My finger hesitated above a contact listed as “Mr. Mendoza.” Maybe it was a bad idea to call him – the favor I needed went a bit beyond what was expected between an 18-year-old & her friend’s father, & we hadn’t known each other very long. His daughter Maddie went to a private academy while I went to public school. We met when we both started volunteering at the community center & became fast friends. I met her father Javier soon after, only about two years ago.
But I couldn’t explain this situation to my mom, & he did give me his number for nights like this. It was either call, or stay at the motel where Will York had abandoned me.
I tapped the green phone icon. He answered in three rings.
“Hi, Thea. If you’re looking for Maddie, she’s at her mother’s for the weekend.”
“I know, Mr. Mendoza. Actually… you know how you said to call if I ever needed a ride?”
Within twenty minutes his black Audi pulled into the parking lot. I exited the seedy motel room & braced myself for humiliation. Bad enough to explain my failure to lose my virginity to any friend’s parent – it had to be him.
Mr. Mendoza was 47 years old & very mindful of his health if evidence was to be gleaned from the way his shirts clung to his defined frame. His hair was thick & wavy, black with silver flecks around his temples & in his eternal 5 o’clock shadow. He had a regal Roman nose, a strong jawline, & wrinkles around his warm, chocolatey eyes that creased when he flashed his Cheshire smile, making him seem experienced & distinguished rather than old. He looked more like a silver fox movie star than a software developer.
Maybe it was wishful thinking, but he always seemed flirtatious when we spoke. He laughed sincerely at my jokes, maintained intense eye contact, & charged his words with extra meaning when directed at me. He treated me differently than Maddie’s other friends, entrusting me with more responsibilities & engaging in discussions that went beyond simple small talk. It was as if he saw me as his equal.
I might have been in love with him.
“Alright, Thea,” he said as I got into the car, “you don’t have to explain anything you don’t want to. Let’s get you home.”
“Thanks, Mr. Mendoza.”
He smiled. “Please, Thea. Call me Javier.”
I blushed & turned my gaze to my feet. “Thanks, Javier. But… would it be okay if I stayed the night at your house? I told my mom I was sleeping over with Maddie anyway, so it’s kinda like I told the truth. I can crash on her bed or the couch.”
Javier let out a bemused laugh & ran a hand through his hair. “Yeah, yeah that sounds alright to me. There’s a fresh set of sheets on Maddie’s bed.”
The first few minutes in the car were tense. Javier kept glancing over at me, which made me feel conscious about how I looked. I was wearing a floral-print dress with a flared skirt, fitted top, & low neckline – ideal for flaunting curves – with thigh high boots, my coppery red hair in a “messy” bun, & smoky makeup around my green eyes. The topper was my lucky bra – Javier couldn’t see the C-cup garment itself, but he could definitely see the three inches of cleavage it helped produce.