THE BLIND DATE
Chapter four - My Protector
“There he is,” I whisper to Marty as we cross the threshold into the coffee shop.
The man I plan to set Shawna up with, Chris, sits at a small round table, a cup of coffee in front of him. He waves when he sees me, then confusion hits as he takes in Marty beside me. Marty holds my hand and pulls me toward the table.
Chris stands. “Bea. It’s nice to see you again.”
Before I can say a word, Marty reaches a hand out to Chris. “Hi. I’m Bea’s fiancé, Marty.”
My jaw is literally on the floor. But Chris doesn’t seem to notice. Instead he blushes. “So you really did want to introduce me to a friend. I feel like a fool. I thought that you…meant that you were interested…sorry.”
Marty laughs. “I know, man. When Bea told me the story, I thought the same thing. I told her that I thought she left you with the wrong impression. So, you know, I came along. Hope you don’t mind.”
“Of course not,” Chris says, visibly relaxing.
It turns out Chris is a hockey fan. So I go get coffee for Marty and me while the two of them chat about the previous season and the prospects for the upcoming season.
When Marty agreed to come with me to this meeting he hadn’t mentioned posing as my boyfriend, or fiancé, or whatever. And even though it shouldn’t mean anything, it has me in knots.
When I get back to the table, they’ve changed subjects and are talking about Shawna. “I mean, she’s one hell of a woman,” Marty tells Chris. “Smart, successful, driven, and freaking gorgeous. But she couldn’t pick out a decent boyfriend if her life depended on it.”
“And what’s wrong with them all?” Chris asks.
They both look at me to answer, though I’m not sure why. “They are threatened by her,” I say simply. “And they treat her like crap.”
“Yeah,” Marty agrees. “They want her for all the things she is, but they can’t handle the fact that she’s so much better than they are. So they tend to put her down. Then she gets tired of it, dumps them, and goes on to the next loser.”
“What makes you think I’m the right fit for your friend?” Chris asks me.
“Because you were at your ex-girlfriend’s wedding. She was marrying a hot millionaire, and you were not only there, you were happy for them,” I point out.
“Which means,” Marty says. “You are either super laid back or a doormat.”
Chris chuckles. “Maybe I’m the doormat.”
“You’re not,” I tell him. “Because if you were you’d have been at some shitty table in the back and they wouldn’t have hesitated to make fun of you or use you to keep some homely cousin company. But you were sitting with the bride’s family and both the bride and groom were kind and friendly to you.”
Chris shrugs. “Celeste and I broke up a couple years before she got together with Roger. We were friends and I was close to her family.”
“You’re perfect for our friend,” I tell him.
“You up for meeting Shawna?” Marty asks him.
“Don’t hit me for saying this,” he tells Marty. Then he looks at me. “But if she’s anything like you, I’m in.”
“No offense taken,” Marty says. Then he leans in and kisses my neck. Not my cheek. My neck. His mouth opens and I shiver at just the tiniest touch from the tip of his tongue.
The move is possessive and has a purpose. I know that. But my brain has taken a vacation and my body is buzzing from the contact.
I am speechless as the two men finish up business. Marty tells Chris we’ll contact him to arrange the date with Shawna. Then he takes my hand and pulls me up and out of the coffee shop.
I am basically a zombie at this point. So I just follow along as Marty takes me to my car. Then he kisses my cheek. A chaste kiss. A friend kiss. And I feel the loss deep inside me.
I want to go back to playing pretend fiancé with Marty.
“I got a meeting this afternoon,” he says. “I’ll see you soon?”
I manage to smile and nod. And then he’s gone. My senses have left with him.
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