Mr. Times (tentatively titled)
Something for the Trust Issues readers. Finally got some extra time on my hands and I’ve started something new for you guys :) Let me know if you like it, I’m not quite sure about it yet.
I was having one of those days where you break a heel walking down the sidewalk, forget your cellphone on your bed, and find out your favorite shirt shrunk in the dryer within the span of a couple hours. So, understandably, when my newly-bought groceries fell through the bottom of their paper bag and hit my toes, I spewed out a stream of curses my mother would’ve have my head for.
“I always admire a woman who can speak her mind.”
I didn’t even have time to turn my head around to see who’d spoken. My knees were halfway to the ground as I grabbed at green peppers, apples, a quart of milk, and a pint of Rocky Road before the dirty sidewalk soiled them too badly.
“Excuse my French,” I responded breathlessly, even as the stranger kneeled down across from me and helped me out. He looked up at me and smiled. He had a handsome face; strong, confident. Dark black hair, caramel skin, and a killer smile.
“In a hurry?” He asked, almost seductively.
“Um, a little.” I admitted, awkwardly trying to stand with half of the grocery items cradled in my arms. “I have to take these back to the house, and then I’m supposed to be meeting some friends for lunch in about ten minutes, so I guess I’m already late.”
He stood, too, carrying the rest of the items. He grinned at my babbling, the deliciously prickly facial hair around his lips wrinkling with smile lines.
“Well my car is just around the corner—I can drive you to wherever you need to go. I promise I can get you there on time.”
My own smile faltered a bit. What was I thinking? Gorgeous guys didn’t look at me that way and offer me rides. He was probably some psychopath looking to throw me into the back of his van. I’d seen Criminal Minds; I knew how those things worked.
“Thanks, but I don’t take rides from strangers.” I offered him one last smile and began walking away, trying my best to keep my dignity even as the jug of milk slipped from my grasp and burst when it made contact with the concrete.
And there he was again, jogging to keep up with me. Smiling, always smiling. He was starting to irk me.
“Look, I know you’re probably thinking ‘who is this guy and what does he want’, but you see, I was raised to love women. Not just sexually or romantically, but as a species, as a whole and an individual.” His grin widened, even as he quickened his pace to keep eye contact with me. I shot him a quizzical look. “Now I see that you’re having a bad day—a damn bad day, at that, and I hate that for you. You don’t deserve that. So let me help you make this day run a little bit smoother not because I’m trying to get into your pants, but because you deserve it.”
I smirked—couldn’t help it. “Nice speech. Does that usually work for you?”
He let out a laugh. “You’re smiling aren’t you?”
Against my will, my smile widened. “Don’t let that fool you.”
“Do you want to go out sometime?” He asked, eyes glistening. I could feel the confidence rolling off of him in waves. It was almost unnatural.
“I-I don’t know,” I ducked my head, hiding behind my hair. The house was coming up, and I sped up my pace even faster. “This is me,” I said quickly.
“Wait!” He called behind me, but I was already running up the steps and slamming the door behind me.
“Ughhh,” I groaned, pushing the heels of my hands to my eyes. “Every time.” I sighed.
Shoving the encounter to the back of my mind, I put what was left of the groceries away and hurried back out the door moments later. I almost stepped on the note that was left behind.
Beneath a $100 bill was a note with sweeping handwriting scrawled diagonally across its surface.
To make up for the groceries. – Damien
Below that was a phone number, next to which read, Just in case.
I couldn’t help but smile. How egotistical.
A couple minutes later, I arrived at the restaurant. “Come on, guys. We’re in public.” I joked, sitting down at the table with Frankie and Jonah. They’d been sucking face at the table, not unlike them at all in recent weeks. Still, it took some getting used to on my part.
“You’re late,” Frankie said simply, pulling away from Jonah. She was 4’11 with freckles and short brown hair pulled back from her face by a colorful scarf. At first look, she was as harmless as a Christmas elf, but after spending a bit of time with her, it was clear she had a temper as hot and unpredictable as a southwestern summer.
She and Jonah were like night and day, literally. In contrast to her fair, almost white skin, Jonah’s was dark and smooth. He wore a lot of button downs and fedoras had an easy sense of humor and a laid-back personality that let things happen as they may. He played the trumpet for a band called Summer Afternoons and was also the newest roommate in the house Frankie and I shared.
“Only by five minutes.” He sighed, resting his arm on Frankie’s chair. “You look shaken up, though. Are you alright?”
