Unlike with the waiter, the rush of lust didn't strike out of the blue. At first I only thought the guy standing next to Mr. Hollywood was just my type: dark-haired, clean-shaven, with a classic sense of style. Not many men under sixty wear tailored sports coats to backyard barbecues.
Out of curiosity, I sidled up to Mom and Jane to hear the introductions.
Beverly Lucas said,"This is my daughter, Charlotte. She works at Collins Mortgage."
"We've met!" When Mr. Hollywood smiled, rays of sunshine escaped through his teeth. "Charlotte has given me tons of great advice about the area. I feel like we're best friends already!"
"Is that right?" Beverly shot a glance of triumph at Mom. "You know, Charlotte also does musical theater. She was the leading lady in Oklahoma! three years ago."
Mom cut in. "Charlotte has such a lovely voice! It's just a shame that directors care more about looks than talent, so Charlotte has landed so few roles."
She twittered like a transparently manipulative parakeet. "Oh, silly me--I haven't introduced myself! I'm Lucy Bennet. This here is my daughter, Elizabeth."
I waved with an awkward smile.
"My youngest girls, Kitty and Lydia, are playing badminton over there. They're students at OSU. Aren't they cute? I have another daughter, Mary, but she had to work today. She finished her doctorate last year. We're all so proud of her."
Mom pushed Jane forward a bit. "Oh, you're here too, Jane! I'm so sorry, I nearly forgot you. This is my oldest, Jane. Coincidentally, she's an actress, too!"
When men meet my sister, it's not uncommon for them to metamorphosize from humans into dogs. Some stare at her with bulging pug eyes and start talking in a panting, breathless way. Others bark with unnatural laughter and prance around, begging for attention. The worst ones transform into wolves who feel entitled to mark her as their territory.
But Mr. Hollywood turned into a species I'd never seen before: a terrified, cowering puppy.
"H-how-how are you?" he said. His hand shook as he held it out to Jane.
"I'm well, thank you." Jane clasped his hand in hers, and I half expected Mr. Hollywood to scamper away and hide under a table. "How do you like Oregon so far?"
Mr. Hollywood's mouth opened and closed. I don't think his brain was in a state to handle such a complex question.
"Rain," he said finally. "It hasn't rained. I thought there would be a lot of rain. I brought five umbrellas and I haven't even used one yet."
I gaped at her. Jane doesn't giggle in front of men she doesn't know. She smiles in her cool, classy way, and her calm voice builds an invisible wall with a big hanging sign that says, "Sorry, Not Interested." Yet in front of the babbling Mr. Hollywood, she actually giggled.
Jane said, "When people think of Oregon, they think of Portland and the coast. It rains all the time over there. But on this side of the Cascades, it's all high desert. When my college friends come to visit, they're always shocked that the climate is so dry."
"Right?!" Mr. Hollywood relaxed a bit. "I was looking forward to wearing galoshes, too."
Jane giggled again. "Wait until winter, and you can wear snow boots every day."
"There's snow?!" Mr. Hollywood's eyes grew as big and round as if he were three years old and someone had just told him there are establishments called "toy stores."
YOU ARE READING
Lizzie Bennet's DiaryRomance
"Today I met a man, and I thought he was my soulmate, but then he turned out to be a conceited, judgmental, small-minded lemon-sucking jerk." When free-spirited writer Lizzie Bennet meets handsome lawyer Will Darcy at a party, she's smitten...until...