Chapter 7 – New Loves

Chapter 7 – New Loves

Friday, December 16th, 2011

Karma texted me after her date last night promising that she would share every single wonderful detail the next morning over coffee and breakfast. We decide to meet an hour before work starts.

“Good morning, Lucy!” Karma is sitting outside when I arrive and motions me over. This adorable café is our meeting place whenever we have good news to share.

“Good morning sunshine. I’m assuming the date went well since we’re here?”

“Wait a second – where did you get that skirt?”

“Macy’s, girl. Eryn Carlo.”

She laughs and claps her hands. “Boy, you’re really serious about this blog. For the record, though? I … love … it!”

“Naturally my blog requires hands on research.”  I order a coffee and orange juice and then continue my inquiry. “I cannot wait a second longer to hear about your date with Patrick.”

And this is the first time I have ever heard Karma gush on and on about a boy.

“So after our amazing dinner he surprises me and takes me back to the bakery.  No lie, Lucy, he throws on an apron and bakes fresh plain donuts for me right then and there. Then he drizzles milk chocolate over them, Lucy!! I could have died happy right then and there.” She is bursting with excitement and I love to see it. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen someone falling head over heels in love.

“I’m so happy for you, sweetie.”

“Thanks, Luce. I can’t stop smiling!”

“We should have mimosas to celebrate your successful date.”

Seconds later we have fresh sparkling mimosas in hand and a salute is in order. 

“Lucy?”

“Yeah?”

“He’s the one. I know it. I’ve never felt this way. I’ve never been this sure in my life. Ever.”

“What does it feel like?”

“Like they say in the romance novels and chick flicks. A less cornier version of Harlequin. Floating on air. Like the missing piece has been placed in the puzzle. A sort of invincible feeling. As if nothing can touch you because you’re in love.” She glances down and scoffs. “I know, I sound crazy, right?”

“Well no. Not crazy. It sounds wonderful to me. You deserve this. I’m rooting for you. Now, let’s get an insanely delicious breakfast to prep for this workday. Shall we?”

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

The end of the year is flying by. Christmas Eve is here. Karma and Patrick are suffering from the most intense form of puppy love since they met. They’re coming over to my parent’s place to join us for Christmas Eve dinner. I hate to sound selfish but seeing them so happy makes me feel more lonely than usual. Before it was Karma and I. Now it’s Karma and Patrick and I pretty much only see her at work.

Don’t get me wrong. I love seeing her so blissfully happy. I’m more than glad that she has found someone wonderful to spend time with. But now that she has Patrick I’m realizing how much free time I have – time that Karma used to fill.

Overall, I’m just not feeling the holiday spirit. Bah humbug.

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

I need an extra couple day in addition to the holiday weekend so I request Monday and Tuesday off.  Today I’m lounging in my pajamas for as long as I want. I plan to do nothing but relax and read. The cell phone is on silent. No getting ready. No makeup. No binding clothing. Just scrubby ole me and my couch. And it’s all that I had hoped it would be.

After waking up from a catnap I realize I have two missed calls from work. I turn on my laptop and log into my work email account to see what is so urgent that I was called on my day off. If they can’t get you on the phone they’ll surely send an email after. Isn’t technology wonderful?

(Don’t answer that.)

And there it is. The email I have been waiting for impatiently for almost two weeks!

The email is from Mr. Rhodes. Jim is back from his holiday hiatus. It’s about time. I know I shouldn’t act so bitter but I always have believed in solid communication. No relationship, business or personal, will survive without rock steady communication. If he didn’t have time to discuss this opportunity then he could have informed me. Of course, he is a director at Sunny News. Perhaps he doesn’t feel he has to explain anything to me.

So. Two missed calls, one voicemail, and five emails from Mr. Rhodes.

I elect to email him and explain that I am taking a vacation day today. I suggest meeting later in the week or after the New Year. After all, 2012 is looming near.

He replies almost instantly asking to meet me during lunch time on Thursday, the 29th.

I confirm without asking his opinion on the article. I have waited days already – what’s an extra two?

On Wednesday Karma and I stop at a sushi joint for lunch.

“Hey Luce. There’s something I want to talk to you about.”

“Ah – you slept with Patrick! Tell me. How is he? Rate him from one to ten.”

“Oh my gosh Lucy.” She blushes. “It’s different this time. We havent gotten that far yet. Why rush?”

“It’s official. You’re really serious about him, huh. Patrick is one lucky guy.”

“That he is.” She smiles at me and then put down her chopsticks. “I’d like to spend New Year’s Eve with him.”

I confess, that hurts. Karma and I always spend NYE at one of our places with take-out food, party favors, and drinks. This has been our tradition for the last five years. I knew it wouldn’t last forever but … just because you expect it and know it will happen doesn’t mean that it’ll hurt any less.

“You’re mad. I know. I’m sorry.” She pushes her sushi around on her plate.

I put on a happy face and reassure her, “No way. Not mad at all, Karma. I’m happy for you, you know that. Go have a good time with Patrick. I’ll be fine. Don’t you worry about me for one second okay?”

“Are you sure?”

“Positive! I’m not really feeling New Year’s Eve this year. I’ll probably turn in early. Now stop playing with your food.”

“You know…”

“Do not invite me!” I jab her in the arm.

“But you know you’re welcome.”

“Yeah right! I’d be the pesky annoying friend that tags along during the budding relationship. I’m not a fan of third wheeling.”

“You’re not pesky or annoying.” Karma snickers.

“But I would be. Trust me. That’s a time for you two. Enjoy it, girlie. But thanks for looking out for me.”

“Thanks for understanding.”

“How could I not? I’m confident you would do the same for me.”

Karma belts out the chorus line “That’s what friends are forrrrrrrrrrrrrrr” and we both practically double over giggling like little girls.

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

I arrive at the third floor a few minutes before noon.

I’m disappointed not to see Rebekah there. I’ve only seen her once since the happy hour and she had been flustered. I even tried emailing her a couple of times and called her desk but never received a response.

I inform the woman at the desk of my meeting with Jim Rhodes.

“He’ll be ready to leave in a moment.”

“Ready to leave?”

“Yes, this is a lunch meeting. He should be out in a minute. Please take a seat if you wish.”

Lunch meeting? I am hungry but … I prefer the office atmosphere for our discussion.

While I ponder Jim’s reasoning and Rebekah’s absence he walks out with his hand outstretched.  “Lucy! Good to see you. Happy holidays.”

“Hello, Mr. Rhodes. Happy holidays to you as well.” Wow, I almost forgot how handsome he is.

“Call me Jim.”

“Okay.”

“Ready for lunch?”

“I wasn’t aware we were going out to lunch. I’m actually pretty busy down in Marketing so I should probably get back as soon as possible.”

“You have time for lunch when you’re going with a director.” He winks.

Oh great, he’s pulling rank. I suppose you can do that when you’re important. Whether I like it or not – I am going to lunch.

“How about salad?” He asks as we walk out of the building and into the cool, brisk wind that chills my nose and cheeks.

“Sounds great, actually. Good choice.”

“Good. So tell me, did your Dad like the tie you bought him?”

“Oh yes. He loves it. He put it on right away, right over his Colts jersey.”

Jim chuckles at that. “Ouch. The Colts huh. They’re not playing so well this season.”

“No they’re definitely not. But he’s a fan through thick and thin he says. Dad is a very loyal guy.”

“Good man. He truly is loyal. I trust that quality runs through your family.”

“For sure.”

He opens the door to the salad café. Good manners. “Wanna sit at the counter?”

“Sure. I’m game for that. The counter is the best seat because you can watch the chefs make everything.”

We order immediately, both of us are familiar with the menu and have our favorites. I love their Chinese chicken salad with almonds and the spicy peanut dressing. It is the most scrumptious salad. Jim opts for the creamy Caesar salad which I similarly love but it’s so fattening that it’s frightening.

“So, Jim.”

“Yes?”

“I stopped by to see you that Wednesday morning. On my deadline date for the article.”

He hangs his head. “I know. I’m sorry. Rebekah told me. I’ve had a lot going on at home.”

“Rebekah is extremely kind, by the way. I’ve never met anyone so friendly before. Down here in SoFlo I mean.”

“She says the same about you. You seem to have made quite the impression on her. Once I mentioned your name she went on and on about how fantastic you are and that you invited her to spend time with you and your friend.”

“She’s very nice. Very easy to get along with.”

“Indeed. Rebekah is very personable but most women dislike her because she’s so pretty.”

“Ah yes. I can understand that.”

“Why? Because you’re pretty?” He stares at me with an amused look on his face.

My cheeks turn pink. “No, because I felt jealousy towards her when I first saw her.”

“It takes a strong person to admit that.”

“It’s the truth.”

“So I read your article.”

“Annnnd?” I can’t help but smile. “I’d be happy to receive any criticism. Really.”

“I sent it forward to the VPs.”

“So you like it?” I dig a little deeper.

“I love it. You have a knack for writing it seems.”

“Thank you. I do love to write. And shop.”

“Well I can’t promise anything to you this week but after the New Year perhaps we will hear back.”

“Wow. This is amazing. Thank you so much for this opportunity, Mr. Rhodes.”

“Jim.”

“Oh, right. Sorry. Jim.”

“Excited?”

“Does a bear sh–” I pause. Woops. Wrong time for that phrase. While Jim tries to stifle a laugh I continue, “Are you kidding? I’m stoked!”

“Are these salads delicious or what? I’m full but I cannot stop eating.” He shovels forkfuls of the Caesar salad into his mouth.

“I’m doing the same thing. They must inject the lettuce with an addictive drug.”

“That’s what I was thinking.”

“Oh. I keep forgetting to ask. How was that dinner?”

“The dinner.” He sets his fork down.

“Ok, in my experience, when the person you’re dining with sets down their utensils they’re about to announce something important or bad. Did everything go okay?”

“No. The dinner went haywire. My girlfriend broke up with me. And she moved out.”

“I’m so sorry to hear that. That’s terrible. Especially during the holidays.”

He smiles one of those fake, ‘I’m trying to be strong’ smiles. “Thank you. It all happened so fast.  But it’s okay. Time heals all wounds.”

“That it does. The good news is that you can start fresh with a New Year. Just two days away.”

“Actually, I wanted to ask you …”

“What is it?”

“I’d like to take you out for New Year’s Eve, Lucy.”

