"So, I thought maybe you'd want to have lunch after this board meeting. There's something I want to talk to you about."
I hadn't talked to Cal in two weeks, but with the trustees meeting in a few days, I thought it best to check in. That, and I wanted to hear his voice.
"Sounds fine to me, if a bit ominous. Don't tell me you're pulling your donations."
"Nothing like that, trust me. Plus, I'm sure I'll be in desperate need of a laugh after the meeting."
"No doubt. I'll have to make sure Darren doesn't try to tag along. If you're looking for laughs, he's the last guy you'd want around."
"I don't know, Cal. You make him sound pretty funny."
"Funny strange, if anything."
I tapped my fingers against the desk, trying to keep my nervous energy from overwhelming me. It wasn't working.
"Any ideas where you'd like to eat? Diggerson's treat of course."
"How about that new Japanese place near you. Ooka, I think it's called."
"Yeah, I think that'll be alright. For one of our trustees, I can spend a bit more."
"What can I say, Cal? I'm an expensive date. But, I'm worth it. Don't you think?"
"I'm pretty sure Darren would let me spend as much as I wanted on lunch with you."
"Way to dodge the question."
"Yes, Cal. You're worth it. I didn't realize your ego needed stroking. I would have thought you were past all that now."
"Please, I'm a man. I'll never be past it. Plus, it's nice to hear."
"I'm sure it is."
"Is that a hint?"
"Nope. It was an observation."
"I can stroke your ego, if you need me to, Cal."
"I'm good, thanks."
"Damn. Because I was going to tell you how hot you are."
"There's no need to lie to me."
"Ah, and modest too. How about that?"
I pictured his face, his lips curled into a smile and felt my body go hot. My conversation with Kayla was stuck in my mind and I got the words out before I could reconsider.
"Actually, there's something I wanted to talk to you about as well, Cal."
"Really? Want my name on a building already?"
"That would be great, but I wasn't going to ask that for another couple of months."
Cal laughed and I heard papers rustling in the background.
"So, are you going to give me a hint or do I have to wait for lunch, Mitch?"
"Oh well, I'll have to wait and wonder. But, right now, I have to go. See you soon."
"Yeah, I'm looking forward to it."
I sat across from Cal and watched him crack open his chopsticks. I'd paced my office all morning as I waited for him to finish at the board of trustees meeting. My nerves were fried by the time we arrived at the restaurant. Keeping calm was a tall order but I did my best. I'd decided to tell Cal how I felt about him and ask if he'd like to go on a real date with me. Not one paid for by the college. Even though I'd painted Darren in a negative light, I was sure I could convince Cal he'd be okay in his hands. We'd covered the small talk and much to my disappointment, there were no `accidental' brushes of hands or touching of feet. I kept waiting for my chance to say what I was dying to say, but it never seemed to be the right moment. When Cal shot me a smile during a break in our boring conversation, I saw my opening. Too bad Cal had the same idea.
"So, you're probably wondering what I wanted to talk to you about, Mitch."
"I have been curious, yes."
Cal wiped his hand over the back of his neck and I noticed for the first time that he seemed nervous. A thought jolted through me and I was having trouble breathing. Could it be that Cal was about to ask me the same thing I wanted to ask him? The possibility hadn't even crossed my mind. Now, that we were face to face and he was about to tell me what was so important, my heart was pounding at the prospect of getting what I wanted. I barely heard Cal as he started talking, my brain already formulating my excited response.
"We have a lot of fun together, Mitch and I've enjoyed getting to know you over the last few years. Especially the last few months."
I could only nod as I rubbed my sweaty palms against my cloth napkin. Cal took a sip of water before he continued.
"This is kind of strange, I can't believe I'm about to say this. It's certainly not something I expected."
"Well, this whole thing has been a bit out of the ordinary."
"You can say that again."
He smiled at me and my heartbeat kicked up to a pace I never knew it had. I waited and held my breath, watching Cal's lips as he spoke.
"Anyway, the reason I wanted to talk to you was because something's happened."
"What is it?"
Cal laid his hand on mine before he laughed.
"Sorry, I don't know why I'm being so silly about this."
"Part of that charm you were talking about."
"And, I know you like to keep me waiting."
His laugh changed and he cleared his throat. Suddenly things turned serious and I felt the anticipation grow in me. He was about to change everything between us and I was never more sure I was ready for it. His fingers squeezed mine and I saw his lips part.
"Mitch, I've met someone."
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