Authors: Mimi Strong
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #New Adult & College, #Romantic Comedy
(Drew and Meenie)
© 2014 Mimi Strong
A BAKER STREET ROMANCE
Each book in the Baker Street series is a stand-alone, complete book, focusing on one couple. The stories are linked and may be read in any order. COMPLICATED GIRL is the second book in the series. Book 1 is BLUE ROSES (Luca and Tina)
I’m trying to focus on the menu, but I’m too giddy, which is weird for me. I don’t blush. I don’t get butterflies. Not over some guy.
But here I am, and my stomach feels fluttery. Maybe it’s indigestion, from the barbecue ribs I had for lunch. Sure, we’ll say it’s that, and not that I’ve gone soft and turned into a girlie girl.
The waitress comes by, and we tell her we need more time.
tells her we need more time. I just stare across the table in wonder. Something’s happening with me and a cute guy, and it’s happening right now. I feel so girlie, I may even bite my lower lip.
After the waitress walks away, the cute guy tilts his head to the side and
looks at me. I tilt my head to mirror him and do the same.
He’s got long hair, for a guy. It’s not long enough for a ponytail, which is good, because no self-respecting guy should wear a ponytail. When you’re wrestling, it’s too easy to grab the ponytail and crush his face into the mat.
This guy’s cute, though. Okay, so he’s a little on the short side, but other than that, he’s perfect.
Perfect… except for the goatee.
But besides the long hair, the shortness, and the goatee, he’s perfect.
My date and I are at Delilah’s Cafe, sharing a meal. I didn’t even know his name an hour ago, and now I’m having dinner with Duncan, the owner of Sweet Caroline Antiques.
Is he picking out my flaws, too? Is he noticing that one of my green eyes is a little higher than the other, and the tip of my nose isn’t quite straight? My mother had difficulty pushing me out, and it deviated my septum at birth. My sister was born by C-section, so her nose is perfect, plus she had a lovely round head that everyone admired—or so I’ve heard. Aunt Jane carries on about my perfect sister a lot.
Duncan’s eyes, which are nearly the same green as mine, make their way to the top of my head, then follow my wavy brown hair down to my shoulders. He stares at my chest just long enough for me to know that he’s noticed I have boobs, but not long enough to mentally undress them.
Now he’s looking at my chin. What’s so interesting about my chin? I wish he’d look at my boobs a little more. What do girlie girls do in a situation like this? Move their arms and squeeze the boobs together? I can’t do that. I’m surprised to even be here.
I sure wasn’t expecting this whole
thing when I stopped into the antiques store right after closing the flower shop for the day. I only went in to welcome them to the street, and see if they had any special vases, because sometimes customers turn their noses up at the inexpensive ones we carry.
Duncan showed me what he had in the way of vases—which wasn’t much—and then he asked me on a date.
Well, technically, he asked me if Delilah’s was any good for dinner, and then technically I asked
on a date, but when I tell my sister about all of this, I’ll leave that part out.
Then again, maybe I won’t tell my sister about this. She’ll give me that look of pity, and I don’t want her pity.
Tina has always been lucky with guys. They take one look at her, and fall deeply in love. It was just a few months ago, in the spring, when Luca Lowell first came to Baker Street with his garage. Little did he know he was going to suffer a love-lobotomy.
Luca took one look at my perfect, gorgeous sister, and then part of his brain just pulled away from the rest and walked right out his ear and down into his pants. Or maybe the missing brains went into his heart. I don’t know what happens to guys when they get that stupid look on their faces, because it never happens to me.
Luca had it bad, though. He even came into the flower shop and personally hand-sold a thousand dollars’ worth of flowers, just so Tina could take the next morning off and have brunch with him.
I have to give him credit: It was a pretty sweet trick. And I like the guy. We’re buds now.
Now I’m in the same restaurant where Tina and Luca had their first date. Is this a sign? A good omen? Is my losing streak over?
I stare across the table at Duncan’s green eyes, and I wonder… is he the one? I sure hope Duncan’s not one of those insecure guys who can’t take a joke. Those guys are the worst. My last sorta-boyfriend said I was always emasculating him. I told him to grow some balls, and then also grow some hair on the balls. He didn’t think that was funny.
After we broke up, I sent him a box of tampons by mail. He didn’t think was funny, either.
No sense of humor.
Most guys do not get me, but I have a feeling Duncan is different. Back in the antiques store, he made a crack about handjobs and stepmothers. His joke made me feel uncomfortable, and I liked it.
