It was about five to five when I knocked on her door and waited for her to answer. I was still contemplating what Pappa Charles was going to do to me when the door opened and my mouth hit the floor.
Cassie stood there in a long body shaping blue dress that hugged all her curves but was still classy enough not to show too much. Her hair was done in ringlets that cascaded down her head and landed lightly on her shoulders. Just a touch of make-up but not enough to look done up and her eyes sparkled with an enthusiasm I was privileged enough to witness.
“Wow,” was all I could say as I took in the view for as long as she would let me.
“Well you cleaned up pretty well yourself. Let me grab my bag and we can head out.” She said reaching inside and grabbing the smallest purse I think I had ever seen.
I was just in one of my blue business suits but standing next to Cassie and the way she looked I was thinking we could be on the cover of “couple” magazine. I was grinning as we headed out of the building and I must have looked like a total ass to anyone who saw a beautiful woman and a grinning fool as we walked by heading to the parking lot.
“How did things go with Rhapsody?” She asked bringing me out of my daydream.
“Better than I thought. I explained it and then introduced her to a throng of admirers. Her sweet sixteen party will be full of young men and her papa will probably kill me if Tiny doesn’t.” I said laughing and she laughed with me.
Her laugh was the cutest thing. Then she snorted a little and I was in heaven.
“Holy shit Joe, get a hold of yourself.” I told myself as we got into my escape and headed out. She just wants to be friends and that’s all it will probably ever be.
I didn’t think I had gone overboard with the makeup or clothes but every time I snuck a look at Joe he was smiling like I had something on wrong or I had something on my face. I wish he would just tell me what it was that was so funny so I could fix it.
I opened the mirror on the passenger side visor to check myself again. I don’t know everything seemed alright. I knew I wasn’t a supermodel or anything but I thought I cleaned up ok. I had to know.
“All right, spill it. What is wrong with me? You are grinning like the Cheshire cat over there. Do I have a sign on my back that says “kick me”?”
Joe lost his smile just like that and now he looked guilty. His cheeks were reddening and you could tell I caught him at something. “Well,” I asked losing my patience.
“You’re beautiful,” he said.
“Don’t give me that. No one grins like that unless they were going to pick on you or embarrass you. So which is it? The truth Joe.” I said not settling for anything else.
He was quiet for the longest time and his red cheeks were getting redder by the moment. I wasn’t giving in though. We couldn’t stay friends when one of us was keeping something from the other.
“You really are beautiful.” He said. Then he squirmed around a little. “I have never been to a place like the Overlook with such a beautiful woman. When we walk in together every man will think you are mine, and I will be the envy of everyone. I was just thinking how lucky I was. I’m sorry if I got a little over the top and made you nervous.”
That was probably the nicest thing anyone had ever said to me. We were just friends though. I guess I never thought about how it would look to others. Did I want people thinking me and Joe were on a date? I mean did it even matter what anyone thought? Did it matter to me?
“Well thank you. I thought maybe I had toilet paper on my shoe or something.” I said trying to lighten the mood but he just gave me a small smile and concentrated on the road.
Great, I get a compliment, and I turn it around to ruin it. I really was a winner. I would make it up to him, somehow.
To say I felt like a fool the rest of the drive to the restaurant would be an understatement. Why couldn’t I keep my stupid mouth shut. Why did she do this to me? I know she said we could never be more than friends but every time I looked at her, I wanted more.
Beautiful yes, but more than wanting to sleep with her, I wanted her, all of her. I wanted her in my life. I wanted to make breakfast for her for the rest of it. I needed all of Cassie, the beautiful, smart and sexy Cassie. I wanted it all so, I wanted the venerable, shy and unsure Cassie as well.
“Holy shit,” I was in love.
“What’s a matter,” Cassie said jumping in her seat a little.
I hadn’t realized I said that out loud. “A squirrel, or something just darted in front of me.” I said covering my outburst.
“Oh, I didn’t see it. Good thing you were driving.” She said settling back into her seat.
“Now what,” I thought to myself. I’m in love with a woman who doesn’t want me. This isn’t going to end well for me. I had been through this enough in high school to know that. The first time she found a man she was attracted to I would lose it and go off the deep end. It happened every time and I swore I wouldn’t do this again after almost failing out of college my junior year.
The only problem was how was I going to stop myself? I mean it was Cassie. Shit, shit, shit. I am a total moron. I should never have helped her that night. I should have kept walking. I should have been a jerk and never cared.
“You seem lost in thought, what has got you so engrossed over there?” She asked.
Before I could catch myself I blurted out “that night when I helped you get the mail out of your box.”
“Oh yeah, that was a terrible night.” She said and then she laughed. “Well at least the first part. Then I got to have dinner with the nicest guy in the world, so I guess it all equaled out. If it hadn’t been for the bad I wouldn’t have gotten the good.”
Why did she have to say stuff like that and then smile at me. Couldn’t she tell how in love with her I was. Did she know how much I needed her in my life. Shit, shit, shit. I was a basket case. I need to get through this night and then ween myself off of her. It was the only way to get on with my life. Yes, after tonight, I would call an end to this charade once and for all.
I thought it was a good response, and I hoped it would make him feel better, but he seemed more upset now than before. Men, how the hell could you tell what they were thinking.
We pulled into the restaurant and the valet was waiting to take our car. I laughed to myself thinking how the escape would probably be sitting between a Beemer and a Caddy. This wasn’t the type of place for people who drove Escapes, but it wasn’t our choice.
“Mark must really want to impress Cindy having us all come here.” I said to Joe.
“Yeah it’s a real nice place. I’ve eaten here before with my boss, but somehow I think tonight will be different. Is there anything I should know about Mark?” I asked.
“I have no idea. I only met him the ounce and Cindy just tells me how great he is. But not any details. So we are in the dark together.” I said waiting to walk into the restaurant with him.
“Well, no use keeping them waiting.” He said starting to walk toward the door.
“Joe,” I said not following him. He hurried back to me.
“Are you ok, is something wrong?” He asked in that careful caring voice he used when I was scared.
I wanted to laugh at him. I didn’t however, it would ruin the mood. “No, I think it would be nice if you let me share your arm as we walked in.”
“Oh, um, sure.” He said nervously letting me thread my arm around in and around his so he could escort me in.
I smiled at him and he seemed nervous but he smiled back and I could see in his blue eyes I reflection of me. Wow, that was interesting. I wasn’t sure I was ever close enough to a guy to see that before. “Well, let’s get the party started.”