Adriana smiled at the young cashier as she picked up her coffee and bagel. It was her Friday morning treat and she was excited to enjoy this weekly indulgence. She turned and heard a thump. She barely had time to look up when her eardrums were filled with a loud voice.
"What the fuck!" Adriana stared up as she realized she had walked straight into a man wearing a business suit. She had knocked the coffee in his hand against his chest and there was a growing stain on his expensive gray shirt.
"I'm so sorry sir." Adriana was trying to compose herself, but his angry voice was scary. The man was quite tall and had short salt and pepper hair. His gray eyes were glaring at her and she knew the suit he wore was worth a small fortune. She had placed her coffee and bagel on the counter to prevent herself from being more of a klutz and spilling her coffee either on him or herself. She started to use the visualization exercises her therapist had taught her. She needed to stay calm. His facial expression was not changing. He looked so angry.
"I don't fucking care that you're sorry. You spilled coffee all over me." Jonathan had totally lost control and he didn't care. He had already had a bad day and it was only seven in the morning. The petite redhead was trying to hold back tears and this only made him angrier.
"I'm sorry. Please let me buy you another coffee." Adriana was desperately trying to stay in control. She wanted to scream at him, but was partly scared at what he would do. She opened her purse and dug for her wallet. Her purse was way too small for all the things she had to carry around, but she was able to find a twenty that was in the bill section of her wallet.
"Here. Take this. Please. This will pay for the dry cleaning or a new shirt." She was waving the money in front of his face. Their eyes locked and for a split second she saw that he was sorry for yelling. Of course, he saw the look of someone wanting to crawl into a hole and die. Unfortunately, that look lasted no more then a second and then they both stood their ground.
Jonathan snatched the bill from her hand. "That will barely cover the dry cleaning costs." He then waved her out of the way and she knew that she had been dismissed. She imagined that he probably worked as a lawyer or something and had a timid little secretary that he did that to all the time. She was not his secretary, but she needed to get out of there. Not only did she not want to deal with him anymore, she was going to be late for work.
Adriana walked carefully to the doors of the store. "Sorry". She had bumped into a customer walking in and barely had time to see his reaction before walking off. Adriana didn't even look back at the tall man. If she had, she would have seen a few of the regular customers scowling at coffee stain man and would have heard a little old lady tell him how evil he was. Adriana didn't care. She got into her car and drove the hour-long commute to work in silence.
Adriana worked out, in her head, all the things she needed to accomplish today. She had report cards to complete and a few phone calls to make to parents. She really did love teaching, but she spent more time doing administrative work than actually teaching. She glanced at the clock in her car and figured that she'd get to work around 8:30. That left her about half an hour to get things done before the students arrived. Half way to work, her stomach began to growl. She reached down to grab her coffee and felt nothing. "Shit," she thought. In the commotion of her run in with tall scary man, she had left her breakfast on the counter. She bit her lip and swallowed hard. If she started crying now, she wouldn't have a chance to conceal her red eyes before she got to school. The only other time she had arrived at school with red eyes, everyone had that look of pity towards her. She hated that look. She breathed deeply and drove in silence.
By the time Adriana pulled into her parking spot at school, she had totally forgotten the incident at the coffee shop. The day flew by and before she knew it she was packing up to go home. She stood in front of her desk and mentally went through the list of things she needed to get done tomorrow. She also went through what she had accomplished today. She had made all her phone calls and had finished up her report cards. It had taken her whole lunch since the computer program was acting up and the phone calls to parents had actually been more like phone messages. She figured she'd have to call back in a few days since her evil students normally deleted the voice messages before their parents got home.
Adriana drove home listening to the radio. She never really paid attention driving to and from work. It was like she was a robot. She had done the drive so many times that sometimes she was surprised when she pulled into her laneway and realized she didn't remember actually driving home. She did know that today she had to pick up Ethan. There was no way she was going to forgot that. She smiled and thought of her young son. He had bright hazel eyes and the most beautiful curly red hair. He had gotten the red hair from her, but she figured the curly part was from his father.
