“Are you freaking crazy?” Kim’s green eyes blaze daggers at me from across the counter.
I’m sitting in her shop with Bennett in my lap, idly twirling his long hair between my fingers. She owns a posh little furniture and gift shop right on Main Street and since I have nothing better to do I sometimes come down and help out at the register. I’m greatly regretting my decision to tell her about last night. Her beautiful face is a mask of displeasure.
“What the hell were you thinking, running out into the night like that? Have you lost your fucking mind?” A customer across the store gives us a startled look.
“Tourettes,” I call to her.
“I don’t have Tourettes,” Kim practically shouts, “I have an incredibly stupid friend who does incredibly stupid shit.”
The woman sort of smiles and walks out the door.
“Nice customer service there, babe,” I say with a wink.
“Don’t even start with me,” she growls.
I huff and try to placate, “Yes, I realize it wasn’t the brightest idea I’ve ever had, but come on,” I try to be playful, “This is Fu we’re talking about here. Have you ever known me to be logical?”
“I’ve known you to at least use your fucking head!”
“Okay, look…I promise I won’t do it again, okay? I was just so pissed off. And with the dream already weighing me down…I just kinda lost it.”
Kim takes a fortifying breath. “If I didn’t love you so much I’d wring your skinny little neck.” She walks around the counter and engulfs me in a hug, squishing Bennett between us. I don’t think he minds. She looks me dead in the eye, “You promise you won’t be so fucking dumb in the future?”
“Yes, I promise,” I try to keep the smile off my face.
“Okay, good. So…did you at least get a look at this tweaker?” She goes back to decorating one of her displays.
“Unfortunately, no. It was too dark and I was half-crazed.”
“Clearly,” she huffs. She folds a napkin into a swan and places it delicately onto a china plate. How a goddess like her can still be so domestic is beyond my scope of reasoning.
“So what are we going to do?”
I love how she tosses in the “we” like it’s been that way all along. But it tugs at my heartstrings because I know she will always be my right hand man, through and through.
I shrug and give Bennett a hug, “I have no clue. What can I do? He’s there one second and not there the next. And, Christ, can he run! I was flying after him and I didn’t even see where he went!” It still pisses me off ten hours later.
“So here’s a wacky idea…what if you got a camera, like one of those nanny things, and secured it to one of the trees he stands under? Maybe you could get a shot of his face and at least see what the hell he looks like.”
I let her words settle in. I blink a few times. “Oh my God,” I breathe, “That is absolutely brilliant!” I scoop up Bennett and charge around the counter to tackle Kim in a hug. “You have the most amazing mind I’ve ever met!”
I hear a laugh come from the front of the store. Kim and I disengage and I see Keith standing at the entrance looking at us with an amused smile decorating his face. My tongue knots up and I turn eight shades of crimson. Is it possible to get more beautiful over the course of a day?
Kim, ever the flirt, flips her hair over her shoulder, allowing a nice view of her ample cleavage and saunters over to him like a tigress on the prowl. It’s the first time I’ve wanted to tackle her. He’s mine, goddamnit! I stay rooted to the floor, however, a slobbering dog in my arms and just now realizing I had garlic for lunch. I test my breath against my shoulder and nearly gag. Perfect.
“How can I help you, sir?” Kim can purr like a champ and I tamper down my jealousy. I have charm, sure, but Kim has something much more arresting…breasts. I have mosquito bites. They boded well for me when I was dancing but now that my brain is injured they just seem like a waste of good bra space. “Looking for anything in particular?” I wish my voice could get all throaty and sexy like that.
“I’m just browsing, thank you,” he tells her but his eyes don’t leave me.
An awkward silence follows as he stares at me, I stare at him and Kim looks between the two of us. A knowing smile graces her face as she gets it. She turns much more professional, saying, “Well, if you need anything, myself or Fu can help you.” She walks back towards me, doing a mini fan with her hand. She walks past me towards the counter and whispers, “Go get him.” She disappears into the back office, leaving me to stand here like an idiot.
“So,” he pauses, “You work here?”
