She stared at me "You have a message," she said. "On you machine."I looked over at my answering machine. Sure enough, the light was blinking. The woman really was a detective."It's some girl," La Guerta said. "She sounds kind of sleepy and happy. You got a girlfriend, Dexter?" there was a strange hint of a challenge in her voice."You know how it is," I said. "Women today are so forward, and when you are as handsome as I am they absolutely fling themselves at your head." Perhaps an unfortunate choice of words; as I said it I couldn't help thinking of the woman's head flung at me not so long ago."Watch out," La Guerta said. "Sooner or later one of them will stick." I had no idea what she thought that meant, but it was a very unsettling image."I'm sure you're right," I said. "Until then, carpe diem.""What?""It's Latin," I said. "It means, complain in the daylight.
Oh, God," I said."No, it's Dexter," he replied, offering me his hand, which I ignored.He glanced behind him, then back at me. "I'll see you soon," he said, and grinned atme."Like hell," I replied,
What the hell," I said, pushing off the wall, ready to take off the head of whatever stupid salesperson had decided to get cozy with me. My elbow was still buzzing, and I could feel a hot flush creeping up my neck: bad signs. I knew my temper.I turned my head and saw it wasn't a salesman at all. It was a guy with black curly hair, around my age, wearing a bright orange T-shirt. And for some reason he was smiling."Hey there," he said cheerfully. "How's it going?""What is your problem?" I snapped, rubbing my elbow."Problem?" "You just slammed me into the wall, asshole."He blinked. "Goodness," he said finally. "Such language."I just looked at him. Wrong day, buddy, I thought. You caught me on the wrong day."The thing is," he said, as if we'd been discussing the weather or world politics, "I saw you out in the showroom. I was over by the tire display?"I was sure I was glaring at him. But he kept talking."I just thought to myself, all of a sudden, that we had something in common. A natural chemistry, if you will. And I had a feeling that something big was going to happen. To both of us. That we were, in fact, meant to be together.""You got all this," I said, clarifying, "at the tire display?""You didn't feel it?" he asked."No. I did, however, feel you slamming me into the wall," I said evenly."That," he said, lowering his voice and leaning closer to me, "was an accident. An oversight. Just an unfortunate result of the enthusiasm I felt knowing I was about to talk to you.
But you, fine sir." John Miller clapped Dexter on the shoulder, a bit unsteadily. "You have problems of your own.""This is true," Dexter replied, nodding."The women," John Miller sighed.Dexter wiped a hand over his face, and glanced down the road. "The women. Indeed, dear squire, they perplex me as well.""Ah, the fair Remy," John Miller said grandly, and I felt a flush run up my face. Lissa, in the front seat, put a hand to her mouth."The fair Remy," Dexter repeated, "did not see me as a worthwhile risk.""Indeed.""I am, of course, a rogue. A rapscallion. A musician. I would bring her nothing but poverty, shame, and bruised shins from my flailing limbs. She is the better for our parting."John Miller pantomined stabbing himself in the heart. "Cold words, my squire.""Huffah," Dexter agreed."Huffah," John Miller repeated, "Indeed.
Plastic ware," he said slowly, "like knives and forks and spoons?"I brushed a bit of dirt off the back of my car—was that a scratch?—and said casually,"Yeah, I guess.Just the basics, you know.""Did you need plastic ware?" he asked.I shrugged."Because," he went on, and I fought the urge to squirm, "it's so funny, because I needplastic ware. Badly.""Can we go inside, please?" I asked, slamming the trunk shut. "It's hot out here."He looked at the bag again, then at me. And then, slowly, the smile I knew anddreaded crept across hisface. "You bought me plastic ware," he said. "Didn't you?'"No," I growled, picking at my license plate."You did!" he hooted, laughing out loud. "You bought me some forks. And knives.And spoons.Because—""No," I said loudly."—you love me!" He grinned, as if he'd solved the puzzler for all time, as I felt a flushcreep across myface. Stupid Lissa. I could have killed her."It was on sale," I told him again, as if this was some kind of an excuse."You love me," he said simply, taking the bag and adding it to the others."Only seven bucks," I added, but he was already walking away, so sure of himself. "Itwas on clearance,for God's sake.""Love me," he called out over his shoulder, in a singsong voice. "You. Love. Me.