My Saturday started off as normal as ever. I woke up early, rolled out of bed and crashed on the couch with a box of Fruit Loops in one hand and the remote in the other. Just as it was when I was a boy, Saturday mornings was all about the cartoons. It was the way it should be.
Except this Saturday morning, half way through my first cartoon, my phone rang. Two of the three waitresses that were supposed to be working that morning were in a car accident the night before, Scott informed me. “They are ok, just a little shaken up but they won’t be in. You need to find someone to cover or come in and work in the restaurant.”
Being short staffed, I knew it wouldn’t be that easy to find someone to cover one shift, let alone two but I tried all the same, since I didn’t really want to work on the only full day off I had in almost two weeks. It seemed I wasn’t the only one who felt that way either, of the ten people I called, half didn’t answer and the other half told me that they couldn’t work. I even tried calling some of my strictly banquet servers, to see if either one of them would like to make a couple extra bucks but I had no luck.
Hauling my ass of the couch, I had no choice but fore go my cartoons that morning. “Next week, I promise,” I told my TV as I turned it off.
I walked into a sideshow, I swear. It was only 7:30 am, the restaurant had only been open for a half hour and already it was filling up. “Is there a sale I don’t know about?” I asked Betty, my head waitress, as I walked into the server’s station.
“Just your average Saturday morning,” she threw over her shoulder as she disappeared into the crowd of customers with two drink trays in her hands.
I couldn’t believe she was smiling! She’s got to be crazy, I thought as I walked back through the kitchen to my office. I was in the middle of removing my jacket when Scott appeared out of nowhere. “I didn’t call you to come in and sit in the office. It’s crazy out there; Betty could use a little help.”
“Then go and help her,” I snapped, not really in the mood for his bitchiness. “I just came back here to take off my jacket and change my boots; I’ll be out front in a second. Or longer, if you really want to jump all over me this morning.”
“We’ve been waiting for twenty minutes already! How much longer will it be for a table?” An hour into the breakfast crowd and I didn’t think we would ever get through it.
“Just a couple more minutes,” I replied as pleasantly as I could to the couple. Problem was that we couldn’t clear the tables as quickly as needed, so there were a few dirty ones still sitting empty. Even though Scott was still there, he wasn’t much help, he just sat in the corner of the restaurant, watching Betty and me with a disapproving look. I wanted to go over to him and tell him to leave because we needed the table, but Betty wouldn’t let me. “I need this job,” she told me as she quickly made her drinks for three different tables.
“That’s what you said a few minutes ago,” the husband told me as I started to walk away. “This has to be the worse service I’ve ever received; I want to talk to your manager!”
Tapping my nametag, I stared at him. “I am the manager and as you can clearly see we are really busy. I’m sorry you have to wait a little longer than planned but we are doing our best to ensure that you are seated as quickly as possible. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go answer that bell.”
As the husband sputtered, I walked towards the kitchen, slamming through the doors. “Read the bill Tanner!” one of the cooks yelled at me when I asked where the order went.
“Table 14,” another cook called out.
“Thanks,” I called back as I grabbed the hot plates and returned to the restaurant. As I was placing the order in front of the customers and asking if they needed anything else, I heard the bell ringing again.
“Just refills please,” the little old lady smiled up at me. “Hot water and lemon for me and decaf for my husband, when you have a minute young man.”
I couldn’t help but smile back. Don’t ask why but maybe it was the sweet way she spoke or maybe I was just losing it. “I’ll see what I can do,” I told her as I turned to go answer the bell again.
“Table 20!” Came the call when I walked through the door.
“Thanks,” I laughed as I grabbed the plates. “Thanks a lot!” I threw over my shoulder as I hurried back into the restaurant.
“What can I do?”
“What?” I stopped in my tracks.
“You look like you could use some help,” Anna motioned around the busy restaurant. “I want to know what you would like me to do.”
The bell rang again. “Well…” I glanced around. Dirty tables. Line up to pay and to get in. “Clean tables? Bring out orders? Seat people? The choice is yours Anna.” I started to walk away but then paused, “Table 14 would like refills, maybe grab the coffee pot and hot water and see who else needs refills.”
“Yes Sir!” She saluted me with a big grin on her face before jumping into action. I happen to pass her five minutes later and she was juggling the coffee pot and a couple menus while seating the couple who were complaining at the front counter earlier. “Can I interest you in some coffee?” She asked. They said yes. “Good,” she filled their coffee cups and told them that either Betty or I would be with them as soon as possible.
“Why can’t you take our order?” The husband demanded.
