Give Us a Chance
I haven’t even said a word to her and my heart’s already beating faster. I feel nervous, and I’m never nervous. Even when I was doing all those interviews on TV last fall, I never got nervous.
“Hey, Ivy,” I say, trying to sound cool and relaxed.
“No,” she says, keeping her head down as she picks up a piece of sandpaper.
“No, I’m not going out with you.”
Shit. How did she know that’s why I came over here?
“I didn’t ask,” I say.
“No, but you were about to.” She leans down more, lightly sanding the edge of the book in her picture, creating the look of pages. Damn, that’s incredible. I’m seriously amazed by her talent.
“I was just coming over to say hello,” I tell her. “We haven’t talked since the Victorian. How have you been?”
“Good.” She flips her ponytail to her other shoulder, exposing her neck. I’d love to run my lips down that neck. Down that smooth, perfect skin. My eyes shift down to her shirt, a black v-neck t-shirt that fits close to her body.
“Was that it?” She catches me staring at her breasts and stands up, looking annoyed with me. That’s just great. I’ve been here less than a minute and already screwed this up.
“Good? That’s all you have to say?”
She sets the sandpaper down and crosses her arms over her chest. “What do you want to know?”
“How was your Christmas?”
She’s staring at me like that’s the lamest question ever asked. Considering Christmas was weeks ago, it is a lame question, but it’s the first thing that popped in my head.
“Let me guess,” I say, since she hasn’t answered. “It was good.”
She starts to smile, but then quickly shuts it down. “Yeah.” She shrugs. “Actually, that’s a lie. It sucked. But it’s like that every year so…” Her voice trails off and when she sees the questioning look on my face, she explains, “My mom died at Christmas. It was years ago, but still.”
“Shit, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked.” I rake my hand through my hair, which I tend to do when I’m nervous or uncomfortable.
“It’s okay. You didn’t know.” She smiles slightly, but then it disappears again. “Well, I need to get back to work.”
Why is she always telling me to get lost? I know she doesn’t have a boyfriend. I need to try this again, using a different approach. Nash and Callie are right. My usual techniques aren’t going to work this time.
“So do you like to eat?” I ask.
It’s such a strange question that she laughs a little. “Yeah. Why?”
“Let’s go out tonight. It’s on me.”
“I told you I’m not going out with you.”
“It’s not a date. It’s just two people eating dinner. You said you like to eat, right?”
“And if I were to say yes, which I’m not, where would you take me?”
I pause to think. “A little place just down the street from here.”
“Titiana’s? The Mexican place?”
I shake my head. “No. This place serves American food.”
“Just tell me.”
“It’s a little place called…” I pause for dramatic effect. “Burger King.”
She bursts out laughing, which is what I was hoping for. I wanted to hear her laugh. I like her laugh. “Burger King? That’s where you’d take a girl on a date?”
“It’s not a date, remember? And what’s wrong with Burger King? Flame-broiled burgers. And you get to have it your way. Extra pickles. No mustard. Whatever you want.”
She laughs again. I’ve decided this is my approach with her. Humor. And saying the unexpected. It seems to be working.
“I can’t go there,” she says. “I’m vegan.”
“Really? I didn’t know that. So we’ll go somewhere else. Where do vegans eat?”
“I’m not going out with you, Jake.”
“Is it because of the jacket?” I glance down at it. “Because I have other jackets if this one offends you.”
She gives me a funny look like she doesn’t know what I mean.
“It’s leather,” I say. “I assumed if you’re vegan you don’t like leather?”
“Oh, um, yeah.” She nods. “That’s right. No leather.”
I smile. “So I’ll switch coats and meet you there at six.”
“Sorry, but it’s not happening.” She turns back to her project.
I’ll have to try again later. At least I’m getting somewhere with her. I got her to laugh, so that was a start.