On their third date, Candace and Michael were still getting used to seeing each other without masks. They grinned at each other constantly all through dinner until Candace pointed out a seed stuck in Michael’s teeth. She laughed so hard at his panicked expression that water squirted out of her nose.
Michael had been mortified, but Candace still invited him back to her apartment for drinks. “You look warm,” she remarked. “Why don’t you take off that sweater?” She indulged herself in a quick peek at his narrow hips and flat stomach as his undershirt pulled up with the sweater, but then he started writhing awkwardly, stuck halfway with the sweater covering his head. With one forceful tug, Candace freed him from his woolen constraint, but the static electricity left tufts of his hair standing on end.
“What is it?” he asked as Candace stifled a giggle.
“Nothing,” she insisted, leaning forward to kiss him. A bolt of static electricity crackled between their puckered lips and both jumped, clutching their mouths.
Then Candace started giggling.
Michael’s shoulders slumped. “I guess I should go,” he sighed.
“No!” Candace said. “Stay! This is the best date I’ve had in a long time.”
It shouldn’t have taken so long for her to get someone’s attention. Finally, she caught a clerk’s eye. “Is there . . . something I can help you with?” he asked.
“Yes,” she said with a bright smile. “Those.”
His eyes followed her pointing finger to a shoe perched on the highest display shelf. The double take was unmistakable. “I can show you something a little more . . .” she saw the hesitation as he glanced at her chair, then said, “practical. If you want.”
“No,” she answered. “I want these. Size eight.”
She sat with the box in her lap, surprised by her own giddiness. Despite already knowing exactly what the box contained, she couldn’t resist feeling elated when she lifted the lid and saw the shoes there, nestled in the folds of parcel paper. They were perfect. Bright red, thin, elegant straps, a spiked heel. She lifted first her left foot, then her right to put them on and swiveled to face the mirror. They were perfect.
She rushed to answer the doorbell’s chime. Turning the knob, then rolling back, she opened the door to admit her date. He stepped in, smiling.
“Hey,” she said.
“Hi. You . . .” his grin widened, “you look great.”