Catch of the Day

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Author’s Note

Another sappy romance that begins in a restaurant. This is starting to become a habit with me. This tale is just a less than twenty-four hour slice of life with a nice ending.

Enjoy!

WaxPhilosophic

*

Catch of the Day

I tug at the cuffs of my long-sleeved shirt, to pull them past my wrists, hiding the ugly marks on my arms. Normally, I’m not very self-conscious about my scars anymore—it’s been almost ten years since I put them there—but normally, I’m not quite so invested in a customer’s opinion of me.

“Hi.” I shoot her a quick glance, and settle my eyes back on the counter top, picking up a cloth to wipe away some unseen smudge.

“Hey,” she says, smiling in her easy manner.

“The special again?” I ask, “Or would you like to look at the lunch menu?”

“The special,” she replies, taking a seat at the counter and pulling out her phone to entertain herself, while I hand her order off to the kitchen.

I take this brief opportunity to study her again. It’s one of my guilty pleasures, tracing out the line of her strong jaw, her tanned face and honey lips, and those cute little freckles sprinkled on her nose. She doesn’t even see me, she’s so engrossed, grinning at some random social media post.

I haven’t gotten up the nerve to ask her what kind of work she does, but I assume it’s in the tourist trade just like me. I’ve never seen her here outside of the summer months, and she always comes in wearing a uniform of navy blue slacks, and a crisp white button-down shirt, with a cap tucked under her arm. My guess is some kind of tour guide.

I fill a glass with ice water and slide it over to her. She flashes me a smile and goes back to her phone. I go back to tidying up the counter, trying to limit my staring to the occasional glance from the corner of my eye.

“Order up,” I hear, and turn to the window that separates me from the kitchen. I tug at my sleeves again, hiding as much skin as I can before delivering the order.

“One seafood chowder,” I say, pronouncing it chow-dah, just like a local should. “And one side salad.”

The salad’s not really part of the special, but I’ve been slipping it in for every one of her orders at no charge. I justify it because she’s a regular, but if I’m being honest, it’s really because it keeps her in here, sitting at my lunch counter, just a little bit longer.

“Thanks,” she says, slipping her phone back into her pocket. “Wanna take me for ice cream when you’re done here? I’m off at five.”

I stare at her for a second, frozen in my tracks. No way did she say what I think she did. Me. Her. Ice cream.

“Sorry?” I say.

“Mm,” she says, holding up her finger while she finishes chewing a slice of green pepper. “I thought maybe you’d want to take me for an ice cream after you get off work.”

I stare like an idiot.

“Look,” she says, “I’ve been eating here long enough to know that the special doesn’t include a side salad, but somehow, whenever you’re working, it always appears. And I never get charged for it.”

She levels her gaze directly at me.

“So, I figure either your Aunt May hasn’t trained you very well for your current position in her diner, or you’re giving me free salads on purpose.”

I can feel the heat rising in my cheeks, and don’t even need a mirror to know that I must be three shades of pink right now. “Um…”

“Hey, it’s cool,” she says, smiling, “we’re both young and attractive. Why not?”

“Um.” God I love that smile.

“What time are you done? Eight o’clock?”

“Seven-thirty. And it’s Aunt Sarah,” I say, “Aunt May is a character from Spiderman. My aunt’s name is Sarah.”

“Ooh, a comic book nerd, too. Serendipity.” She lays a ten on the bar, enough to cover the meal and leave a decent tip. “Be back at seven-thirty to pick you up. I’m Kaitlin, by the way.”

“Jackie.”

I stand, slack-jawed as she walks through the door. What just happened here?

* * *

“You want me to wait up for you?” Aunt Sarah smiles, as I hang up my apron, “Or should I just leave the porch light on?”

“What?” I shrug. “It’s just ice cream.” I’m try to play coy, but after five summers of working here, Aunt Sarah knows me pretty well.

“Mm-hmm. I’ll leave the light on.”

* * *

Right on time, Kaitlin pulls up in an old red Subaru that looks and sounds like it’s seen better days. I tug at my sleeves one more time, as she jumps out to open the door for me.

“Your carriage awaits, my lady.” Kaitlin says with a flourish and a deep bow in my direction.

I can’t help but grin a little at her antics, but the gesture is polite and touching. “Thank you.”

“I promise I’ll still take you for ice cream, but I’d really like to head up the mountain to watch the sunset, if you’re okay with that.”

“Um…”

“Great.” She smiles. “Hop in. We gotta hurry or we’ll miss it.”