She pulled into Anita's laneway and saw her son with three other children running around the front yard. Anita was standing in the middle as they ran around her. She truly was blessed to have such a great caregiver. Anita was in her fifties, but had a bundle of energy. She took care of four children, including Ethan, all around the same age. When Ethan saw his mother, he ran towards her. Adriana picked up the red headed three year old and spun him around.
"Hi baby. How was your day?" Ethan hugged his mom tight and then began to tell her in exact detail all the important parts of his day.
"Mommy we made sandcastles at the park today. I drank all my milk. I want to wear my red shirt tomorrow and Danny pushed me and I was a good boy and didn't push him back"
Adriana smiled and walked over to Anita.
"Everything was good today?"
"Yes dear. Ethan is an angel. I know things are a little rough for you now, but I do need payment for yesterday and today."
Anita was trying to sound concerned. She really did like taking care of Ethan, but there was only so much charity she could give out. Adriana was over two weeks behind in her childcare payments and Anita was debating on what to do. She figured asking for payment in small amounts was the best bet.
"Oh of course, Anita. Let me get my purse." Adriana walked over to her car and opened the driver's side door. She reached over and grabbed her purse. Fumbling for her wallet she watched as her son was playing tag with another one of the boys.
"Fuck." Thank goodness she was whispering as she said this. The twenty dollars that was supposed to be in her wallet was gone. She looked up and thought hard. She had the money in her wallet this morning. She knew it wasn't enough for two days worth of daycare, but it was all she had.
"I'm sorry Anita. I seem to have misplaced my wallet. Can I get the money to you on Monday?"
"I'm sorry Adriana. You are over two weeks behind. I have someone who wants me to take care of their one year old twins. I think it's best if I say yes. You don't need to pay me for the last two weeks."
Adriana couldn't even respond. She thought her day was one of the worse in recent history, but now this had become the worst day of her life. She had just lost the day care spot for Ethan. The area of town she lived in was full of new families and now she had to try to find a daycare spot. She grabbed Ethan by the hand and put him into his car seat. She was visualizing again. This time it was a lake at sunset. She needed to do this because otherwise she was going to burst into tears. She vowed that she would never cry in front of Ethan.
Adriana tiptoed quietly into the darkened room. She could hear the sound of Ethan sleeping and leaned over the bed to kiss him softly. He had rolled onto his stomach with his butt in the air. The knitted blanket was under him and Adriana smiled. She pulled it gently from under him and tucked it around him. She knew that when he squirmed he would kick it off, but at least she had tried. She closed his door and walked the short distance to her room. The moment she closed the door, she burst into tears. She sobbed as she got dressed for bed. She had become very skilled at crying softly. She didn't want to wake Ethan.
As she crawled into her small bed, she hugged the pillow tight. She wished it was a warm body next to her, but she knew that wasn't going to happen. Even when she had a warm body next to her, he hadn't touched her. She had become like a disease after Ethan was born. Adriana sobbed quietly and remembered back to those first few months when Ethan first came home. Jason had gone back to work immediately and so she spent four months of sleepless nights and days. Ethan was a very demanding baby and there were days she would stay in her pajamas and not change or shower. Adriana had gained a lot of weight during the pregnancy. Ethan was a winter baby and so she had barely left the house. This meant not only did she not lose the extra weight she actually gained more. Her petite curvy body turned into a round lump. Adriana was always disgusted at how she looked. The fact that Jason refused to touch her affectionately emphasized how ugly she looked and felt.
"God please I need some help. Anything. I wish I could stay home with Ethan forever." Adriana murmured her prayer. At some point she went from sobbing quietly to sleeping soundly.
Adriana woke up the next morning with crusty eyes. The tears had dried up and her lips were dry. Her nose was all stuffed up and she had probably been breathing through her mouth all night. Adriana was able to quickly go to the washroom before Ethan woke up. She still hadn't dealt with her lack of daycare so she called in sick. She told the secretary at the school she was dealing with a family emergency. The secretary was nice about it although she had taken so many personal days recently; she knew that she was not one of the most popular teachers when it came to the office staff.
