Sophie got there kind of early and was sitting in the bar nursing a glass of merlot, looked like her date was running a little late. She spotted him coming through the door of the restaurant looking around for her and charming the Asian woman behind the podium. He spotted Sophie in the bar area and smiled as he came her way, the lights were low in the restaurant so she really couldn’t get a good look at him but as he approached he noticed he didn’t seem as dapper as he had the previous evening. She noticed he was dressed nicely just a bit trendier than she was comfortable with, he looked like a Ryan Seacrest reject with his hair so full of gel it stood on end and looked prickly. He just didn’t look like the urban sophisticate from the night before; he looked more like a boy band reject, an old boy band in fact. Sophie thought to herself ‘what have I gotten myself into’ but she had to suck it up, she was trying to get back out there maybe this was her future love looking like a member of N’Sync after their heyday. But she had to admonish herself on making an assumption about his character just from the way he looked; she had to keep an open mind about dating but she still wondered just how open she really wanted to be.
He finally got to where she was sitting at the bar, “have you been waiting long?” he leaned in to kiss her on the lips and she turned her cheek to him, he didn’t seem pleased with that greeting. “No kiss for your Prince Charming?” he said a little more smugly than he needed.
“I’m sorry. I just think it’ll take some time before I bestow that moniker on you,” she smiled but it didn’t reach her eyes or her heart.
He smiled at her, kind of predatory and smug at the same time. Sophie checked her watch, if this didn’t go any better she’d have to make up some kind of excuse to ditch him.
“Let me see what I can do about getting us a table,” he told her as he turned to walk away. He looked back at her, “well, what you waiting for sexy you need to come with.”
Sophie gathered her purse and slide as stealthily as possible from the bar stool so all her business wouldn’t be in the streets. By the time she carefully got off the bar stool Chad had completely left her and by the time she reached the podium with the hostess behind it he looked annoyed that she’d taken so long.
“You certainly are a slow poke,” he told her as he sort of rolled his eyes.
Sophie frowned, okay this date had just started and she was not enjoying his impatient attitude.
“The hostess, Gina has given us a great table,” he looked over the diminutive Asian woman behind the podium smiled at her, Gina seemed to look at him like he was the last pork chop on the plate and he seemed oddly interested in her although he was on a date. He turned back to Sophie, “I’m a regular here and they always give me the VIP service.”
Sophie was unimpressed by his use of ‘VIP’ status, she had never been really impressed by men who bloviated about their importance. This was a neighborhood restaurant, not the ‘Rainbow Room’ she was not a fan. The hostess showed them to their table, as they walked along Gina the hostess and Chad seemed to chat each other up. She was also not a fan of a man flirting with another woman while on a date with her. Once they arrived at a table by the front window with a view of the sidewalk and the lake, she seated them, she noticed that Chad didn’t wait for her to sit down but just plopped down in his seat. The hostess looked over at her sheepishly when he did and the look on Sophie’s face only showed that she was annoyed by the whole scene. Last night he had been a charmer, this evening he just looked like a snake, maybe it was all those glasses of wine they’d clouded her vision. Gina left and they sat looking at each other nursing their drinks.
Sophie seemed to notice he wasn’t as adept at holding a conversation with her as he was with Gina so she started to spark something up, “well, Chad why don’t you tell me a little more about what you do as an attorney.”
Goodness, what did Sophie say that for once he started he didn’t stop. He just talked and talked and talked the entire evening. He didn’t ask Sophie one question, she could barely got a word in edgewise when he wasn’t talking he was just bragging about everything from his hot new ride to his gigantic penis. She was a little embarrassed there were people around them at other table who would look over and giggle as she sat there uncomfortable and bored. When he started to talk about his yacht he moored over in the Mediterranean Sea, she’d had enough. She actually had to put her hand up to stop him from talking. He’d talked the whole dinner, even talking sometimes with his mouth full. Sophie knew a lot of hardcore manly men working at the brewery and none talked with their mouth full. When she put up her hand to stop him mid-sentence he looked insulted. What the hell she thought she knew this was not going to be a love match.
