Best Laid Plans

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Chapter 11

“Wait, let me get this straight, she stormed out? And Cora stayed with you?” Dominic tops off my glass of wine. Thank God for Dominic’s understanding and willingness to listen. I don’t know why Ellie has so many doubts about him. She doesn’t even know him.

“Yes, I felt awful. I started to cry, but Cora stopped me from bawling my eyes out. She reminded me of the time Ellie told a guy to get lost who was hitting on me at a winery. I was into the guy, but Ellie didn’t want him to ruin our girls’ day. Cora said it was because Ellie was jealous and wanted me for herself. She simply disguised it as concern for me,” I shrug. “But without her doing that, I may never have met you.” I kiss his cheek. Ludo is laying by my side on the couch with his head in my lap, I realize I am absentmindedly petting his head. I sigh, “She also said that Ellie isn’t really mad at me. Se’s mad at something she sees in me that is a reflection of her, or something like that.”

“So, I should be thanking Ellie for giving us a chance to meet, eh?” Dominic leans in and kisses my forehead. “I don’t think I’m understanding this, though. What exactly prompted this fight? It wasn’t me, was it? I’d hate to think I came between you and a friendship,” his voice flooded with concern. “More than that, I’m not sure what Ellie could see in you that she doesn’t like in herself. You’re beyond perfect.”

Suddenly, I’m consumed with my desire to tell Dominic how I feel, helplessly and hopelessly in love with him, but part of me fears that it is too early. I don’t want him to think I’m cuckoo or anything. I bite my tongue and decide not to say those three little words. Besides, he should say them first. That’s the guy’s job, isn’t it? “You’re flattering me, but I assure you, I am far from perfect. In fact, perfection doesn’t exist. And no, your presence didn’t cause this. I guess it has been building up in Ellie for some time now. Cora said she noticed Ellie has been concealing a green-eyed monster from me. She said she noticed it the first time she met Ellie. She said she always picks up on a strange vibe from her, like she was infatuated with me or something. I know, trust me, I was just as shocked as you are. Although, I can’t help but wonder, what if she’s right?”

I watch as Dominic’s brow furrows for a moment, but then it relaxes. Should I have said that? Does it sound conceited? I’ve never thought of myself so highly before, but the way Cora described her observations earlier, I can’t help but believe her. She’s convincing. At the very least, I should consider it. Since I started dating Dominic, I have had a strange sensation that I’m being watched through my window. I’ve been shaking the feeling off, but I have now become diligent about closing the blinds at night. Could it be… no, no. I shake off the thought before it has a chance to land in my mind.

Dominic gets up and walks to the back door. He opens it and Ludo jumps up and runs outside. “I wanted some alone time. Do you want to watch a movie and forget about what happened tonight?” He hops on the couch next to me.

“More than anything,” I say and I snuggle into his arms. At some point during the movie, I realize I had fallen asleep. I wake up to Ludo licking my face. “Well, hello there. I love you, too, Ludo!” I laugh and I give him a hug. I glance at my watch and can’t believe it’s past midnight. “Oh my gosh! I’m exhausted,” I look around and notice Dominic is not downstairs. I get up and walk up the stairs, “Dominic?” I quietly call out as though I’m afraid I’ll wake someone up. Silly of me, I know Dominic lives here alone.

“In here!” Dominic calls back. I follow the light down the hallway. It leads me to the master bedroom. Dominic is in there, already dressed in his pajamas, sweat pants and a tee shirt. He grins at me and holds out his hands. I smile when I realize he is offering me comfy clothes that I can change into for sleeping. He has thought of everything, and I don’t feel any pressure to do anything I am not ready for. Maybe perfection does exist.

