“Take a right at the stop sign.”
Anna followed the directions from her phone’s GPS mounted in an air vent of her 1999 Honda Civic and turned down the road to her right. Her headlights shone over perfectly manicured lawns and houses with elegant entryways.
“Wow, he lives here?” She said to herself as she drove past the mansion-like houses. She stopped next to a driveway in front of house number 513 and turned her car off.
The house had two large bay windows on either side of the front door. Every window in the house was illuminated by some light inside. A huge TV was mounted in what she assumed to be the living room and faced the road.
“Okay, that’s a flex.” Anna unclipped her phone from the mount and sent a text to her friend, Alicia, of the front of the house. “How’d he afford this at twenty six?”
Anna opened her car door and walked up the driveway. She was wearing flats and leggings with a pink sweater. A few bracelets jangled on her wrist. The brick steps were clean and sturdy as she approached the front door. Clearing her throat she pushed the doorbell and heard a wonderful chime ring through the house.
Here goes nothing. First date in almost two years. She thought to herself.
The front door swung open and a jolly older woman smiled at her. “Well, hello! You must be this Anna we have heard so much about. Come in, come in! I will get Benjie.”
Anna chuckled nervously as she stepped over the threshold into the foyer, “Benjie?”
“Oh, Benjie! Turn off your games, your girlfriend is here!” The woman called up the wooden staircase that spiraled up.
“Oh, I’m not his girlfri-” Anna started but was interrupted by the woman.
“Come now. We have plenty of time to discuss you two.”
“We do?” Anna stood uncomfortably on the rug that stretched over the length of the hallway in front of her. To her left was the living room, where the TV shone through the window. The room to her left seemed like a sitting room. Armchairs, a coffee table, and two bookshelves that stood on either side of a fireplace that was burning.
Benjamin bounded down the stairs and stood next to the woman. “Mom, could you try not to embarrass me?”
Mom? He still lives with his parents? Anna took in the mother and son in front of her. His mother was wearing a white blouse that buttoned in the back and was tucked into a black pencil skirt. She wore heels that echoed with each step. She was even wearing panty hose. Benjamin donned a blue button down and pair of slacks. Anna cast a glance down at her own clothes. I am severely underdressed.
Benjamin walked up to her and looked her up and down, “Ahem. I thought you would’ve worn something a little...nicer.”
“I was under the impression we were just having a simple dinner.” Anna defended herself.
“Benjie loves to joke. It is a simple dinner! I’m having Penny prepare a lovely three course chicken dinner for you to enjoy.” Benjamin’s mother gestured down the hallway to the kitchen.
“Penny?” Anna asked.
“Our personal chef,” Benjamin shrugged and walked down the hall.
“So, do you bring your dates to your parents house so Penny can cook?” Anna followed at a slower pace.
“What do you mean? I live here.” Benjamin grabbed a cracker from a platter on the kitchen island and plopped it in his mouth.
The kitchen opened up with high ceilings and cherry wood cabinets on every wall. The appliances were a matching black and Anna counted more than she knew even existed.
“Well, when you said you were cooking us dinner tonight, I thought you would be the one cooking it.” Anna stood staring at all the floral wallpaper.
“This is how he cooks, dear.” His mother gestured around the kitchen. “Let me get my husband.”
She opened the sliding glass door off the side of the kitchen and called into the patio, well lit with lights curling around an awning and a fireplace in the middle of long outdoor furniture. “Reginald, come meet Benjie’s girlfriend.”
An older gentleman, with grey streaking his trimmed beard, appeared in the doorway with a glass of amber liquid and a laugh.
“Wonderful to meet you, my dear.” He extended his hand forward.
Anna took it and gave a smile.
“Hm. Have you ever had braces?” He asked.
“What?” Anna closed her lips over her teeth. “No, we couldn’t afford them.”
“Pity. Well, I will be on the patio. The country club board members are discussing the summer’s yacht trips.”
“Oh, do suggest someplace warm!” His wife bounded out onto the patio behind him. Once the sliding door closed the only sounds left was the humming of Penny as she stirred pots on the stove top.
Anna looked at Benjamin who was inspecting a piece of cheese off the platter tray.
“So, Ben. Thank you for inviting me over tonight.” Anna said.
“Yeah. Aunt Lidia said you were a hard worker and would make a good housewife.” He put the piece of cheese back on the platter.
Anna opened her mouth. She worked as an office assistant at a law firm. His aunt was her supervisor.
“Ah, Mr. Benjamin?” Penny, a short lady with a thick Spanish accent, piped up from the stovetop. “What if you showed Miss around the house?”
“Sure,” Benjamin shrugged and brushed past her back down the hall.
“This is the bathroom, this door leads downstairs. We have a bar and billiards down there.”
“I would love to play after dinner, actually,” Anna smiled.
Benjamin looked back at her, “Sure. I’ll kick your ass, but it’ll be fun.”
“This is the family room and tea room, and I can show you upstairs.”
“Mind if I use the restroom first?” Anna stopped in front of the bathroom door.
“Sure, I’ll meet you in my room.” Benjamin bounded up the stairs.
Anna ducked into the bathroom and pulled the door shut. She took out her phone and saw three messaged from Alicia.
“Wow! He’s rich? Marry him so I can move in!!!”
“He still lives with his parents.” Anna sent the text and left the bathroom, which smelled like cinnamon.