“That is … so kind of you. And I really appreciate you asking me. But I think we should probably keep our relationship professional. Especially with this fashion article project. Now that we’re trying to work together it might ruin it if we get personal. Also, you need some time to get past your ex, right? Was it a long-term relationship?”

“Three and a half years.”

“Ouch. That’s rough.”

“It’s just one night out. As friends.” He puts his hands up, palms out. We’re just arriving back at the Sunny News building. He presses the ‘up’ button for the elevators and keeps quiet. Rejection right after a breakup. Yeah I’d be silent too.

But this is confusing to me! “Just one night out. As friends.” I repeat. I want to go. Really badly. And why shouldn’t I? I don’t have plans. He doesn’t have plans. And he is so attractive. Newly single too.

“Yes. We would have a great time. I can’t sit in my empty home alone.” He sadly admits.

“Okay. I’ll go. But only as friends, Jim.”

“Great!” He turns on his brilliant white smile.

“Thank you for asking. I didn’t have any plans so I would have been sitting home alone too.”

“I’ll pick you up Saturday evening at six. Email me your address please.”

“I will.” The hottest guy in the building just asked me out for New Year’s Eve! I’m wondering just how cheesy my smile is right now. I’m as giddy and excited as a fifteen year old girl snagging her first boyfriend.

This will be a New Year’s Eve to remember.

I have to tell Karma about this.

And I need a new dress. Stat!

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Chapter 6 – Blogging and Dating

Chapter 6 – Blogging & Dating

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

I’m a little down and out tonight so I’m focusing on blogging … and planning a romantic rendezvous with a fellow e-dater. Looking on the bright side I’m making a lot of progress with my ‘Me & Eryn Carlo’ blog. I’ve just posted an entry that covers Eryn Carlo Christmas stocking stuffers. Writing is proving to be soothing and unconditionally accepting.

Now I’m engaging in an online chat with a dark-haired, brown-eyed Latin-Lover type on Zoosk. A chat date isn’t exactly the most efficient screening tool prior to going out with a complete stranger but …  he seems like an eligible enough date for tomorrow night. I could use a Latin-Lover in my life right about now.

That wavy dark hair and those chocolatey brown eyes.

Sold!

Mine!

I feel so accomplished tonight.

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

It is a happy pre-Friday and pheromones are in the air!

Karma has in her possession two potential outfits for tonight’s date with the doughboy. Naturally I stamp my seal of approval on the girlie dress and adorable ballet flats. Femininity is good for a first date.

Entertainingly enough Karma is utterly incapable of sitting still today. Even Eric is noticing.

“Karma?”

She whips around in her chair with a large Monster energy drink in her hand. “Yes! What?”

“Are you ill? Should you be drinking that?” Eric raises an eyebrow in question.

“Oh.” She looks at the black can with the popular green ‘M.’ “No. And yes!”

“Why are you so jittery?”

“Am I?” She bounces her right leg rapidly.

“Yes. You’re skittish. What’s the deal, gals? Spill.”

Here’s my cue to chime in. “Karma has a hot date tonight.”

“A hot date?” He smiles and leans back against my desk. “Ah, I see. So you’re nervous.”

“No way. Not nervous at all. I don’t get nervous. Me? Nervous? Never.” She refuses to admit it’s due to intensifying angst over the approaching first date.

Eric and I simply laugh at her. (Eric laughing – that’s odd in itself.)

“Karma, I’ve never seen you this edgy. You must really like this guy.” I chide her.

“I do!” She stands and paces between our desks. “I’m afraid I’ll mess it up by being myself.”

“Look,” Eric crosses his arms. “If he doesn’t like you the way you are then kick him to the gutter. I, personally, don’t think that will happen.”

“Wow. Thank you, Eric.” Karma is flabbergasted by the kind words. “That is really nice of you to say.”

“Agreed!” Who knew there was a compassionate side hiding in our boss? I knew it was in there somewhere, underneath the grumpiness.

“For the record. Nix the energy drinks. They make you act like a nut.” He stiffly composes himself as if he were thinking: ‘Can’t let the employees think I’m a softie.’

“Awww.” Karma places her hands over her heart. “There’s the Eric I know and love.”

“Yeah yeah. Back to work now. Just because you have a date doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to get done beforehand. If I remember correctly you owe me a report which holds priority over what you’re wearing tonight.” He seems very pleased with himself and struts away.

“Thanks for the low blows.” Karma always has something sarcastic to mutter under her breath.

“What’d you say?” He peeks back around the corner.

“I said ‘I’m right on top of that, Rose.’” She rolls her eyes. “Honestly, Eric, sometimes I think you’re deaf.”

“Why would you call me Rose?”

“It’s from a movie. ‘Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead.’ You’ve never seen it?”

“Find something to do, Karma, or I’ll give you more work.”

“Would you stop embarrassing that poor guy?” I lecture her.

“He likes it.”

“Right.”

“How’s the EC blog coming along?”

“Pretty good but could be better. I’ve been getting some page views but not enough. I need to network more on Twitter and Facebook. If I could just get that fashion column approved and running I could probably promote the blog along with it.”

“Be patient. He’ll get back to you.”

“I know. I just want this to happen already. It’s difficult to be patient.”

“Understandable.”

“Enough about me. Where are you guys going tonight?”

“An Italian restaurant he swears by.”

“Mmm spaghetti.”

“Not ordering that. You know I slurp spaghetti. I’d get sauce everywhere.”

“Ha! I do know. But it’s cute. He may find it endearing. You could wear a bib.”

“Maybe. You might be on to something. I could save the bib for later.”

“Karma!”

“Joking!”

“You’re going to have such a great time tonight. I have a good feeling about him. And remember, no nookie on the first date.”

“I’ll try to contain myself.”

“Do that. And by the way, I have a date tonight as well.”

“You do? Why didn’t you tell me before?”

“Eh, I was bored last night and started chatting with this LL on Zoosk. He’s smart and funny and extremely hot. So I figured, why not fill up my Thursday evening.”

“Nice. A Latin Lover huh. Let me see his pic.”

I pull up LL’s picture on my Zoosk mobile app.

“Caliente!” Karma grabs the phone and zooms in on the profile pic. “He’s smoking hot.”

“That’s how I roll baby.”

“Text me where you’ll be and all. Just in case doughboy and I need to rescue you.”

“I will. And the same goes for you.”

“Yes mama.”

Before we know it the workday has culminated. Karma changes at the office and I give her two thumbs up before she departs. I remind her to text me when she gets to the restaurant and when she arrives back home safely. And naturally I am her emergency call if anything goes wrong. I send out a quick prayer and good vibes for Karma tonight.

My plans for the moment? I’m not meeting LL for a couple of hours so I’m stopping at Macy’s to check out the Eryn Carlo section. I think of it as my own personal version of ‘happy hour.’

Walking through Macy’s always makes me feel amazing. So many beautiful things to view, to touch, to smell. Sparkles, sequins, glitter, leather! Shoes, clothes, cosmetics, jewelry, and anything for your home.  And what do I find? A perfect piece for my next ‘Me & Eryn Carlo’ blog post: a black skirt with a draped front and asymmetrical hem. The fun part about this skirt is the shimmery silver liner on the inside that peeks out from under the draping portion. What a perfect “go-to” piece. You can dress it down with sandals and a simple tank. Or dress it up with strappy chunky heels and a fitted top. Versatile and comfortable and unquestionably ideal. And purchased.

It’s date time!

I’m looking forward to meeting LL. Hell, if he doesn’t work out as a boyfriend I’m sure he’d work out as a supreme booty call.

What? We all have needs.

While I wait for LL to arrive at the French café I chose I check out the wine menu.

LL is late. I pull up his profile again to view his hobbies. He has an interesting profile and appears to be smart and ambitious (ding ding ding!). We even work in the same industry. I’d say that’s a bonus. We shouldn’t run out of things to talk about.

However, an internal alarm is buzzing. Is this almost too good to be true?

Fifteen minutes waiting and now I’m antsy. Just as I’m texting him he saunters up to the café. “Lucy?”

“Hi, yes. You must be Carlos?”

“That I am.”

“You’re late, Carlos. I almost gave up on you.”

“Sorry about that. I had trouble finding this place. I’m not as familiar with Ft. Lauderdale. I work mostly in Miami.”

“Ah, I see. No worries. Do you mind sitting outside? It’s so beautiful out.”

“Uh sure.”

While the hostess gets our menus and finds a vacant table for us I take the opportunity to give him a once over.

I have to say he is … very … hairy. I mean very hairy. I hadn’t noticed that before. See, Henry didn’t have enough hair. Carlos? Too much hair. Is there a happy medium? My own personal Goldilocks version of ’just right’ in the hair department?

Moving on. We sit, we order, we talk. You know, all the usual first date happenings. We begin to touch on our jobs in the media industry. I’m glad we have this conversation piece to fall back on. No awkward pauses.

Little did I know, this convenient conversation topic would serve as an extraction tool for Carlos to gain insight into Sunny News.

The interrogation started with questions like “Do you work with such and such companies?” “Are you authorized to do this or that?” “What process do you use to handle that?” “Can you tell me who your top journalists are?” “What is your budget like?” He’s asking questions that I seriously don’t know the answer to since I’m not involved with other departments. Through the endless questions I wait for him to drag a bright light into my face and ask me where I was when we solidified our marketing budget for our next fiscal year.

What I really want to say to him is “You’ve got to be kidding me” but I know, as I did with Henry and all of his non-glory, that I wouldn’t be seeing LL again.

Even the couple sitting next to us was giving me a look of pity. This is a romantic French café overlooking the ocean and it’s obviously our first meeting. What a shame the surroundings are wasted on his inability to truly enjoy a first date.

In the end I bow out gracefully and chalk this up to experience. Another failed date but there are lessons to be learned from each man encounter.

I secretly hope he loses my number so that I’m saved from the trouble of rejecting him. I go home and shake up a martini while deleting my Zoosk profile out of pure frustration.

I hope doughboy holds more potential than LL. Time to text Karma.

Chapter 5 – Delivery

Chapter 5 – Delivery

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

It’s time to sit down and tackle the task at hand.

I’m ready to work on the sample fashion article for Jim and I’m so dizzy with excitement that I can hardly stop from squealing (in the comfort of my home … with no one around … it’s safer that way).

The best spot in my one bedroom apartment is where my new writing desk is. Naturally a new desk is required to work on this new project (I was sure to label this as a “necessary expense” in my checkbook).

