Nicole took a booth while Nick left to order beers at the bar. She was surprised when he suggested the Cheating Heart, it was hardly the place she would expect to find a Horton. But then, he was hardly ever what she expected.
While Nicole waited for Nick to sit down with her, she scanned the room eventually coming upon a couple of guys checking her out from a nearby table. They grinned at her and she kept from rolling her eyes. Normally she didn’t mind the attention but tonight it was really nice to just sit with someone who had no expectations from her; just needing some company as much as she did. She glanced at him bringing their beers over, there was a makeshift dance floor in his way and Nick had to jump to miss a couple spontaneously zigging instead of zagging. The action spilled a little of one of the beers onto the floor. Nicole shook her head at Nick’s reaction. If it had been her, she would have ignored the spill and kept going. But not him, obviously he felt it was a safety hazard and was debating about where to stick the beers so he could safely mop it up. Luckily, a waitress with towel in hand came to his rescue and he was able to carry on. Before she could help herself, Nicole chuckled. Who would have thought she would be hanging out with such a boy scout?
“What are you laughing at?” Nick asked, smiling at her smile.
“Just life I guess,” Nicole answered. She noticed Nick gave her the full beer, keeping the spilled one for himself. “Thanks.”
“So, how is your wrist?”
Nicole glanced down at her hand; it barely hurt now. “It’s fine, it wasn’t that big of a bite. The shot is what still throbs.”
“Well you needed to get it; we still haven’t seen that dog again…”
“Professor, relax. I’m just teasing you.”
Nick dared to look in Nicole’s eyes. He had reservations about taking her to the Heart. Hanging out in her living room was one thing, but sitting her in a bar he suddenly realized how they must look together. It wasn’t just the differences in their appearance that bugged him, but the fact Nicole was about ten years older and Nick hardly looked like the kind of guy to attract an older woman, much less such a hot older woman. Nick could bet people probably thought she was out with her little brother.
“I know, Nicole, I just am a little on edge I guess.”
“I bet,” Nicole said sympathetically, “it’s not easy to watch the person you still love make out with someone else.”
Nick shuddered at her statement and Nicole realized talking was the last thing he needed. Looking around, she saw an unused pool table in the corner. “Hey, you want to play pool?”
“Sure I guess. I don’t get to play very often.”
“Great! That means I’ll win, come on.” She dragged Nick up and over to the table, delighting in hearing him finally laugh.
“I thought you said you didn’t play pool,” Nicole said, irritated.
Nick laughed, “I said I don’t play often or much. I never said I wasn’t any good.” Nicole’s unbelieving glare caused him to laugh, something he found he could do a lot around her. But just because it sounded bogus didn’t make it a lie, he was telling the truth. By now, he had won all four games they had played with Nicole rarely getting to play much. He couldn’t blame her for presuming she had just been tricked.
“So how come you’re so good?”
“Simple,” Nick said while handing her another beer, silently taking note of how many she had had so far. “Pool is a game that really relies on angles and straight paths. It’s a game about geometry.”
Nicole’s mouth drop opened, “What the… are you seriously going to talk about math now?”
“Yes, you don’t have to play pool a lot to simply see which angles can come if you use the right pressure and trajectory,” Nick said delighting in the annoyed look on Nicole’s face. He knew very well she didn’t want to hear this but he couldn’t help himself. When Chelsea made that face, the one that said she wasn’t in the mood for a lecture, he would suppress the urge quickly to appease her. It seemed all Nick did in their relationship was constantly appeasing Chelsea. But with Nicole he felt a real freedom to let loose, even if it in a professor-ly and geeky way to do so.
Nicole rolled her eyes not believing he was going to stand there and talk like that, “Do you ever get tired of hearing your voice?”