“Chad can you excuse me, I need to use the ladies room.”
“Of course,” he finally looked as if he’d caught a clue.
As she exited toward the restroom she saw Gina moseying her way over to the table to chat with him. Sophie had had enough, Gina could have him she knew this would be mean and rude but she didn’t care this man had been rude all night long. She must have been drunker than a sailor last night to think he was worth her time. She snuck out through the kitchen to strange looks from all the Hispanic cooking staff in the back and out the back door, she jumped in her truck and took off. Finally, she was released, no more of charm-free Chad.
On her way home she’d received several calls to her phone from Chad, she knew next time she arranged a date with a guy she wouldn’t give him her phone number just email address. By the time she’d reached her condo in West Seattle he’d called almost five times and left a message each time. Sophie just wondered why he felt the need to leave a voice mail each time, couldn’t he just say what he needed in one voice message. She trudged into her home and kicked off those killer shoes and flopped onto her comfy over-sized chair. She looked at her iPhone and not only was he calling now he was texting really nasty messages, she’d expected him to be upset but not downright hostile. He was calling her things like ‘hussy’, ‘tramp’, tease’, she wondered how she could be a tramp and a tease at the same time. He’d said that ‘she didn’t have any class and wasn’t worthy of man of stature’, she just laughed at that. She knew she had class but she never wanted to be worthy of another man like him again, she was vetting much harder next time she went on a date.
Sophie decided to dump all the voice mails, he was probably repeating the same diatribe on there that he was on the messages, she just blocked his number and hopefully she wouldn’t run into him again in Seattle which sometimes could happen. She stretched herself and decided to give Leann a call about this disastrous date, as she picked up her cell phone it started to play her ringtone, Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ she checked the screen of her iPhone and noticed it was her sister, Cleo, Sophie was shocked she and her sister barely ever spoke regularly.
She pressed screen to receive the call, “Hello.”
“Sophie…” she heard her sister say on the other end.
“Yea, Cleo it’s me.”
“Hey, Soph how you are you darling sister.”
Sophie’s brow scrunched together, Cleo was hardly ever this chatty or friendly with her, ‘I’m great Cleo, what’s going on with you?”
“Oh, I’m good, we’re all doing well.”
“That’s good, how’s the new car?”
“Oh you heard about that,” Cleo told her, she sounded as if she was surprised that Sophie knew of it. Wanda had told Sophie a little while back that Cleo and Kareem buying a new car, probably something they couldn’t afford.
“Yes, I heard. Mom told me a couple of weeks ago.”
“Oh! Well, anyway I was calling to ask a favor.”
Uh-oh thought Sophie; favors asked by Cleo were never little. She sometimes felt it was her right to make demands of Sophie since she was single.
“Favor, hmmm. What can kind of favor?”
“Ugh, don’t sound so excited about it.”
“Listen, Cleo what do you want. I just got home from a terrible date and I just don’t need this now.”
“Terrible date? What do you mean? Who did you go out with?” Cleo was putting as much shock into her voice and it was annoying Sophie, sometimes her little sister could be an absolute brat.
‘No one, don’t worry about it.’
‘Well, you’re the one that said something about it. I was just asking I bet it was with some white boy.’
Sophie rolled her eyes she was so sick of having this conversation with Cleo, “Cleo it doesn’t matter.”
“Yea, it was. You need to leave those white boys alone. I mean, one has already left you and now you’re out there dating them again. They’re all users, they don’t know how to treat a black woman, they can’t relate to our struggles.”
The indignation was rose in her voice as she went to lecture to Sophie. Mid-way through she’d had enough of her little sister, “Cleo!” she shouted and Cleo stopped mid-sentence, “okay, what do you want? I don’t have time to be lectured by you, you live your life and I’ll live mine.”
Cleo sighed into the other end of the line, ‘well I’m sorry, just saving you from heartbreak. You know there’s lots of hot brothas out there who wouldn’t mind dating you. Just put a little weave in your hair and you’ve have them running for…’
“Cleo didn’t I just tell you to stop. Now if we’re going to keep going this way, I’m hanging up the damn phone and going to bed. Now what do you want?’ Sophie could tell her sister was annoyed but she was sick of Cleo’s black love spiel every time she got around her, it was getting old.
