Chapter 22- New Adventures
Monday flies by in an instant. When Aiden gets ready for work on Tuesday, he dresses semi-casual, wearing jeans and his favorite t-shirt under his dress shirt that’s untucked from his jeans.
“Hey, Aiden, like the new digs man, a whole new you, I like it.” Chris compliments and playfully smacks him on the back.
“Thanks. Chris, I got a date this evening and well wanna make a good impression.”
The two share a laugh for a minute as they stand side by side for the water test results to pop up on the screen.
“Have fun, f’real you deserve it,” Chris tells him, seeing the light in Aiden’s eyes return.
“Thanks, can’t be any worse than the last one,” Aiden says while thinking of the fling with Cindy.
Aiden sticks around after his shift leaves for the day to discuss shift reports with the second shift lead lab analyst. Aiden’s pulled aside when the supervisor knocks on the door.
“Hey, Aiden got a moment. I need to speak with you privately in my office.”
The two shift lead analysts give a hard gulp looking at each other when their boss walks away.
“Oh, this can’t be good,” Aiden says, tugging at his shirt collar.
“Good luck ‘A’ it’s rare to hit the office anymore with good news,” Dave says as a reminder.
Aiden heads over to the office, where he knocks and waits to be greeted inside, “Hey, Mr. Hart, come on in and take a seat. We need to have a little chat.”
As his heart pounds in his chest, Aiden takes a seat, “What’s up?”
Locked on the computer screen, his supervisor takes in a deep breath.
“Well, first off, your intern’s job offer was accepted. She will be here in the spring on second shift, so congrats on that.”
Now turned to face Aiden directly, making eye contact, and plays a game with him at first, “As for you, though, I can’t say that you’re going to be that lucky by then.”
Aiden prepares for the worse, lowering his head, “And that’s because I talked to the HR team. When I leave, I nominated you to take my place as Laboratory Supervisor.”
“Do what…” Aiden huffs, lifting his head with his eyes wide open.
“Kid, you bust your ass every single day here and push for results and innovation—two things I like about your work. You’ve been noticed. I’m taking a job at a water treatment facility in Milwaukee. So, you do want the job?”
In his mind screams HELL YES, but Aiden’s body doesn’t react at first.
“I need an answer, think about it, better benefits, a hefty pay increase.”
It takes a couple of seconds for Aiden’s mouth to remember that it can form words, “Ye-yeah, I’ll accept the job, and, and thank you.”
“Excellent decision Aiden, and report to HR by nine tomorrow morning so we can sit down and go over everything you’ll do to perform at my, well now, your job and department,” Kenny informs his protégé as he returns to the computer.
Out of the chair, Aiden quickly walks back down to the lab. Aiden’s asked when he heads over to get his belongings.
“Okay, you’re not escorted by security. Which means you’re not fired, so what’s the deal?”
“I got offered to replace Kenny. He’s taking a job in Milwaukee and offered me the supervisor job.” Aiden reveals seeing everyone stop dead in their tracks.
“Wait, what? You’ve been here less than I have, and you’re my boss now! I’ve busted my ass for almost twelve years. You’ve been here barely three.”
Aiden stands his ground and reminds Dave why he’s not being considered.
“I also have a chemistry degree, whereas you have just a high school diploma. I also created two new programs to track bacteria and haven’t had a single write up. Can you say that, David? I’ve busted my ass and put in the research to improve the lab. In case you forgot, when I got here, the lab was a mess with outdated standards. Kenny busted his ass when he became a supervisor. I was his first hire. I’ve been here to make it a better work environment.”
With the case strap over his shoulder, Aiden marches out of the lab. On his way down to the timeclock, he unbuttons his shirt to expose the black graphic t-shirt.
Once he walks out and throws his stuff into the back seat, Aiden takes out his phone calling Vickie.
“Hey stud, I’ll be ready in about five or ten minutes,” Vickie explains, answering her phone.
“That’s fine. I’m just leaving work, and I just need to know where to pick you up.”
Giggling a bit, Vickie feels like a teenager waiting for her very first date, “Okay, I live by the second 7/11 gas station on East Peak Ridge. When you see that station, turn right and go five houses down. It’ll be the house with light green shudders.”
Aiden repeats the instructions in his head and takes a moment to reply, “Got it, see you soon, beautiful.”
Vickie giggles again; all she can say is “can’t wait…” as they end the call.
They’re not the only ones going out on a date this evening. Eddie’s been conned on a blind date that his sister set up for him. He’s on his way to meet his sister and her husband for dinner.
Parked by Downtown City Seafood, his heart begins to pound a little.
“I can’t believe I’m doing this.” He says to himself, getting out of the car.
Inside, he lingers for a moment until he sees his sister and company laughing a joke. Eddie saunters over to the table, where he stops long enough to exchange introductions.
“Oh hey, little brother, there you are. About time, Edward, this is Lynn, her family attends our church. Her parents were Vietnam refugees.” His sister explains as Lynn gets to her feet.
