After the dinner with the Kims, Jenara walked out of her bedroom and was pleased to find the outlines of a pink something-or-other sitting on her dining room table. She snagged her glasses from beside the fruit bowl so she could see better. It was a giant pink stuffed bear holding a cushioned heart, and a note was pinned to its back.
I very much would like to take you on a “date” again. This time, alone…and I’ll pay.
It was signed – Gar – with a fun, curley-cue G. Jenara felt giddy as she squeezed the gift in her arms, and wondered how he managed to sneak the stuffed animal into her house. Plucking an orange from her fruit bowl, she began peeling the skin, and thought about how nice it was to be dating again. She hadn’t been on a solid date since college.
Gar texted around noon and asked if Jenara wanted to meet him for a workout. Of course, she did. She eagerly jogged over to the Burners and Builders gym. She had been meaning to check the place out. When she saw Garbanzo standing on the sidewalk, his muscly arms exposed and his chocolate-colored skin glimmering in the afternoon sun, she about melted into happiness.
“You okay there?” he asked with a chuckle as she walked right into the curb.
Jenara chuckled weakly. “Heh…heh… I’m fine. How are you?”
You are fine, she thought.
Strangely enough, her workout companion did not follow her into the gym. Jenara tried to figure out the exercise equipment while Gar did push-ups in the street. She found the action odd as she assumed he wanted to spend time with her, but nonetheless, she determined the treadmill would not get the best of her, warming up with a few push-ups of her own before starting her running routine.
At about four-thirty, Jenara took a break and wandered back outside to discover Gar had cooked them tofu-dogs on the grill across the road. Starving from her workout, she plopped down on the bench and began chowing down on the meal. Tofu wasn’t exactly her thing, but she was willing to try it for the sake of Gar.
“You hate it?” he frowned.
“No?” she replied, between bites of bun and tofu. “Yes…maybe…” she laughed and wiped her mouth to remove a blob of mustard. “It’s not terrible.”
“You’re not a vegetarian,” he hung his head. “I assumed. Because of the veggie burgers.”
“Because they were in my fridge,” Jenara burst out. “I like meat, but I do like vegetables too. And I’m willing to try new things, especially if I can throw mustard onto some things. Mustard is a delicious plant,” she bobbed her head as she shoved another bite into her mouth. “It’s really not that bad.”
Gar’s face relaxed into a big smile. “Thanks Jenara. I’ll take not-that-bad.”
“You better,” she gave him a friendly punch in the arm. “And I can make veggie burgers from a box for you anytime.”
Jenara stood, and began cleaning up their food, but he stopped her and placed his arms around her tightly, offering a nice squeeze. She felt her heart pounding as she could feel his breath on her cheek and ear.
“I really like you,” he whispered.
“I…” her voice caught. “…like you too. You make me very happy.”
Previous Chapter: 1.15 Third Wheel