‘Well, I’m calling to ask can you take me to the airport on tomorrow morning?’
“Well yea, Kareem’s sister was going to do it but girl her man just got bail and he’s back home so she’s on lock down for a couple of days if you know what I mean.’
Cleo just rolled her eyes, Kareem was a nice guy but his family was as a ghetto as they came. Everyone was either in jail, getting out of jail or waiting for someone to get out of jail. It was tiring to hear about. Kareem seemed to be the only one that hadn’t gone but Cleo figured that was because the Nation of Islam got him before the streets did, he was a good guy and treated her sister way better than she thought she deserved. Although he was Nation of Islam he wasn’t ever nasty to Sophie when she was married to Mark, that’s more than she could say for Cleo.
‘Okay enough of that, what time?’
‘You’ll do it, oh wow usually you’re so siddity about everything.’
‘Cleo you better tell me what time before I hang up and you’ll figure something else out.’
‘I’ll need you here at about 6:30 am’
‘6:30 am, what the fuck?’
‘Yea 6:30 my plane leaves at 9:00 am so I need to be there by 7, can you do it?’
‘Yea, I’ll do it and you better have gas money. Where are you going anyway?’
‘I’m going to Phoenix for my job, they got some woman they’re doing work on and I need to be there. I am the anesthesiologist.’
‘I understand that Cleo’ said sarcastically it was like herding chickens trying to get her sister to stay focused.
‘Well good because I have to be here for this surgery, it’s someone famous but of course I can’t tell you.’
Sophie was aware her sister worked for a nationally renowned plastic surgeon the man went all over the United States stitching up faces and jowls. It was always a surprise that Cleo who she felt was sometimes the most ill-mannered person she’d ever met got this job. But she was good at what she did.
‘I’ll see you tomorrow morning Cleo.’
Sophie hung up before she could hear anymore of Cleo’s mouth, she loved her sister but she was a true pain in the tuckus sometimes.
She’d gotten up early and taken Cleo to the airport with her moaning and groaning about Sophie’s dating choices. Sometimes Sophie felt like the little sister with her, she hadn’t said much she was just listened it was best not to interrupt Cleo when she was on a roll. It would only get her talking more. After awhile she’d tire herself out, Sophie was happy when she dropped her off curbside she hugged her sister and sent her on her way.
She’s been up since 5:45 am so she was yawning when Grant wandered into her office at around 9:30.
‘Geez kid you look beat.’
Sophie looked up at him and rolled her eyes. ‘Thanks so much you know how to make a girl feel good.’
Grant had the good taste to look sheepish, ‘sorry Soph but you look all out what are you doing here on a Sunday?’
“I could ask you the same thing. Just dropped my sister off at Seatac and thought I would come in and fill out the monthly audit reports, they’re due to quality on Wednesday and I hate to be late, Ned hates it too.’
‘Yea Ned can get cranky if those aren’t in on time. I sent him mine on Friday.’
‘That was smart, so what you doing here?’
‘Oh I got few batches I was checking on and then going to head back home, headed to the movies with the wife and kids later. How was your date?’ he said wriggling his eyebrows for effect.
‘Oh lord I do not want to talk about it. Loser with a capital L’, she put the L sign with her fingers up to her forehead.
Grant started to laugh hysterically. Sophie shook her head and laughed too. Her cell phone started to play Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ she looked at it and noticed an unfamiliar number. She shushed Grant and answered her iPhone.
She was still laughing as she answered, ‘hello,’ she said slightly breathless from laughing.
‘Hello, did I catch you at a bad time?’
Sophie eyes went wide, it was Brock. ‘No, no you didn’t’ she responded immediately.
‘Oh well I wished I had, it sounds like you’re having lots of fun without me’
Sophie could feel that comment go straight to her nether regions. She closed her eyes for a moment to picture that handsome face and opened them again and noticed Grant staring at her curiously. He mouthed the words ‘what?’