Adriana walked into Ethan's room and couldn't help but smile. Her beautiful son was sitting up in bed reading one of his books. His chubby cheeks were red and his hazel eyes were scanning the book with an intense look. Of course, the book was upside down and his facial expression was one of confusion as he tried to figure out the pictures. Adriana was going to enjoy this day with her son, and try to figure out what she was going to do later.
Adriana kissed her son goodbye. It had taken a few weeks, but she was used to her mother taking care of Ethan. Her mother was very annoying and drove her crazy, but there really wasn't another option. She needed someone to take care of Ethan and according to Jason this was her responsibility. She was the one that had wanted a child so she could deal with childcare. She had saved up enough to have her breakfast treat. It had been over a month since the last time she entered the coffee shop and she had almost completely forgotten about her incident with the tall scary man. Almost.
Jonathan saw the cute red head enter the coffee shop and he smiled. He was sitting in the corner glancing at the newspaper. He had been coming to the coffee shop for the last month or so, wanting to apologize to her. He knew nothing about her and had no idea if she regularly bought coffee at this place or whether she was just in the neighborhood. Jonathan had hated the first few mornings trying to look out for her. He really had no idea why he wanted to apologize so badly. He acknowledged the fact that he had overreacted, but something in her eyes told him that there was more going on in her life then simply being clumsy.
When she walked in, Jonathan was smiling widely. She was biting her bottom lip and had her hair up in a ponytail. He packed up his things and by the time he was at the front of the store, she had collected her bagel and coffee.
"Hi." Jonathan's voiced squeaked a bit and he cringed, realizing he was sounding like a nervous teenager. Adriana turned around and stared at him. Her head was spinning and she had intense emotions running through her. She was shocked to see him again. She had pushed the incident to the back of her mind and now it all came flooding back to her. She was angry that he dared to talk to her. He had screamed at her for a little mistake and now he was trying to be nice. Her eyes squinted and she tilted her head up to glare at him.
"What!" It was more of a statement then a question. Her harsh tone was normally reserved for her students when they were disobedient. She normally spoke very softly so even she was startled at how icy her voice sounded.
"I'm sorry I was such an asshole last time. I was having a bad day." Jonathan was taken back by her voice, but used his training at work to say what he needed to say. He had dealt with forceful executives who didn't understand the word no. He could compose himself in front of this cute redhead. He waited for a response, but was shocked when instead of an answer she simply turned and walked towards the exit.
Adriana was on the verge of tears. She had come to terms with the idea that he was an asshole and that she hated him. She had created an image of a single man with no family who spent his whole day working at an endless job. She had imagined that he had enjoyed ruining her day and the moment she had left he had totally forgotten about her. He had proved her wrong. He had cared and that made everything worse.
She got to her car and fumbled with her car keys. She was holding her coffee and bagel carefully, so as not to spill it on either herself or anyone else. She got the door open and was leaning over to place the coffee in the drink container when he caught up with her.
"Can I take you out for dinner?" Jonathan was pleading with her and for the life of him he had no idea why. Normally women were fighting to date him and here he was begging her to go out to dinner with him. "No strings attached. You can pick the place. I feel horrible for what I did. Please?"
Adriana snickered. She could tell that he was groveling and it was amusing. It had caused her to stop crying and had actually put a smile on her face. She spun around and saw that he was really trying to be sincere.
"You don't even know my name and I don't even know yours."
"I'm Jonathan Adams."
"I'm Adriana Vicers."
"Where and when do you want to go to dinner?"
"Friday night. Fratelli's." Adriana had always wanted to go to the classy Italian restaurant, but had never really had the opportunity. Jason preferred peanut butter sandwiches and was so picky when it came to food that he was almost an embarrassment when eating out. Of course, now that she was a single mom she barely had enough money to feed Ethan and herself at home, let alone go out to a nice restaurant. She also knew that Jason was scheduled to take Ethan this weekend and out of all the mean and hateful things he did to her, he never forgot his son and would never cancel a weekend with him.
