The Italian restaurant was quaint with amazing pasta to wood-fired pizza that his brother found online and recommended. The eatery's kind owner, Marco Geppetto. greeted his patrons at the door.
Killian sat nervously as he waited for his date to return from the loo.
His brother Liam had begged him to try to meet someone, a nice young lass. 'Killian just try a dating app. Isn't that what all the young kids are doing?' His brother had joked on their weekly call.
He promised his brother for peace of mind he would, and here he was. He was a man of honor after all. The girl's profile seemed nice enough on the website but sitting in front of him was the complete opposite.
What was her name? Bloody hell, he couldn't remember. It was something like Laney.
He only smiled as he heard her talking about work and her coworkers.
The date soon came to an end. "So, can we go back to your place?" She asked as she bit her bottom lip. "Since I saw your profile I've been wanting to go home with you." she purred as she rubbed his foot underneath the table.
Killian paled as he stammered. "Isn't it too soon? It's only our first date after all."
"Come on, let's go to your place and we can work out the food we just ate." She smiled.
"I think we should get to know each other first. You are a lovely lass and I'm not saying I'm not interested" he blushed "I'd be a fool not to be but-" he was interrupted.
"Look I don't need you to be all gentleman-y. I'm a big girl and I know what I want. So take me home with you."
She was persistent. "I live nearby, I walked here."
He had insisted that they should meet at the restaurant. He had walked from his place since it was a block away.
"My car is outside but walking would be nice." She didn't want to mention the little fact that it had an ignition interlock device.
He paid for their dinner and soon they were out the door. She grabbed his hand "lead the way."
The walk had been nice. There was small talk but the closer they got to his place the more his nerves rose.
They arrived at his apartment and he quickly unlocked the door. She entered the clean space. She looked around the living room.
"Please make yourself comfortable." Killian indicated.
He rushed towards the bedroom to ensure it was clean. Killian slowed his breathing and went back to the living room.
"Lass, would you like a beverage?" He still couldn't be sure of her name.
She turned to look at him and smiled. "I didn't know you had kids, your profile didn't say so."
"I don't have kids, why would you think so?"
"Oh, I just assumed since there are so many dolls."
Killian blushed with embarrassment. "They are not dolls lass, they are action figures, collectibles."
"Why do you keep calling me lass? My name is Lacey. I mean we were about to have sex for crying out loud."
She laughed. "You are not seriously thinking we still are? What kind of man your age still plays with dolls?"
"I do not play with them. They're collectibles. You are not exactly who you claimed to be in your profile, lass."
Lacey scoffed at him and eagerly left him home alone.
The day after his disastrous date he woke up with a common affliction most men do. The morning wood. He sighed and debated if perhaps a strenuous workout would free him from the need and make it go away. It didn't. A cold bracing shower finally did the trick, he was able to enjoy a healthy breakfast then finish getting himself ready for work.
There was a sudden knock on his door and was surprised since he was not expecting anyone. He opened the door to be greeted by long luminous blonde hair, red leather jacket, tight jeans, black boots, sheer white blouse, and bright green eyes met his blue ones, once his perusal ended. He blushed as he realized what he had been doing.
"Sorry to bother you but I'm looking for Lacey French."
"I'm sorry lass but why would she be here?"
"I know there was a date last night. Is she in the bedroom?" She tried to push her way inside his place.
Killian stiffened and didn't allow her entrance. "Lass, no one is here. I'm on my way to work and I'm running late now."
"Look, your little girlfriend jumped bail and I'm just doing my job." She forcibly pushed her way in.
"She's not my girlfriend, I just met her." He shuffled his feet nervously as she raised an eyebrow in disbelief. "Fine, you don't believe me. Look around but make it fast. I'm really late now." His heart pounded fast as he scratched behind his ear while she looked around his place.
The lass nodded as she made her way through the tidy place. "Wow, you have a lot of dolls for a grown man."
Killian's jaw clenched. "They are not dolls."
She laughed as she had made her way back from inspecting the rest of the place. "I know they're not. I was just teasing you."
Killian raised an eyebrow in disbelief.
"Sorry to have bothered you, here's my card. Please, call me if Lacey reaches out to you. Her dad put up her bail, and he is really worried about her."
Killian grabbed the card and read her name out loud, "Emma Swan." He couldn't help the smile that blossomed on his face.
He was late to work. He was the last one to arrive and rushed to his little section.
He worked at the local electronic/appliance store in the small town. They sold everything from appliances, computers, and TVs. They even did special orders for their customers. The owner was an older woman that got the business from her dying mother's estate when she passed away from a freak attack by her dogs. She was a decent looking woman but she was his boss. She would use any excuse to touch him and flirt with him. His coworkers teased him endlessly because she was into him and that he should go for it. That maybe if she got lucky they would all get lucky with a pay increase or a bonus. Ah, but he knew it wasn't just him. It was all of them. She was handsy and inappropriate. She really enjoyed seeing his cheeks redden by her comments.
