[Note: Hey guys, I thought I'd try something new. This idea just came to me last night so I thought I'd put it to paper. This will not be as long a Bridging the Gap, but it will be a few chapters long. Enjoy and don't forget to review!:)]
Eddie stared at his laptop for what seemed like an hour. Why was this so hard? He knew that his friends were right about his current lifestyle. He needed someone more stable than the one-night-stands he was getting so used to. Eddie knew deep down that he, himself wanted more out of life than a series of shallow encounters with anything female that moved. He was thirty, it was time to get serious about finding that elusive 'one' Owen was always talking about.
"Eddie you gotta get serious about this dating thing," Nick said, "I don't want you to be the only 65 year old uncle at my son's wedding." Nick punched him in the arm playfully.
"Yeah man, why don't you try out the new dating website on the community noticeboard? It's pretty good. That's how Pizza Girl set Ikey up with Marcy the other night and they really hit it off," Phil chimed in.
"Alright, alright already," Eddie replied irritably, "I have no idea why my love life is of sudden interest to either one of you bozos but if it'll shut you up, I'll do it. Can we just drop it now?"
That was three days ago. Now, as Eddie sat before the blank personal information form and the impatient blinking cursor, he kicked himself mentally for ever agreeing to this in the first place. With a frustrated growl he snapped the lid of his notebook shut and shoved his seat backwards. Covering his face with his hands, he stared up at the ceiling as though it held the secrets to the universe. "I need a beer," he grunted finally. And with that he bolted up, grabbed his jacket and left the house.
"Hey Eddie," Janet's familiar face was all Eddie needed to calm down and come to his senses. Sully's was swimming with the tall, the tan and the trim. It was all he could do to keep from just continuing his winning streak with them and go home with one of them. He planted himself on his designated stool right by the beer taps and smiled at Janet as she served him a draft. Janet. The one constant in his life. The one person who didn't give him a hard time about his dating life or the way he liked his women – free, drunk and up for anything.
"Hey," he said taking a swig of beer, "What's with all the skirts?" he asked crassly, sure that Janet wouldn't mind.
Janet cringed at the phrase. How could a guy that clueless about how women like to be treated, get so much action? She thought disappointedly but followed that thought up with another, Because he's gorgeous that's how. Apparently, just being male and gorgeous is enough to get you laid with one of these girls.
"Women's swim team over from the Flats. They needed a place to practice and guess who volunteered to put up the space?" Janet rolled her eyes at Sully.
Eddie snorted, "Boy, Sully's really milking his privileges as the acting superintendent at Knight's Ridge High huh? He's gonna have hell to pay once the Cupcake Kid gets back."
"Yeah like you would have said no to a group of tall leggy goddesses," Janet said smiling as she continued gnawing on her piece of gum.
Janet and Eddie had been friends ever since his injury after high school. He would come into her father's hardware store just to help out and he and Janet wound up spending a lot of time together. They learned more about each other in the couple of years he worked with her father than their entire time at high school. No surprise there because throughout high school they dwelled in different circles so the opportunity never presented itself and unfortunately because the Ridge was such a tiny little hamlet, the norms of high school kind of followed Eddie around much after graduation. There were certain expectations that went with being Eddie Latekka. He had to dress a certain way, hold a certain image and be seen only with a certain kind of girl. Eddie would never have admitted this to anyone, but he was initially shamefully grateful for the fact that he and Janet hung out in the privacy of her father's hardware store. He was free to break himself of that image and just be himself around her. What's more is that he got to really enjoy being with her without getting the third degree from everyone else.
He flashed a lopsided grin now, "Well I wouldn't want to be rude…"
Janet rolled her eyes but smiled as she lifted two pitchers of beer off the counter and went around delivering them to tables.
Eddie let his gaze wander over the crowd and assessed the talent in the room. There were definitely good prospects. These women where a whole new brand of sexy. They were in tracks and sweatshirts. Some of them were in plain sports bras, but their bodies said it all. Eddie was so lost in his own thoughts he didn't hear Ikey pull up a chair next to him.
"What goes on Eddie?" Ikey asked motioning to Janet for a beer.
"Not much you know, just checking out the talent in the room," Eddie replied sheepishly, grateful Janet wasn't around to hear him. He didn't know why her opinion mattered so much to him. He knew she knew what he was and what he wasn't. So the fear that she may actually see him differently and start alienating him was irrational.
As if on cue, Janet walked back up to them and smiled at Ikey, "What's doing, Ike? You hear about the Women's swim team too?"
"Nope," Ikey said and turned to flash a devilish grin at Eddie. Eddie, who silently willed Ikey not to say what came next, "But my man Eddie here was just telling me…"
"How much I hate champagne," Eddie chimed in quickly. Ikey looked confused.
"Okay," Janet said slowly a brow raised.
"Well we better get going," Eddie motioned at Ikey and tossed a few dollar bills on the counter.
"Hey speaking of girls," Ikey continued, "Phys and Nicky told me about your little experiment," he grinned at Eddie whose eyes widened like saucers.
"What experiment?" Janet asked, her curiosity piqued.
"Uh, it's nothing. I'm going on a blind date, that's all," Eddie said practically shoving Ikey off the barstool. He figured he wasn't completely lying about it. "C'mon Ikey let's go."
"You're going on a blind date?" Janet scoffed.
"Yeah, what's wrong with that?" Eddie asked turning to her. Her disbelief bothered him.
"Well nothing. It's just that… you know what? Good for you," Janet finished, swabbing the counter with a rag.
"No, no, really. Why is it so unbelievable that I would go on a blind date?" Eddie asked taking a seat again. His motives for a quick getaway now a fading thought.
"Eddie I thought you wanted to go-" Ikey said.
