I grumble as I push those thoughts away. I don’t like the idea of it. Besides, I heard Tidas talking about Valerie and her single friend Gracie. It has to be the same one.
Once she’s got the box out of the truck, she places a smaller one on top and then climbs the steps to my front porch. I move away from the window so she can’t see me and wait for her to leave. But when she puts the box down, she straightens and knocks on the door.
Why is she knocking? She doesn’t need a signature for this one. I don’t want her to see my face. On the few occasions I’ve had to sign for something, I wear a hat and pull it down low. And even then I only open the door a crack to sign the paper and hand it back.
“Mr. Combs?” she calls out and knocks again. “Donovan?”
Hearing her sweet voice say my name makes my stomach feel funny. “Yes,” I say, but my voice is so unused, it gets caught in my throat. I clear it and try again “Yes?” I say to the door without opening it.
“I’ve got a little something for you.”
I close my eyes and imagine her naked and on her knees. “Fuck.” I have to think of football to distract myself. “You can leave the box.” That might have been the longest sentence I’ve ever said to her.
“I’m not sure that’s a good idea.” Her slight laugh is like music, and it makes me relax my shoulders. I didn’t realize they were so tense.
“Okay,” I agree as I go over to the coat rack and grab a baseball hat. Pulling the brim down low, I tuck my chin and open the door a crack.
She’s so short and curvy she looks like a little cherub holding a present out to me. Her cheeks are rosy and her lips are shiny, making me want to kiss them. Her freckles are out today, or maybe it’s because we’re so close I can see them clearly. I look down at the ground, trying to hide my face.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t here yesterday,” she says, holding out the small box. “And I’m sorry I was late today.”
“Where were you?” I’m just as surprised by my question as she is.
“Well, yesterday I was off because my friend is getting married.” I glance up just enough to see her smile sweetly. “I’m in the wedding.”
“And today?” God, why am I still talking?
“Oh, um, I was running behind.” Her cheeks flush, and I have the feeling she’s not telling me the entire truth. “But I brought you this slice of pie as an apology.”
She holds out the box, and I look down at it. Her nails are painted yellow with little white polka dots on them. She’s so bright and cheerful, which is the total opposite of me. I’m like that Care Bear with the cloud on its stomach, but I’m not cute and cuddly.
“I uh, didn’t know what kind to get.” She steps closer and holds the box up a little more. “I guessed and got you key lime. I thought everyone likes key lime, but now I’m wondering if that was the wrong choice.”
She’s talking faster, and I can see she’s nervous. I don’t want her to feel bad about anything she’s done, especially when she did this for me. Pulling open the door, I reach out my hand to take the box.
“Wow,” she says as she looks up at me, and her eyes widen. Her eyes travel quickly up and down my body like she can’t believe I’m so big.
“I like key lime,” I mumble, trying to turn her thoughts away from my size. I wish I could shrink so I wasn’t so noticeable in a crowd. I hate people looking at me, but her eyes aren’t so bad.
“Oh, sure. Here you go. Sorry I was late.” Her smile could heat the solar system, and I can’t help but think she's just like sunshine. Warm, soft, and it hurts to stare at her for too long.
“Th…thanks…” I stammer, and I have to clear my throat. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” She stands there for a second longer, and I look down at her feet. They’re so small. “I guess I’ll go. Have a nice afternoon.”
I don’t know what to say, and words don’t come to me as she turns to leave. I don’t want her to leave, but I’m not good at talking to her.
“Apple,” I say when she reaches the stairs. She turns around to look at me like she’s not sure if I’m the one who spoke. “I like key lime, but apple is my favorite.” I swallow hard, nervous that she’s going to think I’m a weirdo.
“Me too.” She plays with the long braid on one side of her shoulder, and I wish I could touch it too. It looks so soft. “Maybe I’ll bring apple tomorrow then.”