Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 14
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part Two
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part Three
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 4
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 5
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 6
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 7
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 8
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 9
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 10
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 12
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 11
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 13
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 14
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 17
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 15
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 16
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 18
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 19
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 20
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 21
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 22
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disaster at Age 40: Part 23
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 24
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 25
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Epilogue
Recently divorced Anna Waite is learning to appreciate life after first love. With the support of her best friend Kira and a solid sense of humor, Anna tackles the world of dating. This is her coming-of-middle-age story.
THE (NON) DATE WHERE I MAKE BROWNIES
I just got kicked out of the wedding. The text I sent Dylan glows on my phone, and I shake my head, still floating in disbelief at what happened.
Leaning against my van, I glance at the reception center. A picture-perfect scene greets me, complete with a white barn, lantern-lined walkway, and giant flowering magnolias. Pinks and corals paint the sky, and my smile melts with the sinking sun. I miss being married. Not to the ex-hole. I’d rather get a full body wax and traipse naked through a leech-filled marsh. But the companionship of marriage. Someone by your side, to help fight your battles, to act as a sounding board, and to talk to after you get kicked out of a wedding.
A pang of melancholy sighs from my lungs. Is it weird that I want the ideal? The handsome man, picket fence, and happily ever after? Being alone is… lonely.
My phone rings, and Dylan’s name lights up the screen. Flutters fill my tummy, the same, uncontrollable butterflies that make an appearance every time he calls. Or texts. Or pops in my mind.
After a slow breath, calm down butterflies, I answer the call. “What a surprise. I wasn’t expecting to hear from you.”
“Uh huh. Sure.” His smooth, butter tone does nothing to quell my trembling tummy. “You can’t give me a teaser about being ejected from the wedding like a rowdy fan at a ball game and not expect to tell the full story.”
Ignoring that I want to wrap up in his voice and live my best burrito life, I clear my throat. Stupid loneliness. “You know how these things go for me. Another date, another disaster.”
“Anna,” he says my name with such warmth, the way others use an endearment like honey or sweetheart. “What’s going on? You seem a little off.”
“I’m fine.” Climbing inside the van, I throw my purse on the passenger seat and put my phone on speaker.
“You sound sad. Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Don’t worry. No Anna’s were hurt in the making of my reception banishment.” Except, instead of an evening out, I’ll go home to an empty house. Mike has the boys, and sometimes when the walls echo and the silence stretches, the solitude threatens to break me.
“Then what’s up? Was your date mean? Do I need to flex my deltoids at him?” He adopts the same tone when he asked if I wanted him to fire Jason.
“No need to break out the big guns.” I laugh, but it sounds tired. Rubbing the space between my eyes, I lean back. Since Dylan established the friend zone in our relationship, I might as well be honest. “My boys are with their dad, and sometimes I don’t know what to do with myself when the house is empty.”
“That’s the worst. I call it The Blahs.”
“Yes.” Of course, he gets it. Why did I doubt? “You know when you take those ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ tests? I need a ‘what do you want to do after you get divorced’ test. Instead of astronaut or world class belly dancer, I need some multiple-choice options like, learn to knit or take up kayaking.”
“You wanted to be a world-class belly dancer?” Humor lights his voice, and it alleviates some of the melancholy.
“Didn’t you?” My van chugs as I turn the key, guzzling sixteen gallons of gas before springing to life. And by life, I mean in a zombie, undead kind of way. The Mom-mobile needs a resurrection miracle.
“Is that your car?” Dylan asks.
“If you mean the unholy sound of grinding metal, then yes.” The white barn reflects in my rearview mirror as I leave the parking lot and head toward home.
“I know a guy if you need a good mechanic.”
“That’d be great,” I say. “Or one of these days I’ll be stranded on the side of the road, showing some leg to get help.”
“Showing leg always works for me.” His deep chuckle fills the phone line. “Hey, come over.”
“What?” Did he say what I think he said?
“It’s The Blahs here too. Savvy’s with her mom. Your boys are out.” He pauses taking a breath. “Come hang out with me.”
Knitting a sweater, kayaking, or hanging out with Dylan Pound? “What’s your address?”
In fifteen minutes, I drive into a neighborhood with sprawling oaks lining the street. The map on my phone directs me to a red brick two-story on the corner. I almost label it the Deltoid Den, but thinking of snuggling in his embrace, into the real Deltoid Den, I change my mind.
Knocking on the door, I mentally prepare myself for seeing him. Just friends, my brain reminds me. No kissy face with the funny, attractive, caring guy who makes me dream of picket fences.
The door opens, and Dylan stands there in all his glory. Happy eyes. Dreamy deltoids. “You made it,” he says, his smile bright. “Come in.”
I cross the threshold, into his space. “Well, it was this or my online class for watching paint dry.”
“Tough call. I feel privileged for making the cut.” He leads me through a front room with black leather couches, and into the kitchen. Dark cabinets complement a creamy, swirled granite, and a large, square island takes up the middle.
Ingredients cover the counter, and I walk over, picking up a canister of brown sugar. “Are you making something?”
