Posts tagged “picnic

Her Champion: Chapter 4

Posted on 28/05/2013


“Our date. Not mine.” He led her through the open gate and up the sloped path toward a patch of open grass on top of the gently rounded hill where he laid out the blanket.

”Nice view,” Tamar said quietly  placing the bag on the middle of the blanket, her eyes scanning the wide open space. She could breathe freely here. Her spine relaxed and she took a deep breath, releasing it slowly. ”Very nice.”

“I’m glad you like it.” He busied himself opening the containers of food and laying them out, pulling out plates and silverware while she took in their venue for the evening. “Get comfortable.”

The tantalizing spices and herbs from their meal pulled her in and Tamar settled on the other side of the food, watching him set the silverware. The corner of her lips curled up in contained amusement, watching him. He was either an extremely friendly guy or he was a very bored one. Cute too. She pulled her eyes back to the food. ”Chicken marsala?”

“See something you like?” he asked innocently, unpacking cups and a chilled jug of lemonade before looking up to meet her eyes.

”I like this,” she pointed to the uncovered marsala dish in front of her.

He reached for her plate and started to scoop some of the chicken marsala onto it. He paused to look up at her. “You’re not on a diet or anything like that, are you?”

One brow cocked up. ”Do I look like I’m on one?” Tamar laughed softly, reaching for her plate. ”I can get my own food.”

“I’m not going to get my tongue all tied up trying to answer that. There’s no right answer.” He pulled back to pour the drinks, a smile tugging at his lips. Her laugh was soft and pretty when she let herself laugh. No high pitched giggle or annoying cackle.

”Smart boy,” Tamar answered, dishing out some of the other pasta dish. Then she paused, frowning lightly at the cup. ”Do you have water?” Her eyes lifted to his face. ”I’m on a diet.”

He lifted his head and his eyes traced lightly over her body. It was hard to tell with the baggy shirt but from what he’d seen during their last two meetings, she filled out in all the right places despite her petiteness. “You’re kidding.”

Tamar’s eyes narrowed as his gaze traveled from her head to her toes,  warm shiver skittering up spine. ”Eyes on me, Casanova.” A cool evening breeze swept over her head tugging at her hair. ”And I was joking. My drink please,” she said sternly, extending a hand out.

“They are.” He bit back a smile and let his eyes trail back up to her face, amused by her pointed glare. “You make a comment like that and any healthy man is going to do the same check,” he offered in his defense and handed her a cup.

Tamar rolled her eyes and lifted the cup to her lips, eying his amused expression. She lowered the cup. ”What happened to you being a gentleman?” She asked, reminding him of his comment on their first meeting.

“The difference is, I was looking for the sake of your health. I had to evaluate if it would be in your best interest to be dieting.”

She shook her head, licking the sweet juice at the rim of her cup. ”You have an answer for everything, don’t you?”

He focused on the pasta he was scooping onto his plate, anything to avoid watching her lick the edge of that cup. She was dressed in an outfit a kid wouldn’t even attempt and with those thick lime frames covering her face. There shouldn’t be anything attractive about her. Watching her lick the rim should have been awkward, not unsettling. “I’m just being honest with you.”

”I s’pose I can’t hold that against you, can I?” Tamar lowered the cup and reached for a fork. ”Since we’re being honest, mind if I give it a shot?”

He glanced up warily, lightly stabbing his pasta with his fork. “Go for it.”

”Are you a Richie or something? Are you here on a full scholarship or is Daddy paying your way through. Because even if I had a bucket full of spare change, I couldn’t afford to waste it on this running joke.” She eyed him over her pasta.

“A richie,” he repeated quietly, setting his plate down. She had no idea how far from the truth she was despite the fact he did indeed have a full ride to Covington. “No. I don’t understand why you insist on calling this a joke or a spring project. Why can’t I just be a guy taking you out because I want to get to know you better?”

”Tell me, Dylan, if you and I were in a cafeteria with normal people, say your friends and instead of half-drooling primped girls ogling you all over, would you still cross the room and come to me?” Her brows lifted. ”I don’t know who you are and I was probably a safer choice to the pack of squealing girls in that class, right?”

He frowned at her. “Fine. If we’d been in a cafeteria like that? No. I didn’t want anybody hanging all over me while I was trying to get through the class and get out. So I came to you because I didn’t think you would. And you proved me right. You were supposed to be a class associate. You weren’t supposed to be…interesting.”

The corner of her lips worked up a half-smirk. ”I’m anything but boring. Didn’t the hair and clothes clue you in?”

“Right but it wasn’t supposed to be interesting to me,” he tried to explain. “No offense. I just didn’t plan on…wanting to get to know you.”

“So my irresistible wit reeled you in,” Tamar supplied casually, lifting a forkful of pasta to her mouth. She chewed slowly while watching his eyes, realizing now that this costume probably wouldn’t do the job after all.

