I spent the next several minutes arranging my laptop on the table in front of me, organizing my pens, notepad, and the two paperback novels I’d already re-read (and highlighted, and flagged) as a prerequisite for the class. Loneliness and self-sacrificing despair were staples of all great classic novels.
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I spent a full minute congratulating myself, dwelling on my amazingness before anxiety hit me like a punch in the throat. I needed to find the nearest sane person and sign over my rights to decision-making, or at least give them my computer and passcode to the computer labs on campus. What I didn’t want to think about was showing up in leather pants and my green granny sweater, the only other clean item in my closet. Dipping his head to the side and leaning close, he whispered, “I wanted to know what the ‘I’ stood for.” “So, did you tell him? ” Emily waved her celery stick through the air, her eager eyes betraying how completely absorbed she’d been in my telling of the story. “Of course not.” Emily sighed, though I thought it sounded more like a deflating tire. ” “Because he was in leather pants.” “So were you.” Emily hopped up onto the counter next to where I was cooking the tomato sauce for dinner. He looked like leather pants were his thing.” My friend crunched on the celery stick she’d been waving around earlier. You didn’t give this hot guy your middle name—or your number—because he looks good in leather pants? He strolled out ten minutes later, glanced around the parking lot, looking like a perfect mixture of James Dean and a young Paul Newman. Part of me hoped she’d continue to tell me I was wrong.
I glanced around the microbrewery with severe apprehension, and my mind started rehearsing for the seventh time all the excuses to leave when he showed up . I ducked, only peeking over my dashboard when I heard the rumble of a motorcycle. Tell me I was being narrow-minded, that she would have stayed and shared a drink, swapped numbers, gone on a motorcycle ride. After several minutes, Emily hopped down from the counter and grabbed plates from the cabinet, asking, “You have the motorcycle guy’s email still?
But now, after almost twelve months and Valentine’s Day looming, I was ready to throw my hat in the ring again. I smiled at the inspiration of meeting at the microbrewery, most likely brought on by the picturesque barley field of Lucy and George’s first kiss. But I was also a cosplay aficionado, and therefore owned leather pants. My part-time job working at the Natural History Museum’s swanky restaurant as a server allowed me to maintain the lifestyle to which I’d become accustomed: copious jigsaw puzzles, tragic romance novels, and thrift-store-finds for my cosplay costumes. I tucked my hair—worn in a cascade of curls down my mid-back—nervously behind my ear and glanced at my watch again, unable to miss the cleavage beneath the purple V-neck I’d decided to wear. “I’m so sorry, this is not, I mean, I’m sorry you came all the way to, I don’t know what the hell I was, you are definitely not, and I’m not, and “Listen,” he stood and moved his grip from my hand to my elbow, “wait.” I raised my eyes to his, slightly shaking my head. ” He took a step forward, dwarfing me with his massive size. And he left on a motorcycle.” I thought for a moment, stirring the red sauce and becoming mildly flushed once again as I recalled the tall blond man speeding away while straddling the motorcycle. After he’d asked me for my middle name, my brain and mouth failed me. So I gave him a panicked smile, mumbled something mostly incomprehensible about going to the bathroom, shook my head, and bolted out the back door of the restaurant. I’m not riding-a-motorcycle-nice, or wearing-leather-pants-frequently nice, or going-to-the-gym-for-fun nice, or going-to-clubs-and-sexy-dancing nice.” “Unless it’s eighties night. Hot sex, then trivia.” I huffed, because I knew she was playing devil’s advocate without being serious. ” Emily opened her mouth as though to argue, but I gave her a hard look and challenged, “Be serious.” She frowned as she considered my words, her shoulders slumping. “I guess I would’ve done the same as you, unless he emailed me. Like I said, he’s artsy, and definitely our kind of nice.” “Sure.
I also considered myself to be quite ballsy, having scheduled the date for V-day. But back to now, because right now, I was certifiable. I’d justified it earlier by reminding myself that today was laundry day. His gaze flickered to my chest, and he smiled shortly; then he turned and attended to another table. I rolled my eyes, reminding myself that no one looks good in leather pants, not in real life. His hand—strong and calloused, I noticed without wanting to—shifted to my waist, holding me still and sending heat to my stomach. ” I shook my head, glaring at my friend; she’d lost her mind. Like maybe he showered in them.” Emily wrinkled her nose at this. He wasn’t dirty, what I mean is: he looked really good in the pants. I hid in my car, unable to leave but too mortified to stay. We go to clubs on eighties night.” I reduced the heat of the sauce and turned my attention to the boiling pot of spaghetti. I drained the spaghetti, a ball of irritation and restlessness forming in my stomach the longer she stayed mute. If he’d emailed me after the fact, then I would reevaluate.” “Reevaluate?
Somewhere in the rebellious recesses of my mind, an annoying little voice that sounded suspiciously like mine reminded me that twelve months had passed since my last date. But rest assured, the most terrible and terrifying thing has already been written (the most terrible thing being the word “hi”, because—in this circumstance—it is also the bravest). As mesmerizing as his eyes were, I couldn’t help but notice the rest of him—the . He continued, “I think you sent me that email accidently. And no one tried to set me up with an Anna.” My mouth dropped open in despair and a rush of intense embarrassment. We played Pokemon Go together and assembled a puzzle for our first date.
Since my boyfriend had broken up with me via text message, completely out of the blue, on Valentine’s Day. This was because the text he’d sent was a picture of him kissing another girl. Sure, I had sworn off dating for the remainder of my life. and rewinding the scene on the hill over and over and over and over. Even though I’m a romantic, I don’t believe in love at first sight; the concept strikes me as frivolous and convenient. “Oh my God.” I stood, reached for my bag, and backed away from the table. He probably goes to clubs and sexes up strangers against walls.
His back was to me, offering me a nice view of his long legs and leather-clad torso.
Straddling the bike, he kicked up his stand and drove off into the sunset like a troubled hero from one of those movies I watched too much—. This guy, he was nice, but he wasn’t ” “Look at you.
“You mean binge-watching Netflix and picking up extra shifts at the museum? This is my last chance.” “That’s because the professor is supposed to be a hottie.” “Of course he is.
Who dressed up like Rodion Raskolnikov last year for Halloween and won all the awards? ” Emily made no attempt to disguise her disgust for my summer plans. I’ve been trying to get into this class for three years and it’s always full.
I started reading a really good book by a new-to-me author who wrote alternate reality versions of Bronte novels and spent the next few weeks immersed in her backlist.