I do as she asks, and she runs around to the casino şirketleri other side of the car. Before I even get buckled in, we’re heading north on Highway One.

“This is great,” she says. “I’ve been working here for two summers now and I’ve never had an urge to do any of the touristy stuff.”

“What exactly do you do?” I say. “You’re always dressed so nice when you come in.”

“I’m a whale watching guide,” she says. “Cap’n Dave’s Whale Watching Tours. You heard of it?”

I nod.

“This is Cap’n Dave’s car by the way. If it were mine, we’d totally be eating ice cream right now. But, alas, Cap’n Dave prefers his upholstery to be ship shape and food free. He also doesn’t know I have his car.”

I can’t help but laugh. “You stole your boss’s car? To take me up the mountain. To watch the sunset.”

“Yep. Pretty much.” She stops at a T-intersection and looks both ways before turning right to head over the bridge. “Cap’n Dave’s also like my twenty-seventh cousin, once removed, or something. So it’s cool. We’re family.”

I let out a little snort of a laugh, and then lean back, cradled by the headrest, to enjoy the cool evening air on my face. Even with the car’s noisy exhaust system, it’s peaceful.

I glace over at Kaitlin on my left as I wonder which deity I have to thank for this spontaneous outing we’re undertaking. Not only is she cute, but I’m beginning to think that underneath her normal buttoned up facade, she’s maybe a slightly unhinged. But, in a good way.

“How did you get to be a whale watching tour guide?”

“I’m majoring in marine biology at the university down in Portland. I spend my summers here,” she says. “That, and I don’t get seasick very easily. That’s a plus.”

“I suppose it helps.”

“Mm-hmm. So what’s the story with you and Aunt Bee?” she asks.

“Aunt Sarah.”

“Sure, whatever.”

“Just kind of hanging out. Until I figure out what I’m doing with my life.”

Kaitlin swings the car into the parking lot as the bottom of the sun touches the horizon. “Just made it,” she says, and we pile out.

There is a small crowd already here, probably all tourists by the looks of the rental cars and out of state plates. Kaitlin takes me by the hand and urgently pulls me toward the walking path. I shiver just a little at her bold touch, but she doesn’t seem to notice.

The sunset is beautiful. It’s probably beautiful every night, but I’ve never taken the time to notice it before. Kaitlin is still holding my hand, even though we’ve gone as far as we can on the short walking trail.

“Nice,” is all she says. And for a while we both just stare out into the rich pinks and oranges, then finally the deep blues, that color the evening sky and its wispy clouds.

“I’m trying to be more spontaneous,” Kaitlin says, completely unprompted. “Get out and have fun. Do things I wouldn’t normally do.”

“Like asking a girl to have ice cream and then dragging her off to watch a sunset instead?” I’m grinning and tugging at her fingers as I turn to face her.

“Yeah, kinda like that.” Kaitlin tugs back, pulling me closer. She gives me a little peck on the cheek. “I’ll still buy you ice cream though.”

I stand, in stunned silence, thinking about how many times this moment has played out in my mind, as I watched Kaitlin—a woman whose name I didn’t even know until today—from the other side of the counter in my aunt’s diner.

I screw up all the courage I can muster, and kiss her back, right on those honey lips this time.

“This is nice,” I say, kicking a toe at the gravel path under my feet, to shy to look at her face, my sudden burst of courage exhausted.

Kaitlin tugs at my hand again. “Wanna make out in the car?”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah. Just don’t drool on the upholstery. Cap’n Dave will have a fit.”

I smile and traipse along beside her as we head down the path.

“I feel like such a teenager,” she says.

I eagerly nod my agreement.

* * *

The windows have been completely fogged over for the last thirty minutes or so, and I can’t see if there are any cars left in the parking area or not. I don’t really care, either. Just a bunch of tourists I’ll never see again, I tell myself. And I’m making out with my dream girl.

Kaitlin’s got one hand still wrapped in my hair, and the other wandering over my thigh, edging higher, but still keeping a respectful distance. I find myself wishing, just a little, that she weren’t so respectful. And also that we were in the back seat, so that I wouldn’t have the center console poking at my ribs every time I lean in for another smooch.

“You take a lot of girls up here?” I tease, and tug at her lower lip with my teeth.

“Nope, just you.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, really. I told you, I’m trying to be more spontaneous.” She kisses me again.

“So you just picked some random girl—”

Kaitlin laughs. “Random girl, I like that.”

“What?”

“You really think your Aunt casino firmaları Esther’s seafood chowder is what keeps me coming back to the diner everyday?”