He smiled. “What can I say? You’re amazing, Your Highness.”

Her cheeks flared visibly and she laughed it off, lifting a hand to push the stubborn now-curly strands from her face. “Anyone tell you about your smooth mouth?” She held up a hand, realizing her words. “You know what, don’t tell me. I can already imagine just how many have.” Retrieving her fork, she took another bite of the food and shifted her gaze over his shoulder to uniformed soccer players moving to the middle of the field. Her brows rose silently. A night soccer game?

“You think I’m that smooth?” he asked picking his plate back up. “Let me guess. You think I run around campus trying to chat up every girl I see huh?”

Tamar smirked, drawing her knees up to her chest and propped her elbows there. “No comment.”

He shook his head, rolling his eyes. “Clearly, since it took me all morning to get all those girls numbers. Good to know you think so highly of me.”

“You’re welcome. I had a feeling I wasn’t the first girl you ever crooned to,” Tamar replied just as easily, watching as the teams split and moved to either end of the field.

He leveled his gaze on her. “I only wanted one number that morning but somebody took off before I could get it.”

She dragged her eyes over her shoulder to look at him curiously. “Whose, Mrs. Neilson’s? You could’ve just asked her. Heads up though, I think she’s married.” The corner of her lips curled up.

“Very funny, Tamar. You know who I’m talking about, but it’s okay because I’ve got her here with me now.”

“Not for long,” Tamar replied as she pushed herself off the blanket. “It’s getting late.”

“We haven’t talked about where we’re going from here,” he prompted her innocently.

“Going from where?” Her brow furrowed slightly. “I already told you. One date, which we just had.”

“Now I’m making you another offer. Another date.”

She blinked at him, disbelief in her eyes. “Are you serious?”

“And this time, you won’t try to scare me off with crazy outfits,” he added with a knowing smirk. “I want to get to know you. Not the ‘weird girl’ you’re trying to make this about.”

“This is how I dress,” Tamar replied without missing a beat. She pushed her curly hair from her face, mentally shaking her head that even her hair was not following the plan. “What is this about? I can give you my resume and a short biography if you’re that curious. Why waste your time with the other stuff?”

He stretched his legs out and looked up at her. “It’s my time. Let me use it how I want.  I already told you. I want to get to know you. Why’s that a big deal?”

Tamar rolled her eyes. “I’m not any different on paper as I am in flesh. Tell you what I’ll do for you. Give me your email address, I’ll draft my entire biography and send it to you. Big deal taken care of.” She folded her arms across her chest, frowning down at him.

“I’m not a big fan of reading. Besides, that’s no fun. I want to figure it out myself. If you’re no different on paper, you won’t mind me figuring you out in person.”

Eying him warily, Tamar knew she couldn’t win this time. She’d have to retreat to her room and plot some more. “I’ll think about it,” she rescinded, lowering her hands to her side.

“You’ll give me your number, right? Just so I can check in while you’re thinking. Wouldn’t want you to come up with the wrong answer.”

Tamar laughed aloud. She couldn’t help it. “You don’t lay off, do you?” She sighed. “Well, it’s too bad. I don’t have a phone to my name.” Lowering back onto the blanket, she began putting up the food containers into the bag. “Come on, let’s go. It’s getting dark.”

“Does that mean you have a phone to someone else’s name?” he challenged easily. “Come on Tamar, I promise I won’t tell anybody if you give me an inch or two.

Her hands stilled and she shook her head incredulously, staring up at him. She hadn’t expected him to be so quick on his feet. “And do you promise not to take a mile if I do that? And yes, it is in someone else’s name.”

“What do you consider a mile?” he asked playfully.

“I refuse to answer that.” Tamar nudged his leg by hers. “Move it.”

He leaned over to pull his phone from his back pocket. Unlocking it, he passed it to her. “You first.”

<<Chapter 3 || Chapter 5>>

Her Champion: Chapter 3

Posted on 25/05/2013


Bekah sat cross-legged on the bed and watched Tamar cross the room, lugging an armful of clothes to stand in front of the mirror. She lifted her Chupa-Chups lollipop from her mouth, smacking her lips. “If you didn’t care so much about it, why are you trying on every outfit in your closet?”

Tamar scowled at Bekah’s reflection. “I don’t care. That’s why I’m trying on every outfit in my closet.” She pulled up a lime-green turtleneck.

“That’s hideous.”

“Exactly.” Tamar’s grin widened, tossing the turtleneck over her shoulder onto the bed.

Bekah scoffed incredulously. “Come on, Tamar. What’s the big deal? It’s just one date.”

“And I have to give him the message since he won’t get it,” Tamar rolled her eyes, lifting another paisley blouse in front of her chest.

