Living With The Boys (Journey to Love, #1)

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06. Date Night

Hope’s POV

This is something that I am not used to doing, getting ready for a date is something that I have never done. I have casually dated some guys before but I never wanted to let them close enough to my mess to actually grow a relationship with them.

I am only 17 so unlike everyone my age, I don’t have much experience in dating; dating good guys at that. I am turning 18 soon and as compared to a couple of months ago when I was dreading my birthday, now I am curious and thinking about what I should plan or even celebrate like a normal teenager.

I am not used to wearing a lot of dresses as I live in jeans and leggings, dresses and skirts do not take a large part of my closet. I know I am going to have to fight not to fidget with the length of the skirt as with me anything above my knees is too short for me; it’s either full length or underwear and of course I don’t wear that outside. But, even though the dress is long, it’s tight so I’m going to have to watch what I eat, if I can eat at all.

I know that it’s normal to be nervous on your first date but when you have a history of bad anxiety and depression, nervous takes on a new meaning. I smooth my hands down my dress once again as I look in the mirror and am once again thankful for Lily as she gave me some tips on how to do my makeup and even let me borrow some of hers as I don’t have that much, just the basics.

I have no idea if what I’m wearing is too formal as I also don’t know what we’re doing but I know that Mark is going to make it fun and just being with him should calm me down. It’s amazing and so interesting how it just takes that someone to be around you or for you to think of them and calming down is that much easier.

“You look amazing.” I hear someone breathe out behind me and I smile as I turn and see Mike leaning against the door, I had forgotten that I was in our room so of course he’s going to bump into me.

“Thank you.” I reply with a big smile on my face because honestly I felt a little like a kid that’s rolling around in their mum’s makeup and playing dress up, so it’s nice to know that I don’t look like a clown and it’s nice to be a reassured.

“Do you know where he is taking me, and why I have to be dressed in this fancy dress?” I ask as I look down at the gold floor length gown which is sticking to my body in the best way possible but I know that I don’t have much room for food which makes me sad.

My hair is up in a nice bun at the base of my neck so I don’t have to deal with curls or straight hair and to be truthful I am so in love with the dress that I want to show if off, so thankful to have found it in the shop on sale for only £35, which I know is amazing for such a beautiful dress but it’s not prom season so things are on sale everywhere.

I kept my makeup on the same theme of natural and gold, I didn’t see a point of testing my luck with makeup so natural is probably best for now. All in all, I am even willing to say that I feel beautiful and can’t wait to see Mark’s reaction when he first sees me.

“I don’t know where he is taking you but I know its going to be good.” He smiles at me as he keeps staring at me, which I am going to take as a good sign that he can’t take his eyes off of me; maybe I can do this dress up thing after all.

“Did you just come up here to spy on me before we leave?” I tease him as I grab a green purse that I bought years ago at a sale but as I only used it for prom 2 years ago, it doesn’t look worn and is as good as new.

“Of course I had to see you all dressed up. Although, I do have to warn you that dates with me are going to be a lot more casual.” He keeps smiling and I’m so happy that I can bounce right here on the spot, some of the normalcy has returned between us or at least things are not as tense and awkward, or it may just be this amazing mood that I am in right now.

“I also have to admit that I am not used to dressing like this.” I reply with a little nervous smile as I hope that tonight I don’t look uncomfortable, I’ve not had the life where dressing up like this was a norm but it’s not very common for a 17 year old anyway.

“It’s not always going to be like this, I just have a feeling that Mark just wants to impress you and make us look bad.” Mike jokes as he walks towards me and places a gentle kiss on my forehead, I close my eyes to enjoy the soothing and caring gesture as for the first time since our whole fight I feel that old pull that was around us.

“You guys don’t have to impress me, I live with you all.” I joke back as we have this whole relationship thing completely the wrong way around as I have been sleeping in the same bed with Mike before even kissing him and now I’m dating 3 guys while living with them, when normal couples wait months and sometimes years before they take that step.

“That’s why we have to work extra hard to keep you interested.” He continues to joke and I find myself laughing with him, happy to have even a small part of our relationship back, maybe I can come back from this after all.

