That Hippy Chick


"No way," he looked at her with wide eyes. "Now tell me about the pig-gate incident," he almost begged. "I knew she wasn't perfect."

"Cooper, save me from April," Matilda begged as he sat down between them while Nate moved around the table, to sit next to Wing and the every bubbly Penny.

Cooper stroked April's face and kissed her lightly, "What mischief are you up to now?"

"Fine. Fine. I won't say another word. See? I can be good like Matilda," she winked at Wing and mouthed, "I'll tell you later."

Cooper chuckled, "No one is that good. There is only one Matilda."

"Oh for goodness sakes," Matilda mumbled. She turned to Heather, "Is there a sign that says open season on Matilda, tonight? Did April put a kick me sign on my back?"

"Don't be so dramatic! You will ruin your good girl reputation," Heather smirked.

"You ran off this afternoon without saying goodbye to us," Nate offered, "That tarnishes your reputation a little bit." Everybody turned to look at him, "Hey!" Nate held up his hands in surrender, "Tilly needed someone on her side."

"You're gonna see her bad side if you keep calling her Tilly," April murmured.

"I thought we were supposed to be cheering her up tonight, not picking on her," it was strangely Penny that came to her rescue, "Tell us, Matilda. What's the next big crusade?"

Matilda shrugged, "Earth Hour is this weekend, so it's a bit late for that. But Earth Day is a month after that, so I suppose I will be pretty busy if I get involved with that team. I have been so invested in the park I haven't really thought about it, much."

"Why don't we do the Mangroves as usual and then picnic in the park? Invite all our friends and stuff," Cooper suggested, "It'll be fun."

They spent the next hour or so talking good-naturedly and making plans for Earth Day that got more intricate and exotic the more drunk they got. Matilda rarely drank so much, but her wine never emptied fully, and she lost track of how many drinks she had had. She woke up the next morning still fully clothed but gratefully in her own bed. Sitting up slowly she ran her fingers through her tangled hair and looked at the time, infinitely grateful that the cafe didn't open until ten.

Matilda began stripping the clothes she wore the night before wrinkling her nose at the strong smell of the bar that lingered in the fabric. Wearing just her underwear, she stepped out of her cabin to brush her teeth and wash her face, in an effort to wake up. Matilda stopped dead in her tracks, screamed and scurried back into her room.

"Now that's what I call a good morning!" Nate chuckled as he saw her flee back into her room.

Matilda pulled on a baggy shift dress and called out, "What are you doing here?"

"I made sure you got home safely last night. Just as well really. You almost fell into the bay twice," he was still talking with a slight chuckle in his voice.

Matilda emerged from her room eyeing him suspiciously, "That doesn't explain what you're doing here now."

"Well, let's see, I brought you home and tucked you into bed without taking advantage of your drunken advances," he smirked at her. "Then I went to leave, but the moon was so bright over the bay, so I sat in one of the deck chairs to enjoy it and fell asleep. When I woke up, I decided I wanted to see you again. I just hadn't imagined I would see so much of you." His eyes raked over her now covered body.

Matilda blushed deeply, "Well you have seen me, and I need to get ready for work. So, thanks for making sure I got home alright."

Nate was not sure he had ever been dismissed so easily before. In fact, he was sure he hadn't. Wing kept reminding him that this girl was very different to the usual girls he came across and that he needed to take a different approach if he wanted to get to know her better. He had stayed awake last night planning this moment and here she was driving him crazy again.

"Look," he said, "Let's start again." He handed her a cold glass of water and gestured to the stairs. "Good morning, Tilly. Come sit in the sun for a few minutes it will help you feel better than you can shower and get ready for work."

Matilda considered him. She had nothing in common with this man. She looked at her watch, "I really don't have time," she could see the disappointment creep over his features and marvelled that she always felt so guilty around him.

"Okay," he mumbled, "I will let you get to work then." Taking her by surprise he leaned forward and kissed her cheek, "Bye, Tilly. Thanks for last night it was fun." He turned and walked up the stairs pulling the door shut behind him.

