I sat on my bed waiting. Just waiting. It felt like forever as I sat there. I picked at the pail polish on my fingers, chewed my bottom lip before I got up and paced for what felt like another forever.And when the knock came I was surprised he didn’t just walk in afterwards but I took a deep breath and walked the few feet to the door around the still unopened boxes.
I took another deep breath before I opened the door. I was so nervous. And I didn’t even care if he couldn’t get me those meetings. I was excited and anxious just to be going out with this guy I’d been crushing on since I’d first seen him.
I smiled at him and he rolled his eyes. “You just saw me.”
I averted my gaze, looking at the ground as I opened the door wider. “Yeah, but this is different.”
He laughed, “Are you ready?”
I nodded, “Let me just get my keys.”
They were on the table by the door, also where my phone was but I didn’t grab it.
Alex noticed, “Take your phone too.”
I looked at him confused, “Why?”
He smirked, “So you can fake an important text if things don’t go well.”
I shook my head and left my phone there, “I’ll tell you if it’s not going well.”
Alex laughed, “Why am I not surprised?” He held out his elbow and I placed my hand on it and closed the door behind me pushing it back to make sure it latched properly. Alex added, “Where we are going is on the other side of town, I know you like to walk but’s a 2 hour and change walk. The D train will get us there in 40 mins.”
“I take it our reservation is at 8 then?”
Alex grinned, “Yeah. I can change it, I know the owner but I’d prefer not to.”
“D Train it is then.” I turned us towards the train and Alex smirked.
“Not really.” I said shyly.
“I like it. But I know you like to stick to your schedule so we’ll stick to mine.” Alex smiled. “What did you think of the stuff I sent?”
“The clothes fit, at least the t-shirts did, I didn’t try on the jeans. Thanks. I haven’t opened the boxes yet, no crow bar.”
“Fuck!” Alex growled, “I didn’t think about that.” He pulled his phone out and hit a button and held it to his ear. It rang once, “Hey Ry.” Alex started, “Can you get one of the guys to get the boxes open at Nox’s, they’re nailed shut and he couldn’t find a crow bar, I didn’t think about it when I sent them over.”
The man on the other side said a few things, and then Alex hung up with a “I will.” He put his phone back in his pocket, “They’ll be open by the time you get home.”
“Thanks, but I could have managed.”
Alex shrugged, “One less thing to worry about. It’s nothing much really. I was buying decor for the club, or my new place or something, and these were there, no one really is a plant person, and I’d probably kill them. I don’t really know why I bought them.”
“You have plants in a box?”
Alex laughed, “They were only in the box for shipping purposes, I didn’t want to get dirt everywhere.”
“What kind of plants? And why would you think I’d like them?” I frowned.
“I don’t know really. But Abby says she recognized one of them, and they are an anxiety reducer, air purifiers and stuff.”
“She told you about that?”
We descended down into the subway system and the air down there was stank and harsh and I wished we could walk, but my anxiety about being late pushed me down into the depths with Alex. The train was just pulling in and there was no way to hear so we held our conversation until we were on the train sharing a seat with me by the window. Not a place I was happy to be so I turned to face Alex a little, my knee pushing up against his.
The train jerked forward and Alex leaned over so we could talk without others eavesdropping as much, “Rider too. But don’t worry, I got a kid who is getting worse by the day. Something’s off and he hasn’t been able to tell me what.”
“It must be in the air.” I grinned at him. “The whole city feels off.” I said. But I didn’t know why I said it. I don’t remember what it felt like before almost three months ago. In those eleven weeks nothing felt exactly right. But sitting here with Alex things felt better anyway.
“How many kids do you have?” I asked.
Alex laughed, “Too many.”
“There is no such thing. You love ‘em all don’t you?”
“Of course I do.” He looked at me like I’d said he hurt them. “It’s just I never thought I’d be the kinda guy who settled down with a family, and with kids who aren’t even mine. Yes I love them. But I don’t know what changed.”
“You found someone to love and live a life with.” I frowned, “What happened?” I touched the hand that once had a blue stone ring on it.
Alex jerked his hand away and stuffed it in his pocket. “Ryan says I should forget about that.”
“Did he die?”
“You assume it’s a guy?” Alex laughed.
“So you asking me out was a fluke?” I turned away from him and stared out the window.
Alex sighed. “No. But more an urging from everyone around me.”
“We don’t have to do this.” I said. “I have an interest in another guy.”
Alex growled, “Really? So why say yes?”
“Because you were going to get me contacts for Abby and Will’s family and going on this date was the only option.”
“That’s all this is?” Alex growled again.
“I didn’t think so. I’ve been crushing on you since I first saw you in Brew. Before I found out who you were.”
“And who am I?”
“Rider’s sorta brother, owner of the building and the cafe itself. I understand if you have someone else. This is just a business deal then.”
Alex was staring down the aisle, “Is that what you want it to be?” His voice had dropped into a whisper.
“No.” I said simply and he turned to look at me, I smiled, “The guy I’m interested in is just a dream. He’s not real. At least not in the sense that I know who he is, or where he is. He’s a real person. He’s said things I could never know. I’ve dreamt about him every night for almost three months. He’s never himself, he doesn’t want to know my name. Sometimes I think he’s just playing me, but I can’t help but be in love with him.” I looked at Alex, “But he’s not real, you are. And if you want to try to move on from the memories attached to that ring, then I’d like to.” A tear fell down my cheek, “But if you don’t, or can’t then I understand, it’s not the right time. I can happily pine away for you from a distance.”
Alex laughed, “How do you know it’s the same guy every time if he’s never himself?”
I smiled, “His voice and eyes never change. And he always comes as some famous actor.”
“In your dreams…” Alex looked out the window, “Have you and he…” his voice trailed off like he couldn’t ask the question.
“Have we had sex?” I asked.
I grinned, “Just tons of it, it’s dream after all, lots of kinky fantasies.” His eyes went wide and I laughed, “No, we’ve not. We kissed once, and he left me afterwards. No explanation, and we never really talked about it again.”
“Maybe he was cheating on you?” Alex asked his voice relaxed – he had really thought I’d had sex in my dream with some guy I didn’t know who was. Not that it mattered either way, but it had worried him for some reason.
“Then goes to my whole theory that he doesn’t want me and it’s just a game to him.”
We both sat there in silence. It wasn’t awkward, but we were off in our little worlds. The conversation had gotten heavy before the date really even started.