Noah & Asella
Vol. 1 Installment 3: A Disastrously Delightful Double Date
As she was about to sit down to read a book, Asella heard a familiar knock on the door. Three fast knocks followed by a pause, and then one final loud knock. It was Maple. If her knock didn’t give her away, her singing sure did. “Let me in. Let me in. It’s your best friend, M-AAA-P-L-E!” she sang.
Asella was a tad bit confused on why her best friend didn’t tell her she was coming over. They worked in the same building. Asella worked on the second floor as a senior budget analyst, and Maple worked on the third floor in marketing.
When Asella opened the door, Maple explained, “I know I just saw you like ten minutes ago, but I just remembered I needed to ask you and Noah a huge favor.”
“He’s still at work, but he should be here in a couple of minutes. What’s the favor?” Asella asked, scared to hear the answer. She knew that when Maple said she needed a huge favor, she meant “HUGE”.
“Um, well. I was thinking I should wait until Noah gets home before I ask.” Maple said refusing to look up at Asella.
In that moment, it clicked. “Oh, no, no, no. We are not. I repeat, we are not going on a double date with you. What happened to taking a break from dating? Please, I can’t do it again.”
Maple finally looked up at Asella. “Okay, wait,” she said putting her hands out as if she were a crossing guard. “I think he’s actually a good guy this time.”
“You say that every time” Asella said putting her hands over her face for a second.
“But this time, I’m serious. Let’s just wait for Noah to get home to see what he says” Maple pleaded.
“Fine, you can ask him, but it’s not going to work this time.”
When Noah got home, he could feel the tension between Asella and Maple. “What’s going on?”
“Tell him” Asella said shrugging her shoulders.
“I think I found a really good guy this time, and I would really appreciate it if you and Asella would go on a double date with us.”
“I don’t know… What happened to taking a break?” Noah asked.
“Oh, come on, please! If it’s a complete disaster I will give you each a gift card to your favorite store and your favorite restaurant.”
“How did you meet him?” Noah asked.
“I met him at a work seminar. He was actually one of the speakers. He’s a researcher. He specializes in marketing.”
“So, you didn’t meet him online this time?” Asella asked.
“Nope!” Maple said smiling. She knew that tidbit of information would make Asella happy.
“A researcher…” Noah mused nodding his head.
Asella let out a deep sigh. “We cannot be caving. What’s wrong with us?”
“Well hold on, let’s just talk about it in private really quick.” Noah said to his wife.
When they got to their bedroom, Asella said “Why are we folding? Have we already forgotten the fact that the last guy stole your wallet and your phone? You were so upset you said it would be at least six months before we agreed to go on another double date. It’s only been one.”
“I know! But I’m a softy. I just want Maple to find a love like the one we have. Plus, the last guy wasn’t even able to use my credit cards before I cancelled them. And now I have a better phone, so it was kind of a win if you think about it.”
Asella shook her head. “It wasn’t a win. Maple was crying over the guy for a week straight. And that was only the last guy. The one before that had a girlfriend; the one before that did a dine and dash and left us with the bill, and the one before that…”
“Okay, I get it. They have all been really bad, but that’s why we started to go on these double dates in the first place. It was your idea, remember? Before your double date idea, Maple would be in relationships with sucky guys for much longer. Now, it’s only two dates. She goes on one with them. If she thinks there’s potential, we are the second date. Our job is to investigate. And you are the best investigator. You found out that Rob had a girlfriend. You found out Jake didn’t have a job. You also found out that that guy named Trent was a serial scammer.”
“Yes, I know. I’m amazing, blah, blah blah. But I didn’t know that one guy was going to dine and dash. And I most definitely didn’t know that the other guy was going to steal your wallet and your phone. It’s just a little overwhelming, don’t you think? What’s the next guy going to do, steal our car? Plus, I don’t want to see that look of disappointment on Maple’s face.”
