#7 Not a date
When my dinner with Dshawn is only an hour away, I’m starting to second-guess myself. I’ve been working my ass off the past two weeks, working so many shifts at both Giovanni’s and Animals that I’m spent. I’d much rather be in bed right now, sleeping. Instead, I’m standing in front of my closet, trying to figure out what to wear. I don’t even know what restaurant he’s going to take me to and I’m too proud to ask, so I’ll just have to figure something out that will work at any place we go to. Dshawn wasn’t the fancy type back in college, but I have no idea what he’s like now. All I know about 26-year-old Dshawn is what Caroline told me from her hook-up with him, and that’s just sex stuff. Apparently, he likes it when a girl puts his finger up his ass. I’m not sure if that kind of information is going to be very useful at what’s basically a business dinner.
I didn’t tell Caroline that I’m going to have dinner with Dshawns. I didn’t even tell her that I was at his place not that long ago, sleeping in his bed. She’s been so distracted lately, trying to get over that Nathanial guy, so we mostly talk about her stuff when we call or text. Not that she doesn’t ask about my life, but it’s obvious she’s only got space in her mind for Nathan.
Honestly, that’s a crappy excuse. I could have easily told her about sleeping in Dshawn’s bed, especially since nothing happened. She would find it hilarious that I fell asleep at a party, since I’m normally drunk as a skunk, dancing on tables. And she’d be interested in tonight as well, just as curious as I am about what Dshawn wants my opinion on. I don’t know why I haven’t told her, why I haven’t told anyone. It’s just such a rare thing that a guy wants to talk about something serious, without making sexual jokes or insinuations that he wants the night to end in his bed.
With a sigh, I decide to call Caroline and let her know what I’m up to tonight. It takes her a while to answer, and when she does, she sounds frantic.
“I’m about to go on a date,” she tells me. “My second one of the day, actually.”
“What?” I ask, surprised. “Two in one day? Girl, are you taking a page out of my book? Who are you and what did you do with my goody-two-shoes best friend?”
She laughs, but she sounds a little more hysteric than I’d like. “I need to get him out of my mind, Shaughna. I had a date with this guy named Paul this afternoon, but he didn’t do the trick, so I’m going out for cocktails later tonight with Darius.”
“And who is Darius?” I ask, shocked to my core about this whole thing. I mean, my best friend isn’t some prude or anything. When she likes a guy, she’s rather quick to take things into the bedroom, but she hasn’t been with a lot of guys. Six so far, if I’m correct. So for her to have two dates in one day... She must really be messed up over goddamn Nathanial Storm.
“Just some guy from one of the apps. He’s kinda hot. I really need to go get ready now. Was there something you wanted to talk about?”
“No,” I lie. Now is not the time to start yapping about her ex-boyfriend. “Just checking up on you. Let me know how your date went.”
When we hang up, I feel even weirder than I did before talking to her. Not about Dshawn though, but about what’s up with my friend. She just sounded so… off. Then again, she’s getting over someone and the best way to do that is by getting under someone new, so this Darius guy might be the perfect distraction. It’s what I would do, for sure.
I decide to go with a black pencil skirt and matching jacket over a green top. When I take off the jacket, it’s a fun outfit, but with the jacket it’s very professional. The perfect mixture for this dinner. I throw on some earrings and a necklace to show that I’ve put in a bit of effort, but decide to go with flats instead of heels. This isn’t a date, after all. And since this isn’t a date, I’m not going to bother curling my hair or doing some fancy updo. Instead, I pull a brush through it and put a rubber band in my purse in case I want to pull it into a ponytail later. Good enough.
The doorbell rings just when I’m about to go outside. I’m so used to Aston refusing to come to the door that I smile to myself when I realize that Dshawn has gotten out of his car and walked up to my door instead of honking or texting or calling or any of the things Aston does when we go clubbing together. I like it.
“You look beautiful,” Dshawn says the moment I open the door. He’s in jeans and a T-shirt, making me look way overdressed even though I was trying so desperately not to be.
“I always do,” I reply with a smirk, trying to shake off the sinking feeling in my stomach.
