Pretending Ch. 03
(C) 2009 All Rights Reserved
Dinner and a movie did wonders for both Connie and Simon. Connie felt much better that she'd told him, and Simon was relieved to find he hadn't done anything to offend or scare her. The weekend was too cold to do much, although they did get out for groceries. Simon teased her and said she should cook for the next week to make up for him having to live on ramen noodles while she was avoiding him. Connie's mood was improving all the time until she spoke to her mother on Sunday.
"So, you'll be coming home for Thanksgiving, then?" said her mom.
"I guess so," she answered. "I hadn't thought that far ahead."
"Connie, it's in three weeks!"
"I know, Mom." She stifled an exasperated sigh. "It's just been very busy at work. I'm not sure I can get the day afterwards off, and I haven't had a chance to ask about it."
"Well, find out and let me know, I need to plan the food."
Connie knew that was ridiculous; her mother made enough food at any holiday to feed the proverbial army.
"All right, Mom, I'll ask tomorrow."
"Good. Now, will you be bringing anyone?"
"Well, you said you were seeing that boy, what's his name . . . Roger?" Now her mom would probe for details. Connie steeled herself for the conversation and resolved to say as little as possible.
"His name was Ron, and I'm not seeing him anymore."
"Because he said some nasty things to me and I told him to get out." Connie prayed her mother wouldn't pry for any details.
"Are you sure you're not overreacting?" asked her mother. "I mean, maybe you misinterpreted something."
"I didn't." Connie groaned, knowing she was going to have to go into some detail. "He said something rude about my leg, and having to turn the lights out."
"Well, you know, Connie, some people will have a hard time with your scar."
Ah ha, thought Connie. I knew it. Her mother never seemed to miss a chance to bring up the scar and how difficult it would make her love life. As though Connie had gotten the scar voluntarily, like a tattoo. Connie waited for the other shoe to drop.
"And you know your weight has been up."
"It hasn't, Mom. It's the same as it's been for the past couple of years." Connie checked off the "weight" block on her mental scorecard.
"Really? I thought you looked a little heavy the last time I saw you, but it was probably just the outfit you had on."
Zing! thought Connie. Two for one--insulting my weight and clothes at the same time. Her mother was amazing that way. She couldn't take it any more.
"Mom, I have to go. I'll let you know about Thanksgiving." She hung up. She hated to be rude, but the alternative was worse, so she didn't feel too guilty.
She wandered out into the living room and dropped onto the couch with a sigh.
"What's up?" Simon came in from the kitchen and handed her a soda.
"Ah." He liked Connie's mom, Lydia, well enough. She was sweet and had always been nice to him. However, she did have a tendency to push the buttons on both of her daughters. Connie usually just listened, nodded, said okay and let it go. Emily, her older sister, wasn't quite so laid back about it and he knew that Emily and Lydia had had more than a few fights. "So, what did she do this time?"
"Well, first she said perhaps I'd misjudged Ron," Connie began. Simon scoffed and she gave him a small smile. "Then she reminded me how difficult my life will be because of this." She gestured at her leg, and Simon felt a pang of hurt on her behalf. "And then, since I guess she just wanted to make sure she hit all the bases, she told me I'm overweight and don't dress well." She was silent for a minute, then continued, "I always assume she doesn't quite realize how this stuff sounds, and how hurtful it is. Maybe she does, though." Connie shook her head. "I can't think like that. It's too disturbing."
Simon sipped at his soda, considering a response. Connie didn't seem too upset, so he didn't think she needed or wanted a lot of sympathy. He decided to probe a little more. "What brought all this on, anyway?"
"She wanted to know what I was doing for Thanksgiving, and whether I'd be bringing anybody with me. I think she's afraid if I'm not married by the time I'm thirty, I'll start collecting cats or something." Connie rolled her eyes in exasperation.
"What are you going to do?" Simon asked. A plan was forming in his mind, but he wasn't sure if he could do it.
"Look into getting hypoallergenic cats." She gave a wry grin. "I guess I'll go home. I hadn't thought too much about it, and I usually go home for Thanksgiving. How about you?"
"My parents are going out to visit my brother in California," he told her. "He and I are fighting about something, and with plane tickets so expensive, I decided not to go. But I hadn't thought much past that."
"That's too bad." Connie gave him a sympathetic smile. "About you and your brother, I mean. I hope you guys can work it out. Jason was always such a nice guy."
"Oh, he is." Simon drained the rest of his soda, giving himself more time to formulate his plan. Now, if only Connie would agree. "I'm not even sure what we're arguing about, this time. I'm just going to give him time to cool down about it. I'll check in with the 'rents when they get back, and see if they think it's okay for me to call him."
"I'm sure it will work out."
