Best Laid Plans

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Chapter 4

Some days start off magically. My alarm clock goes off at 6:30 in the morning and I spring out of bed. This is quite an accomplishment for me as I am not a morning person. I set the coffee maker last night to brew my favorite flavored coffee at 6:15 a.m. so the smell of fresh coffee can awaken my senses. I love mornings like this. As the sun rises, the sky lights up in colors of pink and yellow and I can see the sun beams streaking down from the sky through the clouds. It’s all so peaceful. The first sip of coffee ignites my soul. Some mornings are more difficult than others for me to get moving, yet there is just something in the air today that makes me impatient to get to work. I need to talk to Cora; her opinion on Dominic is everything to me.

After I take my morning shower, I pick out the first outfit I see in my closet. Blue slacks and a white button-down blouse. My look is very minimal today, but it looks good enough to me. I rush out the door to the carport of my apartment building and drive to work. I am now dubbing this the morning of all the red lights. When I finally park my car at work, I gather all my belongings and charge through the doors. I beeline to Cora’s desk and fill her in.

“So, would you say he’s more of a Zac Efron, Ryan Gosling, or James Marsden?” Cora asked.

“Is James Marsden the guy from The Notebook? If so, I’d say him.”

“Damn! You met a man like that at the animal shelter? Wow, I should start volunteering!” Cora mocks.

“Stop it, you have the world’s greatest fiancé. Kingsley River, billionaire extraordinaire,” I remind her, hoping my voice sounds playful and not defensive. Part of me feels protective of Kingsley, and a little guilty for being with Cora when she flirts behind his back.

I remember the night we met Kingsley. We were at a nice lounge drinking cocktails. Cora wore a slinky, low cut red dress and I wore my nicest pair of black jeans with a sequined top. Cora made me send a picture of my outfit to her for approval before I could meet up with her. Her response was the “okay, perfect” emoji. I was thrilled to have picked out the right outfit on my first try. Usually, my outfit choices don’t reach Cora’s standards. I understand completely, though. I tend to dress more on the comfortable, casual side and Cora is always a bit edgy and extremely fashionable.

“Right? He is exceptionally perfect. I don’t know how I ever got to be so lucky. They say marry first for money, then for love,” Cora snickered.

Ignoring this, I continued on, “I haven’t texted him yet. I saved his number into my phone, although I can’t help but feel like he was just being nice. I don’t see a world where a guy like that is into me.”

“Hmm, maybe, I don’t know, I wasn’t there,” she shrugged, “though, in my opinion, you should go for it. He sounds like a gem, and if anything, you can see Ludwig.”

“Ludo,” I corrected, “you’re right though, I’ll send him a text.” As I reach for my phone, I feel my hand start to shake. I’m a little nervous because part of me is still struggling to believe this man would really be interested in plain old me. I take a deep breath and hit send.

Hi, it’s Lucy from the adoption event. I wanted to check in and see how Ludo’s transition is going.

Completely unaware that I’d been tense and holding my breath until my phone vibrated, I felt my heart begin to race. I grab my phone and I am relieved to see that Dominic responded.

Hey, Lucy! I was just thinking about you. Glad you finally texted. Ludo is doing great and I’m taking him to the dog park tomorrow night if you would like to join us. P.S. you were right, he’s the best dog. My nephew loves him!

My heart skips a beat.

“You’re glowing! Did he write back?” Cora’s curiosity was soaring.

“Yes, and he invited me to the dog park tomorrow night! I’m so excited!” I realize I sound like a high school girl whose crush just asked her out, but I don’t care.

“Tomorrow night? Ew, no. Too soon, you’ll look too easy if you agree to that. No man wants a woman who is available with little to no notice. They’re hunters, they enjoy the chase,” Cora scoffs.

“Oh, really? I didn’t think of it like that. What should I say?” I’m bummed, but I know Cora will help me not get friend zoned. I’m completely out of my league with Dominic.

“Give me your phone, I’ll handle this,” Cora snatches my phone and furiously starts typing. She looks satisfied with herself and hands me back the phone. “There, that should take care of that.”

Desperate to see what she wrote, I look at my text messages.

I’m busy tomorrow.

“Wait, Cora! You didn’t try to reschedule or anything?” my shock from her curt response was too obvious to hide.

“Don’t even worry about it, if he’s interested in you, he’ll pursue,” she let out a sigh, “I guess if you’re tormented over it, you can text him back and let him know your plans were cancelled so you’re free after all. I mean, I wouldn’t, but do as you wish.” I watch as Cora turns and walks away. I can’t believe her sometimes, but she’s right. I can’t just be readily available. I do need to make myself seem in demand.

Hours go by and Dominic has yet to text back. I’m guessing the dog park was a pity invite and he was relieved when I said I could not go. When I get home, I throw my purse on the table and jacket over the chair. I hop on my couch and flip on the television. Clicking through the channels, I cannot find something I want to watch. I turn off the tv and pick up a mystery novel that Cora loaned to me a while ago. I really should read this, she is always asking my opinion on it. A few chapters in, I stop reading and pick up my phone. I scroll through social media, but it’s full of politics and people arguing. I place my phone on the table, completely aware of its presence and silence, I get up to check my fridge for food. Before I get to my fridge, my phone buzzes. I rush back to read my text:

Bummer, how about Saturday? Would you be interested in joining Ludo and me for a hike?

I pause for a moment, but write back, more than anything.

I spend most of my time at work daydreaming about Dominic. I’m not the type to believe in love at first sight, lust is more realistic. I keep picturing his eyes and smile. Replaying his voice in my head, “I would love to,” love. He would love to join me on a date. I sigh and try to conceal the uncontrollable smile spreading across my face. I must look like a goober sitting alone at my desk smiling to myself. Even though I do not believe in love at first sight, fate, destiny, or anything of the variety, part of me does wonder if this is meant to be. After all, we do have the same excellent taste in dogs, if I do say so myself. Hopefully I stay busy this week so that the days go by fast. I am way too excited to wait for this date, but to make sure I do not come across too strong, I’m going to wait for Dominic to initiate further conversation with me until our hike.

Decidedly, I nod to myself as though agreeing out loud with my internal thoughts. If anyone is observing my behavior, they probably think I have lost my mind. That’s when my phone buzzed with another text from Dominic.

Awesome, I can’t wait. Our first family outing.

I read his text again and again and the words “family outing” leap out to me each time. I feel a smile creep across my face. This guy, he already knows how to talk to me.

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