A Changed Life Ch. 02byingarlm©
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Now I was stuck. It took me a while to overcome my fears and accept that Charlie was different to anyone I'd ever wanted before, or at least I wanted him in a completely different way. When I thought about him, which I did a lot, I pictured us together making love not just fucking, and having him in my house just being around me. I wanted him to be there when I woke up and when I fell asleep. No-one got to stay the night in my bed, but it suddenly felt very big and empty. I realised I was falling in love and I nearly laughed when that thought first came into my consciousness. I was definitely a screw them and leave them kind of guy, but I even dreamt about waking up with Charlie in my arms.
Then of course, I had no idea how to approach him. I knew it would devastate me if he said no, but I was too impatient not to try. It could hardly be as bad as the pain I felt when my parents died. I must have worked through a hundred different ideas of what to say, and then I'd found him in the kitchen and realised we were alone, and I decided just to be honest with him. When he didn't believe me it hurt, but when I was aware quite how much gossip there was about me and that he'd heard plenty of it, I could understand him not accepting what I was saying.
Still, I gave him the perfect get out. I honestly would have left it there if he told me he wasn't into me. When he didn't, or hopefully couldn't, my heart leapt. He did like me, he just didn't want to be one in a long line of lovers. I knew that wouldn't happen, but somehow I had to convince him I was serious. At this point I had no bright ideas of how to do that though. I did know it was going to take some time.
I rang my friend Tess and invited myself over to see her the next day. She was outside the situation and maybe talking things through with her would help, and she might have some good ideas. She'd known me since infant school, and been the first person I came out to. Now she was my confidante, although sometimes I got the feeling she'd rather not know. She was single too, but not into pursuing men. Not that she minded too much if they pursued her.
I couldn't help smiling when she opened her door to me next day. It was always great to see her and it didn't happen all that often because she worked days and I worked evenings and weekends. We sat and had a cup of tea while we chatted to catch up on events. I didn't mention Charlie straight away, just filled her in with how well the restaurant was doing and what Chef had been up to. That was mainly to make sure she never fell for his lines, because he'd had his eye on her as an option since they first met, and I had already warned him off. He could do what he liked with most women but he was not going to be adding my best friend to his little black book.
"So what's wrong?" she asked after a while.
I wasn't sure what I'd done to make her think there was anything up. "Nothing's wrong."
"It's just you've been here nearly an hour and I haven't heard anything about your latest conquests." she teased.
It gave me the opening for what I wanted to talk to her about at least, even if she was laughing at me. "There haven't been any."
She looked surprised. "Has your dick dropped off?" she continued to tease.
I pulled a face at her. "Of course not. He's in full working order. It's just who he's pointing at isn't taking me seriously."
She looked confused now. "You're waiting for someone to give you the green light? That's not like you, just move on honey, you've been knocked back before and there's always someone else around the corner."
I tried not to look embarrassed, but it didn't work. "I don't want anyone else. I want Charlie, badly, and he thinks I just want to add another notch to my bedpost."
Tess suddenly started looking serious. "Are you actually saying you've found someone you want for more than just sex."
She exhaled hard. "Are you sure. It's not just that he's playing hard to get and that offends your male pride?"
I looked offended. "I'm sure. I've never worried about being knocked back before, you said it yourself. But I can't get him out of my mind, and I'm not going to give up without a hell of a fight."
"Where did you meet this guy. What's happened?"
"He works at the restaurant. Chef hired him because he needed more hands in the kitchen, and I met him when he did his first shift, just over three weeks ago." I remembered what had gone on. "He did instant things to me Tess, but not like usual, it was like I wanted to hold him tight and not let him go, not fuck him and make him scream.' I went red. 'Not that I don't want to do that, but it's so much more. And Chef saw me looking and instantly warned me off."
She interrupted me. "Dan warned you off someone? I thought you guys didn't do that, you're more like partners in crime and proud of each other."
I pouted at her. "I'm not proud of him, it just amuses me. And I warned him off you."
