This isn't love; a fancy restaurant and roses. Sure, he was attractive and successful, he even thought of good things to talk about. As first dates go, this was pretty amazing. John had done everything a woman at thirty could want. But it wasn't love. We'd only been out for a couple hours, he was ever the gentleman. Upholding all the gallantries a man should he opened doors, pulled out chairs and listened intently while I spoke. I wished I felt something for him. Oh, god how I wished. John wasn't the man for me. I knew that. I knew it when he asked to dinner too. I thought maybe I could ignore the pull in my chest when I agreed to the dinner, maybe I would move on. I was wrong. Each minute I sat opposite John I found another dissimilarity. He, I noticed, was nothing like Alex. John didn't rest his elbows on the table, leaning toward me completely enamoured with whatever butchered story I told. He didn't smile at me, his eyes radiant as he silently stared. He didn't shake his head and say "Just you." When I asked what he was looking at. No, John sat with perfect posture; back straight, elbows at his sides. If I stopped talking for a moment he looked away, at his plate, out the window. He wasn't Alex. He wasn't who I wanted.
I sipped at my wine, hoping John chose the instant to look away as I, for the third time in the last half hour, shifted my eyes toward the watch around my wrist.
"Lillie, I was wondering if you wouldn't mind making it an early night, tonight?" John said, to which I was thankful. "I have to be back at the hospital in six hours and was hoping to get a little sleep."
"Sure, definitely. Not a problem at all." I smiled, probably a little too much.
"Fantastic." He said. "Should we..."
"Yeah. Yes." And then we were gone. We walked the three blocks back to my apartment in what time Johns hand grazed my own. My reaction? I faked a cough, needing my hand immediately to cover my mouth. What's more, the entire time we walked I thought about Alex. I thought of what he would say if he'd seen that. I thought about what I would have done tonight if it were Alex I was out with. Mostly I thought about the night ending with me, my daggy pyjamas, a quick glass of red and eight to nine hours of blissful sleep; uninterrupted and unabbreviated, the kind of sleep where the following day as I awaken my hair will be the ruins of a retired bird's nest.
I didn't kiss John, nor did he kiss me. Or rather I didn't give him the chance to kiss me. I said a speedy goodbye and promptly fled to the inside of my building. Glass in hand and bunny rabbit flannel pyjamas on, I sunk into the heart of my sofa; about ready to inflict two hours of soppy romance on myself in the form of a DVD. That was until the phone rang. It was a quarter past nine on a Sunday night. Only one person would call me at quarter past nine on a Sunday night. I bit my lip, wanting so much to answer the phone on the first chime but pride held me back.
Alex was a man that burned his every essence, his soul and being into your heart and never truly left. He was, without any conscious or unconscious doubt, the one great love I have ever had and feared I would ever have. This type of love, unrequited I'm well sure, meant my pride was all but nonexistent. Alex and I had dated briefly. I stupidly acted so suave and at ease with the situation that Alex took it as me being uncomfortable, regretful. Truthfully, I was the happiest I'd ever been. He had laughed a whole deal, saying it just wasn't right, that we belonged as friends, the best of friends; not lovers. He broke me that night, he broke my heart. It killed me, both my weakness for him and my love. I answered on the third ring.
"Lillie?" He asked after hearing my belated greeting; it followed my sigh.
"No it's Heidi Klum." The monotone was a part of my aloof I'm-not-in-in-love-with-you performance.
He hummed. "Well then, guten morgen miss Heidi."
I was in love with an idiot. "That means good morning, you loser."
"It's the only German I know." He defended, laughing melodiously. At least it sounded that way to me. "Are you busy right this moment?"
"This very second, no but I have only just arrived home from a very successful first date." Lie. I was going to lie my worn and torn, beloved PJ pants off.
"Hot date?" He mused.
"Very." Lie. Lie. Lie. "Italian restaurant, roses, candle light. He's a doctor you know? A surgeon."
"Lucky man." Oh, shit. He had that tone. He knew I was bluffing. There were roses though! And he is a doctor. How can he tell that I was lying when I told the truth? Partially told the truth. "How is it though, you had such a romantic, hot date and made it home so early and from what I can tell alone?"
Well, he had me there. "He works long hours." I defended. "And had to be up early. You wouldn't understand. Is there something you wanted, Alexander?"
"Why yes dear Lillian there is." He said, mocking my gravity. "I rented this independently made movie for the purpose of viewing it and decided that if I have to watch this steaming pile of film compost then so do you." That sounded more like the Alex I knew.
"Why did you get it if you don't want to watch it?"
"I do want to watch it." He said, matter-of-factly. "So I can complain about it afterwards."
"Alex, I'm tired."
"Because you were out so late on the thrilling first date? Come on, Lil...It's an over-night rental and I'm kind of already outside your building."
I fought to keep back my smile, a chuckle slipped through. "You're outside?"
"Yes and it's bloody cold so let me in will you."
"Fine." I laughed, hearing his plead. "But I'm not changing, or cooking or tidying up."
Seconds before I hung up the phone I heard Alex scoff saying, "When have you ever done any one of those things for me?"
The movie went for three hours, most of which we spent imitating the actors and fighting over who got to eat what from the Chinese food we ordered at eleven.
"That movie was ridiculous." I stated, still giggling.
"In the best way." Alex agreed.
Feeling like a balloon as it arduously struggled to not burst; I lifted my hand to my stomach. "I think I ate too much." I tried to laugh, groaning after the attempt.
"We should walk it off." Alex grinned, jumping onto his feet.
"What? It's after midnight and freezing!" I objected, pouting.
He looked at me in that boyish way; the way a four year old looks when he's just told he couldn't have an ice cream for lunch. I hated that look and he knew it. I folded like a cheap napkin at a budgeted office party. "Let me change first."
