Last time: Tracy and Davis decided a date would not be a bad thing.
“You are not taking her to Luigi’s.” I heard Claire’s voice from the kitchen and had to laugh. After the party, she had innocently asked what we were planning to do on our date. Of course, the minute I told him she had even asked, Davis had been tormenting her with questions and running ideas by her, asking her for advice just to screw with her. The screwing part was mostly because every idea he mentioned to her were horrifically clichéd and almost right out of a bad movie. I had been assured that we would actually be doing something chill and underwhelming. His current theme for ideas was Italian specific. He’d so far named every restaurant between here and White Plains with a red and white checked tablecloth.
“I make no promises that this date will be any fun Tracy,” Claire muttered as she passed into the bar with an armload of condiments for the dining room. “He is not original.”
I had to laugh at the disgusted look on her face.
“Don’t worry Claire. I’m not a big date person. I’m sure it will be fine.” I threw a wink through the door to the man in question and relieved her of some of her burden.
“I swear to God, if he tries to split a plate of spaghetti with you or nudges a meatball in your direction, you should run screaming for the door.”
“But Lady & the Tramp is so cute! Can’t you just see us slurping up noodles over a candle stick in an ally?” I teased her right back and ducked the towel that came flying in my direction.
The bar was busy that night. The weekend was around the corner, and it seemed like everyone was trying to hold onto those last nights of summer by going out more than normal and making Thursday night feel like a Saturday. I wasn’t complaining. The money was good, and I had a week left to stockpile tips so I could shop for a few business suits.
My first day at Longarm & Shys was ten days away. I had stopped into one of the multitude of newsstands in my neighborhood the weekend before and grabbed every newsworthy magazine and finance story-featuring publication I could put my hands on to start catching up on the news I had been paying only superfluous attention to all summer. There was a lot to read in my time away from The Wilted Pen but I felt like I knew what was going on again and that I was marginally prepared for what was to come.
There was some kind of orientation-like phone conference call I had to be on the Friday before I started, but otherwise I had heard little from my future employer all summer. I was a little nervous about starting, but I had also heard from a number of my friends from school who were in similar situations and were starting their jobs without a problem so I was trying to let that relax me.
“We’re still good for Monday right?” Davis was leaning on the bar, twining a bar towel from hand to hand and watching me ring in another order. It was early enough in the night that we could tell it was going to be busy, but the real crowd had yet to descend upon us and his orders were still rather sporadic.
“Yeah, I’m good.” I smiled at him, biting my lip to keep the grin from spreading too far across my face. “What are we doing anyways?”
“Don’t you want a little bit of a surprise?” he asked with a smirk.
“Not really. I like to know what to expect.”
He switched from twinning the towel to playing with my fingers as I rested one hand on the bar beside the computer.
“Well since we already discussed the fact that I am not to ‘seduce you with shared spaghetti and meatballs’ I thought we could maybe stay in. Do an old school movie marathon, I’ll cook dinner, and you can be impressed by how clean my place is in comparison to my outward appearance.”
I smiled and twitched my fingers from his gentle grasp. Leaning in close enough that I heard a wolf whistle from the kitchen when the door swung open behind me, I huffed a quiet laugh next to his cheek before stating, “I’m sure it won’t be the only thing I’m impressed by.”
The dumbfound look on his face was reward enough when I pulled back and turned towards my tables with a smirk.
My bravado was, of course, a mask. It’s one thing to flirt and smirk at a cute boy who is your friend day in and day out. It’s a completely different story when suddenly it’s just the two of you, and you’re standing on his doorstep in flip flops, worn-in jeans that hug your curves just right and a tank top you continue to wear despite having shrunk it in the wash two years ago.
“The color is perfect, Mom!” I had yelled at her when she tried to throw it away. Never mind that it looked amazing and just hinted at transparency. I had gone for the “I’m not intimidated by this date at all” look. That was my story, and I was sticking to it.
The way Davis’s eyes widened slightly when he answered the door helped me relax. And I couldn’t help but giggle a little bit at the button-down he had thrown over his Goonies t-shirt in an attempt to make an effort. It wasn’t buttoned or ironed, but it was cute.
“You look great,” he stated with an easy grin as he leaned in the door jam confidently.
“As do you,” I smirked, stepping towards him and pecking his cheek. “Are you going to invite me in or did you forget to clean the place up?”
He stepped back and opened an arm invitingly before raising one eyebrow and rumbling, “Welcome to my lair.”
It was what you would expect of a “post-Mom Still Does My Laundry” lair with movie posters stuck to the wall, a lot of dust and few accessories like curtains or matching hand towels. But it was clean enough, and there was a distinct smell of cooking food coming from the kitchen which was clean despite the fact that it looked like a the Tasmanian Devil had been through it recently.
“What are we having?” I asked, sniffing the air appreciatively.
“Brick chicken.” Davis moves around me and into the tiny space. “No tomatoes or noodles so don’t worry.”
He was right. There was no bumping of noses over noodles. He puffed up with pride when I moaned at the smell that rose from the skillet when he removed the brick pressing into the rosemary and lemon-crusted chicken. And I’m pretty sure the flinging of the pan-fried potatoes he did while letting the chicken “rest” were totally for my benefit.
There was a lot of laughter as he insisted on what called a “short feature” marathon. No movie was short but real marathons were day-long endeavors, and we didn’t have time for it. So it was just Goonies and Adventures in Babysitting for this one.
“So how’d I do?” he asked while he walked me back to my place. He had said it was the least he could do since he made me come to him.
“Very well,” I said with a grin. “I had fun.”
He caught my hand at the street corner before my door.
“I’m glad,” he said, pulling me into his side and draping his arm over my shoulder. “I did too.”
His kiss at the door was sweet. He’d made the right choice, opting away from the garlic-heavy dishes and sticking with lemon and rosemary. He tasted fresh and warm, and my lips chased his when he pulled away. We’d managed to move from the sidewalk to against the door. His palm was heavy on my side when his eyes crinkled with his smile, and he dropped one more kiss beside my mouth before stepping back.
“Yeah, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
I managed to not giggle until I got up to my apartment, but it was hard.
Cover art for Headed towards the Right Decisions was created by Maritza Lugo.