Noah wasn’t sure what to say. Asella was right. It did seem like the guys were getting worse and worse. After a moment of silence, Noah said “You know, maybe you’re right. Maybe we shouldn’t go on the date with Maple.”
“Don’t say that. I’m not right. She’s my best friend. I want to be there for her. Plus,” Asella said picking up her phone. “I had a feeling this was going to happen. So, the other day I actually paid for an app that lets us conduct extensive background checks.” Asella said.
“Ooh, I like the sound of that,” Noah said taking the phone to look at all the features. “So, are we on for another double date?” Noah asked.
“Yep, we are on for our next round.” Asella said.
When Noah and Asella came out of the room, Maple knew they were coming. She had been listening to them talk the entire time.
“His name is Matthew Hayes,” Maple said looking at Asella.
“What?” Asella asked.
“For your new background check app. The guy’s name is Matthew Hayes.”
Asella rolled her eyes and smiled. “Of, course you were listening. And what’s his middle name?”
Maple paused, “I can’t remember, I found it on his website. I think it starts with an “A.”
Asella went into investigation mode while Noah cooked dinner. She looked at his website, did a background check, and looked at all of his social media accounts. She showed her best friend Maple all of his pervious girlfriends and did a deep dive on all of them.
“Okay, from here things seem clear, but that doesn’t mean much. Thankfully he doesn’t have a criminal background, but again, that doesn’t mean much these days. For all we know Matthew Hayes isn’t even his real name.”
Maple smiled, gave her best friend a hug, and said “I knew you’d come around. Thanks for always being there for me.”
“You’re welcome. I hope this guy is a keeper. You deserve a good one.” Asella said hugging Maple back.
“What if I never find a good one?”
“Hey, look at me. You will find a good one. You are intelligent, beautiful, and a lot of fun to be around. And if you don’t find one you will be okay because again, you are intelligent, beautiful, and a lot of fun to be around. You also have a lot of people who love you.” Asella said giving Maple one more hug.
Noah was finishing up dinner when he realized they hadn’t asked Maple when the double date was. “I think I already know the answer, but when is this double date?” Noah asked Maple.
Noah and Asella were both pleasantly surprised. A five-day notice was actually quite impressive for Maple. She usually gave a one day notice at best.
“Oh, don’t look so shocked. It’s just a fluke.” Maple said.
“I don’t know, I think our timely behavior is starting to rub off on you” Noah said.
“You’re just one step away from buying yourself a planner” Asella teased.
“You two wish” Maple laughed.
“Don’t worry. We like you for you. You don’t need to be like us. However, it wouldn’t hurt to get into the habit of giving us a short notice” Asella said.
“Oh, but then things wouldn’t be as fun. Plus, you two need someone like me to help you loosen up. And I need the both of you to stay grounded”
“What about an occasional short notice?” Noah asked.
“Fine. I will give you two an occasional short-notice. Happy now?”
Noah and Asella nodded their heads. Noah was especially happy to hear that they would be given occasional short-notices. Although Noah liked Maple, her last-minute requests would occasionally drive him crazy. Sometimes he wondered how Asella and Maple remained friends after all these years. But then he would remember all the love and fun Maple brought into Asella’s life, and the thought would pass away.
When Maple went home Noah and Asella continued to research Matthew Hayes.
“Look here” Noah said pointing to his computer. “It says Matthew Hayes is giving a speech on his latest research paper this Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.”
“We should go” Asella insisted. “That way we can get a visual of what he looks like. I really hope this guy isn’t a weirdo”
“I feel like he might be normal this time.”
“You just like that he’s a researcher” Asella said.
“Well, I mean it helps. Not only does this guy have a job, unlike so many other guys Maple has brought around, but he also seems smart. I actually read his latest research paper and it was quite fascinating.”
“You read his research paper?” Asella asked.
“This is why I love you. Okay, I want to read it next.”
By the time Wednesday rolled around, Noah and Asella felt like marketing experts. They read four research papers written by Matthew Hayes, and three that weren’t just to compare.
