The Dream Chase, Part One
The Dream Chase, Part Two
The following morning, Karmen awoke to find Atticus had followed her on all her social media accounts, and he commented on her latest selfie with “What a wonderful picture.” Karmen was over the moon, and she wondered how she could find herself falling for him after only one date, but he hadn’t left her mind since he walked her to the door.
Their obligations throughout the week kept them from getting together for a second date, but they spent their free time on the phone, often while they watched baseball. They made fun jabs at each other on social media, and as Friday morning arrived, Atticus decided to turn up the charm.
Knowing her love of sunrises and sunsets, he sent Karmen a picture of the morning sky that looked like someone had set the clouds on fire. It was a breathtaking spectacle, and Atticus found himself wishing he could share it with Karmen.
Karmen couldn’t help the smile that crossed her face, and she found herself wondering if he thinks about her as often as she thinks about him. If he could make her smile from ear to ear with pictures of sunrises and simple text messages, she wondered how he would sweep her off her feet if they were dating.
She was the first to arrive at Vintage Pages Café when she saw Atticus standing in front of the door, holding a bouquet of Gerber daisies, “Something told me you’d appreciate these more than roses.”
“Did a little investigative work?” Karmen arched an eyebrow, “I wake up to you following me on all of my social media accounts, and then you show up at my work with Gerber daises?”
“Maybe,” he chuckled.
She smiled widely as she took the daises from him, bringing them to her nose and inhaling their aroma. “They’re beautiful, thank you.”
“It’s my pleasure,” he responded sincerely. Atticus suddenly realized he would do anything to make her smile.
Karmen turned around to unlock the door, and Atticus noticed the way her pencil skirt hugged her hips, and his eyes followed along the back seam of her black pantyhose until stopping at black, 4-inch stilettos.
Atticus placed his left hand over his right wrist as Karmen turned to smile at him before entering her coffee shop.
She removed her jacket, revealing a white, button-up blouse. She looked professional and incredibly sexy. Atticus had to stop his thoughts from wandering to her in his bedroom, pencil skirt on the floor…”
“You look stunning.” His eyes roamed over her, and there was something in the way he looked at her that made Karmen feel beautiful.
“Thank you,” she smiled, “I have a lunch meeting with my publisher.” She smiled, nervously glancing at him from the side.
“You’re publishing a book?” He asked excitedly.
“Yes!” She responded with as much enthusiasm.
“Congratulations!” He stepped towards her and enveloped her in a hug.
Karmen didn’t want him to let her go, “Thank you.”
“We should celebrate.” He let her go and gazed into her eyes.
There was something about his eyes that captivated her, they were brown and mysterious, and something else she couldn’t name, but only people who have known tragedy carry in their gaze. That’s what made them so beautiful.
“My friends are taking me out to the Broken Oar tonight,” she stated matter of factly.
“You mean the pub with the Blues Brothers cardboard cutout?”
“That’d be the one.”
He smiled at her. “I’m having dinner with a friend who is visiting from New York, but maybe we’ll stop by for a drink after.”
“That would be great!” She replied. “If not…” she trailed off.
“If not,” he paused, stepping closer to her, his chest mere inches from her face. “what are you doing tomorrow?”
“Spending the day with you?”
He chuckled lowly, the sound reverberating through Karmen’s core. She found it incredibly sexy.
“I’ll keep in touch,” he responded.
“Please do,” she kissed his cheek and walked him to the door.
Atticus winked at her before leaving her presence, and she enjoyed the view as he walked away. As soon as he was out of sight, she jumped up and down, giggling like she did when she was 15 and on her way to a Backstreet Boys concert.
She put on her apron, turned on the Foo Fighters, and got to work baking the chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing, her publisher’s favorite.
Fridays were always busy due to tourism. Karmen felt terrible for leaving early, fortunately her friends understood how important this opportunity was for her.
Peanut and Miranda closed the café and left the antique shop and bookstore to the workers they finally hired to close. It felt good not to have to work extremely long hours anymore.
They picked up pizza and wine before heading to Karmen’s.
“It seems like you really like this guy,” Miranda said before taking a bite of her New York-style pizza.
“I’m completely smitten.” Karmen smiled before taking a sip of her wine. “He makes me laugh, and he’s charming, and he has the sexiest voice.”
“Not to mention his talent,” Peanut lifted her glass to Karmen before turning her attention to Miranda, “yesterday at lunch, she told me how she was up past midnight reading his book because she can’t put it down.”
“How far along are you?” Miranda asked.
“Chapter twelve,” Karmen replied.
“Tell her when you started reading it.” Peanut suggested.
“Wednesday,” she quickly spat before darting her eyes around the room and taking a sip of her wine.
