I had no business getting all dolled up for Ryan. I was supposed to be focused on Cal, but somehow he became just some guy in the background, out of focus and unimportant in my life. I thought I heard Beth screaming from a far off place, asking me what the hell I was doing, but I ignored her. She couldn’t control my life. I’d get to Cal when I got to him. She had to understand that.
I studied myself in the full-length mirror. I’d never looked prettier for work. I thought I looked like a Barbie doll, my hair pulled up high on my head in a ponytail, locks curled and tumbling in flirty waves from the elastic band. I pumped up the eye factor with heavy mascara. I wanted to go for an Edie Sedgwick look—all ‘60s glam. I even ironed my uniform, a typical diner waitress outfit. Blue shirtdress that hit just above my knees. I slipped on my Keds and grabbed my apron.
I planned to knock his socks off.
. . . I approached him after counting to twenty. I didn’t want to seem too eager.
“Hi,” I said. I felt bright and bubbly and on top of the world.
I placed my hand on my hip and popped it out. “Come here often?” I couldn’t resist.
“Once. The waitress was cute, but she’s got nothing on you,” Ryan said.
Damn right she doesn’t. I went Edie Sedgwick for you, buddy.
“God, you look gorgeous,” he said.
Oh, those heart flutters. I wanted to feel those heart flutters forever.
“I’m in an ugly uniform,” I said, looking down at my outfit. I smoothed my apron on my stomach.
“Not ugly at all. Sexy more like.”
I blushed, and this time he saw. I couldn’t conceal it under the glare of the restaurant lights.
“Hungry?” I asked, and pulled out my order pad.
“What would you recommend?”
“Honestly? I’ve only eaten the turkey sandwich. It was all right,” I confessed.
“Don’t you get to eat for free?” Ryan asked.
“Are you kidding? A little bit of a discount, sure, but nothing for free,” I said. “And anyway, I’m so tired after work, I don’t want to stick around and eat. I want to go home.”
“I can understand that,” he said. He looked over the menu. “Well, I guess I’ll try this steak sandwich.”
“A man who eats manly meat,” I said. “I like it.”
“Manly meat, huh?” he asked, chuckling.
“Sure. Didn’t you know steak was the manliest of meats?”
“Making a note of it,” Ryan said.
I nodded. “And to drink?”
“A Cherry Coke,” he said.
“Now that’s a little girly, but I’ll let it slide.”
“Well, I really ordered it for you,” Ryan said. “See, I thought you could bring it over here along with two straws. You could sit across from me, and we could drink it together.”