I’m all about personal growth, and getting out of my comfort zone. That’s why I’m going to a self-help group, and trying to take more risks in life. That’s why I asked Duncan out on a date, even though he’s short and has a goatee.
I’m looking forward to telling my self-help group about this date. Some of the people there would never be brave enough to ask someone out for dinner. My heart just aches for people who won’t take a risk.
One of the older guys in the group told me last week that my honesty has helped him a lot. He gave me a big hug, and in his wrinkly arms, I felt like maybe I’d found my reason for being on this planet. I felt like maybe all the loneliness and time with my thoughts was actually worth something.
The waitress comes back, and Duncan orders a pizza with onions and roasted garlic.
So much for a makeout session later.
I smile politely and order a plain cheese pizza.
After the waitress walks away, Duncan says, “All that time with the menu, and you order a plain cheese pizza?”
“You’re on a date with a girl and you order onions and garlic?”
His green eyes crinkle at the corners. “This is a date?”
His words feel like a slap across my face.
He’s making fun of me.
Suddenly, I feel disgusting and ugly. I never was the pretty girl that guys liked. I’m the late-night booty call. I’m the one they might settle for, just for now.
The butterflies inside me turn into a marching army of little green soldiers, stabbing me in the guts with bayonets.
What was I thinking? I must be wearing a cosmic Kick Me sign that everyone but me can see.
“No, it’s not a date,” I snap back. “It’s an interview to be my new gay bestie, but I don’t think you’re gay enough.” I mean to sound sarcastic and witty, like someone on an HBO comedy, but my words come out like they’re drenched in venom. “You own an antiques store, so you must be gay, right? I thought gays had good fashion sense, so what’s up with the goatee?”
It’s happening again.
He turns his head to the side, giving me a suspicious look. “Megan, what did you say your nickname was?”
Wishing I hadn’t mentioned it back at the antiques store, I swallow and say softly, “Meenie. My sister’s name is Tina, so we’re Teenie and Meenie. It’s a rhyming thing, not because I’m not mean.”
He blinks. “I didn’t say you
No, he didn’t say it, but now he’s thinking it.
I can see it all over his face.
I look down at the table, avoiding his scrutiny. “People like to say I’m mean. But that’s just because they’re insecure and can’t take a joke.”
“Is that so?” he says calmly.
I can feel the attitude running through my body, making my head twitch to the side. “Most people can’t take a joke, or the truth, for that matter. But I can take it. I wish more people were honest, and got to the point. Small talk is the worst.”
He’s quiet, so I glance up to see his reaction. I’m hoping he’ll laugh and agree with me, but he doesn’t. He’s not a cool dude like Luca. Not many guys are.
Duncan picks up his import beer and takes a long swallow straight from the bottle. It’s a light beer. Shit. That should have been my first clue he was the sensitive type. Or vain. Or both.
He keeps his green eyes open and on me the whole time he drinks.
I look around for the waitress. “Wow, I am so hungry. We should order some nachos.”
He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and sets the bottle down carefully.
“You must do some really nice flower arrangements at the shop,” he says.
“We do. Why?”
“Because that attitude of yours would drive you out of business if you didn’t. I wouldn’t hire you to sweep my floors, much less talk to customers.” He pauses to let the words sink in, then says, “How’s that for some truth,
This date is over. I push my chair back and dig through my purse for some money. I toss some bills on the table and get to my feet.
I open my mouth to tell him I just remembered that I have a group therapy meeting tonight, and I can’t stay for dinner after all.
But all that comes out is, “You’re short, and your goatee makes your mouth look like a lady’s privates.”
I turn and walk out of Delilah’s as fast as I can without running.
Outside, I turn down the side street and pick up the pace.
I mutter under my breath, “What the hell, Meenie? Why do you have to be so aggressive? No wonder you don’t have any friends or a boyfriend. You’re hopeless. You thought you were making progress with your stupid self-help group, but you’re getting worse and worse every day. You should just give up and stop trying. Go to a shelter and get a dozen rescue cats and be done with it.”
I keep walking and muttering to myself like the unhinged and unlovable person that I am.
I get home, walk in the door, and toss myself face down on the sofa. The pillows smell like my mother’s perfume.
Sadness burns in my lungs. I miss my mother, who’s traipsing around Europe like she’s Julia Roberts on a magical zero-calorie pasta binge.