by Jeannie Yee Davis
“I can’t believe you talked me into this, Sylvester. What makes you think Bob will come for a blind date?” If I didn’t run out of excuses, I wouldn’t. Alexis thought.
“He’ll show, Ally. Bob always keeps his word.”
“You keep forgetting. I prefer Alexis,” she lifted her petite frame taller from where she stooped, hiding behind the sidewalk bookstand at the adjacent shop to the café for her date. The hairs on the back of her neck stood upright at the mere mention of Ally, her ex-husband’s nickname for her when he gaslit her. Two years later, it still caused an emotional response.
“Sorry. Old habit. You’ve been Ally since we were kids.” Sylvester groaned into the phone. “Whatever name you go by, it’s time for you to date again. There are good people out there. Bob is one of them. He’s a widow, a loving husband to the end.”
“How do you know each other again?” Alexis glanced at the café.
“He’s my judo instructor.”
“He’s Sensei Bob? I don’t know. Maybe this isn’t such a good idea. I should…”
“You should shake off your doubt. That’s what you should do.”
“You’re right, Sylvester. I need to do this.”
“Good. Go! Have a good time.”
The call ended as Alexis was about to say something. “Never mind,” she whispered, blew the hair off her nose, and glanced at the empty table again. “He’s not going to show,” Alexis pursed her lips. She plucked a book off the shelf in front of her. She opened it, mindlessly flipping pages. Her eyes darted back and forth to the table, unaware of the tall man passing behind her, chuckling, entertaining himself watching her.
“You know, there’s a better way to find out if he’ll show,” a masculine voice spun Alexis around just as he popped a mint into his mouth but not before she caught his smurfy grin.
“Excuse me?” Alexis peered at the too-well-dressed stranger to be shopping in a bookstore. His neatly trimmed short beard almost concealed dimples as he smiled, unhinging her. She lost her footing.
He tenderly balanced her by her elbow, suddenly standing too close and locking eyes with her. “I noticed you playing spy and thought I’d play along,” his voice cracked to his dismay.
“Is your idea of playing along by spying on me?” She flipped her hair off her shoulder. She kept her gaze on him and returned the book to the shelf. He crumbled his mint wrapper and tossed it in the trash bin on the curb. She checked off “neat” on her mental list.
“Do I look like a spy?” he opened his sports coat like a runway model, and Alexis giggled, noticing his purple suspenders.
“Let me guess. You’re Bond. James Bond?”
“Bond. Robbie Bond at your service,” Robbie bowed, faking an English accent. “And who might this dainty spy be?”
“Alexis, barista by day, spy by night,” she curtseyed, feeling like a princess in her tiered dress. The simple play acting calmed her nervousness. Robbie felt like an old friend rather than a stranger she just met. “Thanks, I needed that distraction. I’m unsure about this first date since my divorce two years ago.”
“Ah, that’s cause for pause,” Robbie stroked his beard. “Before we were friends, we were all strangers. Your date might be Mr. Right. You won’t know if you don’t show.”
Seeing Alexis tense up, Robbie shared, “Ten years ago, I wasn’t crazy about a blind date either. My friend assured me that I wouldn’t be sorry. He was right. That blind date gave me nine wonderful years with my wife before she passed. I would have missed it if I didn’t go.”
“You’re right, but it’s hard when you’re learning to trust again. I’ve always dreamed of the love you two had. I thought I found it when I married my husband, but he was Mr. Wrong. I wanted to feel safe with him. For him to encourage me, cheer me on, believe in me, and love me on good days and bad. Someone who’d make me feel like…”
“…home,” Robbie finished for her.
“Yes. Like home,” Alexis gazed into Robbie’s compelling eyes.
“I believe Mr. Right is waiting for you. May I escort you to your table?” Robbie extended his arm to her. She weaved her arm into his.
Alexis pondered, staring at Robbie. “For a change, this feels like where I should be.”
Robbie flashed Alexis a smurfy grin and said, “You can tell Sylvester he did well.”
“You’re Bob?” Alexis gasped.
“I prefer Robbie, but I’ll always be Bob to Sylvester.”
“I’m so glad you’re my blind date, Robbie. Now, it feels like home.”