Thursday, August 7, 2008

Stand alone 01

I know I've been doing a lot of these lately. I'll probably have to drop my updating schedule to just five days a week and give myself thursday and friday off... or maybe sunday and monday. I don't know. Anyhow, this story.... well... I don't remember when I wrote it. It is obviously not finished, but it should amuse you well enough for now. I'm a littel stuck on the current chapter... I can't decide what I want to do and if I should skip something or not. Anyhow.... I hope you enjoy the pithy bitters and I hope I managed to get the name the same because apparently I decided to changeit somewhere in the middle...

“This has to be the most boring job in the world,” I mumbled to myself with my jowls firmly placed on my fists as I leaned over the counter of a Quick Fuel. The main color was red as it is with most convenience stores. The ones that used green or blue just don’t know what they're missing.

Mostly the hunger that gets worse by staring across the building at the red stripe of painted cinder blocks over the soda cooler and the beer. Science or psychology or someone with some credentials says that red, yellow, and orange make you hungrier.

The extra weight around my middle proves a point with some finesse, if I do say so myself. Also, the extra candy bars that make it to the registers speak volumes. Travelers are always hungry and thirsty it seems.

For eleven o’clock at night, it was horribly slow. Usually I had about thirty people running to the store to get their beer before midnight. All the liquor stores close at eleven or is it ten? I don’t remember exactly, but they close early, so Quick Fuel is used for getting beer.

I was almost thankful that I didn’t live in a dry county or town. I’m not exactly sure why they call them that, since beer is still sold, but whatever floats their boats—if they can do that, that is.

So there I was, leaning over a counter with my expansive butt up in the air because I can’t sit down and I have nothing in the world to do. You can really only dust the shelves so many times in one night before it becomes redundant, and I just know that as soon as I go to restock the Dr. Peppers I’ll have a customer come in.

I seriously hated my job with a mortal passion. The pay even sucked. What can you do though? Suck it up, that’s right.

Hum to yourself that you’re bored. That’s about it.


“I’m bored. I’m bored. I’m bored. I’m bored. I’m bored,” I reminded myself over and over again. “When the hell will one roll around so I can go home?”

Grumble, whine, bitch, and moan. That is a night in a convenience store wrapped up in one proverbial nut shell.

Eat your heart out.

And then a car claimed a pump and I watched it with a morbid fascination. Part of me was hoping the person would pay with cash so that I would have something to do. A credit card would most likely mean that the person wasn’t going to come in.

Another part of me was thinking that it’s probably a creepy old man and I’d much rather have them pay at the pump. I really didn’t like the idea of being robbed either. So, before my proposed hooligan crawled out of the Cadillac I was looking around for anyone who might be able to help me.

Everyone is suspect.

And then he stepped out. He was, for lack of a better description, the man on the romance novels. Every lady knows what I’m talking about: the perfectly sculpted hunk with a nice chest, narrow hips, strong limbs and probably packing.

Impossibly gorgeous.

I gave him an appreciative sigh and really hoped that he was simply paying at the pump so that he wouldn’t see me. I did not want to be seen by a hunk. It would make me die of shame. I kid you not.

Well, maybe I do, but that’s beside the point. I was wearing a red shirt that reflected off of my skin and made me look like I was having a fit, and I was never really one for make-up. I seriously doubt that it would have helped with the matter at hand, but it was too late to consider something like that.

My mother was right; if I didn’t start trying to attract someone I would be single until I died. It seemed to be a trend. It didn’t matter anyway, I reminded myself, because he was way out of my league anyway.

That car screamed money and so did his jeans—yes, that is possible—and the style of his shirt. He was, much to my abandon, not wearing those god-awful clothes that looked as though I wore them when I was an active child. If I had known that clothes that were tattered and torn were going to be in style around the time I was supposed to have children I would have saved them.

And not patched them up with the remains of their poor, fallen brethren.

Everything about him was crisp, clean, and a girl’s regular dream.

