I Made You My First, page 1
I Made You My First
It might have appeared to go unnoticed
But I've got it all here in my heart I want you to know,
I know the truth, I would be nothing without you
Did you ever know that you're my hero?
You're everything I wish I could be
I could fly higher than an eagle,
For you are the wind beneath my wings
by Jeff Silbar and Larry Henley
This Book is a work of fiction.Names, characters, places and incidents have been produced by the author’s imagination. All characters appearing in this novel are fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental or within the public domain.
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or any portion hereof, in any form. Any use whatsoever without the express written permission of the author is illegal and punishable by law.
Copyright© 2013 by Ciara Threadgoode
I Made You My First
Thank goodness I was near the front of the plane. My purse was securely on my shoulder and my shoes were back on. I was ready. I was standing up, moving into the aisle just as the Fasten Your Seatbelts light faded. I wanted to exit this plane. I didn’t do well in confined areas for long periods of time. I walked through the crowded terminal and followed the signs to baggage claim. As I made my way down the escalator, I saw several well-dressed men holding signs with names of passengers promised rides to their final destinations. One older white-haired gentleman in an impressively tailored suit was holding a sign that read Pepper. Now that’s a real canoe-tipper, I thought to myself. I smiled and shook my head, grateful for my simple, boring last name. I breezed by the groups of people who were greeting each other or waiting for their bags. My flight had arrived fifteen minutes early and I didn’t see my flight number lit up on any of the carousels, so I strategically angled myself in the middle of all three.
I searched my purse for my phone and turned it on. “Three missed messages,” I muttered under my breath. My attention quickly returned to the flight-arrival signs and I saw my flight number lit up. I was in the right place. I must have missed my bag’s initial arrival while messing with the phone because now it was on what must have been its second go-round. I reached in and hefted the bag and headed straight for the outside smoking area. Dropping my exhausted body and purse onto a bench outside, I closed my eyes, raising my face to the warm California sun. I really missed San Diego’s perfect weather. As I looked out through the clusters of waiting passengers, I smoked the first cigarette I’d had in hours.
I noticed a couple hurrying across the street from the parking area against the blinking red traffic light. The guy was carrying a Mary-Poppins-type carpet bag, in his right hand while almost dragging a small-framed, dark-haired woman with his left. She was also carrying a bag and in her very high-heeled shoes, struggled to keep up. When they reached the glass doors of the baggage claim area, he stopped, and while she collected herself, I felt his eyes, wide and sincere, almost melt into mine. At first it felt a bit uncomfortable, but then oddly serene. The hair on my arms had risen and a sudden chill ran down my spine. I sat there feeling perplexed.
Within seconds he looked away and I watched them disappear into the building. Did I know him? I scoffed at the thought, shaking my head and continued smoking my cigarette; I reached into my purse for my phone.
I jumped when it rang in my hand. It was my friend, and her timing actually scared the bejeebers out of me. “Hey girl, I’m here,” I said with a giggle as I yanked myself back into the moment. Why am I so jumpy?
“Did you get my messages? I left two,” she said as I extinguished my cigarette on the ground in front of me.
“Yeah Jude, I got three messages but I haven’t been here long enough to check them. What’s up?”
She told me she was on the 8 freeway, stuck waiting on AAA to come change her tire. I was going to have to hang where I was until she could have the tire repaired.
“Not a problem. I’ll amuse myself people-watching and smoke another cigarette until you get here.” I paused, “Hey, be careful. Love ya.”
I heard her say, “I love you too and I’m sorry” as I flipped the phone closed. I searched my purse for my sunglasses and the pack of smokes.
As I sat enjoying the warmth of the sun without the thick humidity, I watched as several city taxis flew by, giving me a brilliant idea. Finished with my second cigarette, I fished for my phone and punched in Judy’s number.
I looked up to see that guy crossing the street, heading back to the parking garage alone. As I watched him disappear, my call went straight to Judy’s voicemail. Great!
