Nathan and I agreed on going to the arcade and going to eat afterwards for our date. Since the mall had both of those, we decided to meet there. “So which do you want to do first?” Nathan looked down at me.
It wasn’t the first time we’d been to this arcade. Audrey, Nathan, and I would go here a lot during the weekends. I decided to start with the roller coaster simulator. We laughed through most of it, bumping into each other whenever the machine turned to the side. Nathan picked the race cars next. We raced twice, Nathan had won the first and I the second. Next we did bowling, the Walking Dead simulator, and a few others. Every few games we would try the machines that gave you points to claim prizes with.
I laughed as we headed to the prize desk. “The guy next to us—” I took in a breath and quickly broke into another laugh. “The look on his face when I won the bowling round.”
“He really can’t take a loss,” Nathan chuckled. “You’ve gotten better since we last played. You come here often?”
“Not often, but Audrey and I still come here whenever we can. Once you get the hand of it, it sticks to you.” I turned to the girl behind the desk and smiled.
She returned the smile. “Claiming a prize?”
I nodded and turned to look at Nathan. His eyes skimmed through the wall behind the girl. “What’re you getting?” I asked.
He gestured with his head at the large stuffed animals. “The grey and white dog.” The girl retrieved it from the wall and handed it to Nathan. He then passed it to me.
My face grew hot and I could only imagine how red I was. I smiled nonetheless. “Thank you.” My smile grew when I noticed the green sloth. “I’ll take that one.” Once in my hands, I handed it to Nathan.
He grinned and immediately placed it on his shoulders, it’s arms and legs dangling around and down his neck. “How do we look?” He did a slow turn.
“Perfect,” I chuckled. We each got a bag of candy with the rest of our points, eating a few as we made our way out of the arcade. “So what’re we eating?” I faced Nathan.
He answered by asking me what I wanted to eat. I wasn’t picky with what I ate as long as it wasn’t spicy. We stopped at a Chinese restaurant that allowed you to pick from their buffet. We sat across from each other. Our stuffed toys sat beside us closer to the wall.
Nathan glanced to my side, a small smile made its way onto his lips. “It’s not a real dog, but I hope he or she is enough for whenever you need someone and I’m not able to be there.” He looked at me. I knew he saw my blush but didn’t comment on it. “So what are you naming it?”
I hummed, “I don’t know honestly. I’ll let you know when I do.” I swirled the noodles with my fork and dug into my food. Nathan and I ate in a comfortable silence, only asking every now and then whether a certain thing tasted good or not. Once our stomachs could no longer hold anymore food, we left the restaurant and split up to go to the restrooms.
“Some guy kept following me around.” I walked into the bathroom to see another woman, about the same age as her, on the phone. “He didn’t say what he wanted but I knew. If I didn’t find a place to hide, he’d do something at some point.” I pitied her and every other woman, including herself. This was our life, constantly fearing for their safety.
I was about to approach her, seeing if she needed someone to help her walk out of the store, but the woman spoke again. “I’m in the bathroom where all the food restaurants are at. Text me when you get here.”
I was glad the woman had someone who would come get her. The thought that she didn’t would’ve bothered me for the rest of the day, wondering if she had made it home safe.
• • •
As soon as I stepped into the hall, she bumped into someone. I immediately apologize before I could see their face. When I looked up, I frowned.
He raised his brows, but quickly grinned. “Emma, what a surprise.” Indeed.
“What are you doing here?” I asked. It was a shopping mall. I cursed myself. Of course he’d be buying things.
“Came to buy a few things,” he answered. My eyes landed on the two white bangs on his right. His left held a phone. “You?”
“Came with a friend.” I hasn’t lied, but hadn’t told he whole truth. Why? Mason gazed down at the stuffed animal at her side. His smile didn’t falter.
Mason nodded. “I don’t mean to cut our conversation short, but I do have to go. Maybe we’ll run into each other again.” He chuckled.
I simply smiled. We waved goodbye and I made my way back to Nathan who stood where we had stood before splitting up. We made our way back to his car, quickly walking through any stores that caught our eyes.
• • •
The car stopped in front of my apartment building. I turned to Nathan. “I had a great time today,” I admitted.
“So did I,” he grinned before rubbing the back of his neck. “I promised I’d come back more often. I was wondering if you’d want to go on another date when I do.”
My smile grew, Nathan’s followed. “Yeah sounds good,” I nodded. After getting a kiss on the cheek, blushing as red as a tomato, I made my way to my apartment. My cheeks began to hurt from the constant smiling.
I pulled out my phone when I heard the tone of it. Audrey had called.
I called her back.