Learning to Love

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Side Kick

“So.” Adrian said adamantly that Friday at the cafe. “Are we on for an official date tomorrow?”

The playful grin spreading across his olive toned face made his light brown eyes twinkle. Something lurched in my chest and not out of fear.

“Oh,” I snapped out of my daze and began to reply nervously. “I’m not sure. Drew is pretty freaked out about something going on. He doesn’t really want me out anywhere, especially with someone he doesn’t know.”

He watched me seriously, those brown eyes searching my blue ones desperately for answers. After a second I dropped my eyes and shifted nervously under his heavy gaze.

“Well then,” He smiled kindly, his voice gentle and reassuring. “I guess that means it’s time I meet this protector of yours.”

“He’s been working crazy hours.” I looked behind him as the bell to the door chimed. “However, you’re about to meet his sidekick.”

I felt the blood pooling in my cheeks as Simon walked in. Adrian shot me a confused glance before looking over his shoulder. By his expression it was clear Simon and my similarities didn’t escape him.

He stood tall smiling broadly at Simon as if greeting an old friend. Simon walked up to us, glancing between us.

“Hey man.” Simon smiled politely and extended his hand, “I’m Sy. You must be Adrian?”

“Oh so you’ve heard about me.” Adrian smiled even brighter and I rolled my eyes wishing another customer would come in.

“Oh yeah.” Simon smirked at me.

I felt blood pooling in my cheeks and bit my lip. Glaring at Simon I suddenly regretted telling him when Adrian was here.

“Shut up, Sy.” I mumbled shifting cups around nervously.

Adrian just laughed. “Good to meet you man. Is that a James Paxton jersey?”

“Hell yeah. Mariners may not all be on top of their game but you gotta be loyal to your team right?” Simon smiled ernistly.

I could tell they were going to get along well. Part of me felt as if this was a major accomplishment. I had to remind myself it was silly to worry about how he got along with the boys. I couldn’t let him get too close. This was bad. Simon would agree to Saturday for sure.

The boys kept talking about baseball. Their competitive tones unnerved me at times but they remained smiling. Their good natured, albeit controversial, conversion only stopped when Adrian suddenly looked at his watch.

“Shoot I’m going to be late. It was really nice meeting you, and I would love to finish this conversation later.” Adrian said happily.

“Definitely, you should come over for a beer and to watch the game with my brother and I tonight.” Simon offered, clearly thrilled.

I blanched at him. Was he kidding? What about Aaliyah? Was he insane?

“Sure that sounds great.” Adrian grinned at me happily.

Hurt flash through his eyes as he registered my expression.

“You okay, Jess?” He asked.

“Yeah sorry. I’m just surprised.” I said, shaking my head lightly before smiling back up at him.

“I’ll see you later okay?” He asked.

I nodded, unable to hide the smile that spread across my lips. He smiled back then turned to walk out.

“Adrian!” I called suddenly, surprising Simon if his expression meant anything.

“Yeah?” Adrian asked, facing me.

“We’re on for tomorrow.” I said, unable to resist.

I wanted so badly to see his thrilled smile again, and he did not disappoint. My heart hammered in my chest.

“Awesome.” Adrian beamed, “See you then.”

Then he was gone. I watched as he walked over to his car. A long drawn out whistle caught my attention, making me blush deeply.

“Damn sis, you got it bad...” Simon winked at me.

I frowned down at the counter and began running a towel over them in small tight circles. I could feel him watching me. His blue eyes, identical to my own, staring at me reading every shift of my body language.

“You’re going to have to let yourself love eventually. He’s a good guy, I approve.” Simon encouraged awkwardly. “Hey, at least he likes baseball.”

I rolled my eyes. “Yeah, like that’s what matters most.”

“No, what matters most is that he’s good to you and Aaliyah. He’s got one of the two, but since you won’t test him on the second I moved down the list to baseball.” He said expectantly.

I looked back down at my hands, still wiping the counter.

“I can’t...”

“Yeah you could. I get good vibes from this guy, I like him.” He looked down at me, suddenly backtracking. “However I do understand your perspective. I can’t imagine what you went through or how you are feeling now.”

“It’s fine Sy. Do you want anything to drink?” I asked quickly.

“Nah, I should get back to class.” Simon said, nervously rubbing the back of his neck.

As he went to leave though he hesitated by the door of the otherwise empty cafe. “Love you Jess, and I’ll keep him at my place. With Aaliyah at yours you can keep your secret.”

“Thank you.” I nodded quietly.

Shortly after he left Sarah walked in, “He is cute. Who is he?”

I was tempted to tell her, but I had talked so much already and I was tired. Instead I nodded, smiling slightly, then turned back to cleaning the espresso machine.

“You guys actually look a lot alike. Is he one of those brothers you mentioned before?” She slid up into the counter next to me.

Another nod.

Sarah was the only one I knew who could easily keep a conversation going with any responses.

“He looks like a twin. Am I right?”

Nod.

“Is he single?”

I shook my head.

“Oh darn, I have a friend who would have loved to meet him.” She sighed pushing herself off the counter.

I looked her over for the first time in a couple weeks. She had dyed her hair a more subtle dark red, as opposed to the blue she had had my first day.

I suddenly felt guilty that I wasn’t nicer to this lady. She had always been sweet and understanding towards me. She had never judged me and always made conversation even when I made it hard.

“High school sweethearts. Simon has been with his girlfriend Balissa for three years.” I responded.

“How old are you two?” She smiled happily at me.

This was when I realized another thing. It wasn’t that the world couldn’t get a word in edgewise with her, it was that she felt the need to fill awkward gaps I left behind. She talked for both of us.

“Twenty.” I answered quietly.

She chuckled, “Yeah I got six year on you, man I feel old sometimes working here.”

I chuckled.

“So what are you guys doing for thanksgiving next week?” She asked.

I blanched. Thanksgiving couldn’t be next week. I was not ready to face my dad again. Drew hadn’t mentioned anything so far but he hadn’t been home, except to sleep, in three days.

I looked around noticing thanksgiving decorations everywhere but we had hung them up so long ago it felt like we had all the time in the world. However, as it did, time had slipped through my fingers again and I felt panic rising in my gut.

“Hey are you okay?” Sarah asked, suddenly concerned.

I forced myself to take a deep breath, “Yeah, yeah I’m okay I just need to make a quick call.”

She nodded curiously as I walked out the door.

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