Like Magic
Author: Annabel

Chapter 3
It's All About the Eyes

Nate's standing at the door when I finally pull into the parking lot. He's wearing a bright red tee shirt over jeans; with no one else here, he's pretty hard to miss.

    As soon as get into a parking spot, he waves and jogs over.

    "Hey, I thought you weren't going to show," Nate says, breathless from the short jog.

    I check the time as I slide out of the car. The clock reads after nine thirty; I took too long at Swaybees and now I'm late. It strikes me funny that Nate must have stood here waiting for me all that time.

    "I'm here," is all I say in return. Just play cool and get this over with.

    He pulls the door open and ushers me inside to a booth in the back corner. I take in the diner as he rambles about another diner he knows of that's similar to this one. The floor is done up in black and white checkers that clash with the red booths and tables. Very vintage.

    "--and I put too much salt on them that batch so they weren’t as good the second time around," he finishes.

    "That's nice," I say, giving him a slight smile and nod like I was listening to his whole speech.

    We look up to see a waitress dressed in a short black skirt, white tee tucked into the waistline and a red apron walking our way. "Hay thur darlins, what can I get ya tonight?" she asks. Her words are heavily accented like she was just shipped up from the south.

    Nate doesn't even look at the menus; he already knows his order. "Two Rosland's special burritos with hash browns and water," he says.

    The waitress doesn't even ask me what I want, just picks up the menus, and turns around, headed back to the kitchen.

    "What the hell?" I hiss, wondering why I didn’t get to order. At about the same time I get ready to nag, I realize that he said two burritos. Nate ordered for both of us. "Ugh, why didn't you let me order for myself?"

    "Sorry, it's just the best thing on the menu and I wanted you to try it," he says, sheepish.

    I roll my eyes and let out an annoyed sigh. He could have at least warned me.

    "Whatever. So how did you get here?" I ask to start conversation. There wasn't another car in the parking lot so I'm honestly curious.

    "Walked," he says, but I only give him a confused look. "My house is about two blocks away," he clarifies.

    I shift in the hard booth seat and put my hands under my thighs. The red plastic is sticky from something being spilt here. "I see… In an apartment?"

    "No, it's a big, old, crappy house that I rent out with my roommate. Where do you live?" He asks, sounding suspiciously like a stalker.

    "Across town," I state vaguely.

    "Oh, sweet. You live in a big, new, nice house, huh?" he probes. I wouldn't call my house big, but it is new and it is admittedly pretty nice.

    "I guess so," I say, leaving it at that. I don't really know anything about this guy and I'm not about to give details about my life to a stranger.

    Nate looks at me with his grey eyes and smiles like he found something I said funny. I notice that he has dimples which makes me smile back.

    I take notice in the fact that he doesn't look at me like a piece of meat, the way Jared does. Nate's gaze doesn't disgust me-- it gives me butterflies and makes me blush in a way I hadn't realized at the mall. I decide that it's all about the eyes. In the bookstore, I wouldn't look his way, but now I can't help getting lost in them.

    A hair tickling my cheek from the ceiling fan above snaps me back to reality. Feeling like we're idiots grinning at each other this way, I peel my eyes off of him and look down at my legs, brown hair falling in front of my face.

    I can still feel him watching me.

    "You know, you're really pretty," Nate states, studying my face. "And I don't think you even realize."

    How in the world am I supposed to reply to that? "Thanks?" I say, making it sound like a question.

    A crashing noise comes from the kitchen. "I'm serious, you have like… your own gravitational pull. That's why I couldn't pass you by without knowing you at least had my number. That I at least had a chance, even if it was small," Nate says, finally turning to look at something else.

    "Well, I like your hair," I blurt out, sounding stupid. I like your hair? Come on, you can be more creative. I also like your eyes and your face and the way you smell… I continue in my head. So much for playing it cool and getting this over with.

    He runs a hand through it, making the waves even more pronounced. "Really?"

    "Yeah, I do," I say, blushing.

    "Well, thanks," he says, his cheeks also getting red.

