Friday, 28 April 2017

Five Dates: Chocolate Chunk Cookies

This week I'm sharing a short story series inspired by The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts.
 
Click to read parts one, two, three and four
 
Part Five:
 
 

Natalie had had enough of this dating lark. She’d quite enjoyed her fifteen minutes with dentist Walker but, on the whole, the evening had been a major flop and she was more than happy to remain single for the rest of her days if it meant never having to endure events like this ever again. Still, she had one date remaining. She’d sit through the next fifteen minutes, enjoy her dessert, and then she’d be free to go home and pretend the evening hadn’t happened at all.
‘Hey.’ Her date slipped into the opposite seat and flashed a smile at Natalie. It wasn’t the cocksure grin of her previous date, nor was it the shy, fleeting smile of Walker. It was a happy medium; warm and friendly without a hint of arrogance.
‘Hello.’ Natalie returned the smile, finding it wasn’t as painful as she’d suspected playing along for the final date would be. ‘I’m Natalie.’
‘Rav.’ A hand was offered, which she shook, briefly. ‘Well done for making it through to the end.’
‘We’re not quite there,’ Natalie pointed out. ‘We still have fourteen and a half minutes to go.’
‘That’s true.’ Rav smiled again. He had a dimple in his right cheek, which Natalie removed her gaze from. ‘Be gentle with me. It’s been quite a night.’
‘You haven’t enjoyed it?’ Natalie didn’t add ‘either’ to her question, but her tone suggested it.
‘I have,’ Rav said. ‘Sort of. Ish.’ He laughed lightly and shook his head. ‘Not at all, actually. I thought it’d be fun, but I don’t think I match with any of my dates. So far, obviously. I don’t know enough about you to gauge yet.’
‘We both wear glasses,’ Natalie said. Rav was wearing a pair of black, thick-rimmed glasses with rounded oblong lenses. He obviously didn’t have friends who’d persuaded him to leave the specs behind. ‘But mine are at home. It’s a decision I’m regretting.’ She grimaced and rubbed at her temples.
‘You poor thing.’ Rav’s eyebrows knotted with concern. ‘The girl in the pink offered me some pills earlier, but I don’t think they were paracetamol.’
Natalie’s mouth gaped. ‘You’re kidding.’
Rav shook his head. ‘I’m afraid not.’
‘Wow. I thought some of my dates had been questionable, but that takes the biscuit.’
‘Talking of biscuits …’
The waitress had arrived with their final dessert of the evening. They’d already enjoyed mini fairy cakes, dainty slices of American-style cheesecake, little portions of apple crumble, and raspberry cream cheese brownies, and they were going to finish off their evening with cookies stuffed with gooey chocolate chunks.
‘Is this your first experience of speed dating?’ Natalie asked once the waitress had left them with their plates of biscuits.
‘I wish. I’ve been to a few more traditional speed dating evenings. This is tame in comparison.’ He broke off a piece of cookie and popped it into his mouth.
‘If they were so bad, why are you still going with it?’
Natalie was genuinely curious. She couldn’t imagine putting herself through this again. She wasn’t against dating in general, but she’d rather know what she letting herself in for before committing to a date, even if they were only minutes long.
Rav shrugged. ‘I guess I’m a romantic. I know the right girl is out there somewhere, and I’m too impatient to sit around waiting to meet her. I need to be proactive. Plus, this way I get to eat delicious treats. Have you tasted these cookies? They’re amazing.’
Natalie narrowed her eyes, her cookie still untouched in front of her. ‘Was that a line? About being a romantic?’
‘God, no.’ Rav laughed and broke off another piece of cookie. ‘You should ask my family: my dad thinks I’m a wuss, my brother’s convinced I’m gay, and my mum thinks I’m the sweetest boy ever created.’
‘So what makes you a romantic? Apart from not only believing in The One, but going out to find her?’
Rav considered the question for a moment before answering. He placed his cookie back down on his plate and brushed the crumbs from his fingers. ‘I guess I just like to see people being happy. There’s nothing better than seeing somebody’s face lighting up because of something you’ve done – a bouquet of their favourite flowers, a note left in their pocket, even something as simple and mundane as a cup of tea after a long day. And I’m genuinely thrilled whenever my mates announce an engagement or start having babies, even if I am a little bit envious that they’ve found that special person.’
Natalie nibbled her chocolate chunk cookie as she listened. Was this guy real? Or was he playing her? Telling her what she wanted to hear? Because lord knows she’d love a bloody cup of tea after a long day. She’d lived with Hugh for two years and she swore he didn’t know where the kettle had been kept in their flat.
