Sunday, August 15, 2010

''Another Chance'' Cafe...chapter 5

Suddenly wishing the grocery cart that stood between us was actually a 10-foot wall made out of cinder blocks, I inched it closer to us as if it would provide some type of protection. Judging from the size of his arms and the anger-jealousy that was probably boiling up inside of him right now, he could of most likely picked the cart up with two fingers and made a dent in the side of my head so it would resemble a crescent moon. The acid look on his face didn’t improve any either. I was sure that something was going to go down and that something might be turn out to be me. I began trying to build my self-confidence into battle mode when the tension-filled silence was finally broken.

“Xander, I asked you a question,” Shea asked again. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m….I’m just picking up some groceries,” he finally answered.

“Really? Again? You were just picking up some groceries yesterday too,” she said back. This time when she spoke, her voice had somewhat of an attitude behind it. Not the usual female attitude when they are either trying to get their way or just being difficult but the “I’m tired of this” and frustrated tone of an attitude. I half wished she wasn’t using it, expecting it would only make matters ten times worse.

“I mean, really, c’mon now, this is getting out of hand and just downright childish now” Nope, the attitude continued. “What is your problem?” she asked.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Shea. Aren’t you going to introduce me to your…friend?” asked Xander.


“What do you mean no?”

“Did I stutter or something? No, I’m not”

“Ok, that’s fine. I’ll just introduce myself,” he said. Then he looked over at me, burning a hole through my head with his stare. “Hi…I’m Xander…nice to meet you”. He paused after every section of words as if trying to prevent himself from speaking through clenched teeth. It was quite obvious, this guy did not like the fact that I was standing beside his ex-girl. Did not like it at all. He didn’t offer his hand for a shake either, as I didn’t expect him to.

“Patrick,” I said as I slightly nodded my head towards him. I answered with simply my name to indicate that I wasn’t afraid of him. Whether or not he believed this lie that I was also trying to convince myself of, I don’t know.

“Well, is there anything else we can do for you?” asked Shea. Oh no, she used the we word. This would only add to his utter dislike and eventual hatred towards me. By now, I had no idea what might be holding him back from pulling the shopping cart out of the way and grabbing my throat with one hand while he pummels me with the other.

“No, so sorry to interrupt your evening. It was very nice to see you again Shea,” he said.

“Whatever,” she replied back and grabbed my hand pulling me alongside her as we pushed her cart past him.

All the while still, he continued staring pretty hard at my head. I wondered if he pulled any of my thoughts out of there and took them with him into the market. The ones about her smell and smile would surely give him more reasons to end my existence.

“I am so sorry about that, Patrick. I was really hoping we didn’t run into him today, or ever for that matter. But of course that would never happen with my luck. I swear he’s infatuated or something, I just wish he would stop,” she explained as we began to unload her groceries into the trunk of her car.

“It really is ok. I was kind of preparing myself half expecting to run into him. Didn’t know he was so big though. You could have given me a heads up on that one,” I joked.

“Ha, yeah I know, sorry, I guess I’m trying so hard to forget him that I try to avoid talking about him,” she said.

“Yeah, I can understand that much, it makes sense. I don’t like talking about certain people in my life either,” I replied. I hope that statement didn’t remind her of the phone call I had recently not answered. Not giving her time to replay her memory, I quickly changed the subject. “Would you like me to follow you home to help you unpack?”

Normally I wouldn’t have even thought about asking about going to her home so early in our “thing” but it sort of just came out. I think it was a combination of a new found confidence from the recent encounter with her ex-boyfriend and just wanting to get out of there before he comes back out of the store and changes his mind about ending this meeting on a semi-peaceful note.

“You’ve done a lot already. I don’t want you to go out of your way again just for me, I feel like I would be taking advantage of you. You’re so nice, I wouldn’t want to do that,” she said.

“No, you can’t take advantage of me if I’m the one offering. It’s perfectly fine. You lead and I’ll follow,” I replied.