“Did you bring paper and pens?” Noah asked.
“Yep. Now don’t forget we need to sit in the back so he doesn’t see us.”
Noah and Asella arrived fifteen minutes early and sat in the very back. A guy with red hair and a beard walked to the center of the stage. He tapped the microphone two times and said “Testing, testing. This is Matthew Hayes, welcome to…” The sound guy gave Matthew a thumb’s up, indicating that the microphone was working well.
“He has a beard” Noah whispered worried.
“So? You have a beard. What’s the problem?” Asella whispered back.
“That’s the problem. He’s going to notice me.”
“Because you have a beard? That doesn’t make any sense.”
“We take notice of other men who have beards. That’s just the way it is.”
“It’s going to be fine. If you’re so worried about it just cover up your beard or something.” Asella said.
“I’m not going to do that. I’m just going to wait for someone to sit in front of me.”
No one sat in front of Noah. About sixty people showed up, but the majority of them sat in the front near the stage.
Asella took notes of pros and cons about Matthew while she sat and listened to his lecture. Noah on the other-hand, wrote down notes about the lecture itself. He wrote down questions that he had, as well as feedback. At first Noah wrote multiple ways that Matthew could improve his argument, but towards the end Noah couldn’t help but dismantle the entire premise of Matthew’s research.
After the lecture, Noah and Asella went back home to discuss their new findings.
“What did you think?” Asella asked.
Noah shook his head. “I wanted to like him, but his logic is flawed. I truly don’t understand how after all that research, he came to such a misguided conclusion.”
So, you don’t like him?”
“I don’t know. Maybe if I could talk to him he might realize where he went wrong.”
Asella sighed. “You can’t talk to him about his research. He isn’t supposed to know we were there. Now besides that, what did you think of him?”
“Besides that? It needs to be accounted for. His conclusion to his entire research paper is completely false. How can I not take that into account?”
“Fine, with that in mind, what did you think about him?”
“I think he’s misguided, or he is possibly of average intelligence. What did you think about him?”
“Ehh,” Asella shrugged her shoulders. “He was kind of boring.”
“I can see that. His voice was monotone.”
“Well besides being misguided and kind of boring, he seems okay” Asella said.
The next couple of days Noah and Asella mainly focused on work. They had agreed not to let Matthew Hayes take up any more of their headspace, at least during the weekday. Saturday, however, was a complete free for all. Noah woke up ready to prepare. He was determined to make sure no one’s belongings were stolen. Asella woke up ready to rehearse potential disastrous situations.
“We only have four hours until our double date with Maple and Matthew. What do you want to do first? I was thinking of buying us all three anti-theft wallets. What do you think?” Noah asked.
Before Asella could answer, Noah said, “It’s too extreme, isn’t it? Okay, I will just keep my hands on my phone, wallet, and keys at all times. That’s no big deal.”
Asella said “Either way is fine with me” I was thinking we should rehearse potential pitfalls that may occur. That way we know how to react.”
“That’s a great idea! What about after the date?” Noah asked.
“I got it covered. I’ve practically mastered cheering her up after a letdown. Although I can’t prevent crying.”
It was true. It didn’t matter how much or how little Maple knew about her date. If the date turned out to be a bust, which most of them did, she would cry. The crying wouldn’t last long, but it made Asella feel horrible. She hated seeing her usually happy-go-lucky friend sad.
Before the date, Asella and Noah said a quick prayer for Maple. They prayed Maple would find a husband who was perfect for her. Noah and Asella also asked God to help Maple find contentment being alone, if she was meant to be single for a season or two.
During the car ride, Asella kept thinking about Matthew’s monotone voice. He seemed dull and rather uninteresting. “Surely, he can’t be the right guy for Maple” Asella thought.
“Do you think Matthew’s boring personality will rub off on Maple?” Asella asked worried.