“Aunt Sarah,” I manage to say, but my heart is racing, and not just from the kissing. She’s been coming in to see me?

“But you always have your nose buried in your phone.”

Kaitlin leans in to give me a peck on the cheek. Another follows, closer to my ear this time. By the time she nips my earlobe, and I feel her hot breath on my neck, I’ve forgiven any of her previous social faux pas in the diner. I shudder just a little.

“I couldn’t just stare,” she whispers, “you’d think I was a perv. Besides, I enjoy watching you sneak peeks at me when you think I’m not looking.”

“You saw that?” I slap her lightly on shoulder. “And you never said anything?”

Kaitlin’s pulls away, but she’s grinning like a fool, and her hand is still warm on my thigh. “I had to see how you interacted with the boys before I was sure.”

“Oh,” I say, before leaning in to that rib-smashing center console again to take Kaitlin’s face in my hands. “Is that all?”

I attack her mouth with gusto, and I feel her hand inching ever higher, toward my waistband. I’m nervous about what she’ll think if she tries to slip her hand under my shirt, so I push her gently away. I’m not ready to explain my aversion to being shirtless quite yet. Though the hand on my thigh… that could go on all night as far as I’m concerned.

But there’s a glare of a flashlight and a tap on the side window glass, and Kaitlin and I sit upright with a start.

“Park’s closed, kids. Time to go home.” It’s a man’s voice, who I can only assume is the park ranger, thinking he’s interrupted some horny teenagers.

I giggle. “Busted,” I say.

Kaitlin’s grin stretches a mile wide as she turns the key to fire up the noisy engine.

“Ice cream?” she says.

I nod and lean back into my seat.

* * *

We sit at one of the little sidewalk tables for two, under a string of bare bulb patio lights, staring at each other over little dishes of rapidly melting ice cream. I’ve got chocolate, and she’s dragging her spoon through some strange creation called lobster tracks. I still can’t believe that this girl I’ve been fawning over for weeks is sitting here with me, and that we just made out in her car after watching the sunset. Well, technically Cap’n Dave’s car, but still.

“What are you grinning about?” she says.

“Nothing. Just thinking about getting busted by the park ranger.”

“Kinda fun, wasn’t it.” Kaitlin is smirking around a spoonful of ice cream. Her eyes twinkle with the string of lights overhead.

I nod, and she reaches across the table to cover my hand with hers.

“Listen, I’ve got to sneak Cap’n Dave’s car back, but if you want to stick around, I know the best little place to have breakfast while we watch the sun rise.”

“Oh yeah, where’s that?”

I’m half expecting her to say something cheeky, like my Aunt Harriet’s diner, but she just extends her index finger and points into the air above.

I shrug. “The clouds? On the moon?”

“My apartment. It’s right above the ice cream shop. It looks out over the bay, and it really does have the best view of the sunrise—”

“You’re asking me to spend the night?”

“If you want to.” She’s not grinning this time, and she’s not really looking me in the eye anymore. “We’re both young, attractive—”

“And you’re trying to be more spontaneous.”

“Right.”

“I don’t know if I can. I—I mean I like you, you’re fun…”

“I know,” she says. “But you’ve got scars.”

I pull my hand back. My chest tightens, and for a moment I find it hard to breathe. Did my sleeve slip at some point this evening so that she could see?

“Deep emotional scars,” she continues, “from your last relationship. That’s always the way it is. All the cute ones are either taken, or somebody’s made them afraid—”

“It’s not that.”

“This doesn’t have to be a thing, you know,” she says, reaching my hand again. “It can just be two people sharing a night.”

Kaitlin extends her other hand now and wraps mine between hers while putting on the cutest little pout. I fixate on her lips, not knowing if her expression is manufactured or not, but I’m finding it hard to resist either way.

“It’s up to you,” she says, “but I wasn’t kidding about the Eggs Benedict.”

Oh God, what do I do here? I decide to take the direct approach. “There’s something you need to see first,” I say, and drop her one hand to begin pulling up the sleeve of my shirt. Even in the dim light, the three parallel pink lines on my forearm are visible.

“Okay…?” she says.

“It wasn’t an accident,” I say.

“Well, they say if you’re serious, you go lengthwise.” She lays her hand gently on my wrist. “I’ve had my own little incident with sleeping pills. I’m not judging.”

Seriously? That’s it? That’s all the reaction I’m going to get? güvenilir casino That’s what’s running through my mind, but I say nothing.

“It doesn’t matter to me,” she says, “but if you’d feel less self-conscious by leaving your shirt on, that’s fine. As long as your pants land on my floor within the next hour and stay there.”