She looked at me with one of the most endearing expressions that I have ever seen. Her gorgeous brown eyes glistened up at me in the twilight as the sun was just about over the horizon now. It was one of those looks of awe as if she were saying to herself, “Is he for real?” At that moment, looking back down at her, staring back into her enchanting eyes, I had to fight back the urge to kiss her. It was like the feeling of being in the moment and the common sense of saying it was too soon was waging a war within me. They collided like two armies in an epic movie set in medieval times. But the side bearing the common sense flag won and I resisted the push in that direction.

“Ok, you make a very good argument. Either that or you just want to see why I live?” she cleverly responded.

“I guess you’ll just have to find out for yourself,” I informed her.

With one more smile, she got in her car and I got in mine. We pulled out of the market’s parking lot together and began the trip to her apartment. I began to feel another slight wave of nervousness as I followed her. But it quickly disappeared with memories of the evenings events. I accompanied her to the grocery store, ran into her massive mountain of an ex-boyfriend and very smoothly convinced her to allow me to accompany her home and all without making a total fool out of myself. I’m doing pretty good so far, so no real need for the butterflies anymore. I instantly relaxed and felt much better. I heard my phone chime and knew it was a text message. Expecting it to be from Shea, I prepared a smart reply giving her crap about texting while driving but it wasn’t her. Quickly glancing over a name that gave me rather uncomfortable chills every time I saw it, I regrettably opened the message and read what it said:
“I need to talk to you”

The six words gleamed out at me and hurt my eyes as if I was staring into the sun. I didn’t want to talk to her. In case my feelings about this person wasn’t made quite clear before, I will restate it again; I don’t want to talk to her…ever. Why couldn’t she understand and respect that? Why won’t you leave me alone? This can’t be about business; we just spoke about that last week. What could she possibly want to discuss with me so badly? I honestly don’t want to even know. Realizing that we had arrived at Shea’s place, I holstered my phone, no better yet, I’ll leave it in my car. Don’t want any more interruptions tonight.

I parked my car next to hers and got out. Her apartment complex was very nice. Clean, small and very green. The abundance of trees and bushes presented a small forest type feeling. The smell of dinner floated through the air from someone’s kitchen. Smelled like roast chicken, I was instantly hungry. I walked to her trunk just as she popped it and began to grab bags out of it. She got out and grabbed the rest while flashing me yet another smile. Did she somehow figure out that that was one of my favorite things about her and intended on making sure it never left my subconscious, ever? Maybe, or maybe she was just happy. Either way, she was practically beaming. I wanted to laugh a little at her wide smile but I held it back and simply just smiled back at her.

Carrying her bags, we walked towards a building with three levels that resembled the structure of a townhome but with stairs on the outside. I followed her up to the second level and she stopped at the first door in the hallway on the right. Setting her bags down, she opened her purse and took out her keys. Fumbling with her keys for a second, it almost seemed as if she was nervous. I was a little shocked and could relate at the same time. I was shocked because I rarely see a girl get nervous. I know they are human beings too and they feel that emotion like everyone else but they usually do such a great job at concealing it. It’s always the guy trying so hard to impress the females leaving them with the final judge on whether he’s worthy of her time or not. At the same time I understood because who wouldn’t be nervous bringing a strange person who you potentially might have a “thing” with into your home for the first time. Well at least I was hoping, a little, we would eventually have a “thing” together. Still not completely sure on what she was hoping on, if anything at all.

Eventually getting a hold of her keys, she opened her door and walked in with me right behind her. “Well, this is it, my humble abode. Welcome,” she said.

I followed her in and quickly looked around. The hallway from the door led into the living room which was pretty spacious and had a balcony connected to it overlooking the parking lot. She immediately walked into the kitchen, which was on the opposite side of the living room and put her set of the groceries on the counter. I followed suit and placed my set next to hers.

“Nice place, a lot cleaner than mine,” I joked.

“Ha, really? I haven’t cleaned in about a month, the dust might begin to attack me pretty soon,” she retorted.

“Yeah, maybe the layer of dust will help keep your boyfriend away,” I joked.

“Very funny, and he’s my ex-boyfriend. Never again with that one, I swear”

“Well, I guess I’ll be going now,” I said disappointingly. I really didn’t want to leave. I mean I really didn’t but we spent the entire evening together, had an “ex” run-in and I’d now been inside her apartment for a whole 5 minutes. I didn’t want to overdo it. So I figured I’d play the responsible one and again act like I wasn’t all into her. Which I think I was pulling off pretty well so far.