Damn. Must have showed on my face.
“I met this guy today,” I admitted. “He was kind of an asshole but kind of amazing at the same time.”
Frankie grinned and leaned her elbows on the table, looking intrigued. Part of me wanted to remind her that those were bad manners.
“And?” She insisted.
“And nothing.” I shrugged. “It’s not like I’m going to see him again. I mean even if I did, what would he want with me?”
“What wouldn’t he want with you?” Frankie grinned. “Young, sexy, art student with Pocahontas hair and those big ‘ole doe eyes. Please.”
“Not to mention that warm and fuzzy personality of yours,” Jonah added with a grin.
I ducked my head, smiling bashfully. “You’re too kind. But really, it’s fine. I’m fine. Can we just forget about it?”
Frankie waved her hands in a fluttering motion, her way of saying “on to the next”. “You got my Rocky Road, right?”
I bit my lip. Surprisingly, the ice cream was one of the few things I managed to get back to the house. “Got it.” I assured her. Hopefully she wouldn’t want any milk.
The next morning, I woke up, showered, dressed, grabbed a pop tart, and my big bag of cleaning supplies. It was time to go to work.
I opened the door slowly, trying not to wake up Frankie and Jonah; they both worked in the afternoons, something they taunted me about relentlessly. I was halfway onto the porch when I saw him standing there.
“Oh my God!” I nearly fell back through the door. Damien was standing at the bottom of the steps, looking up at me as innocently as if I’d requested him to wait there. He was dressed in a light gray suit that looked more expensive than my college tuition. “How long have you been standing there?” I demanded, stomping down the three steps to get to him.
“Only an hour,” He shrugged. “You know, people-watching.”
I raised my eyebrows, realizing what a psycho he really was. “That’s it. I’m calling the police.” I reached into my purse, digging for my cellphone. He reached out and touched my hand, making me flinch backward.
“You know, all women are the exact same way.” He laughed, shaking his head in exasperation. “You constantly talk about wanting a guy to sweep you off your feet. How you want him to drop out of the sky like rain and change your whole life. But when a guy tries to be that for you—when he pursues you in the honest wish to get to know you—you assume he must be crazy. You settle for average because you’re afraid of the amazing.”
I stared at him in disbelief. “You really are full of it.”
“Am I?” He asked, raising an eyebrow.
I let out a half-growl, half scream and pushed past him, my frustration welling up inside of me, ready to blow. How dare he! He was standing in front of my house, and he wanted to accuse me of settling for average? “You know what, you’re the average one!” I called back over my shoulder. An elderly woman walking past glared at me.
Once again, he jogged to catch up with me. “Stop! Would you just stop for a minute?” He yelled.
“If you want to talk to me, you’ll have to keep up.” I replied coolly, keeping my eyes trained forward.
“You’ve got me running in a three-thousand dollar suit, woman.” He grumbled.
“Well maybe you shouldn’t pay so much for suits if all you do is wait outside people’s houses to lecture them.” I snapped. “I mean who pays that much for a suit anyway?”
“Someone who can afford it.” He replied simply.
I shot a glare at him. “For someone who’s trying to apologize, you suck at it.”
He snorted. “Who said I’m trying to apologize?”
I rolled my eyes.
“Look, can you just stop for five seconds? I wanted to ask you something.”
I stopped and turned to him with my arms crossed. “What?”
He ran his fingers through his hair and took a moment to catch his breath. “What are you doing later?”
“Oh, you are unbelievable.” I shook my head. “I have to work. People who can’t afford to spend thousands of dollars on one suit have to work.”
“Well, what do you do?” He asked, looking to be sincerely interested.
I sighed. “I clean houses.”
He cracked a smile. “Well perfect. I was just thinking that I could use a housekeeper.”
“I’m not a housekeeper.” I clarified. “I only do monthly and bi-weekly cleans.”
“Well how much money would it take for you to become my full-time housekeeper?”
I smirked. “You can’t afford me.”
“Two-thousand a day.” The number rolled off of his tongue effortlessly. He didn’t even think about it. “I can go higher.”
I was feeling light-headed; I tried to breathe as I did the math. “You’re willing to pay me twenty thousand dollars a month? To clean your house?”
“Not including weekends,” He grinned.
I shook my head, flabbergasted. “I don’t even work weekends.”
“Just Sunday,” He reasoned, his eyes blazing into mine beneath his lashes.
I could barely concentrate, but I managed to respond. “When do I start?”