Welcome back to “So You Want To…” the series wherein I give you outfits and *~*lewks~*~ for things like: time of year, a random event, a vibe, an energy!
In honor of Valentine’s Day, I have more mini fiction romances for you! These are not the main characters you have come to know and love over the last year, but a new crop of 2022 protagonists, because honestly, I wrapped up our old friends so well, I didn’t want to disrupt their lives! And honestly, as a famously single person, writing about couples on Valentine’s Day….I’ma pass. Let’s get into some meet cutes, some cute meets, and of course, some fashion!
The Jet Setting Musician Who Won’t Let Anyone In
It was just two days, that’s what you had told your manager. After a whirlwind tour and three awards shows, you just needed two days to yourself, to do some writing and catch your breath. No big deal. Totally reasonable. Erik relented in the end, like you knew he would, and even though he was pissed that you were passing on the Interview Magazine piece, keeping you happy was better for him in the long run. His bank account too.
Your insistence on driving to your Palm Springs house alone was, in retrospect, perhaps not the smartest choice you’d ever made. You’d had fantasies of wind in your hair and beaming sunshine, but as luck would have it, the skies opened up the second you pulled onto the 10. You white knuckled it for a bit, then heaved a sigh. There was a rest area just ahead, you hadn’t driven in a while, and you couldn’t exactly argue to Erik that this two day break was therapeutic if you ended up in the hospital.
The tension in your shoulders eased as you parked, and you waited for a break in the rain as long as your bladder could stand. When it came down to it, you’d rather risk getting wet than reliving the before days — rattling around in a van with a bunch of un-showered musicians and peeing in bottles. Ducking your head, you leapt out of the car and ran like a madwoman for the bathroom.
You didn’t notice you’d forgotten your usual disguise — hair up, sunglasses on — until you slammed into someone and watched her eyes light with recognition. “Don’t I know you from somewhere?” She asked, flashing a smile.
The panic in your eyes must have given you away, she lowered her voice. “Sorry, that was dumb, I just — this like, never happens to me, but I won’t bug you, I promise.” The dimple on her cheek grew deeper.
You ignored the little hum of attraction at the base of your neck and smiled back.
“I owe you one.”
The Shy Bookstore Owner Who Doesn’t Think Anyone Sees Her That Way
“I am not too picky,” you huffed, swiping past yet another person. “I just know what I like.”
“Did you know that only picky people ever bother to say that they aren’t picky?” Carmen rolled her eyes and snatched your phone out of your hands. “Let me do this for a bit, I’m very good at swiping for my friends.”
“We are not friends, I am your boss.” You tried to mean it, but Carmen was laughing before you’d even finished talking.
“Oh, that’s sad. Just so deeply sad. Lying to yourself like that. No wonder you can’t get a date.” They scrunched their noise as they examined your phone. “Mmm, no…no…oh god, absolutely not.”
“See! It’s not me! I am not the problem!” You sighed as you slumped against the counter. “Plus, it’s not like my life is empty, I’ve got the store, and my nieces, you and Jordan. I don’t need to complicate all that with dating.”
“Friends now, are we?” Carmen shook her head and handed your phone back. “Okay, I concur that the apps might be a little bleak, but I am not giving up hope. I am going to get started on the set up for the author talk tonight, and you…just try to look approachable. You never know who might come in!”
“You are a wonderful friend and employee,” you called after their retreating back. “But I’m not going on any dates anytime soon!”
The store door creaked open, and you turned around, preparing a cheery greeting that died in your throat when you saw them. Tall, with even white teeth that flashed as they smiled at you, locs grazing broad shoulders. Strong hands. This was not someone you would swipe past.
The CEO Who Is Too Busy To Even Think About Dating, Are You Kidding?
All things considered, you had handled the news very well. Yes, it was a surprise that your longtime clients had been thinking about “changing directions” and wanted to bring another firm in to compete for an offer on this project, and yes, you had enjoyed a brief, vivid fantasy of very physically wiping the smug grin from the president of the board’s face, but truly, you’d handled it like a pro.