Anna chuckled, “I’m afraid this is over my head, I’m just the Personnel Manager! Tanner and Betty are better qualified.” Lowering her voice, she told them she was afraid she’d mess up their order. “And nobody wants that!”
“You are great, you know that?” I told her when I happened to run into her a few minutes later as she was returning to the kitchen with a bus pan full of dirty dishes. “I didn’t handle that couple very well at the front counter.”
“I know,” she smiled. “I saw that and decided I should offer to help.”
“What are you doing here anyway? Aren’t you off on Saturdays?”
“I had to come in to finalize payroll,” she told me. “If I don’t, no one gets paid!”
The bell rang. “I better get that,” she jumped. “And you better get those drinks out too.” I was still standing at the server’s station making my drinks when she came out of the kitchen. “Hey,” she called out. “Tell me, how long as he been sitting there watching you guys run around like this?”
I didn’t even have to look; I knew she was talking about Scott. “For a while now.”
Anna rolled her eyes. “I think it’s time he did something, don’t you?” She walked away with a mischievous grin on her face.
I finished my drinks and delivered them. A couple minutes later, I was standing at the front counter about to cash out a group of people when Scott came up and told me he would do it. I happened to run into Anna on my way to grab a table’s order. “What did you say?”
“I told him we were busy and needed the table.” She responded. “And I also told him that there were a few tables to be cleaned if he needed something to do.”
I told her she had balls and she laughed. “The worse he can do is fire me Tanner.”
Anna tossed the dirty rag she was holding, into the wash bag and then sighed. It was almost 3:30 and the rush had finally died down enough that we were able to make the restaurant look inviting once again. “I should be going now, I have dinner plans tonight.”
“Thanks for all the help, we couldn’t have done it without you,” Betty gushed as she counted her tips for the day since she was off.
“No problem,” she replied as she gathered her jacket from its spot in the corner of the front counter. “Just don’t need help anytime soon; I’m not sure I’m cut out of this kind of work!” She may have been serious but I saw the way she handled customers and I believe she really enjoyed herself. “Have a good day guys,” she called over her shoulder as she left.
“Wait! Anna!” Betty jumped up and went after her. Five minutes later she returned, shaking her head. “She’s nothing like I thought she would be.”
I was in the middle of writing the supper special on the board. “What do you mean?”
“She just seems so serious all the time and I thought she was in Scott’s back pocket but the way she told him to get out or help? That was intense! She also made me laugh when it was really busy. Plus, she busted her ass along with the rest of us and she refused to take a cut of my tips! She said she was just doing her job and that I deserved it all for having to deal with her! Like she was trouble or something.”
I smiled. “She’s right, you do deserve it all, you were great today Betty. Thanks for all your hard work.”
Betty blushed. “You were pretty great yourself.”
With a laugh, I told her to go home or I would make her stay until the next shift got in. “I don’t think so,” she grabbed her coat. “My husband has tickets to tonight’s game and I’m going with him!”
By the time the next shift showed up, I was more than ready to get out of there and enjoy the rest of my day off. Unlike Anna and Betty, I didn’t have an plans with a significant other and even though I could’ve called someone up, there was only one I wanted to spend time with and she wasn’t giving me any signs that she was interested still.
“She has to be,” I told myself as I wandered through the aisles of the local grocery store. I had convinced myself that there was no way I could still be so wrapped up in her and she wasn’t giving me a second thought. “I just need a plan,” I told the bag of potatoes I yanked from the display.
Apparently, a better plan than kissing her at midnight on New Years and taking off. “Who does that?” Shelly ripped into me a couple days after. “What did you think she would do Tanner? Run after you in the freezing cold when you didn’t seem to want to stick around and find out if she liked it or not.” To make matters worse, she asked me who I got romantic advice from, “Your brother?”
She went on to ask me where I disappeared to. “Sara tried calling you but there was no answer at your place. Where did Travis drag you? To some whore’s house?”
The boys were spending the week after New Years with Travis so Shelly didn’t know that we went to mom and dad’s house. When I told her Travis was all for leaving and he wanted to see the boys, she was speechless.
For about a second. “What the heck is he trying to pull Tanner? He’s acting so weird. Moving out of the house without a fight, wanting to spend time with the boys, not fighting me for anything in the divorce…” She trailed off. “He’s not sick, is he?”
“No, he’s not Shelly.”
With a groan, Shelly told me she doesn’t understand Travis anymore. “I wish he would talk to me,” she confessed. “He use to talk to me all the time, now he barely says a word.”
“Maybe he thinks it’s better this way Shelly, you did tell him you wanted a divorce.”
“Yeah but….” She sighed.
“I really don’t know what Travis is thinking. And no, he didn’t give me advice on Sara, I just couldn’t handle being there any longer watching other men try to pawn her.”
