Tasha and Theodore were not interested in love. Their lives were solid. The only part of their lives they had a problem with was trying to make people understand a romantic partner was not needed for them to be whole. No matter what they did or said, everyone thought they knew better.
“Tasha I'm so happy you could make it to the party,” Lydia said as she walked arm and arm with Tasha to the dining room.
“Me too Lydia. I haven’t been out in a long time. A nice casual dinner is just what I need.”
They walked past the children’s photos on the walls, past the living room done in light burgundy and cream, and entered the dining room. Tasha stopped and turned,
“I promise it is not a big deal,” said Lydia as she started to drag Tasha to her seat at the long table set for 10.
The table was covered in a burgundy and cream tablecloth that matched the seats of the chairs. There were appetizers and wine being shared by the people at the table while they talked and joked. There were two couples on one side, three people on the other side, and two empty chairs on either end of the table.
There was only one seat open next to a brown-skinned man with brown eyes who looked like he was tall. But everyone was tall to Tasha. He had no hair on his head, but he had a full salt and pepper beard and mustache. Tasha noticed his grey slacks and green button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled up. She saw his huge forearms and raised her eyes to his biceps that were just large enough to make the fabric on his arms snug. She reminded herself she is not looking for a man, no matter how sexy he is. Tasha thought to herself, ‘I am going to kill Lydia.’
When they got to the empty chair Tasha noticed the handsome man looked as excited as she felt about being there. “Theodore? This is Tasha. Tasha? This is Theodore,” Lydia said with a big grin on her face.
Tasha took her seat next to Theodore and smiled a thin line at him. He did the same. Lydia walked away feeling proud of herself and thought ‘they will get to talking and find they really like each other. I don’t care what Boyd says. This is going to be great.’
Theodore noticed Tasha when she first came into the room. Her hair was a black short bob, she had on a blue dress that hugged her, but was not too tight, curves in all the right places, and flawless brown skin. Then Theodore thought to himself, ‘What am I doing? This is how I always get into trouble. No. No more pretty ladies.’ Theodore’s quick mind came up with an idea. He leaned over to Tasha, “I think they are trying to set us up. Who roped you into this?”
Tasha smiles, “Lydia.”
Theodore thinks ‘Damn. That smile and those brown eyes. No, I will not be drawn in.’
“At least she’s just a friend. My cousin did this to me.”
“Lydia is your cousin? That is kinda messed up.”
“Look, no offense to you, but I don’t think either of us want this,” said Theodore
“No offense taken. You are right.”
“Good. How about you and I have some fun?”
“What do you have in mind man-I-want-nothing-to do-with.”
Theodore chuckled but tried to keep it quiet. He did not want anyone to think they were having a good time. He was lucky. Lydia and Boyd were getting dinner ready in the kitchen. You could smell the roast beef, the biscuits, and the apple pie.
“You and I are not going to speak to each other at all. We will speak to the people on the other side of us and across from us, but not to each other. At the end of the night, we can talk about how Lydia is going to kill us. We can meet up afterward to debrief.”
“I don’t know, Mr. Theodore, I just met you. Going off with you like that.”
“You’re right, you’re right. Safety first. We can meet at that coffee shop on James Street. Lots of witnesses.”
Tasha chuckled, “I'm in. Teach her and all the rest of the people in my life to stop settin me up.”
“Agreed. Ok. You want to start now.”
“Yes, sir. See you on the other side.”
And the two of them proceeded to speak to everyone around them except each other. Lydia did not notice at first. About a half-hour in, she saw there were no conversations happening between the two of them.
Lydia knew they would like each other if they just got to know each other. She had to get them talking. “Tasha?”
Tasha turned to look at Lydia, “Yes, Lydia.”
“Did you know Theodore owns his own business too?”
Tasha turned to Theodore, looked him up and down, turned back to Lydia, “That’s nice.” And went back to her conversation with the couple on her right.
Lydia decided to try Theodore instead. “Theodore? Tasha listens to the same oldies R&B you listen to.”
Theodore turned to glance at Tasha, gave a little nod when she looked at him and went back to his conversation with a couple across from him.
Lydia tried two more times to get them to talk to each other and her husband Boyd finally intervened and told her to leave them alone. Lydia tried to argue, but Boyd told her to let them be. Lydia pouted and stabbed her food for the rest of the evening and she did not talk much more either. But she stared daggers into Theodore, Tasha, and Boyd. Both Theodore and Tasha did all they could not to look at her and burst out laughing.