“I don’t know about you bro, but I don’t have to work hard to keep her interested. She just has to take one look at me.” Replies Mark from the doorway and I have to laugh at the confused look on Mike’s face, for brothers they sure do rip into each other quite a lot.

“We’re twins you idiot, we both look the same.” Mike replies as he stares at his brother as if he grew a couple of heads.

“We all know I’m the better looking one.” Mark says with a smirk as he teases his brother further, watching them is like a show on it’s own. “Get out of here, I’m trying to have a date.” He continues so I just stand slightly to the side waiting a little anxiously for him to turn and see me for the first time, I have put a lot of effort into tonight so his reaction better be worth it.

“That’s it, we’re not leaving with you looking like that.” Mark exclaims as he takes his first look at me and all the confidence I had built was instantly deflated, I thought I looked good.

“What’s wrong with it?” I ask as I look down at the gorgeous gold dress and think that maybe such clothing doesn’t really suit me, I mean I’m more of a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl but I thought it might be fun to try and dress up for a change.

“Nothing, that’s the problem. There is absolutely nothing bad about you, I’m going to be paranoid like all night that someone will be looking at you the wrong way.” He explains and it makes me feel a little bit better but I really didn’t think about the attention that this dress is going to draw to me, I only really thought about seeing his reaction of me wearing it.

“Nobody is going to be doing that, and anyway we’re going there to enjoy ourselves and not care about what other people might think. I’m not on a date with anyone else but you tonight.” I reply as I take the couple of steps towards him that separate us and loop my arm through his as I start walking out of the room, I would have loved the grand entrance that would have been me walking down the stairs in this dress but I guess I took too long up here.

“How do girls always know the right thing to say?” He mutters under his breath as he helps me walk down the stairs in my heels, where I see Martin in the kitchen eating pizza which reminds me that I am very hungry and I hope there is food where we’re going.

“Fuck me sideways, you look gorgeous Hope.” He says with a mouthful of pizza, which is a really big compliment if you stop eating pizza to compliment me on how I look. “Thank you.” I reply as I stare longingly at the pizza, I guess I can order one on the way back if the food tonight doesn’t fill me up.

“There is going to be food where we’re going, you can stop looking at that pizza as if it’s a new born puppy.” Complains Mark beside me and i have t laugh at his analogy as he is right, I would give a lot right now to have a whole pizza to myself but I probably shouldn’t.

“Have fun guys.” They both send us off as if we’re going to prom or something, and with this dress I guess I could pass for a sixth former. Of course, we are taking their car to wherever we are going tonight.

“You’re still not telling me where we’re going and why I had to dress this fancy?” I ask as he starts the car and sets up the navigation to an address that I obviously don’t recognize before driving out of our house and into London, well we’re currently in the south but I think we’re driving into the city.

“I’m taking you to a ballet.” He replies as he keeps his eyes on the road and I am left a little speechless at the sweet gesture. When I was a little girl, all I wanted to do was go to ballet like all the other girls but my parents couldn’t afford it or be bothered with such a long term commitments so I never got to become a ballerina but what he is giving me tonight is as close as I’m going to get and the fact that remembers such a small thing that I have mentioned in passing is just a little overwhelming.

When you’re not really used to people paying attention to you at such a level, when they do things like this that you’re once again not used to, it have rendered me speechless at how thoughtful this date already is and we haven’t even gotten there yet.

“What? Did I get it wrong?” He asks after a while as I have just been staring at him, trying to come up with the right words to tell him how amazing this gift is and what it means to me, he is basically restoring a little bit of my childhood, which is something almost impossible to do when you grow into an adult but he has somehow managed to do the almost impossible.

“No! It’s perfect, I just don’t know how to tell you how much it means to me.” Is the best I can come up with even with some time to think about how I could make him understand how big this is for me and what it means.

“Your face says it all.” He smiles at me with that cute dimpled smile so I can’t help but lean over and kiss it, savouring the sweet moment that passes silently between us.

