“Weather Guy” Grant Singer is determined to be in a committed relationship by year’s end. Tired of guys who only go out with him in order to get close to his more famous coworker, he signs up with an online dating service. No one ever claimed meteorology was sexy, but surely Grant can find someone to share his life with the help of technology. Too bad he’s more attracted to the waiter who serves them lunch than any of his matches.
Waiter Craig Brower is focused on finishing his degree in mathematics. He doesn’t have time for dating and couldn’t care less when a local television celebrity shows up in his section.
But Grant is a nice guy and soon Craig is all too invested in making sure he ends up with the right man by his side no matter how stormy the weather.
"Your profile mentions you enjoy mountain biking. Where’s your favorite place to ride?" Grant wanted to start with that question as Mark’s obvious pallor left him curious. Maybe he’d taken time off due to an injury?
"Oh, I don’t really like outdoorsy things." Mark pursed his lips and used his fork to fish the lemon out of his iced tea. He dropped the offending wedge onto the table with a splat before pushing it under the edge of his plate. "Mother thought it would help my profile sound more interesting."
Grant rubbed his earlobe as he surveyed the death-trail left by the tea-coated lemon. There were two major red flags in that sentence. But David had warned him that just like a resume, people sometimes padded their profiles to get a foot in the door. He’d try not to hold it against Mark. Still ... "Your mother?"
"Oh yes." Mark settled his napkin in his lap, smoothing out each individual wrinkle with painstaking concentration. "She helped me with my profile, and we review all my matches together. Only the best for her little boy." Mark chuckled, obviously inviting Grant to share in the joke.
"I’m sure." Grant cleared his throat and pressed on. "So, what do you like to do?"
"Well, we’re big fans of reality television." Mark sipped his iced tea and then wiped delicately at his mouth with his just-smoothed-out napkin. He then placed the material back on his lap and straightened it once again with the same precise gestures. "This season’s dancing shows are proving to be quite exciting. Then of course, we have tickets for the local symphony, as well as the university theater."
"We?" Grant had to question. Hypnotized by Mark’s repetitive movements and positive he heard Mark pronounce theater with a "re" rather than an "er."
"Mother and I," Mark said with obvious pride. "But don’t worry. We’ve already checked, and we can get a third seat in our row for whomever I end up committed to."
"That’s good to know." Grant felt a bit stunned at Mark’s flood of information. His gaze darted around the restaurant and he wished he had setup one of those first date outs with David.
He’d have to do that for the next one, maybe a phone call he could use as an excuse to bail if things got weird. He watched Mark took another sip of tea, dabbed at his mouth with the napkin, and went through the whole smoothing out the wrinkles thing again. Kind of like now.
He sat back, opening space for Craig to serve their meals. Based on the questioning look Craig gave him Grant’s dilemma must have been apparent. Grant told himself not to be silly and shrugged sheepishly when Craig set his plate down in front of him. At least there was a bright spot in this whole mess, and that was getting to see Craig again.
If it wouldn’t make him feel like his Uncle Jim, he’d think about flirting with Craig. Not now obviously, not when he was with someone else, but maybe another time, with some of the people from the station.
Except, yeah, Uncle Jim. Grant would never forget the time their waitress poured his Uncle’s drink over his head after he’d hit on her one too many times. Not to mention the series of harassment complaints that had taken their toll on both his uncle's finances and marriage.
How to work around that? Grant’s attention was caught by his waitress from last time. She grinned, a wide and excited stretch to her full lips and waved at him from across the restaurant. Grant waved back, maybe he could ask her.
Grant’s sense of satisfaction faded when Mark lifted his rather weak chin and ignored Craig. He didn’t want to think Mark felt superior simply because Craig worked at a restaurant. Still, he shouldn’t give up on Mark just yet. "So, you and your mother are close?" he asked as Craig nodded politely and headed back to the kitchen.
"We’re best friends." Mark used his fork to divide the pasta and chicken on his plate so they didn’t touch, the sauce creating a tiny lake between the two distinct hemispheres of food. "She’s always been there for me."
"That’s wonderful," Grant agreed, unsure of what else to say. He didn’t miss the distaste on Mark’s face as he slopped the vegetable sides for his burger together and raised it for a bite.
Oh man, that was good. He wanted to moan at the rich flavor burst of grill-seared beef but held back. Mark didn’t appear to be the type to appreciate a public foodgasm.
They ate in silence, Grant savoring his burger and fries while Mark picked at his own plate. "Is your meal all right?" Grant finally asked as Mark moved the same pile of pasta around in a small circle.
"A little too spicy for me," Mark confessed. "Mother’s digestion is rather delicate and we eat a simple diet."
"I can have the waiter bring something else out for you," Grant offered, looking around to see if he could spot their waiter. Please, could he spot their waiter?
"No, no, it’s fine." Mark nodded his head, the gesture anything but convincing as he placed his fork down and pushed his plate away. "I’ll have something when I get home."
"Are you sure?" Grant pressed. He rubbed at the small anvil that had taken residence over his eyebrow, disappointed by how the meeting had gone so far and prepared for once, to concede defeat. Mark didn’t care for athletics, didn’t care for the restaurant Grant had picked, and as for the mother thing? Grant wasn’t sure he had it in him to deal.