“Didn’t you wear similar to that on your first meeting and he still wouldn’t leave you alone?” Bekah smirked. “Come on. You could probably wear a burlap sack over your head and he’d still talk to you.”

”Burlap sack dress… Rats, I should’ve thought about that.”

”Tamar, what–?”

”If you’re not going to help, go back to your place and study then,” Tamar said sternly, glaring back at her. “Shouldn’t you be helping me? Bring out your hideous clothes.”

Bekah folded her arms. “All my hideous clothes are in the wash. Sorry.”

“Of course they are…” Tamar glanced once at the clock and shook her head. Two more hours. Enough time to work on her hair. “Want to help me with straightening my hair?”

“Not a chance.” Bekah scooted off the bed, grabbing the clothes from Tamar’s arm. “Just wear something nice and be nice. If he likes you, what’s the big deal?”

“It’s a big deal, Bekah.” Tamar tugged the clothes back toward her chest. “I don’t need the extra trouble and you know it.”

Bekah’s gaze softened on her younger cousin’s face and she loosened her hold. “Tamar, that was two years ago. Things have changed. Besides, I don’t think this Sinatra guy will hurt you.”

Tamar stiffened under her cousin’s coddling tone. “I didn’t say anything about that. Look, I just don’t want any drama.” She spun around toward the bathroom. “Now will you help me fix my hair or do I have to do it myself?”

“Ugh, you’ll only make a mess of it. That curly mess can’t be tamed!” Bekah started after her.

Two hours later and Bekah regarded her cousin with a critical eye. “This is… not a good idea, Tamar.”

Tamar stepped up to the mirror and nodded in approval at her reflection. Her curly hair, now straight, hung over her shoulders. A color and pattern riot explained her outfit. Black and blue plaid high-waisted thrifted pants with a purple and pink polka-dot silk blouse that practically hung over Tamar’s slim shoulders. Bangles adorned her slender arms and she wore green loafers, her most comfortable pair of shoes besides her sneakers.

Bekah clucked her tongue as Tamar tugged at one stubborn strand of hair already springing back into a curl. “I feel so bad for Sinatra… So very bad.”

“I’m doing him a favor, don’t feel bad for him.” Tamar glanced once at her analog clock and frowned. Five minutes till seven. “Time to head down. Wish me luck.”

“I’ll be praying for you, dear cousin,” Bekah straightened an another curling strand of hair from Tamar’s face. “I give you an hour tops before your hair rebels against you.”

“That’s long enough to be back home,” Tamar called over her shoulder as she headed out the door to meet Dylan downstairs. Eyes of her dormmates peeled off whatever they were occupied in and turned to stare at her all the way down to the lobby. Tamar didn’t mind it as long as it did its job. She reached the front of the lobby and exited the building, walking over to perch on the bench, folding her hands on her lap expectantly.

Dylan glanced at his watch as he started up the sidewalk from the parking lot. Four minutes. He smiled. He’d made good time. Convincing Tonio to change their plans hadn’t been easy and he knew there would be an interrogation when he returned. It would be worth it though. He tugged absently at the navy blue pullover layered over his collared polo.

He had just rounded the building when he spotted a collage of colors. It could be described no other way; pinks, purples, greens, blues, blacks. He was almost certain the entire rainbow was present in the one outfit.  His gaze shifted up to take in the long straight hair and he frowned when he recognized Tamar.  Her style was eccentric, yes, but this was more than that. This was just plain tacky.

“Couldn’t decide on a color scheme?” he asked as he approached. He hadn’t want to scare her off with formal flowers and had settled on a lone daisy. Given how she’d dressed, he thought the decision a good one. “This’ll add some color.”

Tamar warily eyed the delicate flower he held out to her before looking up at his steady gray gaze. Her brow furrowed as her cheeks tingled under her freckled skin. Reluctantly, she accepted the flower before speaking. ”You came…”

“We agreed on seven.” His eyes raked over her outfit again and he shook his head. She was determined to make the situation about her being the “weird girl”, he realized. He had never seen a woman try so hard to avoid his attention. He would’ve walked away from the entire situation if she hadn’t made him so curious as to why. “You ready?”

”We did.” Tamar narrowed her eyes at him suspiciously from his put-together outfit.

A rich loafer, she decided and steeled her resolve. He was obviously taken aback by her choice of clothes but was being very polite not to say  anything or back out…yet. ”Where are we going? Hope you’re not thinking to take me to some stuffy eat-out place?” she made sure her voice conveyed disdain, her eyes refusing to look away.

He grinned and just barely resisted offering his hand, recalling how she felt about people touching her. “No, I had something better in mind. Are you going to come and see or criticize my possible plans all night?”

”Choice number two sounds so appealing…” She stood to her feet, smoothening the high waisted pants. ”But I guess I could just see what you have in mind first.”