I sighed again. It was pointless. I reattached my head and pulled out Aristotle. Nothing like some philosophy to make you ignore stupid people and be able to pretend you’re actually paying attention to their moronic jabbering.

It was, of course, pointless. He came inside. I knew it had to be him when the annoying ding-dong or however you’d describe those annoying beeps sounded. I looked over the top of my book, closed it, and tucked it away under the counter.

“Good evening, sir, welcome to Quick Fuel,” I told him with my fake smile in place.

My fake smile is atrocious, just ask my mother.

His gaze moved from the display of Fritos to me and he looked startled. “Good evening,” he said with a smile that made my smile real in a heart beat. I could actually feel the difference.

I was then, as usual, at a loss for how to stand. I couldn’t pace, that would be rude. I learned that the hard way. I couldn’t lean back over the counter because that could be seen as A, mooning and B, being a slouch. Neither were preferable.

So I scratched my ear and looked like I was straightening up something or another. I think it was the cigar display. I glanced over at him and he was thumbing through a magazine. My gaze was drawn to my Aristotle as I wondered how long this man was going to loiter and make me feel uncomfortable.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could have sworn he stole a glance at me. I frowned as I looked under the counter, debating.

“I’m not going to rob you,” he said suddenly and he made me jump a little bit. Well, not jump so much as jerk my shoulders, but people always say jump.

“Huh?” I asked, looking up at him with a dazed expression. Why the hell would he need to rob a convenience store? That was for punk ass high schoolers who wanted to go to jail.

“Weren’t you eyeing a gun?” he asked and I found myself trying to place his accent. I couldn’t. He didn’t seem to have one.

“Oh? No,” I said and pulled out the book. It was thin, light, but had the main-man’s name written on it.

“Ah, Ethics,” he said with a nod.

I grinned, pleased that he seemed to know something about it. I opened my mouth to ask him if he’d read it before, but then closed it, opened the book, and tried to concentrate as Aristotle described the high-minded man.

“Have you read Nietzsche?” he asked me suddenly.

“Some, I have his Genealogy of Morals, but I’m afraid it doesn’t sink in well. He needs too much rumination, as his little preface or what have you, suggested.” I shrugged. I didn’t care for Nietzsche or his writing style. He said some things that made sense, but they were few, far between, and were contradicted shortly thereafter.

“Why is a girl like you working here?” he asked me and then I realized he was very close with his elbow on the counter.

“Oh, well, you know,” I rambled and then cleared my throat. I made a vain attempt to tame the wisp of hairs on my right temple and tuck them behind my ear. “Philosophy doesn’t leave much room for people. My mom is a teacher, and so are my Dad’s nieces, but I have no heart for teaching.” How do you tell someone you hate people, children, and everything else?

“Ah, I see,” he said with a small nod. “So you work in this fine establishment?”

“Well, someone has to, or you wouldn’t be able to get gas this late at night,” I said with a frown puckering at my lips.

He laughed. “Not everyone can have a great soul, hm?”

“Certainly not, but I’d hardly call myself an inferior either. I’m simply a brilliant failure.” I gave him a mocking bow and flicked my pony tail back behind my back.


I shrugged. “I have my virtues though.”

“I bet you do,” he said with a glint in his eye that I found disconcerting.

I put a hand on my hip and raised one of my eyebrows. My mother swears I only have one though, so maybe it was only half of the eyebrow that supposedly makes its way across my forehead.

“Condoms,” he said without any warning what-so-ever. Not even an expression or a flick of the eyes. He was staring at me while he said it.

“Excuse me?” I asked.

“I’d like to buy condoms. Apparently they’re behind you.” He gave me one of those self satisfied smiles.

“Which one?”

“The blue box with silver letters,” he said, not taking his eyes off of me.

I turned around to looked at the display of all the things someone would be most likely to steal should they be out. I thought it had to be embarrassing to have to ask someone for condoms, but I guess I would have seen it anyway.

