She stood up from her desk, brushing aside those thoughts, deciding she should get her grocery shopping done before it was too dark out. Elle turned off the computer, after saving, grabbed her car keys, and headed the short distance to the store.
Michael knew he was running late. He had called Ms. Simons, and she had agreed to stay the extra time until he could get home. He had to run by the store first and grab their weekly groceries. Ms. Simons had offered to do his shopping for him, but with everything else she did, he knew he could handle this small thing. Taping had run later than normal, because one of the actresses was throwing a temper tantrum about some outfit. The producers had to calm her down so they could proceed. Michael didn't tell Ms. Simons that the real reason he wanted to the shopping was so he could possibly see her.
It was already dark by the time she had gotten to the grocery store. Elle pushed the cart down the cereal aisle, checking her list. So far she had picked up most of the items on the list, except for the cereal and produce. She picked up her normal box of Nut Butter Crunchees, and a box of Fruity-Rooty flakes for the kids. It had been a long day so far. Her cart was getting pretty full. She sighed, stretching her arms above her head, and continued down the aisle.
There she was, the girl he had been watching, when he shopped on Friday nights. 'I am not stalking her.' he thought to himself. Michael had started noticing her the first week he began shopping. That had been three weeks ago. Every Friday she meandered up and down the aisles, taking her time to pick her groceries. Every week she followed the same pattern. Every week she was dressed in baggy cotton pants, backless sandals, and a baggy zip up sweatshirt over a tank top. Her pretty face was always thoughtful as she perused her list. Her dark, seemingly straight hair, always pulled back in a ponytail. To him, she always looked so focused. Like she had a mission, and it wasn't about to beat her. Michael sighed as she turned the corner, out of his sight.
He was here again. Cute Guy. One day, she told herself, I am going to put some energy into looking better when I come here Friday nights. That cute guy has been here the last few weeks, and every week she looked like a slob. Like Cute Guy would ever notice you, she thought a little derisively. Not that she wanted to be noticed. She had been off the whole dating scene for a while now. She was an attractive girl, but even if she was interested, she wasn't even in his league. He was most definitely a hunk . Tall, at least 6'1", with broad shoulders, narrow hips, fine, dark blonde hair, bottom lip just a little fuller than the top one, and from what she could see blue eyes. Sometimes he wore wire-rimmed glasses, sometimes not. Elle preferred it when he did. Almost always in Dockers and button down shirts. He looked like a yuppie, but damn what a man. Last week she had almost had heart palpitations when he bent over to pick up something from a bottom shelf. 'Damn it's been a long time since I've mooned over a guy. I am way too old for this.' Elle moved over to the cantaloupe, silently laughing at her libidinous thoughts.
"I swear this isn't a line, but how do you know if it's ripe?" a male voice asked.
Elle looked up to see Cute Guy frowning at the melons, right next to her. She blinked, and almost dropped the melon she was holding.
"The melon," he asked again, "how do you know when they're ready?"
"Oh, um, you have to push the bottom to see if there's any give." She demonstrated, and almost choked when he moved closer, tilting his gorgeous head towards her. "If it's too hard, it isn't ripe enough. If it's too soft, or squishy, it's too ripe. If it's firm, with just a little give, you smell it. If it smells sweet, you have yourself a good melon." She was flushing as his eyebrows raised at the innuendo in her descriptions of testing the melon. Oh yeah, definitely blue eyes. I think I'm going to throw up.
He picked up a melon, testing it as she had explained, never taking his eyes off her currently flushing face, and then smelled the bottom or it. "Does that smell sweet to you?" he asked setting the melon under her nose.
She sniffed, and found that indeed it did smell good. "I think you found a good one." she said, and gave him a smile.
"I'm Michael Trask," he said, putting the melon in his cart, and holding out his hand to her.
Elle found herself gripping his hand in hers, "Elaine Thompson." She was surprised by the tingle of electricity she felt when their skin met. Looking up, she could tell by the look In his eyes that he had felt it too. She let go of his hand, and took a step back. Uh, oh, he was trouble. With a capital T.
"So, Elaine Thompson," he said giving her a big grin as he looked in her shopping
cart, "It seems that you really like hot dogs, macaroni & cheese, and Jell-o. Oh, and not to forget the Fruity-Rooty Flakes." He finished motioning to the matching box in his cart.
She found herself smiling back at him, like an idiot, "Yeah, um, actually my nieces and nephews stay with me for a Saturday night every once in a while. So I stock up to feed the troops." What was she doing? She should be walking away.
