Fate Interrupted (Chapter Two)
Shaun waved to him from the other side of the sun splashed patio, where he was holding down a table by himself. Dean tipped his head back in response and waded through the throng of chattering soccer moms and riled up kids. A table of four elderly women, dressed in their Sunday best, burst into a flourishing round of cackles as he passed by – probably gossiping about how somebody had the nerve to bring bran muffins from a box to the church social. Dean stopped abruptly as a kid zipped in front of him with an empty cup, heading back inside for another refill of soda he didn't need.
"What is up, big baller!" Shaun said, pushing his sunglasses up his nose and sucking down some brown soda of his own. He set the cup down, wiped its condensation on his pants and held his fist out. "Glad you could make it."
Dean ignored the fist and pulled back a metal chair that scraped against the concrete, rattling his brain with its deep amplification. "This place is a madhouse," he said, setting his cell phone on the table and taking a seat.
"Everyone loves Panera," Shaun replied, sinking his teeth into a Smokehouse Turkey Panini.
Dean stretched his arms out as a baby cried a few tables over, slicing his headache in two.
"You gonna go inside and order?"
"In a minute."
Shaun wiped his hands on a crumpled napkin. "Jonny just called, he's not gonna make it."
Dean snorted, gazing out over the jam-packed parking lot. "After the shots he pushed on us, I'm not surprised."
"Sounds like you guys had quite the night last night. So…how was she?"
Dean turned back to Shaun.
"The hot little blond you pulled from Milwaukee Street last night. I wanna hear every detail. Carrie took the girls to a movie so don't hold back. It's just you and me." He tipped his head down and peered at Dean over the top of his sunglasses. "Doctor/patient confidentiality."
Dean chuckled. "You wish you were a doctor."
A burst of air ruffled Shaun's lips. "Try reading my dental degree sometime, player."
Dean's stomach rumbled and he checked the bulky watch strangling his wrist.
"This is a safe-house," Shaun said, outlining the grated table with his index fingers. "So go ahead and tell me everything that happened. Leave no stone unturned, my friend. You are safe here."
Dean stole a quick drink from Shaun's watered down pop, extinguishing the cotton mouth making his tongue stick to the roof of his mouth. "She was insane."
"Now we're getting somewhere!"
"I just pray to God I never run into her again."
Shaun's face soured. "Jon said she was hot as hell."
"She was, but the stuff coming out of her mouth was waaay outta bounds."
Shaun leaned in closer, crunching down on some salt and vinegar kettle chips.
Dean took off his shades and rubbed his itchy eyes, the crying baby behind him stepping on his last nerve.
"Whoa, looks like she kept you up all night. Nice."
"She tried to. Took three cups of coffee just to get her out the door this morning."
"Brutal! I hate when they stick around like that. Who does that?"
Dean slipped his shades back on and lowered his voice. "You ever have a chick ask you for anal?"
Shaun stopped chewing, his face instantly sobering. "Not without the money up front."
Dean cocked his head to one side. "You had sex with a hooker?"
Shaun fanned a hand through the air at him. "Come on, what happened?"
Dean took a quick look around the sun lit patio, its inhabitants dressed in colorful summer dresses and hats on a perfect summer's day. It looked like something out of a TV show. He leaned forward, pulling Shaun closer. "Well, I was right in the middle of…ya know, and she's like I'll let you do whatever you want to me."
Shaun nodded rapidly, hungry for more of the story and his grilled sandwich.
"And I'm thinking to myself, kinda late for that, lady."
Shaun snorted and wiped his nose with a fresh napkin.
"Next thing I know, she's asking me if I want to put it in her butt."
Shaun's burst of laughter quickly morphed into choking.
"Do you need the Heimlich? Should I call 911?"
Shaun shook his head and tried to catch his breath. He cleared his throat with some soda and coughed some more. "So what'd you say to her?"
Dean folded his arms across an aqua blue t-shirt that set off his brown eyes. "I said okay."
"What? Are you serious?"
Dean laughed. "Come on, man, you know that's a one way street for me."
Shaun spread his hands out. "Hey, everyone experiments now and then. So what happened next?"
