“You’re home early.” Mac was just getting into the elevator when I stepped out.
“Not soon enough.” I started to brush past him.
“I was thinking, well, maybe this isn’t a good time,” Mac hesitated. “I was just going down to the diner on the corner for a burger. But I suppose you’ve eaten?”
“I’d love to,” I made a quick decision and it wasn’t till we were sitting in a back booth over coffee that I realized how I must look with my pantyhose flapping around my ankles. Mac hadn’t even snickered.
He was good company. Mac worked as a property manager, he said. Our building was on his list. I had to admit it was well-kept up. He didn’t have any pets, a real plus and he did have a lot of funny stories about tenants who had them, that kept me laughing.
“This large woman sat on her Chihuahua …” he began and I watched the corners of his eyes crinkle like Mrs. Patrickson’s did. He was wearing a yellow sweater over a white shirt, very collegiate. Our waitress came and he joked with her and left a big tip.
I’d almost forgotten about the horrible start to the evening when Mac walked me back to the lobby. “I’ll be fine,” I told him when it looked as though he was going to come on up.
“You sure? See you again soon, then. It’s been… terrific.”
When I reached my apartment there were no keys in my purse. I thought back to the bag falling open in Jerry’s apartment. Oh well. I ran down the stairs to Mr. Masterson, the superintendent. Mac was still there, talking.
“I can let you in. Just take a minute.” Mac took a ring of master keys from a hook near the door.
“No, its fine. Mr. Masterson has had to do this lots of times”.
“I wouldn’t take losing your keys lightly, Donna,” Mac frowned. “With all these attacks on women in this area, lately. I think we’d better have your locks changed. In the meantime, you can borrow the master.”
Jerry called at the end of the week to say how much he missed me. “It was my fault,” he said. “I should have prepared you for meeting him. Fitzhugh was mistreated as a kitten so it’s hard for him to trust.”
“Me too,” I said.
“I thought he’d be familiar with you by now. I’ve taken him on all our dates.”
“What?? You and me and Fitzhugh?”
“He’s been in the backseat. In his cat carrier,” he said hastily. “It gets lonely in the apartment and I don’t like to leave him overnight. I take him with me everywhere. So I thought he’d sort of know you already. I’m sorry. Please let me pay for having your shoes repaired.”
“No need,” I lied, looking at the toe of one pump protruding from the trash I’d been about to take to the incinerator when he called.
“Show you forgive me and let me take you to dinner tomorrow. It’s Valentine’s Day, after all,” he said with a plea in his voice. He named a restaurant I’d been dying to try but not alone. “At seven?”
“All right,” I said, hating myself for being weak. There was something about the man. “By the way, Jerry, did you find a set of keys after I left?”
“No,” he said. He sounded truthful. “Were they important?”
“Nothing special. See you tomorrow.”