February's Short Story Contest - "Find Me Love" Winner
DATING AN ON-LINER
BY AMANDA SIEGRIST
"Oh. My. God." Chilly's eyes bulged as she looked at the picture hanging in the middle of the wall. "Please tell me that's not your date."
Daphne smiled with satisfaction. "Uh, girl, look again. That's my date."
"I'm so damn jealous. He's like a Greek God, just sculpted into perfection."
Daphne rounded her bed, walking up to where she pinned the picture on her bedroom wall. Teenager-ish, yeah, she knew it. But she couldn't help but print out his profile picture and hang it up to drool over whenever the urge struck. Which was often.
She took a spot next to her best friend, Chilly, or Chillavella, as her horrible parents decided to name her. They both tilted their heads to the side as they stared in awe at the picture.
Bronzed skin, not the fake kind where he visited a tan salon. Oh, no. This was real, honest-to-goodness bronzed skin from the beating sun. She could already picture him shirtless; sweat gleaming off his chest, working on, well, whatever she thought he'd be doing outside in the sun. The sweat rolling down with slow precision, just waiting to be licked off. She never thought of licking sweat off before. Downright disgusting, actually. But when she pictured him shirtless, yeah, she could see herself licking off his sweat.
Perfect posture with broad shoulders showing the muscles she knew he had. Of course, she couldn't see his chest, or any defining six-pack that she knew would feel delicious under her hands. The picture only showed the profile of his face and just a hint of his shoulders. Enough to paint a beautiful picture for her.
Short, cropped black hair that made you wish it were longer so you could brush it back with a slow, delicate hand. But she could work with short hair. At least she knew she wouldn't get her fingers stuck if the urge came over to comb her fingers through his hair. Yeah, that actually happened to her once. She even managed to scrape his skull with her finger, almost drawing blood.
A strong jaw line, chiseled, some would say. Kissable, to her. Definitely kissable. Defined cheekbones with a nose just proportioned to his face. A wide mouth curved into a beautiful smile, just a hint of his white teeth showing. Perfect white teeth. Did he use a whitening of some sort? Hers were yellow like a sunflower. Although, she loved her coffee. At least three cups every morning before she could even function. She'd take yellow teeth any day for her coffee.
And his eyes. Bright blue eyes. They shined like the sky on a perfect day, no clouds blocking the view. Or like the ocean. Deep blue ocean filled with many wonders. She knew he was filled with many wonders, all those edges and curves just waiting for her fingers to touch. Or like a lake, sparkling like a diamond. A treasure just waiting to be found.
Yeah, this would be a date for the history books. She couldn't wait to meet this perfection staring back at her.
"When do you meet him?" Chilly asked breathlessly, her eyes still transfixed to the wall.
"In an hour."
Chilly pulled her eyes away from the wall to look at her friend. Her eyes slowly went from her head down to her toes. "Please tell me you're not wearing that!"
Daphne looked down at her nice, pretty black dress, and frowned. She thought it was debonair, alluring, classy. The dress had no sleeves, giving a lovely view of her shoulders. Not that she had as nice of shoulders as Brent, her Greek God, but they were lovely, nonetheless.
It scooped with grace on her chest, just giving a hint of cleavage, but not actually throwing her jugs out there for the world to see. It flowed nicely down her body, not too tightly, of course, ending at her knees. It happened to be one of those dresses, that if he chose to ask her to dance, it would twirl with style. Yeah, she really hoped he asked her to dance. She wanted to twirl a little. In fact, she had twirled some before Chilly came over.
And to top it off, a pretty bow wrapped around her waist. Like a present that he could unwrap with his heart's desire. She thought it was the perfect dress. She wanted to be unwrapped by him. The way those eyes stared her down, she felt like he already was.
"I'm wearing this. It's perfect."
"It's too conservative. This is a man who looks at a woman and says, "Yes, I'll do her." This dress doesn't say that."
"Chilly, he is not like that."
Chilly propped a hand on her hip. "Because you know him so well. You've what, been talking to him a few times on that dating website, and you think you know him to the T."
