SUMMARY: The grocery store was where I would meet the first and only love of my life—talk about cliché.


The Girl in the Grocery Store

-

Sometimes, especially during moments like this, when I was held against my will in a room of rabid knitting old ladies, I wish I had either a boyfriend with a car, or, you know, just a car. A car would be nice.

But then a boyfriend . . . who wouldn't want a boyfriend? Well, maybe not those I-hate-love-and-all-that-goes-with-it kind of girls, but most people would enjoy having someone to talk to, make out with, right? I know I certainly would.

The only problem? My mom was one of those I-hate-love-and-all-that-goes-with-it kind of women because her past, what, twenty-three boyfriends have always found a reason to break up with her. For some reason she couldn't even fathom.

I knew why though, I could always see it in their eyes; she always ended up clinging to those respective men more than they were comfortable with.

And I hated that they'd broken her heart many times over. I hated that my mother would lock herself in her room for days on end and mourn the loss of another piece of her already-fragile heart.

She'd gotten pregnant with me when she was seventeen, by the first boyfriend who'd ever claimed to love her. Once he found out she was having a baby, though, he'd hightailed it out of her life faster than she could say nine months.

Her life was already hard enough without him leaving her; as soon as she'd told my grandparents she was having a child, they'd kicked her out of her life also and had had to stay with her best friend, my godmother, Vanessa.

Eventually, she'd saved enough money to rent a tiny apartment of her own, but since I couldn't stay home alone, I'd be foisted upon Vanessa's loving parents, who I now considered my own grandparents and Vanessa as my aunt and godmother.

I loved my mom but she worked so hard to make enough money to pay off every bill that I rarely even got to see her, even as I grew older and could finally stay home by myself.

All that time I spent doing homework and distancing myself from boys since, even from a very young age, my mom had drilled into me the untrustworthiness of boys and men all around the world.

My only best friends were girls—Karissa and Venus—and if any boy ever tried to talk to me, I'd make up some quick, random excuse and hide myself in the library.

But today? Today was bound to be different, because as soon as I left the knitting circle my mom had made me join to even further distance myself from the testosterone-wielding heathens, as she liked to call them, I'd have to go to the grocery store and see Jesse, the grocery store boy who was the only guy I actually could talk to without having an urge to leave.

I didn't know why this was, but I was scared. Scared I'd end up like my mom—working a twelve hour shift at a job that paid minimum wage and who could barely afford to buy new clothes or luxuries for herself since she always spent her paycheck on the bills and me.

At precisely 3 o' clock, the elderly women bid their goodbyes and I locked up the library, considering it was my job as soon as the Knitting Circle was over.

Silently, I hoisted my bag over my shoulder and headed to the grocery store, where Jesse was probably re-stocking shelves or managing the cash register, or doing something, at least.

Unless… he wasn't working today? I didn't know what I felt about that possibility. Did I feel pleased? Saddened? I had no idea.

I didn't know what guys were like, since I'd never interacted with them at all, and Jesse… Jesse was different, somehow, I knew, but I didn't know whether I wanted to realize this "something different" with him or not.

The rush of cool air jolted me out of my thoughts and I stepped into the cleanliness of the grocery store and checked the list my mom had given me this morning before she'd left for work.

milk

eggs

cereal

tampons?

eyeliner and mascara

hairspray

BIG thing of hand soap

I sighed. I'd have to go into Feminine Hygiene today. Talk about embarrassing. Trying to be quick, I grabbed a nearby cart and steered it into the refrigerated section and snatched a gallon of milk and a carton of eggs with surprising speed. Finding the cereal was simple, since it was just a few aisles away from the refrigerated foods.

Then I steered into Beauty and Hair and found Mom's favorite eyeliner and mascara combo pack, and her can of hairspray.

Finding the soap section, I almost cried when I saw the "BIG thing of hand soap" at the super top of the shelves. I was too short to reach it.

Looking around discreetly and finding no one was around me, I hoisted myself onto the first set of shelves nearest to the floor and reached for the soap. I barely even touched the top shelf.

Grunting and frustrated now, I stepped carefully onto the second set of shelves and finally noticed my heart pounding in my ears.

I'd never done this before—Mom always asked for the simple 12 fl. oz of the stuff and those I could always reach.

Now she had to buy in bulk, of all times.

I almost screamed when I just touched the bottom of the hand soap container.

…and then I did scream when a pair of hands touched my waist and set me down on the floor again.

"Calm down," Jesse laughed, his black hair charmingly hanging slightly into his eyes. "Do you have any idea how much of a safety hazard standing on shelves can be, short stuff?"

I glared. "For your information, I could've reached the soap without your help."

His eyes just twinkled. "Oh yeah, because standing on shelves that are already holding about seventy pounds of merchandise could've held you up any longer."

"Are you calling me fat?"

He raised his hands in surrender. "Of course not! I'm just saying—you could've gone and found me."

"Did you want me to?" Once I got the words out, I realized something. I was actually flirting with this guy. Flirting. F-l-i-r-t-i-n-g.

Jesse smiled at me, his teeth perfectly straight and even. "Maybe I did, maybe I didn't."

And he was flirting back.

Stammering now, I just said, "Uhm, I just decided. I don't have to buy—I don't need the soap. Uh. I'll just go now."

And without even waiting for a reply, I steered the cart around and practically ran out of the aisle, almost crashing into a display of brand new shampoo the store was advertising.

I wanted to look back to see his expression. But I didn't.

-

Once I got home, bags in hand, I set them on the counter and methodically arranged the things I'd bought into their places: the milk and eggs in the refrigerator, cereal in the pantry, mascara, eyeliner, and hairspray into Mom's bathroom, and then I realized—I forgot the tampons. And the soap, too, but I knew that already.

