Oliver took his sports bag and walked out of the building. The workout had made him thirsty. He sipped from a bottle of Pocari Sweat.
“Do you still wanna buy the books?” Energy, his best friend and workmate, joined him.
“I’m not sure whether she’ll like them or not. At least she agreed to meet. I hope she keeps the volume down this time. I don’t wanna be embarrassed in a public place.”
“At least you have someone to buy something for. Look at me. I have nobody.” Energy protruded his lower lip in a sulky pout.
“That’s not true. You have many girlfriends.”
“Sisters! Each one of them. I tell you, these days, I’m beginning to accept I may have been cursed at birth.” Energy was in a sad mood again.
“I wouldn’t mind having a few sisters myself.” Oliver teased him.
“Please, take them all.”
They were on the long escalator leading into the stomach of the building. Times Square was packed with weekend shoppers.
“There she is.” Energy had spotted Priscilla standing near one of the lifts. “I’d better get going. All the best, buddy.” He disappeared into the crowd.
Oliver took a deep breath and walked up to Priscilla.
She looked beautiful in the black dress. For a moment, Oliver forgot they had fought. She had dyed her hair a lighter shade of brown again. Oliver had a weakness for that shade. He sighed. He must do his best to patch things up.
“Hi, baby.” He gave her his best smile.
“Hmm.” She grunted, apparently unable to forgive him for something he had no idea about.
“Are you hungry?”
“Of course! I’ve been waiting for so long. If you want to go gym’ing with your friends, why do you ask me out?” She snapped.
Oliver looked at his watch. He’d been late by a mere seven minutes. One part of him told him to leave her and walk away that very moment. The other part asked him to stay and weather it out.
“What do you wanna eat?”
“Up to you.”
Oliver hated that answer. Every time he picked a cuisine, she wouldn’t be pleased. It always resulted in an unhappy face.
“Let’s eat sushi.” It was safer to go with her favorite food.
They took the escalator down and walked up to the sushi place on one of the streets behind Times Square.
After a few rounds of sushi in silence, Oliver braved another try.
“How was your day?”
“Okay lah.” That looked encouraging.
“I was thinking of going to Page One tonight. The Man Booker Prize has just been announced. What do you think?”
“Let’s take a look.”
After dinner, they spent an hour browsing through the books at the Page One shop and ended up picking a few. He knew the purchases had made Priscilla happy.
“Agnes will be so jealous of me when she finds out I have bought so many books today.” Priscilla had a very satisfied look on her face. Agnes was her colleague and a close friend.
“How is she? Still single or …?”
“Yes.” Priscilla’s expression didn’t change.
“Hmm. You know what? I was just wondering if you think we should introduce her to Energy.”
“I know you don’t like him because I spend more time with him than I do with you. We work together and we gym together. Some things in life are not by choice.”
“How can any girl like him?”
“That’s not true. He doesn’t look that bad. And he does have a lot of lady friends. I don’t think anybody would get bored in his company.”
“What’s the plan?”
The idea was working.
“We could go on a double date,” Oliver said.
“Ok. But Agnes hates matchmaking and blind dating. She’s been disappointed too many times. Let’s make it look accidental?”
Oliver was happy Priscilla was back to her calm self.