People do not usually buy condoms from Quick Fuel. If they do, they buy one from the machines in the bathrooms. I don’t even really know how one acts while someone is buying condoms.

I always just pretend I’m selling a candy bar that doesn’t strike me as anything important. “Anything else?” I asked with a tight smile.

“Your phone number,” he said smoothly.

I was, for the lack of a better cliché, speechless.

But not for very long.

“I’m afraid that’s going to cost you,” I told him, my lips trying to twist into a smile while my mind was saying “Not yet.”

“Oh, what?” he asked, opening his wallet and looking at the nice, crisp bills.

Show off.

I waved my hand and shook my head. “No, no,” I told him. “Just a few questions answered.”

“Oh?” he asked and pulled out the money for the box of condoms. He handed it to me and I gave him his change and put them into a bag, one of the paper ones.

“One, what is your name?”

Clark Little.”

“Are you married?”


“Do you have a girlfriend?”


“Are you gay?”

He laughed. “No.”

I picked up the bag and moved my wrist so that it rested along the top of my forearm. “Then who, good sir, are these for? Your blowup doll? Or the random girl you pick up at the club in Austin?”

He stared at me for a moment, a bit shocked by my boldness, I’d guess. “Why so curious about who I have sex with?” he asked.

“Well, since you’re asking for my number, I think I have the right to know about how promiscuous you are.”

“Well,” he said taking the bag from my grip. I was hoping for a nice verbal spar to entertain me. “For your information,” he leaned closer to me, “I thought about getting these for you.”

It was my turn to gape at him. The gape quickly became a frown and my jaw clenched. “For me?” I asked indignantly. “I’m not some half dressed slut in bunny ears, Mr. Clark Little.”

He coughed. “Sorry if I offended.”

I took a deep breath. “I’m going to make one thing clear you, Mr. Little. I do not and have never kissed on the first date. Hell, I don’t even do that until the third. You’re going to have to go into the long haul for the use of condoms to be even a fleeting thought of having sex with me.”

He licked his lips.

I waited for him to turn around and leave. Such a gorgeous man, scared away by a prude such as myself.

“So… your phone number?”

I eyed him suspiciously and then hit the button on the receipt printer so that a blank roll of paper came out and wrote down my cellphone number. I then held it between my middle and index finger.

“You’re not a rapist, are you?”

“If I was, I wouldn’t tell you, now would I?” he asked and snatched for the paper. I drew my hand back quickly out of his grip.


“Julie,” he said after a quick look at my name tag. “I’m not a criminal of any kind. I’ve never broken a law passed that of a traffic violation and a few parking tickets.”

I eyed him suspiciously. “Well, just be warned, my dad is a very good shot,” I said as I relinquished the slip of paper. I just knew that I’d suffer in agony waiting for him to call.

I just knew that he never would. He was probably one of those guys that got numbers just to make the girls squirm. I knew that he had to be.

“When do you get off?” he asked.

“One,” I answered automatically.

He nodded and tapped his knee with his bag of condoms. It was a rather thoughtful expression. He then licked his lips and left the store.

An hour and a half passed of people randomly getting gas and buying sodas and candy. Some people bought chips. A great many bought their last second beer and even more bought tobacco.

And then Bill showed up. Sometimes I call him Willie because it annoys him. I really don’t understand where Bill came from. I mean, does William have anything to do with Bill? And what about Dick? How the hell did that come from Richard?

But I digress, I suppose.

Anyway, I mauled Bill when he showed up in my over enthusiastic gratitude. We took care of that pesky register business and I cleaned unencumbered while he took care of the few customers that came in.

During which we had a broken conversation. It tended to stop while people walked in and out of the store.

“So this guy came in,” I started.

“Guys tend to do that,” Bill said dryly, but there was a grin on his face.

We were swapping the register at the time so I was close enough to elbow him. I did, of course.

