For #LineByLineTime: Meet Cute
This is an excerpt from a short romance.
After that night he refused any more offers of introductions to women. He was lonely, but it was better than listening to remarks like that. Unfortunately, she had only been the latest in a long line of disappointing dates. His friends had even tried setting him up with a deaf woman, but he didn’t know sign language and she couldn’t read his lips if he rarely said anything. No, it was better to suffer in silence.
“Look! Over here!” An excited squeal almost in his ear made him jerk his head around. A young woman with short blonde hair, dressed in a light teeshirt covered with cartoon flowers and snug jeans beneath leaped onto the fence beside him. She waved wildly with one arm and whooped loudly. “Marian! Marian! Go get ’em, Marian! Woo hoo!” Several of the passing riders laughed and waved back.
“For heaven’s sake, Cathy! They’re only exercising before the show starts. There’s no need to make a spectacle of yourself like that. Now calm down and stop embarrassing me!”
Nick raised his eyebrows. This guy was a real charmer.
Nick watched the man step back and throw his hands in the air. “That’s it! I’ve had enough!” He glared at the woman. “They warned me you were called ‘Chatty Cathy’, but they didn’t tell me you enjoyed making a fool of yourself – and me – in public! I don’t have to put up with this!” He stomped off, muttering.
Nick looked back at the woman beside him. Please don’t cry, please don’t cry, he thought desperately. Instead, she peered after the angry man from around Nick’s sheltering bulk. When the man vanished in the moving crowd, she blew out her breath and wiped nonexistent sweat from her forehead.
“I thought I would NEVER get rid of him! Honestly, what were my friends thinking, trying to fix me up with that drip?” She shook her head, exasperated. “Do you have friends like that? The ones with their pictures as the illustration for the saying about ‘the road to hell’ business?”
Nick was startled into a laugh. He felt a warm sense of relief that such a cheerful person was not connected in any way with such an unpleasant man. He wished he could tell her that, but he settled for nodding, and managing to utter “Rude!” He tilted his head in the direction of the stranger, hoping she would understand he meant him.
She nodded. “He was like that from the moment he met me here this morning. Thank goodness I drove myself. I’ve learned my lesson about that! The first thing he said to me after ‘hello’ was ‘Don’t you watch the weather? You’re dressed all wrong!’ Can you imagine? Would you say that to a stranger?”
Nick shook his head quickly. Searching for a response, he decided on “Raised better.”
“Yes! Exactly! Why, my momma would bust my butt if I ever talked like that!”
Nick grinned again. What a firecracker! He hadn’t been this amused in years. Feeling the wind shove against his back, he braced his hands on the fence. Glancing at her, he saw her shiver and rub her arms. She caught his raised eyebrows.
“Chip the Drip was right, though,” she admitted ruefully. “I did forget to watch the weather, so I didn’t bring my coat.” She leaned back and looked him up and down. “That wind is coming from behind you. Would you be terribly offended if I used you as a windbreak? I want to watch the show, but I’m really getting cold!”
Nick stepped back and waved a hand at the spot in front of him. He was cautiously cheered that she hadn’t seemed to find his silence awkward and took off herself. Instead she tucked herself between him and the fence and hugged herself. “Oh, that’s much better!” she exclaimed. She looked over her shoulder with a sudden grin and offered a hand. “Since I’m using you, I should introduce myself, I guess. Cathy Thompson.”
He took her hand and shook it gently. “Nick. Williams.” There. He’d managed to introduce himself without problems, at least. He hoped she wouldn’t suddenly start trying to get to know him, and discover his conversational skills were hopeless, like all the other women he’d met. But she didn’t. She turned back around and chattered on about the horse show just beginning, her niece, and anything else that seemed to dart across her mind.
He noticed she still shivered as the wind gusted, though. He considered offering her his coat, but she was so much smaller than him the coat might be too heavy for her. Finally deciding on action, he unbuttoned it and held the sides out around her. He only meant to provide a windbreak on her sides, but she surprised him again.
“You don’t mind sharing? This is wonderful! Oh, wow, it’s lined with sheepskin and already so warm!” She wrapped the lapels of the coat around her and leaned back against him. “This is great! You’re like an electric blanket!”
Nick blinked. She sure was a trusting little lady. He could be a pervert for all she knew. But mentally shrugging, he decided to make both more comfortable. Taking the lapels from her hands he rebuttoned his coat until only her face peeked out. Instead of tensing and acting trapped, she giggled like a little girl. He could feel her tucking her hands up in her armpits and risked a word again.