It was going to be a long day. He walked into the store and headed to the back room. Maybe his tardiness would go unnoticed. He had almost made it, he was so close.
"Hey, Killian. So I want to hear all the dirty little details about your date. Was she hot? Please, tell me she was a naughty librarian…"
"Arthur," Killian paused for a second as he interrupted his coworker, "I'm a gentleman and a gentleman never tells."
"Come on! I want details, I saw her profile and you know what they say about the quiet ones." Arthur's eyebrows wiggled.
Killian grimaced at his coworker when a voice interrupted his thoughts. "Hello darlings," Killian and Arthur cringed at the purr in her voice.
Arthur forced a smile for their boss, "Cruella, lovely as ever but I really should be getting to work."
"Oh darling, please don't rush on my account." She blocked him from leaving. "You know, I wouldn't object to getting caught in the middle of this stubble sandwich." She waved her hand between the two of them.
Arthur glanced at Killian as they shared an uncomfortable look. Killian cleared his throat. "Good morning, Cruella. I'm a little behind on my work." He pointed at his workstation.
"Oh, my darling Killian, you work too hard. Besides I've told you many times before that if you need to put in an extra hour or so, I'm willing to stay later to keep you company." She inched closer to him.
Arthur had made his escape, as Cruella's attention was completely focused on Killian.
The day is like any other day. He is so consumed by his work he misses his lunch break. Rushing out of his workstation to leave for the day, he tries to swiftly sneak out without notice. The upside was that Cruella was a creature of habit. It was a known fact that she locked herself in her office the last hour of the workday. While she was distracted in her office, he escaped.
When Killian finally arrived home, he ate his dinner. He followed his usual routine to the "T". His thoughts briefly drifted to the bounty hunter and wondered if she caught her prey.
The days seemed to blend together. On one of those very typical days, he was surprised by his co-workers' invitation. "Jones, come here," David called out to him. There were some whispers and murmurs from the rest of the men.
He cautiously approached them. "Hello, Dave." When his eyes drifted to Arthur, Leroy grumbled his protest. Robin smiled, "Mate, we were wondering if you would like to join us for our weekly poker game? My cousin, Will, is our regular but he finally found a girl that puts up with him so he can't join us. How about it?"
Killian looked at the group and knew he should decline. He was about to decline when he noticed Robin and David giving him an encouraging nod, and somehow the wrong words came out of his mouth. "Sure, I'd love to." He was going to have to look up youtube videos on how to play poker or pick up a copy of Poker for Dummies. "When is game night?"
"We know it's a bit of a short notice," David sighed. "But it's tonight."
"That's okay," Killian said with a smile. "I'll be there."
David and Robin smiled and Arthur nodded begrudgingly. After giving Killian all the details, they went back to work. Killian went home and did some fast research about poker. Youtube was truly a lifesaver. After viewing too many videos on how to play poker for dummies, he felt like he was ready. Granted, it didn't make him an instant expert, but he believed he could handle himself.
He looked in the mirror and freshened up. After finding a stain on his shirt, he made the last-minute decision to change it. A thought crossed his mind; he should stop at the store for some lager and crisps for his friends. Liam would be horrified if he arrived empty-handed.
They played for hours and his coworkers didn't seem to mind he wasn't any good. They were playing for money, so there was that. His loss was their gain. Sadly, there had been liquor, which got the men talking about their loves…
David mentioned his high school sweetheart and hoped to marry her soon, Arthur still pined for his ex, Gwen, Leroy is happily married to a nice woman, Astrid, and Robin is married with a small son. That's when they turn their attention to him.
Killian nervously shifted in his seat, his face coloring a bright shade of red.
Arthur laughed mercilessly. "Please, tell me you're not a virgin."
Robin, David, and Leroy stared at Killian.
"Of course not, I've had many dalliances before," Killian answered as fast as he could.
Arthur stared at him. "Prove it."
This time, David couldn't stay quiet. "Please, ignore him, Killian. He's drunk."
"I'm just teasing. You and Robin are too overprotective. It's not a big deal. If you are, we can take you out and get you laid, and if you're not, well good for you." Arthur smiled wickedly at him.
The night ended in awkward silence.
The next day at work started as any other day. David was explaining the features of a Blu-ray player to an older man.
Leroy was grumbling about Astrid forgetting to pack his lunch again, so he announced he would go pick up something to eat for the group.
Arthur was idling by until a new customer arrived.
Killian was in his little office working, hoping today would be a better day.
The difference was that today a beautiful blonde entered the store. She was wearing some tight jeans and a red leather jacket. Arthur admired her from afar as she walked down the store aisles.
