“Would you like to see the dessert menu?”

The look of surprise on the waiters face, the way he fumbled the menus when Jay said, “No thanks,” was almost funny.

Like this whole evening really. We had started at awkward and progressed to uncomfortable which, considering the number of meals we’d shared in the past, was ridiculous.

To Jay’s dismay and the waiter’s credit, he recovered quickly, delivering his next line faultlessly. “I’ll just add tonight to your account then Mr Bliss.”

I lifted my wine glass to cover my smirk at Jay’s wince, even as I said, “Yeah, that’s great, thanks.”

“Very good sir.” The waiter left as quietly as he’d appeared, leaving Jay and I in our cone of silence.

I finished my wine and set the glass down then reached across the table to touch his hand. His eyes lifted to mine but there was no joy in them, he looked miserable.

“I’m sorry.” He turned his hand to grip my fingers. “So fucking sorry baby. This was a disaster.”

“It really was,” I agreed with a grin.

“I didn’t even think,” he said with a shake of his head.

“Obviously,” I muttered with a very unladylike snort. “We should go,” I added and pulled my hand away.

Jay was there a moment later to pull out my chair and with a hand at my waist, guide me out of the restaurant. We waited only a minute for the limo to pull up for us and as it slid to a stop I said, “Let’s skip the romantic drive okay?”

He swore under his breath and opened the door for me then stepped forward and tapped on the window.and I heard the driver say, “Yes Mr Bliss?”

I settled into the plush seat with a sigh and took a moment to examine my feelings. I was disappointed and a little hurt. Here I was, at the slightly premature end of a patented Jay Bliss first date. These things were perfect, planned down to the last detail. I should know, I helped plan them. From the start of the night (always be a few minutes early and give a single flower, that way there’s no scramble to find a vase), to the meal (beware of smelly food and dessert is a must), to the end of the night (a slow drive home so we can’t get too carried away, always walk her to her door but don’t go in, the car is waiting).

That was the basic plan and Jay had tweaked it over the years, usually with my input. So when I had opened the door to him holding a single blue rose I had my first doubt.

“You look gorgeous baby,” he had said and I’d returned the compliment then found a glass for my rose and we’d been on our way. “Hope you don’t mind,” he’d said when I stared at the limousine. “This way we can talk more and we can enjoy a glass of wine at dinner.”

Then we arrived at the restaurant and my stomach sank. The maître d’ greeted Jay by name of course and we were led to a secluded table that had a really nice bottle of champagne waiting for us. Glasses were poured and we were left alone. We had already covered the ‘how was your day’ conversation on the drive and I was expecting some discussion about us, what we were doing, how this was going to work, but it wasn’t to be.

Jay picked up his menu and I followed suite, eyeing the bruschetta entrée, when Jay asked his first question. “If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?”

“Really?” I lowered my menu but he was still staring at his.

“I think I’d go with bread, toast it for special occasions.” He looked at me over his menu and winked and before I could respond the waiter was back asking if we were ready to order.

He ordered goat cheese crostini to start, followed by steak but substituted the garlic mash for gratin. The rose, the limo, the question, now his food. He was following his plan, his script. Well not entirely as he couldn’t ask his usual getting to know you questions. But I could expect one about what I would save if my apartment was on fire soon.

I could almost see him flicking through his questions. Beach or mountains? Superpowers? Movies? Music? There was no discussion about what our friends would think or how or when we would tell them. How many dates until we were officially dating? And what about his family?

Maybe I was over thinking things, maybe this should just be a first date? Except, it really couldn’t be. We didn’t need to exchange life stories, didn’t need to tell each other our dream vacations, or our favourite foods. Yet when he asked, I told him what he already knew. I preferred the beach and I’d love to be able to fly. He liked the beach and flying sounded amazing too. We were so simpatico, it was amazing.

Except it wasn’t. It was awkward being on a date when you knew the script. I even knew what date two and three entailed but if I had anything to say about it, they would never come to fruition. Though in all honesty, based on tonight, we would never get to a second date. I watched Jay climb in and settle on the seat opposite me, a frown creating a crease between his eyes as we sat in uncomfortable silence again.

I’d had doubts about dating, but I hadn’t expected this awkwardness from Jay. I knew he was charming and sweet and a great conversationalist. I don’t know what I had been expecting but it hadn’t been this, and I didn’t want the night to end like this either.

“So, that was date night with Jay Bliss then,” I said quietly, just a hint of humour on my voice.

“Please don’t.” He sighed and dropped his head back to rest against the seat. “I just…”

He seemed to be at a loss for words, shrugging as his words trailed off.

“Second thoughts?” I asked, barely a quiver in my voice.

“No.” One side of his mouth moved in a little smile. “Never that,” he said confidently. “You?”

I’d had second, third and fourth thoughts since agreeing to go out with him, all based around my fears of losing Jay when things didn’t work out. As much as I now had proof that we had sexual chemistry to go along with our long friendship, I was worried that he would realise I wouldn’t ever be more than a friend. I needed to know why he saw me as more than that now. I wanted to now if it was going to last. So I put my fears aside, and let myself look forward to going on an actual date with him.

And once my decision was made to see where this would go… I shook my head, “No second thoughts but…”

It was my turn to trail off as I tried to find the nicest way to tell him I didn’t want his formulated date plan, I just wanted to spend time with him as a couple.

“How about we pretend tonight never happened and you come over tomorrow night. I’ll cook,” I offered. “You can bring dessert. I know it’s not a typical first date-”

“Don’t you mean second date?” Jay interrupted with a cocky smile.

“I was going to count it as a do over, but if you want to keep this memory alive, we can,” I said archly.

He gave me a long look then huffed out a laugh. “So you were saying it’s not a typical first date?”

“But we’re not a typical couple, are we?”

“Mmm, good point baby. What time do you want me?”

There was really only one answer for that, so I said it. “Any time you’re ready Jay.”

He laughed and I smirked and it felt almost normal. The car rolled to a stop outside my building and Jay opened the door and slid out. I followed and the car waited as we crossed the sidewalk.

“You don’t need to walk me up,” I said as I punched in the security code. “This isn’t a date after all,” I added when he looked like he was going to protest.

He took a step back and lifted his chin at me, telling me to get inside.

“Tomorrow at seven?” he called out and I nodded then waved and stepped through the door, making sure it closed securely behind me.

I made my way upstairs and into my apartment, flicking on the light before I stepped out of my heels. I crossed to the window that overlooked the street and looked out to find the limousine still there, Jay leaning against the side of it, his head tilted back, waiting for my light to go on. He wouldn’t be able to see me as my windows were treated for privacy but he would see the glow of the light. But he stood there still, waiting.

I fished my cell out of my evening bag.

I’m safe and sound, you can go home 🙂

I watched as he received the message, his head down as he looked at his screen. Then his reply came in.

You feel like home to me but I can’t go there, so I’m here, as close to you as I’ll allow myself right now. But I know if I stand here, you’ll stand there, so I’m going to go, let you get your rest. You’re going to need it to cook for me I am very very hungry baby.

I laughed, touched by his sweetness and amused by his flirting, and wondering again, why our night had been so awkward. He was right though, I would keep watching him so he needed to go before I caved and invited him inside.

Good night Jay, see you tomorrow night xx

He looked down for a moment, my cell beeped as he looked up at my window then slid into the car and it pulled away.

Sweet dreams baby, see you tomorrow xx

Tomorrow, for our first date do over. I couldn’t wait.