The time had finally come for Junior’s second visit. I was prepared and ready this time! No long afternoon nap, no messy bed head, no stumbling down the stairs in a bikini. This time I spent over an hour getting ready. I smoothed my hair into place with a scorching hot flat iron without getting burned, pulled the tags from a brand new A-line dress without using my teeth, and put on makeup without referring to the directions that explained where to put each shade of eye shadow. I was getting the hang of it!
“You look absolutely stunning!” Penny was in the kitchen putting the finishing touches on the meal she had prepared for us. “He’ll be crazy not to kiss you!”
“Oh dear.” I felt myself get nervous at the mention of kissing. “I don’t know about all that!”
“You like him don’t you?”
“Yes, but I don’t know about moving that fast is all.” I tugged at the neckline of the dress.
“Stop that! It is supposed to be off of the shoulders a little. If you pull it up it will be too big!” Penny swatted at my hands with a pot holder.
“Oh,” I was new to the whole dressing up thing and took her advice. The doorbell rang and I started to panic. “You get it!
“Oh come on, you’re nearly thirty. Take a deep breath and answer the door.” Penny showed no mercy.
I opened the door and there stood Junior. What a silly name for such a tall dark and handsome man. I smiled shyly, wondering how long it would take him to realize that he could do much much better than Adeline Banks.
“You look beautiful.” He smiled. I thanked him and led him inside to greet Penny.
“Hello, Junior! Glad you needed a baby sitter again tonight!” Penny joked. We all laughed before settling in around the table for Penny’s special sausage lasagna. I was so relieved to have a new friend, even if it didn’t end in love or kissing. I was just glad to start building my life after Mama.
After we ate, Penny excused herself. She was retiring early after a long day of doing nothing and sitting on the beach. I was thankful that she knew the importance of time alone, especially if she wanted me to fall in love.
“Want to watch a movie?” I asked during a lull in the conversation.
“Sure, but I’m warning you! I don’t like normal people movies…” Junior stood up from the table and grabbed both of our wine glasses.
“Thank goodness!” I smiled. “How about Harvey?”
“One of my favorites.” He smiled back.
“So tell me about your life in Boston.” Junior put his arm around me as the movie began. I was at a loss for words because of the new sensation of warmth around my bare shoulders. I tried not to have a panic attack, but at that moment it all became so real. After years and years of purposely avoiding men, I was willingly diving head first into uncharted territory. What if he cheated on me? What if he was married and I was the mistress? What if I fell in love and got hurt? I ran through all of the possibilities in my mind until his voice brought me back to reality. “Adeline?”
“Addy. Call me Addy.” I smiled, realizing that I couldn’t let the chance pass me by-- even if it ended in tears.
“Boston is alright. I love the city, love the publication that I write for, and love my apartment.”
“What about your friends? I bet they miss you!” He didn’t know the depths of my issues yet, and I didn’t want to tell him that my only friend in the world was lying in a graveyard and had given birth to me.
“I don’t have friends in Boston, other than my two cats. I kind of keep to myself.” I confessed.
“Oh,” Junior took a sip of his wine, pulled me a little closer, and turned his attention back to Jimmy Stewart.
We laughed and quoted lines from the movie as it played. “I’ve always wanted to try an egg and onion sandwich.” Junior smiled down at me.
“I’ll make you one sometime! I wonder if it is a fried egg?” I pondered it for a moment and then we both laughed.
“You’re something else, Addy.”
“I know and I apologize in advance!” I wanted to ask him what he meant, but instead asked him what in the world he saw in me.
“What do I see in you? You’re beautiful, funny, interesting, and if you haven’t noticed, we have a lot in common!” Junior spouted off his reasons and I could hardly believe my ears. Beautiful? Was I really beautiful?
“I’ve never had a boyfriend.” I blurted out. I hadn’t planned on telling him how very different I was until at least the fourth or fifth date, but it came out. God, I might as well tell him that I had never been kissed, hated my Father, had Mommy issues, and basically hated the world.
“Never?” Junior didn’t seem as shocked and disgusted as I had expected. “Their loss.”
“How do you always ignore everything bad I tell you about myself?”
“What is bad about not having a boyfriend? Most women waste their youth hopping from one mistake to another. To be honest, I have only had two girlfriends.” Junior and I were more alike than I had realized. Two girlfriends really wasn’t a lot.
“I’ve never been kissed.” I couldn’t believe how these truths just kept popping out of me.
“We can fix that.”
“No!” I sat up straight. “I’m not asking you to kiss me, Junior. I was just telling you everything that a man should know about a woman he calls beautiful and interesting.”
Silence hung between us and I wondered if I had messed up or said too much.“Isn’t Junior a stupid name?” He smiled, making me feel like the fact that I had never been kissed and clammed up at the mention of being kissed was the most insignificant little detail that didn’t bother him one bit.
I laughed and snuggled in closer to him. I could get used to this relationship stuff, especially with a man as perfect as Junior! I couldn't help but hope that Mama was watching the progress that I had made. I was starting to see the world in such a new light, was experiencing things that I had never dared to imagine possible, and was even considering calling Father to check in. Between Mama's letters, Penny's advice, and Junior's patience, I was heading in the right direction for the first time since I was twelve years old.