99% Faking It (Dating Dilemma)(2)

By: Chris Cannon

“Does he realize Matt is into Jane?”

“I don’t think so and the better question is why does Matt have a crush on a girl who is obviously so into her boyfriend? And no offense, but not many people could compete with that guy.”

“It’s kind of karma that she isn’t into him,” I said. “He’ll just have to move on, like I did.”

“Fine. If you’ve moved on, then who are you interested in?”

“No one, for the moment,” I said. “Although I’m actively looking for a new book boyfriend. Hopefully, I’ll find a fabulous new guy at the bookstore.”

“This is totally selfish, but you need a real boyfriend so we can double-date.”

I laughed. “So my love life should revolve around yours? Is that what you’re saying?”

“Yes,” Nina said. “And I’d appreciate it if you’d get with the program.”

“I’ll get right on that.” I knew she was joking but part of it rang true and that kind of bothered me. Is this what life was going to be like from now on? If my best friend has a boyfriend I’d better find one, too, or soon I wouldn’t have a best friend anymore? Because that would suck.

“Hey,” Nina said. “You know I’m joking, right?”

“I know.” I sighed and slid lower in my seat. “I have to tell you I don’t have a lot of trust in the male half of the species.” Given that my mom was a family counselor, it was the irony of ironies that my dad had abandoned her when she’d told him she was pregnant. They’d been married less than a year, and I guess the idea of being a parent had freaked him out. My mom said one day she came home from work and he was gone. No discussion. No warning. Just a bunch of empty drawers and a note about how he wasn’t ready to be a father. She’d received divorce papers in the mail before I was even born. I’d never even met the guy and pretty much thought of him as nothing more than a sperm donor and a complete douchebag.

“Given your situation, that’s justified. But look at your mom now. She’s been dating the same guy for years.”

“Yeah, Tony is great,” I said. “But I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they’ve never even discussed marriage.”

“Maybe he has his own reasons for not wanting to get married,” Nina said.

“It’s weird. I’ve overheard his cell calls to an insurance company about some woman’s bills and prescriptions. I’m kind of afraid of what that might mean.”

“Okay. So either he’s cheating on his sick wife, or he’s stayed married to someone he doesn’t love so his insurance will cover her medical bills?” Nina pulled into the lot of the bookstore and parked in the front row. “That’s either terrible or tragic.”

“I’ve almost asked my mom about it a few times, but if she’s okay with the situation then it can’t be too shady.” Everything my mom did was above board. Her motto was Honesty is the best and only policy. “Maybe it’s his sister or his mom or something.” I unbuckled my seatbelt. “I’m done with all this stressful real life crap. I’m ready to get my happily ever after on. Let’s go buy some books.”

We entered the bookstore. I inhaled the scent of coffee and ink-covered pages, my two favorite fragrances, and suddenly all was Zen in my world. A new display of Harry Potter shirts and bags caught my eye and sucked me in like a tractor beam.

I ran my fingers down the strap of a messenger bag with an owl pattern on one side and Platform 9 ¾ on the other. It seemed to be calling my name. I opened the flap. The bag was divided into two compartments and even had loops for pens. “I love this.”

“It’s cute,” Nina said. “I don’t really need another bag.”

“Since when does need have anything to do with it?” I had what some might call a purse problem. I liked to think of it as an eclectic collection of geek-girl handbags.

“Didn’t you tell me not to let you buy any more purses?”

I hugged the messenger bag to my chest. “I have no recollection of that conversation.”