He thought about it, for all of three seconds, before scrunching up his face and shaking his head. "No." He said, elongating the word. "Come on, up." My arms were pulled until I was standing and simultaneously moving toward the door to the apartment. "You need a jacket." He avowed, courteously draping my coat over my shoulders. "Oh and these. I haven't seen you in these in a long time." They were boots, ugg-boots, grey. And they were as ugly as ugly could get. At my quite clearly unenthused expression Alex sighed with that special glint in his eyes. He bent down, ceasing my leg and gently placed the shoe on my foot then tucked my flannel pants into them. I squealed at one point, losing my balance. When finished, he moved back to survey his work.
"I look absurd." Was all I could say, the laughter was just too much.
"Would I let you leave your home looking the littlest bit absurd?" He grinned, holding out his hand. I should have been really excited about a chance to hold his hand. Over time I had realised it wasn't a blessing, that I could be so close to Alex, it was a constant pain. An aching pain I'd rather avoid. "You look as good as ever."
"That's not saying much." I quipped, moving around his outstretched hand to open the door. He didn't follow for a second or two, enough time for me to close my eyes and take a big breath; though shuddery it may have been.
We walked out of the building, immediately wrapping arms around our respected selves to beat the icy bite of the wind. "This was a bad idea wasn't it?" He laughed as the wind blew another round of frozen air at us.
"Probably." I agreed. "But we're already out so we may as well walk for a little."
"A block?" He suggested.
"A whole block?" I wasn't all that committed to walking. Warmth inside my apartment sounded very ideal right now.
"Or we could turn around now?" Ah, my saviour. I nodded appreciatively and we gladly turned around to head home.
We were almost at my apartment, only a few minutes away, when I felt his hand brush my own at our sides. Ignore it; I told myself, nothing good will come from this. I swallowed the bunching nerves in my throat, staring ahead. I was going to ignore it, I swear, but Alex apparently wasn't. I felt finger tips brush my wrist, tracing tickling lines of heat down to my palm; despite the cold. He was going to kill me. My insides were going to constrict, consuming me from the inside out. I couldn't go through this all again.
"Alex..." I wavered, his hand enveloped mine whole.
"Are you going out with the doctor again?" He ignored my somewhat unwilling protest. "The surgeon."
What did that matter? "I don't know, maybe." I answered. It wasn't until the third date that I told them it wouldn't work. More time with John could change my mind though, right? Who was I trying to kid, I wouldn't like him. Not the same way as...Alex.
He pulled me to a stop, only a building before my own. The cold, it seemed, he had all but forgotten. "I don't..." He started, staring at the ground around our feet. His brows furrowed and his lips thinned; a sign that he was deep in struggling thought.
"Alex?" I asked, trying to look in his eyes.
"Lillie, I don't like fancy restaurants." He blurted, looking apologetic.
"I know that." I said and he shushed me.
"Let me finish." I opened my mouth and closed it, listening. "And I think roses are unimaginative and pretty much a fall back gift when you don't know what to get someone."
"They are both those things."
"Lillie." He lightly reprimanded.
"Oh, sorry." I apologised.
"What I'm trying to say is; I don't have anything in common with the men you date." My hand was pulled into his, strummed lightly with his thumbs. "Except that I like you." Now that I wasn't expecting. "I'm not a doctor, I don't own a line of successful dry cleaning stores and I'm not a fancy pilot. I can't even pull off a romantic walk in the moonlight."
"It's the wrong season for midnight walks." I whispered, though it was hardly audible.
"Yeah." He laughed, running a hand through his hair. "If I had a date with you Lil, I wouldn't take you to some snooty restaurant. I'd rent some movies, cook you dinner and spend the whole night in your apartment because I don't want to share you with the rest of the world, I just want to be with you."
"We tried, remember?" I put some space between us. I couldn't think with him so close. "We didn't work."
"I was scared." He admitted, shaking his head, tousling his already tousled hair further.
The weakness, it was over powering me. I wanted to pull him into my arms and hold him like I longed to in my dreams. "You were scared?"
"Terrified." He breathed, lifting his soft brown eyes. "I don't have anything to offer you, Lillie."
"But you have everything." I said, not having a chance to think. The words spilled out of my mouth like a glass double the amount of half full. "You are my everything."
He stepped forward, the crease between his eyebrows making a shallow crevice. "I am?" He asked, sounding doubtful.
"Always have been." I confessed, biting my lip when he raised a cold hand to my cheek. I couldn't believe this was happening.
"Lillie, will you go on a date with me tomorrow?" He looked up at me from beneath his lashes, though he was far taller than myself.
A small smile pulled at the corner of my nearly frozen lips. "No." His face fell as the hope drained and I had to dip my head to look into his eyes. "But I do have some left over Chinese food at my place, we could stay in, watch a movie?"
I laughed and he shook his head, pulling me close as he dropped his forehead to rest on mine. "I'd like that." He murmured.
"OK." I took his hand, securely, possessively, in my own and we walked toward my home. "This time," I assured him, as I climbed the walk up. "I'm choosing the film." Alex rolled his eyes...and then he kissed me.
Another unedited story, sorry for any mistakes. I go back from holidays today so I only had a couple days of writing and no time to edit, sorry you have to suffer it.
This story came along because I was at a fancy restaurant with a friends family and there was a couple having dinner in eyes range. The man looked..content? And the woman looked as if she was trying too hard, like she wanted to be elsewhere. She found her swishing glass of red wine very captivating though I think her mind was somewhere else. So, I gave her somewhere else - I gave her a happy ending. Even if it's only fictional. Happy reading :)