“Here you go, Mr. Richardson. She’s all ready for you.”
I turned to the kid, smiling. I hadn’t given him anything to make up for my behavior the day before and well, I got an idea from the sparkle in his eye when he looked at my car. “Would you like a ride?”
Alex squinted. “Really? You’d let me drive it?”
“I’ll even do better than that. How about I buy you dinner? I’ve wanted to check out this new place for a while.”
“Dinner...” he bit his lip. “I-I’m not sure. I mean...why are you asking me?”
I put up my hand. “Hey...I just want to make it up to you since I was such a dick yesterday. I feel bad and besides. I know you probably don’t get out much with high school and work and your MMA stuff. What do you think?”
He tilted his head and glared. “High school? How old do you think I am?”
“Um...you look about my brother’s age. He’s seventeen.” But as soon as I said it, I’d wished I hadn’t.
“Um...I’m twenty five and I can get my own dinners. Although I live poorly, I don’t need favors. You don’t have anything to make up for.”
I backtracked. “Whoa...I’m sorry if I offended you. It’s just...you look young. That’s a good thing, right? If you don’t want dinner, I get it.” And then it socked me when I saw his face. He thought I was hitting on him. “I hope you don’t get the wrong idea. I-I’m not into dudes. I just figured you might want a change of scenery.”
When I said that, relief washed over his face. “Okay then. What time do you want to go? I haven’t eaten out in ages.”
“How about you meet me at La Tableaux at seven?”
His face fell then he winced. “Um...my truck is out of commission at the moment.”
I almost laughed. He’s a mechanic yet he doesn’t have a car that’s running. “Why can’t you fix it?”
He shrugged. “The transmission is toast. It’ll take $2000 to repair. I just don’t have the cash.”
Putting my hands in my pockets, I said, “Okay, how about this? I have a roadster that’s just collecting dust in my garage. I’ll pick you up in it and then we’ll go to the restaurant. I’ll take a cab home and you can use it until you save enough to fix your truck. Deal?”
Alex shook his head. “I couldn’t do that.”
“I insist. And anyway, you’d be helping me out. That thing needs to be driven or the battery will die.”
“O-Okay...if you’re sure.”
“I’m sure. I’ll pick you up at seven.”
I arrived at the garage early when Alex popped out. Something inside me stirred. How could a guy like that look good in just a sweater and khakis? I usually didn’t notice stuff like that. I must have been working too hard. “Ready to go?” I asked.
“Yeah, I just need to say good bye to my sister.”
I spied a pretty red head coming down the steps. She looked down at her feet, not making eye contact with me. She reminded me of Alex only she was very petite with tiny features.
“I hope you’ll introduce me,” I said, gesturing to her. “I can see she’s way better looking than you.”
Alex rolled his eyes, laughing. “Of course she is. Bri, this is Knight Richardson. Kyle’s brother.” He made a weird face then put on a smile.
“Oh, you know my brother?” I asked.
“I wish I didn’t,” she spat.
Alex cut in, “Ha ha...Bri, you’re always making jokes. They’re actually friends.”
Putting her hand on her hip, she asked, “Are you here to make trouble for Alex? If you are, you can just hit the door. Why can’t your family leave us alone?”
“Bri, stop it. Knight is just taking me to dinner to thank me for working on his car.”
Looked like my brother was his usual charming self to this poor girl. “Hey, I’m sorry about Kyle. He is spoiled. Listen, I’ll talk to him for you. Not sure if it will do any good, but if he gets out of line, I’ll just tell him Alex has some major skills in boxing. That probably will scare him off.” I laughed at my joke, but neither of them joined me. They only gave each other a strange look.
“So where’s this roadster?” Alex asked, changing the subject. His sister still eyed me like I was some gangster, taking her brother for ransom.
I pointed behind me. “In front. Want to go?”
“Sure.” Turning to his sister, he gave her a hug. They exchanged what looked like a whole conversation in one glance and then he smiled at me, opening the door.
Once I got in the car, I noticed Alex wasn’t wearing a sports coat. “Oh, yeah, this place has a dress code. You’ll need a jacket.”
Sputtering, he said, “B-But I don’t own one. The only suit coat I have is the one I wore to my dad’s funeral, and I really don’t want to wear that.”
Man, I didn’t know his father had died. Feeling like a dick again, I said quickly, “Oh, well you’re about the same size as my brother. You can just borrow something from him.”
As soon as I mentioned my brother, Alex put his hand on his forehead. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“Why? He won’t mind. He’s got a whole closet full of stuff he doesn’t wear.”
Raising his hands, Alex said, “It’s not that. I-I’d feel bad. I mean, you’re taking me to dinner, letting me drive your car, and now I’m borrowing your brother’s clothes. It’s not cool.”
“Look, my brother isn’t even home so he won’t know and won’t care. This car is fun to drive and it’s not a big deal to me to let you borrow it for a while. And hey, why can’t I buy you dinner? I told you before. I’m not into dudes, so you’re safe there.” I laughed, but something told me it wasn’t funny to Alex.
I swallowed. “You’re not into guys...are you?”
Glaring, he leaned over to me and whispered, “Don’t worry. You’re definitely NOT my type.”
I laughed nervously, worried that I offended him. Strike three in the dick department. Turning on the car, I put it in gear and blasted out of the driveway. Maybe if I got the wind going, my cheeks would stop burning.