Much Ado About You by Samantha Young

One


            Chicago

            I had not gone on a date in two years.

            That would explain the riot of butterflies in my stomach and the overwhelming and panic-inducing sensation building up in my gut. My foot tapped nervously against the floor.

            I took another sip of the water the waiter had brought me and tried to look like I didn’t care that my date was fifteen minutes late.

            It didn’t make sense.

            Aaron and I had been talking for four weeks, but it felt longer. We met on a dating site, and when we realized how much we had in common (a thirst for travel, an obsession with cooking and renovation shows, a true appreciation for Shakespeare, a love for quiet nights in and the occasional nonquiet night out . . .), we’d graduated to sending each other Snapchats.

            Four weeks of daily snaps.

            My cheeks burned with the heat of rejection, and I flicked my fingertips across my phone screen to open the app. I’d saved huge chunks of conversation between us because the banter was so great, and I liked to reread them.

            I looked at our snaps from last night.


AARON T

                So what are you like in the mornings?

                ME

                Useless without that first coffee.

                AARON T

                Note to self—priorities: bring Evie coffee in bed first thing in the morning. I need her useful there.

                ME



                ME

                Why do I need to be useful? Surely your priority in the morning is to be useful to me.

                AARON T

                Okay, here’s the plan of action. I’m useful to you first. Then I get you a coffee. This will be followed by you returning the favor of usefulness.

                AARON T

                You know “useful” is a euphemism for going downtown, right?

                ME

                *snort* I did but thank you for clarifying so charmingly.

                AARON T

                Oh that was me being a gentleman about it.



            Frowning, I turned my phone over on the restaurant table and eyeballed the entrance again. At first our flirtation had been sweet, but as Aaron and I got to know each other, things had heated up. For me, it was a weird mix of feeling reckless and safe flirting with him since I’d never met him, but he’d been so up-front with me. I had rules against dating younger men because I’d attempted it a few times and those relationships always failed due to the men’s immaturity. Aaron was twenty-eight—five years younger than me. However, within the first week, I lost all concerns about his maturity because he was so open, confiding in me about how awful his ex made him feel about himself. He’d quit law school because he was miserable and instead started over again, studying to be a vet. I loved animals, so I loved that about him. But his ex never supported him. Then when he started missing gym visits because he was studying so much, and not eating great, she’d crushed his confidence with her pointed comments about his body.

            He’d sent me snaps of himself, and Aaron was not fat. He just wasn’t built like a cover model. Who cared? He seemed like a great guy. Aaron was the two h’s: honest and handsome.