The sun was blinding, and my hands were sweating as I typed out the text on my phone.
Riley: Are you on your way?
The sidewalk outside the Amalie Arena was full of people lining up the concrete steps into the main entrance. Occasionally, some guy would give me a second glance, as if wondering about the girl standing all alone.
My feet were absolutely killing me thanks to my heels that Jasmine talked me into wearing.
When I got into the Uber car and headed to the arena, I felt flawless. My skinny black pants fit perfectly, and no tan lines were showing in my red sleeveless top. My hair cooperated with me, allowing me to curl my brown locks into soft waves with volume, instead of the straight way I usually had it. I'd watched YouTube tutorials on 'date night makeup' and followed along, so I was confident that my makeup didn't look like it'd been applied by a drunk clown.
But the Uber had dropped me off at the gate outside the area more than thirty minutes ago, and I wasn't feeling flawless now. Anthony and I were supposed to meet here at 6:30, and the opening artist had started at 7. As the clock kept ticking, I began to get more and more irritated.
I looked at my texts I'd sent him over the last thirty five minutes:
Riley: I'm here!
Riley: Gate 7D. Standing next to the Jack Daniel's sign.
Riley: We said 6:30, right?
Something was wrong. Why wasn't he answering? He wasn't on-call with the hospital, so that couldn't be an issue.
A sensation of cold shivered through me, despite the July heat and humidity. Did he forgot, or did he change his mind? I felt like a total fool, standing on the sidewalk in the most sexiest outfits I owned, waiting for a man who clearly wasn't going to show up.
How much longer should I wait, and did I really want to go into the concert by myself, now that my evening is ruined? I stared up at the doors, debating what to do. Jasmine would say "fuck him", go inside, and have the time of her life. I wasn't angry at her, but mad at the whole thing. If she'd gone with me, I'd never have invited Anthony and...
My phone vibrated.
Anthony: I'm so, so sorry. Was on a post-op phone call that would NOT end. Getting my Uber now.
He was still home? It was on the other side of town. I squeezed my phone so tight, I worried I'd break it. If I was being reasonable, I knew it wasn't his fault when I was hot, had aching feet and a stomach that had been churning with anger for the last twenty minutes.
Anthony: Where are you? Still waiting outside?
I stabbed the screen with my fingers, nearly breaking it.
Anthony: Go in. You want to meet me at the side entrance? You won't have to wait outside.
Riley: I'm not 21.
Anthony: Traffic's fast. Be there soon. Again, I'm sorry.
I didn't know what else to say. The situation pissed me off, but I should have expected it. Anthony's job was more important, and he'd spent more than a few dinners on the phone with patients or the hospital while Peyton and I ate.
Scam artists tried to sell me cheap tickets while I waited, anxiously watching the cars that pulled up with the Uber sticker on the window. Even though the concert started a while ago, people were still arriving, not interested in the warm-up artists.
A group of guys, who looked only a few years older than me, walked down the sidewalk, and their slow pace put me immediately on alert.
"Hey," a male voice said. I was hoping it wasn't directed at me, and looked at my phone, even though nothing was on my screen.
"Hey," the guy said louder and closer. He was talking to me.
"You out here waiting for me?"
"What's your name gorgeous?"
Did he really just say that?! "My name is 'Not Interested'."
"Why not? You got a boyfriend?"
"Does that make a difference?" I snapped.
"Of course it does."
"Why?" I lifted my face and narrowed my gaze, giving him time to find an answer, but he stumbled. "Is it," I continued, "because that means I belong to someone else."
"I already told you I wasn't interested, but no. You won't respect that. You'll only step off when you think I'm with someone. I'm not interested of any one of you. Goodbye."
"Hey, is this guy bothering you?" a familiar voice asked.
I felt fifty times better when my gaze landed on Anthony. He looked amazing in jeans and a black flannel shirt that fit him perfectly. He was glaring at the guy very protectively.
"No, I was just trying to pay her a compliment. Tell your daughter to chill out, bro."
"She's not my daughter, bro." His tone was dark and stern. "You heard her. Get lost."
I shrugged, although my heart was still pounding out of my chest. "I'm fine."
"That was impressive."
"What you said to him. How you put that asshole in his place."
"I'm not an object. I mean, I'm not going to be treated like one anymore."
He knew who I was talking about and nodded slowly. "Is it okay if I tell you that you look amazing though? Because you do."
"Thank you. I'm glad you're here."
"Me too. Ready?"