He chuckles at my doubtful look. “Really, they aren’t. This’ll sound strange, but they’re for my sister.”
Now I’m getting pissed, and I show it by scowling. There’s no way this man is buying condoms for his sister. What older brother does that? Not to mention, she has to be old enough to buy them herself. The guy can’t be a day younger than thirty-five, unless his parents had a late child.
He must sense my anger because his laugh dies a slow death and is replaced by a more serious expression.
“Look, my sister is sort of a hothead wild child. She’s sixteen and stuck on her I’ll-do-what-I-want-and-I-don’t-care-if-you-like-it attitude, and that includes having sex. She’s not reliable enough to take her birth control pills. My parents hate it and so do I, but there’s nothing we can really do about it, save for locking her in her room and putting bars on her windows. That’ll just push her further away. In order to keep her safe, I regularly buy her condoms.”
I stand quietly, listening to him. Having never went through that phase, I can’t imagine what he and his parents are going through, but I bet it can’t be easy.
When I don’t say anything, he reaches into his pocket and pulls out his phone. “If you don’t believe me, I can show you the text she sent me earlier.”
I put my hand over his as he types something on the phone. “No. I believe you,” I tell him honestly. “I’m sorry I doubted you.”
He looks at my hand for a minute before bringing his eyes to mine. The brown in them seems much deeper up close, almost black. And it goes perfectly with his thick lashes. I drop my hand back to my side.
“No worries. I kind of led you on back there. It’s reasonable that you wouldn’t believe me.” He slips his phone back inside his pocket. “So, what do you say? Will you allow me to take you out for an early dinner one day after work?”
It’s strange, really. Three months ago, I finally started dating again. I went from having no dates in over a year to dating guys from a dating site and having a coworker ask me out to dinner. Not to mention, a nameless man who sends me flowers.
I look at Eric and see genuine interest. It’s flattering that he wants to take me out. Despite him leading me on about the condoms, he really is nice, and certainly not hard to look at. But do I really want to go out with him? Yes, I’ve dated several guys in the last three months, but this seems different. Eric and I don’t really know each other, but in a sense, through work, we do.
When I don’t answer right away, Eric takes another step toward me. I feel his fingers brush mine.
“It’s just dinner, Poppy. Nothing more. We can both take our own cars, and if you want to leave early you can. I know you said you have a date tomorrow. Is it serious?”
“No, not serious.” I don’t miss the relief that flashes over his face.
I take a second to think it over. It’s only dinner, what could it hurt? I really like Eric and he’s always been sweet to me, so that’s a bonus. The dates from the dating site have all been epic failures. I don’t even know why I go on them anymore.
I smile at him softly and reply, “I’d love to.”
His answering smile reveals a dimple in his left cheek that I’d never noticed before. It makes him look even more handsome. That’s just another thing that adds to the appeal of him; I love dimples.
“Great! How does this Wednesday sound?”
“Wednesday is good for me,” I tell him, and the dimple grows deeper.
He takes the keys from my hand and opens my door. I grin at his gentlemanly move and he winks at me. He hands me my keys as I slide into my seat, and when he closes my door, I immediately crank it and put down my window.
With his hands on the window, he bends down and says, “I’ll see you Monday at work.”
“Okay. Thanks for the help.”
With another dimpled smile and a tap to my door, he backs up. I maneuver out of my spot. As I drive away, I look in my rearview mirror to see Eric still standing there, watching me.
I pull up to the house and unload the groceries. Once done, I decide to pop in a TV dinner. It’s not often that I cook since it’s just me I have to feed. While I wait for my food to heat, I notice my phone flashing a notification. I grab it and lean back against the counter.
My breath catches when I recognize the number on the text message as the same one from this morning. I’m actually surprised he’s messaging me again. I’d figured it was a one-time deal. I mean, it’s been eight months and no word, so why now? But I can’t lie, seeing his number again sends pleasure racing through me. Is it wrong for me to be a little fascinated with an idea of the man he could be?
I notice the time on the message. He must have sent it right after I got home. Unknown: Did you have a good day at work?
I smile down at the message. I still feel extremely nervous about this new development, but I’m not going to let it deter me from trying to get to know the guy behind the flowers. I just hope he’ll be more forthcoming with his answers this time around. I play nice, trying to butter him up.
Me: I did, thank you. How was your day?
The microwave dings, and I take my food out, placing it on the counter as I wait for him to reply. Receiving these messages from a man I don’t know at all feels weird, but a school girl giddy sort of weird.
Unknown: It was good. Busy.
I pull the plastic covering off the black frozen dinner container and place it on a plate. Grabbing a bottle of water from the fridge, I carry everything to the living room, where I set it on the coffee table before taking a seat. My food is too hot, so I sit back and send my mystery man another message.
Me: Are you going to tell me who you are?
Unknown: Not yet.
I grit my teeth in frustration, done with this game.
Unknown: Tell me about your day.
Why in the hell should I do that? He won’t answer my questions. Why should I give him more information on me? I know that sounds childish and immature, but shit, I have a right to know who he is. Nevertheless, if I play this game, giving him just enough to keep the conversation going, he may slip and give me something I can use.
Me: I woke up, got dressed, went to work, left work, picked up some groceries and came home.
I drop my phone on the cushion beside me, still a little peeved, and pick up my plate. A minute later my phone chimes again.
Unknown: Are you always a wise-ass?
Me: Only when provoked.
Unknown: Hmm…and how have you been provoked?
What an ass.
Me: Are you serious? Really?
Unknown: Looking at my last message, I would say yes, I did ask you.
Me: Now who’s being the wise-ass?
I smirk to myself.
Unknown: You’re going to be a handful, aren’t you?
Me: I can’t believe you just said that to me.
Unknown: I only speak the truth.
Me: You’re definitely not helping your case. Who says that to a complete stranger? And why the hell would you think I’d ever let you touch me, in any way.
Unknown: You will in good time, Poppy. And when you do, believe me, you’ll want me stuffing every part of you.
Holy hell. This man knows no bounds. He’s really starting to piss me off, making such sick and ridiculous assumptions.
Unknown: Besides, you’re no stranger to me. There’s a lot I know about you, Beautiful.
But I don’t know dick about you, asshole, but it’s something I desperately want to rectify. As frustrating and cocky as he is, I really want to know him, consequences be damned.
Me: What do you know about me?
Unknown: That will be a conversation for another day.
I give up on eating. There’s no way I can stomach food now. I set my plate on the table and down some of my water.
Me: Tell me your name.
Unknown: How about I give you another letter instead?
Seriously? Are we in middle school or something?
Me: Don’t bother. I want a name.
Me: So, what? Am I supposed to call you Mr. AE?
Unknown: Again with the smart-mouth. I have so many plans for that mouth when we meet.
I roll my eyes, but can’t keep the small smile from my face.
Me: Keep talking like that and we won’t.
I take my plate to the kitchen, dump the microwave container in the trash and put the plate in the dishwasher. I walk to the bedroom and set the phone on the dresser as I start removing my jewelry so I can take a shower. My phone pings as I’m closing my jewelry box.
Unknown: Oh, we’re definitely going to meet. It’s inevitable.
Me: And how can you be so sure? You seem rather cocky and too self-assured for my taste.
Unknown: Because you’re mine.