“These watermelon mojitos…” Jenara began, taking a sip of her drink.
“…are amazing,” Gar finished her statement.
They shared a happy look. So far the evening was going well. They chose to sit at the bar and enjoy a beverage together while waiting for Dennis to show. They joked around, laughed, and talked about everything from the time Gar’s home remedy for aphids to Jenara’s slight obsession with the Justice League and the weather. Of course, the weather was a safe topic. Jenara figured you couldn’t go wrong with sunshine and clouds.
“Do you like spinach?” he asked.
“Why do I have some in my teeth?” Jenara covered her mouth, self-consciously.
“Oh no,” he reached out and pulled her hand. “You have nothing in your teeth. Why did you think you did?” he laughed.
“Oh, I don’t know,” Jenara replied. “I guess… spinach gets caught in my teeth easily.”
“Then no spinach-wrapped burritos for you tonight,” he smiled.
“Oh I like spinach, but my teeth don’t,” she added. “You recommend the veggie burrito?”
“Yeah, it’s good,” he nodded, leaning over the counter to flag the bartender.
Jenara glanced about, wondering about their dining companion. “I wonder where Dennis is.”
“Hey hi,” a woman in a brightly orange, lace-lined tank top and a full tattooed sleeve plopped onto a bar stool and waved. “I’m Alice. Dennis is my father.”
“Oh, um… hi…” Jenara said, stiffly, taken aback by the attractive dark-haired woman.
“Hello,” Gar said politely. “Alice, it is a pleasure to meet you.”
He stretched out his hand and bowed his head slightly as a sign of respect.
“You know your Simorean traditions,” Alice remarked. “I’m impressed.”
“Ah, yes, I spent some time studying the flora in Southern Simina as an undergrad,” he explained.
Jenara blinked. You learn something new every day. She didn’t realize Gar had traveled outside the country, and she hadn’t thought to ask him what he studied in college. She could’ve kicked herself now, realizing she hadn’t been showing him enough interest. Alice continued to ramble about how much she loved nature, and how fascinating it was that Gar was a PlantSim. She explained how she was a painter, and she only painted living things, particularly plants and flowers, and she felt that was her way of giving back to the grand universe. When she stretched her arms, she showed off even more of her tattoos. Jenara felt uncomfortable, as she knew little to nothing about painting, and she felt she had very little skills about which she could brag. Alice finally asked Gar if he would be willing to sit for a portrait sometime, as she would “love” to add a “PlantSim specimen” to her collection. Sure you would, Jenara thought sarcastically.
“Where is…uh… Dennis?” she asked, laying a hand across Gar’s arm subtly.
Alice took note as she glanced down, but then smiled. “He’s on his way. He was just parking the car. Valet around here is pricey.”
“Tell me about it,” Gar chuckled.
Great! Jenara thought. I’m a horrible first date because I didn’t ask him the kinds of questions I should…and… I took him to an expensive restaurant.
“Excuse me, I’ll go powder my nose,” Alice slid from her seat. “You wanna come?” she looked at Jenara, who shook her head. “Okay, just thought I’d ask. Dad should be in momentarily.”
Gar reached over, and gave Jenara’s hand a reassuring pat. “I came here with you tonight.”
Jenara flushed, and smiled. He knew?
She turned her head to see J, the guy who had attended her party at the beginning of the summer for the PlantSims. He was wearing the same powder blue sweater tossed over his shoulders and tied loosely around his neck. Jenara thought it made him look like a prep school grad ready for the beach, but the ocean was a long way from Oasis Springs.
“Hey, it’s good to see you,” J said with punchy enthusiasm.
Jenara stepped down off her bar stool, and Gar stood up next to her.
“This is Garbanzo Hawthorne…” she introduced. “And this is J Huntington the Third.”
“The Third?” Gar repeated, shaking the man’s hand. “You can call me Gar, J.”
“Thanks, and yeah, dad and grandad had my name,” J said, proudly. “Grandad was one of the first guys to blast off into space when they relaunched the space program and expansion, and Dad was started his own company. You may know of the Huntington Post?”
“The news site?” Jenara asked, her eyes widening. “Yeah, I know it. I used to read it every morning when I was in college. I liked the dedicated geek culture section.”
“Oh yeah, the Hunt Post offers all sorts of stuff. Did you see Tuesday’s article about how obsessed everyone is with the new mobile games?” J asked. “And how they are the ultimate stress reliever.”
“Yeah, I kill at Question Quash,” Jenara fist-bumped J, to which he replied, “I must challenge you sometime, then.”
“Isn’t it just an opinion site with gossip more so than news?” Gar said, sounding almost unimpressed.
“No… it’s a legit new site,” J said defensively, but his voice wavered. “Why? Do you dislike gossip?”
“Yeah, sure,” Gar shrugged.
“Gossip is our bread and butter,” J spread his arms and smiled.
“Well, that’s Dennis,” Jenara stepped between the men, and tugged Gar’s arm. “We’ve got dinner plans. Nice to see you, J.”
“Nice to see you too, Jenara. Come by the office sometime. I’ll get my dad to autograph an edition for you,” J smiled suavely.
“That would be…” Jenara could feel Gar tightening his grip. “…nice… thanks.”
As she walked over to the table with Dennis and Alice, she could sense Gar was starting to relax. Now he knows how I felt… She looked up at him and smiled sweetly, whispering in his ear, “I came here with you.”
Simorea is my Simworld version of South Korea. Simina is my Simworld version of Asia. The Huntington Post is a play on the Huffington Post. Question Quash is a random game I made up. Hope you enjoyed!
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