“Oh, well, ok, yeah I suppose it is getting a little late. I forgot we both got work tomorrow. One more day until Friday though,” she said with a sort of sad, disappointed demeanor. Did she want me to stay? Was she upset I was leaving? I suppose we may have connected on some sort of level today staring danger in the face together and surviving to tell the tale. But I still didn’t want her to get tired of me so soon, so I didn’t ask any of those questions. I did, on the other hand, have the courage to ask another kind of question.

“Speaking of Friday, I was thinking, if you’re not busy or anything, would you care to have dinner with me that night?” I asked. My heart…actually did nothing. It kept beating normally with no elevated rate or anything. I was surprised, very surprised. I had planned on asking her out on a date this entire evening but expected my heart to jump out of my chest as I built up to the actual question. But nothing, no nervousness, no tension, no nothing. Cool, calm, and collective. I told you that was me.

“Why yes, I would,” she said with a smile followed by a school girl sort of giggle.

“Great then, I’ll pick you up around 7:30. Is that cool?” I asked.

“That will be perfect. Looking forward to it,” she replied. She was looking forward to it! Nice! Calm down. Ok, I’m calm again.

“Ok, I’ll talk to you tomorrow then?”


I turned to walk towards the door and she followed behind me. As I walked down the hall, the thought crossed back and forth through my mind about trying to kiss her. I know this wasn’t an actual date and it was only the second time that we were actually together in person but I really wanted to. By the time I reached the door, the thought crossed back through my head for the final time and I decided not to. I reached for the door knob and I felt her soft hand grab my wrist. She gently turned me around and threw her arms around my neck. I, almost instinctively, wrapped my arms around her waist and we stood there in an embrace that felt like it lasted forever. Her smell completely engulfed me and I felt like I had figured out what heaven was like and never wanted to leave. I felt her holding on tight as if she wanted to prevent herself from falling. I wanted to tighten my hold as well but decided to play it safe.

Finally I asked, “Are you ok?”

“I am now,” she responded and kind of made that “Hmmm” sound in my ear. Do girls have any idea what that does to a guy? Wait, of course they do. That’s exactly why they do things like that. She continued to hold me close and said in a voice just above a whisper, “I want to thank you again so much for coming with me today and…and for sticking with me when he showed up. Truthfully, Patrick, you were the reason why I had so much confidence today when I saw him. Usually, I am terrified. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t expect you to fight him or anything and I wouldn’t have let you but you made me feel safe, just by being there and I haven’t felt safe in a very long time. Thank you”. That last “Thank You” came out in a full whisper and all I wanted to do was plant a nice, tasteful kiss on her. But I stopped myself again.

In the same whispery tone, I replied with a “You’re welcome”. She instantly burst out laughing probably thinking I was mocking her. I ensured her that I wasn’t and restated my “You’re welcome” in a normal tone. The way she was holding onto me, I thought maybe she was thinking about kissing me too. She pulled her head back and I prepared myself. Then she leaned in and kissed me…on my cheek. I’ll accept that. It still felt really nice. Then she stared into my eyes while gently rubbing the back of my neck. After a moment, we let go of each other, said bye and I left.

I couldn’t help but smile all the way home. I actually tried to stop smiling a couple of times but it was nearly impossible. So I gave up and just smiled. Smiled all the way into my apartment. Smiled while brushing my teeth, which made it very easy actually. Smiled until I heard the text message ringtone from my phone. Instantly the smile was gone and the memory of the earlier text message that I had not replied to shot back into my head. I picked up my phone and opened the message. Like a flash, the smile returned.

“Good night, sweet dreams,” read the message from Shea.

“Nighty night,” I wrote back and got into bed to call it a day. Despite some unexpected small drama, today was a success. I got to hang out with the girl who has taken over my thoughts and managed to ask her out and receive a positive response. Good job, Patrick. Good job. No doubt tomorrow will yield more anxiousness because I actually have a date for Friday night. A date with a beautiful woman. A date with a beautiful, amazing woman. A date with…oh no, I need to make plans!

To be continued…

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