"A single rose can be my garden...a single friend, my world." -Leo Buscaglia
Glancing down at the list of Dana’s answers to the questions I sent a couple weeks ago, Peter sat across me with answer’s to the same questions from Jason.
Taking a deep breath, I said, “Let’s get this started. What did you get for place to hold the reception?” My green eyes search the paper to find Dana had provided an answer of a romantic setting, preferring the outdoors.
Peter’s eyes held humor as a smile reached up to his cheeks, “Something cheap.”
I rested my papers on my lap and said snarky, “You tell him to forget that idea. Weddings are a commercialize industry that make the average couple spend roughly 25,000 dollars.” I picked up my papers and added, “That’s never going to happen if they want the typical wedding day.”
Peter stared at me with an intrigued look and I suddenly felt self-conscious, “What?”
His golden hair was wild from the slight wind and became beyond tussled as Peter shook his head. Peter’s alluring eyes landed back to his paper when saying, “I never knew you would be so pessimistic when it came to this stuff.”
Apparently I was, I internally reflected. I guess going through your parent’s messy divorce would do that to you.
“I guess there is a lot you don’t know about me?” I added as he agreed silently.
Peter cleared his throat and said, “Dj or live band?”
My lips pressed together as I replied, “Band?”
Peter shook his head, “DJ.”
“Flowers?” I asked sinking more into my chair as I took a sip of coffee.
Peter stated, “He says anything her heart desires, except roses.”
I leaned forward, “Roses?”
His eyebrows scrunched together like anyone should know this and he replied, “He’s allergic.”
Hmm, I never knew that. My mind reeled in conclusion, Then again Jason never really gave me flowers unlike Dana.
Glancing down at the paper, I gave a snarky chuckle, “How long have they been dating that she doesn’t even know he’s allergic?”
Peter pushed the papers aside and said, “Why don’t we start with what our budget is and work from there.”
“Okay,” I fumbled through the folder and stated, “Well with both of them chipping in five thousand and then his father adding, another ten thousand. I say we are looking pretty good.”
“So 20,000.” His brown eyes lifted up to see me smirking at being close to the average cost and he took a gulp of his hot chocolate before asking, “Biggest expense is….”
“The reception,” I added, “and she wants it romantic.”
Peter glanced off and was in deep thought. “The beach?”
I shrugged my shoulders, “Good idea, but a beach be too far away from her church.”
“How about we just find a fancy reception hall?”
I shook my head at the idea, “It’s not original enough for Dana. She likes to be-” I fumbled for a word, “different.”
Peter pulled his hair and muttered, “Why don’t they just do it in a barn already.” I opened my mouth and he put his hand out, “I know. I know. It has to be outside.”
“Well, look who is negative now,” I laughed at his impatience before suggesting, “What about a vineyard?”
Peter’s head bobbed up from his headache and he agreed, “Sound’s awesome.”
“A vote of hands of a DJ,” Peter said.
Raising both hands in the air, “Agreed.” Finding a clean paper, I began to write our ideas, “DJ for sure. It’ll be cheaper than a live band.”
My eyes shifted down to studied the old list for flower ideas. “We could do cardnations? They come in different colors and kind of look like a closed rose??” I said not even believing myself.
“Sure,” Peter laughed until my phone buzzed.
Answering it, I said unsure, “Hello?”
My thought stopped all of a sudden when I heard Dr. McSultry voice. “Hello Alexia. I was making sure you didn’t forget about our date plans tonight?”
“Oh, no,” I said grabbing my shit together. “What time are you picking me up?” I asked as Peter glanced over curious.
“Five thirty. Reservations are at 6,” he said lightly. I reached over to Peter’s wrist and twisted his arm to see the time.
Shit. Shit. Shit.
“Okay. I’m still getting ready though. So I’ll see you at 5:30.” I mouthed to Peter apologetically, “Sorry. I have to go.”
Peter nodded his head and proceeded to walk us to his car to take me home. “I can’t wait to see you again Alexia,” Oliver said cheery.
“Me too,” I buckled myself into Peter’s car and as he said goodbye, I watch Peter ready to slam the door loud. “Bye.” I hit the end button fast before the bang of the door could be heard.