She looked at me sternly. "Don't you think I'm capable of resisting him if I want to? I'm not sure your warning worked, he tries it on every time he sees me. Still hasn't got any though." she smiled.
"Keep it that way. I don't wanna be hearing tales about you."
"I'll do what I want."
I groaned. That sounded too much like she was going to end up riding his cock at some point, and I didn't want to think about that right now. "Back to my problem, if you don't mind." She looked attentive. "When Chef told me not to go there, I didn't even think about it but I told him I wanted Charlie for more than a bit of fun. That was straight away Tess. It's been freaking me out ever since, but I realised it's true. I want him to come live with me, be my boyfriend and my lover. Hell, I'd even marry him if he wanted. And since I saw him no-one else, not even a couple of my regulars, has so much as made little Mark stir."
"So what exactly is the problem. Is he straight? Or married? Or just doesn't fancy you."
"He's gay, he's single, and he definitely fancies me. But, he won't go out with me because he's heard the tales of me and Chef and he wants the full on hearts and flowers stuff. I told him I want a relationship with him, but he doesn't believe me and he's not going to let me in until I prove to him that I'm serious and I've changed."
"How are you going to do that?"
"Great, thanks for the question. I was rather hoping you would have some bright ideas."
"Okay. What have you tried so far?"
"I asked him out, told him I wanted a relationship not just sex. Told him I've never wanted anyone the way I want him."
I looked puzzled. "Isn't that enough?"
"Apparently not, or you would have worked your magic on him by now. When was this?"
"Night before last after dinner service."
She just started laughing. I know I looked annoyed, because she tried to calm herself, but clearly found this all really funny.
"Sorry Mark. But you've known the guy three weeks, you told him less than 48 hours ago what you want, and you expect him to instantly say yes to you? You said it yourself, he wants proof, and he wants hearts and flowers. You're going to have to treat this as a long haul. Don't put any pressure on him, no more deep and meaningfuls until he's ready, but meanwhile you show him how much you think of him. First step will be getting him to agree to a date. And that is a date with no expectations on your part. You need to treat him like he's precious. Show him you care and you aren't going to give up, but you're also going to give him as much time as it takes."
This wasn't quite what I wanted to hear. "How do I get him to agree to a date?"
"I don't know. You'll have to woo him. Little gifts or something. Can you write poetry?" she was laughing again.
"No, I can't." I said firmly, trying to get her to stop laughing at me.
"Well, little notes then. That don't say anything sexual either. Say you care about him, you want to make him happy. Whatever comes to mind. Make him swoon when he sees you. If it's working you'll notice him look at you differently for starters, and then maybe you can ask for that date. And no matter what, that has to be a date that does not end up in sex. Not even a kiss." I know I looked disappointed then. "Maybe on the cheek, but no tongues. If you start doing that you'll make him sure you only took him out so you could get some. Baby steps, Mark. It's all new to you, and if he realises that it will be a good start."
"This is going to take a long time isn't it?" I asked, the disappointment clear in my voice.
"Yep. Is he worth the wait?" I nodded firmly. "Then talk to me in two weeks. We'll decide if he's ready to go on that date by then. Meanwhile you'd better brush up on your poetry!" I pulled a disgusted face at her. "You've got to undo what he's heard about you, which he's probably aware has been going on for years. Would you believe Chef had changed if he told you tomorrow he'd fallen in love?"
"No. But that's Chef, not me."
"Honey, you're both players. No-one is going to wipe that thought out of their mind in five minutes. I know lots of guys who play the field and eventually settle down, but it takes someone really special, and often takes a long time to build trust. If Charlie cares about you he'll see it eventually."
"Fine. Operation Romance is now underway!" This time I laughed with her.
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On Mondays we didn't open the restaurant, and I was glad of not having to see Mark that day either. Saturday night he'd largely left me to myself, but he smiled when he saw me, as if he was pleased that I was there, or perhaps that I was still speaking to him. Sunday night he hadn't been working and it was a relief not to have to keep half an eye out for him as I worked. He unsettled me, even more so after our conversation. I couldn't help thinking though that my challenge would not be answered. It was too much hard work for him to change so much that I could accept it. I didn't believe he could prove he'd changed either, I don't know what I expected him to do.
