Author ~ Consultant ~ Creator at Large

Matthew Wayne Selznick

Hazy Days and Cloudy Nights

How It All Got Started 023: Alex
Free serial fiction from author and creator Matthew Wayne Selznick.

Friday, June 22, 1984

Alex looked at the plate of ravioli and marinara sauce on the table in front of him and was glad he had chosen a dark shirt for the evening. Note to self: Italian food equals bad choice for first date.

Heather said, “Is it all right?”

He raised his eyes and took her in. Her thick, long strawberry blond hair glowed in the dim light of the restaurant. Her blue eyes shined above her smile.

“No, yeah, it looks fantastic.” He grinned. “I was just thinking I’m glad I didn’t wear white.”

She chuckled. “Oh, so you’re a sloppy eater?”

“I don’t think so…” Alex held up his fork and inspected it. “What is this thing, and how do I use it..?”

“I guess if it’s too complicated, you could just tip the plate up and let the ravioli slide into you mouth..?”

She expertly deployed her own utensils to spin spaghetti onto her fork. Alex admired how she didn’t overload the fork; he had never quite mastered the fork-spoon method with spaghetti. One of the reasons he had ordered the ravioli was to minimize the chance of a food-related faux paus.

He let out an exaggerated sigh. “I guess I can learn to use this thing… all the other cavemen are doing it.”

“That’s the spirit.”

They laughed.

“So.” Heather tore a dainty piece from the bread in the basket. “Tell me about your interview.”

“Oh, right! It seemed to go okay, I guess. He didn’t seem to mind that I didn’t have a whole lot of experience. He made me take this test thing, though.”

“Like what?”

“Basically a multiple-choice thing on music and movies.”

“How’d you do?”

“Aced it. Music’s no problem, and we’ve had Showtime on cable for, like, forever, so I’ve seen a lot of stuff.”

“Great! Did he give you any clues about..?”

Alex shook his head. “Nah. Told me he’d call me by Wednesday one way or another. I’ve got my fingers crossed.”

“Pinnacle Records would be so much better than Hagar’s.”

“Totally. But it’s not really the record store—it’s the video department.”

“Still!”

“Absolutely.” Alex shook his head and looked at the ceiling. “I’d rather clean the bathrooms at Pinnacle than sling fast food at Hagar’s, any day.”

“Well, I hope you get it. Sounds cool.”

“Thanks. Me too.”

They both ate a few bites. Alex felt like he should keep the conversation going. Things just weren’t as smooth between them as on the night they met, and that worried him a little.

“So… tell me about your work.”

She laughed. “Please. It’s a bank.”

“Well, still. I’ve never worked in a bank. Do you like it?”

She shrugged. “Not really. I mean, I don’t really think about it, you know? It’s just a job; someplace to make money to pay bills.”

Alex remembered something from their marathon conversation. “A step toward the child psychology thing?”

“Well, I guess.” She dabbed her bread in marinara sauce. Alex thought she looked a little uncomfortable. “I guess a real first step would be going back to school.”

“What’s keeping you?”

“You get a job so you can move out and live on your own, right? Then you have to work to keep your apartment… and I don’t want my whole life to just be work and school, you know? I still want to hang out with my friends, go out with a nice guy…” She smiled and Alex grinned back at her.

“Well. I don’t want to keep you from your career path or anything.” He laughed.

“Don’t sweat it, believe me.” She met his eyes. “I’m right where I want to be.”

“Likewise.”

Except that wasn’t quite right. There was something off about this whole night; the whole date. Alex couldn’t figure out what it was.

It was distressing. What if their one night of full-on emotional connection was just a fluke?

He could tell she was feeling it, too… or, rather, not feeling it. She seemed tense.

Maybe it was all in his head; maybe he was trying to force the whole thing into something it wasn’t, or, at least, wasn’t yet.

It was too complicated, and it didn’t need to be. Shouldn’t be.

“Earth to Alex,” Heather said. “Where’d you go?”

He laughed, ashamed to be caught. “Sorry. I… look, are you nervous? Because I am.”

Her eyes widened with relief. “I am totally nervous.” They both laughed. “I mean… Monday night was so awesome…”

“Yeah. Kinda hard to top, I guess.” Thank God she felt it, too. Just knowing helped him relax a little.

“I bet we will,” she said. Her smile was sly.

Alex loosened up and went with it. “I bet we will.” His watch beeped at him. “We better get over to the movie theater. Probably be a line.” He caught their server’s attention and signaled for the check.

They paid and walked to Heather’s red Honda Civic. Heather stopped before walking around to unlock the driver’s side door.

“Alex.”

“Hm?”

“I don’t really want to go to the movie.”

“Oh!” This was it. Dinner proved their connection Monday night was just a fluke.

“No. I mean…”

She stepped close to him, put her hand on the back of his neck, and pulled him down to her.

Her lips were soft and warm; her tongue was firm and electric and tasted just slightly like garlic. Alex wrapped his arms around her and drew her to him. He felt his dick stiffen.

Heather put her free hand on the small of his back and pulled him closer still.

It was a pretty awesome kiss.

When they broke, Alex said, “Hi…”

“Hi.” He could feel her breathing against his chest; he was acutely conscious of the pressure of her breasts beneath her bulky sweater. “Listen…”

“Yeah?” He was having a hard time pulling breath into his lungs.

“All I want to do… all I’ve wanted to do since Monday night…”

She paused. He took the opportunity to satisfy the urge to kiss her again. She moaned, the sound traveling directly from her throat to his. He pulled back and let her finish her sentence.

“All I want to do is take you home. Right now.”

~

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