An hour from theme reveal to online posting for this one.
To say I’m a bad friend is probably on the harsh side. I’ll sign up for bumbling or idiotic, since those adjectives usually earn me a pass. In matters of the heart, however, all is fair in love and war.
“What time did she say she’d be here?” Lance glances at his watch again.
“Relax. The two of you agreed to six’ish, remember. There’s an ‘ish’ in there, so settle down or you’ll blow it.”
“I’m sorry. You’re right. I know you’re right. It’s just…I can’t believe after all this time, I’m finally going to reveal myself as Jessica’s secret admirer.”
I chuckle. “Yeah, after what…ten months at least?”
“Something like that.”
“Oh wait, here she comes.” I point to the doorway. This is the moment the grand performance begins. I suck in a deep breath and paint a big smile on my face.
“Where? I don’t see her.” Lance stretches to his full sitting height leaning left and right to get a better view of the doorway.
“What do you mean you don’t see her? She’s the only one standing in the doorway. She’s talking to the maitre ‘d.”
Lance faces me, his eyes at full mast, jaw slack. “Please tell me you delivered my notes to Jessica Reynolds.”
“Yeah, Jessica Reynolds. She’s right over there.” I point to the woman who has taken a seat in the foyer per our agreement, per Lance’s agreement. “Aww, she’s wearing a red sweater just like she said she would.” I shift my gaze to Lance’s attire. “And you’re wearing a black polo shirt just as you said you would. How sweet.” My snicker comes out a little louder than I want but I cover by coughing into my cocktail napkin.
“Shit, Gill, that’s not Jessica Reynolds.” He slouches lower in his seat. “What the hell did you do?”
“Dude, what are you talking about? That is Jessica Reynolds.”
Lance drops his voice into the barely audible register. “No, it’s not, you dumb-ass. I’ve never seen that woman before in my life. Please, please tell me you delivered my note to the right woman.”
“Yeah, Jessica Reynolds, the woman who is waiting for you to claim her as the object of your secret passion. The future love of your life.” I inject a sing-song tone into my voice as I smile and wiggle my eyebrows.
“I am so screwed, so screwed.” Lance glances over his shoulder at not-Jessica, who is twisting a lock of her hair.
“Are you sure that’s not her? 13 Mockingbird Lane, right?”
“Gill, dammit, no. It was supposed to be 130 Mockingbird Lane. How many of my notes have you delivered to the wrong woman?” He thumbs over his shoulder.
I inject as much contrition as I can muster in the set of my shoulders, the droop of my eyebrows. Even the corners of my mouth assume an appropriate degree of downturn. “Uh, all of them.”
“I told you to do it yourself.”
“Shit, shit, shit!” Lance leans over the table and props his forehead in his hands.
“Look, she’s here now. Just meet her. You never have to see her again if you don’t like her. We can start all over with Jessica tomorrow. No harm done, okay?”
Lance eyes me warily.
He throws himself against the back of the booth. “Yeah, okay, alright, fine. I’ll go over there and…” he shakes his head, “get it over with.”
“Good. That’s the spirit. Maybe you’ll even like her. But listen, I’ll go point her in your direction on my way out. I owe you that at least. Drink your martini. It’s on me.” I stand and clap him on the shoulder. “Besides, I have a good feeling about this.”
I stroll to the foyer toward the waiting woman. Not too fast, not too slow.
“Hey, Myra, I mean Jessica. It’s all going as we planned. Lance is ready for your date. Have fun, okay.”
“Yeah you too, Gill, I mean Lance. Have fun with Jessica Reynolds.”
Yeah, like I said before, all is fair in love and war. Perhaps if Lance had read Cyrano de Bergerac in the fifth grade instead of copying my book report, he’d have learned that the messenger gets the girl, panache be damned.