Simon smiled to himself. She was always so optimistic, at least for other people. "And it will with your mom, too."
"Maybe it will." She gave a short laugh. "I know, you can come with me, pretend to be my boyfriend, and then she'll be happy, at least for the weekend."
Simon couldn't believe it. This was precisely what he was about to propose, and Connie had suggested it herself. He recognized the sarcasm, but decided to jump at his chance. He couldn't let this go on much longer; he was sure he would regret it if he didn't try for more with her. "All right."
"All right what?"
"I'll do it. I'll go with you for Thanksgiving and pretend to be your boyfriend." To start with. He aimed to be her real boyfriend by the time they came back.
"Simon, I was . . . I was just kidding." I don't think I can do that, she thought, panicking a little. I don't know if I could just pretend . . . or stop pretending when it's over.
"I know, but why not? Think about it. Your mom knows me, so you won't have to deal with the third degree. It will get her off your back for a while, you won't have to listen to her bewail your old maid status, and hey, you get to hang out with me." He looked at her with wide eyes. "You wouldn't leave me here all by my lonesome over a holiday like Thanksgiving, would you?"
"I already hang out with you." She tried to sound stern but couldn't hide a giggle as she tried to settle her thoughts. Maybe she should say okay. Maybe she should just indulge the fantasy. She was so tired of dating jerks, and she knew Simon wouldn't hurt her.
"Probably a bunch of people think we're dating already," he said. That much was true. Many times when they were out to dinner, or to a movie, servers or ushers would make a comment indicating they thought the two were a couple. Occasionally they would set the record straight, other times they just let it slide. "Come on, Con," he teased, "you know you want to." His tone masked his anxiety.
"Sure, why not?" Her heart was racing, and she wondered if he could hear it pounding. It would be better than spending several days with her mom going on about her leg, her weight, and her impending spinsterhood.
"Good, then that's settled, and I know what to do next." He couldn't believe he sounded so calm.
"We should go on a couple of dates before we go to your parents'."
He nodded. "Yep. We want to look convincing, right? We should go out for dinner, or to a show or something."
"I don't get it," she said. "We go out to dinner and stuff all the time. What's different?"
He gave her a sly smile. "We haven't been on a date before. That's what's different. People in a romantic relationship act differently than people who are just friends. We need to get some practice in, or she'll know we're faking." He hoped she was buying it.
"Okay." It sounded logical, but it also sounded . . . weird. Then again, the whole thing was preposterous, so she supposed she shouldn't go looking for everything to fit into nice, neat spaces.
"So, what are you doing tonight?" Simon asked.
Connie couldn't help laughing. "Sorry, I have to wash my hair." She laughed harder as Simon launched a throw pillow at her, deflecting it with her arm. "Then I have to paint my nails," she continued, still giggling. She saw Simon's grin and realized he was going to try and catch her, presumably to tickle her; he knew all the spots. Jumping up, she made it a few steps towards her room before Simon's arm snuck out and caught her around her waist.
She squeaked as he tossed her on the couch and tickled her sides. When she could get enough air in her lungs, she gasped out, "Okay, you win. Uncle. I'm free tonight." He stopped tickling but didn't let her up. Connie closed her eyes and tried to even out her breathing, still giving an occasional giggle.
Simon stared down at her as she caught her breath. With her hair tousled and her face a little red from the exertion, she was gorgeous. If he could freeze the moment, she would look like she was just waking up. His heart jumped at the idea of waking up next to her in bed. Before he could stop himself, he lowered his head and kissed her.
Connie's eyes popped open as she felt Simon's lips on hers, and she stiffened in surprise but didn't pull away. I never thought it would feel this good, she thought, letting her eyes drift closed again. Her hands came up to rest on his arms.
Simon felt Connie tense and then relax, and relief washed over him when she didn't push him away. He increased the pressure just a little and touched the tip of his tongue to her lips. He felt a small thrill of victory when Connie responded, opening her mouth enough for her tongue to peek through. At that light touch, he felt a little control slipping away. He slid his arms under her shoulders so he could lift her closer, and kissed her more urgently, hoping she would respond in kind.
I shouldn't . . . we shouldn't . . . just pretend . . . Connie thought as Simon's arms wrapped around her. She didn't want to stop, and just let her body respond as it wanted to. Her hands slid further up and she buried her fingers in his hair, drawing a contented sigh from him. She loved the feel of his lips on hers, of his arms around her, of their bodies close together.
Simon didn't want to pull away, but he gently broke the kiss. They were quiet as he continued to hold her, stroking her hair as she rested her head against his shoulder. God, that had been amazing. More than he'd dared to hope, or dream--and he had dreamed about kissing her countless times. He didn't know how long he could just pretend, but he didn't want to scare her away, and he couldn't let her change her mind.
To be continued :)