We could use the emergency pads I kept under my sink though, thankfully. Nearly skipping to my bathroom, I peered under the sink and felt my heart start to beat faster as soon as I realized the blue-green bag was nowhere in sight. I could've sworn I'd bought a package of them last week.

Maybe she wouldn't be on her time of the month until I got a chance to go back.

Walking as if I were defeated into the kitchen I got my books out of my bag.

Books, pencil case, calculator, notebooks, binder… where was my wallet?

Freaking out, I emptied my bag of everything inside and still couldn't find the green wallet Mom had given me for my 14th birthday three years ago.

I slapped a hand to my forehead. I'd left it at the cash register, considering how focused I was on leaving.

My lip trembled, for some reason, and I decided I might as well go back and face my fear and consider Jesse as an acquaintance, nothing else.

I paced around the apartment about five times, and nearly laughed at myself because I was acting so weird—he was just a guy, after all.

Finally, I gathered enough courage to stalk to the front door, open it and head to the grocery store.

Instead though, I crashed into a warm chest and nearly fell over backwards except hands grabbed my arms with a ninja-like efficiency before I could crash onto the floor.

Hands with long, elegant fingers suddenly appeared in front of my face, and I clutched on willingly and let the hard, toned arms pull me up.

A bright smile greeted me but I averted my eyes so I could think properly.

"Wh—what are you doing here?"

"Thought you might need this," he answered, and I couldn't handle it anymore, so I looked up at him. His beautiful green eyes met mine and I smiled at him as I took my wallet from his hands, our fingers brushing ever-so-gently.

"Oh," I whispered as I turned the wallet over and over again in my hands. "Thank you." I smiled up at him and he smiled back, eyes surprisingly softening.

"Uhm… I—I have to go inside. And—and study. I have homework. And I have to study."

He was still smiling at me. "If I let you go, promise me you'll agree to go on a date with me tomorrow night at 7?"

My mouth opened into an 'o' and I blushed almost immediately. "I—I'd love to."

Jesse's smile grew, if that was even possible. "Good. I'll see you tomorrow then."

He turned to leave, and I acted on an impulse. "Actually, wait, wou—would you like to come inside? And study with… with me?"

My hand offered itself to him on its own accord and as he looked down at my slight, smaller fingers, I realized I wanted him to hold on.

The look he gave me as I led him into the house—a mixture of his bright smile and a soft look in his eyes—convinced me he wouldn't be like the twenty three guys who'd broken my mom's heart.

And the way he was suddenly so comfortable with me—and I with him—gave me a sense of belonging. I trusted him now, with all of me, because it's hard to not trust a guy who looked at me like I was his world already.

-

My mom found the two of us laughing on my bed two hours later, books and papers to the side considering studying with him made me even more efficient and willing to finish all my homework with a speed I didn't know I possessed.

"Hey, Mom," I smiled, blushing slightly since she'd never caught me with a guy in the house—let alone my room—before.

"Arista," she said, not acknowledging Jesse's presence. "May I speak to you for a second? Outside?"

I shot Jesse an apologetic look and he just smiled at me. Go ahead, he mouthed, plopping onto my bed and re-checking my finished calculus homework.

"Look, Mom," I began, hoisting myself onto the counter, "Jesse's super sweet, and I think he could be someone I fall in love with. Please just let me have him for myself. Please. Have I ever asked you for anything before? You buy all my stuff because you want to, NOT because I ask. Now I'm asking for you to give this guy a chance. For me. Please."

She crossed her jacket-clad arms, and narrowed her eyes. "Did you two have sex?" she asked.

My eyes grew wide. "Holy crap, Mom, no, of course not!"

"Then why was he in your room?"

"We were just spending time together."

Mom slipped into her "thinking-deeply" mode. "Fine. But if he tries to break your heart, I have a baseball bat in the closet."

I squealed, the first squeal I'd ever emitted since I was four. I didn't care that Jesse was in the other room and could probably hear every word we'd just said, I was just so happy.

She let me hug her for as long as I wanted, her laughter ringing through my ears. Thank God she didn't think Jesse was another one of her dumb boyfriends.

He was mine.

-

I barreled into my room and tackled Jesse, not caring that we were suddenly in a provocative position with me on top of him. "She's letting me be with you," I whispered into his ear.

"I know." He smiled, as soon as I pulled back and looked at him straight in the eye. His hands latched around my waist. "I heard. But… falling in love, huh?"

I blushed and buried my face in his neck. "Very funny, Jesse, but I meant it."

He chuckled and ran his hand up and down my side. "Did your mother really ask you if we had sex?"

"Yeah, she did… she's pretty paranoid about that stuff. My dad left her when she found out she was having me."

"Oh. Well, I'm glad she decided to have you, Arista."

I smiled at him. "I'm glad she decided to have me too."

And then he kissed me, a sweet, slow kiss that built up in my body and rising until I was straddling him, running my hands through his silky hair.

My mom was probably psychic, but Jesse… Jesse had bionic self-control, pulling away from me before we went all the way.

Hormones were gonna kill me, considering it'd only been a day since we've been together and already I was throwing myself onto him.

"Sorry," I whispered softly.

He touched my face with his hand. "It's okay. I actually rather enjoyed it."

And then he laughed. I couldn't help but laugh along with him.

"I really do think I can fall in love with you," I told him suddenly, acting on impulse again. Jesse just smiled and that was all the answer I needed.

-


So yeah. I'm back & that's pretty much it :) maybe I'll continue this and write their date—and their everything else after that! hopefully you enjoyed! And if you did, vvvv review please?