I hadn’t heard from Isabel all week. Not since the one time she called and hung up the evening I confronted Chloe about messing up my car. I didn’t know how to feel about that.
Part of me was happy my friend was spending time with her man. I knew Isabel’s limited communication with Kyle bothered her immensely. Sometimes he’d call or text her in my presence and Isabel’s whole face would light up like a Christmas tree. I knew she loved him, and I would never begrudge her happiness about spending time with him.
On the other hand, though, I could not for the life of me deal with the streak of jealousy that grew within me each day she was gone. The time she spent with Kyle could have been just as easily spent at home with me. I constantly wondered if she was enjoying herself with him. I wondered if he was taking good care of her, if they were being intimate on the regular.
The idea of another man touching Isabel made my flesh boil, which, of course, was stupid since I’ve never touched her myself. That didn’t change the fact that a part of me craved this woman. I was happy for her happiness and miserable that her happiness didn’t come from me.
Three beeps on my cell phone snapped me out of my thoughts and brought me back to reality. I snatched it from my pocket and swiped my finger across the screen as though the message would disappear if I didn’t view it fast enough. It had to be Isabel.
I couldn’t help but sigh in slight disappointment when I realized it was Tara Taliaferro, Isabel’s best friend. Her text read: Dinner? Chinese? Now?
It took all of three seconds for me to respond back: Sure. P.F. Chang’s? 30 minutes?
Moments later, my cell phone beeped again. It was Tara telling me she would meet me at the restaurant. Great. Now instead of sitting at home wondering what Isabel was doing with her time, I had someone to occupy my time.
God bless you, Tara.
By the time I found my exit on Virginia Beach Boulevard and pulled into the parking lot in front of P. F. Chang’s, I had already received another message from Tara. This one stated she beat me to the restaurant and already had a table for us.
I walked into the building and surveyed the crowded room. The ambience of P. F. Chang’s had always struck me as one of the more upscale food chains you could hope to find in Virginia Beach. With the rich earth tones dominating the decor of dim lighting and the many gleaming surfaces, it was easy to see how people flocked to this establishment. Never mind how good the food was; it was definitely one of the better Chinese joints I’d ever eaten in.
The young hostess with short, spiky hair and a thin smile quickly met me at the entrance to the restaurant, but as soon as she approached me, I spotted Tara. She sat at a small table near the rear of the building. She caught my eye and waved me over. I politely excused myself from the hostess, and strode over to Tara.
She stood and greeted me with a quick hug. Tara looked strangely conservative in a blue pencil skirt and modest yellow blouse…until I looked at her shoes. Her opened toe spiked heels had to be a good six inches high, which made her legs look strong, shapely and extra-long. I chuckled softly underneath my breath. I should have known Tara would never turn completely modest. But she looked lovely.
“It took your ass long enough to get here,” Tara said as she sat down. “I was about to order and leave you with a doggy bag.”
“It’s not my fault you teleported here. Some people have to drive through traffic, you know.”
A waiter came over and delivered menus. Tara and I didn’t bother with them. I stuck to my usual beef lo mein and hot and sour soup, and Tara ordered orange chicken with fried rice. White zinfandel was our drink of choice; we ordered a bottle. Neither of us spoke until the waiter departed.
“Thanks for coming out with me, Richie. I didn’t have anyone to hang with tonight. I’m glad you were free.”
“Well, I have to admit, I’m surprised you hit me up.”
Tara took a sip of water from the glass before her. “How so? We talk all the time.”
I nodded. “Yeah, but we never hung out alone.”
“Oh, now that’s true! I’m glad we have the opportunity, though. As a relatively new friend of yours, I know there are some things I shouldn’t discuss, but this is me and you know I don’t give a good damn.”
Hmm! The plot thickens. Tara invited me out with a purpose. I was equally intrigued and nervous. I seriously hoped she wasn’t interested in me. As cool a person as I thought she was, Tara never held my attention the same way her best friend did. I braced myself for the impending uncomfortable confession. I waved my hand for her to continue speaking. May as well get this over with.
“Okay,” Tara began, “what I want to know is this. What’s your fucking problem?”
What A Person Wants is the debut romance novel from author Kris M. Bell. Now available at Amazon.com.