‘Okay, Mr Romantic. What are your views on picnics?’
Hugh didn’t understand picnics. They lived in UK, where it was almost guaranteed to piss it down with rain, so why would they go to the bother of packing a picnic and freezing their arse off while waiting for their food to get soggy?
‘I love a picnic. What’s not to love? Good food, even better company, the sunshine on your skin.’
‘What about the swarms of ants crawling all over your sandwiches?’
Rav shook his head. ‘Hasn’t happened yet, so I feel quite safe.’
‘What are your views on Sex and The City?’
‘It’s pretty funny, actually. I’m not a great fan of the films, though. Sorry.’
Dirty Dancing?’
‘Not my favourite, I have to admit. But not the worst film I’ve ever seen. Certainly watchable.’
‘When’s your mum’s birthday?’
Hugh hadn’t known his own mother’s birthday, even though Natalie wrote it on the calendar each year. Natalie inevitably had to buy and wrap the gift, though Hugh would begrudgingly deliver it in person.
‘Twentieth of June,’ Rav said without having to think about it. ‘She’s a Gemini.’
‘You sound too perfect. Tell me something bad about yourself?’
‘I crack my knuckles. A lot. Drives my family nuts. I also talk to myself.’ Rav grinned. ‘Sometimes it’s the only way to have a decent conversation.’
‘That’s it?’ Jeez, even Natalie had worse habits than that.
‘I chew the end of pens, whether they belong to me or not.’
‘Well, that proves it.’ Natalie threw her hands up, her tone turning sarcastic. ‘You’re a terrible human being. Why am I even wasting my time talking to you?’
‘I can’t help being a decent person. Blame my mum for bringing me up so well.’
‘You really are too good to be true. What do you do for a living? Rescue kittens from trees and nurture orphaned puppies?’
‘I’m a youth worker, so I generally try to engage young people in activities and discussions while they’d rather be anywhere else. Thankfully, I love my job. What about you?’
Natalie told him about her job as a carer.
‘So we both work out in the community,’ Rav said. ‘It isn’t just the glasses and a not-that-great evening we have in common.’
‘It turns out my evening hasn’t been as bad as I thought it was going to be,’ Natalie said.
Rav smiled across at her. ‘Mine hasn’t either. I’ve quite enjoyed being interrogated by you.’
Natalie made a ‘pfft’ sound. ‘Interrogated? More like a gentle grilling.’
‘You do know I’ll have to return the favour and give you a “gentle grilling” if we go on a second date, don’t you?’
Natalie felt the stirring of butterflies in her tummy. Rav would like to go on a second date? Would she be open to that?
She didn’t have long to decide as the bell rung, signalling the end of the date. She was disappointed that her fifteen minutes with Rav were over, but did she want to see him again?
    'That wasn't so bad, was it?' the hostess asked as Natalie handed over her scorecard.
    'No, I suppose it wasn't.' Natalie found she was unable to keep the grin from her face as she headed out of the café. She couldn’t wait to meet up with Gina and Jade and tell them about her unexpectedly pleasant evening.
 

Part One | Part Two  | Part Three | Part Four  | Part Five
 
I hope you've enjoyed the Five Dates series - but what happens next for Natalie? Whose name does she tick on her scorecard?
 
YOU decide. Vote using the form below, and whichever lucky fella receives the most votes will go on a second date with Natalie! The sixth instalment will go out exclusively to my newsletter subscribers, so do sign up - it's easy and completely free!

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About The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts
 
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Teashop-Broken-Hearts-ebook/dp/B01MDNF71Y/

From fairy cakes to first dates!

Maddie Lamington’s dreams are crumbling around her. If she doesn’t come up with a plan to save her little teashop on Sweet Street soon, it might be too late…

So when she sees how the perfect apple crumble brings together her lonely father and faithful customer Birdie, inspiration strikes: she’ll set up a dating night involving all her sweetest bakes.

Luckily, seriously gorgeous Caleb is on hand to help sprinkle a little magic – and a lot of sugar! Could one night of scrumptious first dates fix Maddie’s heartbreak and save her beloved teashop, too?
 

2 comments:

  1. Rav, Rav, Rav! Aww, he was perfect! And so were all these little stories, Jenn! I've absolutely loved reading them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad you've enjoyed them, Jaimie! I'm looking forward to writing the next instalment :)

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