Some first meetings don’t occur in person. That’s the case for Elizabeth Stanton and Dylan Marshall. She’s applied for a job at a local senior citizen facility, which he runs. She had to miss her appointment earlier that day, due to weather and not knowing her way around, so Dylan decides to call her instead. She’s sitting in her new home, listening to the rain on the roof, wondering when the electricity is going to come back on, when the phone rings.
Elizabeth couldn’t help hoping her power would be sooner than two hours. She didn’t like being in the dark, especially in a house that didn’t yet feel like home. To occupy herself, she pulled out her computer, only to realize she couldn’t go on line, because, of course, the Wi-Fi was out. Rain hammered her roof, sounding like hail. She was tempted to look, but didn’t fancy going out in the dark just to check the weather. Her car was covered, the roof sturdy. She wasn’t worried—too much.
Her cellphone rang, startling her. It wasn’t a number she recognized, but since it was local, she answered anyway. “Hello?”
“Yes. Who’s this?”
“Dylan Marshall. We spoke earlier about the job.”
“Of course.” Her heart fluttered. Had he found someone else? Was he calling to cancel their appointment? She hoped not. She needed the job and he was the only one who had called her back.
“Could you possibly come in earlier than one? I got handed a job I don’t really want and can’t say no to. I have to be at a Yacht Club cruise and schmooze luncheon. I don’t know when I’ll get back.”
“Certainly. Until I have a job, my time is entirely open.”
“Great! I look forward to it. Hey, did you get home okay?”
“Yes, but my power is out. I’m sitting here in the dark and it’s a little creepy.”
“Seriously? I love sitting in the dark. It relaxes me. Of course, Darla thinks I’m totally crazy. My dog, Darla. She’s a fawn Doberman.”
“Your dog thinks you’re crazy?” she giggled.
“Yeah, well, since I think that, I probably am, right? I don’t know, she has a very disapproving look on her face when I do it.”
“Maybe she’s just trying to see.”
“Dogs have good night vision—don’t they?”
“Mine didn’t. Stone stupid and blind as sticks.”
“You don’t mean blind as bats?”
“No. Bats see just fine. But have you ever seen a stick that had good vision? I ask you.”
He paused. “I have not. Okay, I’ll give ya that.”
“What time tomorrow?”
“Nine thirty or ten. Which works better?”
“Let’s make it ten. I’m not sure enough of your location. I don’t own a GPS. I never needed one until I moved here.”
“Where are you located? I can give you great directions and can almost guarantee you won’t get lost.”
“Almost? That sounds dubious, Mr. Marshall.”
“Well, I can’t factor in your ability to follow directions, so I can’t say they are definitively, one hundred percent fool proof.”
“Gotcha. I’m over on the beach. I can get mainland without difficulty.”
“Okay, north or south end?”
“Sweet. Okay. Once you cross the causeway, turn north on US-1.”
“Hang on, let me get a pen.” She scrambled around finding paper and a pen. “Okay, north on US-1.”
“Have you been to the city limits to the north?”
“It’s not quite five miles. You’ll want to be in the left lane. Pass the airport, pass Tops and Bottoms.”
“Tops and Bottoms. It’s a strip club. You can’t miss it.”
“I had no idea this town was so cosmopolitan.”
He chuckled. It was a very warm sound and made Elizabeth feel comfortable.
“Two blocks past, turn left onto North Street. We’re on the left, but parking is on the right. Got that?”
“Yes, I think so. We’ll see how well if I’m on time tomorrow.”
“Take down my number in case you get lost.” He gave her his cell number. “Where you from, Miss Slaton?”
“Denver, most recently. Ever been there?”
“I spent the night at the airport once. We got snowed in on Halloween. Kind of a shock for a Southern boy like me to see snow in October. You went to college, I assume. Was that in Denver, too?”
“That’s why I initially went there. I went to University of Denver. I graduated with my Bachelor’s with 3.9 and started my Master’s.”
“Business management.” She laughed a little, puzzled by the conversation. “I thought we were doing this tomorrow.”
“Why wait? I still have to see you in person, but get the boring stuff out of the way before you get here. How many hours before you have your masters?”
“Why’d you leave, if you don’t mind me asking.”
“Never date a cowboy.”
“I don’t plan to. But why?”
“I never met one who could spell or adhere to monogamy.”
“Oooh, gotcha. So, you’re single?” He sounded way too happy to hear that.
“I don’t date my boss, Mr. Marshall,” she replied in a bone chilling tone.
“No worries. We just sometimes keep some odd hours. I don’t want a husband or boyfriend thinking I’m getting a lap dance from my secretary after hours.”
“Tops and Bottoms is close, you can always go there.”
“Exactly! That’s what makes this location ideal.”
She sincerely hoped he was kidding, and strongly suspected he was.
“You’re actually more qualified for my job than I am. I’m not that close to my Masters. I’ve got the in-house experience. I’ve been doing this sort of work for seven years now. How fast do you type?”
“I can do a hundred words a minute. I know Word….”
He made an impatient noise. “Do you have an above average IQ?”
“I graduated with a 3.9,” she reminded him.
“Can you put up with a man who’s slightly ADD and hops from subject to subject like a squirrel on crack?”
“I’m not sure I’d describe it that way, but if you’re describing yourself, I’m keeping up with you.”
“Can you multi-task?”
“Depends on the tasks. I can’t type and stand on my head, but I can jog on a treadmill and read.”
“Can you eat and talk at the same time?”
“Not with food in my mouth. I mean, I am physically capable of doing that, but ew. Why? Is that part of the job description?”
“No. I’m inviting you to dinner. It’s early yet, I’m hungry and a girl’s gotta eat.”
“Mr. Marshall, I….”
“Have no plausible excuse,” he concluded. “And please call me Dylan. You can meet me somewhere, if you like.”
“I don’t know where anything is around here. And I’m a little nervous going out in this weather. I’m not used to it.”
“Okay, tell you what. I’ll come pick you up and I’ll risk the shitty weather. Will you join me then? Please? I’d really like to get to know you.”
Elizabeth sighed. “All right. I don’t usually go out with men I don’t know, Mister… Dylan.”
“I don’t usually ask out complete strangers, Elizabeth. But I hate eating alone. I have no food whatsoever at my place.”
“How soon will you be here?”
“Twenty minutes okay?”
“Yes. That’s fine. Don’t expect perfection. It’s dark and I can’t see to put on makeup.”
“I don’t care. We won’t do fancy. Do you eat meat?” He paused. Elizabeth thought she heard him curse softly. “I mean like steak,” he added sheepishly.
Elizabeth burst out laughing. “I wish I could see your face! I bet it was priceless. Yes. I like steak. And I occasionally eat meat.”
Dylan groaned softly.
“I mean like chicken and pork, duh!”
“I’ll see you in twenty minutes. I’ll be the guy who’s got his foot in his mouth.”
“Neat trick. Isn’t it hard to drive like that?”
“Bye, Dylan. See you soon!”
“Bye.” He hung up.
© 2019 Dellani Oakes
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