“Ours sure hasn’t.” Noah joked.
“Yeah, but we really aren’t that boring. We’re just introverts. This guy was actually boring. What if he takes all the spunk and sparkle right out of Maple?”
“That’s not going to happen. At most they might end up evening each other out a bit. But I highly doubt he’s going to completely transform Maple into someone she’s not.”
“Maybe you’re right.” Asella replied, still not totally convinced.
Noah and Asella arrived fifteen minutes early, which wasn’t unusual. However, they were both taken aback when they noticed Mathew Hayes standing in line to make a reservation. Most of Maples previous dates were late. Few were on time at best.
“What’s he doing here” Asella whispered to Noah.
“I don’t know” Noah whispered back.
Asella wondered why she started whispering in the first place. They were still in their car and Matthew was several feet away. There was no way he could hear them. She was just nervous.
“Should we go up and greet him?” Noah asked Asella.
“No way! We aren’t supposed to know what he looks like, remember?”
“We could always say Maple told us he had red hair and a beard” Noah replied.
“Let’s just wait for Maple” Asella pleaded.
“Fine, but she takes forever” Noah mumbled.
While Noah agonized over the time, Asella quickly asked Maple for an estimated time of arrival. Maple texted back that she would be right on time, plus or minus a minute or two.
“False” Noah said looking over Asella’s shoulder. “She won’t be on time. Let’s just greet the guy.”
“But I can’t lie” Asella said crinkling her nose. “You know I’m bad at lying. I can’t say Maple told us what he looked like when I know she didn’t.”
A solution immediately popped into Noah’s head. “I have the perfect plan to circumvent the issue.” Noah said, eager to share his solution. “All you have to do is text Maple and ask her what he looks like. She texts you back. We find him, and can tell him without lying that Maple told us what he looks like.”
“I don’t know” Asella said, not liking the idea of lying by omission.
“Oh, come on. We can’t just leave him standing by himself for fifteen minutes.” Noah said.
Asella reluctantly conceded to the plan.
Once Maple texted back a description of Matthew, the two of them got out of their car and walked right up to Matthew who was waiting off on the side.
“Matthew?” Noah asked, pretending to be unsure.
Matthew gave a slight nod.
“My name’s Noah,” he said shaking Matthew’s hand. “And this is my wife Asella.”
Asella shook Matthew’s hand and gave a pleasant smile.
“We’re the other half of this double date.” Noah said.
“Wonderful! It’s very nice to meet you both.” Matthew beamed. He then went on to explain how he met Maple, and how he was very much looking forward to seeing her again. Matthew then asked Noah and Asella how they met Maple and for how long.
After Noah and Asella shared, Matthew said, “I know this might seem odd, but did you two happen to go to a discussion on market research this last Wednesday?”
Asella stiffened. “Great. How does he know?” Asella wondered to herself.
“Yeah, we did.” Noah said.
“That’s what I thought. I was the speaker that day” Matthew said pointing towards himself.
“We know” Noah said smiling. “Maple told us you were a researcher in marketing, and I saw you had a seminar coming up, so I asked Asella if she would come with me. I’m a cartographer and do some research on the side. So, I thought it would be nice to hear from a researcher in another field.”
Matthew’s cheeks turned slightly red. “I wish you two would have come any other day. I had the worst migraine that day. Normally I’m a lot more energetic.”
“Sorry about your migraine.” Asella said. “You must have a really great memory to have recognized us” she said, secretly suspicious.
Matthew laughed. “I don’t have photographic memory or anything. To be honest, I really only recognized you two because of Noah’s beard. And because…”
Noah turned to his wife and gave a smirk that screamed “I-told-you-so!”
Asella rolled her eyes at him. She then turned back to listen to Matthew.
“you two were one of the first people to show up.” Mathew finished.