    Saving us from any further embarrassment, the waitress is headed our way with a big red tray of steaming food. Before she makes it over, I catch the smell: absolutely delicious.

    "Ere ya are darlins," she says, setting down a plate heaped with food in front of me. "Just holler if ya need anything."

    The burrito with hash browns is only half of the meal. There's also a biscuit, mashed potatoes and gravy, and a scoopful of corn. This meal was made for three people, not one, and I'm doubting my abilities to finish it.

    I take a bite of the burrito and fall in love immediately. It's like my taste buds are having a party in heaven. There's everything you could imagine to put into a burrito and more, flooding my mouth with flavor.

    "This is delicious," I proclaim, still chewing a mouth full of food.

    Nate shovels in a forkful of hash browns. "I know right?" He smiles, mouth also filled.

    We don't say anything for a long time; just stuff our faces in a peaceful hush. I'm eating like a hog, not bothering to use a napkin. He is too, so it doesn't seem too bad but I'm sure I'll regret making a fool of myself later.

    Usually, I would have ordered a salad and barely ate anything, so I could seem polite. Right now though, the only thing going through my mind is: screw polite, this must be what smoking crack is like!

    "I told you so. I knew you would like it," Nate says, setting down his fork. The mountains of food on his plate are already just molehills.

    Deciding that now would be a good time to wipe my face and slow down a bit I snatch a napkin. "It is really good," I say, making Nate's dimples show.

    Both of our forks get back to work, even though my stomach feels as if its about to burst.

    I have a feeling that I'll be coming back here for the Rosland's special, regardless if Nate is with me or not.

 

****

 

    Once our plates are cleared and our glasses are dry, Nate leaves a hefty tip and the cash for dinner on the table.

    Outside, the night has cooled off and as soon as the chill hits me, I question for the second time tonight why I decided to wear shorts. I shiver and a wave of goose bumps works it's way up my arms and legs.

    We walk to my car and instead of jumping inside like I'd like to do, I lean against the back bumper. Nate stops a few feet in front of me and puts his hands in his jean pockets.

    "It feels like it's going to storm…" Nate says, worried eyes cast toward the black night sky.

    I rub my hands over my arms, chasing away the bumps. "Yeah, it does."

    He lowers his eyes and studies me with a serious expression.

    "What?" I ask

    "Oh nothing…"

    I raise my eyebrow.

    He grins and runs a hand through his hair. "It's just that I actually didn't think you'd really call me and I sure as hell never expected that you'd have dinner with me. Especially after you shrugged me off at the mall."

    Why is this guy so…deep?

    An awkward laugh before Nate seemingly changes his mind and takes a step backwards, away from me. "Sorry, I'm an idiot and blurt out stupid things."      

    "No apologies. Truthfully, I even surprised myself tonight. This isn't something I would normally do," I explain for some reason. It's like his honest, confessional ways are contagious.

    "Oh?"

    "Yeah, I have other things to worry about besides going out with anyone."

    His expression is surprised and I find myself once again wondering how many other random girls he invites to dinner.

    An uneasy feeling settles into the pit of my stomach.

    I stand up straight and walk over to my car door. "Thanks for dinner, I really appreciated it."

    Nate's face goes from surprised to completely baffled. "Yeah… anytime. Can I call you? Maybe we could do something again?"

    "Sure, maybe sometime," I say as I pull open the car door, jump in, and start the ignition. I can't get out of here fast enough. I don't want anything to do with a guy. That means trust and feelings and dependency. Then I'd just find myself drunkenly stumbling around a dirty bar, crying to old men like Scarlett or old, selfish, and lonely like my mom.

    I shake the thought and quickly back out of my parking spot.

    Nate's bewildered face is illuminated by the headlights, soft strands of brown hair crowning his head. He waves slowly as I pull away from Rosland's.

    I can still see him standing in the parking lot, both hands now at his sides, as I speed down Main Street, leaving him wondering just as so many people have done to me.




*I love new comments telling me what you guys think! Thank you for all of the previous comments and ratings! I really appreciate it! :) Let me know what you think about Nate!* 

 

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