July 14, 2015 – Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three,Chapter Four, Chapter Five, Chapter Six,Chapter Seven,Chapter Eight, Chapter Nine,Chapter Ten, Chapter Eleven, Chapter Twelve, Chapter Thirteen, Chapter Fourteen, Chapter Fifteen
A lazy Sunday afternoon was best spent in front of the TV watching old movies, or reading a book. That was all she had the energy to do after the morning’s showdown with her family, a term she used rather loosely because the group included her mother. So, when Fiona asked her if she wanted to have dinner at the Chinese restaurant a few blocks down, it seemed like the perfect diversion.
“What happened at brunch?” Fiona asked as they walked down the street.
“Why would you ask,” Jenny replied, “You got home early.” Jenny shrugged. “Are you spying on me?” “
Hardly,” Fiona said laughing. “I can’t help if I hear your door open and shut each time you come home. I guess that’s something I should complain to the landlord about.”
Jenny received the message and smiled. “OK,” she said. “I didn’t mean to give you attitude.”
“That’s OK. I know you have a lot on your mind. I kind of figured they all said something stupid to you about the wedding or something and you left.”
Jenny looked at her friend and realized this intuitive woman was clever. She was definitely wasting her talents. “You’d be right about that,” Jenny admitted. “My mother suggested that I ask Mr. Hiller to the wedding so I don’t embarrass anyone by not having a date.
Fiona laughed. “Has she met Mr. Hiller? What did you say?”
“I told her she was rude, and that he had lost his wife so it was inappropriate.”
“I wonder if he would go with you.”
“Fiona! I just said it’s not appropriate to joke about him.”
“I actually wasn’t joking, but I do see your point. Hey, if having a date is important to you, hire someone. I saw a movie last night about that very thing.”
The night air felt chilly, and she nestled her hands deep into the pockets of her coat and shrugged. “You want me to hire an escort.”
“To escort you to a wedding, yes. Not in the traditional sense, although that might be an added bonus.”
“Fiona, that’s disgusting. I would never do that in a million years.”
“Have sex?” “Not with a hired stud,” Jenny replied. “Why not? When was the last time, Jenny? Really?”
Jenny looked at her friend with shock on her face, yet she shouldn’t really be surprised. “That’s none of your business, Fiona,” she said.
“Oh, come on. It’s girlfriend talk, that’s all. I’ll tell you the last time I had sex.”
Jenny laughed. “And with great detail, I’m sure. These things are just private to me.”
“So, you have had sex before?” Jenny stopped.
“Fiona!” she said a lot louder than she expected. She was embarrassed by her outburst and the conversation, and looked around to see if anyone was watching. No one was. They never were. “I’m sorry, but I’m curious. You never talk about it,” Fiona said, not about to give up.
“Yes, I lost my virginity in college like most people,” Jenny said, her voice dripping with sarcasm and embarrassment. “I’m not completely an old maid, you know. Now, let’s change the subject. Were you home last night? You didn’t answer the door when I knocked.”
Fiona looked down at the pavement. “I didn’t answer purposely,” she said. “You were pretty rough with me at breakfast yesterday, and I was a little ticked.”
“Rough on you? What about the line of questioning I just had to endure?”
Fiona wouldn’t look at her. “Look, I’m sorry if I hurt you.” Fiona smiled. “I’m not sorry I said it. You needed to hear it, but I should have taken a softer approach.”
“I know you’re right, but I don’t want to hear that right now, Jenny. I’m not ready. So, let’s change the subject again. Why don’t you try online dating? You might meet someone nice, and you still have a few months before the wedding, right?”
Jenny shrugged. “I am not about to turn my whole life upside down and do things I’d never be inclined to do because of a stupid wedding.
“Why don’t you try online dating?”
“We’re not discussing me, remember? You’re the one who needs to learn to take a few chances and put yourself out there. It’s the way people date today.”
There it was again. The same message hit her square in the face; first from Mr. Hiller, then her mother, and now Fiona, and she still fought it. “I’m not sure what you mean,” she said. “I took a chance and came out to dinner with you tonight. I never do that.”
Fiona smiled. “Ok, but that’s not what I meant. Besides, I have something to tell you that may change your mind.”
“Oh, yeah, what’s that? And does this mean we’re talking about you again?” Fiona laughed and punched her in the arm.
“It’s not easy for me to admit this, Jenny, but I took a long hard look at my life and my past relationships, and you’re right. They fail because I choose unavailable men.”
Jenny looked at her friend with surprise. “Well, blessed be!” What a huge admission for her, and a giant step towards recovery.
“I know what you’re thinking,” Fiona stated, “that I won’t stick to it, but I will try hard. I know I am my own worst enemy, but I’m working hard to change that. It’s been pure torture, but I haven’t even attempted to call Doug the past few days.”
“Fiona, I’m proud of you,” she said. “There are plenty of eligible men around town who would love to date you.” “Do you happen to have their phone numbers? Because if that’s true, they aren’t knocking down my front door. That’s why I joined a new dating service for center city singles. And that’s why I put up a profile for you, too.”
Fiona shrugged. “No I didn’t. I wanted too. But that little voice in the back of my head told me that you should be the one doing it, not me.”
“That little voice is wise,” Jenny said.
“But that doesn’t mean I’m going to give up on getting you to build a profile, too. We could do this together, Jenny. You could help cure me.” Jenny laughed.
“That’s not fair.”
“All is fair in love and war.”
Once they reached the restaurant, Jenny peeked into the window and froze. There in the red upholstered booth, the half-circular kind that let you sit close to the person you’re dining with, Andrew and Melissa sat enjoying a Chinese feast, and acting like playful teenagers in love for the first time. They looked ridiculous the large booth, obviously meant for a larger party. It swallowed them as they sat closely side by side. Her stomach dropped to her feet and she realized that this day, this week really, had been one of the toughest emotionally.
“Who’s that?” Fiona asked well aware of the sudden tension. “Is that Andrew and that girl from book club?”
Jenny nodded, trying to hold back the tears.
“She’s nothing special,” Fiona said, giving her the once over. “Her hair needs a good conditioning – too many split ends for me – and someone needs to tell her how to dress.”
“She’s lovely,” Jenny said. “And Andrew knows that, too.” One glance at the happy couple told her everything she needed to know how they felt about each other. No makeup or beauty treatment could have made her look better. She wore the look of love.
“She’s certainly no beauty,” Fiona stated, contradicting Jenny’s thoughts.
It may have been true that Melissa wasn’t a conventional beauty – she actually looked like a little like Bette Davis with her big eyes and not one of her favorite actors by far, although she did love the movie “All About Eve” – but as she watched him kiss her on the cheek, she knew he was happy.
“You know I’m more in the mood for deli,” Fiona said. “How about we go have a sandwich instead?”
“This is exactly why I don’t take chances,” Jenny said ignoring her friend’s request, and continuing to stare at the happy couple. “It hurts too damn much.”