“Hey Jude, I’m thinking about just taking a cab, I guess you must be busy, so call me back when you get this” and I disconnected. I pulled out another cigarette and dug around in my purse for a lighter. I didn’t really want the cigarette, my stomach was growling, I’d much rather have something to eat but the smoke would have to do for now. I touched my cigarette to the tiny blue flame as I pictured myself flagging down a cab as I’d seen it done in the movies. I’d never actually done it.
My phone rang. Again I jumped, startled out of my deep theatrical cab-hailing thoughts. “Hey you,” and I smiled as I took a long drag of my cigarette, giving her my full attention.
“J.C., I’m at the mechanic’s now with my car. It’s not looking good. He’s saying I have to leave it,” and I felt my tired eyes close tightly, helping me to concentrate.
Before I could get any words out, she continued. “I’m thinking about going across the street to Sunshine Auto and renting a car, or we’re going to be stuck at home with no wheels all weekend, and then I’d probably have to miss a whole day of work on Monday, too.”
I shook my head in agreement, waiting for her to take a breath so I could speak.
“You can just wait for me there or you can catch a cab and meet me at the house; the key is under the gardenia plant on the back patio.”
I smiled, pushing my sunglasses up from my face until they rested on top of my head, and dropped my cigarette butt to the ground, and smashing it flat with my shoe. She was finally quiet. Out of the corner of my eye I watched as a classic brown Ford Mustang pulled up to the curb and the engine shut off. I nonchalantly looked around for any waiting passengers and when I saw none, I returned my attention to Judy.
“J.C., are you there?” she asked before I could respond.
“Yes, I’m here and I’m going to flag a cab and meet you at the house. And I’ll split the car rental with you,” I added before she could object.
“I’m really sorry about this mess, J.C. I feel like the worst friend ever.”
I bent over and reached down to pick up the two cigarette butts before responding to her ridiculous apology. “Jude, that’s nonsense. I’ll see you in a bit for a glass of wine, okay? I love you,” and I paused to let my last words register.
“Me too,” and I felt her silly, goofy smile creep through the phone. I closed the cell and dropped it into my purse while standing with the foul-smelling butts in my right hand. I jumped, startled, and my feet did a quick march step as my eyes settled on the person standing directly in front of me. The butts fell from my hand and landed back on the ground between us.
As my eyes went from his and back to the ground, I watched as he rolled slightly back on his heels. “I didn’t mean to scare you,” he said with a slight frown. As I reached down to retrieve the butts, I could feel the blood rushing to my cheeks. What the hell? His expression of concern had disappeared. He was smiling as he slipped both hands into his pants pockets, nervou
“My name’s Irish, and before you ask, no, I’m not Irish,” he paused with a guarded grin and a roll of his gorgeous blue eyes. I stood paralyzed and felt my head unconsciously begin to shake, and my mouth become frozen, unable to speak. He was, no doubt, the most physically beautiful man I’d ever seen.
“My Mom has always wanted to visit Ireland, and to date, she still hasn’t. That’s why I’m Irish,” he added. His hands moved from his pockets and nervously fell to the sides of his nicely proportioned body.
His white wife-beater clung to his golden-brown torso, and nicely matched his muscular arms, exposed each ripple of his six-pack abs, and clung like a tight-fitting glove. The faded blue jeans could have been sprayed on. Is that his natural scent? He smells like the ocean, I thought. He was only inches away from me, and I smiled at him, but in an appropriately subdued way.
I took a deep animated breath and asked, “What can I do for you, Irish?” and headed for the trash can to deposit the butts.
“Oh, there’s nothing you can do for me. I saw you were still sitting here when I pulled out so I thought that maybe you could use a ride was all.”
I walked back to my bag, pulled out the handle, and began rolling it toward the curb. I could feel him following closely behind me, so at the curb I quickly turned my body toward him.
