Chapter 3

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It was nearly 7:00 by the time Melanie got home. As she hung up her coat she was greeted by her two cats, Max and Lily. After a few head to tail scratches she fed them then went to take a shower. The steaming hot water felt good against her tired, achey muscles.

Despite the long work day she felt energized after the shower. She was looking forward to getting out. She hadn't been on a date of any sort since moving there. Given how her last relationship had ended, she vowed to stop dating. She swore she wouldn't let herself get that close to anyone again, for fear of having her heart crushed into a million pieces one more time.

As she put on her makeup she thought about that vow, and wondered why she had said yes to Brian. What was so special about HIM? His friends made him sound like a player. Maybe that was a good thing. Maybe she just needed someone to have a little fun with, nothing serious.

They had agreed to meet at 8:00 at an Irish pub less than ten minutes from where Melanie lived. She was pressed for time after being stuck in traffic on her way home, so she didn't have time to eat before she left the house. The pub had food so she figured she would just grab something there.

She arrived a few minutes past 8:00 and found Brian sitting at the bar. He noticed her as she made her way towards him and he smiled at her. He had a great smile. He made to stand to greet her but she motioned for him to stay seated, noticing his crutches propped against the bar. "Your leg," she said. "You're not supposed to put weight on it, remember?" He nodded and remained on his stool.

"You look great," he said as she sat down on the stool next to him.

"Thank you," she said, blushing once again. "Have you been waiting long? Sorry I'm late. Got home late due to traffic and I had to feed the cats and..."

"You have cats?!" he interrupted.

"Yes," she said, taken aback by his excitement. "I have two cats."

"I love cats! I have three!" It was obvious from his tone and the way his face lit up that he REALLY loved his cats. This only served to endear him to her.

"What are their names?" she asked.

He pulled out his phone and went to his photos, pulling up pictures of the cats. "This is Benjamin. He's old but he's a sweet boy. And this is Chessie. He's fat and likes to try to get outside. And this is Brooklyn. I rescued her (literally) on the BQE. She was just a kitten and was pretty much dodging traffic."

"Awwww...that is so sweet. So you rescued her AND you kept her?"

"Well, have you ever heard the saying 'if you save a life you're responsible for that life'? I really believe that. I couldn't just give her to a shelter. She has turned out to be a very sweet and affectionate cat." He stared lovingly at his phone. After a few seconds he seemed to snap out of it. With a slightly embarrassed look on his face he turned his phone off and shoved it back in his pocket. "Sorry," he said. "I love those cats so much. I don't have kids so they are like my babies." She noticed a tinge of red spread over his cheeks.

"It's fine," she said, putting a hand on his arm. "It's the same with me. No kids, just fur babies. I think it's sweet how much you care about them."

"So what do you want to drink?" he asked her, looking for the bartender.

"Just a beer," she replied. "Whatever kind you're having is fine."

Brian flagged down the bartender and when the drinks were placed in front of them he suggested they move to a table, for privacy and to get more comfortable. She carried the drinks as they made their way to a table near the back of the pub.

Once they had settled in and each taken a swig of their beers she asked him about his show. He explained the premise to her and when he was done (after telling her about some of the things they had done on the show) she felt genuinely interested in checking it out.

The conversation and the beers flowed more freely as the night progressed. Before they knew it, it was nearly 10:00. By this time they were both pretty buzzed, Melanie more so having not eaten anything.

"I don't think I can drive," Melanie told him, laughing. Everything was funny when you were drinking.

"Me either," Brian said. "I honestly hadn't planned on drinking this much. It's all your fault." He smiled at her as he said this and she playfully slapped his arm.

"I didn't force you to drink that much."

She smiled at him as she stared into his eyes. He smiled back as he leaned his head towards hers. Their lips met in a soft, gentle kiss. Her body tingled all over. It had been so long since she had had these type of feelings.

"That was nice," she said, pulling away. "Do you wanna get out of here? We can go to my place. It's pretty close. You can sleep on my couch if you really don't think you can drive home."

"I'm in," he said, smiling at her again. "Call us an Uber while I pay the bill."

Within 15 minutes they were at her apartment. As per usual, Max and Lily were there to greet them.

"Cats!" Brian exclaimed, startling Melanie. He knelt down to pet them and they rubbed against him as he talked. "And who are you beautiful babies?"

"This is Max," Melanie said, picking up the tabby. "And that is Lily," she gestured to the black and white cat rubbing against his hands and leg. After a minute or two they made their way into the apartment and Melanie offered Brian a beer. They sat on the couch facing each other and Melanie kicked off her shoes. She suddenly found that she had nothing to talk about. For whatever reason her mind just went blank. Then it wandered back to the kiss in the pub. It had felt so good. She was jolted back to reality by the sound of Brian's voice.

"What? I'm so sorry," she stammered. "I just zoned out. What did you say?"

"I asked what time you have to be up for work."

"Oh. I'm actually off tomorrow so whenever I wake up. What about you?"

"Filming has been canceled for the rest of this week because of my injury. The producers want me to stay off of it completely so it will heal faster. I know it won't be back to normal by next week but it will be better."

She asked him about the filming and how often they did it, then he told her about his podcasts. She had never listened to a podcast but it sounded like something worth checking out. Soon she realized she needed to use the bathroom and got up to excuse herself.

"Don't go anywhere," she said with a wink as she turned to leave.

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