He settled into a comfortable stance against his cart, emphasizing the muscles of his biceps, "How many do you have? Nieces and nephews?"
"Six all together." she answered, her mouth going dry, knowing that she was staring at his arms.
"Wow, and they all come stay with you at the same time?"
"I have a daughter, and by herself she's a handful. I can't imagine six of them. How old are they?" his voice was curious.
"Let's see, the two boys, Brandon and Bradley, twins, are six. Amelia is six, Caitlin is five, Jemma is three, and Maya is two." she recited, glad to have something to think about. "How old is your daughter?"
"Katiana is almost four."
"So, she gets to stay at home with Mom, while Dad goes shopping? I have to say, I've had the experience of shopping with my munchkins. I don't blame you for leaving her at home."
Was she trying to find out if he was single? His heart skipped a beat; "Actually, Katiana is with my housekeeper right now. She's from a previous relationship. Her mother lives in Los Angeles." Michael's eyes kept falling to her cleavage which was showing above her tank top. I feel like a damn teenager. he thought, a little disgusted with himself.
"Oh." she replied. They were both starting to move their carts through the produce aisle now, next to each other.
"Yeah, she just started preschool. She seems to really like it. I want her to make friends. It's been hard. We just moved here for my work. She'd been with my ex until last weekend."
"What do you do for a living?" Elle asked, then cursed herself for continuing the conversation.
"They tell me I'm an actor." he smiled. "I just started playing a doctor on 'Trauma U'. I just came from filming. Have you ever seen it?"
"I don't get much of a chance to watch TV. Usually I'm too busy working. However, now that I know someone famous, I guess I'll have to catch it sometime."
He flushed slightly, "Well I wouldn't say I'm famous, yet, but it pays the bills."
"I do remember when it first came out, everyone was excited that they were going to be filming a TV show here in Denver. My mom and her group, and my sisters watch it religiously."
"Yeah, when my agent called I was surprised to hear it filmed away from Los Angeles or New York, but I've got to admit, it's a nice area. So far moving here has been nothing but good." They had reached the check out lane without noticing. "What is it that you do? Your work?"
"I write books, children's books. I write as Ellie Thomas."
"As in 'Best Friends and Brussels sprouts.'?" he asked.
"That would have been my sixth book."
"Kat's got some of your books. I'm impressed." He said warmly, "Well it was nice meeting you Elaine Thompson, thanks for the melon tips."
"Anytime. It was nice meeting you too Michael. I'm sure I'll see you grocery shopping sometime."
"Yeah..." his voice trailed off. He tried to think of something to say to keep her talking, but couldn't come up with anything.
Elle had turned away, then sighed. He looked a little forlorn as he moved away from her. It wouldn't hurt if they were to become friends, would it? "Hey, Michael, I've got an idea. You know, we don't do very much, maybe play with play-doh, finger-paints, board games. Maybe even watch some movies. But you're more than welcome to bring Katiana over tomorrow night, say around six o'clock. She's in the same age range as my group. You can hang out, or if you feel comfortable, and of course she feels comfortable, you can leave her there." She offered.
Michael gave her a big grin, "Really, that would be great! She would have some playmates, and I could have some adult conversation! I could help you with the kids." He watched as she wrote her phone number and address on the back of her grocery list. "You're sure your boyfriend, or say, husband won't mind?"
"Oh," she blushed, "I'm not seeing anyone right now. So, no worries."
"Great, see you at six." he backed up, and turned his cart into another check out line.
Michael got home to find his little girl waiting for him. She squealed in delight when he walked through the door. When Carmella had come to him and told him she was pregnant four years ago, he had been shell shocked. They had tried to live together. He knew they had loved each other. It just hadn't been the right kind of love. They had split up when she was a year old. At least they both agreed with doing whatever was best for Kat. Now, with his little girls eyes shining up at him, he couldn't imagine a life without her. He had been an immature child before she came into his world. Whatever decisions he made now were focused on her. He knew it had been hard on Carmella to have Kat living with him, but she was so busy with pursuing her career in films, most of her time was spent going to auditions. They had both decided Kat living with Michael was for the best.