"Honestly, I didn't mean anything by it. I'm happy for you. I guess it just surprised me because it's not like you to date a woman you haven't eyeballed first. You know," she said shoving him in the chest playfully, "Given her the 'ol once over?"
"You sayin' I'm shallow?" he asked, no believing what he was hearing.
Janet smiled and looked down to try and hide it, which irritated Eddie even more, "Well. Eddie. C'mon now, you have to admit you only ever go out with girls who meet a certain criteria."
"Oh really? And what 'criteria' is that?" he challenged.
"You know what? Forget I said anything."
"No, it's too late now," Eddie insisted. Was this really how she saw him? As a petty, shallow, boneheaded jock? Moreover, why did it bother him that she noticed his gravy train with women?
Janet sighed, "She has to have…" she held out her hands in front of her chest to indicate a larger pair of breasts.
"Arthritis?" he asked.
Janet rolled her eyes and laughed, "No! She has to be well stacked. She has to be tall…"
"And skinny," Ikey chimed in.
"Oh good. You're weighing in," Eddie shot at Ikey sarcastically.
"Well it's true," Janet said and Eddie looked back at her, wounded. "And well when you said 'blind date', the first thing that came to mind was Gwyneth Palthrow from Shallow Hal," she giggled. "I mean can you imagine the look on his face if a girl out of those criteria turned up," she said laughing with Ikey.
"The guy would have a heart attack," Ikey laughed with her.
"I know!" she laughed some more. All this, to Eddie's despair. He got up and took his jacket with him and slung it over his shoulders.
"Well I'm glad my life is so amusing to you," he said, "If you'll excuse me, I'm off to finalise arrangements with my blind date," he continued smugly, narrowing his eyes at Janet.
"Oh Eddie," Janet coaxed half-heartedly, still not able to wipe the smile off her face, "We were only kidding."
"No, you made your point. I'm as shallow as a kiddie pool," he leaned over the counter and brought his face close to hers, only an inch away. "Let me tell you something Meadows, you're going to swallow those words someday." His breath was hot against her ear and it sent shudders down her spine.
Her face grew serious and the laughter left her eyes, "We'll see. I'm not usually wrong about these things."
Straightening up he tugged his collar emphatically, "Yeah. I guess we'll see." Janet stared after him and Ikey as they left, wondering what had just happened. Why had her body reacted to Eddie's proximity the way it had? Why did she wish he stayed a while longer? She shook her head abruptly. This was insane. This was Eddie Latekka for crying out loud! She went back to cleaning the counter and serving drinks to the patrons. But even as she did she knew that that feeling that sprang up in her wasn't leaving anytime soon.
Eddie stormed back into his and Phil's house. He marched over to the computer and opened the lid again. The personal page opened up again and he began filling it in with a new sense of determination – to prove his best friend wrong. Where did she get off, calling him shallow, anyway? When he was done with the form he gave it a once-over it, grateful that they could have aliases and were not obligated to post pictures of themselves. As an experiment by the Psych Dept. at Dufresne, the objective of the site was to see how people connected with each other without basing it on prejudices of looks, race, age or lifestyle. As far as Eddie was concerned he was relieved about not giving away his real name or photo. He had a few obsessed football fans, not necessarily all female, who still hassled him from time to time. So for now, he was more than happy to be identified as 'LightKnight'.
Eddie smiled in satisfaction as he looked over his application and hit 'Send'. With a sigh he closed the laptop and went to bed.
The next day Eddie woke up to the ring of his cell phone playing Poison's Sweet Cherry Pie. He groaned and wiped the sleep out of his eyes. Checking the screen he saw it was almost noon. He'd slept away half his Saturday.
"Hello?" he asked still groggy.
"Eddie? Were you still asleep?" Janet's voice asked.
"No, I'm up. I'm up. What's wrong?" he said sitting up in bed.
"Uh, I just had a minute at work so I thought I'd call in and check on you. You seemed really creased at me when you left last night. Just making sure we're good."
"We're good," Eddie replied and couldn't keep the smile from spreading across his face. He'd gotten to her.
"Are you sure? Because you know we were just kidding around right?" Janet asked nervously.
"Sure. Kidding. But you do think I'm shallow," Eddie confirmed.
"Let's not get into that again," she replied reluctantly with a chuckle.
"Fair enough," Eddie let it go.
"Are we still meeting up for the book fair?" she asked.
"You know, the one you promised you'd come to? It's for charity. You said that you wanted to help the elementary school get their new cafe-gym-atorium. Well, you have to buy books in order to get them there. Besides, I need help carrying the books I buy. You're my muscle."
Eddie groaned, "Can't you get someone else to help?"
"If I could, do you really think I'd be waking your highness from his royal bed chamber?"
"Good point," he said with a grimace, "Alight. Well I'll see you in the town square in an hour."
When he hung up he took a shower and got dressed. As he went scouting around for his keys he heard an alert pop up on his laptop. Curious, he walked over to it and checked the status update and found he had two viable options waiting for him; 'X3mDriven' and 'RealMe'. Due to the shortage of singles in the town the moderators of the site allowed you to pick just one of the options.
Eddie's heart began thumping in his chest as he stared at the monitor. He clicked on X3mDriven and read her profile. Taurus, 5'6, redhead, went to Vassar. And under hobbies and Interests she listed hiking, fishing, mountain biking and sailing and she enjoyed playing videogames and reading magazines. Eddie grimaced. Not what he expected to find. How could the site have gotten him matched so wrongly? Suddenly his phone beeped and he checked the text message. It was from Janet, 'You coming or what?' Eddie hesitantly looked at the screen at RealMe, and decided to get to it later. Closing it he grabbed his keys and headed out the door.