# 17 and the finale
Did I Say That I Want You?
That weekend was a gift that disappeared too quickly. Back in DC, I use all of my free time to fill in applications online. I’ve found an apartment, which, although on the small side, will suit me. While I hope that Steve will be part of my new life in Virginia Beach, I’m not taking it for granted, or sharing the news with him just yet because why disappoint him?
Okay, you know me well. I’m a coward, which is one trait I have to expel and I am trying on a daily basis. I’m doing one of those things where you try a new thing every day. Yes, some of my new things are a little pathetic, like walking two blocks out of my way to get to work, but it’s all baby steps, especially for a big baby like me.
Ultimately I end up with two jobs, one receptionist and one dog-walking. The dog-walking actually pays more than the receptionist. I’m thinking it will be more fun too.
Sarah drives with me. She’s impressed that I’ve made the decision, but not half as impressed as I am. Go me!
“Have you told Steve?” she asks.
She laughs. “What did he say?”
“That it was a big step for me to make and he hoped that I would be happy with it.”
“Huh,” she says. “Nothing about him being happy? Or welcoming? Or . . .”
I shake my head. “Nope. Big fat nada.”
I glance out the window, staring at the trees on I-64. “It’s okay though. You know. I really am doing this for me. I want a slower life than DC. I want a community.”
Sarah pats my arm. “I am so proud of you. Think of all of the new people you’ll meet.”
Terrific. New people. Grams and Sarah will still be in the DMV. I’ll be alone.
“Crap, what have I done?”
“Don’t you dare back down now. You can’t. You have new jobs. An apartment. It’s going to be cool. And I will visit so often it will feel like you have a roommate,” she says, laughing.
She increases the volume on the radio as Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe” begins playing. I guess that’s what I need to do: just breathe.
Two hours later we pull up in front of my apartment building. I look around because Steve said he would meet us there. There’s a clean-shaven man leaning against a blue pickup truck, but I don’t see anyone else. Maybe he changed his mind or had something else to do or maybe he just didn’t really want to see me. Once more my eyes sweep the lot just in case I missed him. The man leaning against the pick-up has his arms folded as he watches me.
“Oh, my god,” I say.
He grins. He was hiding a beautiful face underneath that beard.
He approaches, while rubbing his hand over his jaw.
“You like?” he asks.
“Yes and no.”
“I think you need to grow it back,” I say.
“I thought you’d like it.”
“I do, but now I’ll have to beat all the women off with a stick and I am such a pacifist.”
He laughs and hugs me.
“Oww,” I say as his hand clamps on my bandage.
“What happened to your arm?” he asks.
I undo the gauze slightly and show him.
“Kind of. I thought I could grit it out, but I chickened out instead. It’s the outline of a heart.”
“And two letters. ST.”
I feel myself blush.
“My little wimp,” he says, carefully embracing me. “You did it for me?”
“All of this sweetness makes me want to vomit,” Sarah says.
A man snorts and I look over to see who else but Clayton?
This feels right. All of it. Even my smile that I see reflected on Steve’s face, his handsome face. I find myself missing his beard. In the past few months I’ve learned a lot of things, but the big one I have learned so very definitely is that you can’t judge a book by its cover.
End of Snooty and the Book Cover