All copyrights, trademarked items, or recognizable characters, plots, etc. mentioned herein belong to their respective owners. No copying or reproduction of this work is permitted without their express written authorization.
Word Prompt: Parking lot
Dialogue Flex: "I hear big changes are on the way."
Yoga is supposed to be about centering one's mind, and focusing, and being present, but all I see when I close my eyes is Edward. I really hope he doesn't peek in here. The lights are off, thank God, but there's just glass between this classroom and the rest of the gym.
It doesn't help that I suck at this, too. Every where I look, bodies old and young are stretching and fashioning themselves into pretzels while I just kind of...try.
"The more you go, the easier it'll get," Rose promises as we leave.
I nod, pretending I'm not scouring the floor for colorful athletes.
"He's in the spinning room."
"You knew he was here. Conniving bitch."
"You kiss your mother with that mouth?" She sweeps her hair into a neater ponytail. "I think you should try spinning, too."
"Isn't that cycling? My legs already feel like jelly after yoga."
"I'll take the kids; you should give it a go."
"No." I hurry ahead, reaching kid care before she does. Her judgyness emanates in waves. "You're being obnoxious, by the way. If and when I talk to Edward, it'll be on my terms and when I'm not sweaty and gross. Okay?"
"I love it when you have a backbone," she coos. "It's hot."
Rolling my eyes, I collect my child and wait for her to get hers.
Mr. and Mrs Gerandy celebrate their fiftieth anniversary this Sunday, and we've been hired to feed their guests. My job is to make a replica of the cake they had at their wedding. It's a sweet gesture, and I'm excited about it. Everything changes from generation to generation, and the popular cake trends of today differ from the ones of the sixties. It'll be a nice change of pace for me.
Mike calls me as I arrive at the craft store I usually go to for cake supplies.
"Hey, Bella. Is this a good time?"
Sighing inwardly, I make my way across the parking lot. That question usually precedes long conversations, and I'm not a big phone person. "I have a couple of minutes, yeah."
"Oh, okay. Good." He clears his throat. "I know things are hectic this week, but we have a couple of free days coming up and I was wondering if you'd like to take Charlie to that place in the city? With the hot chocolate she likes?"
My heart falls. Mike Newton is one of the kindest, silliest guys I know. He's cute, too, and very into me. He even adores my daughter. All of these things make him excellent boyfriend material. And yet, I just can't. I'm not attracted to him in that way, no matter how much I wish I was.
We are friends, though. Close friends. Which is why these pseudo-date deals are the norm for us. "Um, sure. She'd love that."
"Great," he says, sounding relieved. That I seem to make him nervous makes me feel kind of shitty. I know what it's like to have unrequited feelings. "Tuesday?"
"Okay. Maybe early, before her nap?"
"Perfect. Good." He laughs. "Okay, Bella. See you soon. You need anything for the cake?"
"I'm all right. I'm actually at Hobby Lobby now."
"I'll let you go."
Technically, there is no reason for me to feel guilty, because I have never led Mike on. He knows where we stand; he's just...maddeningly persistent.
We hang up, and I quickly switch to the app I use for shopping lists.
"Mom. Mom! The doorbell!" - as if I didn't hear the doorbell.
Still, I give her a smile and ruffle her hair. "I heard it. Thanks, baby."
We go to the door and chime, in unison, "who is it?" even though I can see through the peephole that it's Edward. Shoot. I yank my ponytail free and run my fingers through my hair.
"Just a second!"
"Who is it?" Charlie asks, in the loudest whisper ever.
"It's Edward." I check my shirt for food - negative - and open the door. "Hi, there."
"Hi." He lifts the two grocery bags he's holding. I try, fruitlessly, not to envision him lifting other things, like weights, half naked. "Rose asked me to drop these off."
"Oh, okay." I motion for him to come in. He smells really good. "That was nice of you."
"It's fine. I've been running errands all day, anyway."
"Hiii, Edward," Charlie says conversationally, following us to the kitchen.
She melts into a grin and I bite my lip before I do, too. "My Uncle Emmett calls me that."
"I know; he told me." Edward glances up at me, like he's asking if it's okay.
I shrug, smiling. "She was named after my Dad, and his nickname is Chuck, so..."
"Yeah." He averts his eyes, resting the bags on the counter. "Emmett told me that, too."
"You two are pretty chatty, huh," I say, cringing a little at how flirty that sounds.
