“Hey, Alison. It’s Josh.”
“Josh?” Alison said in surprise. She wiped groggily at her eyes, pulling herself up from bed. The phone hung carelessly from her hand as she tried to stifle a loud yawn. She wondered what he wanted. “What’s up?” she asked, her voice tired.
“Did I wake you up again?”
“Oh, no. Not at all,” she lied.
“That’s good.” He paused. “I just wanted to thank you… for everything. Emily told me how you stayed there with her overnight. She said she had a lot of fun spending the day with you. It just… It meant so much to me, Alison. Thank you so much for putting up with us.”
“It really wasn’t a problem,” she assured him. “Your sister’s a nice girl. I had fun with her too.”
“Let me pay you double, no, triple what I did last week.”
“You don’t have to pay me anything.”
“Please,” he said. “I have to compensate you for you time.”
“Honestly. I enjoyed myself. You don’t have to do that.”
“But I have to,” he insisted. “There has to be something I can do.”
“Lunch, then? Can I take you out to lunch?”
Lunch? Alison swallowed, feeling uncomfortable. Her eyes fell to the covers on her lap, blushing noticeably. Did he mean that? Like a date? No, of course not. Not like a date at all. He obviously wasn’t seeing her that way. The only one he was thinking about was his sister. Of course… his sister. It was only right to worry about family. “No, that’s okay,” she mumbled. “But thanks for offering.”
“How about this then,” he suggested finally. “Come to my place tonight for dinner. It’s the least I can do.”
Dinner at his house. That didn’t sounds so bad. It actually, it sounded nice. She wondered what would happen from there. Would this develop into a friendship? Love? Was that a possibility for her? Maybe she was just thinking too hard about it. “Okay,” she agreed. “I can do that.”
“That’s great!” he said.
“I have the night off so it’s up to you. Is there a specific time you’re available?”
“I’m free all night,” she admitted.
“Sounds perfect,” she replied, her lips pulling into a tight line. What the hell was he trying to do anyway? Completely sweep her off her feet just so he could drop her down again? Surely, he had to realize that an attractive beast like himself had no right to casually invite girls for dinner unless he fully intended on proposing right afterward. More likely than not, someone was bound to get the wrong idea here, and that person was bound to be her.
“I’ll give you my address. Do you have a pen on you?”
“Yeah, it’s right here. Hold on just a second.” She kept a small pad of paper and pens on her nightstand by her phone and clock. They had to be conveniently within reach in case a new client was calling with a job for her. “Okay, I have it,” she said, leaning forward and grasping at a writing utensil.
“It’s 97381 Shere Road. That’s Shere, S. h. e. r. e. It’s in Allentown.”
“Okay, I got it.”
“See you then,” he said. His voice was unbearably pleasant and upbeat the entire time. He was so exhausting. Even on the phone, he was exhausting. She couldn’t keep up with his bright attitude.
She sighed when she hung up. Climbing to her feet, she made her way to her dresser, glancing in the mirror above it. She looked terrible that morning, with messy hair and bags under her eyes. Grabbing her cigarettes and a lighter from the top of the dresser, she moved back to her bed, falling back and plopping down on the mattress.
Fine. So Josh wanted to make her dinner tonight? She didn’t see anything wrong with that. After all, she loved food. She popped a cigarette between her lips and lit it. So, he wanted to thank her for helping out his little sister? So what? Nothing wrong with that either? Closing her eyes, she took in a deep breath of smoke and let it out slowly.
That was it then. It wasn’t a date. Just a thank you. She wasn’t about to completely misinterpret and get her hopes up about it either. The jerk. He had no idea how much she liked him. And as much as she promised herself that she wouldn’t get the wrong idea about the whole thing, the more she realized she already had.