Up the stairs on the second floor there were two rooms and another bathroom. One was a study with a giant desk seated in front of towering bookshelves. Anna was intimidating just looking at it. The second room was a guest bedroom. It was elegantly decorated and had fresh flowers in a vase by the bed.
Is his room even more upstairs?
A metal spiral staircase stood in the corner of the landing. Anna climbed it and walked onto a third floor. A door stood open to her right with loud noises and light coming from it, and a closed door on her left. She walked into the beam of light from the door on her right and saw Benjamin sitting in a desk chair with one leg over the armchair and a controller in his hand. He was staring intently at the TV screen mounted on his wall. Anna walked in and sat on his bed. She sunk into his soft bed and resisted the urge to lay down and take a nap. Looking around his room she saw trophies and awards on shelves above his dresser.
“Did you play sports?” Anna asked.
“If you consider regatta a sport. My dad made me row every year since I was old enough.”
“Do you still row now?”
“Yeah, he makes me.”
“Well,” Anna looked at him. “You’re twenty six, can’t you just say ‘no’?”
Benjamin snorted and cursed as his character was killed in the first person shooter game he was playing.
“Why don’t you tell me a bit about yourself.” Anna said. “What kind of video games do you like?”
Benjamin swiveled in his chair toward her, “Do you like video games?”
Anna nodded, “I play a lot of the Sims.”
“The Sims isn’t a real video game. I’ll show you,” He turned back to the TV and exited the game. He scrolled through his extensive game library on his console with a smug smile.
“Oh, wow. Do you think you could teach me? Something easy.”
“You can’t really teach video games. But, I guess you can try Fifa.” He clicked the game and the load screen flashed.
Anna scooted across the bed closer to the TV and took the console from his hands, which were incredibly soft.
“So, do you have any plans to get your own place?”
Benjamin shrugged while watching the screen, “Why should I, then I’d need to get a job.”
“You don’t have a job?” Anna whipped toward him as a bell dinged in the hallway.
Benjamin stood, “Dinner is ready.”
“What?” Anna placed the controller on the bed, “How do you know?”
“Penny rings the bell to let us know. Come on.”
Anna followed Benjamin back down the stairs and into the kitchen. Past the kitchen, The dining room was decorated with plates and candles and two bottles of wine. Anna sat opposite Benjamin and poured herself a glass of red wine. She took a sip and her eyes lit up.
Benjamin watched her with a smile and a nod. “You have good taste.”
Penny placed two plates of risotto on the table and curtseyed.
Anna took a bite and smiled, “This is lovely risotto, Penny.”
Penny smiled from the kitchen and nodded her thanks.
“So,” Benjamin started in between chews. “I’ve been meaning to ask. What happened to your face?”
“Excuse me?” Anna held a hand in front of her mouth to finish swallowing.
“Well, it’s a little lopsided and you have a slight dent on the left side of your head.”
Anna took a long sip of wine and cleared her throat. “Well, I was going to leave that story until another time, but since you brought it up. Almost two years ago I was in a car accident.” Benjamin watched her as he chewed. “I was thrown from the car through the windshield.”
“How’d the accident happen?”
Anna sighed and looked down at her hands. “My ex-boyfriend was driving, but he didn’t tell me he had been drinking. He ran through a red light and we were hit by two cars. I ended up in a coma for two weeks and...he didn’t even come see me in the hospital.”
“How did you not know he was drunk?” Benjamin snorted.
“Well, he was always drunk. I don’t know, I should’ve known but we had just gotten into a fight and I was pretty angry and just wanted to go home.”
“What’d you fight about?”
Anna waved a hand, “I don’t even remember, it was so long ago. Plus I lost a lot of my memories from hitting my head.”
“So, how’d you recover?” He took another big bite of risotto.
“I have spotty memory, even now, and get migraines really easily.”
“Yup. It sure does.” Anna nodded and took another bite.
“Well, it’s kind of a miracle.”
Anna smiled as she swallowed the last bite, “You know what, it is.”
“No, it’s a miracle you’re so pretty afterwards.” Benjamin sat back in his chair as Penny cleared the first course and brought around the main meal.
Anna sat with her mouth open, “Excuse me?”
“I’m genuinely a little shocked that you managed to retain a nice face shape and some actual beauty after head trauma.”
Anna watched as Benjamin cut his steaming chicken open and started eating. “I mean, I would’ve loved to see how you looked before.”
Anna sighed and shook her head. She ate her chicken politely as Benjamin prattled on about whatever he wanted to, she was hardly listening anymore. Dessert was silent, except for Penny cleaning in the kitchen. Anna picked at her piece of cheesecake until Penny took it away.
Benjamin and his parents walked her to the door and invited her back for dinner next week, to the country club the week after, and even to their family vacation in the summer.
“I’ll have to think on that one,” Anna declined politely as she shuffled out the door.
“You let us know!” Benjamin’s mom called as she closed the door. Before it shut Anna heard her say, “Such a nice girl.”
Anna sagged into her car seat and took out her phone. She hit the call button next to Alicia’s name and closed her eyes while it dialed.
“Hey girl, date over already?” Alicia said as she picked up.
“Oh, my, God! Girl, next year make sure I stay home for Valentine’s day, good Lord!”
Alicia let out a laugh, “That bad? I thought you would’ve at least gotten some.”
“Not in his parent’s house!”
“He still lives at home?”
Anna laughed at herself, “Next year, it’s pizza and porn for me!”
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hi!! wow, the title totally drew me in! love this!! you are a really telnted writer, i'm totally gonna read more of your stories!! cheers :)