Mate Dates

After running away from her husband to be, budding novelist Mara hides away in a bar, not really caring she's still in her wedding dress. In this bar, she encounters Garrett, the man she hasn't seen in ten years.
Garrett very well knows who Mara is, even if Mara doesn't recognise him through her whiskey haze, but he doesn't really mind her being there, so there she stays.

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Author's note

A novella half inspired by Procrastination and binge-watching How I Met Your Mother. Enjoy :)
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4. Awkwardness

 

Four: Awkwardness

Mara

 

I have no place left to go but my mothers. So, I spend my morning trying to convey to my family why I left Peter, a man who they thought to be the perfect husband to be.

“Do you know the audacity of having to tell Aubrey Lewis that my own daughter has run away like a floozy?” Mother tries to propose, waving an apple aloft like that will suddenly make me change my mind.

“Who cares about Aubrey Lewis, what about the fifteen grand she flushed down the toilet yesterday?” my father interjects and that’s why I love my father, always focused on the money side of things rather than social. My mother gapes at him like a dead fish.

My sister is being quiet, a hand on her chin as she sits at the back of the table. She hasn’t said a word, just pointed looks to me and the bridesmaids dresses now hung on the back of the kitchen door to be sent to the cleaners.

“Aubrey Lewis is a busybody mother, she was going to complain even if I married Peter. The money thing is on me and yes I’ve wasted it but I can make it back and I haven’t left him in any financial debt for anything I did.” I had been adamant about paying everything before the wedding and it is a good thing I did.

“Ah yes, make it back by that book you’re writing,” it’s the first words Marlene has spoken and they are in a scoffing tone. The kitchen lapses into tense silence as I scowl at her. I had always wanted to be an author, even Garrett knew that, but when my first manuscript got refused by no less than nine publishers I had hit a roadblock. Now I was trying to write it again, take another angle on it and it wasn’t working no matter how hard I tried.

“Those are also not your clothes so you spent it with a man, what an adventurous life you lead Mara,” she’s not done yet, scrutinising me down to the last detail. She’s going to make me kick and scream to give her the answers she wants.

I sigh, “I ran into Garrett Brown at a bar last night, he let me sleep off the drink in his apartment, nothing happened.”

My mother lights up at the name, “Garrett as in high school Garrett?” she asks. I nod and I know I have them hooked, my family loved Garrett and missed him when he wasn’t around. My sister harrumphs in the corner and I have to hide my smile.

I still spend the next two hours trying to hide my hangover in stolen wedding food, telling my parents how I realised how unhappy I would have been and yes it was a mistake to call it off yesterday instead of months ago but I hadn’t seen it then.

They tell me of how Peter spent most of the night crying into Megan’s low cut dress, but crying nonetheless, insisting on not knowing that anything was wrong in our relationship. Each anecdote makes me realise how I will have to face him sooner rather than later but I can’t be bothered, not today.

Later I sulk off to the Book Nook, the only place that’s right in my world. I get stopped several times on the street by people who think they know why I left Peter like they know better than I do, and my faith in humanity plummets.

Ah, this is the bed I have to lie in now and it feels awfully squishy.

 

Garrett

She left. Before I even woke up. I know it as soon as I parade to the living room, asking her if she wants breakfast because my words are spoken to a ghost. It’s a shame and I rattle down to the bar where I know Billy will be. He tells me in short words as I sulk against the counter and then I spend most of the day sulking and encouraging myself to wander to Book Nook on Thirty Third Street.

I eventually decide to go in the afternoon, an escape plan already in mind as I approach the quaint shop. As I see the window, decorated in a pyramid of books and paper ornaments, I recognise why Mara bought the place and how often I walked past it without realising. I cringe as someone bumps into me, “You’re either in or you’re out pal,” they say as they come out of the door and I have to make my move, the bell tolling my entrance. A voice chides me that it tolls my death instead but I ignore it.

She sits at the desk with her hair pulled high on her head still in the t-shirt I lent her but in jeans this time. She doesn’t look up as I approach and I try to think of ways to say hello.

Each one sounds just as stupid as the last.

I near the desk, bail at the last second and go careening into the safety of the bookshelves and I can tell that her eyes swivel in the direction I move in at the last second. But she doesn’t see me and I breathe a sigh of relief.

But it doesn’t last for long; I’m in the erotica section, a small shelf compared to the others, but full of tomes with glistening chests and provocative titles.

Think Garrett, what’s the best way to get Mara Thompson’s attention?

Why a really bad book of course!

Great, now I’m answering myself.

I peel a book from the shelf, not looking at its title or cover and open it to a random page, stealing my nerves as my eyes catch on a particular phrase. “My eyes are drawn to his sweat dripping chest almost as much as he is fixated on my heaving bosom, liking the way the milky flesh pulls taut against silk. I gulp, my breath coming faster and his hands come up to caress what his eyes desire. 'Oh Jack!'"

She looks up as I moan dramatically and her eyes fold at the corners, crinkling in a way that’s familiar even though it’s aged many years. “Please close that horror before you draw away customers,” she begs and I slap it onto the desk.

“And what if I don’t?” the words come easy, then I realise how flirty they sound. Jesus.

She raises an eyebrow, “Then I’ll have to ask you to leave.”

“You’re the one that invited me here in the first place,” I joke, “But then again you left before you could say that yourself.

I feel bad for saying the words but they need to be said, her eyes fading slightly as her hands come up to fiddle with her bun.

“I’m sorry for that,” she murmurs, “Why don’t you pull up a seat and we’ll talk?” she suggests and moves the book to the corner of the desk. I locate a small stool in the corner and move it, luckily for us, the bookshop is otherwise deserted and I’ve caught her during the calm hours.

Luckily for us, we have all the time in the world. God, I’m getting too old for this. 

 

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