Nicole picked up her phone to call Roger. She was almost sorry to do it, but she couldn’t take Makayla out when she was so sick.
“Mom, you can’t. I’ll stay home. You go.”
Nicole smiled at her daughter. “You’re too young. I can’t leave you home alone. Even if you weren’t too young, I wouldn’t leave you alone to go out on a date when you’re sick.”
“But I really like him, Mom. He’s the only one I ran into that you talked to.”
“That you ran into? What are you talking about?” Nicole asked, suddenly suspicious.
“Oh, um, I just meant I’m really clumsy and kept running into people at the grocery store. You know?”
Something was fishy with her story. Nicole could tell. “Did you run into all those men on purpose?” Makayla shook her head, but her cheeks turned pink, and not from the fever. “Hmm, so it’s just a coincidence you never ran into an old woman or a man who wasn’t attractive?”
“But you like men who look like them. I saw them on your computer.”
“Excuse me?” Nicole asked, wondering what her daughter had seen. Time to update the parental controls.
“When I turned on your computer and went to the games website another page came up. It said ‘Vision Board – Husband’ at the top. I know husband is what Megan’s mommy has so I figured it meant you wanted one too. I was trying to help.”
Nicole sighed and shook her head. She pulled Makayla in for a hug to stop her lip from trembling. Her poor girl had been trying to find her a husband by plowing down unsuspecting men in the grocery store. And she’d snagged the most popular children’s author around.
“You didn’t have to do that, M. I would have found a husband all on my own.”
“But you didn’t, Mommy. You always said you had something going on with me. You never talked to any of them.”
Nicole took a deep breath. How did you explain dating and attraction to someone who thought Barbie and Ken were supposed to be because they both had blonde hair and were the same size? “I’m cautious-”
“But you like Roger. Don’t call him. I’m fine. See?” She pushed out of bed then wobbled when she stood and sat right back down. “That was just because I got up too fast. That’s what you always say.”
Nicole smiled at her and brushed her hand over Makayla’s face. “We’ll go out another time. But I can’t leave you tonight.”
Makayla protested again but Nicole picked up the phone and called Roger anyway. “Hello?”
“Hi Roger, this is Nicole.”
“Hey. Don’t worry, I’m planning to meet you. I won’t come to your house.”
She grinned. “Thanks, but um, that’s not why I’m calling. I’m sorry to do this at the last minute, but Makayla is sick and we just can’t come tonight.”
Roger was silent for a beat then said, “Why don’t I bring dinner to you. I’ll pick up whatever you guys want and grab a few movies and we can have a night in. That is, if you’re willing to tell me exactly where you live instead of just the neighborhood.”
Nicole laughed and glanced down at Makayla. Her eyes were closed and she was curled up on her side. “I’m not sure that’s a good idea. I don’t want you to get sick.”
“Are you sure that’s all it is?”
He hit the nail on the head. Nicole knew it. She was sure he knew it, too. “Okay fine. I don’t ever invite men to my house. I’m a single woman with a young daughter living alone. I’m anxious to have someone over.”
“I understand. How about I call and order food to be delivered and you can call them back and give them your address?”
Nicole shook her head. “I’m being ridiculous. You’re being nice. Just come here. I’ll work on getting over my anxieties before you get here.”
“Okay. And Nicole?”
“Thank you for trusting me.”