“I’d like to set you up with the daughter of a friend of mine,” Mrs. Walton said, coming up beside me in the garden. “I want this to be a great summer for you.”
“Uh…” I looked over at Sammy, suddenly uncomfortable with the direction of our conversation. “Like, as in, a date?”
“Yes, Alicia is exactly your age and still single, just like you.”
“Just like me. Hmm…”
“I hate to see you wasting your summer away just pruning shrubs and mowing lawns. You should be out living your life.”
“Well, you know, pruning shrubs and mowing lawns is kind of my job. I’d hate for my boss to get mad at me for slacking off.” After I spoke, I heard Sammy snicker from across the path where she was resting in the hammock with a book.
“I can assure you, she won’t get mad.” Mrs. Walton teased, referring to herself in the third person.
Is it really Mrs. Walton I was worried about getting mad? I wasn’t sure. I turned back to the shrub I was pruning. I couldn’t pin point any reason why I shouldn’t go out on a date with her friend’s daughter, so I reluctantly agreed. What’s the worst thing that could happen?
My first date in almost six months. My first date since my parents died, and the first since my girlfriend dumped me. That was probably why I had butterflies fluttering in my stomach. It was almost as if I didn’t want to go on a date. Weird.
“If it doesn’t work out, that’s okay,” Mrs. Walton said. She brushed an invisible piece of lint off my shoulder. “You can just yawn a couple of times and make some excuse about getting too much sun today and then come home and binge watch sitcoms with Sammy and me.”
“Oh, I’m going to the carnival, too.” Sammy set her book aside and hopped off the hammock. “With the twins… and a couple guys we met last week.”
“Guys?” her mom asked. “What guys?”
My thoughts exactly. What guys?
“We met them at the pier last week. They’re from downstate somewhere. They’re really hot. All four of them.”
“Four of them?” I finally piped in my opinion. “There are only three of you girls. How can that be a date?”
“Oh, it’s not a date. We’re just hanging out. But… ya know… if something comes of it…” She shrugged and raised her eyebrows.
“I don’t like this.” Mrs. Walton clucked her tongue. “We don’t even know these boys.”
“Mom, I’ll be careful.” Sammy sidled up next to her mom and put her arm around her shoulder. “Besides, I’ll be with the twins. There is safety in numbers.”
“Well, I guess. But I don’t like it,” she said. She gasped and looked right at me. “Brandon, you’ll be there. You’re like a big brother to Sammy. You can keep an eye on her.”
“Uh…” my stomach tightened.
“I’m sure that’s exactly what he wants to do while he’s on his date.” Sammy’s emphasis on the word date was none too subtle. “Keep an eye on his ‘little sister’.” She actually held up her fingers and made quotation marks in the air. Who does that anymore?
“Oh, you won’t mind, will you, Brandon?” Mrs. Walton’s complete innocence to the way her daughter was openly flirting with me was a little unnerving. She was clueless.
“I’ll do the best I can,” I mumbled, then met Sammy’s eyes. Game on. Two can play, you know? I raised one eyebrow and she raised one back at me.
“It makes me feel better knowing you’ll be there.” Mom extricated herself from under Sammy’s arm and turned toward the house. “I need to get started on breakfast. We have a full house tonight, you know.”
“I know,” Sammy and I both said at the same time. We stood in the garden staring at each other for a long moment before she smirked and turned with a flip of her ponytail, following up the path after her mother.
I tried not to watch her walk away. I purposely turned completely around so that I was facing the lake, and continued pruning.
The following evening when the doorbell rang, I knew it had to be Alicia because the twins would have just walked in. I hurried to the foyer anticipating my first date in months.
I opened the door to find an incredibly hot babe standing on the porch. I mean, she was smokin’ hot. My jaw almost dropped. I tried to form a sentence, but nothing came out.
“Are you Brandon?” she asked. She stuck out her hand. “I’m Alicia.”
“Alicia.” I held her hand in mine and shook my head to clear my thoughts. “What a beautiful name.”
“Thank you, Brandon.” She didn’t let go of my hand but twisted it to lace her fingers through mine like we’d been dating for months instead of meeting for the first time.
Alicia was dressed just right for going to the carnival in jeans and a pushup tank top with a hoodie tied around her waist in case it got cool later. She smelled really good. She looked over my shoulder.
“Is this your little sister?”
“Huh?” I didn’t realize Sammy had come up beside me until she was at my elbow.
“I’m Sammy. I live here.” Sammy stuck out her hand and Alicia reluctantly let go of mine to shake hers. “Brandon’s our groundskeeper. My mom is the one who set you two up on this date.”
“Oh, that’s right. She’s good friends with my mom. They golf together occasionally.”
They nodded at each other. I finally got my mind and mouth to work at the same time and broke the awkward moment of silence. “You ready to go, Alicia?”
“Definitely,” Alicia said, turning to me and taking my hand again. She seemed sincere when she tossed a glance over her shoulder. “It was nice to meet you, Sammy. I’m sure we’ll see each other again soon.”
“Yes, I’ll see you at the carnival,” Sammy called after us.
I kept Alicia’s hand in mine as I led her down the porch steps to where I’d parked my Mustang out front, top down and freshly washed and vacuumed.
“Wow, great car.” Alicia let me open the door for her like a gentleman and her eyes lit up with excitement.
I pulled the car out of the circle drive and headed toward the carnival on the pier. This was going to be an awesome date. I could tell already.
Running To You
Click here to read the next chapter in my work-in-progress!