More Flirts! 5 Romantic Short Stories - By Lisa Scott

Pickup Lessons

By Lisa Scott

Stone Kinney crouched behind a rack of clearance evening gowns while setting his sights on the blond woman fingering bottles at the perfume counter. She bit her lush lower lip as she considered the choices. The word “stalker” occurred to him as he watched her, but he reminded himself that all the dating books had advised finding women where they congregated. The perfume counter was like a watering hole in the African savannah, and he was merely observing the gathering. And besides, it’s not like he was staking out the lingerie section. That would have been much more menacing than peeping at the cosmetics department.

But the women perusing perfumes weren’t much friendlier than wild animals stopping for a drink. The last two prospects he’d approached had swung their shopping bags at him. He’d have the bruises the next day to prove it. They must’ve just purchased hand weights. Or rocks. Two others had sprinted toward the food court when he emerged from behind the gowns with a friendly grin. Another had spritzed him with the tester—right in the eyes. If he hadn’t been so annoyed, he would’ve been impressed with her aim.

The books had all made it sound much easier than this. Not one of them had mentioned needing self-defense moves while trying to meet a woman at the mall. He’d even worn argyle socks so he’d seem perfectly harmless; he had a drawer full of them to choose from.

He looked up at the ceiling and sighed. Maybe social awkwardness couldn’t be overcome, after all. That should’ve been his dissertation instead of “Macroscopic Quantum Mechanics In Theoretical Astrophysics.” How the hell was that going to help him get a date? It was as if he’d bent his head to start reading sophomore year in high school and now only looked up ten years later. He had a lot of dating to catch up on and little experience how to do it. His one and only girlfriend, Susan, had been consumed with her work on protozoa. Seriously, she found a single cell organism more interesting than him? Then she’d dumped him for her microbiology professor. Now here he was with a new Ph.D., no job prospects, and no girlfriend. With the job search stalled, Stone decided to focus his attention on the female problem. After years with his head literally in the stars, it was time to get his feet back on the ground, argyle socks or not.

“Excuse me,” he said, approaching the blonde. “I want to pick out a perfume for my sister’s birthday. Any suggestions?”

She cocked her head and squinted at him. “What’s wrong with your eyes? They’re all red and swollen.”

He cleared his throat, wondering if he'd get sympathy points for telling her about the tester fiasco. Probably not. “Allergies. Insanely bad allergies.”

“In January?”

“Weird, right? Maybe I’m just sensitive.” He let that hang there for a reaction, but only got a stare. Guess she doesn’t like the sensitive type.

He rocked back on his heels. “So, any perfume suggestions from a beautiful woman such as yourself?”

Adjusting her purse, she frowned. “Are you sure your sister wears perfume?”

He shrugged. “She always smells great. Real sexy.” He cleared his throat. “I don’t mean she’s sexy. She’s not at all. Not my sister, no.” He wrinkled his nose and shook his head. “It’s just that it creates an incredible chemical reaction with her pheromones.”

The blonde blinked at him and backed away. “Yeah. I’ve got to go…”

This is what you get for putting school ahead of women, he thought to himself. His priorities had been all out of whack. Sighing, he was ready to retreat behind a rack of burgundy ball gowns to regroup and suffer through more sappy overhead music, when he spotted a cute brunette on the other side of the counter.

He loosened his shoulders and bounced on his toes, then walked over with an easy-going smile. At least he hoped it was. One of the books had advised him to appear approachable, and he’d practiced several different expressions in the mirror to achieve the right look—although the difference between his look of nausea and nice-to-meet-you was subtle at best. He tapped the woman on the shoulder and she jumped.

“Excuse me,” he said. “I’m shopping for my sister’s birthday and I’d like to buy perfume for her. Any good ones you could recommend? You look like you smell nice.” He cleared his throat. “You know, from an evolutionary standpoint, with your thick shiny hair and full hips, your scent