14. Sweet Pea

As she drove him to the airport, her heart was heavy. They had forged a much deeper friendship over the weekend. Sitting on the balcony of the cottage in bathrobes drinking wine out of coffee mugs, they told each other all their deepest secrets.

He closed the door to the door gently as he got out, came around to her side of the car and kissed her on the forehead. It was a quiet night at SFO and there were just a few people walking by. They didn’t say much, not even a goodbye.

As she drove away he stood on the curb to watch her, leather bag in hand. He put his hand high in the air as if to wave. His dark eyes watched as her car left his view. She wasn’t sure when she would see him again but she knew that this was the closest to love she had felt in a long time.

The next day at work, she sat at her desk and responded to hundreds of emails that she had ignored over the weekend. Her phone rang and she picked it up without looking at the caller.

Hello sweet pea…

His southern drawl was thick as honey.

She quickly remembered how they had connected on the plane ride back from Colorado and how she had promised to have dinner with him the next time he was in San Francisco. He explained that he would be in town that night and wanted to have dinner with her.

She had done enough internet searching to realize that he had won that talent show on TV that everyone loved so much and that he had spent the past few years performing on Broadway. From what she could tell he had not had a girlfriend in a few years, showing up on most red carpets solo or with his family. He was very handsome, a George Clooney look alike with eyes that sparkled like the ocean.

She agreed to meet him that night for dinner and picked the restaurant for them.

As her uber approached the restaurant she became gradually more nervous, this was not typical. Because of her job, she had spent a lot of time with celebrities, not phased by what they did in the public eye.

This was different…she really might like this one.

The Embarcadero lights sparkled and the ground was wet due to the recent summer rain. She saw him standing out front of the restaurant waiting for her with a baseball cap on to hide his trademark salt and pepper hair. She felt like running to him, his arms were outstretched and he took her into a bear hug. He felt like home.

As they went into the restaurant she took the lead, asking to be sat at a table farther away from the crowded bar. The waitress sighed as she moved them to a darkened corner, annoyed to be bothered on such a busy night. He removed his hat and the waitress instantly recognized him.

Oh, I am sorry- we didn’t realize that you would be dining with us tonight. We would have set aside our private room for you.

She embarrassedly explained to them.

He smiled a warm smile at the woman and told her it was alright.

They grinned at each other as the reviewed the menus. She instantly felt like a teenager out on a date.

I Googled you and I realized you’re kind of a big deal.

He said to her.

She laughed because he had taken the words right out of her mouth. She was pleased that someone like him had recognized her work.

So how come you haven’t been scooped up yet?

He said to her, also beating her to the punch.

She explained to him her situation and when the waitress came back took the liberty of ordering wine and appetizers for the two of them. He was not used to a woman taking control of any situation and was slightly floored when she didn’t even ask his opinion. He knew what he was dealing with, a woman who never sat on the sidelines.

After dinner she suggested that they go to Chinatown to her favorite haunt. As they ducked into the tiny bar he realized that it was a karaoke bar.

Oh, I’m not singing for you- I get paid to sing.

He said jokingly.

Oh, I don’t expect you to sing, I am going to sing.

She said, casually.

As she got up to sing he watched her walk to the stage with confidence. As she sang, she looked him straight in the eye…her nerves clearly gone. Maybe it was the wine. He was impressed but chose not to show it. When she slid onto the stool next to him she smiled a cheshire cat smile. A woman with her friends came over in a frenzy. She knew him from the cover of People magazine and wanted a picture. He was kind and sat with them to take a few.

Ladies, I am on a date here, so hope you don’t mind that I excuse myself.

He said to them after about 2 minutes of chatting, he was the epitome of Southern Charm. When they asked how the two of them met, he said with a smile:

On Tinder.

He then leaned over and kissed her tenderly as the women watched in awe.