Elle got home and unloaded her groceries. She made herself a cup of tea, and ate some dinner, before deciding to clean her house for company the following night. Normally she felt so peaceful sitting in her house every night. She had a routine that she liked to stick to. She went shopping, came home and put everything away. Had some hot tea and dinner, then would read and take a bubble bath. Tonight it was different. She felt anticipation burning through her like a nervous energy. Knowing that it was because Michael was coming to her home the next evening, didn't diminish the anticipation in the slightest. Really, she didn't know what had come over her to invite them over. She had purposely avoided any kind of relationship for a long time now. Suddenly a gorgeous pair of blue eyes had her second guessing herself. Elle decided to burn off her excess energy by cleaning.
'What was I thinking'? Elle was frazzled. She had stayed up late cleaning her house, which made no sense since it was about to be destroyed by six, no make that seven, children. The twins alone were bent on world annihilation, and she invited another small child, not to mention the devastating father, into the mix. Now she found herself applying make up. She never wore make up when the kids were coming over, now she was fiddling with her face? She didn't even know why since she wasn't going to see him again, and she didn't want to encourage anything. Her sisters would be showing up any minute, they normally arrived around four, to spend some time together and catch up. They'd question her; she'd evade; they'd know something was up. She wanted to jump in a river.
"Elle," Andy called, entering the house. Elaine heard her tell the boys to go play in the backyard, "Elle, there you are." Andy said coming into the room where Elle was laying on the bed. "What's going on?" she asked flopping down on the bed next to her.
Elle turned to look at her sister. Andy was gorgeous. Long, curly, black hair ran to the middle of her back, dark green eyes, peered at her with a mischievous twinkle in them. Any of her sisters, even her sister in law could have been models. Alex had always said how it was too bad Elle wasn't taller, or less curvy. Then she would have been perfect like her sisters. He was right, she was just too short, too top heavy, and her hair too straight. They're much more the type of women that Michael Trask would look at. Why am I even worried about that, she thought. I don't want him interested. "What was I thinking? How could I invite him here?" she said aloud before she could stop herself. Sitting up quickly, she almost fell off the bed.
"Ooooh, this sounds like it could be good." Andy sat up to look more closely at her youngest sister, who was looking a bit edgy. Was Elle wearing make up?'
"What sounds like it could be good?" Belinda asked entering the room.
"Elle was just saying how she shouldn't have invited someone, a 'him' over tonight." Andy told their sister.
"Elle, you knew you had the kids tonight, right? You have a date?" Belinda sounded confused.
Elle sighed, "Yes I have the kids, no there's no date. I met someone at the store, and he's bringing his daughter over to play with the kids."
"Did you invite a married man to your home? Elle, are you wearing makeup?" Belinda asked starting to grin. Andy and Belinda were so similar in appearance, they almost could have been mistaken for twins.
"We'd better just wait, I'm sure Allie will want to hear all about it too, and I'd prefer not to have to repeat myself." Before long, their sister in law joined them in the room. The youngest children were napping, and the rest were playing in the backyard on the jungle gym.
"Ok, start talking." Andy demanded.
"Remember how I said there was a cute guy at the grocery store the past few weeks?" she asked in a small voice.
"Yeah, I think we've all heard about Cute Guy, he's the first guy you've mentioned since..." Allie trailed off uncomfortably, "No way, you invited Cute Guy over! Elle I'm impressed."
"Well, he asked me a question in produce, and we got to talking, and I sort of invited him, and his four year old daughter from a previous relationship over to hang out with me and the kids tonight." she finished in one breath. "He's an actor, he's on that show, 'Trauma U'. He plays some Doctor."
Belinda closed her eyes, "Dr. Mathews?" at her question, the other gasped. "It has to be, all the rest are either old, too young, or women."
"I don't know. I didn't ask, I don't watch TV." Elle was getting a little irritated at the looks she was getting, and why were they off the subject? Didn't they realize this was important?
"Gorgeous, dark blonde hair, drowning blue eyes, smile to die for?" Allie squeaked out. When Elle nodded, "Ok, in the future, we really need to ask more questions when Elle says Cute Guy!" she said looking at the others. They were all stunned that Elle had invited someone over. It had been a long time since she had shown interest in anyone.
"See," Elle cried, "It's pointless."
"We'll fix it!" Andy promised. "You're beautiful, I have no idea why you were putting so much goop on your face." They wiped most of the make up off, and combed her hair back into a French braid. They put her in one of her striped, cotton t-shirts, which emphasized her breasts, and an old pair of jeans that were a bit snug. "There, you'll knock him off his feet. What I wouldn't give for some of your curves!" she sighed dramatically.
I'm not sure I want to knock his socks off, she frowned. She walked the three to the door. They kissed her briefly, and told her they'd pick up the kids in the morning.