Three days later, Rodney returns to the mall, not having any luck in finding Bruce the other days. He hopes he finds Bruce that day. He is getting frustrated. In his hand, he is caring the kitchen timer. He has to give it back. Rodney walks to the store and spots the pretty mannequin in the window.
“You haven’t been using the timer, so she’s back to being a mannequin,” Bruce says, appearing by his side.
Rodney jumps and looks at the older cowboy. “Bruce! I’ve been looking for you.” He thrusts the timer at the man. “Here!”
Bruce looks down at the timer but doesn’t take it. He lifts his gaze to the mannequin. “Give it a turn, Rodney. Riley has been waiting for you.”
Rodney looks at the timer then up at the mannequin Bruce had named Riley. He holds the timer in his two hands, playing with it but doesn’t turn the dial. He glances around, feeling embarrassed. “Okay…” He turns the dial all the way around, his eyes never leaving Riley.
Riley doesn’t move at first, making Rodney sigh. Before he can say anything, Riley blinks, looks around, and then steps back away from the window. She looks out the window and waves at Bruce. She turns her painted gaze to Rodney and looks down, suddenly shy.
Rodney nearly drops the timer, but Bruce grabs his hands tightly, keeping it safe. When Rodney composes himself, Bruce lets go and waves for Riley to join them.
“Don’t lose the timer and don’t break the timer. There is only one timer per mannequin, and you’ll never get any more chances with Riley if you do.”
Riley stiffly walks out of the sop and looks sheepishly at Rodney. “Hi.”
“Oh uh, hi.” Rodney clears his throat.
“I’m going to go. Have fun, you two.” Cruce waves before disappearing in the crowd of shoppers around them.
Rodney tries to talk to Bruce, but the man is gone. He looks back at Riley and clears his throat. “Umm… Riley? Would you like to… uh… I don’t know, go get some coffee?”
“I’d love to, even though I can’t drink coffee.” She giggles and looks down at her stiff body. “Since I am a mannequin and all.”
“Oh, yea right…” Rodney turns on his heel and holds out his arm to her.
Riley gently takes a hold of his arm with her cold plastic hands. They walk away from the store, Riley walking stiffly on her straight plastic legs. Rodney glances at her then down at the timer sitting in his other hand. Is this reality? Is Riley one of those live mannequins he’s heard about? She needs a kitchen timer to come alive, why? Questions rush around in his head while they walk.
Rodney shakes himself when he hears her voice. She’s asking him questions. He smiles at her and answers all of them. Surprisingly, he finds it easy to talk to her even if she is made of plastic. Rodney takes her to his favorite coffee shop in the mall, Beans Here.
They sit for hours, talking and laughing. Rodney checks the timer every so often, making sure it’s turned all the way. Rodney’s phone rings several times, but he ignores it. Lunch comes and goes. Rodney gets more coffee and some food at the coffee shop.
Riley takes his phone to see what time it is since they hadn’t left the coffee shop for so long. “Oh, I better get back to the store before they close. I have nowhere else to stay tonight.”
“Stay with me,” Rodney says in a rush. He grasps her hand, noticing that the hand feels warmer even though they are still plastic. “Please?”
Riley looks at him shocked. “I… are you sure, Rodney?”
“I don’t know why, but I feel like I’ve known you forever. And I want you to stay with me,” Rodney looks at her, pleading.
“Yes, Rodney, I’ll stay with you,” Riley says, standing up.
Rodney laughs and gets up, scooping up his phone and keys. He tosses his trash and leads her out of the mall to his car. His phone lights up and he sees twenty missed calls from Bob and Theodore. He ignores them and helps Riley into the car. Rodney she can bend her knees slightly more than she could when they first met.
He thinks to ask, but feels awkward asking, so he keeps quiet. He drives them to his condo, the two still talking. Rodney’s shock is gone and has been replaced by… something but he can’t put his finger on it.
When she gets inside, Rodney turns off his phone and shows Riley around his place.