Patrick gives Charlie a call.
A smile was plastered upon my face the entire drive back to the house I was renting with my "extended family." Not even the worst L.A. traffic could deprive my lips of this seemingly permanent expression. In a city known for its surgical and public faÃ§ade of perfection, it was refreshing to finally have a conversation with someone who:
A. had no idea who I was.
B. didn't want to fuck me due to who I was.
C. didn't have fake tits.
These were the makings of something great, something with limitless potential. The fact that she was a mother captivated me, yet petrified me all at the same time. In my experience as a product of divorced parents, the new boyfriend isn't received well, to say the least.
OK, now you're getting ahead of yourself, Patrick.
No romantic aspect was discussed ...but I did get her number and my own goodie bag. That has to mean something, right?
I pulled my car into the driveway and threw the gear into park. From the front yard, I could hear the bedlam taking place in the back. With my white bag of delectable snacks in hand, I headed around the side, into the backyard. Our kidney shaped, crystal blue swimming pool was surrounded by the usual suspects. Joe and his girlfriend Lydia were in the shallow end, floating and laughing about who knows what, while a fully dressed Andy was stationed in a lounge chair chatting away with his main squeeze. Pete could be found talking with two girls, one being Dirty's fiancÃ© Kerri and the other a girl I had never laid eyes on before. She seemed relatively normal, definitely fit Pete's dating M.O. Her short, dark hair was a perfectly messy faux-hawk and contrasted greatly with her fair skin. Covering her was a small, pink bikini top and a matching set of boy shorts sat low on her hips.
Pete's flavor of the hour, maybe?
I didn't think much of it and made my presence known.
"I come baring gifts." I held up the bag, courtesy of Charlie.
"What took you so long?" Pete placed his hands on his bare hips, replicating that of a worried mother.
"Sorry, I got caught up." I handed him the bag and headed inside for a drink. I grabbed a frosty can of soda from the large, metallic refrigerator and sat on a stool by the bar-like counter. From my pocket, I pulled out the piece of scrap paper she gave me adorning her curvy hand writing and precise numbers.
"Who's Charlie?" I jumped at the sound of Pete's garbled voice suddenly at my shoulder. I turned to see the male shamelessly chewing on what I could only hope was a brownie. Possessively, I folded up the paper and stuffed it in my pocket.
"She owns Jeremy's Bakery." Pete grinned, showing off his blacked out set of usually white teeth. Gross.
"She? Charlie is a girl?" I nodded at my incredulous friend. "I know they want equal rights, but now they've gone too far. They're taking our names."
"Yeah, soon they'll want to vote and drive cars." I mumbled as I opened my can of Dr. Pepper.
"They need to be stopped." He grinned and took a seat next to me. Having grown bored with our banter, he moved on. "And this Charlie...is she the reason you were gone for three hours?" Had it been that long?
I guess it had. When I questioned her long lunch break, she responded with "Who's gonna fire me?"
"Actually, I ran into her at the supermarket yesterday. To celebrate our second chance encounter, she invited me to lunch." My counterpart arched a thick, dark eyebrow.
"Very ballsy. She'll balance you out quite nicely." I rolled my eyes and brought the cool, metallic can to my lips. The bubbly substance rolled into my mouth and slid down my throat effortlessly, leaving behind that slick, sugary coating. "So, what's she like?"
I shrugged, finding the conversation to be kind of awkward.
"She's great." The Gossip Queen sighed, obviously not satisfied.
"Can you elaborate? What color hair does she have or how about her eyes? Is she tall or short? How old is she, what are her intentions with my Patrick?" He continued to rattle off one irrelevant question after another. I've never been one to spill my personal life to anyone, but there was something about her, something that made me want to keep her all to myself. I sighed, knowing secrets from Pete were meant to be told.
"Dark brown, gray, short, 32, and I don't know what her intentions are." I said simply. My friend stopped his interrogation and gawked at me.
"What?" He asked. I raised an eyebrow at him.
"She's 32?" I nodded. "32? Patrick, that's...like 10 years older than you." Very good, Pete. I'm quite impressed.
"I'm aware." He shook his head.
"Does she have-"
"Two of them. A girl and a boy."
"My God. You're Ashton-fucking-Kutcher. But not as dreamy." He batted his long, dark eyelashes at me. I frowned.
