I love first meetings. They set the often set the stage for how the rest of the relationship will develop. Charlene Draper owns a small bookstore on Main Street. When she finds out that there’s going to be a sidewalk festival, she decides to hire a musician to draw traffic to her store. Communicating by e-mail, they hit it off. He invites her to come hear him play. This will be the first time they meet in person, and Charlie is nervous.
Suddenly taken by a fit of nerves, I sat there trying to breathe. I almost drove away, but knew I wouldn’t be able to face him later, if I chickened out now. Better to get the meeting over with. If it was going to be a complete failure, I’d rather not delay it and build up my hopes. I walked into the restaurant and waited to be seated. The teenage girl acting as hostess came over with a smile.
“Hi, I’m Charlene Draper.”
“You’re here for Dane. He told me you’d be coming. Follow me.”
She led me to a table near the small, improvised stage where several guitars were on stands. His amplifiers and a microphone took up most of the rest of the space. I waited a few minutes, sipping the tea I’d ordered, when I felt someone behind me. I turned around, seeing him for the first time.
Even though the pictures weren’t that clear, I recognized his hair. It was a little longer than in his photo, but those dark waves were unmistakable. He rushed forward, taking my hand.
“Hi, I’m Dane. You’re Charlene?”
“Charlie,” I said automatically. “Please, sit down.”
I had to remind him, he was just standing there holding my hand, staring at me. It made me kind of nervous.
His eyes were a deep, dark green, like the water at the springs near my home. I couldn’t take my eyes off his. He was so handsome, it made it hard to breathe for a second. And, praise be, he was taller than me!
“Wow,” he gasped as he sat down. “I had no idea.”
I didn’t follow him. “No idea?”
“That you were so incredibly….” His voice drifted off and his eyes sparkled.
“Tall?” I guessed. “Young? Blonde? Impertinent?”
He laughed, tossing his hair out of his eyes. “No, so beautiful. You don’t have a picture of yourself up at the site, just the store.”
I blushed as bright pink as the flowers on my dress. I hardly knew how to answer him. I mumbled a thank you.
“I’ve embarrassed you. I’m sorry.”
“No, I’m flattered. It’s just no man ever told me that before.”
“Are they blind?”
“You just described most of my family.” He shook his head in wonder. “They must be blind.”
“I think they’re just used to me.”
“I suppose.” He stared at me a minute. “I get off at ten. Do you have time to go out after?”
He’d caught me completely by surprise. I hardly knew what to say.
“I’ll understand if you can’t….”
“I’d like to. Very much.”
“Sweet! You like dancing?”
“I’m not a very good dancer,” I admitted shyly. “But I love music. Next to books, it’s what I love the most.”
“I’m the same way. To me, music and books go together like strawberries and whipped cream.”
A waitress came up at that point. I hadn’t even looked at the menu. Dane solved my problem by ordering for me.
“Bring us two of my usual, Rita. This is my friend, Charlie. Rita and Megan are sisters. Their dad owns the place.”
“Nice to meet you, Rita.”
I smiled, shaking her hand. She didn’t look very happy to see me, but I smiled again anyway. When she left, I looked at Dane for an explanation.
“She’d like me to ask her out. If she was over eighteen, I might think about it.”
“Or she wasn’t the boss’ daughter.”
“That too. She’s a little pissed at me at the moment.”
It was Megan who brought our meals with a smile. “Anything else you need?”
“We’re good, thanks, Meg. Anything that Charlie wants, it’s on my tab.”
“No problem. You’re on in thirty.”
We had a nice meal together, laughing a lot as we talked. Ten minutes before he had to go on, Dane kissed my hand, gazing into my eyes.
©2020 Dellani Oakes