Dean's stomach rumbled again and he got up. "Hang on," he said, heading inside much to Shaun's dismay. A few minutes later, he returned with a round tray of food and continued his harrowing tale.
Shaun dropped his napkin to the empty tray and brushed his hands together. "Wow, that is some freaky shit."
Dean swallowed a bite of his Panini, wishing it was a greasy cheeseburger. "Right?" he said, sucking down some blue Powerade. "I thought for a minute she was going to call the cops and have me arrested for rape."
Shaun folded his arms across his chest and shook his head. "She sounds wild."
"I told her I had a ski mask and she about creamed the sheets."
"Holy shit, the lucky burglar," Shaun laughed, draining his drink. "That's an oldie but a goodie." He glanced around and leaned forward. "Do you really have a ski mask?"
Dean frowned. "Do I look like a bank robber to you?"
"Some people actually use them for skiing, ya know." He covered his mouth with a fist and quietly belched. "Jon said her friend, April, was lame in the sack, so it looks like you picked the long straw."
"Isn't the long one supposed to be the good one?"
"Jon said that at one point he secretly checked her pulse."
Dean laughed out loud. "We should've gone for these two brunettes over by the bar. I tried to tell him and the next thing I know he's talking to Megan and April."
"I gotta be honest, I don't miss the bar scene, man."
Dean pressed his lips together.
"Okay, maybe a little, but I get to live vicariously through you and Jon, my last two single friends."
Dean rolled his eyes behind his sunglasses and watched a pretty lady lead a cute little girl with blond curls and an orange sundress out onto the patio by the hand. They snagged the last open table and sat down.
Shaun stared at Dean with his mouth hanging open.
Dean stopped chewing. "What?"
"How do you do that?"
"That soccer mom just gave you fuck me eyes."
Dean nonchalantly glanced over at the woman who was busy helping the little girl open a bag of chips. He lifted his shoulders to his ears. "What can I say? I'm a people person."
"All I know is I wouldn't want to be out there shacking up with a different psycho every night of the week, always changing your phone number and having to move out of state."
"I would hardly call the occasional weekend hookup every night of the week," Dean replied, wolfing down some barbeque chips. "It's not that bad. Besides, I always do a strip search to make sure they're not carrying any weapons."
Shaun leaned forward and clasped his hands on the table. "Don't you ever get the urge to settle down?"
"Dean, you're almost thirty-five, for Christ's sake."
Dean's eyebrows drew together. "I just turned thirty-four."
"Either way, you're middle-aged now."
"You're middle-aged," Dean mumbled under his breath.
Shaun stared blankly at him. "Nice come back. The point is you can't keep this lifestyle up forever. You need to find a nice girl to settle down with so Carrie and I can have someone to go to dinner with who doesn't want to talk about The Doodlebops all night long."
Dean opened his mouth to say something and took another bite of his sandwich instead.
"Face it, man, you have a serious commitment problem and you need help."
Dean stopped chewing and furrowed his brow. "I just signed a two year contract with a new cable provider."
Shaun laughed. "See what I mean? You can't even talk about it without making a joke. It's a defense mechanism."
"I don't have a commitment problem because I like my life. I like doing my own thing whenever I want without worrying about someone else's plans for the day."
"You just haven't met the right person yet. Believe me, all of that will change when you do. When you meet the right person, you'll want to bend over backwards for them just to change a light bulb, or fix the toaster, or whatever, but you're not going to meet the right person shopping where you shop."
Dean snorted and took a sip of his blue drink.
"You need to start shopping at higher end stores."
"Like where?The library? The grocery store? This isn't a Lifetime movie."
Shaun jerked his chin behind Dean. "How about that brunette over there? She looks like a nice girl."
Dean twisted in his chair and lowered his head, peering over his sunglasses at the twenty-something sitting all alone across the patio, which seemed like a crime in of itself. He had never seen someone look so beautiful while working on a laptop. Her long, chocolate-colored hair danced with the gentle breeze as her slender fingers gracefully punched away at the keyboard. A white tank top set off her firm breasts and tanned arms. His eyes dipped beneath the table where long legs spilled from a pair of tight jean shorts. He licked his lips and looked back up to find her staring right at him. His eyes widened and he whipped back around, knocking over his cold drink.