“Anyway,” I said with a malicious look on my face that dared him to interrupt me to be a smartass. “He was one hunk, tell me you.” I struggled with a couple of stubborn ones that refused to come apart. I was pretty sure I said that wrong anyway. “Came in here and started reading a magazine.”

“You know, Julie, I really don’t want to hear about some guy you just read a magazine.”

“That’s not all he did,” I said testily. “He bought condoms too.”

“Ooo condoms. Are you going to tell me what size they were?”

I frowned at him. “I didn’t look.”

“Women always look,” he told me as if I didn’t know what was expected of me. So I didn’t look. So what? I wasn’t really thinking about his crotch anyway.

“Well, I didn’t,” I told him with a frown. “Anyway, he asked me for my number.”

I know that Bill was wondering why he would do that. Of course, he was one of the many guys with a girlfriend who asks me why I’m single. I’ve never seen his girlfriend either. This leads me to doubt her existence.

Men can go to hell.

They probably do anyway.

“Are you sure you’re name isn’t Richard?” I asked. “Because you’re being a real dick.”

“Did you just make that up?”

“Yes, I did. Got a problem, Willie?” I asked.

He gave me a playful shove that had me wobbling for a moment to regain my balance. “Go mop the floor so you can go home,” he told me and, of course, I did.

We didn’t talk about Little anymore.

I actually forgot about him while grumbling about customers bringing their muddy shoes into the store while I was mopping. It’s typical, you know, for them to come in and track mess all over the place while you’re floor is wet.

Damn them all.

One rolls around and I’m ready to go. I stood in the doorway of the store and told Bill good bye while I prepared my car key so that I could make my paranoid mad dash to my car. Then I remembered Aristotle and got him before I really did make my mad dash.

I threw open the door, less than gracefully got into my car, shut the door, and locked it. Then my phone rang, playing a techno symphony that I use as my stranger ringer because it’s just freaking awesome. I think I almost hit my head on the top of the car, but I can’t really know because I don’t have eyes on the top of my head.

I answered the phone after a moment. “Hello?” I asked. I didn’t recognize the number. I was ready just to tell whoever that they got the wrong number.

“Is Julie there?” that accent less voice asked.

I worked my mouth speechlessly for a moment.


“Um, yes, this is she,” I said with my ever proper English. Eat your heart out Dickens.

“You’re off work, right?” he asked, unsure.

“That I am,” I confirmed as I pulled my seatbelt over my chest and listened for the satisfying click. I feel naked when I don’t wear my seatbelt. I actually fell even more naked than naked. If that is possible.

“Will you meet me somewhere?”

I hesitated. I think I was silent for some time because he asked me if I was still there. Warning bells were going off in my head. I don’t tend to trust people that I haven’t passed more than a few words with. It’s one of the reasons why I never got a random date at the bookstore, I think. That and men just don’t read these days.

Unless you call Playboy reading material.

“Where?” I asked with a sardonic tone. IHOP or Denny’s? Because the only other place open this late is Whataburger, I think.”

“Well, what about Denny’s?

Denny’s has shitty service in this town. I vowed never to go to the local one again. Three strikes and you’re out, sort of thing.” I by no means avoid other ones of the chain, but I do hate the local Denny’s. I still remember a time when it was good though.

“Well, then the first place you mentioned.”

“Do you know where these places are?” I asked curiously.

“Well, yes, I think so.”

“All right, but you’d better be there before I am. I don’t like being kept waiting.”


“I have my reasons,” I said briefly. “If you’re not there where I can see you I’m going home,” I told him. I wanted to go home anyway. I was tired.

I was letting a mysterious hunk get in the way of my sleep. This was not a good sign. Not to mention my unreliable warning bells were going off.

They never really seemed all that necessary anyway. My life was boring with or without them.

I had an unfair advantage for getting there before him, I thought. I wasn’t exactly sure where he was, but I was on a road not too far from the local IHOP, and all I had to do was drive on the access road for a while. It wouldn’t take me all that long. I decided to give him a five minute head start and realized just how hungry I was.

