Stormy angled her car carefully around a corner, making sure to watch for children crossing the street. It was almost impossible to keep her wits about her while Steven was talking. There was something charming and whimsical about the stories he told, even though she only understood what half of the things were. It made her feel bad for not being better at conversations. On the other hand, if she did more of the talking then she wouldn't get to hear him talk.
Somehow in all the merriment Stormy had ended up sitting at a table in a restaurant. Across from was Steven. It was mystery how it had happened. To be honest, it was a little creepy at how little knowledge she had of how they'd ended up there. But all the same, the conversation had been wonderfully enjoyable, as too was her Eggs Benedict and fruit bowl. Somehow she'd remember to order something semi-healthy as to not come off as a little piggy. Steven, however didn't seem worry about looking like a pig. He'd order a waffle smothered in fruit and a side of bacon.
Stormy found herself entranced with the young man again as he continued to talk. For being only being twenty-one years old, he had a good head on his shoulders. Steven went on to tell her that he liked to read, as much as possible. When he was a kid, he use to ride to the library every Tuesday. He would check out his limit of books to read throughout the week. Stormy was impressed as well as a little intimidated. She wasn't much of a reader when she was younger. All she ever wanted to do was play music and sing. It wasn't until after she'd became famous, that she had found the time to read. That was short lived however, because she gave it up when she married Dutch.
Steven talked about when he was growing up, his family didn't have much money, so they never had cable. He never played video games. If he wanted to listen to music, it was always on vinyl, so there was never anything new to listen to. That's how he'd found her music in the first place. His mother had all of her albums. Stormy laughed it off and reminded him that she only did the three albums, and two concerts. It didn't matter to him though, he'd eventually bought her albums on CD when he got old enough to have a job.
“I don't want to bring up a bad subject and make myself look like a jackass, but will you tell me about your marriage?” Steven took another nibble off a long stick of bacon.
Stormy thought for a long moment, but couldn't shake the growing discomfort with the conversation shift. Not that she was ashamed of it. The subject was just too fresh of a wound to pick over. His deep brown eyes played across hers. If I don't say something soon, he's going to know he made me uncomfortable, Stormy thought.
“Well, I met Dutch at a football game. He approached me after I performed during the half-time show. He wanted to tell me that he thought I was amazing. It was strange, like love at first sight. I was just old enough to drink, so he invited me out for cocktails after the game. We really hit it off. So much, in fact that we got married that following spring. We didn't date for long, before we knew that we were meant to be.” Stormy shifted around a piece of cantaloupe on her plate.
“Wow, that really sucks that you guys didn't work out. What happened between you two?” Steven shifted in his seat, starting to feed off her discomfort.
“It's hard to say really. I got pregnant with my daughters after my last album had just come out in stores.”
Steven interjected with a surprised tone. “You have two kids? You look really good.”
A blush jumped to her cheeks causing her to squirm. “Oh you've not seen me naked, child rearing has not been kind to me.”
Steven didn't say anything, he just cocked his head in a coy fashion, Stormy did her best to squash the giggle that was trying to escape. “ I ah...I took a hiatus to make sure I didn't stress myself out too much during pregnancy. As I mentioned before, pregnancy took it's toll on my body, so I lost my slim figure. We were rich, so I had a constant supply of food. After my twins were born, I didn't lose my eating habit. Then I fell into a deep depression...” Stormy was really starting to feel out of place now, this was not something that you dumped on a twenty-one year old.
But he offered a consoling smile. “Postpartum depression is a bitch. I remember my mom had it really bad after my little sister was born.”
Stormy's breath caught in her throat. He was far too wise for his age. “Yeah?
“I mean, she got over it, I guess, but it had already fucked up my parents marriage. That why he's with my stepmom now.” She could tell by the look in his eyes, that he knew she was uncomfortable and wanted to even the playing field.
“Did she get help?” Stormy asked, taking a bite of a piece of cantaloupe.
“Yeah, eventually. Did you?” Steven shifted under the table, rubbing a hoof against hers'.
Stormy didn't move her foot away, she left it where he could touch it. “I didn't see anyone about it, I just started drinking instead. Of course that only lead to worse things, after my kids were weened, I started smoking marijuana. It was a crutch at first, but then it just became a way of life.”
“My mom took pain pills for awhile. That was the only way she could get up to make us lunch before school.” Stormy was amazed that the young man's smile never faded. “I remember one time she was so fucked up, that she put a can of baked beans and a bottle hand sanitizer in a bag for me.”
Stormy laughed, before she had a chance to stop herself. “Oh, I shouldn't laugh. I'm just awful.”