Noah was glad Matthew noticed them. Since it was now out in the open that they had gone to the lecture, he was free to ask Matthew about his misguided conclusion. Noah wanted to ask about it right away, but he knew he had to come up with a tactful way to do so. Just as he was beginning to formulate a way to ask his question, Maple showed up. Noah let out a hushed sigh. He desperately wanted to hear why Matthew came to such an erroneous conclusion.
“Hey, everyone!” Maple said bringing in high energy. She sprang around giving everyone a hug.
“Perfect timing. A table just came up.” Matthew said smiling at Maple. He then winked at Noah and Asella. They all knew that they had passed up multiple tables while waiting for Maple.
While Matthew and Maple were talking to the hostess who was leading them to their table, Asella whispered to Noah, “He’s actually not boring at all. And he seems really nice! We should still be on guard though.”
Noah nodded in agreement, and put his hands back in his pocket to make sure his wallet and phone were still safe.
When they sat down, Asella flipped into detective mode. She listened intently to every word Matthew said. She was constantly comparing what he said about himself to the information she found online. If what Matthew said didn’t quite match up, Asella would figure out a way to probe further. Each time she probed, Matthew would say something that connected the dots, and showed that he was in fact telling the truth.
Asella wanted to be happy that Matthew’s stories seemed to align, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that maybe she was failing. “What if this guy is a really good liar, and I haven’t been able to catch on? Have I lost my ability to investigate? I usually would have found something by now” she thought to herself.
As lunch was closing to an end, the waitress came by with the check. Matthew promptly handed her his card and looked at everyone and said “Don’t worry. I got this one.”
Noah couldn’t believe his eyes. “Wow, thank you. You didn’t have to do that.”
“Yeah, thank you.” Maple and Asella chimed in.
In that moment, Matthew got a text on his phone. Asella quickly glanced over and saw it was from a woman named Maddy. The text said, “I have some exciting news. Call me when you can” with a heart emoji at the end.
“It’s my sister. I’m going to give her a call. I will be back” Matthew said taking his phone.
When Matthew was out of ear shot, Maple whispered to Noah and Asella, “He got a text from his sister last time.”
Immediately, Asella’s heart sank. She put her head down and mumbled “Another cheater.”
“Don’t just sit there Noah. Go follow him” Maple instructed.
Noah got up and left. He quietly followed several feet behind Matthew, who was heading outside.
At the table, Asella said to Maple, “I’m not going to lie to you. The girl sent a heart emoji. The text said ‘I have some exciting news. Call me when you can’ followed by a red heart emoji.”
Maple shook her head and groaned. “This can’t be real. There’s no way. Do you really think he has a girlfriend?”
Asella sighed. “I don’t know. This girl’s name was Maddy. He has a sister named Madison, so there’s a high chance it is his sister.”
“Yeah, but do sister’s send their brothers red hear emojis? Also, who texts a sister on a date and then calls that sister on the second date?” Maple asked, becoming more and more suspicious of the situation.
Asella furrowed her eyebrows and said, “I’m sure sisters sometimes send their brothers red hearts to show love. I personally wouldn’t know because I don’t have a brother. But the thing that’s really strange is that he has talked to her twice while on a date with you. Once with a text, and now with a phone call.”
“I was really starting to like him.” Maple said frowning.
“I know. He even had me convinced he could have been a good g…”
Asella got cut off by her phone buzzing. She turned it over to find a text from Noah. It read: “The girl is pregnant. She is having a boy. I repeat she is having a baby!”
Maple could tell whatever the text said stunned Asella, so she ran over to read it herself. She gasped out loud. A couple of people turned their heads. Maple and Asella remained quiet and silently waved off the onlookers.
Noah came rushing in shortly after. “I don’t know how much longer he’s going to be on the phone, but this is what I heard him say: ‘You’re having a boy! That’s wonderful. I want to buy his first teddy bear. I will pick it up, and give it to you when I get home later tonight.’ Isn’t that so crazy” Noah exclaimed, putting his hands on each side of his temple and then expanding them outward to indicate that his mind had been blown.
