Mel Burke was sitting at the kitchen table doing some papers for her job when Joe Longo walked in the backdoor. He was carrying a huge load of groceries. She looked up at him and grinned. "Hey, Joe."
He dropped the grocery bags onto the counter and gave a little wave. "Sup, Burke?"
She gestured toward the stack of papers sitting in front of her. "Ya know, just doing a little paperwork. Thanks again for getting the groceries."
Joe's eyebrow arched. "It's kinda my job... I do it every Tuesday."
Mel nodded. "Oh, yeah. Did I ever tell you how sexy you look in-"
"What do you want?"
Mel smirked. "You know me so well." She got up with a little yellow folder in her hand. "So I was thinking... there are quite a few lines on these ten papers, and I've got a date, and..."
"Want me to sign your signature again?"
Mel nodded. "You totally read my mind." She shoved the folder into Joe's hands. "Great. Thanks, Joe." She headed upstairs.
Joe watched her as she left. She was so pretty...
Joe couldn't believe Mel was going out on another date. It was the third one since last Tuesday. With the same guy! Some person named Mickey Johansen. Joe wasn't happy with it at all. Mel belonged with him. He longed desperately to be the one Mel looked forward to seeing every day when she got home from work. He wanted so badly to be Mel's first thought of the day and her last of the night. A little girly, sure, but… she was just so pretty! She was so smart. Everything a guy like Joe wanted. But their friendship was far too "different" for anything like that.
Mel made it pretty clear she felt no romantic feelings toward Joe. It was strictly business. Besides, Joe had her convinced he felt the same way she did. If he told her even half of what he thought, it'd only freak her out and confuse her. That was the last thing he wanted to do. He actually enjoyed their friendship, which they called "partnership." Yes, it would indeed be a partnership if Joe had his way, but not that kind.
"Ask her out!"
Joe was startled from his thoughts by Lennox Scanlon. She was standing just behind him. Joe turned around to face her. "Lennox, where did you come from?"
"There's a door right there," Lennox replied, pointing to the door Joe had walked in just a few minutes ago. "Plus, I live here too. Joe, why don't you just ask Aunt Mel out?"
"Eww, gross!" Joe exclaimed. "Why would I wanna do that? It's disgusting. Your imagination is too wild, Lennox. You've got a better chance of being with her than I do."
Lennox grimaced. "Now that's gross!" She shuddered. "And what is that supposed to mean? You actually want to be with her?"
"Lennox, what's got you suddenly thinking all this stuff?" Joe asked.
Lennox crossed her arms. "Well, Joe—it leads a girl to wonder when she walks in just after her aunt left the room and the nanny whispers, 'I love you, Mel.'"
Joe's eyebrow arched. "What? !" He had said that aloud? "No, I didn't!"
"Aha! You're acting suspicious now, too!" Lennox smirked. "I've got it out of ya. You like Aunt Mellllllllll." She wiggled.
"Pssh." Joe rolled his eyes. "You're seriously on something if you think I could ever like you aunt."
"Ryder agrees with me," said Lennox. "We both see the way you look at her. Shall we call Ryder in here?"
Before Joe could protest, Lennox yelled, "RYDER! GET IN HERE!"
A few seconds later, Ryder Scanlon walked downstairs. "What's up?"
Lennox said, "Don't we see that Joe likes Aunt Mel?"
Ryder nodded. "Oh, yeah. You're definitely gaga."
Joe shook his head. "You've both got serious problems, okay? I don't like your aunt. Our relationship is strictly business." He stayed quiet for a minute, then said, "And she doesn't like me that way anyway…"
Lennox looked at Ryder. "He's right. She's going on a date with that Mickey guy in about an hour."
"Maybe we can make her like you," Ryder suggested.
"No," Joe said firmly. "I do not want to be with your aunt. I just don't feel that way, as I've said before."
"Yes, you do!" Lennox said. "And Ryder and I are going to help you, whether you like it or not." She walked over to her brother and pushed him toward the living room. She looked back at Joe. "Don't worry… you'll get what you want."
Joe just stared at them. He had literally said he loved her? And out loud?