“Are you sure you can handle this?”
Elliot rolled his eyes. “For the last time, Isabel, I got this. You have nothing to worry about.”
Isabel stood in the middle of the kitchen. She stared down her older brother like he had carried the plague into her home. She was dressed up in a knee-length red dress with silver sparkling heels. She held onto her black clutch in front of her, her knuckles turning white.
Elliot walked up to her and took one of her hands in his. He kissed it and smiled as sweetly as he could even though she was beginning to annoy him with her constant worry.
“This isn’t my first rodeo, you know. I have three kids, remember?” Elliot said.
Isabel nodded her head. “Yes, I know… But this is your first time with my kid.”
“She’s a year old and she’s asleep.”
“What if she wakes up?”
“I’ll change her diaper.”
“What if she’s crying?”
“I’ll soothe her.”
“Isabel, don’t make me pick you up and throw you out the front door…” Elliot wagged his index finger in her face. He was smiling, but she didn’t seem amused one bit.
“Where would I go? My date is picking me up.” Isabel said. Then her bottom lip began to quiver. She turned away and walked into the living room.
Elliot opened his mouth to say something before she had turned her back but decided against saying anything at all. He followed her into the next room and watched her as she placed her handbag down on the coffee table and sat on the couch with her head between her knees.
“Okay…” Elliot cleared his throat. He walked over and sat down on the couch beside her. He put a hand on her back rubbing in small circles. “Listen, I know this is going to be a tough night for you, but you really like this guy, don’t you?”
Isabel nodded, but it was hard to tell considering that her head was still buried in her dress.
“So don’t worry about that… guy.” Elliot coughed. He wasn’t too sure what to call his almost brother-in-law. As soon as Isabel’s fiancé had found out she was pregnant, he broke off the wedding and got back together with his ex-girlfriend.
Elliot was the one who was there when his niece was born. He had thrown the best baby shower there ever could have been, he gave her a part of his house before she was able to rent her own apartment. He stayed with her when her due date approached. He drove her to the hospital, stayed in the delivery room with her, and he was even the one to cut the cord.
A year had passed since then and while Elliot had helped her a lot, especially since both of their parents had already passed on, Isabel was eventually able to get back on her own feet and take responsibility for being a single mother. Elliot now had become back-up when his sister was in a pinch.
Isabel met Gary about a month ago at the coffee shop she worked at. He had become a regular costumer and it was recent that Isabel realized it was because he wanted to see her every day. They were finally going on their first date. Isabel really liked him and while Elliot had never met him, he was impressed by Isabel’s stories about him.
This was the first date Isabel was going on since her fiancé of two years and boyfriend of three years. Elliot knew it was going to be hard, but date or no date, Isabel hadn’t had a night out since the baby was born.
“Go out and have fun. And don’t think of this as a date.” Elliot said.
“But it is a date.” Isabel sniffled lifting her head. She looked at him with blood-shot eyes.
Elliot grunted. He pushed himself off the couch mumbling, “You’re smudging your make-up…”
Isabel chuckled. She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand.
“No, don’t do that.” Elliot grabbed a box of tissues on the other side of the room. He handed her the box and sat down beside her again. “Here,”
Isabel took a couple of tissues. She stood up, taking her bag, and walked over to the mirror above the mantel. After wiping her face, she began to reapply the make-up from her handbag.
“Just have a good time with Gary as friends. I know he asked you out, but don’t let a label like ‘date’ put any pressure on you.” Elliot explained.
Isabel took a deep breath still staring at herself in the mirror. “You’re right.”
“I know, I always am,”
She turned around and rolled her eyes at him, but she was smiling.
“You look beautiful; you’ll have a fun time.” Elliot stood up and walked over to the window. “And right on cue,” he said peeking through the curtains, “is your ride.”
Elliot opened his arms. “Give me a hug and then go open the door for him.”
Isabel did just that. She gave her brother a tight squeeze and then opened the front door before Gary even had a moment to get all the way up the front steps.
After greeting and complimenting how beautiful Isabel looked, he introduced himself to Elliot and shook his hand. The three of them made small talk for a few minutes before Gary checked the time and realized they didn’t want to be late for the show. They said their goodbyes and Elliot closed the door.
He side stepped to the window and carefully peeked around the curtain watching Gary back out of the driveway with Isabel in the front seat.
Once they were out of sight, Elliot made his way into the kitchen. He made up a few snacks for himself, grabbed the baby monitor, and made his way back into the living room. His niece was sound asleep. He kicked his feet up on the coffee table, cracked open a soda, and turned on the TV.
Maybe after tonight Isabel would be able to get her happy ending.