My condo has top to bottom windows that allow for a wide ocean view. Intricate sliding doors give way to a large balcony where I have two lounge chairs, a grill, and a petite table. When I first toured this condo after accepting the job at Sunny News it was the ocean view that truly sold me. A lot of elbow grease went into this condo but it was worth every gathered penny.

The new vintage inspired desk is positioned before the sliding doors. Bookshelves burdened with rows and rows (and more rows) of books line the left and right walls. Also on the right, in the corner is a plush chair for reading along with a tall brass lamp. This is my favorite section in the small apartment. I spend a majority of my home-time here. My bedroom severely lacks attention – but that’s a whole other story.

“Okay time to get serious. Time to focus.” I open my laptop, create a new Word document, and begin typing potential article titles.

Leather and lace. Immediately I think of a lingerie store.

Leather in cool weather? Lame! I’m resorting to rhyming already?

I stare at the rolling ocean waves for an answer. Coming up with a title for my trial column was more difficult than I expected. I know fashion. I am creative. Think Lucy. Think. I tap my fingernails on the desk top. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.

Leather is better? Even cornier.

I lower my head and grab my hair. “Gah! My mind is blank!”

The doorbell sounds, dissolving my cloud of frustration. It’s Karma with brain stimulants: coffee and red velvet donuts. I open the door to find her all bundled up. You’d think it was snowing outside but it’s only a chilly day in Ft. Lauderdale. Floridians aren’t exactly used to cold weather.

“Hey girl. Good morning.” She holds up breakfast goods with both hands.

“Karma, thank God you’re here.  I’m freaking out. Any ounce of inspiration I once had fled from my brain sometime during the night. I’ve been robbed of my creativity. It’s hopeless.”

“You are so dramatic. Pull yourself together, woman. Here. Take this stuff to the kitchen.” She hands the bag and coffee carrier to me and hangs her scarf on a hook by the door.

“Okay. You look so cute, by the way. I love that outfit.” I unload the bag of goods onto a serving dish. “You got scones too? Orange cranberry?”

“Thanks. And yes. There should be blueberry in there too. Anyways, there’s a new hottie working at the bakery. Something about the way he rolls that dough … mmm. I couldn’t go pick up our freshly baked and brewed breakfast looking scrubby so hence the cute outfit and extra purchases.”

“Well I’m sure he noticed you. You look adorable.”

“Yeah I know. Oh, I had them put a small squirt of caramel in the coffee.”

“Good friend you are.”

“It’s no problem. I cannot believe how cold it is down here. Brrr. So glad I have leather for this weather.” She unzips her charcoal leather aviator jacket and hangs it next to her houndstooth scarf.

I look at her and then give her a quick squeeze. “Brilliant!”

“Huh?”

I explain the entire scene with Mr. Rhodes, sparing no juicy detail.

“Wow.”

“I know.”

“Wow!”

“I know!”

“That is wicked cool, Lucy. Talk about good timing.”

“Right? Normally I’m not so lucky. It sort of scares me.”

“Why would this scare you? This is the break-through opportunity you need. This is what you want right?”

“Yes. This is exactly what I want. But what if it’s too good to be true?”

“You can’t think like that. Otherwise you won’t get anywhere. Trust me. Now what other titles did you come up with for your debut article?”

“They were ghastly. I like what you said though. I was thinking I should somewhat localize the title for this first piece. How about ‘Leather & SoFlo Weather.’”

“I like it but it might be a little too long, no?”

“Maybe. What about keeping it simple with ‘Leather and Weather’?”

“Another possible option. But do this. Write the column first. Then title it. Make the title last.”

“Nice approach. Thanks.”

“That’s what I’m here for.”

“These scones are flawless. Impeccable. Mmm.”

We dig into the treats and devour the coffee while standing at the kitchen counter.

“They’d be good for a blog post too.” Karma suggests.

“I thought your blog was about donuts?”

“Eh. Scones deserve a shot. I’ll consider them a cousin of the donut.”

“You’re funny.”

“What would you do without me?”

“I’d likely turn to dust, my friend.”

“Unlikely.”

“So did doughboy ask you out?”

“Cute. And …” She pauses long enough to ignite anticipation.

“Annnnd?”

“He did!” She unsuccessfully attempts to repress her beaming grin.

“Ah! Yey! When? Where you guys going? Tell me more.”

“Well I saw him the last couple times I went to pick up mini donuts for the office. He’s so handsome but shy. The second time I got him talking and he is so nice, Lucy. And smart too. He knows everything about baking. It’s his obsession. He’s the one that started making those pumpkin donuts there with the icing that was to die for.”

“Glaze,” I remind her.

“Hush.” She mumbles in return.

“How perfect for you. You love donuts and bakeries and he loves to bake. What a smart match, as they’d say in the old days right?”

“I do declare, a very smart match indeed. However, you’ll be saddened to know that his name is not doughboy.”

“You’re kidding!”

“I am not. His name is Patrick Tanner.”

“Patrick and Karma Tanner. I’m digging it.”

She laughs out loud and says, “Let’s not be typical females right now. No talking about the future. No wondering if this guy is The One or Mr. Right. No pondering over the number of children we’d have. Where we would live?”

“Ha! But we are typical females, Karma! Sorry to break it to you.”

“This I know. I just hate to admit it sometimes.”

“You can’t hide from the truth, sweetie.”

“Thanks for the reminder.”

“By the way, just how many kids do you think you two would have anyways?”

“Two.”

“Ah-ha! So you did the female thing!”

“Yes I did. Don’t judge me.” She smirks and places her hands on her hips.

I raise my hands in defense. “Oh I’d never do such a thing. So, continue. When are you going out with doughboy? How old is he?”

“Patrick.”

“Yeah I know.”

“I told him I’m completely booked until Thursday. He’s 34, only a few years older than me.”

“And are you booked? Truthfully?”

“Na.”

“Nice.” We high-five. How old school is high-fiving? I love it!

“I already know what I’m going to wear too.”

“Speaking of, I’m sorry to interrupt you but I have to show you what I bought today. I’m going to wear this when I drop off my sample to Jim.”

“Ah, Jim. Not Mr. Rhodes anymore?”

“I just told you a few minutes ago that he has a girlfriend. Don’t go getting any ideas.”

“I didn’t say anything.”

“You were thinking it.”

I pull a luxuriously wrapped package from my closet. I gently rip the gold label sticker and unfold the crisp champagne tissue paper. Inside lies a leather motorcycle jacket by Eryn Carlo. The classic tan shade compliments the jacket along with a smooth, fitted curve of femininity. It’s called the Eryn Carlo Exclusive. Bonus feature? This jacket is a completely office-worthy staple piece. “I’m not sure what I’m going to wear it with yet but we’ll see on Wednesday.”

“That is gorgeous, Lucy!”

“I figured it’d be clever of me to wear a piece of leather when I deliver my masterpiece. You know, add a little visual stimulation.”

“Oh so clever, darling.”

“Thank you. Thank you.”

After Karma leaves I park myself back at the desk and compose a rough draft:

When you think of leather you think warmth. And style. Leather is iconic and there are a few essential leather pieces that are absolute must haves your wardrobe.

  1. The all too reliable leather jacket. The leather jacket comes in a variety of styles and shades, which makes it easy for any individual to find the right fit no matter their personality and style preference(s).

I’m on a roll! There’s no stopping me now! I’ll even try to feature the Eryn Carlo Exclusive as a “great find.”

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Before I know it Tuesday has rolled its way around to the present. I hoped to see Jim around the office yesterday so I could wish him luck for his important dinner tonight but no random run-ins have occurred as of yet. I’m a little wary about heading up to his floor in fear of appearing to be too eager about the opportunity he’s giving me.

I’m just waiting patiently until tomorrow morning.

Hurry up, tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

This morning I sit at my work desk reading and re-reading my article to catch any previously undiscovered mistakes.

“The article is fantastic, Lucy. Just email it to him already.”

After exhaling a long nervous breath I click send. “It’s sent.”

“Good luck, girlie.”  She gives me two thumbs up and then passes me a key lime donut lightly glazed with pure sugar Heaven.

I check my appearance and reapply a cherry tomato lip gloss. It’s ten in the morning. I want to visit Jim personally to thank him again for this chance. To say I’m nervous is an understatement. My hands are clammy, my heart is racing, and I feel exactly the same way I did when I arrived for my first interview at Sunny News. But this time I feel that much more is at stake. I want this so badly I can feel it rolling around on my taste buds.

I head up to Jim’s floor with a hard copy of my article in a folder and directly approach the office manager’s desk.

The woman behind the high desk counter is very young and insanely gorgeous. Pin straight shoulder length platinum blonde hair frames her face in layers. She looks like a snotty South Beach brat with her blonde hair and Barbie pink nails and sparkly lip gloss. The tan too – what, does she spend every day tanning on the beach?

Oh my gosh, Lucy. Are you done stereotyping yet? My conscience chastises me. Alright, so I’m jealous. Admittedly.

“Hiiiii.” She’s extra perky too using a high-pitched tone which is just too much for early morning. “Good morning. How are you?” And her voice is honeyed with a southern accent. She’s definitely a transplant from Georgia or the surrounding states and super nice. Niceness is not a common characteristic of a South Floridian.

“Hi there. And good morning. I’m well, thank you for asking. My name is Lucy Post.”

“Nice to meet you, Lucy. I’m Rebekah Lynch.”

“Nice to meet you as well. I’m here to see Mr. Rhodes.”

“What department are you from?”

“Marketing.”

“It’s nice to meet someone from a different division of Sunny News every now and then, you know? I just love meeting new people.”

“Agreed.”  I can’t help but smile. Rebekah is so friendly and her gaiety is contagious in a non-annoying way (surprisingly).

“Oh, darn.”

“I’m sorry?”

“Mr. Rhodes is working from home today, Mrs. Post.” She frowns while checking his calendar. “Wait a second. He’s working from home until the 23rd it looks like.”

“Actually it’s ‘Miss.’”

“I apologize.”

“No problem. It happens a lot.” I smile. She seems harmless enough.

“I’m really sorry. I know how you feel. You’re probably thinking ‘thanks a lot Rebekah for reminding me that I’m single.’”

“Na I wasn’t thinking that at all.”

“Would you like to leave something for Mr. Rhodes?” She glances at the document I hold with a death grip.

