Slender fingers skimmed across a brand new laptop, tapping restlessly against the keyboard. It came naturally, with the practice of someone who had been using technology for a long time. In fact, the woman barely had to look down, dark chocolate eyes fixed on the screen with a lip caught between her teeth.
"Are you sure this is a good idea?"
Beside her, a man laughed. He clapped a hand against her shoulder, then leaned across to gaze at the screen she was so studiously watching. "You said you wanted to find a date in time for Christmas, and this is how it's done nowadays. The internet is the go-to for everything now, Michelle."
A quirked brow, eyes rolling. "I know," Michelle replied, "I've been using computers since the nineties. But anyway, I'm just not convinced. I'm curious, not desperate."
Which was true enough. Michelle, at nearly forty-five years old, she had never exactly been the type for long-term relationships. Or any, in actual fact. Yet she was too curious for her own good, so here she was. Staring at a dating website with her friend staring over her shoulder as if it was his new lifeline.
Her own face stared back from the screen, courtesy of the photo requirements for a profile. Thick, reddish brown hair and tanned skin with the beginning signs of crows feet. There were deep lines around her mouth too, but Michelle didn't mind. They added character, evidence of a life well lived.
The photo was fine, but it was the profile that gave her trouble. Everything she wrote was too superficial, too simple to really let anyone know her. Maybe that wasn't the point of these dating sights, she thought.
"Just put something simple into your profile," the man - Andrew - insisted, "it doesn't have to be your life story, but make it meaningful. Then you'll definitely catch someone's eye."
Hands hovered above the keyboard. Michelle sent him a roll of her dark eyes, but she was smiling. "Right," she answered simply, "it will be love at first sight, will it?"
Andrew snorted, hiding it behind the sleeve of his shirt. "Doubtful," came his reply, "I think we're all past that fantasy. But you never know..."
Huffing, Michelle dropped her chin into her hands as she stared at the bright, dizzying screen of her laptop. Her blank profile stared back. How was a handful of paragraphs supposed to sum up an entire person? How could someone look at words on a screen and make a true judge of who she was? Whatever way she spun it, it simply wasn't possible.
Perhaps it didn't need to be. Perhaps she just had to be honest.
Andrew tried to peek over her shoulder as she typed, but the square set of her shoulders and a sharp glare had him slinking back into his chair with a sheepish smile. Away she typed, hands flying effortlessly over the keys with seasoned practice. Her approach was almost analytical, attacking it from a logical standpoint like she would one of her spreadsheets at work.
Twenty minutes of silence passed. The only sound was her long fingers against the keys and Andrew's heavy breathing as he resisted the temptation to look.
Then Michelle sat back with a satisfied smile, tucking thick hair behind her ear as she turned to Andrew. It was silly how the nerves rose in her stomach, how anxious she was for him to like it. After all, this was more out of curiosity than any real desire for a relationship - but she supposed nerves were only natural for trying something new.
And this was new.
"Take a look, see what you think."
Andrew gently tilted the screen toward him, navy eyes flitting across her words. They read it together, and Michelle found herself relaxing as she watched the satisfied grin spread across his lips.
Michelle Donovan. I value honesty and kindness, but also motivation and personal achievement. I'm forty-four years old and have never married or had kids - but I don't think that's important. There is more to life than settling down, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy company.
I'm looking for someone laid back, someone who is willing to get to know me and see where things go. I don't expect anything long term, but why should that stop us from enjoying ourselves? If you're like me and haven't dated much in the past, you enjoy good food and better conversation, we'll get along perfectly.
Mostly, I'm just hoping to sate my curiosity toward an aspect of life I've never meddled in before, and what better time to try than Christmas? Perhaps I'll find someone along the way.
Andrew nodded sagely, but the smile that tugged at his lips said it all. Michelle didn't need to ask if it worked - he shifted the laptop back toward her. "Well, submit it already."
One tap of the mouse pad, and her profile was complete. She sat back, releasing a short breath as she grinned at the screen. "Let's see where this takes me."
Andrew grinned, and Michelle beamed back. "How about," he suggested, "we get a head start on this dating thing?" He leaned across the table to reach her, ignoring the snort of laughter and half-hearted protests she sent his way. "Let's find you someone to talk to."
She rolled her eyes, but silently agreed. Then she turned to the screen, smiling fondly, and began looking at the profiles of her possible matches.
It didn't take long for her to find a candidate.
The photo of a tall man stared back at her. His smile was broad, his eyes soft, his dark skin a handsome contrast with the crisp white shirt he wore. Beneath his photograph sat his profile, a simple paragraph or two not unlike her own.
My name is Shaun Myers. Forty-eight years old and a Glasgow native. I enjoy city life, spending the evenings dining out and spending quality time with loved ones. I consider myself to be a motivated individual and appreciate the same in others. I may be an older gentleman, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy myself. If you value fine dining, deep conversation and friendship, then I might be the man for you.
Michelle's fingers hovered a fraction above her mouse pad. She scanned his profile again, a smile on her angular features - then without hesitation, sent him a message. She sat back in her chair, an odd calmness washing over her, and waited.