Previous FRWL Post: 1.18 Bewitched
Gage walked out of the flower shoppe with a sense of renewal and pride. He picked out the most beautiful pink roses. He knew for sure that Heather was going to love his gift. Things had ended badly with Solèi, but he was confident he would be happy with her friend. Heather was good for his ego, flattering him constantly. They had met up three more times for a renedevouz after hours in her gypsy caravan, and each time proved better than previous.
With a lightness in his step, Gage walked around the edge of the building and nearly collided with a familiar face. Constance Shelley appeared flustered, and turned nearly as dark pink as her dress.
“I’m sorry,” she exclaimed, throwing her hand up to her chest.
“No, I wasn’t paying attention,” he shook his head. “It’s my fault.”
“You startled me,” she added, teetering in her black heels on the stone pathway. “I guess I need to pay closer attention also.”
He smiled, offering his arm for steadying effect. She was cute when she was flustered.
“Seriously, it’s my bad. You look nice.”
“Thank you,” she tucked a hair over her ear. “I’m on my way to the Friends of the Library convention in Simcago.”
“The Windy City?” he perked. “Sounds like a nice evening.”
“Yes, it will be,” she smiled broadly. “I look forward to this every year. This year, I decided to splurge and stay in the City this weekend so I don’t have to drive back and forth.”
“Oh?” he quirked a brow. “Are you taking someone special with you?”
Constance frowned. “No, I’m going alone,” she declared proudly. “This is a treat for me. Lilith and Harold are covering me while I’m gone.”
“That’s nice. So what’s a Friends of the Library convention?”
“Librarians from all over the state come together and attend workshops and listen to speakers and there’s a big fundraiser open to the public. It should be lovely,” she said excitedly. “I’m giving a talk tomorrow morning on children’s reading hour.”
“You’ll be great at that,” he remarked.
“Yeah, I’m nervous, though,” she smoothed the side of her dress.
“You’ll be great. Do you have notes?”
“Yes,” she patted her pocket. “Right here. I even recorded some thoughts so I can listen to myself while I drive.”
Gage just grinned. She was such a nerd.
“I hope you have fun in the City,” Gage replied genuinely.
“Thank you. Plus there’s a mixer tonight and..” she grabbed his wrist and he was temporarily surprised, but realized she was looking at his watch. “Oh! If I don’t get inside and order my tea to go, I’ll never make it.”
“I’ll let you go. See you around, Constance.”
It was only after she left that he realized his watch was an hour fast. Shoot! He thought about calling Constance but he decided he wouldn’t. She could figure it out. She sure did look pretty today, he thought as he hopped into his loaner beater from his aunt Missy. He had met her this afternoon for coffee like he did every Friday. Now he was meeting Heather for an ice cream cone at Flying V’s. It was a nice way to spoil his dinner, but he didn’t care. She had picked the place.
Gage barely turned off his engine and grabbed his keys out before striding up to his new lady friend. She was waiting out in front of Flying V’s like they had planned, dressed more casually. She must not have come from work as her garish attire and curly wig were missing. He didn’t mind. He liked the simplified look anyway.
“These are for you,” he declared dramatically, pulling the bouquet of flowers from behind his back as a surprise.
“Oh,” Heather said, unenthusiastically. “Thank you.”
She didn’t sound like her usual self.
“What’s wrong, Heather?” he asked, leaning in for a kiss.
She took a step back, turning her head so his mouth awkwardly hit her cheek instead. She sighed, still not taking the roses.
“I…Gage…we need to talk.”
“It’s not an uh oh, per se, just… we’ve been… fooling around…” she lowered her voice. “And it’s been fun and all.”
He braced himself, waiting for her to say she wanted more. He was willing to give her that. He was willing to make things official. He wanted to do things right by her. She was a sweet girl, and he was starting to feel attached, and he had sensed she was also. He never intended to go on hooking up with her forever. That’s what he had hoped to discuss with her today, making things more official and more serious. The flowers were just the start.
He walked over and set the flowers on the table so they wouldn’t be in the way, and came back, reaching for her hands.
“I’d like you to be my girlfriend.”
“I think we need to cool off,” she said simultaneously, taking a step back and putting up her arms almost defensively.
Gage frowned. “Cool off?” he scratched his head.
This is unexpected. He tried to remain calm, but he could feel his heart rate accelerating.
“What do you mean?”
“Lè is my friend and all,” Heather began awkwardly.
Gage face fell. He knew what was coming.
“…and I don’t want things to be weird between us. I still live at the Collective, and the other day, Damon pieced things together, and I think Lè is already suspicious about a guy in my life,” Heather explained hurriedly. “And I want to be able to bring the guy I’m seeing and sleeping with around, you know?”
“This isn’t fair,” he muttered beneath his breath.
“I just think with the way things ended between you and Lè that it might be best to wait awhile…”
“You mean break up?”
“No, just cool off… until you can properly get over Lè…”
“You don’t think I’m properly over Lè?” his eyes widened.
“I don’t want to hurt her or make things weird at the Collective.”
“You didn’t think that the first time we got together… or the second… or third… or fourth…” he said, accusingly. “If you didn’t want things to be weird between you and Lè, why did you jump into bed with her ex?”
Heather looked hurt. Her lower lip trembled. “I think this is for the best,” she said quietly.
“Yeah, the best,” he repeated sarcastically. “I guess what they say is true about you… with one guy one day and moving on the next.”
“Ouch!” she exclaimed.
“Lè warned me herself when we were dating,” he declared angrily, and he didn’t care that he was starting to sound spiteful. “Heather goes which way the wind blows… whichever guy the wind brings her for the moment, and then onto the next. Well, you’re a real witch.”
“Oh yeah! You’re a real jerk!” she screeched.
Heather smacked him across the face. He rubbed his jaw. Okay, I deserved that. He watched her stalk down the street, realizing he blew any chance of getting back together with her. What concerned him was that part of him didn’t care.
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