“Um. No that’s alright. I sent him an email as well. Maybe you can just leave a note that I stopped by?”

“Okay, honey. Have a great day!”

“Thank you. Same to you.”

“And don’t be a stranger, Lucy Post.” She smiles and waves.

I begin to walk away and stop. Turning back to Rebekah, I hope I won’t regret this. “Hey listen, a few of us are going to the Elbow Room for happy hour today. If you wanna join you’re more than welcome.”

“Wow! Really? No one here has ever asked me to go out to happy hour before. That is really sweet of you.”

I laugh out loud. “Probably because you’re so kind. It intimidates some people, you know.”

“I’ve heard that before. But I can’t help it. I like to be nice.”

“That’s a rare quality. See you later then?”

“I will definitely make it.”

“Okay great.”

I mosey back to my desk feeling discouraged. Where is Mr. Rhodes? It’s Wednesday morning and he’s nowhere to be found. What if he changed his mind?

“I don’t understand.” I say over lunch with Karma.

“Maybe something came up, Luce.” She pushes the plate of calamari back my way.

“I suppose.”

“Did he respond to your email?” She asks hopefully.

“Nothing.” I stab a piece of fried calamari and drown it mercilessly in the bowl of marinara sauce.

“Look at the bright side.”

“There’s a bright side?”

“Happy hour! Today. Elbow Room, baby.” She works the cabbage patch move in her chair causing other patrons to stare. I’d say its embarrassing but – I’m used to it.

I rub my forehead just remembering the invitation I had extended to Rebekah. “I invited a new girl, Rebekah, to happy hour. She’s the office manager on the third floor. Met her this morning.”

“That’s cool. The more the merrier.”

“She’s really nice. And very pretty. The tanned platinum blonde type. She looks like she’s a superficial Boca chick but she’s actually kind. It was surprising.”

“Good because we only invite pretty girls to hang out with us. Anything less would ruin our potential opportunities.” She speaks sarcastically. “ Anyhow, Sandy canceled so that works.”

“Oh she always cancels. Why do we even invite her? And why does she always say yes if she’s not sure she can follow through?”

Karma chuckles, “We should ask her.”

Happy hour that evening is entertaining. Karma and I get along famously with Rebekah but I don’t stay as long as I usually do. I won’t lie. My spirits are down about the fashion column and Jim’s vanishing act. All in all, I just want to be home in my pajamas working on my Eryn Carlo blog.

Chapter 4 – Meeting of the Ties

Chapter 4 – Meeting of the Ties

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

Lady Luck is smiling upon me today. This is one of those rare instances when you have a random and completely unwished for streak of good luck. Everything is going your way, the exact way that you want it to go, which just doesn’t happen regularly.

This morning I woke rested and happy that the night was a dreamless one, for once. My day is relatively smooth. First things first – car maintenance. Check! Then the necessary beauty maintenance: manicure, pedicure, and eyebrow waxing. Check! Check! Check! Accomplishment can certainly build up an appetite so I meet Karma for breakfast at a local café. To top off the day? A solo shopping trip. It’s the most wonderful time of the year so I need to commence the inevitable task of Christmas gift shopping.

At this very moment I’m in Nordstrom’s looking for an exotic tie for Dad. I enjoy hunting for new and exciting ties for him. Good thing he works in an office and can actually wear all of them. Everyone knows he’s an avid tie collector or perhaps he’s humoring my own selfish love for ties. After all, I am his favorite daughter.

Alright fine – I’m his only daughter.

Fortunately for me the very man I’ve been wondering about, the director of all weekly columnists, is standing a mere ten feet away from me at one of the many circular tie display tables. The Mr. James Rhodes!

It turns out James was hired about six months ago and was given strict instruction to get the columnists under control and producing 110% as opposed to the previous unacceptable 80%. Naturally the VPs want this done sooner than later. That would explain his lack of socialization.

I casually saunter over to the tie area and browse through a table of hideous pastel ties while seizing the opportunity to size him up.

He is very attractive; more so in person than in his badge photo. His hair is medium brown and his eyes are an unusual combination of cool ice blue and heather gray. The suit he’s wearing is simple yet elegant. He is very GQ. Did I mention that he’s attractive?

He moves closer, to the table next to me. Here’s my opportunity!

I act as if I suddenly recognize him.

“Mr. Rhodes, hello!” I smile and hold out my hand. Naturally my greeting startled him. I might have been a little too chipper. He nearly dropped the tie he was holding and juggled to keep it in his hands. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.” I wince.

He chuckles and smiles in return while shaking my hand lightly. “No problem. I’m sorry, do I know you?”

Of course he doesn’t know who you are, Lucy. Duh! You work in a completely different department! And on a different floor. “No, sir.” I laugh. “But I know you. I work in the Marketing department at Sunny News on the second floor.”

“Oh! Pleasure to meet you…” He hesitates.

Ah yes, he’s waiting for my name.

“I apologize. I haven’t had my afternoon cup of coffee yet so I’m a little slow. My name is Lucy. Lucy Post. It’s very nice to meet you, Mr. Rhodes.”

“The pleasure is all mine, Lucy Post.”

“You look like you could use some help picking out a tie.” I flash my sweetest smile.

He grins and rubs his forehead. “I do. My girlfriend has informed me that we are to attend a very important dinner and asked that I look my best. Actually it was a demand. I’m sure there was an ‘or else’ implied in there somewhere. She prefers a black suit and a bold tie. I have the suit. Just need the ‘bold’ tie.” He held up the one he had chosen and raised his eyebrows. It was a wreck of a tie.

Ugh! A girlfriend. Damn.

“Oh no.  That tie is hideous.” We laugh in unison. “I mean that tie is well made but the colors are all wrong. Coral, yellow, and pale blue? That is definitely not the color scheme you want for an important dinner party, Mr. Rhodes. Unless you’re having dinner in the Keys?”

“Not exactly. Dinner is at an overpriced, slightly stuffy, upscale restaurant. I think I would prefer the Keys.”

“Perhaps the dinner party will agree to change the location.”

“That would make me a happy man. All sarcasm aside, I must fulfill my duty as the boyfriend.”

“This is true.”

“In the meantime, would you mind helping me? I usually ask the employees here to pick out a tie but they seem to be busy with other customers with the holidays approaching.”

“Sure! I’d love to help. Fashion is my passion.” Ha, that rhymes in a very corny way.

“How about this one?” He holds up a paisley tie in pale pink and gray tones.

I raise an eyebrow. “Obviously you cannot be left alone with these ties. Allow me, Mr. Rhodes.”

“Please call me Jim.”

“Okay, Jim. Wander around and take it easy. I’m going to find you five perfect ties to choose from.”

He finds a chair and makes himself comfortable. “No red.”

“No red? Why? Red is a power color you know. It exudes self-confidence.”

“It is a power color indeed but it’s played out, don’t you think? In my opinion, a red tie doesn’t have the strong effect it once had.”

“You may have a point there.” I concede. “I’ll take that into consideration,” I say jokingly.

Jim picks the best tie in the bunch that I gather for him. It has a black and cobalt blue diamond pattern with flecks of silver and gray which will bring out his eyes. It is, in short, the perfect tie for a significant evening dinner. Within forty-five minutes we both walk out of Nordstrom with ties for special occasions.

“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your help with the tie. Thanks to you my girlfriend just might keep me.”

“Hey it’s no problem. I’m happy to be of assistance. I love this kind of stuff.”

“You’re very talented. You were a tremendous help to me today. I’m a terrible shopper.”

“Thank you. I appreciate that.”

“Allow me to buy you a cup of coffee.”

“Sure. Why not? I could use a caffeine boost.”

We walk to the Starbucks near the food court and I control myself when it comes to ordering. No foo-foo girlie drinks. I need to impress him. He’s a director and I need his influence for the role change I seek.

“What are you having?” He inquires when we reach the barista.

“Venti Latte with whipped cream, please.” Short, sweet, and simple.

“Okay. And I’ll have a grande coffee with a little room. Extra bold if you have some brewing.” He pays and tips the barista. “Really? A plain latte? No frills? I have to admit I’m surprised.”

“Why’s that?”

“Usually women order the complicated drinks. You know, a venti, skinny iced white chocolate mocha latte with this and that but not that and definitely none of this.” He imitates a picky type of woman.

“Ha! Funny, yet true. In the defense of meticulous coffee-drinking women, I did get whipped cream on my latte to add a little excitement. I do, however, love whole milk. Skim milk just isn’t the same.”

“I couldn’t agree more. Skim milk is definitely different.”

“So what do you add to your robust extra bold blend?”

“Well I’m not a sugar kind of guy. Just a bit of skim milk to make it a nice caramel hue.”

“Ick. Sugar is my life. I could never drink coffee without it.”

“You get used to it after a while.” Jim motions to a small table in the corner.

“Never.” I sip my latte quietly after we sit. It’s a plain beverage yet it somehow defines the persona I want to create for myself. Simple yet serious. Professional. Confident. Goal-oriented. Classic. Does that sound crazy?

“So tell me, Lucy. How is it that we’ve never run into each other before at Sunny News?”

“Well, you’re pretty new to Sunny News, right?”

“Yes. I started a little over six months ago.”

“Do you like it so far?” I’m so eager to know all about him. Slow down, Luce. This isn’t an interview and it certainly is not a date.

“I do. Still learning the ropes but I’m getting there.”

“Good.”

“How long have you worked in the Marketing department?”

“A little over five years.”

“Wow. That’s a long time nowadays.”

“How true.”

“What floor are you on?”

“Second.”

“Ah, I’m on the third floor. That explains why we’ve never crossed paths. Marketing shares that floor with the Accounting division, right?”

“You are correct.”

“I never go there. I tend to hang around my own turf.” He leans back in his chair and crosses his arms, smiling. “I like to be around my columnists though. I’m trying to build a family oriented rapport.”

What a beautiful smile, I think inwardly.  I stare at his cool eyes. They are so soothing like calm waters on a gray cloudy day.

“You okay?”

“Oh yeah. Sure. I’m great. Sorry, I was just remembering something I had to do at work that I completely forgot about.” I can’t believe I was just gazing at him like that!

“It happens.”

“When is this really important dinner?” I ask, trying to compose myself and praying my cheeks don’t reflect my embarrassment.

“Tuesday night.”

“Well, you will positively have the best tie in the group.”

