Blind Date Teddy Bear (Page 8)

I grimaced and thought about what I’d actually been doing with my mouth.

Nikki, who knows me well enough to read my face like a book, said, “Oh, shit.”

I nodded. “Yep.”

“What? Did you blow him or f**k him?”

“Uh, both.”

She said, “I’m gonna shove my fist up his ass.”

The waitress refilling our coffee cups didn’t bat an eyelash or spill a drop.

After the waitress walked away, I said, “Please, let’s just pretend nothing happened. I’m so ashamed of myself.”

Nikki tapped a sugar packet thoughtfully. “Don’t be. Don’t ever be ashamed of going after what you want.” She looked up and gave me the sweetest smile, meant to comfort, but it set me off crying. “We really get the worst period emotions, don’t we?”

“We do!” I said between sobs. I’d been a late bloomer like her, puberty-wise, not getting my period until I was nearly sixteen. The cramps were so terrible that I’d gotten put on the pill by seventeen. Nikki was the same way, so she totally understood. Things were manageable after that, but still not great.

Once I calmed down, and we got our pancakes and sides of bacon, she fished all the information out of me, blow by blow, so to speak.

When I was done with my sad tale, she shook her head and said, “Trevor’s just like that. He’s a real on-the-go-go-go kinda guy.”

“Was the phone call for business, then?”

“I don’t know … uh … I don’t think we have anything out of the ordinary going on at work. Our last real estate purchase went through without a hitch, and we’re just applying for permits now. Hmm.” She twisted her lips from side to side. “It might be …”

I nodded, feeling a heaviness in my stomach that was more than the pancakes. “His ex-wife.”

She nibbled on her strawberry garnish and poked at the half pancake left on her plate. I’d eaten all of mine, because my period gives me intense carbohydrate cravings.

“They don’t have kids or anything,” she said. “You’d think it would be a clean break, right?”

“God, can you believe we’re so old we’re dating divorced guys?”

“Life is messy.”

I groaned and clutched my abdomen. “At least there’s always Midol.”

“And I love you.”

“Thanks. I feel like being mad at you for setting me up with Trevor, but you didn’t do anything wrong. I messed it up all on my own, by making myself too easy.”

She gave me an older-sister-wisdom look. “Just because you got na**d with him doesn’t mean you’re easy. There’s more to a woman than that. A smart man knows better.”

My voice bright and chirpy, I said, “At least he’s not g*y! I think my loser streak of dating bisexual men has been broken.”

She nodded, and I wondered if that had been her plan all along.

“Don’t rule Trevor out,” she said. “He may have gotten freaked. He’s a super nice guy. He’ll come around.” She patted my hand the way she always does when she’s totally lying to make me feel better. “I’m sure he’ll call.”

* * *

Brunch with my sister was Saturday. I spent the rest of the weekend on the couch, watching trash TV and eating breakfast cereal straight from the box.

My mother came in and shook her head at me and my pile of cereal crumbs. She muted the episode of Real Housewives and asked if we should invite Trevor for dinner Sunday.

I didn’t tell her he hadn’t called, and I’d been one-night-stand-dumped. I said, “I’m taking it slow.”

She pursed her lips and gave me a twinkly-eye look. “Is that why you slept over?”

“I slept on his couch,” I said. “Too much wine at dinner.”

She didn’t say anything, but her expression said she was silently agreeing to keep the facade. If Dad asked, she might pass along the fib, and he would likely play along as well. Then again, maybe he’d believe it. Dad probably thinks my sister and I are both virgins. As he should!

On Monday, I took the time to do my hair and makeup really great. As I stared at myself in the mirror, the blue hair I’d had for the last year or so didn’t seem right. Who could take a girl with blue hair seriously? Especially when she’s as tiny and young-looking as me.

Maybe that was why Trevor didn’t like me. If he was meeting corporate clients for business-social events, would he want a young girl with bright blue hair on his arm? How would that look?

I called in to work and let them know I needed a half-day for personal business. My work is really flexible, and I’d put in a lot of overtime the previous month, so it was no problem.

I phoned my hairdresser, who agreed to squeeze me in.

* * *

I walked into work with a smile on my face and my head held high. It helped that my cramps were gone and Aunt Flo was somewhat past the worst of it. Also, I looked stunning. My hairdresser had worked for hours to strip the blue from my hair, as well as the black chunks, and we’d settled on an array of natural-looking colors, from an autumn brown to some lighter, golden streaks. Some length had been sacrificed, because it was so damaged, but I was sporting a chin-length bob that looked like a million bucks.

When I walked into the office, everyone hooted and blew me kisses. They’re a crazy bunch, but they’re good people. After receiving their many compliments, I sat at my desk and declared war on my workload, war on my problems.

I work in the theater.

Okay, that sounded dramatic.

I work in the head office of a theater company, and if you want to think it’s glamorous, please do. We won’t discuss how I actually work in Accounts Receivable and do collection calls for about an hour a day. My job is to be sweet and lovable within the office, chipper and efficient with filing and making spreadsheets and reports for my boss, then I get on the telephone to people who owe us money and I act like (please pardon the vulgar expression) a cunt.

I phone people up and say, “You promised the check would be on my desk Monday, and today’s Monday, and I don’t see the check. Is it invisible? Is it microscopic? Oh, you forgot. Well, that’s no problem. I’ll send over a courier right now. Yes, I’ve just put in the order with our bike messenger service and he’ll be over to your office in … oh, about an hour. I hope you won’t keep the bike messenger waiting, or he’ll ask to use your bathroom, and you know those guys sprinkle all over the seat. What’s that? The check’s ready now? Wonderful! Thank you so much. Please call if I can be of further assistance to you.”

I’d just finished up a phone call with some people who owed us about two hundred dollars. Those people really annoyed me, because I had to spend at least two hours tracking them down for a measly two hundred bucks, which is a lot to an individual, but not very significant to a big company like ours. The waste was what annoyed me—that I had to spend my time chasing people down and spending my hours to get what we should have been paid for, on time.