“As he opened the car door, there was a loud…”
…cackle. He paused, one foot out the car.
“Sorry dude. Didn’t mean to laugh.”
His friend Jack was an idiot. He needed to remember that. He was about to put his neck on the line for some random chick he met weeks ago at a bookstore. He didn’t need his best friend mocking him. This wasn’t in his nature; he felt awkward as shit.
“You’re a dick.” He pushed himself out of the passenger seat on to the busy sidewalk. A group of teenage girls rushed past him, giggling. It felt as if everyone in the city knew that he was possibly about to make an ass of himself. A couple looked him over as he stood in front of a resale shop, straightening out his shirt. The young man gave him a head nod, slight encouragement. Peter returned the nod with a grin. Somehow that’s exactly what he needed. He walked into the store. The door chimed loudly as he walked in, putting all the attention onto him. Confidence dropped four points. He panned the store. No customers, just a few employees scattered throughout the racks of merchandise. But he doesn’t see her. He lets out a groan, great now I have to actually speak to someone about her. After few hours of Facebook stalking, he found her and where she works. He hated to admit that that’s how went about tracking her down but wasn’t that the way people did things nowadays? He walked over to men’s section of the store.
Girls loved to be mysterious these days. When they meet a guy that they don’t know if they’ll ever see again, they like to give out as little information as they can. Just a name. Or just a location where you can possibly find them later. So they, as single dudes, have to take to social media and lurk through profiles and friends of friends to find this one mysterious girl. All she gave him was a name and her place of work. He was familiar with her place of work, having shopped here for random button shirts. How could he have not noticed her before?
She was standing in the Science Fiction section of the bargain bookstore, reading spines of vampire books. He was wandering around in the section adjacent to her, trying to find a romance novel to send his mom just because. A new tradition of theirs since he moved away from home. Between glances of reading spines, they kept making eye contact. Few smirks here and there. He thought nothing of it, just someone being polite. It wasn’t until he heard someone say,
“You’re probably the only guy I know my age that camps out in the romance section.”
She stood behind him, tippy toed, looking over his shoulder at the spines.
“Oh. Uh no see…its for my mom. Each month I buy her a new romance novel I think she’d like.”
They sat in an awkward ten second silence, still reading the spines, waiting for something to jump out at them. He was timid to turn and make eye contact with her. Thought it would scare her away.
“This is the one,” she says as she reaches over his shoulder, pulling a book off the shelf a little too his left. He turns to retrieve it from her grip.
“Oh wow. You would pick this.”
She’s placed a romance novel of vampires and death in his hands.
She frowns, “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I mean…you were standing in the sci-fi section for a while. So of course you picked a sci-fi love story. She might like it…I don’t know if she’s ever read about vampires. It’ll be different. Thanks for helping.” He looks at with her with his award winning smile. She couldn’t resist the urge to smile back. She was his.
“It’s no problem. I’m Jenna by the way.”
He was loathing having to ask someone if she was here. Then it would be known that he went out of his way to find her. Then he would just happen to land on creeper status and never get anywhere with her. So it’d be best just to act like a customer, do some shopping, until she comes around. Being the only customer was hard to ignore. The girl behind the register who was reading in her kindle kept peeping at him. Was that her? He really couldn’t remember her face. A friend of hers? Maybe she talked about their meeting. Was he looking suspicious? He kept panning the room over, waiting for her to appear. Is she checking him out? How awkward would that be if her coworker came to flirt with him when she walked into the store. He continued to shuffle through the rack of shirts, palms getting sweaty. It felt like he had been in the stores for hours. He looked out the store window, wondering if Jack was still sitting out there or gone about his day. Low and behold, Jack was standing outside of his car, eating a hot dog, looking back at Peter. A shit eating grin appeared on his face.
“Make your move already dude!” He shouted, pieces of hot dog flying onto the sidewalk. A lady almost got hit. She shoved him.
“Are you finding everything ok?” A familiar voice embraced his ears. Quickly, he looked to the other side of the rack, ignoring Jack’s hooting outside. Jenna stood grinning like a fool, pleased that he finally tracked her down.
The girl at the register with her kindle began to laugh, shaking her head.
“Ah…no…uh…” The jig was up.
“Look I know you shop here. I’ve seen you before the bookstore. That’s why I walked over to you. How’s your mom liking the book?”
He began rubbing his disgusting, wet palms on his jeans. “Uh she says its interesting…to say the least.” It was part of an ultimate plan that he had no clue about. He felt embarrassed but in the end relieved. It took a lot of the pressure off. She stood before him, holding back laughter. He seemed to be the last in on the joke. He didn’t know what else to do but stand in disbelief. She knew of him all along.
“Dude chill. I guess you can say I lured you back here. You’re good. I think you’re super cute. Tell your mom it gets better. So…what kind of button up shirt are we looking for today?”
Finally, he smiled with a light laugh. “Something nice for a first date..”