Biting his lip, he glances away. Aww, he looks embarrassed. “Hearing about the sacred brownie and knowing how much you like chocolate, I thought we could, you know—” he circles his hand, encompassing the array of stuff on the island—“make brownies.”
He thought of me, wanting me to have a better night. The stomach butterflies go wild. Why does he have to be so perfect? I put a hand over my belly and hold the flutters in place. “FYI, you don’t need brown sugar in brownies.”
“Seriously? It’s there in the name. Brown.”
I keep my face straight, not even cracking a small smile. “You have much to learn, young grasshopper. Let me teach you how to make a delectable dessert.”
I’ve made brownies exactly four million times, and the remembered recipe flows from my brain to my hands. Dylan watches and asks questions about the wedding (yes, I really got kicked out because Grandma thought I was stealing her recipe. No, I didn’t connect with my date, although the Elvis stripper seemed nice). Laughter fills the kitchen, mine and his, The Blahs erased by our conversation.
“And now they bake.” I pour the completed batter into the glass pan and slide it in the oven. Normally, I lick out the bowl, but with Dylan here, I try to act more civilized. At least until he swipes a finger into the mix. Then all bets are off.
“This is really good,” he says.
“I’m a pro; what can I say.” Trailing my own finger around the bowl, I slurp the raw batter like a heathen. Chocolate deliciousness dissolves on my tongue, and I close my eyes for a second, to savor the flavor. “Now that I’ve taught you the art of brownie making, I hope you can share some knowledge with me.”
“Sure. What’s up?” He swoops another finger into the bowl.
“I need some professional advice because I have this idea.” Suddenly my mouth feels dry, the words heavy in my throat. “For a business. Well, more like a school. To teach etiquette to the modern man.”
“Really?” He rests a hip against the counter and leans towards me. “Tell me about it.”
“Oh.” I’m caught off guard by his interest and freeze with batter halfway to my mouth, which I quicky eat before answering. “I have a lot of experience with guys who don’t know how to treat a woman. If anyone could open a business to offer a guiding hand, teach them how to be gentlemen, I could do it.”
“Great idea!” He nods as he begins clearing the counter. “And it’s a business we need. Guys like Jason, who ask girls out to build his gym clientele, might actually find a real partner. Not ex-wife number six.”
Excitement bubbles like a shaken soda at his enthusiastic response. “You really think this could work?”
“Yeah.” He smiles, opening his pantry to put the ingredients away. “And I know a perfect location.”
I take the bowl to the sink and rinse it. “Where?”
“Two doors down from the gym there’s an open storefront.”
Water hisses from the faucet and I turn it off to make sure I heard him clearly. “Wait. What?”
“I told you I have a few real estate ventures. One of them is the strip mall where the gym is.” He walks to the counter, placing his hands on the granite. “I own the whole block of shops. You should check it out and see if the space would work for you.”
“That would be amazing.” I move to stand across from him, the island between us. Waiting for his reply, I lean to match his stance, but he stays quiet. His gray eyes slowly wander over my face and a wave of self-consciousness makes me wipe a hand across my mouth. “Did I get batter on me?”
“A little.” His eyebrows crease, his expression serious. With both of us tilted across the island, our gazes a whisper away, he reaches out. His thumb rubs a spot below my bottom lip. My insides warm like the brownies baking in the oven.
His chest rises and falls in a heavy rhythm. I feel his heart beating where his thumb touches. The rubbing stops, and his hand lowers. His eyes wage a war between closing the distance and pulling away. I stop all motion, even breathing, suspended in a reality where picket fence Dylan stares at my lips.
And then he straightens, giving me his back, running both his hands through his hair. “How long do the brownies bake?” he asks, as if he wasn’t about to kiss me.
“Uh, another thirty minutes.” I shake my head, trapped in the attraction fog. Did I imagine the intensity of his gaze? His need that was almost an ache?
“Great.” He turns around, his eyes taking a brief detour to my mouth.
No. I didn’t imagine it.
We spend the rest of the evening talking about the etiquette school and devouring brownies. At his first bite, he closes his eyes and moans a long mmmm of delight. Another image for my mental locket: Dylan Pound eating a brownie.
When I finally get up to leave, he walks me to the door. “Anna, I really want to help you make this happen,” he says.
“Having the ear of a successful business owner would be priceless.” I smile over my shoulder as I step into the dark night.
Cicadas hum, their buzz carrying on the slight breeze. The smell of brownies lingers in the house, mixing with the fresh air, and I take a deep breath. Dylan watches me, an arm propped high on the door frame. “I think we’ll make a great team.”
You and me both. “I’ll be in touch,” I say, making my way to my van.
Cringing at the undead Mom-mobile fighting for life, I pull away from the curb and wave goodbye. As I leave the neighborhood, hope blooms in my chest. Somehow, I’ve leveled up in life. A business looms on the horizon. I am independent and strong, chasing my dreams. And Dylan Pound, the manly picket fence ideal, almost kissed me.
Things are looking up.