“You should’ve stuck around,” she told me. “She really wanted to talk to you, she had asked Billy to make sure you knew she was going to be there.”
“That’s great,” I said. “But if that was the case, if she wanted to talk to me, why hasn’t she called? It’s been a few days.”
“She got a surprise visit from her mom,” Shelly informed me. “The day after New Years, her mom showed up and it sent Sara spinning. I’m not sure what happened but she didn’t sound too happy when I talked to her the other night.”
After talking to Shelly, I called Billy to see what he had to say but he told me it wasn’t a good time. “I’ll call you tomorrow,” he promised but I didn’t hear from him again.
Part of me wanted to just go to Sara’s and see what’s up but another part of me wanted her to be the one who came to me. I didn’t want it to seem like I was pushing her. I think I did enough of that.
So without a plan and my friends being no help, I went home Saturday and threw a couple pork steaks into the oven before jumping in the shower.
“I’m coming, I’m coming.” Dropping my razor, I grabbed a towel and ran out into the kitchen where I dropped my cell when I came home. No sooner did I pick it up but it stopped ringing. I went to check who called and it started ringing again. It was my parents’ number.
“Tanner, where are you? I’ve been trying to call you all afternoon.”
“I was at work,” I told mom. “What’s going on? Is everything ok?”
“Yes, of course everything is ok. I just wanted to see if you were going to come over for supper, you told me you didn’t work today.”
“I wasn’t scheduled to work but there was an accident and a couple of my waitresses couldn’t come in. I -” Mom cut me off to ask if the girls were ok. “From what Scott told me, they were shaken up but not really hurt. They hit a deer on the highway last night.”
“They are lucky,” mom said before changing the subject. “Are you coming over for supper?”
Running a hand through my wet hair, I told mom I had a long day and already had something in the oven for supper. “Maybe tomorrow,” I offered.
“Sure, sure,” she replied but I don’t really think she was paying that much attention to me anymore. “I’ll call you tomorrow,” she told me before saying ‘bye’ and hanging up on me.
With Theory of a Deadman’s CD ‘Scars & Souvenirs’ playing in the background, I got to work, making the rest of my dinner. To go along with the pork steaks, I decided to make garlic mashed potatoes and heat up a tin of cream corn. It wasn’t anything fancy but to my empty stomach it sounded like a meal fit for a king.
Pushing up the sleeves of my old High School sweatshirt I pulled on when I got out of the shower, I pulled the 10lb bag of potatoes I picked up at the grocery store onto the counter and then turned to grab a knife. When I pulled up a stool and sat down at the counter, I not only had a knife but also a glass of red wine. I don’t normally drink wine but on my way home from the grocery store, I stopped into the liquor store and bought a bottle for the hell of it. The first sip I took of the wine, made me cringe but I was determined to drink the glass, at least.
While the guy from Theory of a Deadman sang about being so happy he threw some chick out, I ripped open the bag of potatoes and took a couple out to peel. I had five peeled and went for the sixth one when I stopped myself and wondered why I was making so much. I had thrown the pork steaks into the oven without realizing I put in all four and now I was in the middle of peeling a lot of potato, sure I liked leftovers but there was a limit.
Shoving back from the counter, I got up and grabbed a pot from the cupboard for the potatoes. As I filled the pot with water, my doorbell rang. With a frown, I turned off the tap and placed the pot on the counter before grabbing a dish towel to dry my hands.
As I made my way across my living room and down the hall towards the front door, I thought maybe it was Travis since he had a habit of just showing up whenever he felt like it but whoever it was didn’t hold down on the doorbell or push it in rapid succession so it couldn’t have been him. Then I thought it could be mom and dad since she did call and hang up suddenly when she found out I was home but it was suppertime and there’s no way she would be out ‘visiting’ anyone at that hour, it just wasn’t like her.
I can honestly say that, while I may have hoped it was her, I never really expected it to be Sara. In fact I almost myself convinced I was seeing things when I opened the door to see her bundled up in front of me, holding a big gift bag. “Hi,” she looked nervous as she gave a half wave and smiled up at me.
I stared at her for a long time. Maybe a little too long because her smile faded and she raised a questioning brow in my direction. “Can I come in?” She asked as a cold wind stirred the snow on my front step. “Or is it a bad time?”
“Uh sure,” I stumbled as I moved back to let her in.
“Brrr!” She shivered as I closed the door. “I thought it was going to warm up,” she stated as she pulled her hood down and shook her head sending all her curls bouncing as she did. “With all the cold weather,” she continued as I watched her unzip her coat and remove it. “I hoped it would be a really early spring.” She chuckled and turned towards me. “Do you think it’s possible?”
