Persuasion

Submitted into Contest #248 in response to: Write a story titled 'Persuasion'.... view prompt

29 comments

Romance Funny Contemporary

My boyfriend of five years and I broke up. Laurence and Verity, the fabulous two-some who had stuck it out, finally split.


We initially believed we were meant to be. Opposites attract, but we set ourselves up for World War 3. Laurence was my type; handsome and confident, never a hair out of place. Male perfection. Never will I be taken in again.


The minor things drove me crazy. The way to squeeze a toothpaste tube is from the end and replace the lid. He screwed it, alright - twisted to death with the top half off and toothpaste oozing out. 


I have healthy food choices. Laurence began to avoid eating the meals I prepared. He rang, “Hi, Hun. Takeaways tonight, don’t bother about me.” This became a habit. Then he stopped ringing.


I believed in romance; he quit the moment we moved in together. Five years later, I discussed marriage and a family. You’d think I’d asked him to sell his car, a Mazda MX 5 - a snazzy two-seater slung so low you require steel underpants to drive it. It wouldn’t be any use if we had a baby, but he doesn’t need to worry because we are no longer a couple!


In our last awful disagreement, we spoke about life goals. The little things irritating me paled into insignificance when we confronted how incompatible our lives had become - had been all along. Very different from his, “Whatever you want, Luv, you’re the boss.” 


I moved in with my best friend, Marie. She welcomed the extra cash. I had a small, cozy room. My life didn’t alter. I worked, came home, had dinner, and slept. Despite her busy social life, we ate more meals together than Laurence and I had for a long time. She worried about me. I wanted to get over Laurence, the past wasted five years and find myself.

Most evenings, I curl up on the sofa with a book. I work in an office doing secretarial work for my two lawyer bosses. Many offices occupy our floor. We workers meet at the cafeteria for lunch. Company employment plays havoc with one’s mental state. Afterward, I like to be transported to suspenseful locations by the law enforcers I read about. The hero solves the who-dun-it side of a murder or theft amidst red herrings and plot twists. Criminal investigation, here I come. In my dreams.


“Verity, I’m concerned about you. You need to start going out. I’m organizing a treasure hunt.” 

“No, Marie! No time to dig for treasure. Or are you suggesting I should read pirate stories?”

“Not a regular treasure hunt. It’s to find Mr. Right.”

“Oh, pl-ease. Totally sworn off men.”

“It’s been over six months. I’m gonna help you. I put your picture in an online ad to unearth some gems - you are beautiful and photogenic.”

“Marie. How could you! Why didn’t you ask?”

“If I asked, you’d have needed persuading.”

“No stunners! Laurence’s perfect face masked a self-absorbed man. What did you say about me?”

“A 26-year-old woman wants to meet someone for fun times. But ultimately long-term, with a man who shares her values and outlook.”

“Sounds ok. Show me the photo.” . . . “Oh, Marie! No makeup on? Hideous clothes!”

“Immaterial! You’re avoiding the hunks, so why be dolled up? You’re being a hypocrite. I deleted the unsuitable. Here’s the lineup.”

Photos of ten young men stared at me from the screen. “Delete those three, please. They’re too good-looking.”

“What’s wrong with that?” 

“Their looks blind you. Like gold-plating, you can’t see the brass beneath.”

“We needn’t respond to those . . . Make up a questionnaire to unearth the inner man. Their answers will reveal the hidden sparklers.”

“Sounds like blind dating.”

“Not precisely. You’ve met them online. Arrange to meet them over a meal. Pick an eatery and introduce yourself to each one over the week. Go Dutch, to be fair. They can quiz you. Then study your notes and eliminate the undesirables.”

“You want me to do all that? Oh, brother.” 

“You need to. Come up with some questions. You know what you want to know. I’ll organize the rest.”

“Guess I’ll have to work out a list.” . . .


30 questions later: 

“1. What do you believe is your best quality? . . .

17. How do you show people that you love them in public? In private? . . .

21. Do you want a wife and children sometime? . . .

22. What is the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done? . . .

26. What is the best pickup line you have used? etc.”

Brief replies meant a man who didn’t enjoy opening up. The answers would reveal the treasure of his mind and heart. Conversation with a casual banter indicated ease and, hopefully, honesty.

She liked my list, formatted on two pages with space for quick notes. She printed seven copies.