"You're in-fucking-sane. Up your dosage." Until then, I didn't feel that her age would have been an issue. She admitted it freely, in an unapologetic and almost defiant manner. I kind of liked that. She was incredibly honest from the start, which was amicable. But Pete's reaction was...alarming. Mr. Team Naked Pix was concerned about an age difference?
"I'm just saying...that's a lot of baggage. That's all." I shrugged. He was silent for a bit, probably concocting a question of inappropriate proportions. "How's her body? Firm?" I sighed and rolled my eyes.
"I don't know, Pete. I didn't get a feel." He hummed, stuffing the rest of the brownie in his mouth.
"Saving it for the first date? That's my boy." Through his almost incoherent ramblings, he managed to spray me with half masticated brownie crumbs. I gingerly wiped my face. "Are you gonna call her? You should invite her over. Bring the chillens, it'll be fun." And scare her away?
"I don't know yet. I'm not trying to rush anything." His expression softened noticeably.
"That's beautiful, Patrick, really." He placed a hand on my shoulder before getting up from his stool. "but it's complete bullshit." And with that, he sashayed back outside.
My cell phone sat on my nightstand, taunting me, daring me to use it. In my hand was the slip of paper Charlie gave me with her number on it. Just call her, pussy.
Slowly, I typed in her number, feeling my nerves twist and tighten with each high pitch tone. It rang a few times before the line clicked, giving way to a sweet, tiny voice.
"Hello?" My throat dried up.
"Uh, hi. Hello. Is, uh, is Charlie there?" I asked, mentally kicking myself for stuttering.
"Yes she is. May I ask who's calling please?" I smiled at the mature way her little girl spoke.
"OK, hold on one moment, please." I heard her place the phone down and run off before screaming for her mother. Before long, Charlie picked up.
"Hello?" She asked, huffing into the phone slightly.
"Hi. It's, um, Patrick."
"Hi, um, Patrick." She teased, a smile apparent in her raspy voice.
"Was that your daughter that answered?" The question stumbled from my mouth hastily. Another mental beating.
"Yeah, that was my baby." She said, beaming with pride. I nervously ran my fingers over the coarse hair adorning my round face.
"She's so polite." She laughed. Pete popped his head into my room. I waved my hand at him crazily, hoping he'd get lost. No such luck. He slumped against the doorframe, a smile upon his impish face.
"Aw, thank you. It took a lot of practice." I chuckled awkwardly. "So what's up?"
"Is that Charlie?" My friend whispered as he approached and sat down next to me on my bed. I placed my hand over the mouthpiece.
"Yes, now please go away." I hissed through clenched teeth.
"Patrick? You there?"
"Yes, yeah. Sorry."
"Invite her over. We're having a party, invite her." I gave him a light push, indicating he and his suggestion were not welcomed.
"Who is that?" Charlie asked with a laugh.
"No one impor-" Pete grabbed the phone out of my hand, much to my horror.
"Hey Charlie, I'm Pete. Patrick's best friend." I lunged for the device, but he pushed me away. "Listen, we're having some people over tonight and knowing Patty-Cakes, he won't have the guts to ask you to come." My face was immediately flushed with warmth.
"Pete!" I attempted to be stern, but to no avail. He chuckled into the phone at something she said.
"Bring them. I have excellent babysitting credentials. My references are a little shady, but-" I snatched the phone from him and shoved him away.
"I'm sorry about him, Charlie. We think he has Tourettes. We're looking into it." She laughed heartily.
"It's OK. No harm done. But I still have to turn down your invitation." I frowned, feeling my heart sink with disappointment.
"Oh. Well...that's alright. No big deal."
"Maybe we can meet up another night. How's Tuesday?" I shook my head. No good. We'll be in the studio all day.
"I can't on Tuesday. Maybe Wednesday?"
"Sure. Dinner and a movie?" I smiled stupidly.
"Yeah. I know this great Italian restaurant downtown called Casa Mia...if that's OK." She gasped.
"I love that place! Is 6 o'clock OK?" My head nodded vigorously, as if she could see it.
"6 it is. I'll see you then."
"OK. Bye Patrick."
"Later, Charlie." I pressed "end" and flopped down on my bed, a goofy grin tugging on my lips. Pete stood with a similar smirk upon his face.
"I totally hooked you up."
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