All I had to do now was clear all thoughts of him from my mind, and perhaps I could move forward and one day meet a guy who would catch my interest like he had but not be after anyone he could get. There had to be some other guys waiting for the perfect one. My thoughts of Mark were interrupted by the doorbell, and a quick look outside revealed a flower van. I bet my neighbour was out and they needed to leave some huge bunch of flowers from her boyfriend with me. No-one ever sent me flowers.
Or they hadn't up til now. When I answered the door I was presented with two yellow roses. I kept checking the little envelope to make sure it really did say my name, and it was a long time after the delivery woman left before I actually opened it. That just increased my confusion. On the card was written the single word "I". No name, no more information. I turned the card over, but there was nothing on the reverse either. It had to be from Mark, didn't it, but what was he trying to prove with a cryptic card and two roses? I put them in water on my table, and pinned the card to the message board in my kitchen. Only so I could keep wondering what it meant, not because I actually cared that Mark had sent me flowers. Or at least that's what I tried telling myself, but if I was honest I did get a warm glow from the thought.
The next day, after a night spent still wondering what the message was meant to mean, another delivery turned up. Two more yellow roses, and another card. This one I practically ripped open to find out what it said. "want" was written on it. "I want" it now said on my message board, and four roses sat on the table. He wants what? Me naked? A shag? There were about a million different ways that could go, and I didn't have high expectations of how the sentence would end. I wondered how many flowers I was going to get. It was kind of sweet really. That sort of thinking was not going to help me keep my guard up.
Mark wasn't in work the next two nights, the benefits of being the boss. By the time I did see him on Thursday evening I had four more roses and the pinboard now read "I want to make". I still didn't know what that was supposed to mean, or whether the rest would be delivered in person or with more flowers. When I saw him that evening I couldn't help giving him a shy smile. He practically beamed at me in response, and it made me warm inside. Oh dear. I saw him infrequently during service because we were both busy, but when he did come in to collect orders he was his usual jokey self. Even though we were together a couple of times when we could have lowered our voices and not be overheard I didn't know what to say and he didn't try. He was friendly but he didn't say anything untoward or suggestive.
I checked the website for the flower shop and they delivered 6 days a week, so if he was going all out I could expect two more deliveries. A dozen roses, too, but I guess he'd worked that out. At least they weren't red ones. A further hunt on the internet revealed that yellow roses meant friendship. If he actually knew about the colour thing then he was going at it slow and gentle. It could of course mean nothing in particular. Maybe he just liked yellow. I found myself eagerly waiting for my delivery on the next days, and glad to see Mark in the evenings. Perhaps he really could change.
On Saturday I completed my dozen roses, and finally had his message. I felt bad for assuming that it would be something sexual. The full message read "I want to make you happy". I half wanted to tell him that he had, but I still didn't think that was enough to prove he was going to change and he really did want everything with me. Still, I got warm and fuzzies when I saw him now. I just wasn't going to let him see that, yet. When he left on Sunday night after the shift I'd still not had any improper comments from him, and I'd relaxed enough that I didn't instantly freeze up when he came close to me at the end of the shift. Although when he lowered his voice to talk I did for one moment panic, and I fully expected him to ask me for sex. Clearly I still didn't believe him.
His hushed tones did things to my body that I really didn't want, but he didn't say anything like I thought he would. "I got you something I thought you might need. It's in your locker." And then he walked off. I couldn't wait to finish the cleaning and find out, but I hung back so I was the last one there. If it was something dodgy I sure as hell didn't want the other kitchen staff seeing it, I would be teased for weeks. When I finally opened my locker I just laughed. Sat in amongst my stuff was a vase. I packed it up in the box he'd kindly left with it and took it home, wondering if that meant I could expect more flowers.
I could. Another week of yellow roses in fact. I had the first dozen in the living room in my new vase and the new arrivals mounted up in the kitchen. I practically ran to the door when the deliveries got to me. I was behaving like a giddy schoolboy with his first crush. I said hello to Pam yet again. We were now on first name terms. By Thursday she obviously felt brave.