Daphne mirrored her actions, propping her hand on her hip. "I think I know him better than you. We're soul mates. I can feel it. He'll like this dress."
"I'm not letting you walk out of this house with that dress on."
Daphne sighed. "And just what do you think I should wear?"
Chilly's lips curled with devious delight. She walked to the closet, yanking open the doors. She sorted through her clothes before her eyes landed on something tucked way in the back. Her fingers curled around the outfit and carefully pulled it from the hanger. She turned around slowly, her devious smile getting creepier by the minute.
"You'll wear this one."
Daphne's eyes bulged out. "Hell, no! That's from our senior year in college when you decided I needed to get laid, for whatever reason or another. There's no way in hell it still fits. Not to mention—"
"You got laid," Chilly finished for her.
"Well, yeah," Daphne muttered. "But this isn't about sex this time. This is about finding someone to settle down with. Someone to build a life with. My soul mate."
"I know, sweetie, I know. But if you get some sex with that soul mate business, and it turns out he's not, you still had sex with a Greek God."
Daphne cringed, turning back to look at the picture of perfection. Brent. Her Brent. She looked back at the green dress dangling from Chilly's fingers. It was low cut, tight as could be, and the kind of dress that yelled commando. It would never fit. She had added a few pounds since her college days.
"It'll bring out your eyes. Your beautiful green eyes. Any time you wear green, they sparkle like an emerald. Just try it on. If it doesn't fit, then you can wear the boring black dress."
"Fine. Twist my arm," Daphne said with aggravated patience, snatching the dress from her hands. She bee-lined it to the bathroom, slamming the door shut.
"Hurry up. You have less than an hour before you officially meet your Greek God," Chilly hollered, smiling with satisfaction. She took one more look at the picture before swooning onto the bed. "I want a Greek God, damn it."
Daphne blew out a breath, then tried sucking it back in. She couldn't breathe. She couldn't think. Hell, she couldn't move from her spot. A small hand on her back, pushing her forward didn't even help.
"Quit standing there like an idiot and go inside the restaurant." Chilly tried pushing her again.
"Why are you here again? I am not a child."
Chilly raised her eyebrows in disbelief. "Apparently, you are. You're still standing outside the restaurant doors like a deer caught in headlights. And Francello's, best Italian in the city. Oh, man, is he trying to impress you. I'm so damn jealous. What can I say? I want a sneak peek at this guy in person. I need something to hold me over, some wet dreams 'til the next man walks into my life."
Daphne chuckled, although mortified as she glanced around the sidewalk. "Can you talk quieter? Geez, the things that come out of your mouth."
"That's why you love me. Quit standing around. You wanted to find a man, that's why you decided to try this on-line dating business. And shit, your first try with a date and you snag a Greek God. How do you do it?"
Daphne laughed, fanning a hand over her forehead. "I'm a sex Goddess. Only a Greek God would go well with that."
Chilly busted out laughing, pulling the door open. "After you, my sex Goddess. I'll be sitting at the bar doing some recon."
"Okay, Sergeant Sex Master." Daphne saluted her and walked inside the building.
"Ooh, I like that title. You must call me that all the time." Chilly winked, dashing away to the bar.
Daphne gave a small laugh, blew out another breath, and walked up to the hostess. "Good evening. I'm here to meet someone. Blind date, sort of. On-line dating. First time. On it all. First date with an on-liner. Is that a word? On-liner. Well, it is now. I just said it. Didn't I? First time with this guy as well. He's dreamy. I mean, the definition of perfection. I brought his picture. Do you want to see his picture?"
The hostess stared at her with glossed eyes, a bit of horror tinged in. Daphne paused, her hand frozen on the zipper to her purse. "Rambling. I'm rambling. It happens sometimes. Rare. But happens. Yeah, I'm a bit nervous. It isn't that obvious, is it?"
The hostess pressed her lips together, probably trying to hold in her laughter. She moved them into a gentle smile with ease. It was Francello's, for heaven's sakes. It wouldn't do well for their employees to laugh at their patrons.