The next morning, I awaken to the aroma of bacon sizzling and crackling in a frying pan downstairs. I get up and take a look at myself in the mirror. My hair is a mess, my mascara is smeared under my eyes, and Dominic’s large t-shirt and spare pajama pants create the illusion that I am tiny and petite. I can almost fall for it myself. I feel cute in his clothes. Cora is right about the mascara though. I really do need to invest in a good waterproof mascara. Fortunately, I have a travel size hair brush in my purse. Unfortunately, that’s downstairs. I gather my hair and twist it into a messy bun to sit on top of my head. I go into the huge bathroom and find Dominic’s tooth paste tube in the medicine cabinet. I place some on my finger and give my teeth a quick scrub and rinse my mouth. It’s not the best work-a-round, but it will suffice. Giving it my best shot, I try to scrub the mascara off my eyes. I should have done this last night before I went to bed, but as they say, hindsight is 20/20. To be fair, last night I was up much later than my nine o’clock bedtime. I was dog-tired. I make my way downstairs and Ludo greets me. “Good morning, Ludo! You’re such a good boy!”

“Ah, look who finally decided to join us! Good morning sunshine,” Dominic says with extreme perkiness for it being this early. My gaze follows the sound of his voice. Wow, he looks like a model from a Calvin Klein ad.

“Wow, you’re a morning person! I never would have guessed it. Also, I can’t resist bacon. I smelled it from upstairs and bounced out of bed. Are you making Belgian waffles, too? Be careful, a girl can get used to this,” I warn him with a smile. I walk into the kitchen and plop myself down at the table. Dominic rushes over a hot cup of coffee and sets it down in front of me. “This is simply amazing. You are amazing.” He gives me a wink and I feel my cheeks flush. I sip on the coffee and watch as Dominic gracefully handles cooking bacon and waffles at the same time. I’m awestruck, but then it hits me that I am being a rude guest and should offer my assistance. “What can I do to help?”

“Help? You’re a guest here. I would never ask you to lift a finger,” he chimes.

“I insist, please. I feel like I can help you with your juggling act. I mean, hopefully I can. I am capable of following basic, very basic, cooking instructions,” I giggle.

“All right, since you insist, I would love some help with the waffles. They’re super easy; you can’t mess them up. All you need to do is pour the batter into the waffle iron, wait for the red light to light up, and presto! You’re done.”

I smile and nod with a thumbs up. This, I can handle. I create four waffles, well, five, but I burned the first one. Turns out, Dominic is wrong. It is definitely possible to mess up waffles. We share a good laugh over my lack of cooking skills and enjoy our food together. I sneak some bacon to Ludo under the table.

After breakfast, I change back into the clothes I wore the day before to both work and happy hour. I don’t think I can call what happened last night a happy hour. That’s totally the wrong label for it. My stomach churns at the memory of Ellie storming out. I need to call her. I need to explain that I do have her back. I value our friendship and need to restore it. I need her to know that, but then I hear Cora’s words echo through my mind, “She is, like, obsessed with you. You gotta let her go, Luce.” Part of me wants to heed Cora’s advice. I do agree that it is strange that Ellie displayed such angry behavior towards me so suddenly. Dominic is sitting on the couch when I walk downstairs. He is showered and ready for the day. While he showered, I spent some extra play time with Ludo. I’m torn between wanting to go home to shower and change into clean clothes, or to say screw it and hang out with Dominic and Ludo all day. Ultimately, I decide to go home. Dominic walks me to my car and kisses me goodbye. We laugh when I open my car door and Ludo hops in, “You’re staying here,” I snicker.

When I get home, I immediately start the shower. I let the water run to get to a comfortable temperature. It takes five minutes to warm up with the old pipes. Then I step in and close my eyes. The warm water hitting my skin relaxes my body. I use my vanilla scented sugar scrub to exfoliate and remove all negative remnants from last night. I let my lavender and Eucalyptus scented shampoo fill my senses. Between the steam from the shower and the aromas from the shampoo, I feel like I’m at the spa. After I feel like I’m relaxed enough, I turn off the water and the pipes shudder within the wall. I am undecided about moving. On one hand, I love the idea of finding a bigger place, but on the other hand, I no longer see the immediate need for it.

