Reckless Abandon by Jennifer Anthony

Corner Booth Episode 44

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1 November 2008

Reckless Abandon

by Jennifer Anthony

Roxie was nothing if not a bastion of self-control.

 With a few minor exceptions:

 1. PMS. Of course.

 2. Just before bedtime after 14-hour work days.

 3. And during moments of relationship uncertainty.

 During these rare and unfortunate times, Roxie would succumb to unhealthy quantities of movies and sweets.

 Now was one such time. According to Graciela, Javier had decided not to go to Cuba because of Roxie. But she hadn’t received that critical newsflash until after she had refused to answer his phone calls or emails for several days, and now he was being cold and standoffish. She was sure her bitchy behavior had made him rethink his decision. And she had no one to blame but herself for leaping to false conclusions.

 So her Saturday night had consisted of a marathon of her two favorite types of movies: Disney and British Indie flicks. The line-up, such as it was, had been Dumbo, The Little Mermaid, Trainspotting, and Shaun of the Dead.

 Now, at 11:00 on a Sunday morning, she stood at the park kitty korner from Magnolia Bakery, eating her weight in cupcakes. She always had a vanilla cupcake with pink icing. But then she tried a vanilla cupcake with green icing, just to make sure that the frosting did indeed taste the same, as everyone claimed. There was no explanation for the chocolate buttermilk with pink icing, other than reckless treat abandon.

 The thick layer of frosting on each cupcake had enough sugar to have a small child bouncing off the walls for a week, and yet Roxie continued chomping away, paying little attention to the cupcake shrapnel that fell on her chin and across her chest. She was just tucking the last bite into her mouth when she heard footsteps behind her.

 “Hello, cupcake,” Javier said.

 Roxie whirled around. As she did, she saw a piece of chocolate cake fly off her face and onto the ground. Within seconds, three pigeons were scooting toward it, their eyes dilated.

 “Hi,” Roxie mumbled. She found herself wishing for a manhole to crawl into, although the possibility of fitting into one after three cupcakes was slim to minimal.

 “Early for you to be walking around the Village,” Javier said.

 Roxie wanted to kiss him for pretending not to notice the deflated bag in her hands, or the crumbs across her front. But he was just being diplomatic, not warm and friendly. So she proceeded carefully. “Early night. Just stayed in, watching movies. What about you?”

 “Couldn’t sleep, even though we had a late night at the club. I was headed across the street to Biography. Wanna join me in looking for some bargains?”

 Roxie nodded, trying not to look eager. This is precisely why she had fallen for him. He was a gentleman, willing to overlook the obvious fact that she had been gorging herself on cupcakes. Willing to set aside the fact that he was still upset with her and invite her along with him.

 And willing to reach for her hand as they stepped into the street.

 “Hey,” he said, once they had crossed the street and stood before the table of bargain books. He dropped her hand. “I’m sorry I’ve been a little – well, cold. I’ve been doing some thinking.”

  Here we go, Roxie thought. He’s reconsidered the whole situation and he’s going to go to Cuba after all. 

 Javier trailed an index finger over the titles of the books nearest him. “So I’ve been thinking. And I’m done being upset. I’m glad I decided against going to Cuba for that gig. I want to really try to make this relationship work.”

 He turned to face her. “I really like you, Roxie. And I think if you let yourself, you could fall for me, too.”

 The words slipped out of her mouth before she could catch them. “I already have.”

 Javier took her hand again, and kissed it, softly. “See, not such a scary thing to admit that you like me. Sure, you’ve said it when we’re making love. And I’m not complaining about that, but it’s good to hear it other times, too.”

 Roxie stood with her feet apart, like she did when she had to present something to her boss. She did her best to look him in the eye, and not quaver. “I love you, Javier.”

 “Well, you know what? I love you, too, Roxie.”

 Beside them, an eavesdropping couple gawked. Roxie could almost see the girl’s mental gears whirring, wondering if this is what happened to all couples at this bookstore.

 Javier picked up a biography about Miles Davis. “I’m gonna go pay for this. And then, would you mind walking with me to Billy’s Bakery? That’s where I go to get my cupcakes. Maybe you could try one?”

 Roxie smiled and took his hand. He was even willing to offer her another cupcake.

 


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