As Peter got into his side, I glared at him.
He couldn’t wait for me to get off the phone first? I was suppose to be home, getting myself all gussy up. My angered thoughts ended, I'm pretty sure Oliver find it odd hearing a car door slamming.
But it seemed to not faze Peter as he scoped the road for oncoming traffic. After a minute, I glanced around to see no one in sight, “Will you just go? I’ve seen grandmother’s drive faster than this.”
The slight frustration rang in my tone and Peter grinned over, “I am. I am miss crabby pants.”
Trying to breath, I pressed my two fingers on my wrist to feel my heart racing. “Are you okay?” He asked quietly and I nodded slowly breathing away a panic attack I felt waiting to snap.
Honestly I was dead nervous. Because one, I had never been on a date with a man that intimidated me by looking amazing and being so accomplished in his life goals. Two, I didn’t want to be rushing or late. And three, I really didn’t want to go with everything that had just happened this week.
If it wasn’t for Peter, I be duck under the covers forever. Well at least until I was evicted out of my apartment.
You see the next day after Dana left and my leg was deemed broken, I had gone back to work with my wounded leg and tried to keep up preparing the plates with last minute touches and serving it to customers. I struggled trying not to stumble with my cast or squint in pain without using my crutches.
And as time went on, I couldn’t keep up with the pace and my boss pulled me over to the side at the end of the day.
He said, “Look, this isn’t going to work with your foot broken for six weeks. I have to replace you.” My mouth dropped open at the fact he was suggesting I would lose my job. My boss sighed, “But I like you. You’re a hard worker, so if you can find a good substitute and I’ll give you your job back when you’re done healing.”
I nodded my head and said appreciative, “Thank you.”
But as I waited for Peter to pick me up, I was suddenly choking back tears when everything hit.
My life was a disaster. My car was gone and pounded now. I had medical bills and rent soon to pay. And I couldn’t even hold onto this crappy job if I didn’t find a person to help me out. Who would I ask?
Dana had left to pursue her dreams. Jason was many states away probably consumed in his own work. I had no siblings, nor any other close friends. Damn me being an introvert.
And I couldn’t ask anymore of Peter, the person that had been driving me around and helping me with errands. Therefore when crossed Peter out of my list of friends, I honestly had no one else.
The sleek car pulled up and I inched myself in the passenger side. Peter smiled toward me and immediately his lips pulled down. “Bad day?”
I scrunched back into the chair and closed my eyes tight. “Yep.”
Keeping the silence, I turned my face away hiding the sudden tears falling down my cheek. The ten minute trip seemed forever as we pulled up to my empty house.
As I reached for the door, Peter soft voice said, “Come on Lex. I know when something is really bothering you. ”
I tried to steady my voice, but deep down I wasn’t winning that battle. “How do you know,” I said to the window.
His hand gently guided my face over to his concerned expression. Searching my eyes, Peter whispered, “Because your eyes always reflect your true feelings.” He tenderly asked, “Now please, tell me what happened?”
“I think I might have to move back to my mom.” I glanced away from his shock face, “I got fired.”
“What? Why?” He asked confused knowing I wasn’t the type of person to ever slack on a job. If anything I was an overachiever.
“With my ankle broken I need someone to take my place until I am better to keep my job. But that’s not going to happen.”
My lip began to quiver as Peter replied grasping my hand, “I can do that.”
Surprised by him volunteering, I asked flabbergasted, “Oh Peter, you’ve done so much already. And what about your job?”
He shrugged his shoulders, “I didn’t get that job interview and Kilnge Company hasn’t taken my blue prints yet, so I say I’m free.”
“Can you even cook?” I asked in awe at his kindness.
Peter smiled with his eyes determined at the challenge, “I think I can pick it up.” He unbuckled his seat belt and said, “You can give me some lessons now.”
Again without a thought, Peter helped me up my tricky porch. His brown eyes shifted down to me as he said warmly, “I’ll see you tomorrow then.”
My head bounced slowly with agreement and I watched Peter leave back to his car. Biting my lip, I waved Peter goodbye as I entered my apartment.