She stopped in front of the cameras and her head tilted to the side slightly.
“Excuse me, Miss. Is there anything I can help you with?” Arthur smoothly asked.
She turned to face him and glanced at the cameras. “I’m looking for a camera. Something cheap but decent quality.” She turned her attention back to him only to notice he was staring at her chest as if he could see through the sheer material that covered her breasts.
Killian was walking from his workspace as he noticed Arthur talking to a customer. He stopped for a second when he could see the woman’s face. It was the lovely lass who came to his home looking for Lacey. She looked stiff, no, uncomfortable. Bloody hell, Arthur was creeping her out. It was time for a dashing rescue.
Killian approached and greeted them. “Excuse me, I’m sorry to interrupt.” He smiled at her and turned his attention to Arthur. “Mate, Cruella is looking for you.”
Arthur grimaced. “I’m with a customer, Killian.”
“I’m sorry, mate, she says it’s urgent.”
Arthur rolled his eyes. “I’m sorry, Miss. Killian will take care of you.” Arthur walked slowly to the back, clearly in no hurry to deal with their boss.
“I’m sorry, Miss. You looked uncomfortable.”
“Yeah, well your coworker is a jerk, but no one saves me but me. I was about to punch him in the face.”
Killian smiled at her. “I see, you’re a tough lass. How can I be of help, my lady?”
She smiled back. “I was telling Mr. Douche that I need a camera. I’m looking for a camera for my kid. He wants to sell stuff on eBay. And I'm not your lady. My name is Emma.”
“Oh, do you have a price range or any brand preference?” He couldn’t help but feel disappointed. Of course, a beautiful lass like her couldn’t possibly be single. He was not that lucky.
“No, I don’t. I need something inexpensive but gets the work done. He's only doing it to earn money for some writing camp. He wants to be a writer when he’s older.”
“He sounds like a wonderful young man. You and your husband must be very proud.”
“Is that your subtle way of asking if I’m married?” Emma smiled sarcastically at him.
Killian scratched behind his ear and stuttered his denial. “No, it would be inappropriate for me to ask.”
“Would it be inappropriate if I said I’m a single mom?”
“No, it’s not. Um.” His attention turned to the cameras on display and he grabbed one. “This is a Nikon Coolpix A100 20 MP Digital Camera and it’s $98.99, but with my employee discount I can knock it down for you to $79.13. I think it will work for what your boy needs.” He smiled.
“You don’t have to use your employee discount,” Emma insisted.
“It’s the least I can do. Arthur was unprofessional and it's a thank you for warning me about Lacey.” Killian smiled as he handed the camera to her.
Emma eyed him suspiciously; most men only do nice things for her if they want something, but this guy seemed genuinely kind. “Okay, but maybe I can buy you a coffee or something?”
“That’s not necessary, lass. I just hope it’s of use for your boy.”
They walked to the cashier section, and Killian went behind the counter to charge her. She thanked him, and he watched her walk away for the second time.
No sooner had she left, when Arthur returned from the back office. “Hey, Jones. Cruella wasn't even looking for me, and because of you, she kept me in her office, trying to get me to,” he shuddered, “to ‘service her'.”
Killian winced. Cruella tended to attack Arthur and himself exclusively since David and Robin were both unavailable and Leroy was Leroy.
Arthur shook it off. “So, where’s the hot blonde?”
Killian glared. “I helped her find a camera for her son.” He had a feeling that the fact she had a child would definitely be a turn off for Arthur.
“She has a kid? What a waste.” Arthur walked away and put the blonde in the hell no category.
Later on that day, Killian was enjoying his lunch in the solitude of his little workstation. Arthur smiled at him as he entered. “Hey, I’ve been thinking; we should go out. Just the two of us?”
Killian stared at Arthur.
“Hey man, it’s just unnatural for you to still be a virgin. I mean, you are not that bad looking. Yeah, a little nerdy, but I think we can find a willing woman to do you the favor. If we can’t get anyone, I’m sure Cruella would gladly offer herself.”
Killian’s ears turned red. “I don’t know, mate. I have plans.”
“Come on, what are you going to do? Go home and eat dinner, then watch some nerdy show and finally sleep? Think about it.” Arthur walked away.
Killian regretted not accepting the cup of coffee the lovely lass had offered. He was sure Arthur meant well, at least in his own way. Would it be so horrible to find a nice girl to be with? The right girl? Maybe she had long, blonde hair and sparkling green eyes.
It had been a few days since Emma purchased the camera for Henry. Her kid had loved it; he had been so excited. She had briefly mentioned how helpful Killian had been and that he had some collectibles. Her kid’s eyes grew wide. She had to add that she didn’t think Killian would be selling them, but if he wanted, she could ask for Killian to show them to him. Would it be too forward? There was something about the guy she really liked. He was nice and a gentleman. Hmm, there weren’t too many of those around anymore.