He grins and opens the door of his car for me, waiting until I’m inside to close the door and walk to his side. We don’t talk while he drives, we just listen to the radio. He raps along to one of the songs, and he’s actually got a decent sense of rhythm. When he sings along to the chorus, I notice that he’s a pretty great singer as well. Hmm. Who knew that the college guy yelling indecent things when he was getting drunk at parties would have a voice like that?
We pull into the parking lot of a new Mexican place that I’ve never been to before. I get out of the car before he can walk around to open the door for me again. Stuff like that makes this feel like a date. And it’s not. It’s most definitely not a date.
“What’s good here?” I ask Dshawn while I flip through the menu. There’s so much to choose from.
“I could order for us,” he offers. “I come here a lot with Aston and the other guys.”
I nod for him to go ahead when the waitress shows up and he puts in an order that sounds like it should be for ten people instead of two. He asks me what I want to drink and seems surprised when I ask for a beer. He orders one as well, smiling at me.
“Beer?” he asks, shaking his head. “You’re still the same college party girl, aren’t you? Beer, parties, dancing…”
I shrug. “Yeah, well, it’s kind of hard to be friends with Aston when you’re not like that, right?”
“I didn’t even know you and Aston kept in touch after college,” he muses. “He doesn’t have a lot of female friends. Come to think of it, I don’t think he has any. At least, not any he’s not sleeping with on a regular basis.” I can tell from the look in his eyes that he’s wondering if me and Aston have some kind of friend-with-benefits thing going on. Well, let him wonder. I’m not going to tell him unless he asks me directly. I’m surprised that Aston hasn’t already told him that we’re nothing more than good friends.
“So…” I say when our beers arrive, sipping it contently. “You wanted my advice on something?”
“Yes!” Just when he’s about to start talking about the reason we’re here, a plate of food is placed in front of us. It smells delicious, so we both dig in and I moan when the tastes explode in my mouth.
“And that is exactly why I like to come here,” he tells me, his dark brown eyes twinkling as he watches me lick my fingers. “You eat, I’ll talk. I’ve always wanted to own my own business one day and I’ve been saving up to do just that, but it’ll be a long time before I’ll finally be able to do so. Lately, I’ve been thinking that maybe I could get a loan or something.”
“You don’t wanna wait anymore?” I ask with my mouth full. It’s a good thing this isn’t a date, because I’m being a total pig.
“Exactly,” he confirms. “I hate my job.”
I swallow and take a swig of my beer. “You work at that big IT firm, right? With Mustafa and Danny and the other guys?”
He nods. “Yeah, and it pays the bills and then some, but I don’t actually like making websites for other companies. I’d love to use my skills for my own company, to just do what I know will work instead of having to compromise because the client is always right.”
“And what kind of business do you want to start?”
He smiles widely now, which looks much better on him than the frown he had on his face when he talked about his current job. “A bar. Or a club. Or maybe a restaurant. I’ve always wanted to own a place like that and really put it on the map. I know I’m not actually qualified for anything other than making the website, but…” He shrugs. “I’ve got so many ideas for a place like that. I’ve got like four business plans already and I just need someone to help me figure out which one I could maybe get a loan for and finetune it so I won’t make a fool of myself.”
“Okay, show me.”
He blinks at my fast answer. “Erm… Okay… I thought that I could tell you some more about it first.”
“Sure,” I agree. “You can tell me all you want, but until I see your plans, I won’t know if they’re any good.”
Dshawn scratches the back of his head, looking a little embarrassed. “Yeah… only problem is… I don’t have them with me right now.”
I scoff. “Come on, be real. You probably made them om your computer, since you’re an IT guy. And there’s no way someone like you doesn’t save stuff in the cloud or the drive or whatever it’s called, so you can just pull up the plans on your phone and show me, right?” When he starts growing even more uncomfortable, I finally realize what tonight really is. “You don’t actually have any plans, do you?” I groan, leaning back in my chair while I watch his face. “You need me to help you turn your ideas into an actual business plan.”
“Yes,” he agrees hesitantly. “And I know that’s a lot to ask, so I’d totally understand if you wouldn’t want to do it.”