She could’ve asked me anything at that moment, anything at all and the answer would’ve been the same. “Sure, yeah,” as my eyes travelled from her pretty, smiling face to the white, low cut v-neck sweater that clung to every curve. I only got a moment to dwell on her chest before her fingers cupped my chin and she forced me to look at her face again. “Save that for later?” She asked with a smile. As quickly as she touched me, she dropped her hand again and moved further into my home.
“What?” I started after her, still shocked that she was there.
She paused in front of the fireplace, which I had lit just after I got out of the shower. “Oh,” she sighed as she turned back on to it. “That feels so nice!” Wiggling her butt, she laughed as she told me that it was cold.
“I see,” I needed to get away from her that moment or I would’ve done something she would’ve slapped me for. But her butt would not have been cold anymore. Crossing the living room, I made my way around the counter into the kitchen and grabbed the pot I filled before she showed up.
“Oh!” She exclaimed as she pulled up a stool on the other side of the counter. “You haven’t had supper yet, I’m sorry, I didn’t know I was interrupting.”
I started to tell her not to worry about it when she reached across the counter and placed her hand on my arm. “Did you want me to come back another time?” She asked as she leaned over the counter, giving me a clear view down her sweater. Fuck me, I thought as I pulled my arm away from her to grab my wine glass. She’s not wearing a bra!
“Tanner?” She raised a brow as I drained my glass. “Are you ok?”
“Yes.” I can tap Morse code on the counter with my cock. What do you think? “Would you like some wine?”
“Sure,” she flashed me a smile. “If you’re sure it’s ok I’m here.”
“It’s fine,” I told her as I pour a glass of wine for her and another for myself. “Have you had supper yet?”
“No, I haven’t. I was too nervous about seeing you again, I couldn’t eat.”
At least I wasn’t the only one. “Are you still nervous?”
Holding up her hand, she held her thumb and pointer finger apart about a centimetre. “A little,” she chuckled. “But it smells so good in here; my hunger is starting to overcome my nervousness.” She asked what I was making, when I told her, she groaned. “Sounds good Tanner,” she rubbed her stomach. “I like it when a man cooks, it’s so sexy.”
I stayed on my side of the counter for as long as I could. I wouldn’t dare go to her side because I knew nothing in the world would keep me from hauling her into my arms and kissing her senseless. But soon, I had dinner on and we were just sitting there, not saying anything at all.
“You have a nice place Tanner,” Sara said after a good five minutes of us just staring across the counter at each other. “Care to give me a tour?”
“Umm?” I watched her hop down from her stool and stare at me expectantly. “Sure, ok. A tour.” With my hands rammed into the pockets of my pj pants, I walked around the counter and started towards the front of my house. “Front door.”
“Yeah,” she slipped into step beside me. “I remember that well. I wasn’t sure you were going to answer, it seemed to take forever!”
“Uh huh,” I continued a little further down. At the end of the hall was the main bathroom, I stopped long enough to flip on the light and say bathroom before I started to move again.
“Wait a minute,” she grabbed hold of my arm. “I didn’t get a good look at it.”
“Sorry,” I mumbled as I went back and turned on the light for her again.
She walked into it, looked around and then turned towards me and said, “Nice,” before joining me in the hallway again. “What’s next?”
“Spare rooms,” I informed her as I flipped on the light in the first one. “Yeah,” I glanced at the mess of boxes. “I really haven’t gotten around to cleaning this one up yet but the other one is liveable. Travis keeps saying it’s his room…”
“Sometimes he crashes here when he goes out.”
“Ahhh,” she nodded her head. “It must be nice to live so close to the bars.”
I shrugged. “And you’ve seen the living room and kitchen.” I rambled as I walked through both. “This,” I paused by the back door. “Leads to my back yard.” Without giving a thought to the fact that it was minus 30 outside, I yanked the door open and let in a blast of cold air.
“It’s cold!” Sara exclaimed as she gripped my arm and hid behind my back.
“Sorry,” I slammed the door shut again and turned to her. “That’s my house.”
“You aren’t going to show me your room?”
One glance over my shoulder towards my room was all it took to make me think of not only showing her my room but also showing her the inside of my bed and how great it can be naked.
Thankfully, the oven timer went off.
Over dinner we talked about work, friends and family. There never seemed to be a moment of lull in our conversation until the last piece of food was put away and the dishes were done. Then, the kitchen seemed to become smaller as I stood there watching her return my dish towel to its rack. “So….Sara…”
I was going to ask her what she was doing here but the moment she turned around, I found myself asking if she had seen ‘The Dark Knight’ yet. “I bought it when it came out,” I rambled on, not letting her get a word in. “But I haven’t found time to watch it. Do you want to watch it? With me?”
