Chapter 12: It was just breakfast
“So what happened?”
“So what happened where?”
“So what happened on your date?”
“It wasn’t a date,” I said for the millionth time, “It was breakfast.”
Rose rolled her eyes and jabbed her index finger in my face, “Don’t you dare downgrade your date to a mere breakfast!”
Nadine nodded in agreement, “She’s right, you know.” She nodded some more, “Dates shouldn’t be downgraded to breakfast.”
“We will allow you to call it a breakfast date.” Rose relented.
“But that’s as far as we’re willing to go.” Nadine added.
I sighed and looked between my two best friends, “The two of you really are strange…” I bit my lip thoughtfully, “How do you guys know about my breakfast date anyway?”
Nadine and Rose exchanged glances, “Well…” Nadine started with a nervous laugh.
“We kind of went on a double date with Troy and Kevin and discussed you guys…” Rose said, “But don’t worry, I swear I didn’t say anything bad.”
“You keep changing the subject.” Nadine suddenly accused me.
“Yeah!” Rose said with the same amount of fire in her voice, “Tell us already!”
“So…” I said thoughtfully and grinned at the two of them, “I can’t ask how that double date went?”
I sighed, “Fine… it was like this…”
Was I completely stressed out? Of course I was.
Was I ready to rip out my fingernails? Yes, yes I was.
Was I ready to jump off the ship? No, I wasn’t that desperate yet, but I was getting close.
I was so nervous and distracted that I didn’t even need to count the floors to keep calm in the elevator. I just took it and stepped out marvelling at how stressed out I was.
It was just breakfast, I had to remind myself repeatedly. Just breakfast. No biggie. What could possibly go wrong?
I wandered around on deck, searching for a familiar face, and then I saw him. My jaw fell slack, my eyes widened at the sight in front of me.
Holy sweet potatoes.
I didn’t think it was possible for any human to look that good so early in the morning. Then again, he did have that whole ‘the sun is literally rising behind me’ thing going on.
He was leaning against the railing with a mug of what I assumed was coffee dangerously looking like it was about to fall out of his hands and in to the ocean.
I hesitantly walked to him. The air was humid and I had a strong suspicion my hair was getting very frizzy very fast. I was standing right behind him, but it didn’t even look like he noticed me, he was too busy staring into the rising sun. “Hey coffee guy.” I said and it came out a bit croakier and louder than I’d intended it to.
Rustin nearly jumped three feet in the air at the sound of my voice and as if I’d jinxed it, the mug slipped out of his hands. His eyes widened in shock and we both silently watched in horror as the mug fell into the ocean. It made a small splash, one that couldn’t even be heard and sunk down, never to be seen again. Rustin’s eyes slowly met mine.
“Crap.” we said at the same time.
Rustin was the first one to begin laughing and my own donkey laugh followed soon after. Of course I tried to stop my hideous laugh from coming out like that but it was to no avail, I did sound like a donkey on drugs.
When we finally stopped laughing Rustin said, “Hey, glad you came.”
I looked down bashfully, “Yeah me too.” Really Ashira? That’s the best answer you could come up with? You really are an idiot.
“It was getting late and I was starting to think you stood me up or something.” Rustin said casually but his voice was tense.
I laughed, “No, I was just a little caught up in my work.”
His eyes widened, “You were working last night?” I nodded, “I’m so sorry! I shouldn’t have asked you here!”
I waved him off, “It’s fine. Zaiden was even more excited to see that I made a friend than I was.”
Rustin was going red from embarrassment very fast. He awkwardly looked away, “Your master saw the letter?”
“Yep.” I said casually. “He read it over my shoulder before I could stop him.”
Rustin groaned and hid his face in his hands, “I’m so embarrassed right now.” He peeked at me through his fingers, “Was it really stupid to ask you here?”
I shook my head, “No, I have to eat and it’s always better to eat with someone else.”
He nodded in agreement and held out his hand to me, “Shall we go for breakfast?”
I happily took his hand with a wide smile, “Sure, I’m starving.”
“That’s all you have to say?” Rose asked; sounding absolutely horrified, “Tell us what happened next!”
“I have to agree with her, Ash, that can’t be all, tell us.” Nadine said measuredly. Her composure was a lot calmer than Rose’s.
I sighed, “I’m telling you guys everything. We had breakfast, had a few good laughs and went our separate ways.”
“So absolutely nothing happened between you guys?” Rose asked suspiciously with narrowed eyes.
I hesitated, “Nope, nothing at all.”
“She hesitated.” Nadine remarked calmly.
“Yes!” Rose said excitedly as she jumped up and pointed towards me with a huge smile on her face, “You hesitated! You aren’t telling us everything!” she did a little happy dance while I stared at her like she was crazy.
“Nothing happened.” I said again.
Nadine rolled her eyes, “Of course not.” She grinned and elbowed me in the ribs, “So why did you hesitate then?”
“I didn’t hesitate.” I protested. I was lying through my teeth.
“Ash!” Rose said determinedly, “Tell us!”
I crossed my arms defiantly, “No.”
Nadine sighed, “At least tell us if the two of you kissed.”
My heart fluttered unexpectedly and I grinned like some idiot.