A restaurant called ‘Healthy Cravings,’ right near our upstairs flat, sounded great. It had reasonable prices, a varied menu, BYO if desired, and was licensed. It had been newly renovated, which gave it a modern touch. 

I booked tables for two over the seven nights. The loose booking time of 7 p.m. accommodated if one of us ran late.


Marie decided to stay home in the evenings so that she could message me if necessary, keeping my number confidential. Afterward, we could talk about what happened.

MONDAY.

A young accountant named Brian Johnstone arrived on time. A pleasant boy-next-door type but anxious about answering.


I had dressed professionally and touched up my makeup. My skin is fair, I have green eyes and long black hair, which I wore out, making me look young for 26 years. Brian gazed at me like you would a movie star. . .

Meeting me had been his most spontaneous decision. Question 17, about how he showed love, left him flustered. It wasn’t until I asked him question 21 about marriage and children that I decided. 

“Yes, I think I would like to be married, but kids are expensive.”

Yes, for an accountant, you’d have to count the cost, I thought.

“My mother doesn’t want to become a grandmother,” he said.

I restrained myself from belittling him. My head nodded in an agreeable façade, while inside, I screamed, “Mummy’s boy! No Verity. Don’t even think about it.

I paid for the meal because he couldn’t find his bank card. Brian needed an innocent girl-next-door type to settle down with. I already had one long-term relationship and could see a problem.


Later, I told Marie about my evening, and she said, “Wonderful that he was so well-mannered for your first hunt. The clues are useful.”


“Let me tell you about Terry, the waiter. Cheeky but cute. Immaculate dark hair, tanned, a gold earring in his left ear, lovely hands, and he got nothing wrong despite being run off his feet all evening. But he watched my every move as if he knew me. He caught my eye and winked at me.”

“Verity, you must have been watching him! Ask him if he wants to be candidate number eight?”

“Marie! No cool-looking dudes!”

“Seems you are deciding your next relationship based on your one with Laurence. You are letting your ex dictate your future boyfriend!” 

I refused to budge.

 TUESDAY.

Marie forwarded a message that Andy Grayson was running late. My clean-cut waiter brought me a Pinot Gris. Only a few sat at their tables, and he asked if he could sit. He appeared genuine, and I didn’t have the heart to brush him off. I looked into his eyes and felt like a silly schoolgirl stood up on her first date. Somehow, I managed to project a calm exterior.

“Mr. Grayson is a tad late. We’ll order when he arrives.”

“Are you conducting job interviews? You’re dressed for it.”

“No. My flat mate, Marie, set me up with a week’s worth of blind dates. She wants me to find Mr. Right.” 

Trust me to volunteer this information!  I just felt comfortable with him.

He observed my quiz. “More of an interview than a date.” His eyes brimmed with mirth.

“My friend insisted on this. A hunt to learn facts about each young man quickly.”

“Sounds hilarious. What does this say about you though? Highly organized? Prim and proper? Crosses every ‘t’? . . . Not interested in love?”

It seemed he judged the external to a ‘t’. His infectious smile rattled me.

“I’ll tell you how it went at the end of the week.”

“My name is Terry Alvares, and it’s a date!” He smirked as if he had invented the best pickup line.

“What? It won’t be.”

“Of course, it will. None of this going Dutch, either. How can you resist my dashing visage?”

My eyes flashed. “Easily. Do you think that’s your best quality?” 

It turned out, this conversation saved me from the date from hell. 


 Mr. Andy Grayson rushed in and plonked down. “Sorry to have left you waiting, my dear. I’ll pay for your next poison.”

“Poison?” 

“Another wine. This one’s finished. I prefer scotch on ice. Hey, Garcon!” He called to Terry and waved his arm around.

Terry rolled his eyes at me. He clearly did not like Andy.

“No thanks, Andy. No need.”  

“Nonsense, it’s the least I can do, sweetie.” 

I excused myself to use the bathroom. Two drinks had arrived before my return.

He gave thorough but arrogant answers and talked incessantly about himself, building, and architecture. I sipped my drink slowly, bored to yawning point.

Then I couldn’t keep my eyes open . . . 


and when I woke up . . .

I lay in an unfamiliar bed. A queen-sized one in a small room. Most of my clothes were on, and I'd slept alone. What a relief. The sheets had a faint scent of washing powder and man’s aftershave.