“Yes I’m certain I will.”

“I’d love to share my fashion experience with others.” Why can’t you be single?

“So why don’t you? What’s holding you back?”

“Honestly?”

“Yes honestly.”

“Well, I was actually just talking to my manager, Eric Weston, about creating a fashion column.”

Jim strokes his chin deep in thought. “Sunny News doesn’t have a fashion column.”

“Exactly! May I speak freely?” I lean forward.

He laughs and leans toward me. “Granted.”

 “I hate to break it to you but the Sunny News style section is boring. It needs some funk. Some pizzazz. Some excitement. Fashion is one thing that everyone has in common. Our fashion choices display our personalities. Why not put a little more oomph into our fashion segment? I’d love to do a weekly column on fashion trends or tips. What not to wear or dos and don’ts. And not just for women. Men and children too. Heck, pet fashion could even be tossed in there occasionally.”

“You might be on to something.”

“Look, I know I only helped you pick out a tie but I’d love the opportunity to do more.”

“To do more?” He raises his eyebrows, a smirk playing at the corners of his mouth.

“For the paper, I mean.” My cheeks are beet-red. I can feel them burning.

“Tell you what,” He clasps his hands on the table. “Can you get me a sample next week? By Wednesday morning?”

“Really?”

“Don’t get too excited just yet. There is a multitude of internal processes to go through before a new column can be produced and then we would have to handle your transfer between departments but before we get tangled in that corporate web I’d like to read a trial piece first.”

“Oh thank you so much!”

“Don’t thank me just yet. I am a nice guy but I will be one hundred percent honest and I will critique your work the way it needs to be critiqued. That’s how success is achieved in my department.”

“I would expect nothing less from a Director.” I am so giddy I have to fight the urge to bounce up and down in my seat!

“Be prepared.”

“Yes, sir. You will have it Wednesday morning.”

“Wednesday morning. No later or I will not consider it.”

“Absolutely. Without a doubt. Wednesday morning.”

We stand from the table and I extend my hand. “Thank you for this opportunity Mr. Rhodes. Really.”

“Always happy to give internal employees a chance. Enjoy the rest of your day, Mrs. Post.”

“Oh, no. Just ‘Miss.’ No ‘Mrs.” I hold up my left hand. “No ring.”

“Miss Post.” The look on his face was peculiar.

“Better.” We linger for a moment just smiling at each other. It was a nice moment but awkward.

Uh-oh. This could get messy.  He grabs his purchase and turns to walk away but falters.

“Lucy?”

“Yes?”

“Make the column about leather. It’s nearly Winter and it’s been getting chilly down here. Leather would be a good start.”

“You got it.” I give him the all too corny thumbs-up pose.

And with that I nix the rest of the Christmas shopping I planned to do today because I suddenly realize I do not own one article of clothing made of leather, save for my leather boots.

What kind of fashionista am I? My only answer is that it’s South Florida. We don’t have much use for leather here, regrettably.

Lucky for me I’m at the mall already.

I have some serious work to do.

Chapter 3 – Making a Change

Hello. So you’ll probably notice I’m not sticking to my plan whatsoever. Here’s another chapter. 😀

Chapter 3 – Making a Change

Monday, December 5th, 2011

“I’m going to make a change, Karma.”  I say before sipping my gingerbread latte. Every Monday morning we pow-wow at Starbucks a few blocks from the office. Treats and lattes are the only way to begin the week.

She freezes. “You’re not leaving Sunny News are you? Please say no.” She squeezes her eyes shut.

“No, I don’t want to leave, silly.”

“You don’t want to leave? So you’re leaving or you’re not? Which is it?”

You can’t have a staring contest with Karma. She’ll beat you every single time. Her intense glare doesn’t break until she’s satisfied with the answer given.

“Well it all depends.”

“On?”

“I’d like to move into a different area at Sunny News. Or possibly have a dual role.”

She sits back in her seat and slouches. “Why, though? You don’t like our Marketing division anymore?”

Our Marketing division? Karma, this has nothing to do with you or the department. Honestly.”

“Don’t shake your head at me, young lady.” She jokingly scolds me as if I’m a petulant child. “What do you want to do then? What department do you want to transfer to?”

“Don’t laugh but…”

“No promises.”

I can’t help it – she makes me laugh! “Alright. I want to write a fashion column. You know something weekly or biweekly.” I tense for her response.

“Oh.” Her countenance reflects surprise and her posture relaxes.

“Yeah. Are you mad?”

“No way. Not mad. Relieved. I hear Joanie from HR is trying to recruit you. At least she mentioned that to Eric a couple of weeks ago.”

“Karma, were you eavesdropping again?”

“Na, I happened to overhear.” She shrugs her shoulders innocently. “I couldn’t handle it if you worked for Joanie. Joanie Baloney. Ick. That whole group is preppy and goodie-goodie. They think they’re better than everyone else in this company and they’d force you to ignore me. You’d definitely stop talking to me.”

I laugh out loud. “You are insane. And terribly rude too. Even though you do crack me up with the whole Joanie Baloney thing.”

“Yeah well you know what they say: Karma’s a bitch.” We giggle in agreement and order dark roast coffees to go.

As soon as we log into the system at work I decide to approach Eric about my plan.

“Good luck, Lucy.” Karma gives me a big hug even though she knows I’m not a hugger. “I know, I know. You don’t like hugs but that one was for luck and in this case you need it.”

“Thank you. I suppose I could use all the luck I can get.”

“Yes. And remember, I taught you everything you know. Don’t forget about me.”

“Never. How in the world could I forget you? You’re my best friend.”

“That’s right. There’s no getting rid of me. Bwa-ha-ha.” She snickers.

***

 “I’d like to write about fashion.” I position a December copy of the trendy InStyle magazine on Eric’s desk along with a drab copy of Sunny News’s miniature fashion section.

Eric doesn’t bother looking up from his computer. Typical.

“You’re in the Marketing department, Lucy. Last time I checked the Marketing team doesn’t write about fashion trends. Besides, that’s quite a stretch don’t you think?”

“With all due respect, Eric, I’ve worked here for over five years. I’m always on time. I never call out sick. I’m ready for something new. I do a fantastic job and you know it.”

“I do know it. That is exactly why you should stay right where you’re at.”

“But I need something different and challenging. I’m passionate about fashion and style. Isn’t there someone you can talk to? Maybe slide in a good word for me?”

“What about Karma?”

“Karma is fully capable of running that entire department on her own. We can always hire a temp if necessary. We’re due for a new hire in the Marketing group anyway since the workload has increased. And, by the way, Karma is due for a big fat raise. Does anyone recognize the work she has done with that department throughout the last seven years?”

“Lucy.” Eric’s forehead creases with consternation. Goodness, he’s so serious.

“Sorry.”

“I highly doubt the VPs will accommodate any unplanned changes this late in the year. Come talk to me again at the end of our second quarter.”

“Second quarter? End? That’s more than six months away, Eric. What about the first quarter?” I place my palms on the top of his desk. “Are you for real?”

“I’m glad they taught you how to count in college. Otherwise the Marketing department would be in a tremendous amount of trouble. And yes, I am totally for real.” He’s mocking me. He rises from his desk, adjusts his suit jacket, grabs his iPad2, and a travel mug of steaming hot java. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m late I’m late I’m late.”

“For a very important date…” I mumble. Alice in Wonderland right?

“What was that?”

“You leave me in an angry state.” It’s official. I’ve been hanging around Karma for too long.

“Lucy, I don’t know what to tell you. Get over it. Keep doing what you’re doing. You’re extremely talented and gifted when it comes to marketing. You and Karma are the cleverest marketing duo I’ve seen throughout my time in this industry. Okay?”

“Oh stop worrying about Karma. She’s a genius on her own. Just give me a name, Eric. Come on. One name and I’ll do the rest.” Alright, we’re reaching DEFCON 3. I use my most beseeching tone, tilt my face a little to the side, and gaze at him with my most desperate look. I work the batting eyelashes technique. Sometimes it works. Most times it doesn’t.

And? He sighs. I have him. Once you get the sigh you know there’s a good chance you’ll get what you asked for. He sighs to make you think you are really pushing your luck and hopes that you’ll take it as a sign that you’re going too far. In reality he’s trying one last time to say no while knowing his efforts will be wasted.

I continue to stare at him. “Eric? Who can I talk to? One name, sir. Please?” I clasp my hands together as I beg.

“Rhodes.” Eric says as he’s half way out the office door.

“Wait. What? You said Rhodes?”

“Get back to work, Lucy.” And he’s gone.

“Rhodes.” I tap my lips with my index finger. “Who is this Rhodes?” I ask the empty office.

I pick up my magazine and paper and hurry back to my desk. “Hey!” I put my hand on Karma’s shoulder. She obviously didn’t hear my swift approach because the donut of the day flew out of her hands and onto the floor.

I look down and then sniff the air. “Pumpkin?”

She blows the floor dirt off the donut and says, “Five second rule. And yes – a pumpkin donut you almost wasted in your attempt to scare the crap out of me.”

“What kind of icing is that?” I grab a donut hole from the box.

“It’s a glaze and it’s only the most remarkable and pleasurable concoction of orange buttercream!”

“No way.” I toss the mini into my mouth and my taste buds are momentarily hypnotized by the heavenly flavors. “Oh … my … goodness. OH my …” I close my eyes and moan low. “That is deeply orgasmic.”

“I know. I’m blogging about it right now. I’m using that description, by the way. Anything you say here can be used in my blog.”

I giggle. “What – the ‘oh my goodness’?”

“No, dipstick, the ‘deeply orgasmic.’ In fact, I’m going to add an orgasm rating on my blog! Gah! You see?” She motions between our heads. “We’re linked. I knew it the moment we met. Same wavelengths. Sisters separated at birth.”

“Oh hey, before you immerse yourself in your fanatical donut realm, do you know a Rhodes character?”

“Yeah. Don’t you?”

“Uh, no?” I wheel my chair closer to hers. “Tell me all about him or her.”

Karma pulls up the company directory. “Rhodes is a ‘him’. Keep up.”

“Oh, so sorry. Please do pardon my ignorance.”

Karma raises an eyebrow, “And I thought I was sarcastic. Anywho, he’s fairly new and I’ve only run into him by accident in the elevator. He keeps to himself a lot I’ve heard. He was definitely not a talker when I came into contact with him.”

