Well, it doesn’t matter anymore. Now I have a date to get ready for on Tuesday, and I can only hope everything goes well.
When I get to Jessica’s apartment on Tuesday, the butterflies that started on Sunday have already expanded into almost a full blown panic attack over the course of today. I almost messaged once or twice, and canceled the whole thing.
I’m not ready for this. I can’t face trying this again, not after what happened last time.
But I didn’t cancel. I owe it to myself, Jessica and Owen to at least see this one date through. I can do this. If we decide, afterward, that we aren’t to be in a relationship, then that’s what we decide, isn’t it? And that will be okay.
I park my bike and take in a few steadying breaths. I’m here. I can get through this.
I didn’t realize, until now, just how traumatic everything was for me. Here I am, trying to calm myself, because I haven’t gotten over what happened three years ago, try as I might. Finding the truth of the situation has even made things worse.
Only the fact that Jessica isn’t looking at me differently now, that she still wants this despite being unsure what the full truth is, is keeping me here. I don’t think she believes I’m a murderer anymore. But she doesn’t know that I was proved fully innocent. Despite this, she still beamed when I asked her on a date, and has begged me, more than once, to give her another shot.
If she can still look at me like I’m something precious, despite the fact that she doesn’t know everything, then it means things are looking up for both of us.
With this thought in mind, I make my way up to her apartment and knock firmly on the door. There’s a clatter inside, followed by running feet, and then the door swings open.
She’s put some makeup on, I notice immediately. I haven’t noticed, before, the lack of it, but I’m certainly noticing it’s there now. It’s subtle and pretty, and I can’t tell whether it’s the foundation or the beautiful smile on her face that is making her look peppy and young. Maybe it’s a bit of both.
She’s always wearing jeans, I note.
“Grant!” she says. “Come in!”
I enter the apartment. It’s quiet, and I watch as Jessica hurries to a nearby chair and tugs a coat on.
“Where’s Owen?” I ask.
“I’ve already had Allison pick him up,” she explains. “Hazel is down with the flu, unfortunately, but Allison says she’s going to take Owen with her to visit Ethan, Georgia and Lily.”
“Lily will love that,” I say dryly.
The ten-year-old can be precocious and possessive, and I can’t see her taking well to the three-year-old who will no doubt steal everyone’s attention. She will be fine though.
“Are you ready to go?” I ask her.
“Yeah,” she says, grabbing her purse. “I…should have asked, but I wasn’t sure if we were taking your bike? I dressed warmly, anyway.”
I smile slightly. “We’re taking the bike.”
It’s like a sun is spreading over her face. I had wondered, before, if she missed riding on the bike with me. I guess this is my answer.
“Great,” she says enthusiastically. “Let’s go!”
Cheerfully, she grabs my wrist and tugs me out of the room, and I follow in her wake. She’s so happy and eager. Unlike me, who has been so nervous, she’s obviously been anticipating this date since Sunday.
Then I notice the slight tremor in her hand. It’s barely there, but I’m hyper aware of her skin on mine. She’s just as nervous as I am, which is why she seems so loud and over the top right now. She’s excited but she’s also anxious about how this is going to go.
Somehow, knowing this, I relax slightly. I’m not the only one who seems to be worried about what’s going to happen.
“Dinner first?” I offer. “The movie doesn’t start for another two hours.”
“Sounds good,” she says. “Where do you want to go?”
“Nothing fancy,” I say. “How do burgers sound?”
All at once, I wonder if I should have organized something fancier. This is our first date in three years. Are burgers and a movie not enough?
Jessica beams at me though.