Sighing Matilda went to shower and change wondering just how drunk she had been last night as her memories came back in flashes and she knew she needed to get to work to talk to the girls about what occurred. Dressed and ready for work she climbed to the aft deck and stopped in horror. A beautiful breakfast had been laid out and was rapidly going to waste in the sun. Moving quickly, she stored most of it in her fridge and pantry before reading the note she had found under the platter of fruit.

"Tilly" she read, "I really do want to see you again. I would like to show you something special tonight, no strings and no expectations. Please come. I will be there to pick you up after you finish work at six. I have put both mine and Wing's numbers into your phone, so you can call to cancel, but I truly hope you don't use them. Nate"

Shoving the note in her bag she hurried out to work checking her watch and almost jogging along the esplanade. At work, she joined in the camaraderie, and gentle teasing from the night before, her foggy memory clearing until she remembered it all. Heather had come in on her day off during the lunch rush just in case anyone was a little seedy from the night before. It was nice to have the four of them together at one point Heather exclaimed to April, "You're seriously telling me Matilda has no idea who Nate is?"

"No, and don't you tell her. Let her find out for herself," she grinned, "Wing told me that was a huge plus for Nate. Apparently he is looking for a woman with more substance than the vacuous bimbo's he was usually photographed with"

Heather laughed, "Substance? Is that what they're calling it now?"

The women laughed, and the day went by so quickly that Matilda totally forgot about calling Nate to decline his invitation for tonight, by the end of the work day as the finally closed up later than usual it took April to ask what she was planning for the evening for Matilda to remember the date with Nate. "Oh no," she cried slapping a palm to her cheek. Matilda looked at her watch then up at April, "I forgot to call and cancel. I think I have a date, and I am late for it!"

Turning from April's startled expression she went to hurry home but was brought up short by the sight of Nate leaning against Cooper's car chatting amiably to him. Looking at April she begged, "Help me get out of this, please!"

April linked her arm with Matilda's and walked over to the car, "It was a mad house in there today. Sorry we are so late. If I had known Tilly had a date I would have gotten Penny to stay back with me," she smiled sweetly at Nate.

"Traitor," Matilda mumbled under her breath, "I'll need to go home and change," she said quietly, "Maybe we could do it another night?"

"It's all good," Nate said, "We have time for a quick change. Come on, I will walk you home." He took her hand, and they bid their friend farewell as he set a brisk walking pace back along the esplanade.

"I half expected you to cancel on me," he smiled at her. "Did you find my note?"

"Yes," she said uncertainly, "Thank you for the breakfast you left you should have said something."

Nate shrugged, "No big deal." They boarded the boat and Nate took a seat on the aft deck, "I'll wait here," he said, "You go change. Don't take too long please. We have reservations." She looked at how he was dressed, semi casual and disappeared inside the cabin.

It took her fifteen minutes to slip on a handkerchief dress with a figure hugging bodice and try to tame her wild curls into some form of style. Nate smiled as he saw her emerge again locking the door behind her and took her hand, "We gotta get a move on if we don't want to miss it! You look great, by the way."

"Where are we going?" She asked as he pulled her along behind him and opened the door to his car.

"It's a surprise. Didn't I say that in my note?" Nate smiled at her.

The car roared to life and Nate pulled away from the curb. They travelled in silence for a while, "You know," he said conversationally, "When I have had this car rebuilt and reconditioned, I put in one of the motors that can be switched between E10 petrol and LPG Natural gas. I rarely use the E10 anymore."

Matilda was impressed and entered into a lengthy discussion about fossil fuels versus alternative fuel products. When they pulled up at a low wooden building that was dimly lit from the outside, she was surprised. Nate was the epitome of a gentleman he opened doors and led her into the building with a gentle hand in the small of her back.

The restaurant was very rustic, dimly lit by great fire places on either side of the vast room and wrought iron chandeliers hung with protected candles. Light glowed from the kitchen area in the back as they were led to a table next to a great glass wall overlooking the city. "You can almost see out to the bay from here!" Matilda exclaimed.

Nate was happy to see her so excited and checked his watch, they would have to order now if they wanted to eat before the event. "I'm starving he said let's eat, what do you feel like?" He asked passing her a menu. Finding several good vegetarian options of the expansive menu she smiled and ordered, accepting a glass of champagne but asking for iced water as well, she didn't want a repeat of the night before.