"He's really trying hard to win you over, isn't he?"
I looked at her slightly surprised. "How do you know it's a he?"
She smiled. "I see him when he comes in to order them. Nice looking lad too, but I'm sure you know that."
I went a bit red. I definitely knew that. "And how do you know I'm not shredding them and sending them back?"
She laughed then. "I guess the fact you are always so pleased to see me, and that you've got a vase full on your living room table."
"Okay Miss Marple, I'll see you again tomorrow." I laughed, and watched her walk back to the van.
By the end of the week I had my dozen roses and another message pinned to the board underneath the first. "Charlie you are an amazing person". It was like he was sending me my own personal mantra. I wondered if I should start repeating it every day into my mirror. And still, he didn't corner me or make any moves on me, and I really was starting to hope and dream that he would.
Sunday I got another vase in my locker, but this time he didn't bother to let me know. I covered by saying I'd got it as a present for my mum. No-one had seen me come in so they couldn't be aware I hadn't brought it with me. I glared at him when he came into the locker room and he saw me putting it away, but he just smiled. "You're going to need it." was all he said. I know I went a bit red, and that he saw it, because his grin broadened.
"At least I get to see more of the lovely Pam." I said, teasing him. And he didn't look impressed either. Jealousy? Interesting. And like I was going to want anyone called Pam. "She's probably about 50 Mark, and she delivers your flowers. I've got to know her quite well. And I should be the one worrying, she said you're a nice looking lad."
He laughed. "I don't think Pam is my type somehow. Plus I'm not on the market."
He walked off, leaving me to consider his statement. He was letting me know he was still waiting for me and wasn't looking. That was good. Then I realised I'd said that I should be worried that Pam thought he was good looking. I groaned. That sounded a bit too much like I was considering him mine and not wanting any competition. At least he'd had the decency not to point that out, but if he was like me, going over and over every word we exchanged, he'd be wondering about that. Perhaps he wasn't like me though, he was just focussed on getting me into bed, wasn't he?
Nothing more was said in the following week. I still wondered if I'd said too much, but he didn't make any further comments for me to ponder over. By Saturday though, I had a major decision to make. I had another dozen yellow roses, and this time the note was "Please let me take you out". I spent the whole day after I finished the note trying to work out what to say. I'd knocked him back before, but now I wasn't so sure. Hadn't he done enough to deserve one date? I wasn't going to sleep with him at the end of it though, so he'd better know that up front.
When I saw him later on I gave him my by now usual smile. I didn't get chance to talk to him until much later though because there were too many people around. I finally found a moment when most of the customers and staff had left. I walked up to him for a change.
"Yes, okay. But..."
His smile showed his delight, and he cut me off from saying what I was going to. "Dinner and a movie, nothing else, I promise."
I guess that was good enough. He probably knew I was going to say no sex. "Pizza?" I asked. My favourite food.
He nodded. "Whatever you want. Can you do tomorrow? I'll pick you up at 7."
I nodded. "Fine."
The next day wasn't fine though, I was a mass of nerves. Why had I agreed to this? I wasn't sure whether I could trust him not to try something tonight, nor was I sure whether I'd be delighted or disappointed if he did. I might need a lot of self-control later, or possibly some self-defence. But when I thought about that, I realised I did trust him. Maybe not that he wouldn't flirt with me, and perhaps try something, but I knew he would take no for an answer. Even Chef had told me that. I wondered what he would think of this whole scenario, his partner in crime gone soft and sending someone flowers and notes. I bet he'd laugh his socks off, if he even believed it. I wasn't going to mention it though, this was private and might be something special if Mark could live up to his good beginnings.
My nerves only increased when I got another flower delivery. These ones were pink rather than yellow. Pam laughed as I looked at them nervously, trying to remember whether there was some significance in that colour. Perhaps he just got bored of the yellow ones. "It means romance." she informed me. This note was the first one to have two words on it. "Thank you".