I sat up and glanced around. Pink hues streamed in through the curtains. My watch read seven fifteen AM. The door opened. Terry stood there, wearing a plaid shirt and jeans. I gaped.

“You’re awake! Good morning. You must have drunk a bit before you came in yesterday! You fell dead asleep. You mentioned blind dates, but when Mr. Grayson called you his girlfriend and said you were sleepy from drinking, and he’d take you home, I told him to leave and informed the manager. I wanted to ring Marie but don’t know your phone’s password. I brought you back here.”

“Good Grief! Marie will be frantic. I only drank two wines all evening.”

“Don’t fret. She rang up, and I explained you were safe. You told her all about me, so she wasn’t the least bit worried. I told her you’d stay the night with me. . . I slept on the sofa.”

I wanted to hit myself. “I hope you told her I didn’t know a thing about it!”

He grinned at my discomfort. “Didn’t you? You clung to me and said you loved me. I rather fancied having a lovely woman in my bed . . .” His eyes twinkled.

“What a liar! I wouldn’t.”

“Wouldn’t what? Well, I’m no saint, but you called me Laurence. I stopped short of impersonating him. Can’t be as gallant as me. Not sure who you thought you were kissing.”

Tears ran down my cheeks. “This is all Marie’s fault. How could she match me with someone who spiked my drink? I’m the victim here. Laurence is my ex. I hate him!” 

Terry put his hand on my shoulder. “I understand how you feel.”

“Really? You don’t know me at all.” 

He sat beside me on the bed. “My last partner couldn’t cope with my busy life and dumped me. It broke my heart, but I’ve moved on and don’t hate her anymore.”

“Have you a girlfriend now?”

“I’m in deep trouble here if I have! I’m in the right place emotionally if I meet the right girl . . .”

“Why are you telling me?”

“You hate your ex. You won’t let anyone into your life right now.”

“It’s all Marie’s idea. I’m having second thoughts about it.”

“I kept an eye on you. It worried me sick when that moron went to take you away. He took out a wad of notes, paid for you both, but I knew about your arrangement, even though you covered for Mr. Johnstone on Monday. The whole thing seemed off. I wanted to take you to your home and did my best. I’m so sorry.” 

I sobbed in relief over what may have happened and over what had happened. 

“I googled the name Andy Grayson and checked on Facebook,” he said. “He doesn’t exist. Please investigate the others, Verity.”

He sat beside me, hugged me until I stopped crying, and kissed my forehead.

“There now, dry your eyes. Go have a shower. I’ll give you a container for a urine sample, which I’ll drop in somewhere. It’s important to check what was in your drink. After breakfast, we’ll go to your flat so you can change, then off to work. I’ll turn up at my class late.”

“Your class?” I felt embarrassed.

“Yes, I go to Law School. The job at the restaurant pays my expenses.”

“To be a lawyer?”

“Not a lawyer, as such. I despise defending the guilty, and if my clients were innocent, I’d be worried about proving it. Being a D.A. with criminals going to prison is better.”

“Not just a pretty face,” I said lamely.

He laughed. “At this stage, I’m unsure if your soggy face is pretty or not.”

I don’t recall what possessed me, but I grabbed a pillow and whacked him.


While I used the bathroom, he busied himself in the kitchen. The ensuite shone like a new pin. No towels on the floor. A fresh, folded towel for me. The toothpaste had its lid on. After my shower, I felt better.

Breakfast had been all laid out. Bacon, eggs, cereal, milk, yogurt, fruit, toast and toppings, coffee, and tea. Trying to impress. I settled for coffee, some cereal with fruit, and a slice of toast.

“Thank you so much, Terry.”

He tidied the kitchen, picked up his pack and jacket, and we left. Impressive. 

Stop thinking about how organized he is, I thought.


Marie hadn’t left yet. She glanced from me to Terry and back at me. She shook her head.

“Splendid to meet you, Marie. You live close to the restaurant!” 

“Marie, what’s that face? Andy probably gave me a Micky! If you’d rung sooner, Terry could have carried me back here. I slept well, but I’m wasted. Still going to work. Just dashed in to change. Please check if the other five guys are ok.”

I escaped into my bedroom.


Terry stood with his back to me when I came out with makeup on, fresh office attire, and my hair in a bun. 

“Sunday evening’s date cancelled. I’ve asked Terry to investigate the credentials of the other four guys and gave him your cell number so he can confirm them,” she said.