Shaun jumped back in his chair to avoid the spill but the chair's back legs refused to budge against the concrete. He teetered on two legs, his arms wavering in the air for balance, and slowly crashed backwards with a loud crack. The incessant chatter around them stopped on a dime. Shaun rolled to his feet in the thunder struck silence that followed, his face flushing as he realized all eyes were upon him. He held his hands up for everyone to see. "I'm okay, just a huge bee. Sorry bout that, I'm allergic." The crowd stared at him with blank expressions. He pulled his chair back up and plopped down, careful to avoid the blue liquid dripping from the table. "Are you high?" he hissed, glaring at Dean.
Dean broke into a mad case of the giggles and righted his empty cup. "That was the funniest thing I've ever seen," he wheezed. "I wish to God I had been rolling video."
Shaun surveyed his pants. "It wouldn't have been funny if you got that Smurf piss all over me. These pants are brand new!"
Dean pursed his lips. "Who wears white pants anyway? What are you, Mr. Roarke?"
"News flash, hotshot, it's summertime. People wear white in the summer."
"Yeah, at a wedding," Dean snickered, his eyes subtly gravitating back over his shoulder. The way the brunette's wavy hair spilled over her shoulders made his stomach twist into knots. It was like capturing lightning in a bottle. Her luscious breasts cried out for attention and he obliged, imagining what they must look like naked. The thought of handling them stole his breath. She turned his way, as if sensing his eyes upon her, and Dean whipped around to face Shaun.
"Just go over and say what's up."
Dean wiped a sheen of perspiration from his forehead with a napkin, butterflies swarming in his gut at the mere prospect of approaching such splendor with such simplicity. "And say what? Hi, I'm Dean wanna have a slumber party sometime?"
Shaun adjusted his short-sleeve button down, watching the mystery woman's every move. He ran a hand through his thinning sandy blond hair. "I would. Can you imagine having a pillow fight with that?"
Dean took a stubborn breath and released it back into the wild, unfamiliar with the feelings wringing the air from his lungs. The chatter and bursts of laughter around them suddenly seemed louder. A light breeze tickled his hair. He swept a loose lock back into place and shook his head. "She looks too young."
Shaun's jaw hit the floor. "And when has that ever stopped you before? She looks like Natalie Portman…but with way bigger tits. Just go over and say hi."
Dean mopped sweat from his upper lip and tried to slow his racing pulse. "I'll pass."
"What?" Shaun cried, drawing some attention from the tables around them. "What is wrong with you? You're Dean Jacobs! A single successful guy no woman can resist. Now stop fuckin around and go get her."
Dean brushed crumbs from his t-shirt. "Nice pep talk but I don't have my A-game today, man. I'm way too hungover."
Shaun slid Dean's empty cup across the grated table. "Go get a refill and offer to fill hers up on your way inside."
Dean smiled at the suggestion, unable to present a formidable defense, which, for him, was an anomaly.
"What do you have to lose?"
Dean stared at the cup, his heart beating faster just considering it.
A short laugh slipped from Shaun's lips. "Wow, I've never seen you like this before." He leaned forward and spoke in a whisper. "Look, if she says no you'll never see her again anyway so what's the big deal?"
Dean glanced over his shoulder again, blood pumping thickly in his ears. His phone vibrated loudly against the metal table, making him flinch. He cringed, knowing it was Megan, and picked it up. Relief washed over him like a cool Nigerian waterfall on a hot sunny day when he saw the text message. "Jon," he said, answering Shaun's questioning look and silencing the phone. "He wants to know everything about last night."
"You gonna do this or what? I don't have all day."
Dean's forehead creased. "I thought you just said Carrie was at a movie with the kids and you had all day."
"Some of us have yards to mow, Dean."
Dean shifted in his seat and wiped his sweaty palms on his black jeans.
"Don't be such a pussy, man. You're a lawyer, for Christ's sake!"