“Does Mr. Rhodes have a first name?”

“James. I’m downloading his ID badge pic now.”

“Smart girl!”

“I know a few things.”

“Karma, really, these donuts are utterly delectable.” I eat two more in the time it takes for the picture to download.

“Nice. I’m using that too.”

“Stop stealing my words. I might need them.” I elbow her arm to enforce my weak threat.

“Lucy, stop abusing –“

“Wow. That’s Rhodes?”

“Yeah he’s kind of cute.”

Kind of? He’s hot! And you never told me? Tsk tsk.”

“We don’t even know if he’s single.”

“We don’t know if he’s single … yet.”

Chapter 2 – Introducing Karma Knowles

Chapter 2 – Introducing Karma Knowles

You may be slightly curious about Karma’s name. Acquaintances might acknowledge Karma’s parents as eccentric and flighty. On the other hand, according to friends and family, Mr. and Mrs. Knowles were good-hearted people who strongly believed in the idea of karma and “what goes around comes around,” a concept both reassuring and justifying. When news arrived that they would have a daughter, their very own precious little girl to cherish, they alleged it to be a blessing from karma. Their angel to come was a gift for the honorable manner in which they lived their lives.

Of course, Karma doesn’t agree that the name is fitting … especially for her. As a child she was teased more often than not for her unusual name which caused her to put up a defensive front. As an adult she is interrogated about its origin. In order to avoid the inevitable tedious discussions she gives false names when the opportunity arises. A fine example is when we frequent Starbucks in the early mornings before work to get our skinny latte fix. Karma gives the baristas a different name every time. Whatever name tickles her fancy on that day is the one that is bestowed. Mind you ninety-eight percent of the time the same crew is working on weekday mornings so they do recognize her from previous visits … by a variety of names. As silly as it is there’s no stopping her. I’m merely an accessory to this blasphemous crime. The amusing part is that no one ever calls her out on it (aside from me). Karma does what she wants, when she wants, and without fear of reprisal. Perhaps that’s her way of getting back at her name.

I was fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of my dear friend on my way to Sunny News on a warm and humid Monday morning, shoulders back and determined to establish a real career. It was about time. I worked my butt off in college to get here.

Sunny News is a budding newspaper with a medium size employee base and three and a half out of five-star rating. The paper’s main focus is local news in the Ft. Lauderdale area of sunny South Florida. Sunny News is still family oriented but striving for growth. This is exactly the type of paper I’d love to begin my career with; it’s not too small, where you’d get stuck quick, and not too large, in which it would be difficult to excel gradually due to excessive competition.

Once I approach the Sunny News building, however, my determination dwindles and anxiety inevitably takes over. I stumble into the building, tripping from my own nerves, spilling hot coffee all over my blazer just before Karma saunters into the building. Fresh out of college I’m armed with my journalism and marketing degrees, sweaty armpits, melting makeup, and clammy hands. In short, I am a walking hot mess. And I was about to be late to my first interview.

“Hey. What’s your name?” Karma asks gently stepping into my path, seeing my distress.

“Hi. Lucy Post.”

“Are you here for an interview?”

“Yes.” I glance at my professional Rado watch and panic. “In five minutes! Look at me. I’m an absolute wreck.” My eyes are teary out of frustration.

She smiles sympathetically. “Wait right here.” She walks to the receptionist to whisper a few words and then yanks me into a nearby bathroom. “My name is Karma. Nice to meet you. Let’s fix you up. You can’t interview here looking like that.”

While we’re in the bathroom she asks me about myself while molding me into a proper candidate for Sunny News. She takes my sweaty tarnished suit jacket and tosses it in the garbage can adding a semi-unappreciated “ick.” Admittedly it is an old blazer but it is the best I have in my wardrobe. I was yet to have time to study the fashion world and style icons. Without the blazer I feel vulnerable in my black knee-length pencil skirt and modest black camisole. Where is she going with this? Should I fetch my jacket back? I mean I can’t see any reason not to trust her. And at this point I am desperate for help.

Karma evaluates me for a few moments, her finger steadily tapping her chin. All of a sudden she sighs.

“Here, put this on. I have a sweater at my desk I can wear.” She pulls off her gorgeous cherry red blazer with two black and white buttons. (Spoiler alert: It turns out the blazer actually fits me better than Karma so she lets me keep it as a ‘congrats’ once I am a confirmed new hire.) Karma takes my hair out of its less than exotic ponytail, pulls a few bobby pins from her tote bag, and re-pins my hair into a neat side chignon.

“Do you have red lip gloss?” She asks quickly.

“Uh, yes. I think so.” I dig it out of my bag and hand it to her.

“Smashbox? Good choice. My favorite brand.” My savior whispers and brushes my lips with the cherry red gloss.

“It was a gift.” I mutter.

Last, but not least, Karma pulls a bottle of Evian refreshing spray from her bag of tricks. “Close your eyes.” She does a quick wave over my face with the light spray.

“Alright. Take a look.” She turns me around to face the floor to ceiling mirror and grins in satisfaction. I look refreshed and brand new in all of ten minutes time. My appearance imitates the concept of flaming success. I’ve been revived!

Karma walks me to the receptionist desk and gives Tina a thumbs-up. Turning to me she grabs my arms and says encouragingly, “Call me and let me know how it goes. Here’s my card. Good luck!”

I instantly know Karma and I will become close friends.   

I also have a feeling that I’ll ace the interview.

And ace it I did. I’m offered the job before I even leave the building. Thanks to Karma. I don’t care what some people say but your appearance does make a difference to a certain extent.

A couple of weeks following my successful interview at SN (it’s been a whole two weeks – of course I’m already abbreviating the company name) Karma and I are reminiscing over the whole fiasco. She still, to this day, refuses to admit she is jealous that the cherry red blazer looks better on me. I’m treating Karma to lunch at a Japanese buffet and begging her to show me how to use chopsticks for the umpteenth time.

“Seriously, Lucy?” She nearly doubles over laughing. “I cannot believe you don’t know how to use chopsticks.”

“Oh ha-ha! But be warned – I was raised on normal utensils. You know, forks, knives, and spoons. Now show me again.”

While Karma shows me how to hold the uncooperative chopsticks, with her endless supply of patience, I inquire, “Karma, I’ve been meaning to ask you something.”

“What’s up?” She concentrates on adding just the right amount of ginger to her sashimi. Karma is all about the raw sushi whereas I am a beginner and stick to anything and everything cooked and packed into beautiful combination rolls. Oh and if it’s tempura then it’s a real bonus.

“Why did you help me on my interview day?”

“Why not?” She knits her eyebrows at the question but then claps wildly when I finally get a piece of my super roll wholly into my mouth.

“Thank you. I feel so accomplished now. I’ll have to update my Facebook status and quite possibly my resume too. Chopstick connoisseur! It is a skill. Should I send out a tweet?”

“I’m thinking no.”

“Anyway, you just said ‘why not.’ You know a lot of people wouldn’t have done what you did. You helped a floundering stranger. And thankfully you introduced me to the exciting world of fashion. So why’d you come to my rescue that morning? I’m just curious.”

Karma shrugs her shoulders. “Because.”

“Because you believe in your namesake?”

Crickets.

“Come on. Shyness is completely foreign to you. Give it up. I’d like to know why you did what you did.”

“Oh alright. Look, if you must know it’s quite simple. Someone did the same for me a long time ago and I only felt it was appropriate to pay it forward.”

From that moment on we were truly inseparable. Karma showed me the ropes at SN and introduced me to everyone so it was easy to fit in fast. Everyone loves Karma despite her sarcasm and cynicism – for some reason it is just so difficult to hate her. In fact, it’s impossible to dislike her persona. Something about her vibe attracts people. That and she always has donut holes at her desk. You cannot possibly loathe someone who shares donuts. Seriously.    

Together we currently dominate the Marketing department at Sunny News. How cool is it that I can work directly next to my best friend?

Another reason we get along so wonderfully? We are both single gals in our prime. Karma is 31 years young and I am the prime age of 27. As far as appearances go we are fairly dissimilar. Karma’s wavy hair is deep raven black, her eyes glittering onyx, and her complexion olive toned. In contrast, my skin is a medium tone, my fine hair a delicious shade of chestnut and my eyes a similar brown. We decided that, together, our chances of meeting Mr. Right will increase; we’re a dynamic duo stealthily conquering the singles zone.

No success yet though.

We’re still working on that.

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

It’s a rainy weekend so Karma and I are having a slumber party with a twist. No matter your age, girls, you’re never too old for a slumber party. The agenda may change the older you get but the idea remains the same. The ‘twist’ consists of greyhounds (vodka and freshly squeezed grapefruit juice), Chinese take-out, and two chick flicks that remind us, yet again, that we’re single, solely relying on each other for company – temporarily of course. Sometimes there’s dessert.

“What’s first?” I ask after sucking down my first drink greedily.

“Ummm. We have ‘Made of Honor’ for the modern chick flick and ‘Pride and Prejudice’ for a dose of really old school love. Both have happily-ever-after endings.” Karma makes a gag sound.

“’Made of Honor’ first.” I pop in the DVD and right when Sara Bareilles’s “Love Song” introduces the movie with its chipper melody a knock sounds on the door. I pay the delivery boy and we set up our Chinese buffet on the floor in front of the TV.

“New York. Always. Why is New York City always featured in movies? Do movie producers have something against South Florida?” I grumble while filling my plate with sweet and sour chicken, vegetable fried rice, egg foo young, an eggroll, and crab rangoon. Scrumptious.

“I know one that was shot in SoFlo.” Karma refills our glasses.

“Oh? What movie?”

“The chick flick with Sigourney Weaver, no? And Jennifer Love-Hewitt. What was it called?” She taps her burgundy fingernails on the counter until the name comes to her. “Ah! ‘Heartbreakers,’ I think.”      

“Heartbreakers?” I raise an eyebrow. “How on Earth did I miss that one?”

“Oh yeah for a part but not the whole thing. They feature the Breakers hotel.” She joins me on the floor. “Be happy with what you can get, my friend.”

“Wah Wah Wah.” I imitate the Peanuts characters. “Karma, do you realize that next week is December?”

“It sure is. Thank goodness for calendars.”

“Well what are your plans for the holidays?”

She sighs and pauses the movie. “You know I’m not really crazy about the holidays. Havent thought about it much.”

“I know. I’ve got you covered though. I have a plan.”

