I laugh aloud as I type out my response.
Me: I’m not. You can even call my mom ;)
Sophie: LOL! I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but okay. Dinner at my place. Is tomorrow okay?
Me: I wouldn’t miss it. What’s your address?
Sophie: Um, I’m going to give it to you tomorrow, if that’s okay?
She’s catching on, I think with a grin. I probably wouldn’t be able to wait until tomorrow to go see her if I knew where she lives.
Me: Good girl.
Sophie: You should probably be running as fast as you can. I could be a crazy person.
I don’t want to scare her away, but I give her a little taste of the intensity I feel when it comes to her.
Me: I never run, Sophie. NEVER.
Me: All right, sweet Sophie. Get some sleep and message me tomorrow.
Sophie: Night, Nico.
I swear I can hear her whisper those words to me, and I let out a deep breath I didn’t realize I was holding and finally make my way inside my townhouse.
Oh God, what was I thinking? I put down my phone and look around my bedroom and then at my bed. I doubt Nico could even fit on the thing. Wait, why the hell am I thinking about him fitting in my bed? We’re not going to be in bed; we’re going to be eating in the kitchen. An image of me sitting on the counter and Nico in front of me with his head between my legs has me groaning and covering my face. Dinner… Think about dinner. What could I make him to eat? I don’t think he would be impressed with a meal consisting of Lean Cuisine.
I pull out my laptop and type in ‘food that men like to eat.’ Half the things on the list of guy-food has me gagging, like lamb. There was no way I could make lamb without thinking of a cute little lamb face. Other things on the list—like calf liver and hog trotters—just leave me feeling nauseated and wondering if men really eat that kind of stuff. After thirty minutes of searching, I decide to just make pasta with meat sauce, which seems to be a common ingredient in all the meals I’ve looked through. Meat, meat, and more meat. I lie down on my bed and start giggling. Men with meat like meat. Okay, I need help. I’m definitely nervous about tomorrow.
I haven’t dated; I have always been too scared. My mom passed away when I was fifteen, leaving only my dad to raise me. Not long after her passing, my dad started drinking. At first, it was a beer here and there, but then it turned into an every-night thing. When I was sixteen, he started going out nightly to a local bar. The bar closed at one, and thirty minutes later, my dad would come home, bringing the party with him. I never felt safe; I was constantly on edge, never knowing if someone would stumble into my room drunk or high. I told my dad that I didn’t feel safe, but he just waved it off as me being a dramatic teenager.
Then one night, I was sick—like really sick. I had a fever and needed water and Tylenol. I got up and made my way into the kitchen, and once I was there, a guy who often attended my dad’s parties cornered me in the kitchen. I remember the fear I felt when he shoved me into the corner near the fridge, away from the view of all the others. I tried to get free from his hold, but he only held me tighter, and when I attempted to scream, he covered my mouth with his as he tried to force me to kiss him. I fought back as much as I could, and when another man showed up, I felt relief—until he started helping the guy who was holding me. They were both mocking me, telling me all the horribly disgusting things they were going to do to me.
I can still remember seeing people coming in and out of the kitchen, either oblivious to what was going on or not caring. When one of them stuck their hand between my legs, I reared my head back, busting the guy who first cornered me in the nose. Blood went everywhere. His hands let me go, as did his friend’s, and I ran out of the kitchen to my room, locking the door behind me. I hid in my closet with my phone and called the police. Not long after that, my dad came into my room and found me in the closet. He looked distraught, apologizing for everything that happened, but I couldn’t care anymore. I was done making excuses for him.
Two weeks later, I got emancipated from my father and joined Job Corps. It’s what I needed at the time, the environment almost military. We had schedules we had to keep, things we were responsible for, and school, which I excelled at. I’ve never regretted what I did. The only thing I have ever regretted is losing contact with my father, but part of me felt like if I were important to him, he would have gotten into contact with me.
My phone rings, bringing me out of my thoughts. I look at the name and roll my eyes, smiling.
“Hello, Maggie,” I answer my phone, exaggerating a put-out voice. She’s always teasing me that I lead the most boring life ever, so I play it up for fun.
“Hey, bitch. What are you up to?” she asks.
We were roommates in Job Corps and have been the closest friends ever since. She still lives in Seattle and is getting married in a couple months to her longtime fiancé, Devon, who was also in JC with us.
“Geez, girl. It’s always ‘nothing much’ with you. When the hell are you going to have some good gossip for me?”
“Not everyone is a gossip slut like you,” I tell her, laughing.
“Hey, now. I’m not a gossip.”
“Sure you aren’t.” Maggie knows everything about everyone, and because of her, I know things about people I have never even met in my life—and a lot of those things are details I wish I never, ever knew.
“I can’t help it if people want to open up to me. I’m like Dr. Phil or Oprah.”
“This is true,” I say as I lie down on the couch, and I can’t help but laugh when I think about the position I’m in.
“What’s so funny?”
“Well, Dr. Phil, I met someone, and I’m now sprawled on my couch, so you wanna shrink me?”
“What?!” I hear the shock in her voice. Maggie has been trying to get me to date for years, but I have never felt comfortable with anyone before. That’s why it surprises me that Nico—Mr. Tattoo—is the one to make me feel this way. “Well, spill it, girl. Who is he? Tell me everything!”
“His name is Nico, and he is gorgeous, funny, and sweet. He asked me out and I turned him down, but then the last two days, he’s been waiting for me by my car with ice cream when I got out of work.”
“But you turned him down?”
“And you’re going out with him?”
“Well, tomorrow he’s coming over for dinner,” I clarify.