73: “Please?”

Jemima wasn’t sure things with Trent were working out. As it turned out, he was just as keen as Sybil had said he was. Apparently, that was something Jemima found irritating. He paid too much attention to her. Everything in his life seemed to revolve around her, which was too much considering how short of a time they’d been together. He ran so many of his decisions past her, just in case they impacted any of their mutual plans later on. What time he should have dinner, what he should have for dinner, whether or not he should have dessert, just in case they met up later and got something to eat. He asked her when he should take his mother out for her birthday, just in case Jemima wanted to meet up that same day. He wanted to know what her favourite colour was so that he could buy bedsheets specifically for her. It was a lot. It was, in fact, too much.

“I never understood what Sybil meant when she says she doesn’t want a boyfriend who pays attention to her, but I get it now,” Jemima said to Priscilla and Iggy one night when she was mercifully not with Trent, eating dessert or otherwise. “He’s way too invested in me. Like, do you think he actually cares when I eat dinner? Because I don’t care when he eats dinner. At all.”

“He’s very invested in you,” Priscilla agreed. “Don’t get me wrong, you’re great, but it’s too much.”

It definitely was too much.

Jemima broke things off with Trent a few days later. She had to. He’d asked her four times what her weekend plans were because he was supposed to visit his grandmother in the hospital, but he didn’t want to go if it was inconvenient for her. Jemima went over to his apartment, sat down on his couch, and calmly told him it was over.

“I just need a bit of space,” she told him in explanation. “Please go visit your grandmother.”

Trent was devastated, presumably because Jemima was the one thing he liked most about himself and he had just lost her, but Jemima bravely and stoically got up and left him. She spent the entire subway ride back to her apartment wondering what it said about her that she was drawn to unavailable men and broke up with interested men. She was more than a little worried there was something wrong with her. Trent was a nice guy. He was invested. And the guys she liked most were Steve, who cheated on her with glittery, inappropriately young women, and Noel, who clearly wasn’t interested in her. Possibly. She still had no idea, but he was largely unavailable.

She spent the next few days feeling very sorry for herself indeed. She was pretty sure she was going to be alone forever. She couldn’t pick the right man and when she picked nice men, she ended things. Eventually, her friends grew tired of her moping and stepped in to help her. She assumed it was derived from a place of kindness, but it was always a bit difficult to tell when Priscilla and Tallulah were involved.

“I am not letting you be this sad over Trent,” Priscilla told her sternly. She had come over to Jemima’s apartment with Tallulah, Iggy, and Rosalyn in tow. Rosalyn didn’t look remotely interested in how sad Jemima was over Trent. Jemima suspected she was just bored.

“What if I never find love?” Jemima moaned in response. “What if I’m destined to be with Steve? What if he’s the best I’ll ever get?”

Iggy rolled her eyes.

“Can I please set you up with someone?” She asked.

“Uh, no, I don’t think so,” Jemima declined. She was notoriously bad at blind dates. Frankly, she was bad at most dates, which was partially why she had tripped over her cat underwear and face-planted into the side of a hot tub while at the spa with Noel.

“Maybe, if you go on this date, you won’t die alone,” Tallulah offered in a rare moment of encouragement. Iggy nodded fervently in agreement.

“Well…,” Jemima paused for thought. “No.”

“Please?” Iggy asked.

“No,” Jemima answered.

“Please?”

“No.”

“Please?”

“No.”

There was a long pause in the conversation. Rosalyn continued to look bored. Priscilla rolled her eyes this time.

“But please?” Iggy asked again.

“No,” Jemima repeated herself.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake!” Priscilla cut in, exasperated. “Go on the damn date!”

Jemima went on the damn date.

As it turned out, her blind date was with one of Miles’ friends, who she had met before at several different parties. His name was Bear and he was extremely tall. He was so tall that Jemima slightly regretted wearing a V-neck shirt, not that she thought he was staring directly down into her cleavage. He didn’t do that overtly at least. He was the most polite person she’d ever met. He held the restaurant door open for them when they arrived, pushed in her chair when they sat down, and stood when she left to use the bathroom. He offered to share his fries, he offered to pay for dinner, and he offered to walk her home because it was dark out and he was concerned for her safety. Jemima always worried about being assaulted for various reasons when she was walking home alone at night. She tried not to do it at all, but sometimes it couldn’t be avoided. She was far less worried with Bear by her side. He was enormous. Someone would have to be seriously ambitious to attack her when he was around. Even though he was incredibly gentle and passive, he had the appearance of a man who could crush a person’s skull with one swift blow to the head.

When they reached the front door of Jemima’s building, she prepared herself to say good-bye to Bear. She’d had a lovely time, to be perfectly honest. It hadn’t been a whirlwind by any stretch of the imagination. He had also seemed to have a nice time, but she wasn’t sure nice was enough to carry them on for the rest of their lives.

“Thank you for dinner,” she said to him. He smiled at her. He had a nice smile. Everything about Bear was nice. He was the most pleasant person Jemima had ever met.

“You’re very welcome,” he nodded, still smiling. “Thank you for coming out with me. I had a very nice time. It was lovely to get to know you.”

Jemima smiled back at him, pleased despite herself. She thought about Trent. By this point in their brief relationship, he had already declared Jemima the most wonderful woman in the world and had asked her out for a second time. By this point in her arduously lengthy relationship with Steve, he’d already been texting another woman to meet up with. By this point in her relationship with Noel, she hadn’t a single damn clue whether or not they were in fact in a relationship.

“Would you like to do it again sometime?” Jemima asked, surprising herself. Bear’s smile widened.

“I would love to,” he replied. Then he bent down and kissed her on the cheek. He waited until she was safely inside the front doors of her building before he waved and turned to walk away. As she walked up the stairs to her apartment, she found she was a bit taken with him despite herself. Maybe nice was fine. Maybe nice was what she needed.

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