“That’s why you’re buttering me up,” I realize. “Picking me up, taking me out to dinner, opening the car door for me…”
He frowns. “Erm, taking you out to dinner may have been because I’m asking you for a huge favor, but picking you up and opening the car door for you, that’s just me. So… will you help me?”
“Why me?” I ask. “And don’t give me that crap about not knowing anyone with a business degree. The guy I’m sleeping with these days is getting his degree as well, but I don’t think that you want me to give you his number. And lots of people have business degrees. You have loads of friends and a lot of them have girlfriends. Surely one of them could help you with this?”
“Okay,” he sighs, rolling his eyes. “Fine, I may know three other people who know a thing or two about this, but one of them is an asshole, one is a girl I used to sleep with who’d rather kill me than help me and the last one is someone I don’t trust with something that’s this important to me.”
“And you do trust me?” I’m not sure if that’s wise, to be honest.
He shrugs. “I trust Caroline. Always have, always will. And you’re her best friend, so why shouldn’t I trust you?”
“Are you still in love with Caroline?” I ask before I can stop myself.
“I don’t see how that is relevant, but no.”
I’m not sure how that could possibly be relevant either, but I need to know anyway. Another plate of food arrives at the table and it smells so good that I dig in immediately. Damn, the food is good here. Dshawn is watching me with a small smile on his face, apparently enjoying me pigging out. I roll my eyes at him, but keep eating until it’s all gone, not offering him one single bite.
“Okay,” I decide, licking my fingers again. “I’ll do it. Let’s use tonight to just get all your ideas out there. Tell me everything you’ve ever thought about, all the plans you have, your dreams, everything. I will just listen and when the night is done, I will tell you if I think there’s something there.”
“Deal.” He grins and takes a swig of his beer. “That was easier than I thought, to be honest. I figured I’d have to be a hell of a lot more charming.”
“You’re plenty charming,” I mumble, cringing when he smirks at that. “Start talking, boy.”
And he does. In fact, he talks for so long that we end up getting thrown out of the restaurant when they close. I’m not used to a guy talking that much, but I don’t mind. It’s obvious that he’s never talked this openly about his aspirations ever before and he needs to get it all out. He’s fascinating to listen to and his ideas aren’t half bad. I think he should definitely go for it if he really wants this, but I think he’ll have a hard time getting a loan unless he has some kind of collateral to put up. And since his car is pretty basic and he’s probably renting his apartment, I’m not sure if he’s got any. If we go further with this, I’ll have to see his bank statements, but tonight I don’t ask him the hard questions. I just let him tell me about the kind of business he’d like to open. They range from pizza place to fancy club and from coffee shop to a rustic bar. Why did this guy ever get into IT in the first place?
“Well?” he asks as we drive back to my place. “What do you think?”
“I think that there’s no way you’ll ever be happy if you keep working IT jobs,” I say honestly. “And this is your passion, so you should go for it. Your ideas are good, but a little all over the place. I think your first step should be to figure out which of your many ideas you like most. When you figure that out, I can start helping you go through all the steps to make your dream a reality.”
“Really?” he asks, his eyes sparkling in the dark. “You think I’ve got a shot? And you’re willing to help me?”
“Sure.” Honestly, I can’t wait to start working on his business plan. This is what I went to college for. I’ve got so many ideas for each and every one of the business he mentioned tonight. And in way, I’m an expert in the field he wants to get into, since I’m a waitress, a bartender and sometimes I help out at a catering company. I know this business way better than he does, although he’s got the big ideas for it.
“Great.” Dshawn parks his car in front of my house and turns to me with a huge grin on his face. “How about I take you out again tomorrow? Lunch? I’ve got so much I want to discuss with you!”
I nod. “Sure. I’ve got an evening shift tomorrow, so lunch will work.”
He gets out of his car and I wait for him to get the door for me, smiling to myself. I’ve never been out with a gentleman like this before. Not that I’m really out with him, of course, even though he did say take you out again. This is NOT a date.
“Bye, Shaughna,” Dshawn says when we get to my front door. For a moment, it seems like he’s going to kiss me, but then he leans back and waves lamely.
“Bye,” I say, relieved and disappointed at the same time. “See you tomorrow.”