The ladies chuckled.
Karmen sighed as she gazed off in the distance, allowing her thoughts to drift to Atticus as they had been all day. “I love the way he flirts with me,” she smiled as she made her way over to her closet, deciding what to wear.
Miranda walked over to her and brushed Karmen’s hair behind her shoulders. “I haven’t seen you this happy in two years.” Miranda had tears in her eyes.
“I never thought I’d feel this way about anyone again,” she smiled back at her friend.
Atticus entered the Broken Oar, and his eyes immediately scanned the crowd until they landed upon the woman who was currently living rent-free in his mind. Karmen was laughing, her head tilted back, and her long, dark hair hung down her back. She was wearing a floral skater dress that stopped above her knee and strappy pink high heels.
She turned her attention to the band and started dancing. Atticus’ heart began to beat rapidly.
“Oh, no.” His friend, Dean, sighed.
“What?” Atticus asked, never taking his eyes off Karmen.
“I’ve seen that look before. I know that look. I’ve given it to your sister many times.” Dean chuckled.
Atticus flipped him the bird.
Karmen spun on her heel. Her eyes fell upon Atticus as she watched him interact with his friend. His movements were animated, and she found it endearing, not to mention, he looked handsome in his khaki shorts and plaid shirt.
“Which one?” Miranda asked.
Karmen smiled. Miranda knew her so well, “Plaid shirt,” she replied.
“You’re right. Pictures don’t do him enough justice.” Miranda gushed.
“He’s handsome, right?”
“Incredibly.” Peanut stood next to Karmen’s left side.
Karmen smiled at her, “His talent, intelligence, sense of humor, and kindness only add to his looks. The pretty eyes and sexy voice are added perks,” she chuckled.
Atticus turned, and their eyes met.
Miranda smiled as she noticed the adoring way Atticus was gazing at her friend. She elbowed Karmen as if reminding her to move.
Karmen walked towards Atticus, “Hey,” she greeted him as she brushed a strand of hair behind her ear.
“Hey,” Atticus replied as he straightened his square glasses.
They introduced one another to their friends before finding a table.
Karmen danced in her seat as the band continued to play.
“Please don’t let me keep you ladies from dancing,” Atticus said before taking a sip of the hard cider Karmen had recommended. Atticus knew he was really interested in a woman when he found himself trying her favorite things, listening to her favorite songs, and watching her favorite movies.
“Feel free to join us,” Karmen invited, sounding hopeful.
“I don’t dance, but I don’t mind watching you,” he informed her.
Karmen blushed and smiled before Miranda dragged her back out to the dance floor.
After a few songs, the ladies rejoined Atticus and Dean, and Karmen slid her chair closer to Atticus. He smiled and leaned in close to her.
“Did you see the really stiff woman with her arms stretched outright?” He asked her,
“Oh, you mean the one who looked like she was doing an impression of Frankenstein trying to escape from a box?”
Dean spat his beer in laughter.
“That’s one way to describe it,” Atticus chuckled, “And exactly why I don’t dance.”
Karmen rolled her eyes and chuckled.
“I was just telling Dean how you are the only person who hasn’t asked me about my name.” Atticus informed her.
“I figured if it were a pen name, you would have told me your real name before asking me out,” she commented.
Atticus smiled, “Yes, it is actually my name. My mom loved To Kill A Mockingbird, and my dad could hardly help that his last name was Holmes.
Karmen chuckled, “It’s like you were born to be a writer.”
“That’s what I say,” He beamed.
As the night wore on, the group found themselves laughing till their stomach hurt, and Karmen and Atticus became more smitten with each other.
Atticus and Dean walked the ladies to Peanut’s car. Once Peanut and Miranda were settled, Atticus turned to Dean, taking the hint he walked down the sidewalk. Atticus turned his attention back to Karmen, “I’d still like to see you tomorrow even though I came out tonight.”
“I would like that too,” Karmen blushed.
“Do you trust me?” Atticus asked.
Karmen was not expecting that question, but God save her, she did. “Yes.”
“I’ve always wanted to plan a surprise date and see how things go. I mean, if you’re not at least remotely into the same things I am, are we compatible? And isn’t it best to find out early on before we dive too deep and leave ourselves heartbroken? “
Karmen smiled, “I actually really love that idea.”
“Yes,” she stepped closer to him, “I love surprises, and I love out-of-the-box thinking, and I can think of no better date than one that involves both.”
He smiled and kissed her cheek. “Is ten o’clock too early in the morning for me to pick you up?”
“Not at all,” she smiled.
“Great,” he opened her car door, “I’ll see you in the morning.”
Karmen kissed his cheek before getting in the backseat. “Good night, Atticus.”
“Good night, sweet girl.”