Downtown Restaurant Phelan (Phelan)
Cute girl sitting down waiting for her food on Friday. Talked for a minute before I left, asked you if you were a teacher and you had been at a parent/teacher conference. Maybe I'll see you in there again
The Mexican restaurant in downtown Phelan was busy for a Tuesday night. Mike Bricker ate out for dinner after a long day at the real estate office. His laptop was open to the real estate exam study guide. No matter how many questions he answered correctly, he still felt incapable of passing the exam. It had taken him years of drifting through life to realize what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. It was time to place roots.
The town was a great place to settle down and live the rest of his life. The community was growing. Lots of land for sale. Homes were moderately priced for San Bernardino County. The school system recently hired a new superintendent and lots of families were inquiring about the location and the educational institutions.
When his carne asada arrived, he was ready to eat. He finally looked up from the blue screen, his eyes adjusting to the low lighting. He ordered another beer.
“Studying for an exam?” he heard over his shoulder.
He looked to where the voice came from and saw the gal he’d spoken to a few weeks ago at this restaurant. “Hi.” He smiled, running his hand through his hair. “I’m taking a real estate exam next week.”
“Oh, you’re a realtor?”
“Not yet. I still have to pass the exam.”
“Of course.” She laughed, looking down at the counter.
He took a swig of his beer. A shot of liquid courage helped him ask, “I haven‘t seen you here in a while.” He cleared his throat. “I mean, since the last time I saw you.”
She hesitated, pursing her lips. “I think I’d been at the PTA. I had been visiting them for the first time.” She extended a hand. “I’m Nicole Miniver.”
After wiping his damp hand with his napkin, he shook her hand and gave her his name. “Welcome to Phelan. You’ll like it here.”
“I haven’t moved here, yet.” She frowned. “I’m still searching for a place to live while my condo sells.”
“Do you have a real estate agent?” He hated to ask, but bringing in a new client would help ingratiate himself to his broker, Sandra.
“I do.” Her nose wrinkled. “I’m sorry.”
“No worries. I hope your agent helps you find the right place.”
“Thank you.” She looked down at his plate. “Don’t let your food grow cold.” She pointed to his plate.
“If you’re not in a rush, I’d appreciate the company.”
“I ordered to go. It will be a late night going over the district‘s budget.”
He raised his hands. “No worries. I’m sure you‘re busy.”
She seemed to hesitate as he sliced into the steak and took a bite. It was already cooling down.
“Are you from Phelan?” She asked.
He swallowed the mouthful of food. “I’m not. I’m from Nevada. But I moved here two years ago. Starting a new life here after my father passed away.”
“My condolences.” The sincerity shone in her eyes.
Her order arrived, packaged in a white plastic bag. “Your order, miss.” Maricela, the restaurant owner said to Nicole.
Mike felt forlorn. “Have a great night, Nicole. Good luck with your job.”
“It was great meeting you, Mike.” She pivoted to leave. “Hey, can I get your business card.” When he hesitated, she said. “In case my real estate agent doesn‘t work out.”
Mike grinned, reaching into his wallet. “And if you need anyone to show you around town, please don’t hesitate to ask.”
She took the card. “How about lunch tomorrow?”
“Asian? The Pho Grille is a favorite.” He kept his hand out for a shake.
With her hand in his, she said, “Noon then?”
He nodded. “It was really great seeing you again, Nicole.” He watched her walk toward the front door, still bustling with diners. When he returned to his food, he took a moment to replay the encounter, ending with the “date” they’d scheduled for the next day.