Listen to Your Heart

Page 9


I nodded. Fresno—and its college—was about an hour farther down the hill.
“Oh, okay. Am I supposed to …” I looked around. To my right, there were chairs that formed a small waiting area.
“You can sit. Or come back in an hour.”
“I told her I’d stay.” I backed up and lowered myself into a chair.
Diego continued to stand behind the counter like he was guarding it.
“You don’t have to babysit me. I’ll read a magazine or something.” There were stacks of magazines on the coffee table beside me. I searched the spines for my favorite water sports one but didn’t see the standard green color.
“Full disclosure,” Diego said. “Those magazines are like three years old. So if you want to find out which celebrities were dating three years ago, be my guest.”
“That was exactly what I had hoped to find out today. It’s serendipity.” I plucked a magazine from the table. But it wasn’t celebrity gossip. It was a skating magazine. I raised my eyebrows and showed Diego the cover.
“Not serendipitous, after all,” he said.
“Who contributed this to the mix? You?” I reassessed him. He didn’t seem like the skater type, but really nobody seemed to fit into types anymore.
“That would be Tommy. You were trying to decide if it was me, though? You have quite the analyzing stare.”
“Really? That obvious?”
“Yes, kind of a squinty-eyed, silent judgment thing.”
“I’ll work on that.”
He smiled. “I didn’t say it was a bad thing.”
“So are any of these magazines your contributions, then?” There were five stacks of them, ten deep.
“Yes, I’ve brought a few.”
I nodded.
“Can you figure out which ones, silent judger?” he asked.
“You’re asking me to judge out loud? That won’t end well.”
He laughed. “Give it your best shot.”
I shrugged. This could be fun, to get to know the guy Alana liked. If they ended up dating, I’d have to hang out with him, too. I might as well make an effort. “All right. Let’s see …” I spread out the first stack. It consisted of a home decorating magazine, a cooking magazine, several celebrity gossip issues, a magazine about bodybuilding, one on science, one on traveling, another about scouting, and finally woodworking.
I stood up and walked over to Diego.
“Uh-oh, she’s in the game now,” he said.
“Let me see your hands.”
“My hands?”
“Yes, your hands. Hold them out.”
“Um … okay.” He held them out, palms down. He had nice hands, with long fingers and well-trimmed, clean nails.
“Flip them over.”
“Flip them over?”
“Are you going to repeat everything I say?”
He smirked and flipped his hands over.
He had a few minor calluses on the pads of his fingers but otherwise his hands weren’t worn or roughed up. I walked back to the table and moved the woodworking magazine off to the side. I also moved the bodybuilding magazine over because he didn’t have the body of a weight lifter. He was well built, but more lean and toned than beefy.
“Should I be insulted about that last move?” he asked.
“For sure,” I said. I dug into the other pile of magazines, which added some new options: fishing, entertainment, sports, parenting (which I quickly added to the discard pile), gaming, music, and cars. “I’m impressed with the wide variety of three-year-old magazines you keep here.”
“We have a diverse staff, who apparently don’t know how to throw things away.”
I laughed. “Are these magazines you still read today, or are they from thirteen-year-old Diego’s life?”
He squinted at the stacks. “Two I still read today … online. One is from my younger life.”
I pulled out the scouting magazine. “Younger Diego,” I said, plopping it in the middle of the table with confidence.
“That was an easy one.”
Now for the hard ones. I pulled out gaming, fishing, cars, sports, and science and stared at the covers like they could tell me who had spent time reading them. I remembered Diego’s clean nails and moved cars off to the side. I looked up at him again and took in his face. His skin was naturally tan, but I could see a lighter line of skin just under the collar of his shirt that showed some of his color was from spending time in the sun.
“This is intense,” he said, shifting under my gaze.
I dropped my eyes, realizing I was being obsessive about something he had probably thought was just a lighthearted game. “Um, the fishing is one, and the gaming, I guess, for the second,” I said in a rush, and then leaned back in my seat and tried to make up for my intensity by being the picture of chill.
A slow smile lit up his face, like he knew exactly what had just happened in my head. But he couldn’t know that, right? I maintained my relaxed position.
He came out from behind the counter and picked up the fishing magazine. “You were right about this one.” Then he picked up the gaming. “But when you gave up halfway through because you got embarrassed, you failed the second one.”
“I didn’t get embarrassed.”
“You totally did. You were like Sherlock one second and a person embarrassed to be Sherlock the next second.”
I laughed. “You couldn’t think of a contrast to Sherlock, could you?”
“I couldn’t.” He pointed to the four remaining magazines. “But … since none of your final selections were right for my second one, Sherlock, I won’t make you guess for real.”
He sat down in the seat next to me, riffled through the magazines, and pulled out the cooking one.
“Really?” I asked.
“I know, it’s like I’m a tiny bit interesting or something.”
I rolled my eyes. “For the record, I never said you weren’t interesting. But I know you walked in on the middle of a conversation between me and Alana. Perhaps it will be your lesson on eavesdropping.”
“Fair enough.”
“So you like to cook?”
“I do.”
“That’s cool.” Alana liked to cook, too. She specialized in Hawaiian dishes, but she loved all different kinds of food and trying new things to eat. As with a lot of things in my life, I didn’t go out on a limb with food; I preferred to play it safe.
I wondered if Alana knew Diego cooked. I’d have to tell her. “I didn’t realize how much insight the magazines someone reads can give into that person’s life,” I mused out loud.
“Really? What do you now know about me based on these magazines?” Diego asked, raising his eyebrows.
I tapped my fingers against my lips. “I know you like alone time, to think or ponder or speculate on the world, away from people. Maybe you’re a bit private.”
“Because I like to fish?”
“What if I go fishing with a bunch of friends?” he challenged.
“Do you?”
I smirked. “And cooking … that says to me that you like to try new things. You like to experiment and you have an adventurous side.” I really wasn’t sure about any of this. I was making some major generalizations based on very little knowledge.