Love Me, Love My Tofu
Elise Wu is a vegan yoga instructor who only wants to change the world for the better. When James Matthews, her complete antithesis, almost runs her over, Elise's world will be the one changing… but can she love a man who loves meat?
Elise grabbed the papers as they finished printed and stuffed them in her all-natural bag. She poured her organic green tea into a thermos and reached for a banana as she walked out the door of her loft and into the warm sun. As she locked the door behind her and headed down the stairs, she put on her helmet and hopped onto her bike, glancing at her watch. Dang, she thought, I'm going to be late for work again unless I really make time. She pushed off and turned the corner at the end of the street. As she navigated her way through the morning traffic, Elise tried not to think about how upset Heather, her boss, would be. Elise was constantly late to everything. Her father, on the other hand, was always meticulously on time. Why, Elise wondered, did I have to get Mom's hippie genes instead of Dad's internal timer? As much as Elise was like her mother on the inside, on the outside she was obviously John Wu's daughter. She had her father's nose and mouth. Her straight, jet black hair, which she wore to her shoulders, was also his, but her green eyes were decidedly her mother's, as were the pale brown freckles sprinkled incongruously across the bride of her nose. Elise turned her thoughts back to the road as she came up to a busy intersection. Elise patiently waited for the crossing light to turn in her favor. As soon as the white walking figure lit up, Elise began pedaling across the intersection. She was almost halfway across when a horn blared. In horror, Elise looked to her left at the silver Hummer barreling toward her. With a yell, Elise dove out of the way and onto the ground, out of the way of the car, which seconds later crushed her bike and with a squealing of tires, veered into the parking lot on the corner and came to a sudden stop. Elise stood up shakily, and inspected the damage: no bones were broken, but she had a nasty scrape on her arm, her bike was totaled, and the contents of her bag were scattered. She bent down and hurriedly grabbed her papers, her change of clothes, and her lunch as the Hummer's door slammed shut.
"Are you okay?" A man's voice asked her from above.
"Does it look like I'm okay?" Elise snapped. She looked up at the idiot who almost ran her over, and caught her breath. He was handsome in a clean-cut sort of way, and very tall. He loomed over her, impatiently shifting his weight and looking at his watch, which seemed very expensive.
"If you're okay, I'm very busy and I-" The man started to say.
"Excuse me? You almost ran me over, and you just ruined my bike! Of course I'm not okay!" Elise fumed.
The man sighed, and bent down and picked up what was left of her bike. "Let's get this over quickly, then," he said, "We should sort this out in the parking lot over there, instead of the middle of the street."
Elise glared at the man's back and followed him, all of her stuff piled in her arms. He put the ruined bike down on the ground next to his Hummer and waited for her with his arms crossed.
"Now, are you hurt?" he asked.
"Yes, I'm fine, and no, I'm not going to sue you, which I'm sure is your next question," Elise said, her tone escalating dangerously.
"How do you know what I was going to ask next?" The man said defensively, "I might have been about to ask you if you needed a ride to the hospital."
"You weren't. I know your type," Elise shot back.
"Really? What is my type then?" the man asked venomously.
"You're a conservative, gas-guzzling, uncaring, carbon-emitting, animal-killer who doesn't care what happens to the Earth and the people in it so long as your 'needs' are met!"
"Oh yeah? How do you know so much about me, then, if you don't even know my name?"
"You drive a Hummer," Elise said, her voice full of acid. "That tells me all I need to know."
"For your information, I happen to be a lawyer-"
"Oh, that really helps your case, doesn't it?"
"Will you just let me speak for a moment?" The man shouted. Elise stopped talking. "Let's start over, shall we? My name is James Matthews. I'm sorry I almost ran over you, and I'm sorry I totaled your bike. Is there anything I can do?"
"Hello, James, and no, you've done quite enough, thank you," Elise replied coldly. She put her stuff back into her bag, grabbed her destroyed bike, and turned to walk away.
"Wait!" James called, "Do you need a ride?"
Elise stopped. It was at least ten minutes from here to her work on bike. If she walked, it would take at least half an hour. With a sigh, Elise turned around and grudgingly said, "Actually, I do."
"Hop in," James told her. "I'll put your bike in the back."
Elise shook her head. She couldn't believe she was actually going to ride in a Hummer, but desperate times called for desperate measures.
"So, what's your name anyway?" James asked as he followed Elise's directions.
"Elise Wu," she told him stiffly, her whole body rigid. She was trying to touch as little as possible in the Hummer.
"What do you do for a living?" he questioned.
"I'm a yoga instructor, and I work part time at the Total Tofu Health Food Shop."
"You must be very healthy," James noted.
"I am. I'm a vegan, in fact."
"Really?" he asked. "I could never be a vegan. I love steak too much. Don't you miss any of the foods normal people eat?"
"Vegans," Elise said, even more stiffly, if that was possible, "are normal people. We choose to not eat animal products because we, unlike you, do not wish to subject innocent animals to inhumane conditions just to eat them or their products. And steak is actually quite repulsive." She shuddered a bit at the thought.
"Huh," James huffed, "you sure are offended easily."
"And you," Elise retorted, "sure do offend easily."
With that, James pulled into the parking lot of the Yoga Hut, and Elise got out. James killed the engine and got her bike out of the back.
"Thank you," Elise said tersely, and began to walk inside.
"You're welcome," James replied, and walked her to the door. "I really am sorry. And I'm not as bad a guy as you seem to think I am. Will you let me take you out to dinner to make it up to you?"
"Only if I get to choose the restaurant," Elise conceded and handed him a business card. "Here's my address. Pick me up at seven o'clock sharp."
James nodded and gave her a little smile before he got back in the Hummer and pulled out. Elise walked inside, preparing herself to face Heather, and wondering what she had just gotten into.