He'd gotten under her skin with his direct ways, and she was bummed out giving in so easily to those sad dreamy eyes of his. She had willingly followed him to this restaurant he'd suggested even though she knew he wasn't her type. She'd agreed to leave her car and wait in his, and looking over her shoulder at her own dog, she felt bad that he still laid motionless on the back seat where she had shoved him, even though devil pup continued to climb all over him. Staring back at the rain rolling down the outside of his windshield she wondered when it was she had begun to become so pathetically desperate. How was she going to eat all that food? She wasn't even hungry. Her feet rested on top of the pile of junk he'd tossed from the seat to the floor to make room for her Levi clad tush. Shifting her balance, something cracked beneath her shoes, but she ignored it. She wasn't ready to find out what a never cleaned vehicle really looked like up close and personal.
The longer he waited, the more he convinced himself that he would be returning with one expensive meal and one cheap meal to a car with only a little black curly furred pup inside. Glancing again at his cell phone, he was stressed that his thirty minute wait had only been ten minutes so far. Standing before the mirror in the men's room, he began to realized the magnitude of work involved to keep this lady interested in him. It was hell convincing her to follow him in her little red sports car, then leaving it empty parked next to his. For the first time in his single life the fear of being boring clamped onto his brain like the jaws of death spinning him out of control. She seemed to have the upper hand, and he felt like he was running eighty miles an hour to keep up with her. He was an idiot to think she would ever be his.
Over-thinking didn't even begin to describe her right now. Tired of waiting for a meal she didn't need, a man she didn't know, a complication she didn't want, she stared at this puppy in her lap that made her feel guilty each time she pet it. No way was her own dog getting on her lap. She never allowed it...never. She had a tendency to pick hell when it came to the opposite sex; nevertheless, she was failing to convince herself that not being her type was a good thing at this point. He was just too different. He had already usurped her from her comfort zone, and she was mad, then perplexed at herself for choosing to still be here. Her thoughts evaporated as the driver's door flew open and her rain soaked problem in rusty armor sat down beside her with a large bag of eats and that sweet sheepish smile on his rather old face that she found herself falling in love with...darn it!
He tossed his dog next to hers and hurriedly gave them the double order of meatballs out of the bag and hoped they wouldn't become sick. He didn't really know women at all. Just guessing at what she might like, he chose expensive and she seemed to be pleased with the veal dish he pulled out of the bag for her. He looked at his spaghetti with regret, but he knew she was worth it, he hoped. He fished a bottle of water from the floor and opened it for her, setting it in the bottle holder between them. He thought all women liked to talk, but she said nothing. He could hear himself chewing his salad. It was driving him nuts. He wondered if it was driving her crazy.
"Do you walk that park often?" What a lame way to start a conversation. He could kick himself, but he just looked at her hoping she would simply answer and be done with it.
"I haven't been there in years. Not since...well, let's just say it's been a long time before I had another dog to walk. I never like walking alone. What about you?"
"Never been there before."
She looked at him, "Like two ships passing in the night." She was surprised that dorky phrase escaped from her lips.
He grinned. "Kind of...but it's the pup to blame. I'm not much on hiking."
Instead of answering, she ate a spear of asparagus, drank a sip of water, and looked back at him with those killer eyes. "I love hiking, but I don't do it as often anymore. Do you still work?"
"Retired, but I work for myself."
"Oh, at what?"
Why did he always do this to himself? Always having to explain the absurd. Why couldn't he be normal and not raise eyebrows. "I scoop up dog poop for clients. Sorry."
She looked at him with her veal speared fork hovering in front of her opened mouth.
He thought she was going to be froze there for eternity, but she suddenly smiled and ate the piece of veal.
"Must be good business. Lots of dogs out there and they all shit, I mean poop." He laughed and she was beginning to feel comfortable with him. "Cleaning up dog poop...the one thing I hate about dogs. I'm not really a dog person. I'm just a sucker for a cute face on a homeless mutt."
"Lucifer's my first dog, but he's in my life to stay, so I guess I'm a dog person. Cats...that's a different bag of problems. Can't stand those little monkeys." He thought the sparkle dimmed in her eyes and wondered what he had said wrong. "What?" he cautiously inquired.
"Nothing. So, what else do you like in your life besides dogs?"
He looked at her still wondering. "I'm flexible, I can adapt to anything, and still like it, probably. I like to shoot, not cats of course", he grinned, but she didn't so he knew he was digging a hole for himself. Changing the subject was his next best choice. "What kind of work do you do?"
"Not the kind I would like. I'm a secretary. No, well...sort of a secretary. I do everything and more than a secretary would do." Her voice trailed off. "I'm a ....."
He bent closer so he could hear her better. "You're what?"
Annoyed, "A clerk!" she blurted out a little too loudly. " I'm just a clerk."
He watched her with her lips curled inward as she picked at what was left on her plate. Pulling a small carton out of the bag that sat next to his feet, "I took a chance and got you a little something for dessert."
The tiramisu was convincing her he was a keeper...she was in heaven with each savored bite. "This would be perfect with a cup of cappuccino." She smiled at him, wondering if he still was interested in her.
"Next time", he smiled. "So, where does my just a clerk work?"
She wanted to end this line of questioning, but she answered. "At a park north of town."
"Wow, that must be exciting!"
"I guess if my desk were out in the middle of the forest in perfect weather with a canopy over it to keep the ticks from dropping onto my head it would be nice, but I sit in a stuffy building no bigger than a suitcase in front of a computer all day answering the phone, making everyone else happy and never myself, so it pretty well sucks." She stopped herself and looked into those troubled eyes of his. "It's not all that bad. I just thought I would have more than that by now."
"My sister said the same thing when she was alive. She told me she was raised to find a husband to support her, then kicked out by our parents to survive on her own. She had a hard time, but she was my little sister. I would have done anything for her and I did." He put the empty cartons back into the bag on the floor and looked sadly out the drying windshield.
She knew she shouldn't ask, but she needed to know. "What happened to her?"
He still stared at the windshield and answered, "She died in a car wreck. Her drunk husband killed her." He shifted his body to face her, and with his right hand pushed a wisp of her hair from her face and smiled. "Have you thought about going back to school to compete for a better job?"
"I did with my last husband, but he wasn't interested in helping me. I haven't been able to afford it yet on my own."
"You're last husband?"
"Last husband...not ex-husband?" He watched her, but she just sighed and turned away from him. He leaned towards her and whispered, "I'm not going to like you any less. I've already gone beyond that."
"Three? Three what?"
She turned her head and felt her cheek brush against his. "Three husbands. I've had three husbands."