I pulled out my scrunchy and then ran my fingers through my hair to get rid of its horrid shape. That didn’t take me very long though so I ended up pushing the radio station button looking for a song I could stand instead of commercials.

This passed the time agonizingly slow because the local personalities wouldn’t shut up about some country music star or talking to callers who sounded like they needed to return to high school and pay attention in English class when they went over grammar.

I decided after three minutes that was enough of a head start for him and pulled out of my parking spot singing along to a song that I really couldn’t stand because it didn’t have a nice melody. The words were all right and even inspiring, but I hate songs where people talk.

It defeats the purpose of a song.

So, there I was driving. Boy, was I anxious. I wasn’t sure if I wanted him to be there or not. I really don’t trust people. There are way too many stories about bets and things of that nature that just roil up my insides. I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all.

But there he was, looking as sexy as could be with his arms crossed over his chest in front of the door of IHOP. His eyes were scouring the parking lot, which isn’t very big, looking for me.

I felt my stomach tighten.

As I pulled into the parking spot off to the side of the building I coached myself on my smile and thought of any witty phrases I might be able to say during the salutations. I eyed my college book with anxiety and sighed. After one less hand through my hair I took a deep breath and scrambled out of my car.

There is no graceful way to get into a car or out of it.

End of story.

I closed the door, made sure that the door was properly locked, and then wondered what in the world I was doing meeting a stranger at IHOP who bought condoms from my convenience store.

Get a grip Rieda.

He caught sight of me and smiled. I gave him a nervous wave and grin. “So we meet again.”

“Yes, after less than two hours,” I said lamely and adjusted my purse under my arm. It was a lot nicer than what I would have bought. I can’t actually remember ever buying a purse, actually.

“Tommy Hilfiger?’

I blushed. I really couldn’t help it. “It’s just a purse,” I told him. “My grandmother always buys them for me.”

“It’s a cute purse.”

I raised an eyebrow at him. “Um, Thanks,” I said with a wide eyed, wondering expression that he couldn’t see. Hopefully.

He opened the door for me. I liked that.

“Ah, I see chivalry isn’t dead,” I said for probably the millionth time in my twenty-four years.

“It lives in, I’m afraid,” he said gravely as I stepped through the door. I had the strange feeling that he was trying to scope out my ass. Sadly, my pants were too big and were hardly flattering. Or maybe that wasn’t too sad. I didn’t really want him checking it out anyway. The Shame!

“Two? Smoking or none?” a server asked. He was scraggly, blond, and I really hoped that he wasn’t a server that served me before. The last one that looked similar to him did a horrible job and all I asked for was ice cream.

“None,” I said automatically. I never really went on a date before, and with friends I was always the one who told the host what we wanted. “I mean, that is unless he wants smoking.”

“No, no,” he said with a slight smile. “None smoking is fine.”

The server nodded slowly and eyed Clark. I wondered what he was thinking and hoped that my server was not gay. That way he wouldn’t flirt with either of us.

“My name is Mike and I’ll be your server this evening,” he said after he sat us down. It was an odd procedure, actually, because usually a host sat us. It didn’t really matter though. He handed us two menus for the late night. “Do you know what you want to drink?”

“Water,” both of us said.

“You can get something else, if you want,” Clark told me. “I’m paying.”

“I expected as much,” I told him bluntly. “I like water. Oh, and Mike, just bring a pitcher, will you? It’ll save you a lot of time if you just have to fill that up.”

Both men blinked at me.

“What?” I asked incredulously. “I like water and I’m thirsty. Seriously, a pitcher is a good idea. I don’t like an empty glass.”

The server nodded. “All right, I’ll give you a few minutes to decide what you want,” he said and departed.

“You’re serious about the water, are you?” he asked.

