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Author: S.J. Tilly








“Are you sure you don’t just want to drop that off and go back to my place?” Lee glances at me as the light turns green and he takes his foot off the brake. “It’s kinda early for dinner.”

I look down at the chilled pan of lasagna in my lap, the tin foil top crinkling under my grip. “I know it’s early, but it’s not like we’re gonna eat the second we get there.” I try not to take it personally that he doesn’t want to try my cooking. “And it hasn’t been that long since Mandi’s surgery, so she probably goes to bed pretty early.”

Lee drums his fingers on the steering wheel. “She’s not contagious or something, is she?”

My mouth pops open and it takes me a moment to reply. “She had to have back surgery because of a fall.”

I want to add so unless you can catch clumsiness, then no, it’s not contagious. But the look of exasperation he aims my way is enough to shut me up.

Pressing my lips together, I look out the window, letting Lee follow the voice commands of the GPS to my friend’s house.

When we met last month, his highbrow, buttoned-up personality appealed to me. He’d seemed sophisticated, and it had been a long time since a good-looking man had been outright flirtatious with me.

I’d soaked up his charm like a sock in a puddle. And he was super considerate on our first date. And still very kind on our second. But ever since he opened the door for me today, he’s been a bit of a butthole.

I figured the whole sex on the third date thing was just a saying. But he’s acting kind of… whiny. And I have to wonder if he’s being that way because he thought we’d be sleeping together.

Which is stupid. Because this isn’t that sort of date. And he was the one who volunteered to come with me today. Probably should have taken that as a sign––the fact he weaseled his way into today when I told him I was free tomorrow.

I use my fingers to make sure the tin foil is secure.

I hadn’t planned to introduce Lee to anyone until we were serious. And now, I think it’s safe to say we won’t be getting serious because I have no intention of seeing him again. This behavior isn’t attractive at all.

Plus, I know I told him that Mandi had surgery on two of her vertebrae.

Is she contagious?

Who asks that?

Lee turns on his blinker, slowing to take the turn onto Mandi’s street.

“If you don’t want to hang out, I totally understand.” I tell him, hoping he’ll take the out I’m offering. “You could always just drop me off.”

“No,” he sighs, “I said I’d come, and I’m a man of my word. How would it look to your friend if I didn’t show up?”

My teeth press into my bottom lip. This is my chance to tell him I didn’t mention him to Mandi because I wasn’t sure he was really going to come.

But I don’t want to come off rude and make the next few hours extra awkward.

I lift a hand to point. “It’s the yellow house. There’s a driveway around back, but I think it’s okay to park on the street here.”

We’re in a nice middle-class neighborhood not far from Minneapolis. The mature trees cover the street in shade, guarding us against the hot July sun.

Lee parallel parks his car into one of the open street spots, and I wait until he’s turned off the engine before unbuckling and opening my door.

It takes a little maneuvering to climb out of his low sports car without dumping the pasta into my lap, but I manage.

When he walks around the back of the car to join me on the sidewalk, I hold out the dish. “Can you hold this for a second?”

I’m almost surprised when he takes it without comment, so I don’t waste any time straightening my clothes.

It was hard to decide on an outfit for today. Since I’ve only seen Lee twice, or three times if you count the night we met, I’m still in the dress to impress phase. But my friend just had freaking back surgery, meaning it’s unlikely that she’d dress up for a stay-at-home early dinner. So, I cut the difference with a pair of frayed jean shorts, a floral print tank top that shows off my cleavage, and gold ballet flats.

The shorts creeped up way too much while sitting, so it takes some wiggles and yanks to get the material back in place. They’re cute, and objectively they look good, but I’ve never liked my legs––they’ve always been too big–– which means I can’t think about wearing them because I’ll overthink, and it will stress me out. But I do like that they’re just long enough to keep my thighs from rubbing together. Because the only thing more painful than the company of a disappointing man, is chafing.

I shake my head at myself, as I run my hands down the front of my top. The bold pattern helps to visually flatten some of my… ripples.

You’d think after thirty-two years of being “big boned”, as my family put it, I’d know how to dress myself, but I’m still trying to figure it out. Thanks to some great body-positivity accounts I found on social media earlier this year, I’ve been trying hard to embrace my softness by wearing tighter, more revealing clothes. It’s supposedly a way for me to embrace my sexuality, rather than always trying to hide my body. And it’s going okay, but it’s a process. And the weird vibes for Lee have me feeling a little overexposed at the moment.

He holds out the lasagna, clearly not willing to carry it up to the house for me.

It’s on the tip of my tongue to tell him to leave, but a thanks comes out instead.

Lee sweeps an arm toward the sidewalk. “After you, m’lady.”

A smile pulls at my lips as I step past him.

Okay, maybe I’m being too harsh on Lee today.

When we reach the front door, Lee reaches past me to ring the bell, then moves so we’re standing side by side.

It takes a few moments––as is expected––before the door swings open revealing my friend.

“Savannah?” Mandi’s face is covered with a confused smile.

“Hi!” I greet her with a grin. “Look at you walking around!”

She snorts and gives her walker a little shake. “The docs tell me I need to stay mobile.”

“Well, you look amazing,” I tell her.

“Thanks.” I watch her eyes slide over to Lee then back to me. “I didn’t know you were seeing anyone,” she uses a stage-whisper, knowing the man next to me can hear everything.

Not sure what to introduce him as, I just tell her, “This is Lee.” Tipping my head in his direction since my hands are still full.

They exchange the usual pleasantries as they shake hands before Mandi turns back to me. “Sorry, I’m getting distracted. What are…” Her eyes drop to the heavier-by-the-moment pan of lasagna in my hands. “Oh my god, was that today!?” She smacks a palm against her forehead. “I thought it was next Saturday that you were coming over.”

“Oh no!” Heat creeps up my neck. If she sends us away, I’ll melt from embarrassment. “It’s probably me that was wrong.” I say it, even though I checked our text messages four times over the last four days, making sure I had the right time. “Well, you can pop this in the freezer if you want.” I lift the food. “Save it for another day. Or next weekend.”

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