The group hung around for an hour, ordering a second round and debating the best plays of the day. The conversation floated between the BCS standings and who threw away their Heisman hopes with the three picks in one game. They ate their nachos and wings and then impressed Mia by leaving the table relatively neat.
As she went to close out the tab for the group, she noticed another pleasant surprise. That guy Tim, lawn guy, had picked up the check. That was not the surprise. Everyone knew he had a trust fund footing the bill for all his college expenses. What did surprise her was his tip, a healthy 20%, respectful but not over the top. He wasn’t flaunting his wealth nor was he stingy after she had called him out in front of his friends. It was a simple gesture, something he probably did every day, but it felt like a truce to her. But then maybe she was reading too much into it. Maybe it was just a tip.
Mia went to clean up the table the guys had vacated. The pub was empty now except a few regulars who sat at the bar until Matt called them a cab at closing time. It had been a decent night and she was going to get out early enough to still get another hour or two of studying in before going to bed for the night.
She turned at the sound of her name spoken behind her. Tim was standing there, smiling as always. Had he forgotten something she wondered. She looked down at the empty plates seeing nothing and then back at him. She could feel her pulse quicken.
“Mia,” he said again pointing to her nametag. “I wanted to introduce myself, again. My name is Tim.” He reached out his hand.
She shook his hand. It was warm and firm. Her hand fit so nicely inside his until she pulled away. “My name is Mia,” she offered back, blushing when she realized that he had just said her name.
“I would love to get a drink with you some time.” His eyes twinkled full of confidence.
Mia had only been asked out a few times in her life. She didn’t know why. She had not been allowed to date in high school. Her mom’s attempt to make sure Mia did not get distracted and lose sight of their goal of her going to a good school. College had not changed her single status. She just didn’t seem to have that thing that made boys want to ask her out. She had only been on one date in college and that had not gone well. She had no idea how to act when guys became men, when feelings and hormones started to act up.
She felt caught off guard again by this guy. Mia did not like to feel off balance. “No thank you,” she answered.
“Coffee at least? I know you like coffee.”
“No thank you.” She replied again. “Wait, how do you know that?”
“You always have a kiosk coffee cup in hand as you walk across campus in the morning.”
Mia didn’t know if she should be flattered that he had noticed her. She had certainly noticed him over the years with more girls than she could count attached to him. This was not the kind of guy Mia wanted. This was exactly the kind of guy her mother had warned her about. Lawn guy liked the chase, but she had seen him discard his prizes just as quickly as he won them.
“No thank you,” she said again.
Tim looked down at his feet his facade shaken. He was not used to being rejected. And now twice in one day this woman had turned him down. No one is worth this much work he thought, not when there were so many other girls out there ready to go home with him.
“Ok. Well I guess I will see you around campus then,” he said before hurrying to catch up with his buddies before they left him behind. Mia stood there dumbfounded. Had Tim just asked her out? Had she said no. She knew it was the right decision but why then were her palms all clammy.