“You like squid?” I ask, fascinated. She looks at me and shrugs.
“ I've actually never had it but I’m up for trying new things.” This girl is definitely unpredictable and that’s a relief. I find predictable boring.
“I’m impressed.” I smile, leaning back against the seat. It’s a nice place. The lights are dim and there’s a bar, it’s called the conveyor belt for sushi. We didn't sit there though. I wanted something more private. And this place is quaint and not too crowded. For a Friday, you’d think it would be. But it’s small and I think everyone goes to the other, bigger sushi bars. I’m not complaining. In New York, they had several sushi bars on the strip, down the road from me. I could walk to them, I sometimes did, especially if I drank too much. Tonight, I will have only water.
“So what’s your idea of a first date?” Maddy asks, pulling me out of my daze. The waiter brings us our drinks. I guess the past will be brought up whether I want it to be or not. I take a sip of my water and swallow, hoping I don’t choke on my nerves. I push my glass aside and lace my fingers together on top of the table.
“Well, I’ll be honest with you, my idea of a first date is dinner and then skip the dessert and head straight for the sex.” I watch her eyes widen in surprise, which I was afraid would happen. I guess it's better to be up front about it, she did ask.“But that’s part of me I've left behind. I've done some crazy shit I’m not proud of which is why I moved. I’m trying to right some wrongs and prove to my parents I’m not a complete fuck up and I can make it on my own, without getting into trouble.” I take another sip and notice her relax slightly, but keeping her gaze on me. Maybe she was surprised by my brutal honesty.
“So you said that was your idea of a first date, what is your idea now?” I lay my hands in my lap and contemplate my answer. Considering now I haven’t really been on any dates, I can’t say what my idea would be. But I can imagine the kind of date I’d take Maddy on.
“Still working on that.” I say, instead. And then…it’s saved by the sushi.
Chewing and smacking seems to be keeping us occupied for the time being. I don’t mind though. It gives me a reason to observe the effort Maddy takes to attempt her chop sticks. It’s cute to watch her struggle; she hasn't had as much practice as me.
“Are you just going to laugh at me the whole time or are you going to tell me what I’m doing wrong? These damn things won’t cooperate.”
I give her a sidelong glance chuckling. “Is it okay if I laugh first and then help you?” I pick up my chop sticks and show her how to hold them properly. “It’s tricky but you put them between your fingers, like so.” I hold them effortlessly and then reach over to set them between her fingers. The contact is quick as I pull back and ignore the itch to touch her again. Her fingers slip and the chopstick drops. Frustrated, she tries again. After a couple more tries, she finally gets it.
“Oh I think I finally got it now, see?” She holds it up in front of me and I can’t help but smile seeing her excitement.
“Good job. More practice and you’ll do it without thinking about it.” I say as I stick a bite in my mouth and wink.
“Maybe.” My mind wanders in the gutter for a moment but I bite my tongue. It takes every ounce of strength to remind myself that I’m not that guy anymore, the one who would say things to swoon a girl to get her to bed. I won’t be him again. I hated him.
"Do you want to try mine?” She picks her food up using the chop sticks and reaches over to give me a bite. It feels weirdly intimate, but I act casual and take a bite even though I don’t like being fed like a toddler. I chew and swallow. “I like it.”
“Yeah, I really like it too. I didn't think I would. Now can I have a bite of your octopus?” I hold in my laughter and she doesn't notice how her question sounded.
I pick up a small bite for her with my chop sticks but before I can send it in her mouth, she’s already stolen the bite with her chop sticks.
Oh hell no.
“Wait, what the hell are you doing?” She’s chewing it and clearly enjoying it, judging by the expression on her face.
“Sorry, you were taking too long…the fish was staring at me, totally creeping me out. But hey I used my chop sticks without dropping them.” She claps her hands excitedly. I’m not smiling and she’s not clapping. “Are you upset?” It strikes me as odd that I would feel offended I didn't get to feed her.
“Not upset, just disappointed. You fed me so it’s only fair I return the favor.” God, I’m such a lame ass.
“Well, I've been craving ice cream since we left, why don’t you feed me a bite. It has to be a flavor I've never tried before.” I perk up. Ice cream will definitely hit the spot.
“Deal.” She returns to her food. “Maddy?” She looks up, our eyes meet making me forget what I was going to say. Focus, Noah. I swallow and look down at my plate. “Thank you for making my first date worth all the shitty ones.”
“ You've had shitty dates? Or do you mean the ones that didn't go home with you?” Ouch, that was a low blow, but well-deserved.
I shake my head, “No, I’m not talking about those. I mean the dates that didn't involve you.” Okay that was stupid; I just said the same thing she did.