"Cheers," Nate held up his glass, "Here's to a fun night, the first of many I hope."

Still unsure about the man sitting adjacent to her, Matilda clinked her glass against his and smiled, "Cheers."

They talked about Matilda mostly over dinner the causes she was passionate about and how the cafe began. "What's happening?" Matilda asked as the waiters and waitresses began walking around with long sticks putting out the candles in the chandeliers.

Nate chuckled, "You know this. You of all people know why tonight is important." He pointed out the window, and the city seemed to shimmer and then blink out of existence. Nate gathered her hand across the table, "Its Earth Hour silly."

"Oh god! I am such a ditz. Of course, it is!" Matilda continued to watch out of the window as the houses of inner city suburbs ceased twinkling. It was as if a ripple effect was enacted until only the occasional light could be seen twinkling in the blackness.

Nate leaned close whispering, "You're so unlike anyone I have ever dated before. You are truly beautiful." He saw the outline of her face as she turned her head toward his whisper and he kissed her gently his lips barely touching hers at first. When she didn't protest he kissed her more firmly feeling her kiss him back.

"This is an amazing surprise thank you," she breathed as he broke the kiss. "I had totally forgotten. It's been so busy lately."

"I am glad you enjoyed it," he murmured kissing her again in the romantic glow of the twin fireplaces the only light in the small restaurant. Caught up in the moment, Matilda leant to kiss him again and found herself wrapped in his arms as the kiss lengthened.

Sitting up she smiled as her eyes finally adjusted to the dim firelight, she realised in talking mainly with Wing she had not really got to know Nate very well over the last few weeks. She had let her stereotypes rule her thinking despite the fact that Wing was his best friend, and she felt guilt about that now. She was enjoying this date more than she would have thought possible.

In the dim light, their dessert was carefully placed before them, and she looked at the small tart placed in front of her and grinned, "I haven't had this since... well for a long, long time."

"I am glad you're enjoying tonight so much," Nate couldn't help getting caught up in her relaxed enjoyment of everything. The girls he usually dated or was seen with would have been whining about the lack of light and the lack of paparazzi.

As they finished dessert, a middle aged woman approached their table, "I hate to interrupt what looks like the beginning of a lovely date," she said, and Matilda saw Nate's body stiffen. "My son plays for the same school you went to and is a big fan. Would you mind terribly signing this for him. He has most of the signatures from last year's team except yours and Mitchell Stewart. It's such a shame your injury sidelined you last season."

Matilda watched fascinated as Nate scrawled a few words on a napkin and signed it, "There you go. Tell him I will be following their season."

The woman gushed and walked away, leaving Matilda looking up at him with a bemused smile. "Look," he pointed out of the window again trying to avoid the obvious questions by turning her attention back to the city which was coming alive with light again.

"So pretty," she breathed. "I won't make you tell me if you don't want to," she said as she stared out of the window his hand creeping over to hold her again, "But if I go home and google you and you know my curiosity is piqued so I probably will, you may not like what half truths I find."

He laughed, "You are right, I wouldn't be happy if you believed the things you read on google about me."

"So then you agree that it's better you tell me what that was about then?" Matilda grinned.

"You are one of the few people who don't seem to recognise me, so forgive me for liking it that way," she pouted, and he sighed heavily. "My name is Nathaniel McCarthy," he looked at her blank expression, "My Dad is Connor McCarthy," her eyes widened with recognition, "My mother is Kelleen Malloy." He looked down at the table, "I guess I don't have to finish the rest."

"So I am on a date with the city's resident bad boy," she smirked at him. "You know," she said sincerely, "I pride myself on not judging people by their past or their culture and I guess I really haven't been doing that lately, especially with you." She considered him, "I'm sorry about that, but I have really enjoyed tonight and you don't seem like such a bad boy to me."

"Good," he leaned over and kissed her, "Shall we go?"

They drove back toward the bay, chatting about their respective families and what it was like growing up in their respective households. The one thing they had in common was the pressure they felt at being only children. Arriving home they sat on the aft deck amongst her potted garden and looked out onto the bay. They sat side by side, and he reached a hand out for her to take it. "Come sit with me, Tilly," Nate said quietly.