I burst out with a wholly unattractive snort of a laugh. “Where’ve you been all my life?”

“In your Aunt Clara’s restaurant, working up my courage while getting fat on her seafood chowder.”

“Aunt Sarah,” I say, smiling. “And I seriously doubt that.”

“What?”

“You needing to work up any courage.”

“I told you, I’m trying to be more spontaneous.”

I nod vigorously. “Let’s finish up this ice cream and go be spontaneous together.”

“Sweet,” she says, tightening her hold on my hand, “but I really should sneak Cap’n Dave’s car back before he realizes it’s gone.”

I slowly shake my head and grin. She’s a mad woman.

* * *

We’re standing in the alley, Kaitlin and me. Both front doors of Cap’n Dave’s Subaru are wide open, and we’re bracing ourselves against the door frames. The engine is off, sparing us the usual noise.

“Just give it a shove, and then jump in,” Kaitlin says. “It’s all down hill from here.”

“Okay.”

It takes a bit to get the car rolling from a dead stop, but once it’s going I’m finding it hard to keep up.

“Jump in!” Kaitlin hollers, and we both pile in, slamming the doors behind us, laughing like idiots.

“Shh,” Kaitlin says, biting her lip.

Without the laughter, all I can hear is the pounding of my own heart and the crunch of gravel under the tires, as Kaitlin expertly steers us down the modest hill and into the back parking area of Cap’n Dave’s Whale Watching Tours. With a slight squeak of the brakes, the roller coaster ride is over.

“Oh, my God,” I say.

“Shh,” is all I get in return. That, and Kaitlin urging me out of the car, toward the sidewalk in front.

“Just act casual,” she says. “I’m going to put the keys back.”

I raise my hand to cover my mouth. Just in time, too, as I snort another laugh. Act casual. Right. I pace for a good thirty seconds, trying to figure out how I’m going to pull that off before Kaitlin’s back, grabbing my hand and pulling me along with her. She tears headlong down the sidewalk, our feet pound on the concrete as I struggle to keep up.

“That was not very casual,” I say, as we stop in front of the ice cream shop again, both of us bent forward, huffing and grinning like idiots.

“I know,” she says, holding her side, “we should have done our sprinting before the ice cream.”

“You gonna make it?” I tease.

“I’m fine,” she says before straightening up and taking my hand again. “You?”

I nod, and she leads us over to a covered stairway to the side and behind the little ice cream shop. I follow her upstairs on wobbly legs. The night so far has been like a dream come true. I only hope it continues that way.

* * *

“Mmph,” I mumble into Kaitlin’s mouth, as her tongue continues exploring. I trail my fingers over her short cropped hair and try to maintain my composure. If her mouth never left mine until the morning, it would be enough to make me happy. Just Kaitlin and me, sprawled over her couch, lips locked together.

But Kaitlin’s got other things in mind. Just like she told me, she really is trying to get my pants on the floor. I reach down to help her pop the button, as I feel the butterflies doing cartwheels in my tummy. And, if I’m being honest, there’s another group doing cartwheels a little lower, too. I start to shiver.

“You okay?” she asks.

I nod, and pull at the back of her head to mash our lips together once again. And true to her word, Kaitlin is tugging at my waistband. With a little help from me, my pants hit the floor, the keys in my pocket jangling as they do. I’m left with nothing but a long-sleeved t-shirt, a pair of soaking panties, and a grin a mile wide.

I feel her fingers grazing lightly over my thigh, just like earlier in the car, except this time there’s nothing in between as her skin brushes against mine. I arch my back and let out a slow shuddering sigh. Also true to her word, she has never tried to coax me out of my shirt, and I feel that I’m able to let myself go just a little more, trusting this woman who has me in such a state.

Kaitlin moves back.

“Where are you going?” I say. Kaitlin is sliding off of me, and I’m afraid I may have done something to send her crashing to the floor.

“Shh,” she says, nuzzling her cheek against the inside of my thigh. “You’ll see. Sit up a little for me, okay?”

“Okay…”

It’s not until I feel her tugging at my panties with her teeth, that I understand what’s happening. After that, I let myself slump down in the seat of the couch, with my butt nearly hanging over the edge, as Kaitlin slips my underwear off to toss aside with my jeans.

“Oh, God,” spouts from my lips in a shuddering breath.

Kaitlin’s mouth is on my inner thigh now. The same place her fingers were playing before, is now hosting her lips and her tongue. I feel a twinge deep down inside as Kaitlin coaxes my knees apart to expose me further.

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