I shook my head vigorously. Her quizzical look made him turn around. I donned a smile. “Break your neck!” 


He pulled up in front of the building where I worked and came around to open the door. Some ladies from our floor walked by and turned to ogle Terry. Just like women used to stare at Laurence. Ugh!

“Bye, see you this evening,” he said. Of course, he’d see me! Date number three had been lined up. It sounded like we were together. I waved and didn’t bother explaining the truth to the gossipmongers.


WEDNESDAY.

Mr. Stewart Forbes checked out ok. I arrived at the restaurant before him. 

 Terry wore smart black attire with a crisp white shirt and smiled his infectious smile.

“Hi, Verity. Sunday’s my night off. I can be your seventh date.”

“Mm, guess I ought to oblige, but please do me a favor.”

“Anything, my dear.”

“Please ask another waiter to serve us. I’m embarrassed about what happened. You’ll be sussing the guy out. It complicates things.”

“On one condition. Let me walk you home after. Safety first.”

“Thank you, Terry.”


The last four dates were over. I didn’t want to see them again. Terry was next. Marie loved him. She believed my overnight stay at his hadn’t been a rescue, and I had faked the drama to stay with him. As if!


 SUNDAY.

He arrived early with a bunch of flowers. “I thought you might bale, so I came to fetch you.” 

“I wouldn’t do that to you. I’m just tired. No makeup on, and I’m not dressed up yet.”

“You look dazzlingly unpretentious. It’s fine.”


The other restaurant workers fussed over us.

He said, “It’s my turn to go out with the gorgeous girl who’s dated many different men this week.”

So embarrassing.

He ordered me a pinot gris and, himself, a pinot noir. “Verity, I have a confession.” 

“You silvered my drink the other night?” 

“Crap! Is that what you thought?”

“No, you don’t fit the profile. Do tell.”

“Your first night, you probably noticed me watching and winking. I recognized you.”

“You’ve answered question 26 about the best pickup line?”

“No, I have seen you before. . . I replied to the ad Marie put in with your photo. Why didn’t you choose me as a person of interest? Did Marie reject me?”

“I discarded the best three - too handsome.”

“Should I get myself uglified?”

“No need for that. I’m not over Laurence. It’s true. I never cried about our breakup, and I let him dictate the looks of a future boyfriend. I’m so sorry. I like you, Terry.”

Terry sighed. “Please, be my girlfriend, Verity.”

“You’ve persuaded me, Terry. I will.”


May 02, 2024 11:01

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29 comments

Helen A Smith
16:36 May 14, 2024

I don’t know why, but I don’t trust this Terry guy. He seems too perfect. Could it be a repeat of her ex in a different form? I didn’t like it when he said to the other restaurant workers it was his turn to “date a girl who’s dated many different men this week” - even if he did describe her as gorgeous. Something off there? Also, was it actually him who spiked her drink? We will just have to wait and see how this pans out - he may end up being a great catch. I enjoyed the way you describe how things don’t necessarily work out with opposite...

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20:25 May 14, 2024

Thanks Helen. Hope you liked the story. Terry is very confident and maybe felt comfortable dining at his work with his colleagues serving them and wanted to embarrass Verity a little? It was definitely the other guy who insisted on Verity having another drink, who spiked it. He probably went by a different name, too. As the waiter, Terry served the drinks and left. Verity had condemned him over his looks and had been very reluctant to go out with him. But she was mainly embarrassed. The happenings after this have already been written in the ...

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20:49 May 08, 2024

Hi Kaitlyn, This is really charming - though its a little unclear whether the waiter might have taken advantage a little after the spiked drink? Love this line: a Mazda MX 5 - a snazzy two-seater slung so low you require steel underpants to drive it. And I love that he turned out to be one of the original 10 matches.

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03:47 May 09, 2024

Thanks, Katherine. Who knows if he was taking advantage. Seemed plausible. Even Verity's friend thought she took advantage to stay with him. After all, she had already told Marie about him. He had looked and winked because he recognized her. It all seemed contrived and sitcomish. But the story worked. Everything fell into place as if they were meant to be. Glad you loved it.

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Jim LaFleur
10:32 May 07, 2024

I love how you’ve woven the theme of self-discovery and second chances into Verity’s journey. Great work!

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12:04 May 07, 2024

Thanks, Jim, for your encouragement.

