How did he let Adam talk him into this? Yes, he was in a dry spell, but a self-imposed dating drought was not the same as facing constant rejection.

    Brandon sighed as he poured another cup of coffee. The argument still rankled.

    "She's nice. You'll like her," Adam said as they worked out at 'Fitness Round the Clock'. "I know, I know, it sounds hinkey...the classic, but she has a great personality. But she really does," he said laughing.

    "Your cousin," Brandon rolled his eyes as they changed places on the weight bench and then took up his position as spotter.

    "Yeah, I took her around to find an apartment...I don't know...six months ago." He grunted as he pushed the bar up and down through a set. The pair moved in rotation to free weights for biceps curls. "She's cute and kinda fun. Her boyfriend dumped her when she moved here for the new website job."

    "Well, she's had a boyfriend at least." Brandon glanced over at his buddy as he said it and saw the flash of irritation.

    "It's one date," Adam retorted. "And then you're done. Favor repaid."

    "I guess," Brandon said with a sigh. "I can probably survive one blind date, even if it goes bad."

    Adam grinned to himself as he turned to drop the dumbbells back on the stand.

    Kayla flipped through her closet, pondering what outfit to wear. Crazy, dowdy, casual...so many choices. Blind dates in her experience sucked. Big time.

    It was Adam's idea. He was genuinely excited with her move out of the city. And she currently enjoyed exploring all of the open-air activities. But why he felt she needed a boyfriend was a mystery. It must be his girlfriend Anjali or his mom putting him up to it.

    "One date. That's it and I will call the mercy rule and you can tell Aunt Trini you tried." Kayla glared at the phone while she positioned books on her newly painted bookshelves.

    "Come on, how bad could it be?"

    "You don't want to ask that question. Men have no idea of the horror show out there." She sighed as she scooted to another pile of books.

    "We know," he said. "We have the same stories. We just don't let it hold us back from opportunities."

    "One of your friends...I don't know. Making small talk about how much weight I can bench and when I last ran a 10K doesn't sound like a good time." Kayla sat back and admired the results. The colorful spines of the books mixed with the bright orange shelves. Another reason she could not fully embrace the digital lifestyle. "Anjali wants to have someone to hang out with while you two are bonding at the gym or whatever you do."

    "Maybe, but Brandon is a good guy who had his heart run over awhile ago. He needs some confidence." Adam was using the wheedling tone--always a bad sign when they were kids. He managed to squeeze out real tears when he told tales about the cousins roughing him up. And the aunts always bought it.

    "One date and you are going to owe me." Kayla laughed, "At the next family event, it will be your job to keep the marriage barracudas at bay."

    "Deal," Adam said.

    At least The Coffee Buzz was no spot when Brandon would run into any of his friends. He decided against doing any re-con prep like he would for a bar date. Ducking out the back door to avoid being seen with his date should not be an issue.

    Texting back and forth with Adam's cousin ...what was her name?....to set up the date, he told her he would be wearing a blue polo shirt and khakis. Looking around at the guys in the coffeehouse, he realized it was probably a tactical mistake. Almost every other guy wore a similar outfit.

    Checking his phone to confirm his date's name, Brandon looked up when the door opened and saw the cutie from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office walk in. Crap, he thought as he dropped his head. Just what I need. The one person I'd actually like to meet for coffee. Now I have to avoid her because she might see me with this other chick who probably no one would date.

     Dragging herself into the coffee shop, Kayla looked around for the wonder boy her cousin set her up with. 

    The coffee shop was her choice. She stole the strategy from a dating business which focused on lunch dates. Short, sweet, no alcohol and no pressure. Dates were low cost and it was still daylight if personal safety was a concern.

    As she walked slowly around, glancing at the menu board and the other patrons, she spotted the guy from the DMV line with the rainbow hair comment staring at his cell phone. She smiled at him but he didn't glance up.

    Several weeks earlier, Kayla was completing the process of officially relocating to a different state by obtaining a new driver's license.