“What’d you come up with?”

“My parents are coming down from West Palm Beach to visit for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Why don’t you join us? It’s fun. You’ll have such a good time.”

“I know you always invite me but I really don’t want to intrude on your family time.”

“It’s not considered an intrusion if you’re invited.”

Karma hesitates, turning her eggroll over and over while contemplating her answer.

“You have to go. We’re playing pin the bulb on the Christmas wreath.” I laugh. What a silly family tradition. A wreath piñata. Who’d have thought it? And yes, it’s as crazy as it sounds.

“Okay.” She smiled.

Sadly, Karma’s parents passed away in a car accident some time ago. She has a step-brother that barely keeps in touch no matter how hard she tries to establish continual communication. Her step-brother, Evan, is a few years older than her. Evan was product of their father’s first marriage. His mother left them when Evan was only a toddler. How unfortunate and damaging for a small child. As far as we know he never did seek her out.

Evan was always the type that kept to himself but was extremely successful in school and anything he put his mind to. As soon as Evan was able to escape the household he did. He had to be out on his own. Free. There was minimal communication from Evan but he sent a letter every now and then letting the family know his whereabouts.

Mr. and Mrs. Knowles were sad that they couldn’t see Evan very often but they knew it was his nature. He had to do what he had to do. Every person is capable of making their own choices. They hoped every day that he was happy and healthy and when he came home every six months or so there was a huge celebration in honor of his arrival. His father and step-mother spared no expense. Karma was willing to help with what she could for she was always looking forward to seeing her brother.

When Mr. and Mrs. Knowles passed on Evan came for the funeral, spent the day with Karma, gave her a check for funeral expenses, and left the next morning.

“Hear anything from Evan lately?” I ask quietly. I know his infrequent communication bothers her. I hope every day, for her sake, that he’ll come around.

“You know I rarely do. I sent him an email asking if he wants to join me for Christmas. Or I could join him on the west coast. But … he declined.”

“Bummer.”

“Yeah. But you know that’s just how he is. How he’s always been.”

“Yeah. I know.” I play the movie.

We eat and drink our fill while watching ‘Made of Honor,’ adding in our bitter comments and occasionally a sigh or two filled with longing.

The movie concludes with a predictable happy ending and the credits start rolling. We pop open our laptops to work on our new blogs. Karma has her layout done and is ready for her first post: “Donut Halos.” Me? I’m struggling with the blog layout on WordPress. They charge a fee for the really nice blog themes that fit my ideas impeccably and I’m finding it difficult to choose from the free selection. The theme has to be just right, oozing perfection and class like Eryn Carlo.

While we continue our blog work we watch ‘Pride and Prejudice.’

There’s nothing like the handsome reserved Mr. Darcy for a little inspiration.

The Plan (and Chapter 1 – A New Love)

So … as I mentioned in the About section … “Me & Eryn Carlo” is finished but requires a serious amount of tweaking.

The plan is to post every Tuesday. What I’d like to do is post a chapter every two weeks – in between I’ll post a character introduction or a miscellaneous post relating to the book.

I’m partially nervous because I am the world’s biggest procrastinator so forgive me if I post late…

And without further delay – here is chapter one.

Chapter 1 – A New Love

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

“I am falling in love!” I sigh and sink into my work chair. “And good morning, dear friend.”

“No way. Tell me about him. Spare no juicy detail.” Karma turns slowly in her swivel chair while simultaneously shoving a double chocolate mini donut into her tiny mouth.

“Okay so I’m perusing the stores at the Sawgrass mall with an old girlfriend and–”

“Mmm. These are delicious. Have you tried these?” She presses yet another frosted donut into her mouth without wiping the chocolate icing off her lips from the first one.

“Ugh. No. But you have. Many times. Honestly, Karma, I’ve never seen someone eat so many donuts in my life without gaining a single pound.”

She smiles at the hint of jealousy in my tone. “Good genes, baby. Good genes. Don’t hate – it’s not very becoming on you.” Karma reaches over to pat me on the cheek with her slender yet chocolaty fingers but I swiftly dodge the attempt. Donning a false scowl she continues, “Are you going to tell me the story about Mr. Right or what?”

“I’m trying to but your obsessive addiction with donuts is intertwining itself into yet another conversation which, I remind you, started with me saying I am in love!” I twist my long pin-straight chestnut-brown hair up into a high, sophisticated bun.

“You’re grinning like a 14-year-old.” Karma rolls her eyes.

“I am!” My smile is so cheesy.

“It annoys me. Really.”

“You are a strange friend, Karma.”

“Been there. Heard that.” She sets her focus back on the donut minis she bought this morning from her second home – the quaint bakery down the block.

“So I’m at the Sawgrass mall with my friend, Liz, and…”

“Yes you mentioned that already. I –“

“Oh my gosh! Just sit and listen!” I hastily stuff another donut into her mouth even though she’s still working on the previous one. “Silence is golden. Haven’t you heard?”

Karma shakes her head slowly signaling a “no.”

“Before I continue I should mention that a few months back I’m at Macy’s looking for a cocktail dress when I see this handbag I absolutely adore but, unfortunately, cannot afford at full price. It’s the prettiest shade of mocha and the leather is soft and comfortable. The initials ‘EC’ are printed all over it in gold but not a brassy gold. It’s more of a light angelic gold, if that makes any sense. I’ve never heard of EC before but no matter.”

“Uh huh.” Karma mumbles, eyeing me speculatively.

“A week later, on payday, I’m driving to Macy’s excited to buy the EC bag only to find that it’s entirely sold out. Disappointment inevitably follows, you know.”

“I thought we were talking about a guy? Can we skip to that part? The latest and greatest form of Mr. Right? Mr. Right-For-The-Moment? Did you sleep with him?”

I close my eyes and plea with my hands in prayer position. “Shut … up … Karma.”

“Yes ma’am. Shutting up.” She purses her lips and sits like a soldier at attention.

“Now, back to Sawgrass mall, Liz and I are perusing through handbags at the mall and we come across an EC bag. Imagine my delight! By the way, EC stands for Eryn Carlo. I Googled the brand. This designer mirrors my exact taste in handbags: simple, classic, chic, and one hundred percent wearable. The beauty of this find is that the bag is marked down to about half the original price and so, unsurprisingly, I purchase it! Voila!” I pull out the bag and proudly display it as if it’s a silky first prize ribbon rightfully earned.

I pause for reaction but Karma simply polishes off her fifth donut from the baker’s dozen held in an exquisite mint green and white laced box.

I ignore her less than enthusiastic response and continue. “Anyhow, I’m uber excited! I discover a designer that I’m confident no one I know is fixated with yet. But they will be. It’s only a matter of time. Eryn Carlo. The name just rolls off the tongue. They have a clothing line too!”

“Oh and I’m the strange friend? You tell me you’re falling in love with a handbag and clothing designer, Lucy.” Karma snickers and tosses a paperclip at me.

“Hey! Yes, well, we are both fully aware that I’m terminally single due to my lack of fortunate grace with men so I’m leaning more towards designer handbags and such. They’re reliable. Besides, you know my dates are consistently disastrous, Karma. There’s no hope for me.” I sigh, resigned to my fate of being a permanent resident of Singledom.

“Right. Yes I do know. But I sure love to hear about your horrific date experiences.”

“Ha! Guess what else? I’m starting a blog.”

“A blog for what?”

“The designer. I’ll call it ‘Me and Eryn Carlo.’”

“And now you’re officially starting to scare me.” She promptly Googles and emails me a web link to a local psychiatrist.

I literally laugh out loud when opening the link and I hear Karma giggle lightly from her cubicle desk positioned adjacent to my own.

“Just kidding.” She turns and squeezes my arm gently to reassure me of her underlying sincerity.

Karma is so cynical and tough on the exterior but deep down she is a softie.

“So how about you help me with this new blog venture?” I scoot closer to her desk and seize a donut.

“Not a chance, though you have given me a brilliant idea.”

“Have I now?”

“Yes. I’ll create a blog on donuts. I just love donuts. All kinds.”

“I hadn’t noticed!”

Her eyes narrow in my direction and she purposely pushes the donut box out of my reach.

We begin our research session on blogging which was a completely foreign concept to each of us up until now. Together we explore trendy blog sites: Blogger, WordPress, and Tumblr to name a few.

“Do you two not have enough work to do? I only ask because you’ve been talking nonstop all morning.”

My boss. Eric Weston. Also known as Mr. Mean (which gives us a good chuckle because we sing it with the ‘Mr. Clean’ commercial song). Eric is not the most joyful person on our floor … or in the entire company, for that matter. Eric is just plain cross about anything and everything. We’re not sure why but we chalk it up to him being born this way. Or perhaps he acts like this only at work. Eric isn’t exactly one for attending company functions that involve enjoying each other’s company in a non-work environment. I always wonder what his wife is like. Is he nice to her? If not, how does she stand his temper?

He stands before us, arms crossed, his icy blue eyes shooting daggers.   I want to tell him he looks very nice today but I’m too afraid. However, I’m not going to shy away from observing his handsome appearance even if it is tainted by his infamous evil stare. Eric has salt and pepper hair, neatly combed and lightly gelled. He is wearing a perfectly tailored navy blue suit with a stark white dress shirt and a bold red diamond patterned tie. It’s a typical ensemble for the male VPs here at Sunny News but he wears it well. In fact, he wears it better than most. His hands are now finding solace in their respectable pressed pant pockets and his shoes are shined to perfection. I laugh inwardly as I imagine using his super-shiny polished shoes as a mirror for reapplying my lip gloss. Lost in the scrutiny of my manager I almost forget to respond.

“Sorry, Eric.  We are working while talking. Multi-tasking at its finest. Promise. Scout’s honor.” The most productive way to handle Eric was to kill him with kindness.

“Were you a Girl Scout at some point, Lucy?”

“Uh … no?” I blush.

“Is that a question or a statement?”

“No, sir, I was never a Girl Scout.” Geez. “But I wanted to be.”

“I haven’t seen one email from either of you this morning.” Eric steps forward, closing the gap between us, his stance threatening.

“You always tell us not to copy you on every email because you receive such a profound number of emails.” Karma replies matter-of-factly.

“Karma, you owe me a spreadsheet. I want it by lunch time. No breaks or conversation with Lucy until it’s in my inbox.”

“It’s already in your inbox. I sent it to you yesterday, sir.” She practically sings the last two words.