Why does he have to be such a nice person, I thought as I struggled to find something to wear.
Feeling my hands shake as time was creeping closer, I grabbed a grey wool skirt, a green blouse, my one good pair of brown boots and a heart shape necklace made out of rose gold.
Checking out my outfit, I felt okay for this date. Just a quick brush of my winded hair and then I be set, I thought as I grabbed for a brush.
With one stroke, I sighed and hobbled over to put my grey trench coat on and the warm wool scarf I adored. “Hold on.”
Taking a deep breath, I opened the door to find Dr. McSultry leaning against the door frame. His piercing blue eyes connected to mine with a bright smile.
His sultry voice said, “Hello Miss. Woods. I brought you something.” My green eyes opened wide at the idea of him bring me a surprise.
Was it chocolate? Flowers?
Pulling from behind his back I noticed a basket with the fruit in the shape of flowers. “That’s so cute,” I said as I tried to figure out what kind of fruit it was made of. Placing it on the coffee table, I added, “Thank you.”
He smiled further, “I’m glad you like. So I guess I was right you’re a healthy eater.”
I nodded my head and responded lamely, “Yeah, I like my fruit.”
Well I do, but it unfortunately it doesn’t like me unless I bake or cooked them up. You see when I was in the fifth grade my mother had sent me to the doctors to get an allergy test because I started to complain about how itchy my tongue was and my lips swelled up after eating an apple.
Apparently, I was diagnosed with an allergic condition called OAS or also known a pollen-food syndrome. It basically means I have allergic reaction to certain proteins in a variety of fruit, vegetables and nuts unless the proteins are cooked or baked out.
Oliver glanced at his watch, “We should be leaving. Can’t be late for our reservations.” Exiting my apartment to his dark blue Lexus, he opened the passenger door for me making me blush and then went around to his side.
Pulling out onto the street I asked, “So what restaurant are dining at tonight?”
His stunning blue eyes peeked over to me, “That’s a surprise Alexia.” Oliver turned the conversation, “How has your ankle been doing?”
I shrugged my shoulders, “Besides it being a pain in my butt and having an itch I can’t scratch, I say its okay.”
“That is the curse of a cast. Only good thing is that you can decorate any way you like.” A slight smirk crossed Oliver’s face, “Maybe I’ll have the honor of signing it first.”
I smiled at his charming factor as he parked in front of a restaurant I never been to before. A valet opened my door and I slowly stepped out to find Oliver place my crutches into my hands. Feeling slightly embarrassed at the fact I would be strolling into public clumsy with these tools, I was thankful that a waiter quickly sat us down in a close booth.
Oliver took of his coat wearing a very nice suit and tie and suddenly I realized I was under dressed for this date. He started to move over to take off my jacket, but I shook my head saying, “I’m still cold.” Oliver’s black locks swayed as he nodded his head in understanding.
Sitting downing the booth, Oliver grabbed for a menu in excitement. “Oh, I can’t wait to eat.”
I agreed, “Me too,” and my hand went over to open the menu up. My excited eyes slowly began to become indifferent when reading more and more of the choices.
The waiter came over with glass pitcher of water with fresh cut lemons inside and filled our empty glasses. The waiter asked, “Is there anything else I could get you to drink?”
I shook my head no still boarding my eyes at the menu. Oliver added, “No, water will be great.”
Again the waiter asked another question I knew I wasn’t prepared for, “May I be able to take your order?”
Oliver glanced over to me, “I’ve decided. Do you need more time?”
“Ahh, no?” I said quietly and the waiter glanced back and forth eagerly for an order. Oliver was waiting for me to go first, “Umm, I’ll have the spaghetti squash marinara please.”
I hoped that be a safe bet to pick with my allergies in a vegetarian restaurant.
Oliver than stated, “Bangkok Curry with Tofu.”
“Good choice sir,” the waiter said, “I’ll put your orders in right away.”
When the young waiter left, Oliver leaned onto the table and asked, “So tell me something about yourself.”
Blank went my mind.
What would I say to make me interesting?
“I broke my ankle on the ice?” I joked and Oliver laughed.
“Well that I knew. What I don’t know is where you’re from. What’s your job or even what your astrological sign is?”
