Draft excerpt: Thirst Date (short story)
This is an excerpt from the draft of a short story I wrote, that’ll be part of an anthology with some lovely #romanceclass authors. More details soon! Since this is from the draft, some details may change in the final. But…new thing!
Frances and Sebastian are friends and coworkers. They’ve also started, er, conveniently dating each other. For convenience.
Thirst Date by Mina V. Esguerra (excerpt, draft)
This was not their first fake date. This was, in fact, fake date number three, but it was the second one that Frances initiated. Fake date number one was Sebastian’s doing. Not exactly an idea she would have come up with herself, but it was such a success. And brilliant really.
She wouldn’t and didn’t come up with that herself because when she first met Sebastian, he was someone else’s boyfriend. So back in college, he was just the guy one batch lower in social development management, and someone else’s boyfriend. On his senior year he interned at the agency she worked for, and was still with that same girlfriend. When he graduated and started working for that same agency, they became coworkers…and he had a different girlfriend. The hell! He must have liked being a boyfriend. Sebastian was in two rather long and serious relationships in four years. The guy was an annoyingly handsome serial relationship person, and that was a difficult person to love.
But to have a long-running, life-sustaining, playful but Never Gonna Happen distant crush on? He was perfect. Every single day he came in to work looking so good. Walking past her desk in crisp button-down shirts, sometimes that and a blazer, sometimes that shirt with a collar that looked like it would feel good against her fingers. Sharing an elevator with her in the morning, smelling like soap. She recognized his steps, the way his work shoes on the tile signaled his approach, because he had some non-work nonsense to talk about. Sebastian was a let’s-touch-base, let’s-talk-shop, people person, and Frances had long since told him to keep work correspondence to email or the office messaging app. He couldn’t help himself, and still dropped by daily with nonsense.
Which wasn’t so bad. He looked nice, smelled nice, and talked to her like she was genuinely a part of his day. That was the only thing he had to do really, and he didn’t even know that he was doing it so well. That he was good at his job, that he respected her position and input, that he was also a believer in the practice of the long walk to the other building’s cheaper cafeteria on the week before payday…that was all cool, too, sure. Made it easier.
Frances drank this in. All of it. From her comfortable distance, like across the room. The thirst was real, but didn’t need to be acted on. Sometimes she would breathe deep, in his presence, and that would be enough. Little doses of admitting that Sebastian was her hottest real-life friend, that flare of lust that kicked in when he was close, when he gave her a hug, when he remembered to order turon for her–all of that was fun. The desire wasn’t too much.
Well it was a lot, but not enough to be totally dangerous, you know? Frances could still see him as someone more than a sex object. He was someone’s boyfriend. He was her coworker. He was Sebastian Saldua and he was never going to like her or want her, otherwise he would have said something. Frances accepted this without bitterness. She liked her looks, liked herself, thought she was an interesting person. Sometimes it was a numbers game, and the odds were not so good. Sometimes the most attractive guy within one square kilometer of you preferred someone else instead. Can’t be lucky all of the time.
She had to respect that.
Fake date number one happened three months ago, on this the eighth year of their friendship. Sebastian had needed a date to the Halloween birthday party of a common friend from college.
“Because it’s tonight and I don’t have time to meet someone to take.”
Frances had assumed that he was with someone, or maybe he was about to be because surely he was dating people. Maybe she was wrong? When he told her on one of their next-building-cafeteria lunches that he and the most recent girlfriend had broken up, she told him that the only advice she would give him was stay freaking single for as long as he could.
“Really?” he had asked, maybe a little surprised. “What’s wrong with taking a relationship seriously?”
“Absolutely nothing,” she had answered. “All I’m saying is, take a freaking break. Do you even remember what life is like when you’re not in a relationship? Enjoy it. Figure out what your weekends look like. Spend money on yourself. I can’t believe I’m telling you this.”
“And this is what you’ve been doing?”
“Yes, Sebastian. It’s a little difficult to do because everyone is judgey about it, but I have been on a single streak for maybe three years now and it’s awesome–”
“What’s a single streak?”
“Oh that. I guess that means no one got past three dates with me in three years. So far. But if I want to go out with people, I do.”
“Frances. This sounds…”
“Don’t judge. It’s fun. It’s fun! Let yourself have a single streak, and enjoy it. Find out what you’re like when you’re traveling alone, eating out alone. What movies would you watch by yourself?”
“Disney,” he had said without missing a beat. “No one ever wants to watch animated movies with me.”
“There you go. Discover all these things you want to do by yourself, Sebastian. Then maybe when you meet someone you want to spend more time with, it’ll mean so much more. Because you know yourself more.”
He had seemed to buy into that, which was cool. But at the same time he stopped mentioning dating and girlfriends, so she just assumed he was getting his somewhere. Apparently no one close enough to ask to a sudden date for that evening? Frances didn’t know what to think about that, but a night out with Sebastian was always a good idea. It was a costume party; they wore plastic crowns from the toy store and told everyone they were dressed as Prom King and Prom Queen. She stayed away from any alcohol that night because she needed to be extra sober–prolonged exposure to her thirst trap meant she needed strength and all her faculties. They held hands.
Being around Sebastian made her feel…extra. The little things he did to convey in body language that they were together–the hand-holding, the look in his eye, all that constant whispering in her ear–they were extra too. She felt giddy all the way to her toes.
— end of excerpt —
Out soon! Soonish. We all hope. Hugs!