I mean, I think it's flirty. Kind of. Damn, I'm rusty. Not that I'm trying to flirt, it's just...he's got very expressive eyes. Twinkly. Like maybe he's flirting. Then again, he probably engages everyone this way. That's what charisma is -
" ...were busy. I hate when people drop in without calling," he's saying.
Crap. I'm never listening to this poor guy. Guess that's one of the hazards of looking as fine as he does.
"Right, yeah, me too."
He nods quickly. "I can go, I just -"
"No!" Charlie and I say at the same time. Well, she screeches, and I sort of breathlessly cry out. It's all very overdramatic. "No," I repeat, attempting to just chill! for once. "I don't mind that you stopped in. It was awesome of you to deliver this stuff; I was expecting Rose anyway, so, it's not like I was busy. I mean, I've been busy all day, but I was taking a break." Rambling, rambling. "We just had lunch."
"Do you like hot dogs?" Charlie asks, hand on her hip.
"They're fabulousss," she insists.
"Do you...want one?" I ask, pushing down the absurd nervousness. I mean, really. This is not my first rodeo.
"Sure." He smiles and takes a seat at the counter. Charlie disappears, probably going back to her Endless Alphabet app.
"So. I hear big changes are on the way," I say, setting bottles of ketchup and mustard down in front of him. "You're moving, right? Rose said you found a place?"
"You two are pretty chatty, huh?" he says, smirking.
My face goes hot, but I decide to own it. "Yeah. Always have been."
He settles back in his chair, watching me. "I did find a place. That's actually what I've been doing today - moving my stuff. Not that I have very much here. The rest is in transit."
"So you really are staying."
His uncertainty is catching, making me feel unsettled. "You're from around here?"
"Pretty much. Grew up not far from where I met Em."
It's crazy how two people from the same place can grow up to live such extraordinarily different lives.
"Are your parents still around?"
"Well, they live out in the country now. It's pretty, but not for me."
"I get that." I slide his hotdog onto a bun and set the plate down in front of him. "Voila."
"Merci." He grins, eyes crinkling and wow, it's pretty. So pretty.
"Do you have kids?" Charlie asks, back in the mix.
"No, I don't."
"When you have kids, we can play," she muses, wandering over to the pantry. "I need a snack, Mom."
"Okay. But only a little, because you just ate."
"A little chocolate."
I grab a tiny bowl and pour a handful chocolate chips and peanuts into it. "Don't eat it in your room, okay? Coffee table."
I grip the bowl, not relinquishing it until she thanks me and runs off.
"You're a good mother."
His words muddle me up inside. I turn to find him observing me, the hotdog already gone. I never know what to say to that. I want to tell him he caught a good moment, that there are plenty more when I yell, or drop the ball, or allow too much TV, or pray for just five minutes of peace.
He nods, wiping his mouth. We stare at each other for a second. I wonder if he's thinking about the gym, seeing each other there. I look away first. "Do you want another hotdog?"
"No. I should probably get going."
"You don't have to." What am I saying? "I'm just...making rosettes. If you, I mean, I know you're busy." I swear I'm college educated. I can formulate actual sentences. Taking a deep breath, I turn to wash my hands.
"What are rosettes?" he asks, all at once very close.
Heart, pounding. I feel it in my throat. "Icing. Flowers for the top of the cake."
"Oh. I loved those as a kid."
At the counter I reserve for work, I show him the lightly tinted rosettes I've been making all morning. One is slightly chipped, and the perfectionist in me probably wouldn't have used it for the cake anyway, so I offer it to him.
He accepts, examining it, fingertips brushing against mine. "Everyone fought over these. At birthday parties."
He pops the whole thing into his mouth, and I turn away, not able to watch that mouth for any longer. "That brings back memories," he says, and I can hear his smile. "Can I have another one?"
I give him two, tickled. He's like a kid. Like Charlie.
"I'm surprised you're even eating any of this stuff."
"Why?" He wanders the kitchen as he munches, looking at my assortment of mixers, cake stands, fondant cutters, spatulas.
"Just. You're so...healthy seeming."
"I'm sure it's fine. Don't you eat this stuff?" he teases.
"Well, yeah." I give him a look. "But I think it's safe to say our lifestyles are pretty different. You're very sporty and I'm very..."
He swallows, stopping to stand inches in front of me. "Sweet."
these wit fits are not beta'd, so mistakes are inevitable. let me know if you spot any, and thanks for those that have! :)
thanks for reading.