"Sounds good. I'll see you at seven. Here's my cell phone number if something comes up." Adriana wrote her number on a yellow sticky note and handed it to Jonathan. Jonathan smiled and began to walk towards his car. When he got to his car he stared at his cell phone. He had over a hundred numbers in his phone, but this was the first one that could be filed under 'Friends'.
The week flew by for Adriana and before she knew it, Friday afternoon was upon her. Her students had been very hyper all day and when the bell rang at 3:20 she was ready to run out of the building screaming. Instead, she organized her desk for Monday and mentally reviewed what she had completed that day. Parent teacher interviews were over and now she needed to get as much of the curriculum completed before June as she could. This was crunch time since she had six weeks to complete three more units. She had worked all through her lunch and was happy that she didn't have to bring anything home for the weekend. Ethan was at his father's for the weekend and this meant she could get some things done around the house. She had about two weeks worth of laundry to complete and needed to do groceries. She also had the date with Jonathan. Strangely enough, she wasn't nervous. It was an exciting feeling to see him again.
Jonathan waited outside the restaurant. He had made reservations and had carefully thought about what he was going to wear. He had stared at his large clothes closet for almost thirty minutes and finally had decided that a pair of beige slacks and a polo shirt would be the best choice. Adriana got out of her car and walked towards the entrance. She had chosen a black skirt and a matching black shirt. Her hair had gone super curly after her shower and she had left it that way.
The two of them walked into the restaurant and were seated quickly. Adriana looked at the menu and realized how hungry she was. She didn't normally eat lunch and her dinner normally consisted of toast and peanut butter.
"So want to hear why I'm such an asshole?" Jonathan grinned and was thankful that Adriana giggled.
"I work as a computer analyst at Envirocom. It's that big silver building across the street from the coffee shop. I have to work with guys who have no social skills and so I have to be the big mean boss."
"It doesn't really give you permission to yell at someone for absolutely nothing. I didn't mean to run into you."
"I know you didn't, but it was still rude. You're lucky I'm a high school teacher and can deal with idiots." Adriana glanced up as she looked down at the menu, waiting for a reaction.
Jonathan grinned. The waiter came and took their orders. Jonathan ordered fettuccine alfredo with baby shrimp. Adriana ordered a chicken Caesar salad. Jonathan wondered if that was actually what she wanted to eat or whether she was worried about the prices. He decided it was best not to say anything.
Jonathan and Adriana spent the rest of dinner chatting about random things. Jonathan laughed at the stories she was telling him about her students.
"So in the middle of my lesson on chastity a student raises her hand to ask a question. I'm thinking she's going to say that she's not a virgin or something but instead she asks how two people of the same sex can actually have sex. Before I have a chance to answer another girl blurts out 'don't answer. Please I don't want to know'."
Jonathan grinned. Adriana was so damn cute and sexy.
"You're lucky you don't work in an office with adults. My very first day as a manager at my old job I had to fire two employees for having sex in the kitchen."
Time flew by and when the waiter brought the bill, Jonathan snapped it up quickly.
"I'm paying. That's what happens when a man asks a woman out."
"Are you always this bossy?"
"Yeah I am. It's my job to be bossy. During the day I get paid big bucks to do that."
After paying the waiter, Jonathan and Adriana walked towards her car. She leaned against the car, unsure of what to do next.
"I had a great time tonight Adriana. I'm going away for a few days, but would you like to get together when I get back?" Jonathan was so nervous about her answer. He had been perfectly at ease the whole evening and now he was scared she would say no.
"Sure." He opened the car door for her and watched as she pulled away."
Adriana jumped when her cell phone rang. It was Sunday evening and she had just spent the last forty-five minutes trying to get Ethan to sleep. He was exhausted and cranky and the moment she left the room, he would wake up crying. Adriana had spent the last twenty minutes sitting on the floor near his bed. She was rubbing his back and singing softly to her son. Ethan was always wound up after spending the weekend with his father. Adriana had come to expect this and really didn't know what to do. She knew that Ethan didn't sleep well when he was at Jason's. Now, she had to run to grab the phone so the noise wouldn't wake him. On the fourth ring, she answered it.