All I Want

Page 14


“How’s that?”
“Well, I could really hit it off with…” Leaning in, I click on a guy’s information and scan it quickly before continuing. “…Steve from Bridgeport. And then I won’t be meeting you at all tomorrow. He likes going to the beach, and listening to country music. I like those things.”
I hear the sound of a chair scraping against a surface. “I’m not worried.”
“No? Maybe you should be. I’m quite a catch, and you’ve now made me aware of the thirty-seven other men interested in me.”
“Yeah, but they’re not me. You can go out with all thirty-seven of those guys and I’ll still be seeing you tomorrow. You and I both know that.”
His cockiness has me suddenly thinking of someone else and I go silent, no longer focusing on the faces in front of me. Arrogance works for Luke, but with any other guy, it just feels forced.
“You there? I gotta get back to work.”
I force a smile, trying to find the elated mood, which seems to have escaped me. “Yeah, sorry. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Hold on.” I hear muffled chatter, followed by, “I’ll be right there.” A door closes before he continues. “You’re going to want to party at this thing tomorrow, right?”
His question throws me off, but I suppose it’s justified. I didn’t really give him any specifics about what goes on at the summer bonfires.
“Oh yeah, definitely. There’s always a ton of booze and stuff there. Last year…”
“Great. I’ll see you then.”
The dial tone rings in my ear and I pull my phone away, staring at the screen, slightly irritated.
Well, that conversation had taken a weird turn.
Besides the sudden abruptness to get me off the line, what guy tells a girl he’s obviously interested in to go out with someone else? Even if it is to alleviate the nervousness I have coursing through my system. I could definitely hit it off with some guy tonight, and I suddenly want to. If only to prove Tyler wrong. He made it seem as if he were giving me permission to do it, and because this guy wouldn’t be him, there wouldn’t be a chance of it becoming anything.
What the fuck, dude?
I don’t need your permission to date. I’ve never even met you. Yes, you’ve already made me come, but that would’ve happened with or without your texts egging me on. You have zero ownership over me, so don’t fucking act like you do.
I’m more motivated now to meet up with a complete stranger tonight than I was when I signed up for this stupid dating site. And SteveMD looks very promising.
I click on his profile, open up the message box, and begin typing with a newfound purpose.

TK12: Hi, SteveMD. I saw you wanted to connect with me. I didn’t know if you were free to meet up tonight, but I am.
I so fucking am.
I press send and grab a water bottle and some grapes out of the fridge. A ding comes from the direction of my computer and I scurry back over, sitting down and placing my snack on the desk.
SteveMD: Hi, Tessa. I’m really glad to hear from you. I was afraid you had already met someone, since you haven’t logged on in over a week.
Yeah, well, Tyler might be a complete dud.
TK12: I’ve just been really busy.
SteveMD: I get that. I’d love to meet up tonight. I saw you’re in Ruxton. That’s only thirty minutes from me. Where do you want to meet?
Somewhere with a lot of people, just in case the MD stands for Murderous Dickhead.
TK12: Do you mind driving here? There’s this really good sports bar that just opened up in town. Joe’s Pub.
SteveMD: Not at all. That sounds great. I just need to line up a sitter for my kids and then I can get on the road.
Oh, sweet. A family man. SteveMD just got hotter.
TK12: Aww, you have kids? How many?
SteveMD: Two. They’re my entire life. I can probably leave my house around seven thirty. Is that too late for you?
TK12: Nope. I’ll meet you around eight.
SteveMD: Can’t wait. I’ll see you tonight.
Yes, you certainly will.
I purposely show up early to dinner, parking near the entrance so I’ll be able to eye up Steve when he arrives. Considering the fact that we didn’t do the whole “send me a selfie” confirmation, I need to make sure this guy somewhat resembles his profile picture before I waste a perfectly good outfit on him. I pull my visor down and check my hair and makeup for the tenth time in the past five minutes, when a car’s headlights grab my attention.
Flipping the visor up, I watch as the SUV pulls into a parking spot and cuts off his lights. A man steps out, straightening his tie, and lifts his head the slightest bit, allowing me to see his face. He runs a hand through his thick, dark hair and closes his door before walking toward the entrance. It’s definitely him, thank God, and I’m kinda loving the fact that he dressed up for this. After he disappears inside the restaurant, I grab my clutch and exit my car, ready for my first official online date.
I picked Joe’s Pub because I knew it would be packed on a Friday night. I want a crowd; something to blend into in case this guy disinterests me completely. And to have some witnesses, in case he turns out to be a psychopath. Some baseball game is playing on all the giant TV screens, and a group of men are congregating in front of the one hanging above the bar, drinking and exchanging alcohol-induced conversations. Almost every high-top table is occupied as I scan the room, finally landing on Steve who is smiling at me from his stool.
He stands when I reach the table. “Hi, wow, you look great.” Unexpectedly, he leans down and presses his lips against my cheek.
“Oh, um, thank you.” I flatten my hand against his dress shirt, closing my eyes and inhaling his cologne. These are the first lips that have been on me in twelve months, but my body is responding as if it’s been twelve years. My breath catches somewhere between my chest and my throat, lodging itself there. When he ends the kiss, I drop my head to hide my flush, then pull my stool out and take a seat as he does the same.
He slides a menu across the table, smiling. “So, I need to be upfront with you about something.”
“Okay,” I reply with apprehension as I open my menu. If this guy drops the married bomb in my lap, I will not be held responsible for my actions.
“I’m not twenty-eight like my profile says. I’m thirty-three.”
“Why would you lie about that?” I hear the slight tinge of anger in my voice and see him react to it. Strike one.
He swallows, dropping his gaze to the table. “I had my actual age on there for a while and didn’t get one date. So I did a little experiment and dropped a few years, then all of a sudden, my inbox is flooded with requests.” He looks up at me. “I hope age isn’t a deal breaker for you.”
“No, but lying doesn’t really work for me.”
He frowns, nervously tugging at the knot in his tie. “I’m sorry. I should’ve told you earlier when you messaged me. I didn’t lie about anything else on there.”
I drop my eyes to the menu, scanning the choices of wing flavors I no longer want to consume. Is every guy a complete tool? His hand covers mine, prompting me to lift my gaze. “What?”
“I’m really sorry. If you don’t want to go out with me again, I get that. At least let me show you a good time tonight. I swear, I’m not an asshole. I’m just lonely.”