When Manny's eyes met Em's, he knew exactly who she was. He took a gulp, trying not to remind himself of the past, but this was the girl from high school who hated him very much.
She had an ungodly long name. He only remembered how it started. Amelia Rosa Letticia Elania...but everyone called her Em. Even now, he guessed.
Did he dare shake her hand? She used to flick his ear to get his attention. She was actually Gage's friend. And she hated Manny very much. After all, it was his fault that Gage didn't have a home, according to her. That was years ago. He hoped she wouldn't bring it up.
Finally, he offered a handshake. Maybe it was Angie who saved him. She was squealing with delight in her play pen. Evidently, Em liked babies. She walked past him and went to have a talk with Angie. Manny gave himself a hug. He wanted to ask about her to Cory, but now was not the time.
He let Allie do all the talking. Em kept smiling at the baby. Finally, Allie let Em hold the baby. She was all smiles as she cooed at the baby.
Cory gave the quick thumbs up to Manny as he went to the kitchen to help Allie with dinner.
"She seems nice." Allie smiled.
Manny only smiled with a nod as he grabbed the rolls from the oven and put them in the basket for serving.
Manny didn't date. Maybe it was just too late. He was not anything like Allie probably thought. She'd been his one and only and that was not exactly a relationship. It was more or less... nature and chemistry at work, and he'd gone along for the ride.
Em still scared him. He knew what she thought of him. Gage's rotten little brother who never thought twice about Gage's predicament. Of course, she'd never asked about his own. She was two years older than him, but she looked so young. Still.
Perhaps she wasn't exactly that old Em, anymore. Yet there was something that could set her off when he was around. Suddenly, she was the leader of a girl gang when she spoke her mind to him. It was as if she could have broke out in a Jennifer Lopez number, but usually, she cussed at him in broken Spanish. She was definitely never afraid of him.
An impish smile slipped. What was it that he brought out the worst in some people?
They set down to the food. Em set next to him, but Manny didn't say much. He helped Cory clean up, afterwards. It was nice that Allie had someone talk to.
"You get in there and ask her.." Cory nudged with suds up to his elbows.
"Ask her what?" Manny looked at Cory strangely.
"I dunno. Something. Anything. Don't you think it would be nice..if..if she came over, again?" Cory shrugged.
"Well, Allie can do that." Manny rolled his eyes. Maybe he was shy.
Cory looked at him a bit perturbed.
Manny sighed, drying one more dish, wishing Em was already out the door, but she was helping Allie with Angie.
"Hey." Manny finally managed which was Allie's cue to put Angie to bed. "I..I don't suppose..you remember me?" He kept smiling, although, he knew he shouldn't.
"I remember you." Her dark eyes were so stern.
"I see. Then..then you know, Gage was in an accident." Manny thought to talk of Gage.
"Gage was in an accident?" He could see this was the first she'd heard of it. She sat down on the couch as if she expected the worst.
"Yeah, he's OK. But, but he's a different Gage now." He told her.
"How different?" She looked at him as if she imagined he might be a zombie of some sort.
"Well, for starters, he still doesn't remember who he is." Manny told her. "But I'm sure he'd like to see you, just the same."
"That's so sad." Her eyes rimmed tears. "I didn't know. I feel so bad. I didn't know." She frowned. "I've spent the last three years with a guy I ..I only went out with ..because..because my sister..." She pressed her lips tight. "She thought he was perfect for me. And, he was her husband's best friend." She bit her bottom lip. "Finally, I get to be me, again. If I can even remember who that is.." She tried to smile. "And..here you are..the last person I ever expected to be a Dad." She almost laughed. "You'd think I'd at least have a kid by now, wouldn't you?" She kept staring at him. "I don't even know how to cook." She confessed.
"I don't really know how, either." Manny winced. "Look, maybe..we..we could see Gage, some time." Manny supposed it might be a good start to ask her out on a date. At least it would be kind of a date.