After dinner, the three of us decided to head downtown for some beers. Casey doesn’t normally like going to the Saucer when she’s off, but Lenny and I assured her we’d keep her from working. Besides, it was Monday night, and we figured it’d be slow.Walking in, we saw immediately that our assumption was correct. There were only seven other customers in the place, and most of the waitresses were huddled together gossiping. I told Lenny and Casey to pick a booth while I ran to the restroom. It was a small diversion, but enough of one to give me space to approach the bar alone.
“Hey there, Stuck,” Rachel smiled. “Out on a school night? You’re naughtier than I thought!”
“Much naughtier,” I agreed. “I thought I’d come by and see, if you were free one evening, if you’d like to hang out?”
“Oh, I’m never free, Ben,” Rachel winked. “One way or the other, you’ll end up paying.”
“Not on a first date, Rachel,” I said. “I have a strict policy about that.”
“We’ll see. I’m very persuasive.” Rachel grinned at me, and for the first time I noticed how pretty her eyes were. We exchanged phone numbers, and she said she was off on Thursday night if I’d chance being out on another school night.
“Thursday night,” I nodded. “It’s a date. You aren’t a vegetarian, are you?”
“Fuck no!” She laughed. “I love me some meat.”
“Noted,” I grinned. “We’ll do Outback.”
As I was walking over to join Lenny and Casey, I started thinking about how easy it was to talk to Rachel. I didn’t have to summon up Nice Ass, or feign any confidence. She just made it easy to talk. It was refreshing, and I found myself still smiling when I sat down across from Casey.
“You didn’t waste any time with that.” Casey was still giving me that look which I couldn’t read. “But you didn’t need to use the restroom excuse to get us to give you space.”
“I used the excuse because I didn’t want you guys watching.” I looked over at Rachel and noticed that she was smiling at me. “It’s a little humiliating to approach a girl, even if you know the answer will be yes.”
“You didn’t look that humble to me,” Lenny said. “You just strutted over and laid the moves on her.”
“I didn’t use any moves,” I laughed. “It was just the usual playful banter and then I asked when she’d like to go out. It was kind of weird, actually.”
“It was so smooth because she’s been lusting after you for months, Ben,” Casey said. “Like you said, you knew the answer was going to be yes. There’s no pressure in that situation.”
“Could be,” I nodded, looking around for our waitress. “Whose section is this? Shouldn’t someone should come by and take our order or something?”
“I’ll grab someone,” Lenny said, getting up. “I’ve got to piss anyway.”
“Thanks,” I said. I waited for Lenny to be out of earshot before I continued. “Casey, what’s going on? You’ve been acting strange all night, sort of like you’re sad, or worried, or something.”
“I’m sorry, Ben,” Casey said. “I’ve been debating whether or not to hook you up with Rachel for awhile. You and she click really well for now, but she’s a handful, and I’m worried that she’s going to hurt you.”
“So that’s all it is?” I asked. “There’s nothing else in those sad smiles and meaningful looks you’ve been giving me? I just want to make sure I’m not misinterpreting anything.”
“Misinterpreting things like what?” Casey raised her eyebrows, and she sounded like she honestly didn’t know what I was talking about. Rather than let it go, however, I decided to be awkward.
“Like maybe you wanted to give you and me a try again or something,” I said. “I don’t know what goes on in a girl’s head, so I’d rather just come out and ask.”
“Oh, that’s not it, Ben!” Casey smiled. “I mean, I’ve thought about it every once in awhile, but I think it’d be weird, and we’d either end up back where we are, or we’d ruin our friendship. It’s just me worrying. Rachel is easy to fall for, and I don’t want to see you get hurt.”
“Ok,” I nodded. “So she’s been lusting after me for months, huh? I wish I’d known this months ago.”
“Well, she was sort of in a relationship then,” Casey said. “And she might be still, but I don’t know for sure.”
“So she was in a relationship when she was lusting after me, and might still be in a relationship, even though she agreed to a date?”
“Yeah,” Casey said. “That pretty much sums it up. I told you she’s a handful. This is why I worry.”
“Well,” I said. “I’ll go into this with open eyes, and I’ll be sure to talk about it with her on Thursday.”
Heather, our waitress whom I’d not seen working before, walked over to take our orders then. I ordered a round of Jaegerbombs and a Bass. Casey orders a round of Redheaded Sluts, and a Guinness. I mentioned that our friend had stepped into the restroom, and she smiled.
“The cute guy?” she asked. “Yeah, he ordered on his way to the bathroom. I’ll bring those right out.”
“He’s going to flip out if we tell him she said he was cute,” I said, after the waitress walked over to the bar. “I say we wait until we’re leaving.”
“Deal,” Casey agreed. “Otherwise he might clam up and act all shy around her.”
“Exactly,” I nodded. “Is he really cute?”
“I’d do him,” Casey nodded, and then tilted her head to indicate that Lenny was on his way back.
When Lenny came back to the table, the conversation turned towards sports, and then towards music. It was refreshing to be talking about something other than dating, but it wouldn’t last. We’d always come back to that topic.