Rachel stepped out of the shower and quickly toweled off. She was still miffed with Shannon’s attitude. Why was it everyone thought they had the right to tell Rachel how to live her life?
Curtis had left twenty minutes ago to pick up their Chinese take-out. She wasn’t sure how long it would take him to get there and back. Probably had another twenty minutes unless they were faster than the one she liked to stop at on the way home.
The sticky sweat was gone and she felt human again. Most of her clothes were still in boxes. She dug around in a couple marked “clothes” but found mostly shoes and some clothes she had no reason why she had moved to the new place.
The towel was not providing much protection against the cool fall air that nipped at the moisture on her skin.
“This is taking forever.” She walked to her bedroom door and locked it then flung her towel on to her bed and dug as quickly as she could through the clothes. She saw the edge of a pair of jeans and pulled those out then she dug around until she found enough clothes to make an outfit.
Fifteen minutes later she was dressed, her face painted and her hair dry enough to be presentable. Curtis still wasn’t there but a huge mess was. She gathered a few boxes from the hallway and started down to the living room. The boxes that remained were mostly odds and ends. She found places for those she could but some just moved to a new box she’d label “why did I move this?”
Curtis knocked on the back door and Rachel opened it. “Sorry it took a little extra time. I stopped at the grocery to get some paper plates and plastic ware.”
“Thank you.” She took the bag of food from Curtis and set it on the dining room table.
He pulled open the plates and set the table.
“Place looks really nice.” He lifted out a large white folded box. “I think this is your General Tso’s Chicken.”
“I love this stuff.” She set the box by her plate. “I’m going to have to do something with all these boxes. They’re going to drive me nuts.”
“You can collapse them and put them in your basement.”
“That will work for about a week. I hate clutter.”
“So do I.” He pulled out the last of the food and dumped out little yellow, orange and black packets of sauces. “People say I’m a neat freak but I like to know where things are. I have to mess with so much paper and chaos all day when I get home I want to have order.”
They filled their plates with food and ate in near silence. Rachel’s body ached. She put down her fork and rubbed her shoulder trying to ease the knot on the right side of her neck.
“Stiff?” Curtis asked.
“Very.” She bit in to her spring roll. She crunched through the outside but then shredded cabbage and vegetables went all over her plate. She covered her mouth with her hand and tried to catch some of the food that was falling out.
“Do you want me to get you a napkin?”
Rachel shook her head no. Had this been a date she would have been crawling under the table or hiding in the bathroom. Curtis put her at ease.
“Does it feel like home yet?” He asked after she finished her spring roll.
She looked around the room at all the familiar furnishings that filled the walls of a strange home. “A little. It feels a little funny to be in such a big place after living in a two-bedroom apartment the last five years. I think I need more stuff.” She laughed.
“Don’t worry. Houses have a way of filling themselves.”
“I know. Every time I’ve ever moved I’ve told myself that finally I will able to keep the clutter down but then I find all kinds of things on sale and I fill the shelves with knickknacks and other things until it’s finally bulging at the seams.
“How far do your parents live from here?”
“About fifteen minutes or so.”
“I think it is great that you have such a close relationship with Your mom.”
“Yeah, it’s nice.” She didn’t want to say anything that could be misinterpreted and reported back to her mom. “Sometimes she can be a little pushy but I know she means well.”
“You mean like that dinner date she set up?”
“Exactly like that.” Rachel tried to gracefully eat a long noodle but then bit it off rather than slurp it in. Hopefully he hadn’t noticed her poor table manners.
“I’m glad she did it though. It’s been nice to get to know you through this home buying process.”
“You’re not at all what I expected.” She pushed food around with her fork as she spoke. “Usually when mom wants to introduce me to someone…They’re…uh…Not my type.” She said trying to be a bit diplomatic.
“So I’m your type?” He sounded more playful than interested.
“No I didn’t mean that.”
“Oh stop.” She laughed. “Yes, you’re funnier than I expected a mortgage broker to be.”
“What did you expect?”
“You know different professions tend to attract people with different quirks. I guess I figured you to be more uptight.”
“Fair enough. I do have some quirks. Loyalty is huge to me. I find it can be hard to trust people.” His face turned serious. “Before I found this church I didn’t have the best experience with people who called themselves Christians unfortunately.”
“I really don’t get in to organized religion. You have to be careful. I prefer to live in the moment; grab life by the horns and enjoy the ride.”
“For me I like to know who holds the future.”
Rachel shifted nervously in her chair. “Life is about more than a bunch of dos and don’ts. I like to enjoy life.”
“That’s a great perspective. Enjoy life. I agree. Life isn’t always exactly the way we’d like for it to be but we can accept it for what it is and enjoy it.”
She relaxed a bit in her chair. “Exactly. People spend so much time trying to figure everything out. On the one hand you’ve got people reading horoscopes and on the other hand you’ve got preachers on TV screaming about the end of the world.” She took a sip of water. “Live today. If a belief works for someone then I guess it’s good. Some people need something to believe in to make sense of the rat race.”
He put down his fork and pushed back his plate. “Is that how you see life? A rat race.”
“Sure, I’d say for the most part we live in a rat race.” She leaned back in her chair. “You know like my family. They find goodness in church. More power to them. I think that’s beautiful.”
“But not for you?” He leaned toward her a bit in his chair. He wasn’t judgmental which was a nice change for religious people. He asked questions and she was pretty sure he heard the answers too.
“No. I went to church when I lived at home but people at church are no different than anyone else. Most of them just think they’re better.”
“Do you feel that way about me?”
“No, you’re cool.” She moved her hand and the tension that seemed to be building wafted away. “You aren’t closed minded.”
“So you don’t have a problem with me since I believe Jesus is the only way to get to heaven?”
“Nope.” She didn’t mind him at all. He at least lived what he said he believed. She could respect a person with other beliefs as long as they respected hers too.
He looked around her dining room. “I don’t feel right leaving so many things still in boxes. Why don’t I help you get some of these things unpacked before I leave.”
You are reading A Face in the Shadow by Tiffany Colter.
Tiffany is a writer, speaker and writing career coach. She is a frequent contributor to print and online publications in addition to her regular marketing blog at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
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