First Comes Love(9)

By: Emily Goodwin

And I think I’m being stood up.

Which bothers me and doesn’t at the same time. This guy doesn’t know me, so I can’t take it personally (but I do.) Because what if Jenny showed him my picture and that was enough of a turn off? I’m not bad looking, but I’m nothing spectacular.

Vader and Sasha lay by my feet, both chewing on various dried cow parts. I take my attention back to the TV, watching Ariel swim through the ocean, longing for a man she can’t have. I love when the Disney Channel plays the classics on the weekend. Though, it’s not like I don’t own every single one of them on DVD.

Ten minutes later, I stand up to change. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror above the couch and sigh. I went all out tonight. Attempted to curl my hair, heavy eye makeup that even included my eyebrows. According to the millions of beauty pins I went through on Pinterest, that’s a must. It took three tries, but I was able to contour my face.

I’m wearing my best pushup bra, giving my average-sized breasts the biggest boost possible. Over that went a pink dress that showed off my cleavage and hugged my curves. I have on my favorite charm bracelet (all the charms came from childhood vacations to Disney world) and Cinderella earrings. Yeah. I like Disney. A lot.

I’m dressed to the nines with nowhere to go. What a waste of time. I make it into my bedroom when the dogs bark. Is my date finally here? I quickly fluff my hair and pad my way through the living room, standing in the tiny foyer, if you can even call it that.

A car is in front of my house, but no one has gotten out yet. I spy through the living room window. The guy—Luke is his name—looks like he’s on the phone. A few more minutes tick by before he kills the engine and gets out.

Twenty minutes late.

It might be stupid, but I’m insulted. Yeah, this is a blind date but have some freaking respect. And yeah, I’m taking it personally again. Dammit. I hurry into the kitchen, grab a handful of dog treats, and toss them as far as I can when the doorbell rings. I step into tall heels, grab my purse, and slip on my coat, then sneak onto the porch.

“Hi,” I say, closing the door before Vader can rush out. He’s protective like that. “Sorry, it’s just easier to keep the dogs inside.”

Luke, who is tall, dark, and handsome like Jenny promised, smiles. “Sounds like it.”

I hold out my hand. “I’m Lauren, nice to meet you.”

Luke takes a second to look me over before shaking my hand. Does that mean I met his approval?

“Luke. Shall we get going?”

“Yeah,” I say and snap my mouth shut. I will not comment on how late he is … I will not comment on how late he is. “Where are we going?”

“La Cantina,” he says and walks ahead of me to his black BMW. “My buddy’s working the bar tonight and can get us free margaritas.”

“Sounds fun,” I say. I’ve never heard of that restaurant, but I do like Mexican food. And watermelon margaritas. Though if I get one, I need to drink it slow. Tequila and I don’t mix. Or maybe we do mix, and mix too well? It doesn’t take much to get me shit-faced and blacked out when it comes to drinking tequila. Been there, done that in college.

I get in the car and settle onto the leather seat. It smells new, and everything is impeccably clean. Luke plops into the driver’s side and starts the car. Rap music blasts from the speakers. We make it down two blocks before he turns the volume to a level where we can speak.

“So, your sister-in-law tells me you’re a vet?”

I mentally roll my eyes. Why do people always think I’m a veterinarian? Do they not know what a tech is?

“I’m a vet tech. Very much like an animal nurse.”

“Ah, so you want to be a vet then.”

I do, but am able to pull apart the subtle insult in his statement. Do all nurses want to be doctors? Nope. Do all techs want to be vets? You bet your ass not.

“Yes. I just applied to vet school. I’m waiting on the reply now.”

“I’m a lawyer,” he says without me having to ask. “And I just got in at the Harrison firm. You’ve heard of them, I’m sure.”

“Uh, probably. Do they have a commercial with a cheesy yet catchy song?” I ask and turn to him, smiling.

“No,” he says, void of any humor. “The Harrison firm doesn’t need commercials.” I raise my eyebrows and nod. He tells me about his hot-shot firm the rest of the way, talking himself up the entire time.

Maybe he’s nervous and trying to impress me … or maybe this guy is just an asshole and that’s why his girlfriend left him.

La Cantina is on the outskirts of town, bordering the line between where I feel safe and where I’d never dare go alone at night. Or during the day. It’s just a part of town I’d avoid unless I had a sword-wielding Prince Charming at my side. And by sword I mean guns, because I’m pretty sure this is where the high school kids come to buy drugs.

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