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Martha Kowalski
06:12 May 06, 2024

So cute -was hoping she'd skip right to Sunday :) your writing style is also super fun and vivid

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11:03 May 06, 2024

Thanks for that Martha. Appreciated it.

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20:08 May 05, 2024

Love it

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21:03 May 05, 2024

Thanks, Mariana I will check you out, too.

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21:25 May 05, 2024

Np

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22:02 May 05, 2024

Is that a 'No'? Sorry, already done. Apologies. Maybe you meant, 'No problemo?'

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Darvico Ulmeli
22:02 May 03, 2024

Easy to read. Love the dialogue. Nicely done, Kaitlyn.

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02:50 May 04, 2024

Thanks, Darvico.

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Kendall Defoe
19:12 May 03, 2024

Not the biggest Jane Austen fan, but you have made this title your own, and I hope that this is the start of a beautiful relationship... :)

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20:22 May 03, 2024

Haha. You don't enjoy romance? Sorry you didn't like it. Thanks for the comment.

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Kendall Defoe
15:06 May 04, 2024

Not my cup of English tea (I prefer the Bronte sisters). And I actually do like 'Persuasion' more than those other tales.

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21:58 May 04, 2024

To tell you a secret. I am generally not into romance unless there is something else going on like a mystery, crime to solve, some sci fi aspect, intense family dynamic. And I enjoy writing the ones that have no romance at all. . . Better than the other ones? Hope my version of it did the title justice.

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Alexis Araneta
16:38 May 02, 2024

" - a snazzy two-seater slung so low you require steel underpants to drive it." - What a description. Hahahahaha ! Do you have any idea how much I swooned at this story ? Hahahaha ! The story of Terry and Verity's love is just so adorable. I'm happy she found the right man for her. Splendid work !

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21:02 May 02, 2024

Thank you so much for your encouragement. Will read more of yours later. If you want to read another story about Verity and Tom, I submitted one weeeeks ago called 'Whose Girl?'. It's the story where Verity learns where she went wrong when she was with her ex, Laurence, and finally senses she is free from the hurt feelings over him.

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Mary Bendickson
15:03 May 02, 2024

Great story, Kaitlyn. I have to ask if it is a remake because it seemed familiar to me or you used some of same characters? Anyway, met this prompt perfectly. Thanks for liking 'All in a Name'.

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20:54 May 02, 2024

Hi Mary. Thanks. LOL. You were only one of two who read and commented on the earlier version that was never submitted. And it fitted this prompt so well. Also, no last-minute dash to get it in. Phew. The 2nd story about these characters 'Whose Girl?' was put in weeeeks ago. Still waiting for another offering from you - checked yesterday. Ended up reading one I had missed! Anyway, a funny story. At least you felt it was familiar. As in read before! The other day another Reedsy writer that I've been following read about ten of my stories one...

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Mary Bendickson
21:06 May 02, 2024

Oh,so that's how people read so many. Do it all in the same minute! Put my latest one in a couple of hours ago. Cheated somewhat by using some of my book.😜

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20:57 May 08, 2024

Hi Kaitlyn, I get this a lot, where someone likes multiple stories in a very short time frame - I think they are hoping that you will do the same for them - because they want the points. They have not read my stories as far as I can tell - they have just liked them. They never leave comments because they have nothing to say, as they haven't read the stories. In my opinion this is an abuse of the points system and I never repay the "favour". When people genuinely read my stories, and especially if they leave thoughtful comments, thats when I ...

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03:52 May 09, 2024

Happened to you too? It's the same with 'following.' Some expect you to follow, read, and like because they press follow. And they haven't read anything. I'm cautious about following because I feel it is a promise or commitment and you can't do the job justice if you follow hundreds. Has to be a giving thing not just a getting thing.

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05:52 May 09, 2024

I absolutely agree. Some people follow hundreds of people and there's no way they are reading all those stories. I have a statement in my bio that explains who I will follow, because, believe it or not, I have seen rants in other people's bios about not being "followed back". Anyway, have a wonderful day, and all the best of luck with your writing.

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09:22 May 09, 2024

Same to you. Trying to get the next story in before deadline.

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09:39 May 14, 2024

Hi Katherine. The member Dustin who did all the likes at the same time has become an 'unknown user' and his stories aren't there anymore! Such a shame when this site can be great for writers/authors when used properly.

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