It wasn’t until you’d stopped in the restroom and saw her that you even came close to losing control. Because of course the other firm they’d brought in was hers. She’d been the thorn in your side since grad school, the two of you vying for the top spot in class, internships and job offers. Had you known the new leadership team was thinking about making a change, you’d have prepared yourself for seeing her. But they hadn’t, so when she looked up from the sink, met your eye and smirked, your jaw clenched and your fists balled involuntarily at your sides. The insult of having to compete for a client you’d had for years, against her.
She chuckled as she dried her hands, drawing out the moment, clearly delighting in it. “Well,” she said, tossing her heavy, jet black hair over her shoulder. “I imagine this must be quite the blow to your sizable ego.” She’d had a perfect grey streak at her temple since grad school, it gleamed as it caught the light.
You grinned in response — though in all honesty it was more like baring your teeth. “My ego is always up for a little competition. Isn’t yours?”
Another chuckle, before she leaned in to touch up her lipstick. “I think you know it is.” Satisfied with her appearance, she ducked her head as she whipped past you. “May the best woman win.” A final smirk and she was gone, just a hint of her perfume remaining. It smelled both floral and salty, like the gardens of a house by sea.
Not that you’d noticed. Or cared about anything other than getting this bid. Because that was the only thing that mattered, not her perfume or her hair or her smirk. Just the job.
The Pro Soccer Player Who Is Addicted To Breaking Hearts
You usually didn’t spend a lot of time in bars. Your training schedule was too demanding, and nothing looked less appealing than a soccer field after one too many tequila sodas. But you had no plans tonight, none of your usual dates were around, and you felt too keyed up to sit around your apartment and watch TV.
At first you thought you’d just take a walk, but the little bar around the corner looked inviting, and maybe a drink would take this edge off, and you’d be able to get home and get to sleep. It wasn’t packed, just busy, but you managed to snag a stool at the far corner of the long bar, tucked up against the wall.
After sitting for about five minutes, you realized this wasn’t regular busy, but the harried kind of busy that felt like they were understaffed. You’d done the service industry thing in college, and you weren’t in a rush, so you slunk down against the wall and opened a dating app at random, swiping right without paying too much attention.
“Sorry about the wait, what can I get ya?” A cheerful but tired voice startled you out of your swiping fugue state. You looked across the bar into smoky gray eyes, wisps of curls trying to escape a hastily thrown together bun, and smiled. Well hello there.
“No worries,” you said easily. “Seems like y’all are a bit short staffed tonight.”
“Nothing I can’t handle.” They shot back, a little cocky. Hot.
“Well, if you’re sure you don’t need another set of hands back there…” you trailed off, letting the implication linger.
The tips of their ears went red. “We’re just fine, what can I get you?” There was the sound of shattering down the narrow hall that you guessed went to the kitchen, rapidly followed by swearing. They tensed and started drumming their fingers on the bar, clearly itching to see what happened.
“Offer still stands,” you said. “I was a bartender for six years, it doesn’t go away.”
They bit their lip as the swearing increased. Possibly a full blown fight now. “Just — just for a second, so I can see what’s going on?”
You were up and sliding behind the bar by the time they finished talking. “I got it. I promise,” you said, nodding to the guy in front of you who motioned for an IPA draft. It was neat and orderly back here, it wasn’t hard to find a glass and pull the beer.
“Okay, I — I’ll be back in a second. Thank you.” They darted into the hall without sparing you a backwards glance.
This was probably crazy, but you’d done crazier things for cute people before, and honestly, this was a better way of getting out those weird jitters than getting drunk and texting someone you’d regret in the morning. Much less predictable. Someone waved at the other end of the bar and you went to work, still thinking about those smoky eyes and the way their neck flushed when you stood near them.
No, tonight was not predictable at all.