Matilda smiled at him, taking his hand, "This had been a perfect first date. Let's not rush it." Nate grumbled but agreed. They sat in silence until he could no longer ignore her yawning.

"Okay I hear you. Let's get you tucked into bed before I leave, so I know you safe and sound," Nate tried to look innocent.

"I can make it that far on my own," she laughed.

"You do realise you're turning down one of the countries most eligible bachelors?" He tilted his head at her a smirk playing at his lips.

"Oh well that makes all the difference," she laughed, "But I still need a rain check. I am just so very tired after being out with such a bad boy two nights in a row." He pouted at her, "I would be just another notch on your belt if I slept with you after a first date. What's the general rule there? Third date?"

"Okay but you should know I am counting last night and I will meet you after work tomorrow night," he smiled brightly and kissed her before she could protest.

"Sweet dreams, Tilly," she smiled and turned and left the boat whistling happily.

Matilda climbed into bed and fell asleep quickly aided by the exhaustion she felt from the night before added to the champagne earlier tonight. It was a deep dreamless sleep, and she woke refreshed and energised.

She had a shower and made some breakfast sitting to eat and listen to the news as the radio sang into existence. The news of the success of Earth Hour, still going on around the world, made her smile and agree that it was successful in 'oh so many' ways. She grinned to herself, thinking of the Nate she got to know last night. She frowned as she realised he had said he would pick her up after work tonight without realising they stayed open for dinner on a Sunday.

She cleaned the plates and grabbing her phone, sent Nate a quick text apologising for not being able to make a date tonight and made sure it sent, cursing herself for forgetting to put it on charge last night. She threw the phone and the charger into her bag determining to charge it at work. Sunday was always a busy day as people who weren't lucky enough to live near the water came out for day trips.

Matilda mysteriously said very little about how her date went or how she spent Earth Hour. The day was just too busy for anyone to pin her down and interrogate her as they rushed to keep up with the demands of customers which hadn't stopped arriving all day. Matilda checked her phone often and there was no response from Nate, and she sadly thought maybe she had over-estimated his interest in her. She had only checked text messages though not the amount of missed calls as he rang every hour to talk to her.

Finally tired of hearing it ring as it sat in the kitchen on charge, April picked up the phone in frustration. The conversation was short, but they both got the answers they were looking for and April hung up with a smile. Late that afternoon they started to arrive, but April was prepared and had called Cooper to come in for support. Usually most of their Sunday night trade was take-away, but tonight would be different.

More and more couples arrived asking for the Reds table. Matilda had no idea, but Penny jumped in saying, "Oh I forgot to tell you, big party come in tonight we better push a few tables together." The cafe had a BYO licence, but they tended not to advertise it very much preferring sober customers, but this group came with their own eskies and cooler bags for wine. April called Matilda into the kitchen to help her out with a few things leaving Cooper and Penny to run the floor of the restaurant. When Matilda finally returned to the room with plates of breads and dips for starters, she almost dropped the food as she saw Nate at the head of the table and Wing sitting beside him. It clicked in her mind that they had asked for a Reds table, not a red table.

Wing stood up as he saw her approach, "Here she is!" He called over the chatter, "The girl who introduced us to the delights of vegetarian food. Everyone, this is Matilda." Matilda pasted a smile on her face and turned and nodded politely at the assembled group and placed the plates in the centre of the large group hurrying to get the other plates for the large group.

Cooper who was originally from New Zealand was a mad Rugby fan and was in heaven with some of the greats sitting in his girlfriend's restaurant. He eagerly waited on the table taking every opportunity to talk to the men and their wives. Matilda helped as best she could in the kitchen but as time went by and the night slowed down April eventually shooed her out, "They're here because of you. Don't hide in here all night."

Matilda tried to smooth her unruly hair back and entered the dining room again, grabbing a juice and making her way over to the table. She pulled up a spare chair and sat between Nate and Wing. "This was a surprise," she looked at them both, "You could have given me warning about it."

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byxelliebabex© 19 comments/ 51918 views/ 43 favorites

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