“Why not? It's funny. Besides, after that, my mom finally got help.” Steven finished off his last piece of bacon.
“Good, I'm glad for her. I waited far too long to get help. Even now, I'm trying to quit smoking weed. Trying to stop drinking. At least I'm going to a therapist now.” A cold blanket of shame was starting to wash over her. Why was she being so forward with this kid?
“So how did it end?” Steven asked, his tone was inviting, pulling her out of her shell once again.
“I woke up one morning, forty years old. Fat, saggy, and lazy. I was so well to do that I didn't have to try at life anymore. I didn't know my kids, I didn't know my husband. He had a girlfriend that lived in our guest house. I didn't even know who I was anymore. I just wanted to get away from it all, get away from the me that I was.” Stormy paused, wishing she could just suck back in all the information she'd just vomited out, but when she opened her mouth to ask him to ignoring her ramblings, more came out. “So I asked for a divorce. It's been terrible since I left. I've not seen my kids in forever. I never have any money. Plus, I live in a shit hole.”
“It won't be shitty forever, I promise you that much. You'll see your kids again. They're just upset right now. You have to give them time to feel what they need to feel, when they're ready they'll come to you. That's what it was like for me, when my mom left.” Steven wiped his mouth on his napkin and folded it neatly.
“Thank you so much for listening to ramble, but I think we should get going. I didn't mean for this to turn into a pity party.” Stormy pulled a twenty dollar bill from her pocket and plopped it down on the table.
It was a lot more then the bill would call for, but she didn't care. She just wanted to leave. She stood up from her chair and put her purse over her shoulder. Steven pulled out his wallet and produced a ten dollar bill and a few ones putting it down on the table. He got up and moved to stand next to her, close enough so he could whisper.
“Just so you know. I don't mind listening to you talk. You're a remarkable woman. I think you're beautiful, you're smart, you're so talented, but most of all you're modest and real.” His brown eyes were strong, proud.
Whenever he stood this close to her, she could see the Amber undertone in the brown of his irises. It was at that moment Stormy realized that Steven was touching her hand. In any other setting, it would have only been a friendly gesture. But here standing at a nice restaurant. After good a meal. After they'd talked about such intimate things. She could feel that his hand was slick and clammy with sweat. It trembled slightly from nerves. Is he hitting on me? Stormy thought, and just as quickly she dismissed it. There was no way this young buck could be interested in a worn out has-been like her. That much she was sure of.
“Thanks for saying such nice things to me. I really need time to process it. It's been a long day.” Stormy was definitely put off her game by what had just transpired between them, even if it did turn out to be nothing.
Stormy backed away before turning to walk to the door. Steven held it open for her like a gentleman. She nodded in gratitude, but didn't linger too long. Her steps were quick as she made her way to the car. Steven was close behind her. They got in and drove away before he'd even had a chance to put his seat belt on.
The ride home was quiet, thankfully. Steven just stared out the window at the buildings passing by. Stormy kept her eyes on the road as much as she could, giving him a side way glance from time to time. His foot was bouncing nervously as if he were impatient to be free of the car. She couldn't blame him for feeling that way. She'd come off as a crazy woman earlier. No- a desperate woman. Nothing was more unattractive to a young man that a desperate old hag. When they rounded the block, Steven finally chimed in, that she could pull over anywhere along the curb.
Stormy did and put the car in park. “Listen, I'm sorry things got weird back in the restaurant. I'm just going through some things right now and it makes me act like I'm crazy.”
Steven took his seat belt off and guided it back, before opening the car door. “You're sorry too much, stop being sorry. You didn't do anything wrong. I know you're going though some stuff that I couldn't understand. I just want you to know that I'm here for you if you need me.”
Stormy almost asked him what he was getting out of this, but thought that it might sound too rude of a question. “Thank you Steven, it really means a lot to me.”
“You're welcome, I'll be around to your place at about five or six tomorrow. Depending how long it takes me to ride my bike there. I'll make sure I bring my tools.” Steven got out of the car, before bending back in to say one more thing. “I had a lot of fun, thanks for letting me tag along. Have a good evening.”
Steven didn't wait for her to respond, he just closed the door and backed a few steps away. Stormy put the car in gear and started away from the curb, she could see Steven waving at her as she left him there. It wasn't until that moment that Stormy even noticed that she was tingling and dripping all over herself. No doubt her panties were soaked through. Why can't I get this under control? She asked herself, knowing that there wasn't an answer. When she looked in the mirror once again, Steven was still watching her drive away.
“He's into you!” She said to reflection in the rear view mirror, her voice was as stunned as it had ever been.