“On the house,” Allen presented her with a full glass of wine.
“Thank you,” she said, not looking up from her phone screen. She was obviously not interested in him, but Allen didn’t care.
“What is a pretty girl like you doing in a place like this?” he asked her. She looked up from her phone.
“Waiting for my fiancé,” she said. Normally, this would deter someone from hitting on a woman, but not Allen.
“Well, that is a damn shame,” Allen said. “Someone like you can’t be off the market already. You haven’t even had a night with me yet!”
She rolled her eyes and grabbed her wine glass from the bar top. Without a word, she left the bar area and headed for a table in the corner. Far away from Allen.
“Allen!” I exclaimed. “What is your deal?”
He shook his head.
“I was just speaking the truth, man! That chick needs to have a night with me before she commits to a lifetime of misery.”
“It isn’t just all about sex,” I told him. “You’re thirty. Don’t you want to settle down?”
Allen let out a hearty laugh.
“Nah, man,” he said. “Settling down is for pussies. I’m telling you, Cayden, don’t do it again, man. Stay single.”
I sighed. Obviously, coming here was a mistake. While Allen was my friend, we were on two different pages when it came to relationships. He would be no help with this Tiffany saga. I threw a twenty-dollar bill on the bar top.
“Leaving already?” Allen asked. I nodded. Coming here was a bad idea. I should have realized that Allen would have no advice for me.
I got in my car and texted my mom, letting her know that I would be over to pick up Austin shortly. After that, I dialed my sister’s number.
“Hello?” My sister, Sarah, picked up the phone.
“Hey, sis,” I greeted her.
“Hey, Cayden!” Her voice was enthusiastic, despite being a tired, working mom. I always went to her for advice, especially with raising Austin. She had two kids of her own. She never judged me and always gave great advice. I wasn’t sure why I hadn’t consulted her on this earlier.
“I need your advice,” I told her, getting straight to the point. For the second time that I night, I explained my Tiffany situation to someone else. Again, I felt silly for being so involved after one date, but there was something about this girl that I could not shake.
“What do you think?” I asked, after I told her about the past few days.
“I’m not sure, Cayden,” she said. “It seems like she is interested in you but is probably just scared to get hurt. Your co-worker did say she had a bad past. Maybe she really got her heart broken and is just scared to move on. Has her past ever come up before?”
“No,” I replied. Maybe that was the missing piece. Maybe once I understood her past, we could move on together. I know it would be hard to convince her, but I’d no intentions of breaking her heart.
“If I were you, I would just ask her on another date,” Sarah said. “But take it slow, Cayden. If she really does exude this sadness, she probably has a troubled past. Plus, you two work together. She just started, so if something went south, she would be the one to lose her job, not you.”
I’d never considered that part before. My sister was right. If something went wrong between us, one of us might get fired or decide to quit. I wasn’t even sure if we were allowed to date under work protocol. It was probably something that I should look into.
“Just don’t rush anything,” Sarah continued. “That is the worst thing you can do in a situation like this.”
She was right. She was saying everything that I already knew. I just needed to hear the words from someone else. Someone who actually knew how relationships should work, unlike Allen.
“Thanks, sis,” I said, ending the phone call. I was glad that I’d made the decision to call her. I drove toward my mom’s house, thinking about what to do next. I would call Tiffany in the morning and ask her on a date for that evening.
Why did I sign up for this? I cursed myself as I tried to follow along in yoga class. Mandy had talked me into purchasing a ten-class yoga package at the new studio by our place. I don’t know why I’d agreed to do it. It was only the second class and I was ready to be done.
I looked over at Mandy. Despite being the same size as me, she was perfecting every pose as if she were a 100-pound ballerina. I felt a pang of jealousy. She made everything look so easy.
Finally, the instructor told us to get into corpse pose. It was my favorite position because you just laid on your mat for five minutes. If all we had to do was corpse pose during yoga class, I would have loved it. The other poses made me feel too uncomfortable and self-conscious.
We all laid there quietly, and Cayden popped into my head. I’d been thinking about him constantly since our date and it scared me. I was beginning to feel things that I hadn’t felt for a while. But, every time I took a step forward with Cayden, I took two back. I could not let him hurt me like Brad had. Plus, I still wasn’t sure of his intentions.
Nikki told me that he really liked me, but I couldn’t believe it. Even after our dinner and kiss, I still had doubts. What if it was just an office bet to get into my pants? Until I could figure out what was going on, my best bet was to stay away from him.
Before I could think any further, the instructor had us get into a seated position.
“Namaste,” she said, signaling the end of class. Thank God. I didn’t care if I lost my money, I would not be coming back.
“Don’t you feel great?” Mandy asked, as we rolled up our mats. She was glowing. I shot her a dirty look.
“No,” I said. “I’m not as flexible as you. This sucks.”
“You’ll get better, Tiffany.”
“Want to get some coffee?” she asked. Yes. I hadn’t had any all morning. Maybe that was part of the reason that I was so cranky.
We returned our yoga mats and walked next door to grab a cup of coffee. After we ordered, we grabbed a seat near the window. The city was just beginning to wake up.
“Any plans this weekend?” Mandy asked. I shook my head. I knew what she was really asking. She wanted to know if I was seeing Cayden. I filled her in on our date, but I left out the part about me ignoring him afterwards. I knew she would just scold me for being so rude.
Mandy had never liked Brad and wanted me to move on. She had been trying desperately for the past year to get me to date again. If I told her that I’d pulled this little stunt, she would have lost her damn mind.
“So, the kiss was just a kiss?” she asked. “You didn’t invite him inside afterwards?”
I shook my head.
“Just a kiss,” I said, sipping my latte.
She shook her finger at me.
“I saw his picture on Facebook! He’s a hunk, Tiffany! You need to move this train a little faster!”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked.
“You know what that means! S-E-X.”
“Mandy!” I exclaimed. I could not believe that she was being so blunt. I was glad that we were the only two in the coffee shop at the time, otherwise, I would have been completely embarrassed. Mandy made everything seem so easy. She had never gotten her heart broken before, so she didn’t know any better.
“I don’t even think he wants to have sex with me!” I told her in a whisper. “I mean, look at me and look at him.”
Mandy scoffed at me.
“Please,” she said. “That is complete and utter bullshit. You’re gorgeous! Plus, you might not realize it, but you’re in a lot better shape than before Brad left you. All those walks we did to get your mind off things really shed some pounds, girl.”
She was right. With Brad, I’d been severely overweight. The breakup had caused me to lose some weight. While I still was a curvy girl, I was much healthier than I’d been before. If I could only shed my insecurities, as well.
“He has a little boy,” I told Mandy. “I’ve never dated someone with a kid before.”