Henry had noticed his mom had a genuine smile when she handed him the camera. There was more to it, but he wouldn’t pry. Just yet anyway.
At dinner some days later, Henry asked, “Mom, I was wondering if I could spend Friday night over at Avery’s? We are working on a project for school.”
“Sure kid, what are you guys working on?” Emma asked as she took a drink.
“It’s a special project and I also have to work on my submission for writer’s camp,” he said looking down.
“Alright, do you need anything for it?”
“Well, my computer hard-drive needs cleaning and it's running a bit slow. I was wondering if we could take it to the IT guy at that place you bought my camera. I checked their website and the prices are reasonable.”
“Oh, okay. We can do that. Do we need to make an appointment? The place is small, not a big electronic chain company,” Emma said. “This has nothing to do with your curiosity over the toy collection I saw, right?”
Henry smiled. “Nope, I promise. But if he wants to show his action figure to me I won’t complain.” He shrugged, donning a big, toothy grin.
“I don’t know if it was a mistake telling you about that collection or not, kid. He might be a nice man but maybe I overstepped.” Emma said, smiling back. “Are you going to tell me anything about the special project or your submission for the camp?”
Henry studied his mom’s face. “I want you to be surprised.”
“Alright. I won’t pressure you into telling me. We can go tomorrow right after school. Okay?”
“Thanks Mom!” he said with a big grin.
The grumpy man gave Emma and a smiling Henry directions to Killian’s workstation and they walked directly there.
The space was immaculate. She noticed a small bell on the desk, so she rang it. From the back room there was some clattering, and some muttering was heard right before a booming voice shouted out, “I’ll be right with you. One second please.”
Emma turned to Henry and ruffled his head fondly.
Killian appeared from the room. A bright smile landed on his face as soon as he noticed who it was. “Hello, how may I help you?”
“Oh, hello. Uhm.” She nudged Henry.
“Hello, I’m Henry and I was wondering if you could take a look at my laptop. I think it needs cleaning, it’s running slow.”
Killian took the laptop from the lad. “Hello, Henry. I’m Killian and I can gladly do that. Just let me run a diagnostic on it.” He went to the back room and came back with a flash drive and installed his program on the laptop. He gave Emma and Henry a smile. “It shouldn’t take long.”
It’s Henry’s turn to nudge Emma. Killian was looking at the exchange.
“Killian, I-” Emma said.
Killian’s attention returned to his task as he checked the computer for the results of a possible virus. His brow furrowed as he did his work.
Emma studied his movements.
Henry observed his mom, and knew she deserved happiness. She had been alone for so long. When he asked why, she simply said “You’re all I need .” He wasn’t a fool; yes, he was young, but he knew better.
Killian felt her eyes on him, and blushed. He tried to keep his voice steady. “Lass, this might take a wee bit longer than I expected. If you prefer, you and the lad can go to the diner around the corner. I will give you a call when the computer is ready.”
Emma smiled. “Oh, okay, we can do that. What do you say kid?”
“I can eat,” Henry said as his belly growled.
After thanking Killian for the recommendation, Emma and Henry head out to the diner, while Killian sighed and got back to work. Once he was finished, he dug out the card Emma had given him when they first met and made the call.
Emma and Henry arrived shortly with a takeout bag. Emma placed the bag on the tidy desk. “Thank you for the recommendation. To thank you, we got you a snack. I wasn’t sure what you like, so I got you our favorite. Grilled cheese and onion rings.”
Killian smiled. “You didn’t have to do that.”
“I know, but you’ve been so kind.” Emma smiled back.
Henry watched the exchange with a smile. He knew it, his mom liked this guy, but getting her to admit it would be the challenge.
Killian cleared his throat. “Your total is $55.99.” The tips of his ears turned red.
Henry grabbed the laptop and put it in its bag. “Wait, I thought it was $99 for a PC-tuneup?” he said as he pulled out crunched up $20 bills from his pocket.
Killian smiled. “Aye lad, but I’m including my discount. Your mother said you are trying to save money for writer’s camp.” He handed Henry back his money.
Emma couldn’t believe her ears. He had truly listened to her, and he was genuinely so nice to Henry.
Henry smiled and lightly blushed. “Thank you.”
Emma smiled as she paid. She paused for a second, thinking maybe she should ask him out for coffee.
Killian took Emma’s money with a bashful smile as he gave her the receipt. Their eyes met briefly, both full of longing. She smiled as she took the receipt and almost whispered her goodbyes to him.
His ears were burning. He wanted so badly to ask her out to dinner for a date, but it would be bad form to ask her in front of her lad. Another opportunity wasted.