“I was born in Sweet Valley.” I quickly tried mentioning, “I cook, and I think my sign is a Scorpio.”
He seemed intrigued, “I never heard of Sweet Valley. Of course, I’m from Seattle.” He smiled, “I can totally see you a culinary chef.” Oh, shit.
“No, I cook, but I majored in a different field. Cooking is more of a hobby of mine.” Liar. Cooking was my essential to survive in this dog eat dog world.
His bright blue eyes concentrated on me, “What did you major in?”
“Art restoration and Conservation Studies,” I said trying somehow to make myself not such a loser.
Oliver smiled more at the information, “Ah that makes more sense.” As he leaned in close to me, my heart fluttering and I hoped I wasn’t perspiring too much. “Can I tell you something without it getting weird?”
I nodded my head, “Sure.”
His eyes never dropped contact as he whispered, “Your fiery passion for the arts was the first thing I was attracted too. The second was your beauty.”
“How do you know I’m passionate?” I said sweating from both my excited nerves and the coat.
Oliver gave me a gleaming smile that almost stopped my breath, “It’s a part of your sign.” He reached for my hand and stroked it. “Scorpio’s are known to be passionate, allusive and resolute creatures.”
How could this guy not have someone in his life? Was I missing something?
“What are you?” I asked interested what his sign could be.
The food began to approach, he responded, “I’m a Gemini.” Placing the food down, I observed the squash seemed to be cooked so I be safe for tonight.
As we began to eat through our dinner, I asked, “So your a vegetarian?”
Oliver wiped his mouth with a napkin, unlike something Peter would do with his hand or sleeve, and enlightened me, “Oh no. I’ve just been on a vegetable kick. But I love my protein meats. Are you?”
I shook my head quickly, “No. I love my steak, chicken,” I made a yummy noise, “and seafood.”
“Maybe for the next date, I can take you to a great seafood place I know.”
I smiled as I replied, “That’d be nice.” Especially because I wasn’t digging this whole squash spaghetti thing, I thought. I missed my meat marinara sauce. “Will you excuse me, I have to use the ladies room.”
Oliver stood up as I left with a deeper blushed developing on my redden face. It made me giddy that Oliver was so mannered like the gentlemen in my favorite romance books.
Walking with my dumb crutches into the bathroom, I tore of my coat and could feel sweat sticking down my sides. Taking a wet paper towel I dabbed my hot body down and tested to see if I stink with a sniff. My lips pressed together knowing my deodorant was wearing down.
Not good Alexia!
Peeking around to see if I was truly alone, which I was thankfully, I quickly pushed the soap container and slab the foam onto my armpits and the inside of my coat. Taking a deep sigh, I placed my disgusting coat back on and walked back to our table to find he was done eating.
Oliver shot another question out as I sat, “So what extracurricular activities did you do in, let’s say in high school?”
Pushing my food around I answered, “Um, book club and I ushered for the plays my school put on.” His eyebrow went up as if I should have more accomplishments and I added, “Well I did do cross-country.”
And that was a big mistake. I only participated in freshmen year thinking it would be a fun way to get in shape and secretly try talking to a crush I had on a boy I liked. But it turned out to be a disaster. Instead of being a gazelle like my crush, Tom Winder, I was more like a sloth speed that huffed and almost died to get to the finish line.
“We have so much in common. I did cross-country as well.” He snapped for the check and continued to say with a smile, “I love running. I go every day in the morning for a jog in the park. You should come along.”
My eyes widen at the suggestion and I tried shrugging it off, “Oh, I haven’t ran since high school. I would be so out of shape.”
But he was very persistent with optimism, “Oh, don’t worry. Cardio workouts are my specialty. I can get you back into cardio shape under my intense training.” His hand was on my cheek and his thumb gently stroked my lip playfully.
Was he suggesting what I think he was?
“We can use my gym membership. By the time Spring comes around, we can go on nice jogs.”
Nope, he had a clean mind.
“Great,” I said stressed as he placed his credit card into the small black book with our receipt.
Oliver pulled my hand to his lips and my breathing hitched. “Has anyone ever told you, you’re a beautiful woman?”