This story contain’s sexual content, violence, coarse language and consumption of alcohol it is rated R and 18+
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Sunday Reading (Waking Up Jayla)
Sunday’s were my favourite. I slept in instead of working out and today I decided to go for a walk to the park and read under the shade of an oak. I had zero obligations to anyone and decided not to make any plans. My sister had asked me over for dinner, but they also invited Paul. I held my tongue at her rudeness. I had to, her husband Theo was good friends and worked with Paul. I can’t help but feel like they were betraying me by still staying friends with him.
I settled beneath the oak on a small bench facing a large duck pond surrounded by shrubs and flowering bushes. I smiled at a small girl chasing a goose and opened my book. A delicious sense of serenity settled over me as I read. There was an undeniable joy in being free. I moved when the sun did and found a comfortable flat rock to sit on near the large pond.
When my tummy grumbled, I looked around. There was a small restaurant on the far side of the park. It sold over-priced mediocre fried food. Then I recalled there is a hotdog vendor on the other end of the large pond. Definitely a tastier choice.
“Why not?” I got up and headed closer to the water to watch the ducks and see if I could spy any other wild creatures as I made my way to the vendor.
“Heads up!” A male voice called out.
Naturally I turned my head toward the voice of a young teen boy. Warnings like that are rarely fruitful. The Frisbee whacked into my wrist and I dropped my book. It tumbled down the short steep bank and into the murky water.
“Ah crap.” I stooped to reach for it and it drifted away too far too fast.
I stood and turned to see Curt casually scratching his slightly stubble covered cheek. My heart jumped to my throat and I was instantly nervous. He looked amazing in cargo shorts and a light green polo shirt. The young man who threw the Frisbee came running over as did his friend.
“Man, I’m sorry.” The boy said.
“It’s just a book.” I glanced back at the book still adrift by the small island populated by ducks and a big white swan. I just bought it, but there was no reason to make the boy feel badly for an accident. “I’ll let the groundskeeper know. Don’t worry about it.”
The boy apologized and offered to pay for the book. I declined and told him that I wouldn’t punish him for having fun and being active. They eventually took off to play again.
“That was nice of you Jayla.” Curt said as we both looked to see the waterlogged book snagged on the exposed roots of a tree in the water. Curt took my hand in his, inspected my wrist and kissed the red mark. I was not prepared for my body to strike up the band and start the panty party.
“I’m just glad I didn’t choose my kindle today.” I took my hand back and breathed a slow breath of relief.
We both chuckled. I looked around to see if anyone was looking our way, possibly missing Curt or wondering why he wandered off.
“I’m alone or at least I am now. My son was just picked up by his mom.”
“Oh how nice to spend a day at the park. I love this park.” I started walking toward the hot dog vendor. I did have a goal after all. Book loss or not.
“It’s nice, but a bit out of the way. A friend recommended it. We’ll come back for sure. That playground is massive.”
I looked over at the large play-structure. I never gave it much thought. It was teeming with screaming, laughing and crying children. My sister Asha and her husband Theo brought her son Henry here all the time.
There was a man in city uniform removing a broken branch from a shrub so I veered toward him.
“Excuse me sir?”
He turned, looked me over and smiled. “Yes?”
“My book was knocked into the water and floated over to the island.” I pointed in the direction. “I don’t want it to make the ducks sick or anything.”
He nodded and glanced at Curt before crossing his arms. “Well ma’am it’s a five hundred-dollar fine for littering in the water.”
My mouth fell open in what had to be a comical way. “B-but it was an accident.”
“He’s teasing.” Curt nudged my shoulder with is arm.
The man started laughing. “I’ll have it removed, but I can’t say it will be in any shape to read again. Have a nice evening.” He smiled and walked away.
“Gullible much?” Curt teased.
I pointed at the sign listing fines. “It’s actually on there.”
He looked and laughed harder. “Dumping garbage isn’t the same as accidentally dropping a book.”
I closed the short distance to the hotdog vendor. I had a tag along. Curt seemed determined to hang out. Fine I kinda-sorta wanted him to stick around. He was easy to talk to.
