Lucy poised her fingers dangerously over the screen of her phone. What difference did it make? If she texted or didn’t? He wouldn’t answer.
Before she could stop herself, she put the phone back in bag, burying it deep in a pocket beneath a cluster of gum wrappers, receipts, and an old compact she’d received for free after subscribing to a magazine she barely paged through anymore.
Where was this guy? Lucy leaned forward on the stiff upholstered bench to glance out the glass door. She ignored the judgmental stare of the hostess. Screw the hostess. Lucy had put her name down for a table for two because, dammit, there would be two of them.
Because this guy would show, right?
She felt her hand reaching almost unconsciously for the phone again. To check the time. Check for missed texts or emails. The guy had her number. He would call if he was running late, wouldn’t he?
Lucy would call. Which wasn’t to say she needed a guy who would do what she would do, she just wanted to know where she stood because God knows dating was awful enough already without the constant doubt that the person you were with even wanted to be with you at that moment or had torn himself away from a particularly good sitcom or was only doing this because his sister said it was time to settle already or who knows what else.
Without realizing it, she had started scrolling through her Facebook feed. There were the same updates as there had been 45 seconds ago (the baby of that girl from high school was still adorable, that old co-worker was still waiting for his delayed flight, that tramp from her old dorm still thought it was appropriate to post photos of herself she had taken in the mirror), and she stopped herself before she got the post that had caught her eye last time. His post.
A completely innocuous “so-and-so has read an article about an oil spill” update. Like she cared. Well, she cared about the oil spill, that was tragic. But she didn’t care who read it. She didn’t care what he read. She couldnt-
Lucy’s head snapped up, her eyes blinking rapidly to adjust to a world not depicted on a 2-by-3-inch screen. (Maybe there was something to those articles saying you couldn’t spend your life on a computer or a smart phone without going blind?)
“Oh, hi! Ralph, right?” She popped up, mentally chiding herself for appearing so pathetically eager, and giggled slightly (another subconscious scolding for that) as she held out her hand to shake his. Did you shake hands on dates? A kiss hello felt too intimate, a big wave too juvenile.
“That’s me!” Ralph confirmed, grinning broadly as he took her hand. “Were you waiting long? Traffic was horrible.”
Lucy smiled, her somewhat dormant dating instincts kicking in and serving her better than she would have thought.
“Oh, only a few minutes,” she said with another breathy laugh. That was a lie. Unless his definition of “a few minutes” was 22 minutes in her car in the parking lot waiting for it to be an appropriate time to go in and another 14 in the lobby on the uncomfortable bench while being silently judged by the oh-no-I’m-just-naturally-skinny hostess.
So, yeah. Probably a lie.
Lucy was somewhat gratified to see the hostess’s eyes widen in appreciation at the sight of Ralph. Even Lucy had to admit Ralph was attractive. Tall, muscular, great head of hair. He could be downright dreamy in the right context. Certainly made up for that dismal name.
They slid into the booth the hostess indicated with a limp gesture. Lucy shot her a victorious smirk before sipping politely on the glass of water a busboy filled in front of her.
Lucy mentally steeled herself for what would happen next. The initial assault: small talk on a first date.
“I was reading the most interesting article today at lunch,” Ralph started. She admired someone who could start a conversation without waiting for her to say, “So, [insert name here], what do you do?”
“Oh?” She looked up from the menu, hoping her expression conveyed genuine interest.
“It was all about those horrible oil spills down south.”
And there it was. Him. Again. Thrown in her face. Accidentally, she had to assume, based on the fact that Ralph didn’t know Him or how He had been part of Lucy life. Ralph couldn’t know. But the fact was, Ralph had officially invited him to dinner, and Lucy would spend the next hour and a half making comparisons Ralph couldn’t help but lose.