He flashed me a beautiful ear-to-ear smile, and I could only stare. I’d honestly never seen eyes that blue before.
“So, can I give you a ride? I’d be more than happy to do that,” he said bubbling with enthusiasm.
“No, Irish, but thank you. I think I’ll just catch a cab,” and I reached for my wallet while I stood at the curb, one eye watching for a cab, and the other on him. He slapped the trunk of the mustang with his open hand and I jumped, all of my muscles tightened in response to the sudden loud noise. I glared at him, frustrated. Seriously? He snickered to himself as his eyes flashed up and met mine. I narrowed my eyes on him, knowing that he was secretly amused by my fraidy-cat demeanor. For a nanosecond, I really wanted to slap him upside his head. Instead, I kept my expression warm, but I felt some annoyance growing inside me. I reached for my sunglasses, perched on my head and slid them to the bridge of my nose so I could hide my discomfort.
He chuckled again, nervously. His hand resting on the trunk of the car, he continued, “Look, my car’s already here, no waiting, and cab fares are sky high with the gas prices what they are.” The look on his face was sincere I thought, and I could always try my taxi-hailing another time.
“You don’t mind taking me to the college area?” and I felt my eyes narrow for the second time as I watched his face.
He stepped closer and whispered softly, close to my ear, “I’d love to take you anywhere,” grinning sweetly at me as he reached for my bag. I hesitated, but allowed him to take it.
In that moment, with a million butterflies in my stomach, I considered how truly spontaneous and dangerous it was. How many times had I seen news stories that ended badly for stupid women getting into cars with strangers? At the same time just the prospect of going with him gave me a sort of electrifying chill through my entire body. He is pretty flipping gorgeous for a dude, I thought to myself. What could happen? I was on my way to finding out. Every woman on earth has her own interpretation of the perfect man, and for me, he totally fit it in the looks category. Could I pass this opportunity up? How pathetic am I? What must this act say about me? For some odd reason I didn’t care. Even a broken clock gets to be right twice a day and as my dad had always said, to win the lottery, you have to buy a ticket.
Irish opened the trunk and deposited my bag. I climbed inside the passenger’s side, and shut the door. Irish slid into his seat next to me and started the car. He looked over at me with a devilish little grin and asked, “Where to, Miss Daisy?” as he slowly pulled away from the curb.
“Cute,” I muttered, giving him a glib smile. He then looked back at the road. I stared at Irish for a very long minute. He let me.
“La Mesa, we’re going to La Mesa,” I finally said, just as my phone beeped. I bent over to dig it from my purse on the floor, almost welcoming the distraction from what might be the stupidest decision ever.
It was a text from Judy: Scored us a car. Meet you at the house. Love you.
I tossed the phone back into my purse. Once I was sure that we were heading in the right direction, I turned my attention back to my newly-found hero, the savior of female travelers. I smiled to myself.
“So are you ever going to tell me your name?” he said with a flirty, little smirk that was actually looking pretty delicious. I stared back at him, his eyes were spearing me to silence. Then he flashed me that killer smile, and I realized I’d never actually told him.
Hmm, “Well, Irish, my name is, um, Pepper,” and I instantly turned my head and looked out the side window. A wicked little smile crept over my face, and a warm tingly rush washed over my entire body as I felt his eyes all over me. I wanted so badly to giggle.
“First or last?” my eyes automatically gravitated back to his, in curiosity. “Is Pepper your first or last name?” he persisted, looking at me almost seriously.
I smiled sheepishly before answering. “Both. You know, like Madonna or Prince,” and I watched his right eyebrow rise a little before his gaze went back to the road.
“Okay, Pepper,” he teased, as he struggled to keep from laughing. I smiled broadly in appreciation for his obvious constraint.
“We’re going to take the exit after the college, and then make a left at the light,” I said, looking ahead.