“Oh no.” Nadine said with realisation in her eyes.
“Oh no is right.” Rose agreed with a dramatic nod, “She has that look in her eyes.”
“What look?” I asked and pulled my features into what I hoped was a neutral expression.
“The look that screams ‘Hey world! Look at this goofy grin on my face! I’m in love!’ That look.” Rose said with jazz hands.
“So you did kiss?” Nadine asked.
“No!” I exclaimed as my face heated up.
“Ash.” Rose said warningly.
“All right. All right.” I held my hands up in surrender, she was one scary girl. “I’m telling you guys though… we didn’t kiss.” I looked around awkwardly, “Something else just happened…”
“Like that could ever happen!” I said with a laugh.
“I know right!” Rustin exclaimed dramatically with a sigh. “It would be awesome though…”
Rustin and I had a great time. There was never a dull moment and honestly my head was in the clouds. Birds were singing, vampires were burning in the daylight, things couldn’t get any better.
I couldn’t stop the yawn that escaped my mouth and I clamped a hand over my mouth in a feeble attempt to contain it. I failed.
Rustin watched me with worried eyes, “You should go to bed.”
I sighed heavily, “I know, but I don’t want to. I want to be a normal human who sleeps at night and spends all day slaving herself away, not a human who sleeps at day and hangs around doing absolutely nothing else.”
Rustin watched me pityingly, “You have it rough, Ash. I’ve heard those nobles are demanding and the worst vampires to donate to.”
I shook my head, “Zaiden and I are like friends, I don’t think of him as an evil vampire.”
He watched me like I was crazy “You are amazing, Ash. I really admire you.” I blushed red, “What do you do at night when you work anyway?”
Trying to get myself to turn less red was hard enough without coming up with an answer that didn’t sound creepy so it took me quite some time before I answered, “Well… last night we watched movies and then went to the vampire floors of the ship.”
His jaw fell slack, “You went down there?”
I nodded again.
“And you’re still alive?”
I laughed, “Well, I would hope so. Otherwise you might be talking to my ghost.” I winked and Rustin continued to stare at me in disbelief. My gaze on him softened, “Vampires really aren’t all that bad, Rustin.”
“Well…” I added, “Not the ones I hang out with anyway.”
Rustin shook his head with a smile, “You sound so casual when you talk about them, it’s amazing. I mean you literally just admitted that you hang out with vampires and you’re so cool about it. I would freak out if I had to spend time with one of those things.”
I shrugged, “You get used to it.”
He watched me with doubt, “I highly doubt that, maybe you just have a gift for enduring things other people would never manage to endure.”
I smiled at him and he smiled right back at me. Maybe it was because our date –I mean breakfast!- was drawing to a close, but suddenly we had nothing to say to one another, we just watched each other.
Rustin leaned forward a bit, his blue eyes brightening and my breathing became shallow, “Ash?”
He took my hand in his and my poor small hand drowned in his big ones. He looked at our hands for a moment more before his eyes met mine again and they glinted happily, “I like you.”
I took a shaky breath. Oh my word! He likes me, he likes me, he likes me! I leaned forward a bit to, so our faces were almost touching and said in the calmest voice I could manage, “I like you too, coffee guy.”
Rustin grinned and looked down at our hands again, “That’s a relief. It would have been so weird if you didn’t like me back.”
I chuckled softly, “Yeah, it would have been weird.”
We were silent for a moment before Rustin said, “You should go get some sleep. I don’t want you to pass out or something.”
“Sure.” I said calmly. He cared, he cared! “Are you working today?”
Rustin grimaced, “Unfortunately for me, yes.”
I patted his hand, “Poor you.” We both got up.
Rustin pulled me into a tight hug and wrapped his arms around me. I let out a little gasp of surprise but soon melted into his embrace. He was so nice and warm. “Stay alive, alright?” I told him, “Don’t let any bloodsuckers suck you dry.”
His grip on me tightened but his voice was full of humour, “You too, knee them where it counts if they try anything.”
I pulled away from him with a smile, “I will.” I turned around to walk away, “Bye, coffee guy. We should do something like this again.”
He watched me carefully, “Yeah, we should, but next time I won’t send you some crappy letter.”
“I liked the flowers though.” I pointed out. “They were really nice.”
His eyes lit up, “You thought so?” I nodded and he looked away bashfully, “Good to know for future reference. Bye Ash.” He gave me a small wave which I returned happily.
And then we parted ways.
Rose squealed happily while prancing around like a little unicorn, “He confessed that he likes you! Yay! Isn’t this wonderful, Nadine?”
Nadine nodded, “It’s great. I have to say Ash, I’m impressed. I think that confession is way better that any kiss you could have gotten.”
Rose sighed contently, “It’s such a beautiful story. One day the two of you will have kids and you will have to call them Rose and Nadine no matter what their gender is because we were here for you when you went on your first date.”
“It was breakfast.” I said for the umpteenth time without much enthusiasm. Who was I kidding?
Nadine rolled her eyes, “He said that he likes you and still you downgrade it to breakfast?”
“Fine.” I relented “It was a date.”
So what happened on my date was that Rustin confessed that he liked me and I was in the clouds about it. My brain was on a high.
Yet, something was wrong…