I rush from my bedroom to the door in bare feet. “You’re early.” I proclaim as I fling the door open.
“Surprise!” Robin exclaims, holding up a bag of Chinese takeout in one hand and a DVD in the other.
His dimples press into his cheeks with his smile and his grey eyes sparkle under the long blond bangs. His jeans hang on his hips and a forest green vintage wash t-shirt hugs his muscled torso. He is a full head taller than me.
“What are you doing?” I ask.
“Do I get to come in?” He arches a brow.
I step back and let him through the door then close it behind me. A faint trace of his spicy cologne hangs in the air. He strolls over to the burgundy sofa, takes his customary seat, and sets the DVD and bag on the rectangular cherry coffee table.
“I got you beef broccoli,” he announces as he carefully empties the bag of its contents.
“Robin, you can’t stay,” I say quietly, settling my hands on my hips.
“Why?” He looks up and notices my dress. His smile turns on itself and his dimples disappear. “Where are you going?”
“On a date.”
I stroll back into my bedroom on the right and slide the pearl stud earrings off my tall cherry dresser into my hand. I push the first one through my right earlobe when Robin steps in and leans against the footboard of my sleigh bed with his hands in his front jeans pockets.
“Chase,” I answer securing the second earring.
“Are you kidding me?” he asks incredulously.
“Do I ever kid about my dates?” I pull the matching pearl necklace out of my jewelry box and secure it around my neck.
“You can’t go out with him.”
I sit at my vanity next to my dresser. My sky blue eyes stare back at me in the mirror. “Says you.” I pick up a tube of lipstick and pluck the cap off. I twist the creamy dark red stick up and slowly draw it across my lips.
I cap the lipstick tube and slam it on the vanity as I turn to him. “And why the hell not?” His stance against my date wears thin on my patience.
“He’s too…too-“ he stumbles.
“Too what?” I demand.
“Too pretty,” he blurts out.
I roll my eyes and turn back to the mirror. I pull my auburn hair back, twist it into a knot, and secure it with a mother-of-pearl hair chopstick.
“Lara,” he pleads.
“Too pretty is not a good reason, Robin.” I grab my leather heels under the vanity and slip them on.
He gently lays his hands on my shoulders as I attempt to pass him, forcing me to make eye contact with him. “You can’t go out with him because you should be going out with me.”
I shake my head at the absurd suggestion. “Don’t be ridiculous.” I think of the late night phone calls after bad dates; the gallons of shared ice cream after hearts were broken; and the many drinks consumed at bars to get ourselves back out in the dating scene.
His hands slide up to cradle my face. “I love you.” He dips his head slowly.
I swipe his hands off my face and slide past him into the living room. I press the heels of my hands into my forehead.
I spin on my toes in the three-inch heels. “Why? Why are you telling me this now?”
“Because I can’t stand to see either of us go through another failed relationship.” He steps over and takes my hands into his. “We’re good together. You and me.”
“No.” I yank my hands away and point my finger at him accusingly. “You don’t get to come in here right before my date and profess your love for me. You should’ve had the fucking balls to tell me before I got involved with Chase.”
“It’s not going to work,” he insists
“We’ve been working up to this, Robin. It shouldn’t be that much of a surprise since you met him.” My heels clack against the wood floor as I stomp to the door. I open the door and make a grand gesture for him to leave.
He holds my stare for a minute then picks up the DVD and a carton of the takeout. “You should put your beef broccoli in the fridge before you go,” he mutters as he walks by.
He stops short of the doorway. “Enjoy your date.” He steps to the side revealing Chase in the hallway.
“Thanks, man,” Chase calls after him then turns to me and smiles. “You are gorgeous.”
A black suit fits snug against his wiry frame over a white shirt and red silk tie. His short, light chocolate hair is groomed meticulously.
I am a few inches shy of being eye-level with my heels on.
“Thanks,” I exhale. “You are dashing as ever.” I trace my fingers along the edge of his jacket’s lapel.
“All for your viewing pleasure.”
I grin at his cockiness. “Let me put something away and get my sweater.”
I stow the takeout Robin left in the refrigerator and retrieve my black sweater and evening bag from my bedroom. I slip the sweater on and tuck the evening back under my left arm.
“Did I interrupt something?” Chase asks as I lock the apartment door.
I gaze into his aquamarine eyes and my knees wobble. “No. Robin didn’t know we were going out tonight.”
“He didn’t look happy when he left.”
“He was looking forward to Chinese food and a movie.”
“I’m looking forward to dinner and the opera.” His mouth rises in a half-smile and he slips his fingers between mine as we wait for the elevator. He keeps his eyes on mine and lifts my hand, pressing the back against his soft lips.
I suck in a breath as a jolt of electricity shoots from my hand through my body. “Me, too.”
©Debi Smith, 2013