    "Excuse me?" she said looking towards the man whose noise, or words, or sound managed to drag her attention from her book.

    He repeated the question. "How often do you have to reapply the color?"

    "Reapply the color?" Kayla asked confusedly. She marked her finger in the book and gave him her attention.

    "Your hair," he said gesturing to her head. "How often?"

    "Oh, that," she laughed as she reached up self consciously to fluff the straight strands. "It depends."

    "On what?" he asked looking at her with a smile.

    "How I am feeling, what the weather is." She fluffed her fingers through it again. "Whether or not I'm stressed."

    Looking at the several stripes of pastel color, the man laughed and gestured to the photo spot on the nearby wall. "I guess you can list hair color as rainbow striped on your license."

    "I'm a graphic designer, not a troll doll. And I have plenty of natural color in view." She returned to her book. People who could not appreciate self-expression weren't worth her time.

    "I didn't think you looked like a troll doll. I was thinking more along the lines of 'My Little Horsie'," he said. "You know, soft and wavy."

     "What do you know about them?" she asked.

    "I have nieces. We get together and play," he said. "I usually get stuck with Rainbow Stripe while the get the pink or silver ones."

    Intrigued, Kayla put her book back down. A conversation ensued while they each waited in their line. The man spouted off several opinions, starting with the author she was reading, David Weber.

    Before his line moved much, she was called to the desk. When she finished, she looked around for him, but he was nowhere in sight. Inside or out.

    Kayla drove around the parking lot twice to make sure.

    Brandon glanced up quickly from his cell phone. Having it in his hands provided an excuse to look down and avoid eye contact. He still couldn’t believe he told someone he played ‘My Little Horsie’ with his nieces. It certainly conflicted with the manly self-employed builder persona he attempted to cultivate.

    To give her credit, she hadn’t laughed. Of course, she was insulted by his comments about her colorful hair.

    Actually, he thought it made her look as unique and mysterious as the rest of her face. The jet-black hair were it wasn’t dyed. Golden skin and dark hooded eyes. She interested him which hadn’t happened in months.

    Oh well, he thought, I’ll get my blind date over with and then I’ll have to start hanging out here at The Coffee Buzz. Maybe she’s a regular.

    Suddenly his phone rang. As he answered, he looked up and saw the back of the woman from the DMV. She held a cell phone to her ear.

    Could she be calling him? Nah! No such luck.

    Kayla swept the room with her eyes again as a male voice said, “Hello.”

    “Hi Brandon, I just got here and realized I didn’t tell you what I’d be wearing. And it looks like a blue shirt and khaki convention. Almost every guy meets the description.” She turned slowly around, scanning for a man on a cell.

    “Well, it was probably a bad choice on my part since it’s a game day and blue jerseys show support.”

    She smiled. Brandon took responsibility for her confusion, and he had a sense of humor. Bonus points.

    Her scan of the room ended when she was facing the man from the DMV and realized he also held a cell phone to his ear. She walked toward his surprised face and dropped her hand to shut off the phone. “Brandon?” she said cautiously.

    “In the flesh.” He stood and smiled, gesturing to the chair across from him. “Would you like to sit down?”

    As the bird of paradise named Kayla perched on a chair at his table, Brandon realized,  with a start, he now owed Adam another favor.

August 28, 2020 23:42

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Anna Kerr
11:39 Sep 03, 2020

Really good story, I loved the concept! The only thing is I found it a little confusing between scenes- otherwise great work!


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Cheryl H
01:56 Sep 03, 2020

Sandy, I really liked your story! For me, the story reminds you to be open to taking a chance, even when it comes to something like a blind date, because that very thing might just end up the way you want it to. One suggestion I have is to include some type of a separator in between your scenes just to make it easier to follow. I’ve seen some put a line of stars and the upcoming character’s name but you can use whatever is your preference. Other than that, I did see a couple of minor grammar mistakes but nothing that disturbed the flow of th...


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Amber Hartung
00:03 Sep 02, 2020

i really liked it


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