The month passed in a blur of social functions. As junior partner of his father’s law firm, Stuart Prescott escorted me to dinners and dances where we met with potential clients. More than once he stressed, “Carly, your long, blonde hair and gorgeous eyes are an asset at any social setting.”
If he only knew. Apparently, my history of tripping over chairs and spewing my drinks had not reached his ears. Once, I even dumped spaghetti in my date’s lap. Could that be the reason they vanished after a couple of dates?
At the annual Attorney’s Ball I met prominent businessmen and their spouses before Stu introduced me to a roguish entrepreneur called Jarrod Kirkson. We
dined around an elaborate table set with linen napkins, fine china, and crystal goblets. Jarrod’s eyes followed me when Stu passed the basket of dinner rolls. As I reached for a roll, my bracelet snagged Stu’s silk tie. Before I could free it, I dragged the tie through my French Onion Soup. While Stu wrung out the excess moisture, Jarrod’s gray eyes flickered with amusement. I ducked my head.
After dessert, Stu insisted we dance. Despite my protests, he pulled me onto the floor where we floated around the ballroom to a slow waltz. Without warning, the tempo picked up. Stu swung me around, then dipped me. I stumbled, lost my balance, and one spiked heel caught in his pants’ cuff. We tumbled to the floor.
The solution came in the form of a strong hand extended down. I grabbed onto it. Jarrod Kirkson smirked as he pulled me up. I managed a weak, “Thank You,” then brushed off my red, satin dress.
The following weekend we dined at an upscale restaurant with Stu’s parents, the Honorable Paul Prescott and wife, and of course, Jarrod Kirkson. Seated across the table, Jarrod’s eyes held mine. I broke contact and preoccupied myself cutting a rubberized steak. When I exerted more pressure, the knife slipped, hurling the steak from my plate. It slammed into Jarrod’s chest, dropped onto his lap, and stamped a baseball-sized imprint on his expensive shirt. I held my breath.
Jarrod gripped the wayward object between his thumb and and index fingers and rose. He winked at me. “I believe this belongs to you, Miss Simpson. I commend you on your marksmanship.” Casually dropping the steak onto my plate, he pulled the greasy shirt away from his body. “Excuse me, please. I should wash this before the stain sets.”
I stifled a nervous giggle as he strode toward the Mens’ room.
Stu’s clenched jaw spoke volumes during the drive to my duplex. He walked me to the door, then shook his head and blurted, “Look, Carly, this isn’t working. I realize you don’t intentionally commit blunders, but your lack of…propriety could cost Preston & Preston distinctive clients.”
He didn’t need to spell it out. Once again, “Carly The Klutz” had struck! How long would social goofs cost me relationships? In the bathroom I dabbed at my red-rimmed eyes. Then and there I came to a decision. I would quit dating and spend more time with my sister and her toddlers.
The next morning I joined Emily and her twins at the supermarket. At two-years-old, Andrew and Allie were handfuls. Emily strapped Allie in the upper section of the shopping cart while I situated Andrew in the bottom.
When my sister gripped the cart, Andrew howled, “No-o-o!” Allie joined in, adding, “Want Aunt Carly ta’ push!” while peeling her mother’s fingers from the cart.
I wasn’t entirely blameless. The twins knew “Aunt Carly” would provide a wild ride, zig-zagging around banana stalks, and stacked produce.
Emily threw up her hands and growled, “Well! I know when I’m not wanted.”
A sassy retort struck me as I grabbed the cart and started to push. I stopped suddenly, stuck my nose up in the air, and drawled, “Are you feeling lone-ly and for-lorn?”
A brick wall slammed into me from behind. I jerked around to find, not Emily, but Jarrod Kirkson smiling down at me.
I stammered, “I–I was talking to my sister.” But Emily had vanished! Traitor!
Jarrod’s lips pulled into a sulky pout. “I’m hurt, Carly. I was sure you just propositioned me.”
“I did not! Emily–” I frantically glanced around. My sister was missing in action.
Jarrod folded his arms across his chest. “The answer is yes. I’ll go out with you. How about tonight?”
“You are kidding, right? Even after I–”
“…slammed a tough rib-eye into my chest?” He nodded. How’s six o’clock?”
I was flabbergasted. Why would this handsome “proper” guy chance a date with “Carly The Klutz?” You do know you are taking your life into your hands.”
Jarrod shrugged. My heart melted when he tugged Allie’s ponytail. “I like living dangerously. Keeps life interesting.”
Interesting? He had no idea. “I’ll be ready at six.”
“See you then.” Jarrod strode past the kiwis before turning to wag a finger at me. “But…no steak this time.”
I giggled. Maybe there was a man for Carly The Klutz.