“You look beautiful dear,” Winnie came over and gave me a sweet peck on the cheek.
“Lucky guy,” Jack commented and Beatrice gave him a playful punch.
There was a knock at the door and we all turned our heads to look down the hallway at the front door. I could see Jeremy’s outline in the blurred glass. I grabbed my jacket and gave everyone one last look before opening the door.
Jeremy’s mouth dropped when he saw me, “Wow. You look beautiful Riley.”
I blushed, “Thank you.”
I closed the door behind me but not before looking back and seeing the smiling faces of what I considered my new family. Jeremy put his hand on the small of my back as he led me to his Ford Focus. He opened the door and I got in and he closed it behind me.
When he got in he looked at me again, “I still can’t believe how amazing you look. I wish I could afford to take you somewhere fancy. I was just thinking we could go to the diner for burgers.”
“I love burgers,” I replied honestly.
Truthfully I was glad that he was taking me somewhere so casual. I had never been on a date before. I didn’t know how to act but a casual setting made it feel more friendly and less intimidating.
“To the diner then,” Jeremy put the car in drive and we drove to the diner.
When we arrived he led me to a booth and we sat down.
The waitress came over to ask what we wanted to drink. Jeremy looked at me, “May I?”
“We will have two of your house made cherry cokes and two fiesta burgers with home fries.”
“Very well,” the waitress left and Jeremy looked at me.
He looked so handsome, much different than he did every day at work. Most days he wore a t-shirt and worn jeans but tonight he had a black button up shirt and a pair of nice jeans, no holes. He looked relaxed, I’m sure he had dated plenty of girls.
“So you’re from Boston?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I answered, “Born and raised. Are you from here?”
“Yeah I am.” Jeremy answered.
There was a silence between us.
“Did you go to college?” I asked trying to keep the conversation moving.
“A year but it wasn’t for me. You?”
“Yeah I did. Not working in the field though.”
“Did you like the book?” I asked.
Jeremy shrugged, “A little depressing for my taste. You?”
“It was well written but I don’t think I’ll be purchasing the rest of the series,” I replied.
The night continued with similar uncomfortable exchanges each one ending as abruptly as it began. Maybe we didn’t have as much in common as I thought we did. Once the food came what minimal conversation there was completely ended. I may have never dated before but I was pretty sure that this date was a dud.
Once Jeremy paid we left and walked down the street. Jeremy looked around and then pulled my hand so I was facing him.
“I’m sorry things were so uncomfortable in there but the night doesn’t have to end just yet.”
“Did you have something else in mind we could do?”
Jeremy smiled and leaned down and kissed me. I felt my body tense. This didn’t feel right. Something was wrong. My breathing became more rapid and I pulled away.
“I’m sorry, I think maybe you should take me home.” I tried to reason with him but he pulled me back towards him.
“Don’t be like that Riley. I’ve seen how you look at me. I know you want this,” he kissed me again and I could feel bile in my throat.
Oh no… it was happening again.