“This night is going to be amazing.” I say excitedly as I sit back in my seat and wait impatiently for us to get to the theatre. I now understand why I have to be dressed like this as he must have bought some tickets to a good ballet, but then I really don’t want him to have spent him too much money on them as they can get quite expensive.

“Did you pay a lot for them?” I ask worried as he shouldn’t be working just to spend that money on ballet tickets which are for me and he doesn’t know if he’s going to enjoy it or not.

“I have a friend who works there so he was able to sneak me a couple of tickets that were cheaper than normal, but I don’t want you to worry about any of that. You just have to enjoy tonight.” He replies with that easy going smile of his and I know that I probably should have pushed a little harder to find out how much he spent or offer to pay for half of it but it’s also nice to be pampered a little bit, he knows why he spent that money so I’m just going to trust that he didn’t spend too much.

“What are we seeing?” I ask as I can’t wait, no matter it is I know I’m going to love it, this is a dream come true for me.

“I couldn’t get tickets for Swan Lake or the Nutcracker but I did manage to get tickets for Giselle, I read that it’s also a good ballet.” He replies while sneaking a glance at me, smiling when he sees me almost jumping out of my seat.

“Giselle is actually my favourite!” I smile and bounce in my seat, now even more anxious to see my favourite ballet, the first time around as well!

“Well I’m glad, because I have no idea what any of them are about so you’re going to have to tell me if the show was good at all.” He explains but I don’t buy it, he must have done a little bit of research to know that Giselle is actually one of the best ballets there is out there, but I’m going to let him have this one.

“I’m sorry from now; you’re going to have to deal with me talking all night.” I apologise because I know what I’m like and even now that we’re still in the car I want to say a thousand things a seconds because I’m so excited.

“That’s the whole point of the date, I wanted to take you out where we can enjoy ourselves as a couple and not as flatmates, we’ve had months of that.” He laughs as I see that we are about 5 minutes away which is so exciting.

Everything from finding a parking space to us walking to the entrance and handing our tickets, is a blur as I try to take everything in. Not everyone is dressed like us but they’re also not in jeans and a t-shirt, I’m glad that he gave me a heads up because I would have stuck out like a sore thumb.

I hold his hand in mine as we walk around; I know that he is letting me take everything around us. It is beyond gorgeous and just elegant in here as I see people talking in groups and none of that packed atmosphere that a club has, not that I have ever been to one but I’ve seen people’s snapchats.

I am still 17 so I can’t get inside a club, even though I probably should go once to try it as it’s only fair before I swear I don’t like going out. However, as weird as it is, I prefer to be surrounding by people like these in a place like this rather than worry about a drink being spilt on me.

“This place is so fancy.” Mark says under his breath as we pass a couple dressed as if they’re going to an awards show and for all I know they could be famous as this is The Royal Theatre which is one of the best and I am so grateful for even having the chance to see a show here, much less my favourite one.

“Not a club is it?” I ask with a laugh because I know that the guys love going out when they have the time which is at least once a week and I have no idea how they balance it all.

“Not even close.” He replies with a tight smile, I guess that this is not his place after all but at least he is willing to try for me, I’m not even going to pretend to say that we can go someplace else because I really want to be here.

“You might have fun, who knows?” I ask as we are told to go and find our seats, of course they only let certain rows first and at a time so it’s not full chaos with so many people trying to find their seats at once, of course they know what they’re doing but it still surprises me how this many people never get in each other’s way and it’s completely stress free sitting down in our seats.

“I forgot to tell you that you look very handsome in your suit.” I say randomly as I take a break from admiring the breath-taking room and actually look at my date, who looks like every girls fantasy but he’s here with me.

“We are a very striking couple.” He smirks as his eyes trail down my body and he once again takes everything in, not that I mind, not even a little bit.

I don’t say anything but lean up and press a small kiss on his lips, I can’t help it. This whole night is like something out of a movie and I never thought that anything close to this was ever going to happen to me, yet here I am about to see a childhood dream of mine come true with the most amazing guy sitting next to me.

“Oh, how I love seeing love young blossom.” We hear someone say behind us and I can’t help but smile as I lean in closer to Mark and snuggle into him, it sure does feel amazing to be in love.