“Lynn, this is my youngest brother Edward. He’s a hardworking man with a good heart.”
Eddie checks her out and is blown away by her darker skin and pitch-black hair accompanied by her emerald green eyes.
“Hi there, nice to meet you,” Eddie says, shaking her hand.
“Pleasure is all mine. I hope you don’t mind that I am not your typical American girl.” Lynn says to break the ice.
“I don’t mind; you’re still as beautiful as anyone I’ve met.” He lets slip slapping his hand over his mouth as Lynn laughs.
“You’re funny; I like that.”
Eddie begins to blush a bit.
They take a seat and talk for a while before they order.
While Eddie is preoccupied and not stuck at home, Aiden pulls up in front of the house to meet his date.
“Alright, here we go, doing this all over again,” Aiden says as he unbuckles to get out. He gets to his feet walks up to the door, ringing the doorbell.
Coming to the door is an elderly gentleman, “You must be Aiden, come inside, young man.” He requests, waving to come through the door.
“Thank you, sir.”
Aiden follows the elderly gentleman into the living room, where he is waved to have a seat.
“Go ahead and relax, young man. She’s almost ready.” He says, sounding out of breath.
“Yes, sir, this is a lovely place you have,” Aiden mentions to make small talk.
“Kept it in the divorce when I and Vickie’s mom split up. She took off to Virginia with her new boyfriend back then and took my girls with her.” He explains, resting back in his fuzzy rustic pea soup colored chair.
“I’m sorry to hear that, sir.”
He gives a motion with his hands that it’s no big deal and begins with questions.
“Tell me youngin’ what ya do for a living?”
Without missing a beat, Aiden perks up, explaining his job, “I just got a promotion from Lead Lab Analyst to Lab Supervisor at Brass Eye Surgery Inc.”
“That’s a good company to work for, I’ve heard. Congrats on the promotion. Must be a hardworking guy to be as young as you are and be the boss.”
Aiden shrugs his shoulders, “I guess I take after my father. He worked as a Yard Master for the railroad. My mom was a Regional Manager for JC Penny’s.”
The old man catches on to how Aiden talks about his parents and speaks up.
“Worked and was… Did they retire early?” He wonders as both are unaware that Vickie has been eavesdropping near the doorway.
“No, uh, they passed when I was in high school from a car wreck. They were coming home from a cruise, and a drunk driver hit them.” Aiden explains in as little detail as possible.
“Oh, I am so sorry to intrude…”
Aiden waves it off, “it’s no big deal anymore. I’ve worked to try to make them proud. I want to think that I’ve succeeded.”
Vickie’s heart drops, listening to Aiden tell the quick story about his parents. She stands there for a moment feeling horrible.
“I think she should be about ready. Hey Vickie, honey, your date is here.” Her father announces as she realizes she needs to get in there and stop stalling.
“Coming, daddy!” She shouts, cupping her mouth to sound further back in the house.
When she enters the living room, Aiden gets to his feet to meet his date.
“Now you two kids have fun, and Aiden, it was nice to talk to you, young man. Your parents raised you right and polite.”
“Thank you; I’ll bring her home in one piece,” Aiden says, taking Vickie by the hand.
“Take your time. Vickie needs a good man for once.” Her father reveals.
That notion gives Aiden a couple of questions for small talk when they have the chance.
Before they leave, Vickie leans over, kissing her father on the cheek.
“Thank you for being nice daddy, love you.” She whispers and turns her attention to Aiden and scampers out the door.
“Your dad seems pretty nice,” Aiden mentions going over to hold open the passenger door for Vickie.
“He must like you; normally, he takes his pain out on my dates.”
Confused by what she means, Aiden waits until he gets into his seat to get more clarification, “So, what do you mean by his pain?”
In a deep breath, Vickie explains, “He has cancer. It’s gotten worse, so he stopped treatment for it a few months back. That’s why I’m here. I moved back home from Blacksburg, Virginia.”
“Ohhhhhh…” Aiden softly moans with an understanding. “That’s why you work the bar. It’s part-time and convenient.”
Vickie admits something else before they get going, “That and my degree is in business management. The only thing I was managing was a diner off campus.”
Vickie’s attitude becomes a little bitter.
“Ouch, that sucks. Maybe things will improve for you here. I can help if ya want.” He offers, looking at Vickie.
“I appreciate that, but I’ll be fine, but I will make a compromise. If I get hard-pressed for help, I’ll ask then.”
Aiden smiles at the hint and fires up the car.
“That your 240SX in front of us?” Aiden asks, noticing the Virginia plates on the back.
“Yeah, it needed a new engine, so I got it pretty cheap.”
“You’re good with cars, sweet!” Aiden nods impressed.
“Most guys don’t find that attractive. Are you secretly gay?” Vickie jokes with a light shove on Aiden’s shoulder.
“No, just nice to know there are some ladies out there with a little more independence.”
They share a laugh as they pull away.
Once they’re out to Route 60, Vickie begins digging in about Aiden’s intention, “Where are we going? I’m not a McDonald’s kind of girl.”
