And then there’s an emoji of flowers to accompany the words.
I quickly text him back, Thanks. So far so good!
Apparently, I’m smiling, because my aunt asks, “What’s the good news in your text messages?”
I look up at her, taken aback and not sure if I should tell her about Derek.
“Come on!” she guesses. “You met someone. I know that look anywhere. And don’t think you can hold out on me. I just spilled my guts to you; it’s your turn to let me know the scoop.”
“Okay,” I laugh, because she does have a point. “Well, I know this is ridiculously fast, but I just met him yesterday, at…” I pause, not wanting to tell her all the sordid details, “…the bakery. He came in and it was like, love at first sight, as crazy as that sounds.”
“That doesn’t sound crazy at all,” she says. “Some people are with someone their whole lives and never feel that feeling.”
“That’s true,” I tell her, thinking of my mom.
Suddenly I’m really glad it didn’t work out at all with Maxim’s dad and me, or else I never would have met Derek. I might have been stuck in a miserable marriage like my mom and dad.
I feel my phone vibrate in my hand with another text, so I look down and see that he says, “Any chance we can meet up? I already miss you.”
My mouth turns to the side in a half-smile, half-frown, as I look at it.
“What’s Romeo have to say?” my aunt asks.
“He wants to meet up,” I tell her.
“Well, tell him to swing by!” she says. “No time like the present for him to meet Maxim, and me, right? We’ll see if this is really meant to be, by how he reacts to the three of us. A lot of men can’t handle that kind of pressure, and you’d rather find out now than later, after you’ve invested more into the relationship, right?”
“True,” I tell her, thinking that my aunt is a genius.
But mostly, I’m just happy for the permission to see Derek again, on what was supposed to be a day spent alone with Aunt Barb and Maxim.
“If you don’t mind meeting my milk monster and my aunt who helps me with him, you can come by Memorial Park,” I text Derek back.
“MIND? I’d LOVE to!” he quickly responds.
I smile big now, not trying to hide it.
“I really hope you like him,” I tell Aunt Barb.
“If you like him, I like him, honey,” she says with a smile. “And I can tell you do. I haven’t seen you look this happy in a long time.”
She’s right about that – but she doesn’t know just how much I like him – or more.
Not even thirty minutes later, Derek shows up, and he’s not alone. He’s brought along an adorable dog. And some flowers.
“Hello, gorgeous,” he says, giving me a kiss on the cheek and handing me roses.
“Hi,” I say, while my aunt raises her eyebrows approvingly.
“And these are for you, if you’re her aunt?” Derek asks, looking suspiciously at Aunt Barbara. “Jocelyn told me she was here with her aunt, but you look way too young to fit that description.”
“Well, thank you,” Aunt Barbara says, as he places some daffodils in her arms. “I’m not that much older than her.”
“I can tell,” Derek says, and then holds out his hand to him. “I’m Derek.”
“And I’m Barbara. It’s great to meet you.”
And then Derek looks down at Maxim, who is sleeping in my lap, and says, “And this must be Mr. Handsome. At least, that’s what he looks like to me.”
“Thanks,” I tell him, smiling. “His name is Maxim.”
“Maxim. A name fit for a warrior.”
His little terrier dog is jumping all around, half barking, half whining, wanting his attention.
“And this is Squeaky,” he says. “He’s not as cute as Maxim but he’s all I’ve got.”
“He sure is adorable,” I say, while Aunt Barbara nods.
Derek takes a ball out of his pocket and throws it, which is the only thing that gets the dog to be quiet. He goes bounding after it and then gets it. It’s a toy that squeaks in his mouth and we can hear him bringing it back.
“He loves that toy so much that I named him after it,” he says. “But anyway. It’s a lovely day. Happy Mother’s Day.”
He sits down on the blanket and Aunt Barbara pours him some iced tea.
“Would you like a sandwich?” she asks. “We already ate but we have extra.”
“Sure,” he says, and after he bites into the turkey and cheese sandwich she hands him, he winks at me and says, “I was starving.”
He’s being rather subtle, since my aunt is here, but somehow I know this means we worked up more than just an appetite last night together.
“Well, glad I could help you out,” I tell him, trying not to blush.