The one as confusing as Steve. “Hey”,

The next day Amanda head off to work with
the thought of last night on her mind.
She couldn’t believe she’d said yes. What had she been thinking? Even if she
hadn’t still been grappling with the aftermath of her failed wedding, there was
a small matter of her imminent trip to Australia which she is considering to
clear off her mind and the fact that Steve had a child to consider. Not exactly
your ideal dating scenario. When she got to the workshop they had a busy day
scheduled and she threw herself into work the moment she arrived at the garage.
She’d just finished flushing the fuel injector on a Rhonda Civic when something
made her look up and she saw Steve walking toward her, his long stride eating
up the ground. She quelled the impulse to slip into her office and let another
deal with his inquiry, whatever it was.
She ‘d never backed down from a challenge, even one as confusing as Steve.

“Hey”, he said as he stopped in front of
her!

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“You got a minute?”

She crossed to the Honda. Steve followed.

“Is it about the date”, she asked?

“No. It’s about Ruby. Her school is holding
a mother-daughter fashion parade”.

“Right”! She had no idea where he was going
with this and she propped an elbow on the rocker cover, waiting for him to get
to the point.

His gaze flicked up to hold hers, and then
quickly flicked away again.

“Ruby and I were talking last night and she
suggested that maybe you wouldn’t mind doing it”, he said, his tone absolutely
neutral.

Amanda straightened so quickly she knocked
her shoulder on the hood of the car. She rubbed it absently, staring at him.

“You want me to go in a fashion parade”,
she asked incredulously?

“Not me, Ruby. And I absolutely understand
if you’re not up for it. It’s a hassle.

“My God, you are really serious, aren’t
you?” She couldn’t quite believe it.

“Well, yeah. Ruby’s not something I usually
joke about. ”

She laughed and slid the spanner she was
holding into the pocket of her overall.

“Sorry. I’m not laughing at you. It’s just
the idea of me in a fashion parade…
It’s pretty funny.”

She gestured towards her attire. “I can’t
tell you the last time I wore anything except jeans. ”

“Does that mean you’re not interested?”

“It means I’m probably not a great choice.
Surely there must be someone else. A family friend? ”

His face was utterly impassive as he nodded
briefly.

“Sure. I’m sure we’ll think of someone”.

He glanced at his watch. “Thanks for your
time, anyway. I appreciate.” He headed to his car.

She watched him, feeling as though she’d let
him down. Worse, she felt as though she’d let Ruby down. But the idea of her in
a fashion parade… it was absurd, it really was. Surely Steve could see that!
She barely knew how to put on mascara and lipstick, and she’d practiced for
weeks before the wedding so she’d be able to walk down the aisle in her
stiletto heels.

She was so not what Ruby needed and yet
Ruby had thought of her and sent her father to ask her.

“Damn it”!

She took off after Steve, catching him just
as he was sliding into the front seat of his SUV.

“Wait a minute”.                                                                     

He looked at her, his hand on the door,
waiting.

She shook her head, still unable to quite
get her head around it. “It’s not that I don’t want to do it. It’s just… Are you sure? I mean, does Ruby have any
idea how much of a handicap I’ll be? ”

“Ruby thinks you’re the bee’s knees”.

“Which shows how much she knows”, Amanda
said, but she could feel the heat rising
into her face.

She was so tragic. It wasn’t as if he’d
said she was beautiful or anything — he compared her to insect appendages, for
Pete’s sake! What was there to feel self-conscious about in that?

“When is it?” she asked to cover her
embarrassment.

“A week from Friday.”

She took a deep breath. “Okay. If Ruby
wants me, I’m all hers. God help her.”

The tight look left his face but his eyes
were still wary.

“If it’s too big a deal, its fine. Like I
said, I’m sure there’s someone else.”

She gave him a look. “Didn’t anyone ever
tell you to quit while you’re ahead, Hughes? You just got me to agree to wear high heels and makeup. My advice is to
drive away like a bat out of here before I come to my senses.”

She was smiling, suddenly feeling
unaccountably goofy. Slowly his mouth curved into a smile.

“Okay. Thank you! I’ll tell Ruby after
school”. She’d be dancing on the ceiling, no doubt.”

“That’s because she hasn’t seen me in a
dress yet,” Amanda said darkly.

“I was going to take her shopping on the
weekend. I guess maybe we should all go together, make sure your outfits
coordinate. That’s the way it probably works, right?”

 She
held up both hands helplessly. “You’re asking a mechanic. But you’re probably
right. What time do you want me to meet you at the mall? ”

“Seems silly to take two cars. Why don’t we
plan to leave at around ten or so and meet out the front of your place? Does
that suit?”

“Sure. Wait till Mom hears about this.
She’ll be in heaven.”

They finessed the details for their outing
then Steve drove away. Amanda remained where she was for a good minute or two.
A cocktail of thoughts and emotions swirled inside her. The warmth that Ruby wanted her to be her partner in fashion crime.
Surprised at herself for saying yes to such a ridiculous proposal. And
something else, a sort of strange, foreign excitement that she wasn’t quite
sure she even wanted to name. Brow furrowed, she strode to the workshop.
Hopefully Ruby wouldn’t have cause to regret her decision.