I clear my throat and clutch Bennett to my chest. “Um, not really. I mean…I help out sometimes.” I’m mortified when my voice cracks like a prepubescent boy. He can’t help but chuckle as he starts a slow meander around the store, making his way towards me. Bennett is feeling really fracking heavy but I don’t want to put him down, otherwise my arms may do something embarrassing like wrap around Keith’s well-toned shoulders.
“I walked by your house this morning,” he says conversationally, “You’re front yard looks beautiful.”
“Thank you,” I squeak out. I hear a snort laugh from the back room. I’m going to catch hell for this later.
“So, I was wondering,” he’s now standing in front of me and I’m very aware of how fabulous he smells. I hold my breath so as not to douse him in garlic stench. “I was wondering, since you’re new to the area, if I could maybe take you to dinner sometime? Show you the hidden treasures around here?” He smiles down at me and Bennet gives off an unexpected “woof.” It would appear my dog thinks I should take the offer.
“Uh…uh, that sounds…nice…sure. Thank you.” I try to keep the waver out of my voice.
“I mean…” now he appears to be questioning himself. He gets a little shifty and runs a hand through his short hair, effectively tousling it into an adorable mess, “I don’t mean to come off as too forward, it’s just…” pause, another hair rumple, “This is going to sound really stupid…but when I saw you gardening yesterday I just knew I wanted to talk to you. Get to know you a little better.”
Seeing his unease helps put me at ease, for whatever reason. I turn on my full-charm smile and I’m pleased to see him swallow hard. Fu’s still got it.
“It doesn’t sound stupid. It sounds sweet.” I make my eyes all big and inviting and am rewarded with another bob of his Adams Apple. “So what day were you thinking?”
It takes him a few breaths to pull himself out from wherever he went. “Oh, uh, what about this Friday? I could pick you up?”
I feel like my arms are about to fall off from holding Bennett for so long so I use this to my advantage, turn around and bend over to place him on the floor. I hear a sharp inhale and smile to myself. I do have a rather nice butt, I’m proud to admit. I straighten, turn around and am rewarded again with a rather dazed expression. I’m back on my game.
“Friday sounds perfect.” I toss my hair over my shoulder and smile. Keith can’t help but blanch a little.
“How do you do that?” He asks, awe lacing his words.
“How do I do what?” I ask back innocently.
“How do you…be so damn beautiful?”
His question momentarily takes me aback, but since I’m in full Fu Charm I recover quickly, “Years of practice, lots of sleep and good genes just about covers it,” I say with a laugh.
He laughs as well, “Well…shit…you have it down to a science,” he stuffs his hands in his pockets and backs up, “I’ll, uh, see you Friday then?”
“Yes you will,” I say warmly.
He smiles, shuffles, tousles his hair one more time, waves, smiles and walks out the door.
Thunderous laughter erupts from the back room as Kim emerges carrying two steaming tea cups. “That was something out of a B-rated romance movie,” she hands me a cup, “What was with you? You never clam up like that.”
I roll my eyes, “I have no idea. I did it yesterday too. He’s really attractive, isn’t he?”
She snorts, “Dear God, yes. Kinda bummed I can’t take a stab at him. Although it’s clear he only has eyes for you,” she gives me a devilish smile, “Glad you were able to recover, though.”
“You and me both, I assure you.”’
We sit behind the counter and sip our tea, letting Bennett greet the customers. He’s better at it then we are anyways.
I get home later in the afternoon. I feed Bennett his dinner and hop onto the computer to find a nanny camera. I want that thing up in the tree as soon as possible. I find one that says it’s “indoor” but I figure I can make it work. I overnight ship it even though it costs an arm and a leg. Money well spent, in my opinion.
It’s chilly out so I light a fire and change into my hot pink onesie. I have no idea what to make myself for dinner. Nothing sounds particularly appealing. So instead I pour myself a glass of chardonnay and curl up on my couch with Bennett sidled next to me. I flip on the TV, clicking through channels until I find a movie worth watching. Stella’s getting her groove back and I could use a few pointers before Friday.