You’re not looking for a girl. Arturo reminded himself. You just barely have a job. You don’t even have a tent.
He was only slightly disappointed to learn she was wearing a bathing suit under that blue striped dress. She saw him then and smiled before diving gracefully off the rocks into the pool below. Without a though he stripped as well and climbed the rocks after her. He looked down. She was looking up at him, laughing, the mist hugged the water.
“What are you waiting for?” Her voice was tinged with moonlight and laughter. Surprised, he jumped. The water was colder than he’d expected and he game up sputtering.
He looked around, but didn’t see her. She laughed again and splashed him from behind. The sneak.
They treaded water in silence for a moment. But, it wasn’t an uncomfortable silence. Arturo listened to his heartbeat. The party seemed so distant, the thrum of the bass just audible.
“Come here often?” she asked the cliched lines with a laugh. Arturo shook his head.
She pulled up on the edge of the pond. Arturo swam after her. “Want to dance”
Arturo forgot everything. He forgot he was houseless, hungry, tired, and borderline filthy. He forgot he had a new job starting tomorrow. He forgot he wasn’t interested in dating or romance until he was settled – or at least had tent.
Eventually the spell broke and she pulled away. “I’ve gotta go.”
“What’s your name?” He blurted in a sudden panic. What if he never saw her again?
“Chana. I’ll see you round.” And then she was gone.
Arturo worked hard at Blue Records. He job was just a glorified coffee boy, but it was a start. His paycheck was small, but it was steady. By the end of the week, Arturo was the proud owner of a new tent.
He slept soundly for the first time since arriving in Windenburg, just over a week a ago. It was glorious. It was also just a step above sleeping in a bush.
But a tent wasn’t all his hard-earned money had bought. As the morning son rose over the cliffs, Arturo enjoyed his first private shower. And it didn’t cost him 20 simoleons. Sure it was bitterly cold and understandably brief, but it was all his.
And it was heavenly. Arturo felt that he had at last made it. Proven to all those back home that he wasn’t a screw up, doomed be be dependent his entire life. Here he was – land to his name, a decent job, a tent and a shower. What else could a guy need. No, he told himself, don’t answer that.
His phone rang as he finished off his shower. It was Bella.
“You sound cheerful.”
“It’s been a good morning.” He wanted to tell her about the new shower and tent, but then she’d know he was living rough. He didn’t want her to judge him. His life was a success, but he knew others wouldn’t see it that way.
“Well, perhaps I can make it even better. You don’t work till this afternoon, right?”
“Not till 3pm.”
“Come to the Hedgehog Cafe.”
Artruo didn’t haveanything better to do so he headed into town. Bella met him at the ferry with the news that she’d started a creative club that was going to meet at the Hedgehog Cafe every week.
“What’s a creative club?” Artruo asked after he’d been introduced to the the group.
“Well, Katie’s a writer so we help her by reading her stories when she wants some advice. And Ashley is a game designer, sometimes she needs character ideas. I figure you’re a musician, we could listen to you play.”
“What do you do?”
“Oh, I’m between projects, so right now I’ll just come up with ideas for the rest of you.”
Arturo started attending the club’s gatherings. He bought a used guitar from Bella and started practicing outside the cafe.
The other club members were very supportive and helped him with his phrasing and he enjoyed helping them out with their challenges. He wasn’t brave enough to play his own songs yet, despite their urging. Most mornings he headed down to the cafe and played. He wasn’t making a lot in tips, but it was enough to buy him lunch.
“It’s singles night at Molly’s Bar,” Bella liked to call early in the morning. “Come with me today, 8pm?”
“You’re not single.” In fact, Bella was happily married to a man named Hayden although Arturo hadn’t met him.
“But you are! You need to get out more. You’re not going to meet anyone at the Hedgehog.”
“I’ve met lots of friends there.”
But she had a point. Friends were easy to find. Everyone in Windenburg was really nice, but he hadn’t found anyone he wanted to hang out with besides Bella. He hadn’t seen the girl from the bluffs since that first night. But unlike princes in fairy tales he didn’t have anything to track her down with besides her name, Chana.
He could never refuse Bella though, so after work he headed out to the bar.
“Of course,” Arturo was exhausted and he’d thought about cancelling, but the place seemed pretty chill. He could have a couple drinks and chat with Bella. No one said he had to participate in singles night.
“I invited Katie as well,” Bella said.
“Oh.” Arturo liked Katie well enough, he just wasn’t sure he wanted Bella playing matchmaker. If it was meant to be, it would be, right?
“Come on, she likes you.” Bella nudged his shoulder as she walked in.
“How’s the book coming?”
“Great, they want a trilogy, though,” Katie sighed.
“That’s good, right?”
“Yes, it’s just that I planned this as a single plot. I’m not sure how to expand it into three.”
“Well, I bet your readers will enjoy reading about Grace as much as I do. So they’re bound to want to read more.”
“Thanks.” They chatted about plots and Arturo’s music. It was almost as easy to talk to Katie as it was to talk to Bella.
“Wow, it’s getting busy in here.” Katie said looking around the room.
Arturo hadn’t noticed, but now that he looked around, it seemed like it was a popular night. Then he saw her. She had just sat down behind Katie. It was Chana. And she was looking at him.
“Uh, sorry, Katie – but I um…” Arturo stumbled over his words but he didn’t want to hurt her. He also didn’t want to let Chana get away a second time.
“Don’t worry,” Katie said. “I’ve got to leave anyway. Postal work means an early morning.”
He watched her leave, guilt gnawing at his conscious. Katie was really nice. Honest. He told himself.
“Oh, were you with her?” Chana’s voice was like silk.
It drew Arturo’s gaze from the door. “Not really, a mutual friend set us up.”
“You’re free then.”
“I’ve been looking for you,” he admitted.
“Have you!?” She sounded pleased to hear that.
“You disappeared so quickly, I only had your name.”
“Well, then I’m glad I stopped by tonight.”
“Shall we dance?”
“Only if you give me your number this time,” Arturo winked at her.
She laughed. “Of course.”