Ah, the best laid plans, as they say. I thought I would put up the last installment tomorrow, but it started writing itself and I think it intends to be longer. 🤨 (What?!) So, this installment makes up for missing one last night and I will try to get another one written for later this evening, but can make no promises. I, as always, appreciate your reading!
You can read the previous parts here. Thank you and I hope you enjoy!
Bump in the Road
Lucia’s was decorated festively, with multi-colored lights and green garland twined around columns. Old Christmas standards played softly. Frank Sinatra’s voice crooned The Christmas Waltz as Adam and Mary sat, comfortable in each other’s company.
To say Adam felt hopeful was an understatement, although why he should have worried about the progress of the evening, he didn’t know. It wasn’t like he and Mary had ever had an argument. There was teasing, always teasing, which, he realized, kind of fed into her assumption that they had a brother-sister relationship at least on her part.
“Dessert?” he asked. “The cannolis are good.”
She shook her head. “I love cannolis, but they dip the shells in chocolate here and I’m just not a fan.”
“Maybe you should try them tonight,” he suggested.
“They might be different.”
They ordered coffee and dessert and when it was served, the cannoli shells were without chocolate. Mary glanced up at him.
“How did you know?” she asked.
“Some insider knowledge,” he said. “Enjoy.”
She grinned then took a bite, obviously savoring the ricotta and pistachio-filled pastry as her eyes closed and she made “mmming” sounds. He smiled, delighted that she was pleased, but it never took much with Mary. That was one thing he loved about her. She thrived on life itself. She didn’t need things to make her happy.
“These are nothing short of miraculous. I have a feeling you planned this,” she said, pointing her finger at him. “How did you know I didn’t like it dipped in chocolate?”
“Sometimes I pay attention,” he said.
Her face grew thoughtful, but not in a good way. Suddenly she avoided his eyes making him wonder if he had said something wrong. What could be wrong with paying attention to the likes and dislikes of someone you care about?
Twenty minutes later they were outside. Light snow was falling, making the twinkling fairy lights along the road look like a Christmas wonderland. Adam noticed that Mary wasn’t taking it in the way she had before. She was still thoughtful, and he waited, feeling disappointed.
She grabbed his hand to halt their progress toward the car. She stared into his eyes and for a moment he thought she might kiss him. Instead, she shook her head, her eyes sad. Averting her face momentarily, she gazed into the distance as if giving herself courage before she continued.
“I had a great time tonight,” she said.
“But, I can’t lie to you. I think if we were meant to be together, we would have been by now. I enjoy your company and I really don’t want to lose you as a friend.”
“You’re not attracted to me,” he said bluntly.
Her eyes searched his face. “I’ve spent so much time thinking of you as a brother—”
He held his hand up, shaking his head. “What do I have to do to make you see me as a man and not a brother?”
A passerby’s mouth fell open as she hurried by them, her brown eyes huge in her narrow face.
Adam looked at her. “I’m not her brother. I’m in no way related to her.”
The woman’s pace quickened. She shook her head, waving her hand above her head. “Ain’t none of my business.”
When he turned back to Mary, she was grinning, like the playful Mary, not the serious one of seconds ago. “That was funny.”
“Yeah. Right,” Adam said, but he did feel a little lighter. “So, is there anything I can do to convince you to give us a try?”
She took his hand in hers. He liked the softness of her skin, even though her fingers were achingly cold. He smothered them between both of his hands to warm them. Carefully she watched him, her eyes pensive. Rubbing her hands, he smiled.
“I have to be honest and maybe it will sound stupid, but I need zing.”
“Zing,” he repeated doubtfully, his smile falling away.
“Yes. Butterflies in the stomach and, erm, you know…well, zing.”
Sex, he thought. She seriously wasn’t attracted to him. “So you aren’t attracted to me.”
“Come on, Adam. I told you—”
“—I’m like a brother.”
“Right. Now you got it. Please don’t feel bad. I’d hate for us to not be friends.”
“Not going to happen,” he assured her. Now he just had to figure out how to make her see him differently.
end 12/22/2017 Sascha Darlington