“Want one? You bought me a drunk burger so my treat.”
He looked at the selection. “Surprise me.”
I smiled slyly at his handsome face. “Okay then.”
I ordered two Oktoberfest sausages and two Cokes. We sipped our drinks as the vendor woman chatted away about how lovely the day was. She was right. I loaded both up with sauerkraut, a little mustard and green olives. With a smirk, I handed one over to Curt.
“This looks disgusting.” He poked his finger at the toppings as we sat at a nearby picnic table with our backs to the table so we were facing the playground.
“Don’t knock it till you try it.” I took a big bite. “Mmm.”
I honestly love this. The tang and salt of the toppings complemented the sweetness of the sausage and bun. I didn’t expect him to like it or even eat it. I was curious how he’d react I guess.
He shrugged and took a large bite and his overly contemplative expression made me laugh. Curt finished the mouthful and nodded.
“Not bad. Needs more sour, maybe pickles.”
I laughed and took another bite as he did. We ate in silence watching the kids in the playground.
“Have I earned real conversation yet?”
I glanced sideways at Curt’s light and casual expression. “Maybe.”
“I’ll take a maybe. What’s your favorite food?” He chuckled and finished his last bite.
I raised my eyebrow at him. That was odd and cheesy. He reached over and swiped his thumb just below my bottom lip. There was a smidge of mustard on his thumb and he stuck it in his mouth. It was an oddly familiar thing to do and strangely sweet.
“I figure start with the small get-to-know-you questions so I don’t scare you off again.”
I looked away. I was slightly embarrassed that I ran, but this man who is still a stranger, had a strange effect on me. That was unsettling.
“Watermelon.” I said.
I narrowed my eyes at him.
“You said food. If you want me to break down my favourites in specific categories then ask properly.”
He laughed and it made me feel warm and safe. I wiped my face and fingers with a napkin and glanced around the park. Nobody was paying us any attention.
“Alright Jayla let me go first. You can reciprocate if you want to. Dessert would have to be tiramisu, hot food is loaded baked potato, veggie is snap peas and fruit would be sun warmed strawberries.”
So far so good. I wasn’t too nervous. What was it about him that made me so edgy? It was like a crush only worse. “Ginger cookies, chicken wings, celery and I already said watermelon. But I’d eat that every day if I could.”
“Does reading count?”
“Maybe if you had dived in after that book.”
We laughed and it felt amazing. There was no pretense no faking it. I wasn’t worried if he liked me or not because I didn’t want him to. Why? I really don’t know.
I shrugged. “I’m not really a sports person. I don’t hate them, but I don’t actively seek them out either.”
I know for some guy’s that’s a deal breaker. I never cared that Paul spent more time watching sports on TV alone or with friends than he did with me. It was his thing and I just wanted him to be happy. He hated having to explain any of it to me. He would ask me to leave if I asked any questions.
“I prefer to play over watch. Hockey would be my top pick.”
We got up and started walking slowly. I kept my hands together just below my breasts fidgeting with my nails as we meandered along the gravel pathway. We turned toward the gardens where a couple and their large wedding party were taking pictures. We watched a moment before continuing. They looked so happy. I didn’t feel bad at all. I’m not sure I’d go through all that again, but all the power to them.
I heard a familiar laugh and turned to verify its source. My stomach dropped and my breath came short and fast. Theo, my brother-in-law was walking toward us with his son and Paul. Great. Just freaking great. I can manage a conversation with them, but I did not under any circumstance want to be caught with another man who I barely know. Not with Paul in tow. The truth was I didn’t want Curt to meet my ex. They hadn’t noticed us yet.
“I have to go. I lost track of time. I have to go.” I said hurriedly if not eloquently in my panic. “I’m sorry.”
“Wait.” Curt said as I turned away.
I didn’t look back as I jogged away. I slipped around the corner. I chanced a glance back and Curt wasn’t following. I kept up the semi fast jog all the way home as I warred with disappointment. Disappointment that Curt didn’t follow me, that I wanted him to and that I ran. Again.
To be continued…
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