She shook her head to indicate nothing and shooed him out of her office. He went quietly but she noticed he looked a tad annoyed at her sending him away.
‘You still there?’
‘Yes I’m still here, who exactly is this?’ Sophie didn’t want to seem too eager so she feigned ignorance.
‘Oh I’m sorry it’s me, Brock Giles. That was rude of me not to indicate who I was.’
‘Oh that’s okay, how are you Brock?’
‘I’m doing fine how about you?’
‘Just great, what made you call me?’
‘Well I thought I might find you in middle of something…’
Middle of what, she thought.
‘Like breakfast and maybe I could join you.’
Ah breakfast with a beautiful man, really she could have eaten any food she had right off those tight abs of his.
‘No you didn’t find me at breakfast, you found me at work.’
‘Work? Who works on a Sunday?’
She laughed at him, ‘I do. I have information to get complete for end of the month audits so I came in and to get it done. It’s nice to not have distractions,’ although he was what she would call a distraction.
‘Oh, does this mean I can’t get my tour?’
‘Tour?’ yea he’d asked for a tour of the brewery, ‘oh yea, when would you like it?’
‘Any time this week would be great, if you’re not busy.’
She thought about her schedule as much as she’d like to take him this week was not good and then she thought maybe today would be a better option.
‘I’ll tell you what, how about today? Are you busy?’
‘Busy, no I’m not busy. Today would be great. I’ve really been looking forward to seeing you…I mean the brewery.’
Sophie ears perked up at his indication he’d wanted to see her, although he had corrected himself she knew a Freudian slip when she heard one. She didn’t think there was any chance of her and this luscious young hunk having a future but he’d be damn sure nice to look at.
‘Okay how about you come on down at about 12:30, I’ll be done with this stuff by then’
‘I’ll be at the front waiting for you, see you then.’
‘Looking forward to it.’
She ended the call and set back in her chair, she suddenly felt hot and flush. What was this guy doing to her; she hadn’t had this kind of visceral reaction to any man ever in her life. This was not a good thing because their age difference would probably be nothing but a problem. She looked down at her clothes and noticed she had on jean mini skirt, a frilly shirt she’d gotten at the Gap, a hoodie and converse tennis shoes. She looked a mess. Why had she decided to invite him today, she could at least invited him a day she looked really good. Oh well, too late maybe if she headed to the bathroom she could dab on a little makeup so she didn’t look too tacky when he showed up.
Sophie was stepping out the bathroom where she’d applied a little mascara and lip gloss. She didn’t want to go full makeup that would look desperate but her bare face was not going to win over a hottie like Brock.
On the way to the front she ran into Grant again.
‘Hey what you doing?’ he asked seeming way too curious about her plans.
‘I’m waiting on someone if you must know.’
‘Who? The person you were on the phone with earlier.’
Sophie looked at him and furrowed her brow it sometimes annoyed her that Grant seemed overprotective of her.
‘Yes, he’s my yoga instructor and wanted a tour so I’m going to give him a private one,’ maybe that would shut him up.
‘Oh, well good luck with that,’ he said kind of smug as he walked out the front doors.
What the hell was that about, thought Sophie. She turned to see Brock getting out of a Prius, typical Seattle tree-hugger. She wondered what he’d think about her truck. She noticed that as he and Grant passed each other they were sizing each other up. She couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on with Grant but as Brock looked up and smiled at her, she forgot all about Grant. She smiled back big, he looked great. He was wearing a Stones vintage concert t-shirt, good indication he had great music taste under a black button sweater, he had on jeans that hugged every contour of those muscular legs and he was wearing a pair of black brogues it was a bit haphazard but she liked his style.
‘Hey there’ she told him as he stepped through the door.
He looked at her and smiled big, he had the nicest set of teeth she’d seen on any man. Sophie had to suffer two years with braces as a teen to get her smile and it still wasn’t perfect. She still had a slight gap.
‘Hi how are you Sophie?’ he said while leaning in to hug her. She closed the gap to hug him back. He felt, solid, and warm she felt like letting her hands roam but she held them still around his back. It was broad and muscular, she wanted to weep. He was so sexy and as they moved back out of the embrace she was sure he had no idea how much.