“Fine. Get back to work. Both of you.” He huffs and dramatically turns on his heels to leave.

“You’re such a nut.” Karma mutters under her breath.

“Excuse me? What did you say?” Eric looks back over his shoulder, his eyebrows raised and his lips tense, ready to deliver harsh verbal reprimanding.

“I said, ‘Would you like a donut?’” She holds out the box and bats her deep black mascara lengthened eyelashes.

I turn completely around to hide my amusement at his bewildered expression. Eric snatches a donut and stalks off without so much as a ‘thank you.’

“Karma, really! You’re going to get in serious trouble if you keep that up.” I can’t help but laugh now that Eric is out of earshot.

“I know.  But it’s entertaining so … anyway, back to the blog convo.”

“I think I’ll use WordPress.” I clap my hands in excitement.

“I’m going with Blogger. It’s simple. Donuts are simple.”

“Nice comparison. I like it. Run with it.”

“Thank you, thank you.”

“Oh by the way, I have a date tonight.”

“Another huh? Same sweetheart as last week? Or is it someone new?”

“New. That last guy is a sweetheart but he’s also a real mama’s boy. I have to let my mom know I’m not interested in him. That’s the tough part.” I twist open my new Smashbox lip gloss in a slightly darker shade of brown than my hair. “I hate being set up on blind dates.”

“Yeah he’s a mama’s boy now. Maybe he’ll grow out of it under your tutelage. If your mom sets you up with him then maybe she sees potential.”

“Grow out of it? At 35 years old? Sweetie, I think he’s done all the growing up he can do by now.”

“If you say so. Tell your mom I’m on her side with this one.”

“Yes. I know. I’m glutton for punishment. But what else can I do? If I don’t click with the guy then I don’t click. My alternative option is to cower in the comfort of my condo but I cannot meet anyone when I sit at home all scrubby in my pajamas, devouring countless pints of rum raisin and caramel waffle cone Haagen Dazs, and consuming bottle after bottle of champagne.”

“That certainly is an image to behold.” Karma spins around again while taking a sip of her hot pumpkin latte from Starbucks. “You never know. This guy could be the one. He may even have a single, rich, gorgeous brother for me. Hm. Ingenious. I’m lucky to have you as a cubicle mate.”

“Likewise.”

“Send me this dude’s info and where you’re going tonight. You know the drill.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“What does he do?”

“What do you mean?”

“Occupation-wise.”

“Umm. I don’t remember.” I grimace with embarrassment.

“Sounds promising. I see he made a lasting first impression online.”

***

“Henry?” I cautiously approach the only fidgeting man standing outside of the mid-scale restaurant.

“Yep. Are you Lucy?” He smiles shyly.

“Yes, that’s me. Nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you too. Do you wanna go in? I gave the hostess my name already. Shouldn’t be too long of a wait.”

“Sounds good to me.”

Here’s the lowdown on Henry. He and I have been emailing back and forth for a couple of weeks now via one of the many dating sites I signed up for months back. Dating sites always feel promising and inspiring in the beginning. In that moment there is a distinct possibility of seeking and locating Mr. Right through a convenient, and thoroughly detailed, search tool. An endless supply of single men is available to you in accordance to your wants and needs, your must-haves and must-not-haves.

On the downside, there’s only so much you can convey about yourself with an internet profile. I’m quickly learning that there is a large surplus of short and bald men available for love, commitment, and happily ever after. Prince Charming – without the glossy full head of hair. Not that short balding men are completely atrocious but they’re just not this gal’s type. Many web-dating participants also embellish or intertwine fabricated details within their e-dating profiles in order to attract a landslide of eligible maidens. And let us not forget the guys that post primary photos that were taken twenty years prior to their enrollment.

Henry has a shaved head. I’m momentarily ditching my must-have of a full head of hair to get to know him (don’t mistake this for desperation). He seems like a good-hearted man so I’m willing to throw caution to the wind. Besides, I’ve been on this one particular e-dating website for three months now and this is the first date challenge I’ve agreed to. That makes this date a $150 date. I’m anxious to see if this meeting turns out to be worth one hundred and fifty dollars of pure bliss.

At first glance Henry appears to be a bit on the feminine side.

I shake my head and immediately shut down my judgmental voice of treason. We head into the restaurant and the scent of hot, appealing food resuscitates my fading optimism instantly. It is well-known that this precise establishment serves the best burgers and steak in a five mile radius. It’s not too casual but not too extravagant either. The atmosphere is bustling but relaxed with dim lighting emitting a calming energy.

 Conversation isn’t horrible. A little awkward and forced at times but that’s emblematic of a first date. Turns out Henry has a speech annoyance, meaning he says something habitually that tends to annoy in the long run. He begins just about every statement with a drawn out “well” and I repress a giggle every time he stretches the word with a high pitch.

“Good evening, my name is Alana. What can I get you two to drink tonight? House wine perhaps? Or maybe a lemon drop martini? They’re the bartender’s specialty.” The waitress is perky and bright which makes me smile. She winks at me. Maybe she can tell we’re on a first date? I tell you what, I like her. And I absolutely love lemon drop martinis.

I ask Henry to order first to see what he chooses. To my surprise he says, “I’ll have an iced tea.”

Iced tea? Damn. I want a real drink. Something with vodka and a sour lemon flavor chilled to perfection. Should I still order one? No, I’ll keep it simple. “Just a Coke for me, please. Thank you, Alana.”

Our sad alcohol-free beverages arrive and it’s time to order entrées.

Again I let him order first. What can I say, I like to observe. I think you can tell a lot about a person by what they drink and eat. Okay, maybe not a lot but you can at least perceive an inkling of their personality.

“I’ll have the club sandwich please.” Oops, he did it again. I hummed the notes of the ever popular Britney Spears song in my head.

A sandwich? On a dinner date? No meat and potatoes? No real man food?I find that a little odd but here I go judging again. At the risk of appearing as a subservient follower I feel uneasy about ordering a true dinner entrée so I decide to go with a classic cheeseburger and fries.

We talk about our jobs while we wait for our meals. He’s in construction, that’s right. It’s all coming back to me now.

“So have you gone on any crazy dates yet?” Henry asks once our mouth-watering plates arrive. At this point I’m so hungry I could care less what our conversation is about.

“Oh, no, not through this site. Yet, at least.” I laugh trying to not sound so over the date already. I’m having an okay time but it’s nothing to write home about. There’s a serious dearth of chemistry and zero percent chance of a budding spark.

“I have some funny ones. Do you want to hear them?” His eyes are wide with eagerness.

“Sure.” It’s obvious he’s trying. I can’t say no.

Thirty minutes later Henry is still going strong with his storytelling. I attempt to sway the conversation each time he concludes a dating adventure but I’m repeatedly overruled by “just one more” or “wait, this is a good one.”

Resigned, I cradle my face with my hands, bored out of my mind. I already finished my cheeseburger, attacked most of the french fries, downed three cokes, and planned my TV schedule for the rest of the evening. All of this accomplished while he consumes a measly half a sandwich. Henry is full. From half a sandwich.

I check my watch and frown.

“Last one, I promise.”

“Okay, Henry. I’m sorry but I really need to get going soon.”

“Me too. Yeah so this girl was, you know, pretty good-looking in her pictures online and we had some average conversations but when I pick her up for our date she looks so different.”

“Different how? I mean a lot of people don’t post recent pictures of themselves.”

“That wasn’t it, though. This girl is physically handicap and there I was shocked. I didn’t know how to handle it. I thought about leaving but that would be all kinds of wrong. But then again she hadn’t told me she was handicap.”

“Wow. That’s pretty crazy.” I signal the waitress for our check.

“Right?” He’s just having too much of a good time with this. “She basically gets plastered on our date. Again, I’m shocked. Who gets plastered on a first date?”

I’d sure like to get trashed right about now.

“Wellll, I finally find a way to end the evening and drive her home only to reach the high point of our date.” He pauses to add a bit of suspense to the story.

“Oh the anticipation is killing me. By all means, don’t stop now.”

Henry laughs, completely oblivious to my sarcasm. “Wellll, I help her out of the car because she’s so far beyond inebriated it’s ridiculous. Then she tells me she really has to pee badly. So she squats over the grass outside her apartment and just goes.”

“She peed outside?”

“Yep.” Henry slams his hands on the table for extra emphasis.

“Eww.”

He’s howling with laughter and I wonder to myself how I made it through this date without ordering one of the bartender’s special martinis Alana recommended. “What’d you do after that? Did you run?” I ask, curious of his reaction.

“Wellll,” There it was again. The drawn out, over-used word. “No. I mean it was weird but I helped her into her apartment and then got out of there fast.”

“Despite the peculiarity of the whole date it was really nice, and brave, of you to make sure she made it home safely.” This is my attempt to conclude this terrifying conversation.

“Allow me.” He grabs the check and pays.

“Thank you very much for dinner.” I flash him a genuine smile. I’m appreciative that he covered the check. Believe you me, there are some men that disregard this courtship tradition and ignore the fact that they are supposed to pick up the first date check and be happy about it.

“It’s my pleasure.”

We slide out of the booth after Alana wishes us a pleasant evening.

“Where’d you park?”

At least he has manners. “Oh you don’t have to walk me to my car. I don’t mean to run out on you but I have to prep for a big meeting tomorrow morning with my boss. I’ll be burning the midnight oil.”

“You’re gonna go home and work now?”

“Yes. I have to. We’re so busy lately. I work from home in the evenings quite often.”

“That sucks.” Henry has disdain smeared all over his face.

“It’s not too bad. I don’t mind it. It’s my career so it’s pretty worth it.”

Henry silently concedes, we hug, and say goodbye.

It won’t work out for Henry and me. He’s a kind guy but too ‘buddy-buddy.’ There is no vibe of attraction on my part or high hopes to see him again. And that is the harsh reality of online dating. On to the next.

Me and Eryn Carlo

A 20-something girl and her 30-something best friend against the world! Follow Lucy Post, a flighty solo gal, and her snide best friend, Karma Knowles, through their quest for love and the indulgences of their obsessions. For Lucy it’s the one and only newly coveted designer – Eryn Carlo. For Karma it’s … well … it’s donuts. We can’t all be perfect. Quirky and fun – this story covers designers to donuts! Enjoy the trip with Lucy & Karma … and Eryn Carlo. (Bring your own donuts…)