“Well don’t sound too excited” Asella scoffed.
Maple agreed. “Yeah, it’s not something to be giddy about. It’s tragic.”
“Aww, I didn’t mean it like that. I think it’s horrible. I just sound giddy because I’m eager to tell the both of you what happened before he comes back.” Noah said looking around to see if Matthew was in sight. He was. Noah could see that Matthew was just coming inside and walking back towards them.
“Speaking of which, I see him coming.”
“Oh, that’s just sick. I can’t believe he’s coming back” Maple said disgusted.
“What nerve” Asella said her eyes narrowing. She could feel her wrath ready to strike.
When Matthew got back to the table he could instantly see that everyone was unhappy with him.
“I know that was inappropriate. I’m really sorry for taking the call before the date ended. It’s just that my sister is having a baby and…”
“Oh, don’t play coy.” Asella said gritting her teeth. “We know you have a girlfriend with a baby. And how sick are you for dating a girl while you have a baby on the way.”
Matthew looked taken aback. “What? I don’t have a girlfriend.”
“Is she your wife?” Maple asked.
“No. She’s my sister.” Matthew insisted.
“Dude, there’s just no way you’re living with your pregnant sister.” Noah said.
“What’s going on here?” Matthew asked looking around.
“You tell me” Maple said folding her arms.
“Clearly, one of you overheard me talking on the phone. However, I’m telling the truth. My sister is pregnant. And yes, she is living with me temporarily along with her husband. They are staying in my guest room until they buy a house in the area.” Matthew said.
“Prove it.” Asella retorted.
“What?” Matthew asked, surprised by Asella’s effrontery.
“I said prove it.” Asella repeated, refusing to back down.
“Fine. I will prove it, but afterwards I’m leaving. Here, look through the messages with my SISTER.” Matthew said putting his phone out for Asella to take.
Asella looked over at Maple for either approval or disapproval.
Maple nodded for Asella to take the phone and look through it, so she did. Matthew was telling the truth. The girl texting him was in fact his sister. She had sent her brother a photo of her and her husband smiling together with ultrasound pictures.
“He was telling the truth” Asella said aloud.
Matthew took back his phone from Asella and began walking away. Maple and Noah just stood there, stunned. Asella ran after him, pleading for him to wait. He didn’t listen; he continued walking straight for the door.
“Matthew, I’m really sorry.” Asella yelled out as Matthew began opening the door.
Matthew let the door close back shut, turned facing Asella and paused.
Asella knew this was her one chance to get it right. “I’m really sorry. Maple has dated some real losers in the past, and you’re not one. In fact, you might be the best guy she has ever dated. We shouldn’t have jumped to such a crazy conclusion.”
“You know what. You’re a good friend. And Maple is a wonderful woman. There’s no need to end this date on a bad note” Matthew said.
“Thank you so much! How about you and Maple get some ice cream after this? You could probably use some one-on-one time.”
“That sounds perfect” Matthew said smiling.
Asella turned around to see that Noah and Maple were standing behind her. Maple was beaming. She was overjoyed to hear that Asella thought Matthew could be the best guy she ever dated.
Before Maple and Matthew took off to get ice-cream together, Noah took the opportunity to ask Matthew about the conclusion in his research.
“So, Matthew, about the conclusion in your research paper. Did you really mean it when you said…”
Matthew cut Noah off mid-sentence. “I know what you are about to ask, and yes, it was a huge mistake. My head was hurting so bad, I accidentally said the opposite of what I meant. I was hoping no one would notice.” Matthew said sheepishly.
“Aww, that’s okay. Mistakes happen. Clearly, I mean look at what happened today” Noah said chuckling.
“He really has your stamp of approval” Maple asked Asella privately while the guys were talking.
“He really does!” Asella exclaimed.
The two girls hugged and squealed just soft enough for the guys not to hear. It turned out Matthew had boyfriend potential after all.