“Yes, Mr. Little, I’m serious about the water. When I was 18 I suddenly decided that water was my favorite beverage. After six years it still hasn’t gotten old. I don’t care for sodas, I hate coffee, and tea is a rare treat.”

“So you just drink water?”

“Yes, I just drink water.”

“Why don’t you call me Clark? I just call you Julie.”

I looked up at him. “Because calling you Clark makes me think of Clark Kent.”

He stared at me. “You know, Superman. The S man who wears red and blue with the undies over the tights.”

“Yes, I know,” he said waving a hand.

I shrugged and looked at the menu. I was pretty sure that if I looked at him I would die of shame for being seen with him. I just knew people thought he was dared to go out on a date with me, or that we were related or just friends or something.

“You’re embarrassed,” he noted. I could feel his eyes on the top of my head.

“Whatever do I have to be embarrassed about?” I asked, unable to look up at him. My eyes bore into a picture of pancakes.

“I don’t know. You tell me.”

I glanced up at him. It wasn’t the big mistake that romance novels make it out to be. It wasn’t a great triumph either. “Why in the world are you so interest in me?” I asked him bluntly.

“Why shouldn’t I be?”

“Well, for one, you drive a nice car, wreak of money, poise, and expensive cologne, and I work at a convenience store. You’re drop dead gorgeous and I am plain.”

He rolled his eyes. “Women!” he exclaimed. “You’re all the same with your stupid little insecurities. Where do you get them?”

“Men,” I said bluntly. “Who do you think we always aim to please, attract, and win? Do you think we wear tight clothes so that we can admire ourselves in mirrors? No, we wear them because we want some man to be interested in our figures.”

“You don’t wear tight clothes.”

“That’s because they all got loose,” I admitted. “And if you ask me why I’m single I’ll stab you with a fork.”

“Why would I ask that?” he asked, his eyes dancing. I always heard that term, but I never saw eyes dance with the light before then. I’m not really sure how it is possible.

“Because I am single.”

“Are you?” he drawled.

“Yes, I live, breath, eat, sleep, and shit single,” I told him crudely and he laughed. I thought it was funny, but it’s in bad taste to laugh at your own angry statements.

He shook his head in that amused way that people do and our server showed up and asked us for our orders. I, of course, went first. I ordered the chicken fried steak and eggs—scrambled, of course—with the griddle strawberry pancakes. Good stuff.

He ordered…a big fat nothing.

This made me feel embarrassed. “Are we sharing or something?” I asked. “You can have the floury stuff, but the meat is mine.”

He chuckled. I know some people that don’t like chuckling. Thankfully for me, I don’t mind it. “No,” he said after a moment.

“Ok then,” I said as our water was placed in front of us and I started beating the paper down to the base of my straw. It bent a few times. I wasn’t concerned. He looked pained.

“What?” I asked innocently as I pulled off the crinkled paper.

“Just looked painful,” he said.

“It’s a straw,” I informed him as if he didn’t already know it. To emphasize my obvious point I showed him the plastic device. “Rather ingenious, I think. I’m not fond of ice. It makes my teeth hurt.”

He just smiled and shook his head as he politely sipped at his water. I fully intended to suck my through a straw.

“You must be thirsty,” he mentioned as he watched me gulp down my sucked in water again and again.

I poured myself more water from the pitcher Mike was good enough to provide and grinned. “I enjoy water. It quenches my thirst better than anything else in the world and it’s far better for me.”

He snorted.

“What do you have against water?” I asked with a very serious expression on my face. “Did it bite you when you were a child or something?”

“Water doesn’t bite,” he informed me pointedly.

“I’m aware of that,” I said dryly. I ran my fingers down the side of the glass to wipe away the condensing water.

“Can’t you keep your hands still?” he asked as he watched the movement.

“No, not really.”

“Why not?”

“Why does it matter? You met me a few hours ago, you’re not going to learn everything about me in one night.”

He frowned. “Why are you so defensive?”

