His Virgin BabysitterBy: Lila Younger
(An Older Man Younger Woman Romance)
I settle myself down onto the uncomfortable red metal bench and plop down my purse. Rummaging around, I manage to find my blue pen and sigh. This is the last one, I think to myself. My hand is going to fall off, and there are only so many applications I can fill out. I decide to treat myself to a frappuccino after this and start at the very top. All these applications are the same and the repetitiveness of it all is definitely getting to me. Of course, maybe if I hadn’t landed myself in this mess, I wouldn’t be applying to Target. Nothing wrong with it, but for someone who’s always aimed to be a doctor or a lawyer, it’s definitely disappointing.
“It’s just a year,” I mutter to myself. “And then I can go back.”
Since I’ve done this so many times, I’m blasting through the application. But then I hit the part about my schooling and I stop. What the hell do I put here? Suspended? Didn’t finish? None of it sounds great. Ironically, I landed in my current situation because I was the only one who told the truth. For some reason, that also meant that I was the only one the school could punish. So instead of going back to school after winter break, I’m stuck at home. Yuck.
I run my hand through my thick chestnut hair and sigh one more time. I already applied at all the graphic design firms and office receptionist positions I could find. Not one of them responded. Then I started looking at stuff in customer service and the restaurant industry. If something doesn’t pan out, I’m not sure what I’m going to do. My parents already made it clear that they weren’t about to give me a free ride. I tried to explain what happened, but they were too busy scrambling for a plausible lie for why I’m not going back to university.
Come on Jade. This isn’t like you to be all doom and gloom about things.
There’s nothing else to do but suck it up and finish, so I do just that. Once I’m done filling out the same information I’ve filled out a hundred times by now, I drop the application back to the chubby guy behind the customer service counter and head for the Starbucks in Target. As I go, I catch the eye of a guy who’s at the self-checkout, and he flashes me a smile. I flush and duck my head down out of habit. It’s the ugly duckling syndrome, but even though I’m aware of it, it’s still hard to break. We moved a lot in junior high, so it was almost impossible for me to make friends. Since I was always the new kid, I was naturally picked on.
I’m not ugly, not by a long shot. As my mom would say, my body just grew at different rates. Of course, I just thought she was being kind about my knobby knees and overlong arms, but I did grow almost two inches in senior year, and filled out more too. And it turns out mom was right. Everything is now nicely proportioned, put together the right way. But by now blushing and looking away is a reflex that I do without thinking, which probably accounts for why I still don’t have a boyfriend. If I am braver I would smile back and maybe even flirt a little, but I have no clue how to do any of that stuff, so instead I just hurry into Starbucks.
Once I suck in a few gulps of my vanilla bean frap and figure that the coast is clear, I head towards the Target parking lot. I’m right by the carts when a gold whirlwind crashes into my leg. I look down and see an adorable little girl in what looks like a Belle costume, complete with gloves and all. She looks seriously adorable.
“You okay, Belle?” I ask, bending down to her level.
“My crown,” she wails, putting hands onto her head.
“Here, I can help,” I say quickly.
She looks to be about two or three, and I know just how quickly meltdowns can happen at that age. She stands still while I fix her crown, patting it once I’m done.
“All fixed,” I say with a smile.
“Luna, you cannot run away from me like that. And you have to watch where you’re going. Apologize please,” a voice says, coming up behind Luna.
“Oh it’s not a big deal,” I say. I look up to the guy who must be her father and freeze.
Was this her father? Cause he definitely didn’t look like a dad. My eyes sort of bounce all over, taking in the broad shoulders beneath his suit jacket, perfectly sculpted cheekbones, and the most amazing lips turned up in an apologetic smile. He pushes his golden, windswept hair out of his dark blue eyes and my heart starts thumping erratically. They’re that incredible, I can’t even look away like I usually do.