“Don’t have to worry, I’m taking you to Rusty’s Steakhouse. Haven’t been there in a while and thought you’d be impressed.” Aiden answers.
Settled into her seat, Vickie stares at Aiden. I love steak, so feel free to take me there anytime. You’re pretty cool, plus cute. That’s rare anymore; I think this could be something good.” Vickie says and feels excited.
Aiden cracks up as they continue down the road seeing how things begin to improve.
Things are different on the other end of town. Addie finally gives in and makes things official with Rey. She adores the way he treats her like a lady and not just a simple hit it and quit it lost like most guys done in the past.
One evening after work, Rey shows up with a pizza in hand, knocks on the door, and stands there until Addie swings the door open.
“Surprise, I brought us a supreme pizza with cheese sticks,” Rey says with a cheesy smile as she moves aside to let him inside.
She shuts the door when he’s almost to the kitchen. Rey flips up the pizza box as the steam rises from the box.
“Wow, a mini unplanned date night,” Addie mentions in the kitchen.
After a quick kiss, she gets plates and a couple of beers.
“I wanted to see you, and since you’re in your last year of college, I wasn’t sure what you had planned, so I thought I’d get a step in the right direction.”
Unsure of how to take his comment, Addie dives for more details, “What do you mean in the right direction?”
Rey picks up a couple of slices of pizza, putting them on a plate, “I want us to be exclusive. I want what we have now to be full-time and serious. I have a lot of feelings for you.”
“I like you too, but I don’t wanna push this too fast. You’re the first guy to show any actual interest in other than sleeping with me and leave the next day.” Addie mentions in a somber voice.
Rey steps in, purposely holding her plate, “I’m not them, I’m not your past. I’ve been fooled or told I’m too much of a geek and a nerd. You are different. You treat me unlike anyone else, even better than my friends. You make me feel like I can still conquer the world.”
Blushing with a vivid shade of red in her cheeks, Addie tugs at her plate, mocking herself again.
“Gimme my food, please, this fat girl needs food.”
Rey’s attitude flips, tired of hearing that.
“You are not fat, yes you’re not Ally’s small stature. You are far from being fat and overweight. I love the way you look. I love you.” Rey gets slip clasping his hand over his mouth.
“Do what?” Addie asks as her pupils grow to the size of half dollars.
“I uh, uh, yeah, I said it! I love you!” He repeats with enthusiasm.
Nearly dropping the plate, Addie slides it back onto the table then suddenly wraps her arms around Rey’s neck for a big wet sloppy kiss.
“I love you too; I’ve felt it but was afraid to say anything. Anyway, I’m not going anywhere, I have a job after graduation, thanks to Aiden, but yes, I would love to be your exclusive girlfriend.” Addie expresses with a soft look.
Neither one can stop smiling at each other.
“Good. This wasn’t quite the evening I expected, but I am glad this happened. Mom loves you to pieces, and this won’t be a mistake, I promise. Aiden’s starting over. I figured it’s our turn.”
Instantly confused, Addie digs a little more in Rey’s last statement, “Aiden’s starting over how? I talked to Ally a little bit ago, and she hasn’t talked to him lately.”
That’s when Rey drops the bombshell.
“He’s out on a date tonight with the bar manager from the Import Room.”
Addie can’t believe her ears, “Oh, she ain’t going to like that, not one bit. Oh shit Aiden, I think you just signed your death wish.” Addie thinks to herself then returns to an evening with Rey.
“It’s his life. Let him live and learn; just don’t expect Ally to take it so easy when I tell her.” Addie forewarns Rey as they take a seat on the futon.
Aiden’s unaware that holy hell about to come to his doorstep when Ally discovers what’s going on when the raring jealousy kicks in.
“Enjoying yourself?” Aiden asks when he shoves his plate away from the edge of the table.
“Ah hell yes, thank you, it’s been a while since I was able to relax at all,” Vickie says, wiping away the excess steak sauce from her lips.
“Good, got time for a movie or anything else?” He questions.
“Yeah, I’d like that, actually.”
Once Aiden picks up the check, they return to the Mustang for the quick two-minute drive over to the mall. Once inside, they’re both oblivious that they’ve been spotted when Ally makes her way towards the door and stops to hide when she sees them walking hand-in-hand.
“That son of a bitch!” She growls as her heart drops out of her chest, “If he thinks I’m easily replaceable. I’ll show him.”
Taking out her phone, she dials a familiar number, “Hey Sam, you free tonight?”
She listens as he answers. Ally gets the dumbest idea in her mind thinking it’ll work, “Good, I think we can be semi-exclusive again. I’ll see you tonight, later, Major Sexy.”
Strutting out the door, Ally walks outside and finds Aiden’s Mustang, and drops a note under the windshield wiper.
“We still have things left unfinished, love Ally.” She says, writing on a scrap piece of paper from her purse.
She goes over to the Stanza and gets inside to head home before she heads over to Sam’s, hoping her idea will work in time to feed off Aiden’s jealousy to her advantage.