“So, are you up for stopping at a drive-through and picking up a burger before I take you home? It’ll only take a few extra minutes and I haven’t eaten. I’m starving, actually. What about you?” Great! Burgers for breakfast, something else I’d never done. I looked back into his ocean-blue eyes. No, they weren’t ocean blue I argued with myself; they were more a bluish-green; a deeper, bluer color than I’d ever seen. And his shoulder-length, dishwater-blonde hair framed them perfectly. I made myself stop staring. My heart fluttered a little, maybe in embarrassment, and I felt my face fill with color. He grinned at me. I do want some extra time with him, don’t I? Yes, a lot of time actually.
“A drive-through? Sure.” I sat back in my seat so he could see the mirror as he changed lanes to exit the freeway. The engine was louder than most, so I waited until the car came to a stop at the light to continue our conversation.
“So, was that your sister or a friend,” I paused, but emphasized the word friend purposely “that you were dropping off at the airport? I watched his face anxiously. He surprised me by looking me straight in the eye for what seemed a long minute, as if he were struggling with himself for the best way to answer. I felt myself swallow hard and slid my hands, one to each side, under my thighs.
He finally answered, “She is a girl I barely know. I guess you could call her a friend,” and he rolled his eyes and looked back out the front windshield. All-righty then that didn’t tell me much. Translated, it could mean that she is a mere rung on my personal ladder of player tail, I sighed thoughtfully. I didn’t give up.
“Okay, so would you say in the broad scheme of things that she is a girl-friend or an acquaintance?” and I patiently waited with my eyes riveted on him to see if my reality check was about to bounce. He’s not going to tell you the truth, and honestly, why should he? My inner voice questioned. Just then the light changed and I felt the car almost jump in response to his sudden leaden foot. Mr. Tom-Catting-Around kept his eyes forward as he pulled into the In ‘N’ Out food-stop and merged into the long line to the drive-through window. When it was our turn to order, I quickly scanned the menu, announced my choice, and bent down to search for my wallet.
“Forget about it, really, it’s my treat,” he said with a wave of his hand as he lifted his body from the car seat to retrieve his wallet. As the Mustang came to a stop at the pick-
“Listen I haven’t really ever had a steady girlfriend, so to speak. I actually met someone special several years ago, but it didn’t work out. It was just bad timing really. So I don’t date but,” he said with a pause. Neither of us moved, our eyes still fixed forward. My gut told me I wasn’t going to like what he had to say next and my gut was right.
“If you’re asking me if I slept with her, the answer would be yes. So…” and he paused again. I turned and watched as he inhaled deeply. “Now you know everything there is to know about that.” His tone wasn’t in the least indicating shame and almost matter-of-fact about the last part. I wondered if I was getting the entire story, he didn’t owe me anything, much less a detailed, blow-by-blow explanation. I wasn’t sure why that gnawed at me so much.
“Do you regret coming with me now?” and his voice trailed off as he turned and accepted the bag of food being offered to him from the open window. My eyes were plastered on the bag rather than on him; I reached for it. I really didn’t know exactly how I felt, but I could feel his eyes on me, waiting for a response. I reached into the bag and handed him a burger. His eyes locked with mine and I could tell that he needed an answer. I worded my reply carefully.
“No, I don’t regret anything. I had a choice and I made it,” I insisted, still looking at him. I gave him a quick reassuring smile and after a second of thought, he looked away, clearly satisfied with my words.
The ride to Judy’s was quiet as we both ate the burgers. He pulled up to the sidewalk and I grabbed my purse, meeting him at the trunk of the car to take my bag.
“I bet you want a smoke right about now, huh? I know when I smoked, that’s the first thing I wanted after a meal.” he said, slipping his right hand partially into his front jeans pocket. I caught myself looking at the ground and nodding at him. Great, he’s a reformed smoker. Let’s hope that doesn’t include a holier-than-thou attitude about smokers. I will quit, when I’m good and ready. Judy quit several years ago with nothing but sunflower seeds. Nobody likes a quitter.