"A little. But just take a deep breath. You look lovely. I'm sure this will be a wonderful date. We'll make sure of it here at Francello's." The hostess gave her another sweet smile. "What is your date's name?"
"Uh, right. Brent. He said he would have a red rose. So sweet, don't you think? And I'm wearing a white corsage. This way we know who each other are." Daphne held out her hand where the white corsage wrapped around her small wrist, a white bow tangled delicately within the flower.
"But, of course, it's not a blind date. We've seen each other's profile picture. On-line. You know, we're on-liner's. I feel like I should use that word a little bit more so it becomes an actual word."
Daphne recognized the look from the hostess. "Right. I'm rambling again. I'll shut up."
"He's already here. I'll escort you to the table."
Daphne held up her hand. "Wait! Just point me in the right direction. I might need to take my time. Inhale a few more deep breaths."
The hostess smiled warmly. "Of course. You'll be fine. Go straight through, then take a left. He's seated in the corner of the room. He asked for privacy."
"Mmm, privacy. How nice." Daphne's smile widened. "Thank you."
Daphne forced her feet to move, wondering why she was so jittery. She never acted like this. Well, okay, if she was honest, she did tend to get nervous anytime she dated. Which is why she didn't date much. It's why she finally took the plunge with on-line dating. She thought it would be easier to meet the guy if they talked a little beforehand. Boy, was she wrong. She could feel the nerves swimming in her stomach, like little fishies in a tank, running away for their lives as the big net came down from the heavens to swallow them up.
She took deep breaths every time she stepped forward. She probably looked like she was hyperventilating to the other patrons. She couldn't help it. She was never good at this stuff. Which is why she normally had Chilly help her out. And, while the damn green dress fit, she felt very exposed, her jugs definitely falling out in heaps. She hoped he could keep his eyes on her face. Of course, he would. He was her soul mate. He'd never stare at her like a juicy steak. How deplorable.
She turned the corner, her feet slowing more and more as she continued. She glanced around the room, her eyes zooming to the corner the hostess informed her of. Sitting on the edge of the table, a red rose, red as the blood pooling in her veins. Her heart beat erratically, her nerves now jumping like a jackhammer that lost its owner.
She saw the back of his head, his black hair just asking her to run her sweet hands through it. She started making her way to the table, a bit of resurgence flowing through her veins at the thought of doing that. She paused halfway there. His hair shouldn't be that long. It was short, cropped, barely enough for her to grasp. His hair now had a slight wave to it, long enough for her to grab a portion while they made sweet love.
Hmm, perhaps he let it grow out after he took the picture for his profile pic.
She continued, not worrying about that little detail anymore. She wanted his hair to be a bit longer anyway. She took quick, steady steps, dying to make it to the table. She took one last deep breath and walked up to the edge of the table.
His head turned towards her, instinctively knowing he wasn't alone anymore.
Her eyes dropped down in shock. "Adam! What the hell are you doing here?"
"Daphne?" His eyes dropped to the corsage on her wrist. "Shit, Daphne. What the hell?"
Her eyes darted around the restaurant, noticing a few people staring. She slid into the booth, the anger prominent on her face. "You're not Brent. Where is he?"
He looked uncomfortable. "Well, about that. I am Brent."
"No, you're not." She quickly opened her purse, pulling out his picture. "This is Brent."
He grinned like the devil. "Yeah, that's a damn good picture."
"This isn't funny, Adam."
He shrugged. "What can I say? So I used a different profile picture. I tried with my own and I didn't get many hits. You know, that's kind of a blow to a man's pride."
"And just how were you going to explain the name change and the wrong picture?" Daphne asked with irritation.
"I could ask you the same thing. You didn't use your profile picture."
"Sure I did. I just used a little Photoshop."
A long shadow fell over the table. The hostess stood with her same friendly smile. "Is everything alright? I just wanted to see what wine you would like to start with."
Daphne inhaled another breath. "You know, I'll take the most expensive bottle you have. Put it on his tab. And I would say, no, everything is not alright. This is my damn brother."