Without missing a beat, Nick shook his head and grinned. He followed it with a long drawn out no. Nicole drank some more, clearly not understanding why she was enjoying herself. She hated losing, didn’t matter what it was in, she hated to lose. But here she’d lost game after game but she didn’t want to stop playing. She was just about to offer another game up when she noticed the guys who watched her earlier were still staring. Knowing men as she did, she knew they were looking to come over and talk to her and she had no desire to chat with them. Taking Nick by the arm, she told him, “Dance with me.”
Nick was taken aback, “Wh-, what?”
Grabbing him they went over to the small dance floor and she wrapped herself around him and Nick felt very, very aware of how close she was. What was going on? Clearing his throat, he had to tell her this wasn’t what he was looking for from her, “Listen, Nicole, I know you’ve had a lot to drink and you are really hot but I don’t think…”
“What? Oh, Nick, just do me this favor. Those guys on the other side of the bar are clearly interested and I just don’t need the hassle of them hitting on me.”
Nick glanced over to whom she was talking about. He was clearly relieved. A bit too relieved in Nicole’s opinion, didn’t he want a woman like her? Before she could stop herself she said, “Well you can try to look a little disappointed, Professor, it’s not everyday a guy like you can dance with a woman like me.”
Nick’s eyes darted straight to hers and Nicole grimaced as she realized how harsh she just sounded. “I’m sorry, I don’t know what gets into me sometimes.”
“Probably all the beer you drank tonight.”
He was still holding eye contact and Nicole lost her train of thought. She’d not been this close to him before and for some reason his boyishness disappeared. His drinking comment deserved a comeback but Nicole really didn’t feel like it, she didn’t feel like talking at all. So she placed her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes, she felt more tired than she should have. Being in Nick’s arms felt different than she expected, but she didn’t try to analyze it, she just wanted to relax and not think.
Eventually the song was over and Nick decided they should call it a night. He went to pay for the beers but Nicole surprised him by doing so herself. “I owe you for the high class meal you bought me last week.”
Nick grinned, “Yeah, I suppose.”
While waiting for the bartender to bring back her credit card, she decided to apologize. “Nick, I’m sorry, that last crack was not true. I think you’re a very attractive guy.”
Nick smiled when he thanked her but she could tell by his eyes he didn’t really believe her. Sighing, she knew there was nothing she could do to convince him so she decided to lighten the mood. “And in a few years, I’m sure you’ll out grow this lanky look you’ve got and look more like the adult that you are.”
Nick didn’t say anything for a moment and Nicole wondered if she went too far. However, his answer told her how much he could take a joke, “Yes, a few years I probably will, which should give you enough time to finish paying off your body.”
“Touché.” Nicole beamed back, glad to see Nick could give as good as he got.
Nick pulled up to her building and Nicole turned to him to thank him for taking her home. “You didn’t have to, you know.”
“Actually, I think I did. You drank too much to drive yourself.” Nick noticed Nicole ignored his comment and was just about to get out of the car when he touched her hand and asked her to wait.
“Why?” Nicole asked.
“I got you something.”
“You got me..” Nicole was confused. What did he mean he got her something? “What?”
Nick was red when he asked her to wait there as he popped the trunk and jumped out. Watching him with the rearview mirror, he pulled out a bag and then walked to her side of the car. Opening the door for her, he helped her out of the car.
“It’s nothing much, just thought after seeing your place, you could use…um, this.” He was clearly unsure if she would even want it, much less like it and Nicole felt her heart swell that he even thought of getting her anything. Opening the bag, she pulled out a four piece set of plates. “You got me dishware?”
To Nicole’s amazement, he turned even redder, “Well, it’s better than using paper plates, and you said you hadn’t had time…”
Shaking her head, she reached up and kissed him on the cheek. “I love it.” She meant it.
Nick shuffled off, clearly embarrassed but telling her he would see her around. He watched to make sure she got inside her building. He didn’t know why he bought the plates other than Nicole needed some. He also felt kind of silly, he had no idea if he would really see her again and he could hardly imagining giving her to them if he ran into her just anywhere, say at the pub. But tonight had been really nice and fun and it gotten his mind off of Chelsea, he was really glad he could give Nicole a little something to thank her.