With my soft towel wrapped around my hair on my head, I walk to my room. My one-bedroom apartment doesn’t compete with Dominic’s house. I’d love to live there. I glance out the window and check out the weather. It looks cold and dreary, so I throw on my grey UC Berkeley crew neck sweatshirt that’s one size too big and some black leggings. I really need to call Ellie. I can’t let this fight continue. We were all drunk last night and friendships shouldn’t end because of alcohol. I suddenly can’t shake the feeling that I’m being watched. I run to my window and look out to the street and scan the area. People are out walking their dogs and kids are riding bikes, but no one seems to be staring into my window. I let out my breath that I didn’t realize I was holding.

I sit on my couch and stare at my cell phone in my hand. Taking a deep breath, I open text messages and start to spill out my apologies:

Ellie, about last night… I’m so sorry.

I stop myself. Maybe a text conversation isn’t the best for this situation. I’ve never seen Ellie as upset as she was last night. I erase my text and start again:

Hey Ellie, when are you free for a call? We need to talk.

I stare at my phone. Usually Ellie responds promptly, but there is an obvious delay. I put my phone next to me on the couch and flip on the tv. Then, I hear the buzz from the vibrating alert; I swoop up my phone and eagerly read Ellie’s text:

Eh, I’m not really in the mood to talk right now.

Ellie, please, just hear me out. I can’t bear the thought of us fighting. I’m not fighting. I just hate that you’re mad at me.

Well, I am, but I love you and I’m sure I’ll get over it. Just never bring her around me again.

Deal. Call me when you’re ready to talk.

After our text conversation, I’m not sure how to feel. Ellie is mad at me, but says she will get over it, in true Ellie fashion. She’s so laidback and loyal, part of me knows she meant what she said. There’s another part of me that isn’t as confident. I feel a little shaken from last night. My head is aching and my stomach feels sick. Something about last night isn’t settling quite right. Is it that Ellie is mad at me and stormed out? That was so out of character for her. Or is it Cora’s sharp cutting words? At least Dominic was there for me; he saved me last night. He listened and asked the right questions, and then he was the perfect distraction. I feel so lucky to have him. Something hits me. I never did find him on social media, did I?

Curiosity gets the best of me and I pick up my laptop and do a quick Google search of Dominic Walker, age 32, and I get over five-million results. Sigh. I close the laptop and put it down. I turn off the tv and decide to go take a nap in hopes of subduing this major headache piercing me to my core. I pick up my cell phone and notice the blinking light alerting me that I have a message. Thinking it’s Ellie, maybe wishful thinking, I snatch it up.

Double date tonight? Me and Kingsley, you and Dominic? We’ll go get cocktails at the new speakeasy. It’s about 15 minutes from your place.

My heart sinks a bit when I realize it’s from Cora, but I have to admire her for not letting last night’s events get to her. She is acting completely normal. Unapologetically normal, I think for a moment.

Sounds good.

Cool, can’t wait. Make sure you wear a dress, this place doesn’t allow jeans. Tell Dominic, he has to wear a coat. This is going to be fun. See you there!

I realize I better send Dominic a text and give him a heads up on our double date plans.

Hey, Dominic! Cora and Kingsley want to go on a double date tonight with us. I hope that’s good with you as I already said yes. I really think you and Kingsley will hit it off. You’re kinda similar.

Sure, sounds great.

He writes back right away. I am pleased that he agreed to go. I make a mental note to myself that I really shouldn’t make plans that involve Dominic without checking with him first. I don’t want to come across as overbearing or anything like that.

Woohoo! It’s going to be fun. Heads up, you can’t wear jeans and guys have to wear jackets. I guess this place is kinda fancy.

Well, in that case, I am busy… just joking. Luckily, I have clothes that II can wear. I’ll see you tonight, Lucy.

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