I frowned back. “Look, you’re a stranger to me. I don’t know you. You randomly walk into my store and buy condoms and ask for my number after alluding to buying them to use with me. I don’t know you. I’m suspicious of your motives, and I could have very well have walked into a situation where I get kidnapped, raped, and murdered.”

His frown deepened. “If you’re so worried, why did you come?”

“Because I didn’t have anything better to do other than sleep, and I haven’t done anything other than work, sleep, eat, and read for the two months. You only live once and I do more living through other people’s eyes than my own. Why not come and face uncertain fate?”

“Don’t you have any friends?” he asked incredulously.

“Of course I have friends,” I said indignantly. “They’re all just an hour or more drive away. Gas is expensive. I go to work, go home, and sleep.” I shrugged. “It’s my life.”

He stared at me for a long moment. “So you came here even though you knew there was a chance I was a serial killer?”

“Sure, why not? What would you do if you were bored and lonely to tears?” I asked, feeling close to tears at that moment.

He apparently sensed disaster crashing toward him with trumpets blaring and changed the subject. “What do you read?”

“Well, you know… Science fiction, regular fiction, romance,” I listed off. “Mostly Science Fiction, unless my mom has a romance I just have to read.” I shrugged. “And of course some philosophy, but I reserve that for work mostly.

“Why would you do that?” he asked, looking appalled by my reading list.

“Mainly to show the middle finger to Plato and Aristotle.” I rolled my eyes as I often did when I thought philosophers were full of the smelly stuff. “Plato was all over the democratic soul and people not born into a particular station.”

“What station were you born in?”

“Lower middle class,” I said honestly. “Though my parents have risen to lower upper middle class.” I shrugged. “I’m your typical American failure though. Maybe Plato had something going with people not being able to do everything.” I frowned. “Too many talents, so much knowledge, and so little time.”

“What are your talents?”

“You know, all I know about you is that your name is Clark Little and that you like condoms in a blue box and that you’re a self proclaimed model citizen.” I leaned back with my arms over my chest. “Who are you? What do you do?”

“You also know that I drive a nice car.”

“Oh yes, that too.”

“Why do you want to know about me? Apparently I am more interested in you since you’re the one invited here and getting a late night meal on my budget.”

“What do you want from me?”

“Who said I want anything?” he asked with a smug looking grin on his face that made me frown and want to smack it off of his face.

“Who paid you?” I asked.


“I’ve watched a movie like this before, only it was the girl who was the hooker. Well, let me tell you something. I’m not going to fall in love with you in one night and go and shoot the balls of your pimp off.”

“What the hell, woman?” he asked with an expression that looked like he dropped something wet and cold in his lap. “Can’t you think that a man is taking an honest interest in you?”

“No, I’m not so vain,” I informed, sulking. “I will not be made into a bet, dare, or some paid excursion. I might not be pretty, but I do have my pride.”

“Not pretty?” he asked.

I held up my hand to stop him. “Yes, I know. I have exquisite eyes and beautiful hair. I have heard it a million times. I’ve also gotten the “why are you single?” question so many times I could snap someone’s head off. I’ve also been told by more than one male that if they weren’t in love with so-and-so that they would totally go for me, and I’ve been asked to be a fuck buddy more than once. So you’ll have to excuse me for being suspicious-dash-bitter.”

This, ladies and gentlemen, is why I was single.

He stared at me. I hoped he was speechless.

I was ashamed of myself and looking in another direction. I just knew that half the people in the restaurant were looking at me with a queer expression and I also knew that I deserved it.

“Well, that isn’t the best way to start a relationship.”

“I find it best to get all the bitterness out at once,” I told him coolly. “Otherwise it’s just a seeping poison.”

“And what relationships have taught you this? Your personal ones?”

It was a barb. I knew because I could feel it.

I wanted to storm out but the food…

“And what about you, Mr. Drop-dead-gorgeous? What the hell do you want from me? What? To feel generous for gracing me with your presence. Well, I can do without the obvious future heartache.”

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