For the next 2 hours, I am rooted to my seat and didn’t want to leave for a second, even during the intermissions in case that something would happen on stage even though I knew that the dancers were taking a break.

I regret not bringing tissues in with me as the love story that played out on stage tugged at my emotions; I think I even saw Mark wipe away a tear near the end of it, even though he said nothing during the intermissions about whether he loved it or if he was bored out of his mind. But, I do think that the champagne we had in between the acts definitely helped loosen him up and enjoy it a little bit more.

The story about true love, where you want to protect those you love and even from the afterlife you would do anything to make sure that they were happy, even if that means without you. The story was just as beautiful as I dreamed it would be and the fact that I was here and able to see it with someone that cares about me is beyond even my wildest imagination.

As the dancers take their final bows, mostly everyone in the room is up on their feet and applauding; giving them the much needed respect and appreciation that they deserve for delivering such an emotional and moving dance piece.

“I think I might sign myself up for some classes.” I blurt out as we’re walking out of the large room, my hand in his as I feel sadness overtake some of the joy that it’s all over now.

“I would definitely love to watch you dance.” He replies with a smirk on his face and I roll my eyes, knowing that he means a completely different type of dancing than what we just watched.

“Do you guys think about anything other than that?” I ask quietly as this is not exactly the place for such a conversation, I would guess that most of the couples here fuck with the light off and under the covers. But, then of course that is just me stereotyping which is not cool and I have been working on changing that.

“When you look like that and I know the things I do about you, it’s hard to think of anything else when you’re around or in my head.” He whispers back and I can’t even pretend to keep the smile off my face, I’m going to take a compliment whenever I can get it from him.

“You’re good for my ego.” I joke as we put on our coats and walk outside into the freezing cold air, or maybe it’s just because we were just inside for such a long time. This night has been a dream come true and even though I keep repeating that, it seems like those are the only words that can describe what this date means to me. I’ve had the day from hell and didn’t think that anything could lift my spirits with everything I found out today and yesterday.

“I’m good at everything, I think you’ll find.” Is his confident reply and I have to admit that to others he might seem arrogant but from someone who has been at a place where she didn’t have any confidence at all, I find the fact that he is so sure inspiring and I want to get to that stage where nothing anyone can say can make me doubt myself.

“I might let you show me tonight, if you feed me in the foreseeable future.” I say with a noticeable whine in my voice as I get the reaction I was going for, Mark laughing beside me.

“You sure are full of surprises.” He continues laughing as we walk inside the car park where we left the car, getting to it quickly or as quickly as my heels will allow me to walk. Even though this is obviously not the first time wearing heels, but it is the first time where I’m not allowed to make even the smallest stumble, I don’t need any embarrassing moments tonight.

“No, what I am is hungry and happy which is normally never in that order.” I reply as he starts the car, not having an idea of where the rest of the night is going to go but for once I’m not terrified of not being in full control of what is happening to me.

“I didn’t make any reservations because I had no idea what you wanted to eat.” He admits as he steals a glance my way, looking a little more nervous than he did a couple of minutes ago but I can see how choosing a place to eat can be stressful when being in a relationship, I do place a lot of importance on the food.

“Can we just go to McDonalds? I’ve been craving it for the last couple of days.” I nearly moan as I think about the burger and chips and the coke, even though the guys are not totally psycho about what is in the house and what we eat, the fat girl inside me always wants a burger and chips for every meal of the day, even though it’s not possible.

“You’re my kind of girl.” He smiles and sets his phone to find the nearest drive through where we can buy my cravings, as I know that the guys most of the time use me as an excuse to binge out and eat unhealthy, because I’m always the one bringing it up.

As we sat in the back seat of his car, eating greasy food while dressed as if we’re going to an awards show, there was nowhere or anyone I would have rather spent that night with. Mark made it magical, reminded me what it’s like to have someone believe in you and love you, because during that whole night that was something I felt.

I felt loved, and that to me means more than any show or dress or meal. It’s something you can’t buy and should be cherished. Although a night like that makes you almost forget that the real world isn’t so nice and that it can all come crashing down at any point, as it did.

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