Author’s Note: This is an alternate reality meet-cute for Dave and Hank from my ongoing story inspired by the Daily Spur photo prompt.
Dave stood near the entrance to the Princess Pink Pagoda. He peeked inside the pink gemstone and pink glass bead curtain for the three thousandth time. Several couple wandered through the elaborate pagoda. Pink fabric Chinese lanterns competed for space with the more traditional pink paper Chinese lanterns. And that was just in the entrance. He knew that greater wonders lurked further inside.
“Come on, Mick! Where are you?”
Several couples strolled through, smiling and flirting with their special others.
Dave’s heart sank at the sight of them. “You said you’d meet me here. Why aren’t you here yet?”
His cell phone bleated a text message notification.
He quickly pulled it out of his pocket and went into his messages.
The first message at the very top was from Mick.
Dave bit his lower lip and opened the message. It read:
“hEy. somEthing camE up. not gonna makE it. maybE somE OthEr timE. M.”
He read the message over and over again, hoping that a better one would spontaneously take its place.
But the message remained the same.
He huffed out a hurt breath. “You promised me. You promised that…you said…that…” His eyes teared up and in one quick blink, his tears fell.
A man’s plain cotton handkerchief appeared in front of his phone screen. “I don’t mean to be so forward, but you look like you need this more than I do.”
“Thank you.” Dave murmured. He rubbed his eyes with the handkerchief. The scent of Davidoff’s Cool Water cologne clung to the white material. Dave rubbed his nose and the scent whoofed up his nostrils.
“Why’s a cute thing like you standing here by yourself and crying?”
Dave raised his gaze and gasped out loud.
A man stood before him. He had a strong, capable look to him that did things to Dave’s inner damsel. The fact that he was handsome certainly helped matters.
“You? You think I’m cute?”
When was the last time Mick told me that?
The man smiled. “I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t mean it.”
When was the last time Mick said anything kind to me? When was the last time he made me feel good about myself? When was the last time he made me happy to just be me?
“Did your…significant other break up with you?”
Dave put his phone away. “No.”
“oh.” The man looked disappointed, which crushed Dave inside. “I’m. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have presumed—”
“It’s okay. He didn’t break up with me. He just….I had such great plans. I read about this place the other day and I wanted to explore it with him. It would be so wonderfully romantic!”
“But he isn’t here. He couldn’t make it. He…” Dave looked into the other man’s eyes.
He’s so sympathetic, so understanding. I want to sit down somewhere and share a bowl of ice cream with him. I’d love to go anywhere at all with him.
But I can’t.
I don’t like it when Mick does that sort of thing to me. I won’t do it to him.
“I’m. I’m sorry. I have to go.”
“Why? Is the spell going to end at midnight?”
Eeeeeee! Why is this guy so appealing?
Dave’s blush intensified. “No, but. Mick wouldn’t like it if…”
But does Mick really care?
Does he still love me?
I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.
The man held up his hands and took a step back.
No! Don’t go! I want to fling myself into your arms. Can’t you see it? Can’t you tell?
“Will you at least tell me your name?” He smiled. “Or should I call you Cinderella?”
“Eeee!”Dave promptly lost his wits. He rushed at the man and threw his arms around the man’s neck. “You’re so cute and flirtatious and I don’t even know who you are!”
The man laughed. “I’ll tell you my name if you tell me yours.”
Dave’s phone rang. He released the man’s neck and answered the call. “Mick?”
“Yeah, it’s me. Where are you?”
“At the Princess Pink Pagoda like I told—”
“Yeah, yeah. yeah. You’re always telling me about some dumb stuff or other. Look. Are you coming home now or what?”
Dave looked at the man.
“Hey. Dave. Quit spacing out. Answer my question or I’ll just hang up.”
“Sorry. I’m coming home now.”
“Good. Stop at the store on the way home and get a thing of fabric softener. And get the kind that I like. Nothing with the word ‘sparkle’ in it. You know what I like.”
“Sorry. Can’t talk. Got better things to do.” He ended the call.
Dave put his phone away.
“I didn’t hear what he said.” The man came closer to him. “But I can tell he doesn’t make you happy.”
“It’s okay.” Dave murmured.
The man shook his head. “You should be with someone who’ll make you happy.” He took Dave’s hand. “I’m Hank.” He smiled. “And I would love to walk through the Princess Pink Pagoda with you.”
Dave looked down at their hands.
Mick will be mad at me.
Dave thought about all of their most recent conversations.
Maybe he won’t be. I honestly don’t know if he’ll even care.
He looked up at Hank. “Hi, Hank. I’m Dave.”