Her eyes lit up. “Yes,” she grinned as she walked towards me. “But I have to admit, I’ve never been a huge Batman fan. I haven’t seen any of the movies at all.”
“You haven’t seen ‘Batman Begins’?”
She shook her head.
“Sara!” I sighed. “You have so much to learn!” Without thinking, I grabbed her by the hand and immediately felt a familiar shock go through my entire body. Stopping suddenly, I dropped her hand. “Sit on the couch, I’ll be back in a minute, the movies are in my room.”
“You know you can sit closer Tanner, I don’t bite.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure about that,” I muttered.
“What did you say?”
“Nothing.” I stared at the TV wishing the movie would hurry up and play. “You never said why you were here.” Turning towards her, I waited for an answer.
“Oh right,” she jumped off the couch, hurried towards the front door and grabbed the gift bag she came in with. “I totally forgot about this.”
“What is it?” I asked as she held it out to me.
“Open it and find out,” she smiled at me. “It’s a birthday-housewarming-Christmas-or whatever you’d like it to be gift.”
Taking the gift bag, I placed it at my feet. “How about an ‘I just wanted an excuse to visit you because I missed you’ gift?”
“Yes,” she nodded. “There’s that too.”
“I missed you.” I lowered my head and pulled the bag open, popping the tape she had holding it together. “It hasn’t been the same, I’ve felt like….” I trailed off as I pulled Sara’s gift out of the bag. “Baby?” I stared at her, shocked as I held another one of her homemade quilts in my hand.
Sinking to her knees in front of me, she brushed her hand over my cheek. “I missed you a lot. It was so hard to leave you even though I knew you were right, I wasn’t ready. There wasn’t a day that passed where I didn’t think about you and wish that I was stronger. I wanted to be with you but I knew I wouldn’t be doing either one of us a favour if I pretended that I was ok.”
“I didn’t want to push you away,” I whispered as her hand caressed my cheek.
“It was the hardest thing I ever had to do.”
“But you had too.”
I nodded, “I did. You needed….”
“To be me again.”
“Yeah,” I chuckled. “I was afraid you forgot about me. You never called me.”
Sara moved closer. “No, no Tanner. I could never forget you. You were strong when I needed you to be and you helped me see that I didn’t deserve all the crappy things that were going on. You helped me more than you’ll ever know.” Taking a deep breath, Sara sniffled, “I love you so much,” she whimpered. “I thought I lost you forever.”
“Lost….” I stared at her in disbelief. “Sara, come.” I pulled her off her knees and with her quilt in one hand; I led her down the hallway, towards my room. Flipping on the light, I swung her around in front of me and held her in my arms. “Baby,” I pressed my lips against her ear. “Do you understand?”
Wide eyed, hand over her mouth, Sara stepped out of my arms and headed towards my bed, where the first quilt she made me was spread out. “Oh Tanner…” Leaning over, she ran her hand over her handiwork.
It was too much for me to ignore. Dropping her new quilt, I went to her, my hands gripping her hips as I pulled her back against me. “You can only tease me for so long.”
“Tease you?” She laughed as she turned around in my arms. “Tanner, I don’t plan on just teasing.”
In the middle of the night, I woke up cold. I couldn’t understand it until I rolled onto my side and saw my little blanket thief sound asleep with her back to me. “Sara?” I kissed her bare shoulder. “Is that why you gave me the second quilt?”
She wiggled further into the cocoon she made with my blankets. I couldn’t help but chuckle, she had done the same thing to me when we went camping our first summer together. “You’re lucky I love you.”
“Yeah,” she turned her head towards me. “But you’re still not getting in my cocoon.”
“Oh really?” Grabbing her, I rolled her onto her back while crawling on top. “I believe I’ve gotten in there a couple times already and…” I paused to kiss her. “You loved it.”
“Tanner!” She slapped my shoulder. “God, you are such a pervert!”
“I know,” I nuzzled her neck. “You love that too.”
“Yeah,” she sighed as her arms snaked around my neck. “So?” She stroked her fingers through my hair. “Are you going to make me beg, or are you -?”
I cut her off with a kiss. “Let me in!” I hissed impatiently as I tore at my blankets. Even though, I saw her naked and explored every single inch of her body a couple times by this time, unwrapping her that time was just like the very first time.
The last sheet fell away from her flesh as she arched her body towards mine. Groaning softly, I gripped her sides, completely blown away, once again. “You are so beautiful Sara.”