He bowed at the waist. “Thank you, Your Highness, for gracing me with your presence,” he drawled as he straightened. “Your chariot is in the back.”

”You’re most welcome, Sir Noble Sinatra,” Tamar couldn’t resist with a smile tucked in her cheek as she walked ahead of him toward the noted chariot.

He laughed and fell into step beside her. “So you do like my singing. Knew it. You’re not fooling me,” he warned unlocking the car and opening the passenger side door for her.

Tamar paused hesitantly and glanced up at him before looking down at the seat. Telling herself this was different, she ducked inside the car. You’re a different person now. He’s not…him!

Dylan climbed in on the driver’s side and started the car, giving Tamar a quick glance before swinging into reverse. He wondered what she would think of the night he had planned. The thought she’d react negatively entered his head. He cleared his throat. “How was the rest of your day?”

Tamar glanced at him from the corner of one eye. ”Fine,” she answered after a thoughtful pause. ”Did you help an old lady cross the street and feed the homeless before coming to pick me up?”

“No. That’s scheduled for tomorrow after I help an elderly couple put their groceries away. Only you can make that sound like a bad thing,” he added with an amused smirk as he pulled into traffic, heading for the Mediterranean Vineyard.

”Nope. All are noble causes,” she said pointedly. ”Some more than others but all the same, noble. You get three gold stars for your effort.”

“How generous of you. How many until I get a reward?”

”Don’t get greedy,” she replied, staring it into the traffic. ”Besides, I think you might want to ask God about that, not me.”

“You’re the one handing out stars. You can’t give a man a reward system and expect him not to want to know about the next level, Tamar.”

Tamar smirked. ”I only hand out stars. Take it or leave it.” She peered out the window, taking note of the sign just up ahead. ”The Vineyard? Sounds fancy.” She couldn’t help but wonder to herself how many of his other company had come here with him.

“Stop trying to figure it out and just experience it,” he scolded gently as he pulled into a parking space and opened the door. “Wait right here.” He didn’t wait for her agreement. He got out of the car and jogged into the restaurant.

Tamar heaved a sigh once he was out of sight. ”This is hard work…” She glanced out the window at the wide expanse of sky and shook her head, pulling her gaze down to her hands resting on her lap. She wanted to take his advice and enjoy it but something nagged at the back of her mind, telling her to keep her guard in place. Her conscience won.

Dylan jogged back to the car a few minutes later, setting a bag filled with food containers in the backseat and settling back in his seat. “Now we’re ready.”

Tamar raised a brow at the takeout bag and hid a smile. So he was affected by her choice of dress after all. Why else would he bring the food to her instead of taking her inside? No doubt everyone inside was dressed more formally. One score for Tamar. She leaned back in her seat and folded her arms. ”You’re presumptuous, Sinatra…”

“Ah, what did I do now?” He pulled out of the parking lot and into traffic once more, heading for their final destination.

”You didn’t even ask what I wanted to eat,” Tamar replied, feigning a pout although the aroma from the food assaulted her nostrils, tantalizing her empty stomach.

“You strike me as the kind of girl who could use a surprise or two. I got enough. You’ll be able to find something you like,” he assured her as he pulled out of traffic to start down a quieter road.

A quick retort died in her throat as she took note of the secluded road. Her shoulders tensed and she slowly sat up in her chair. ”Well, I don’t like surprises. Where are we going?” Tamar managed to ask in an even tone though her body was stiffening by every inch away from the traffic and people.

“You’ll see. We’re almost there.” Even as he spoke, he was driving up to the entrance of the Sloping Hill park. A few late joggers populated the park, running the trails while a few others dribbled a soccer ball up and down an empty stretch of grass.  “Grab the food, please?” he asked as he parked and got out to open the trunk.

Tamar choked a laugh as she took in the scene before her. He’d brought her to a park for their date? She could feel her shoulders sink back into the seat, relieved to see people all over the field and joggers crossing past them. Her eyes followed him to the back of the car and she shook her head incredulously. ”If he pulls out a picnic blanket…”

Dylan pulled an old blanket out of the trunk. It wasn’t a checkered picnic mat but it was the best he could do. Tamar’s first criticism had been about fancy restaurants. He could only hope he hadn’t swung too far in the other direction.

Tamar stepped out of the car, bag of food in her small arms and she shook her head again as he lifted the blanket. ” Someone did his homework. Either you watch a lot of films or you have a sister… Or a girlfriend on the side.” She smirked. ”The surprise is a picnic,” Tamar said, impressed by his creativity.

He laughed, relieved by the smile on her face when he shut the trunk. “I have a sister. I’ve been forced to watch an occasional chick flick or two. Will this work for you?”

Tamar shrugged. ”It doesn’t matter. It’s your date. Lead the way.”

<<Chapter 2 || Chapter 4>>


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