#BlogBattle Week 13 – Rope: It Can Only Get Better

Happy Tuesday!!  Here’s my contribution to #BlogBattle.

#BlogBattle is a weekly short story challenge using a single word for inspiration.  Hosted by Rachael Ritchey.

 

It Can Only Get Better

Kate enters her apartment with a stack of mail.  She flips through the envelopes, letting them pile up on her desk to sort through later.  But the last envelope gives her pause, “Discover Card?” she says to herself. “I don’t have a Discover Card,” literally talking to herself.  She drops it on the pile with the others in exasperation.  This time she cries to the heavens, “How much more? I’m at the end of my rope here…barley hanging on by a thread!!”

As she gets ready for work, she thinks to herself, my life wasn’t supposed to be this way.  She fell in love, married young, started a family and was content to live her happily ever after.  How was she to know that her Prince Charming was really just a frog, with a wandering eye, and a compulsion for spending?  Oh, she knew…she saw the signs, but chose to ignore them.  What she didn’t see coming was him up and leaving her, just walking away, leaving her, the kids and a huge amount of debt.  She lets out a sigh, and says, “No time to dwell on the past, it has to get better.”  She laughs to herself and thinks she really needs to stop talking to herself.

It was super busy in the restaurant, she has no idea how many people she served during her shift, smiling and making small talk, but it helps pass the time quickly.  As she finishes up, she walks over to collect her tips, and several of the other servers are all crowded around her manager, Michelle, having a rather animated conversation. “What’s going on?” Kate asks as she approaches.

Michelle replies, “You might want to sit down for this.”

“Sit down for what?” She asks looking from Michelle to the other servers.

Michelle slowly says, “Someone left you a thousand dollar tip.”

“Yeah right.” Kate snickers.

“It’s true.”  Michelle contends as she hands Kate the receipt.  Next to the tip line, printed in neat handwriting she reads aloud, “Thank you.  Keep smiling, it brightened my day.”

Whoops and squeals sound from the small group.  Then the speculation begins of who could of left such a tip, and if it is indeed a secret admirer.

“It doesn’t matter who left it, I’m not looking for a man…I’m tired, and I’m going home.  Good night ladies.” Kate says cheerfully as she leaves.

* ~ *

Edward’s sister calls to see if he wants to go out to dinner.  “Sure, why not.” He replies.  He disconnects the call and thinks to himself, it’s a Friday night, and I’m having dinner with my sister.  This isn’t how his life was supposed to be.  But he can’t blame anyone but himself.  Why would his wife stick around when he was working all the time, and never home.  Ha!! A beautiful home only afforded by his hard work and long hours.  Once the kids were off to college, she decided to travel Europe, to find herself, to eat, pray and love…whatever that means.  He shakes his head, as if to clear this unproductive introspection.

The evening is enjoyable with his sister; the food is delicious as always.  What was especially intriguing to Edward was his server.  She introduces herself as Kate.  She has the most beautiful ocean blue eyes, that sparkle when she smiles.  His sister engages her in small talk, finding out she has a son in college and a daughter heading there in the fall.  Edward got the sense that she was the type of person that put everyone’s needs before her own.  He notices no wedding ring.

At the end of the meal Edward insists on paying, even though this obviously offends his sister, but he doesn’t care.  He waits in line to pay the check, and catches a glimpse of Kate, as she laughs and chats with the other servers.  Not an impulsive guy by nature, when it’s his turn to pay his check, he fills in the tip section with a generous amount and adds a note.  He realizes it’s been a long time since he has been attracted to a woman, and it really didn’t matter if anything came out of this.  She deserves a nice surprise; besides, he knew what it took to put kids through college.  It’s time he used his success for some good.

* ~ *

Sunday afternoon, Kate heads over to her friend’s house for a barbecue.  There was no getting out of it, Tori doesn’t take no for an answer.  She walks up to the beautiful house with the meticulous lawn, and heads towards the backyard where she can hear music playing.  Tori spots her right away and rushes over and gives her a big hug, talking a mile a minute, “Kate!! So glad you could make it.  Food is over there, drinks are over there.  Lisa is here too, she is saving a spot for you at her table over there.  I’ll catch up with you later, there’s someone I want to introduce you to.”  Ugh, she’s playing matchmaker again.

The food is delicious, and Kate enjoys catching up with Lisa. Tori comes over, and grabs Kate by the arm.  “Come with me, there’s someone I want you to meet.”

We walk up to a handsome man, who is dressed like he just stepped out of Tommy Bahama catalogue, looks to be a few years older than Kate. Tori says, “Edward Lewis this is Kate Foster, my dear friend I was telling you about.”  She says to Kate,  “Edward is good friends with the hubby.  You two enjoy yourself, I need to check on the food.” She quickly disappears with a dramatic flourish of her hand and a “Ta-Ta.”

“Is it me, or do you feel like this was a complete set up?” Edward says conspiratorially.

“I agree totally.  She feels it’s her duty…helping the single friend,” Kate admits with a laugh.

“Yes, I know what you mean, same here.” Trying to diminish the awkwardness Edward says,  “Well…I was heading over to see their solarium, it’s actually roped off to the other guests, but Tori’s hubby told me to go check it out,” He smiles and shrugs his shoulders playfully saying, “What…I know a guy. Come join me.”

Laughing at his silly attempt to impress her, Kate says, “Sure, how could I possibly resist.”

As she turns to walk towards the solarium, he gently puts his hand on the small of her back to guide her through the crowd.  She tries to hide the affect that simple gesture has on her.

Once in the solarium they find a bench, sit down and continue to talk.  The conversation flows easily between them.  Kate finds herself genuinely having a good time, it’s been so long since she has felt like this.

Edward interrupts her musings saying, “I have really enjoyed your company, Kate, I hope we can get together again.  We can take it one day at a time, no expectations.  I would much rather go out to dinner with you than my sister.” He quietly laughs.

“That sounds like something I’d be interested in,” she casually says as she flashes him one of her smiles.

He briefly closes his eyes and slightly shakes his head and says, “You are truly beautiful Kate, and that smile of yours, it just brightens my day.”

Her heart almost stops, barely getting the words out she says, “What did you just say?”

He looks at her intently, answering the question she didn’t ask, “Yes, Kate.  Your smile brightens my day.” With a knowing smile, he gives her a wink as he takes her hand.

 

© 2015 Carrie Ann

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