Even though Jen spent the day worrying over whether or not she had offended Caleb by rejecting his invitation, she still managed to get herself a promotion. She’s now a Code Monkey and feeling excited about the new responsibilities her boss has entrusted her with.
She has the next three days off and she should be thinking about increasing her skills and gathering more objects to sell, but all she can think about is Caleb.
Jen frowned as she headed toward her small property, ‘What is wrong with me? Why can’t I stop thinking about him? He’s the first thing I think about when I wake up, and the last thing I think about when I go to sleep. It’s like… he’s infected me or something.’
She was just finishing up looking after her garden when her phone buzzed in her pocket. She was so excited by the prospect that it might be Caleb that she nearly dropped the phone in a puddle of water.
✉ [Good afternoon, my dear. Did you make it home safely?]
His concern made her smile, her hands shaking as she typed her reply, [Yes, I did. Thank you,]
✉ [How was work? Hopefully, you didn’t encounter any foul customers today.]
She shook her head even though he couldn’t see it, [I didn’t! Actually, I got promoted today…] ‘Wait, what if he thinks I’m bragging? Oh no…’
✉ [That’s wonderful, congratulations! I think a dinner date would be the perfect way to celebrate, don’t you?]
‘Date… he said date… oh my…’ Her cheeks burned, [I’d love to!] ‘Crap, don’t sound too eager or he’ll lose interest, you dolt!’
✉ [Excellent. I’ll meet you soon, my dear.]
She held the phone to her chest, hoping to calm her racing heart.
Caleb is waiting at the entrance to the diner when she arrived, slightly out of breath because she had decided to run the rest of the way to calm her nerves. He smiled at her, pulling her into a hug and pecking her cheek.
“I’m glad you could make it. Come, let us get a table.”
“Y-Yeah,” she gulped as she followed him into the building, letting him talk to the hostess – a beautiful young woman with red hair. Jen glanced down at herself then back at the woman and frowned. ‘She’s so beautiful… I wonder what that’s like.’
The woman smiled brightly and took the pair to their table.
Right behind her.
At the front of the diner.
Jen held back a groan as she fell into her chair, glancing around the room. ‘There are so many empty tables, why did she have to seat us here? Where everyone can see us as soon as they walk in the door…’ She glanced at the beautiful man sitting across from her, his eyes scanning the menu as he contemplated what to order. ‘Well, at least my back is to them…’
“Do you know what you wish to order, my dear?” Caleb questioned, glancing over at her. “There are so many choices, I’m at a bit of loss.”
“Oh, umm…” Her eyes quickly scanned the menu. “The roasted turkey and mashed potatoes looks pretty good…”
He smiled softly, closing his menu. “That sounds lovely,”
“Are you two ready to order?” The waitress stopped at the table with a smile, pulling out a notepad and a pen.
“The roast turkey dinner and a cream cola, please,” Jen responded, keeping her eyes trained on the pad and refusing the meet the woman’s gaze. Looking at another sim in the eye has always been hard for her.
“I’ll have the same, please.” Caleb smiled at the woman, who jotted it down with a nod.
“It’ll be up shortly!”
Caleb turned his attention back to Jen when the waitress walked away, propping his elbows on the table and resting his chin atop his folded hands. “Tell me a little bit about yourself, my dear.”
She fidgeted under his piercing gaze, feeling as if he could see straight to her soul. “Um, like what?”
“Your hobbies, favorite color.” He paused for a moment. “When we first met, you said you were left homeless after the loss of your godmother. Would you tell me your story?”
“Ah, well,” She rubbed the back of her neck. “I never knew my parents. I’ve been with Leyva, my godmother, for as long as I can remember. We lived in Oasis Springs, but she was rarely ever home. She was an archaeologist, you see, so she was always out of the country on digs.”
“Archaeologist named Leyva…” he mused thoughtfully before his eyes widened. “Leyva Hale? The world-famous archaeologist that helped to excavate the tombs within Al Simhara?”
“Yeah… that’s her.” Jen frowned, her fingers picking at the loose piece of string on her jeans. “To be completely honest, she wasn’t much of a parental figure since her work came first, but she’s all I had. The closest thing to family I’ve ever known.”
Caleb frowned. “I see. I apologize, I seem to have brought up some unpleasant feelings for you.”
“No, it’s okay!” She responded quickly.
“Here’s your food!” The waitress returned, plopping down the plates of food and the drinks. “Enjoy!”
“If I may,” Caleb took a sip of his cola before continuing. “Do I make you uncomfortable? I do hope you are not forcing yourself to indulge me.”
Jen nearly choked on the piece of turkey she had just tried to swallow, making him send her a concerned look. “N-No, I… I really enjoy your company! I mean, you have this aura about you that’s kind of intimidating, you know, but at the same time, it’s also really comforting! I like talking to you, hearing your voice. Whenever I get a message from you, my heart goes crazy! I’m really attracted to you, actually…”
Caleb’s eyes widened, his fork slowly being lowered to the table.
Jen’s eyes also widened as she realized the weight of her words. Her face flushed and she tried to backtrack, but instead of speaking words, she only made strangled sounds like a fish out of water.
Sensing her distress, he sent her a charming smile, reaching across the table to rest his hand over hers. “I must confess that I’m quite attracted to you, as well, Jen Winchester.”
She smiled nervously, flipping her hand over under his. “Can we… be friends?”
He chuckled, his fingers curling around her wrist. “My dear, we already are.” ‘And perhaps’, he thought, ‘We can be even more.’
After finishing up their dinner and paying, the two stood up to part ways.
“Thank you, Caleb, for everything.” Jen smiled nervously, her fingers playing with the hem of her sweater.
“Of course. I enjoy our time together just as much as you do.” He gently pulled her into his arms, his lips brushing her ear. “Until we meet again, farewell, my dear Jen.”
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