‘I’m doing great so glad you could come today. Welcome to Passionate Brewing.’
‘Wow, this place is a lot bigger than I’d thought.’
‘I’m sure it is and we’re still considered a microbrewery. Come on in and we’ll get this tour started.’
‘Will I get a sample at the end of this?’ he asked. Sophie noticed he was looking at her lips as he said it she would have happy to give and get a sample of his but she knew he meant a microbrew.
‘Of course, you’ll get one but the cost will have to be listening to me drone on how to make beer.’
‘Listening to you will be absolutely delightful, please lead the way.’
Sophie led him into the brewery.
They’d been through the whole brewery; she explained how their brews were made. Gave him a history of beer-making and how Passionate Brewing was established. She’d tried to stay focused on the tour but every once in a while she’d look over and notice he was looking at her intently it made it hard to focus sometimes.
He asked questions, many about her and how she ended up becoming a brewmaster. She was happy to answer and had enjoyed his delightful banter. He was funny with a great wit and very smart. Although she’d told him a lot about brewing, he knew a lot too. She also found out he’d done some home brewing with what he had called ‘questionable results’.
After the tour they’d sat in the brew tasting room to talk. There were no tours today but tasting room taps were still flowing.
‘That was a fabulous tour, you know so much’ he complimented her as he sipped a Deception Pass Pale Ale.
‘Thanks it’s my job so no biggie.’ She’d chosen to indulge in a Bainbridge Island Brown today.
‘You’re such an awesome woman; I wonder how your guy lets you out of the house.’
‘Guy, what guy?’ she laughed, ‘I’m single.’
Brock looked shocked at that confession, ‘you cannot be single, a great lady like you. These guys are nuts.’
Sophie rolled her eyes, he didn’t know how close to the truth he was, ‘well I’m as nuts as they are. I’m on the internet trying to find love.’
‘You’re doing online dating, why?’
‘You say that like no one is going to want me,’ she chuckled.
‘No that’s not what I meant at all, you are beautiful, smart, funny and with rocking body.’
Sophie blushed a little, rocking body huh?
‘I’m sorry,’ he apologized, ‘was that too forward.’
She put her hand up to stop him, ‘oh no, don’t apologize this old lady is happy someone thinks she has a rocking body.’
‘I’m glad I could make you happy,’ he smiled at her.
An awkward silence fell between them. Sophie felt like something was going to happen and she was right. He leaned over his barstool and kissed her. It was hesitant and tender. She couldn’t believe she was kissing this beautiful man, it was sweet kiss at first then he took her face and his hands and the kiss became more demanding. Brock’s tongue swept the seam of her lip and then she parted them so he could have access to her sweet mouth. Sophie couldn’t move she could feel he was an incredible kisser and her nether regions were reacting to it. It had been a long time since it had felt this good. She heard something stirring behind her and pulled back. Brock was smiling at her broadly. He caressed her face.
‘You okay,’ he asked under his breath.
‘I’m fine, I thought I heard someone.’
‘I don’t see anyone. That was nice.’
She sighed and moved out of his caress, ‘yes it was but I don’t think we should have done that.’
‘Why? You’re attracted to me aren’t you?’
‘That part doesn’t matter, Brock. You’re a nice guy but there are too many differences.’
‘Differences, what does that matter? I’m attracted to you, you’re attracted me. How about we see where this takes us.’ Brock moved in closer, taking Sophie into his arms.
Sophie squirmed to get lose, the last thing she needed was some young stud to take her on a magical sexual ride then drop her like bad habit.
‘I don’t think that’s a good idea.’
Brock looked disappointed but he would honor her feelings.
‘Okay if that’s how you feel. I guess I better get going.’
Sophie smiled and led him back to the front and out of the brewery, in the parking lot they said their good-byes and he told her he’d see her in yoga this week.
Sophie went back in and gathered her things to go home. As she drove toward home, she touched her lips and thought about that soul-searing kiss that Brock laid on her. She felt it in every part of her body but her but her mind told her the truth the chance of any kind relationship between her Brock was a joke.