Dean pushed his shades up his nose and took a deep breath, puffing his chest out. "Fuck it," he whispered, carefully sliding his chair back and getting up. "Hey listen, if anything goes wrong over there…"
Shaun held a hand up. "I'll be right outside the back door. We got a helicopter on the roof." He stuck a finger in his ear. "Eyes and ears on the ground."
Dean responded with a shallow nod, before heading across the bustling patio.
"Don't forget the cup!"
Dean turned back around and grabbed the empty cup, flashing Shaun a sheepish smile.
"You got this," Shaun said, folding his arms across his chest.
Dean weaved between the tables with his head held high, his eye on the prize. Even her posture was perfect. The way her sandal dangled from her toes sent an electric current shooting through his veins. A wadded up napkin on her empty tray bolstered his confidence. She had finished her lunch and was probably in dire need of a refill. Little did she know, he was coming to her rescue.
He stopped at her table and glanced back at Shaun, who gave him an excited thumbs up. Dean turned back around to find the brown haired beauty looking up at him with the most stunning pair of green eyes he had ever seen. His heart pounded against his ribcage. He wiped a sweaty hand on his jeans, trying to catch his breath and wondering if he was coming down with the flu.
Her emerald colored eyes narrowed. He swallowed dryly and considered aborting the entire mission as adrenaline spiked through his system. He forced a smile that fought him tooth and nail, and gestured with the empty cup. "Can I get you a refill? I'm going back inside."
Her mesmerizing gaze swept to the cup in his hand, her full lips hanging part way open as if he had asked the question in Russian. He tried to read into the hesitation and figured his boldness teetered upon creepy.
"Umm," she said, her voice as light as a feather. "I'm good, thank you." She flashed him a polite smile and returned her attention to the laptop.
Dean tried his best not to look dumbfounded but it was impossible. His Adam's apple bobbed when he swallowed and he couldn't remember the last time someone had shot him down. He glanced back to Shaun, who opened his palms. Dean turned back to green eyes, his muddy mind scrambling for something to say that wouldn't cross into the land of cheese. He cleared his throat and took a deep breath to steady his shaky voice. "You always work this hard on a Sunday?"
Her eyes jerked back to him like he had just called her the b-word, their heavy weight driving the air from his lungs like a blow to the gut.
"Personally, I don't think God would be too happy. This is supposed to be a day of rest." He cringed as soon as the words slipped from his mouth. Welcome to Cheeseville.
She chuckled, restoring his confidence. "You are absolutely right," she said, shutting the laptop.
His entire body tensed. She was going to ask him to join her. The only question was: should he go inside and refill their cups or sit down before she could change her mind? She answered his indecision by sliding the computer into a black bag and getting up.
"That's enough for one day," she said with a quick smile.
He stepped back as she squeezed past, crop-dusting him with a sweet smell that inflamed his desire as she headed for the parking lot. "So no refill then?"
She stopped and turned to face him. Her hair blew in the wind, like she was filming a shampoo commercial as she slid on a pair of big brown sunglasses. "Thanks anyway."
With a quick turn, she trotted down the patio steps, her laptop bag in her hand and a red purse slung over her shoulder. He watched her perfect boobs bounce in slow motion as she sinuously glided into the parking lot. The way her leg muscles flexed with each confident stride drove him mad. She looked his way as she got in her car. Instinctively, he whirled to go inside and collided with a heavyset woman carrying a tray of food with both hands. The woman inhaled sharply. Her drink teetered for a moment before slowly falling like a razed skyscraper.
Dean and the woman dodged the fruit punch as it exploded against the ground. Once again, the patio went silent as Dean's face turned a similar shade of red as the fruit punch. "Oh my God, I'm sorry. I'll get you a new one."
"Thank you, sweetheart," the lady smiled, joining a man and a young boy at a nearby table.
Dean slipped through the glass door and entered a new world of chatter and laughter. The air-conditioning felt good against his skin. He turned just in time to see No Refill girl pull out of the parking lot and disappear down the road. His gaze crept over to Shaun, who just shook his head with his arms folded across his chest. "Shit," Dean whispered, releasing a pent-up breath and wiping his brow with the back of his hand. Shaun would never let him hear the end of this epic fail.