The Coffee Date
Her ring tone woke her up. Anna grabbed for her phone without opening her eyes, her mind forming a incoherent thought about why the woman insisted on calling instead of texting like every other civilized person. ‘The woman’ would be either her mom or her best friend. In both cases she’d better pick up if she didn’t want to hear hours of bitching about it later.
“Yeah?” she asked in a tone that would hopefully convey her displeasure of being woken on a Sunday morning, knowing it would get completely ignored.
“What in heavens name did you do to my brother?”
Suddenly Anna was wide awake and sitting up. She looked around, relieved to see she was alone in her bed, still wearing her party dress. She had managed to kick her shoes off, that was something. Then she remembered she did in fact go home alone last night. She let herself fall back into her pillow. “Nothing….”
“Yeah? Well, he can’t shut up about you. It’s driving me absolutely crazy.”
Anna felt herself ginning like an idiot “Really?”
“Glad you sound so pleased about it. I’m about to strangle the guy. Can you please take him out for coffee or something so I can have some peace?”
“What, now?”, she turned around and caught her reflection in the mirror, her face was smeared with last night’s makeup, the skin under it that special hang-over-pale. She also felt a pounding headache coming on. “I look and feel like shit.”
She heard a dramatic sigh. “Fine. Then I suppose I will have to start answering his questions…”
“Leah, NO” Anna yelled.
“So he’ll pick you up in about an hour?”
“This is fucking blackmail.” Anna muttered, “Yeah sure, I suppose I can get myself cleaned up in an hour”
“You are such a kind and understanding person,” Leah said sweetly “I owe you one”
“Fuck you.” Anna growled and hung up. She felt like screaming in her pillow. Would it be a good idea to have coffee before going out for coffee? Probably a bit overkill.
A hot shower went a long way to making her feel human again. Once she dried herself off she pulled out her pink sweater. Anna really didn’t like pink. And she hated to be thought of as the sort of woman who wore pink. But this particular shade of pink did a lot of nice things for her skin tone and right now that triumphed any color preference or gender politics.
After getting dressed and grabbing her purse, she checked herself in the mirror. What a difference with what she had seen there just an hour ago. “You clean up pretty well.” she told her reflection.
Exactly an hour after hanging up the phone Anna opened the front door. Just at that moment she noticed Leah’s car pulling up to the curb. That was amazing. Leah’s car, as a rule, didn’t start without at least 15 minutes of trying and cursing. Either Sean had been very lucky, or he had meant to be here early. She locked the door behind her and when she turned back she saw he had actually gotten out of the car to open the door for her. She had to smile. Who still did that sort of thing? But more than that, in his effort to be chivalrous, he had turned the car’s engine off.
Anna thanked Sean as she got into the car and watched him walk around to the driver’s side, curious to see how this would play out. As he sat down next to her a thought occurred to her.
“It was nice of Leah to lend you her car.”
Sean nodded “I think she was eager to have me gone. She had it idling in front of the house and pretty much pushed me in it.”
Anna bit her lip trying not to laugh. Leah had meant for him to have trouble starting it up again. Sean stuck the key in the ignition and turned it. There was the familiar coughing and rattling sound. Anna glanced at Sean’s horrified face and quickly looked away again doubling her efforts not to laugh. He tried again with much the same results. She stared straight forward but couldn’t help seeing Sean shift nervously in his chair and try again in her peripheral vision. This time it sounded like the engine let out a huge sigh at the end of the couching. Her date gave a nervous laugh. She could feel tears burning at the back of her eyes but still she managed not to laugh out loud. The man’s determination to get the thing running and not swear in the process was admirable but in the end, the car won out. It always did. He hit the steering wheel in frustration. “Fuck! What the hell piece of shit is this thing? How can anyone drive this fucking garbage?”
Anna couldn’t hold in her laughter any more. And Sean’s face that went from angry frustration to embarrassment to realization didn’t help much either. He had finally understood he’d been had. “This…this is normal, isn’t it?” Anna nodded, still trying to get herself back under control. Sean sucked in a breath and drummed with his fingers on the steering wheel. “….Leah…”
Anna wiped a tear from her eye. “You have to love her” she said in between gasps.
“Oh, I’ll get her back”
“Wait till I’m there to witness it.” Anna was able to regain her composure a little. She put her hand on Sean’s shoulder. “Lets leave the car. There’s a great coffee house not too far from here. I walk it all the time.”
If Leah’s intention had been to annoy her brother, a side effect of her stunt was removal of any awkwardness to their coffee date. It also gave them plenty to talk about. Each had their own supply of wild stories involving Leah. This could have been by design as well, you never really knew with her. Some of Sean’s stories Anna heard before, but she was very much enjoying hearing the other side of them. One thing was clear, both siblings had a flair for story telling. She was sure the people at the tables around them were listening in, judging by the muffled laughter.
“So how long are you planning on crashing at your sisters?”
Sean gave her a pained look “You don’t happen to know an apartment for rent, do you?”
Anna shook her head “No I’m sorry.” she said and then, without thinking: “I do have a spare bedroom”
Sean didn’t respond except for raising his eyebrows. Anna could feel a blush creeping on to her cheeks. She couldn’t believe she had just proposed Sean move in with her on their first date. A coffee date even. Smooth move, idiot, her mind screamed at her He’ll think you’re some sort of desperate freak! Out loud she added “Just in case, you know, if it get’s to be unbearable…”
Sean grinned at her. She knew that impish grin from the party. He obviously wasn’t buying her back paddling at all “Oh, of course. Always a good idea to have a plan B” he said. “Just in case…”