Zara looked at herself in the mirror.
It was the day before Thanksgiving.
Their first date.
To say she was nervous would be an understatement. She was petrified. Her stomach felt queasy and she couldn’t decide what would be the perfect outfit for the evening.
Susan had been fussing around for the past hour and a half, flinging clothes from Zara’s wardrobe and now the bedroom was a complete mess. The only person enjoying this was Amy. She was jumping around in the pile of clothes gathered on the bed, her squeals making Zara’s ears ache.
Now, she picked up one of Zara’s dresses from the pile and plonked down on the mattress, inspecting the material.
“I like it.“, she said, turning to look at Zara’s reflection in the mirror.
“Can I try it on?”
Zara had to stifle a smile. She went to her and took the dress.
“Sure. I think it will look beautiful on you.”
“It looks like a princess dress.“, Amy giggled, raising her arms up as Zara slipped the dress on her.
She saw Susan laughing as she dug through the wardrobe, discarding almost everything that Zara owned. At this rate, she wasn’t going to be ready in time.
The dress was a sleeveless baby blue with a sweetheart neckline and a white satin belt at the waist. It was one of Zara’s favorites.
She had barely helped Amy off the bed when she screamed.
Her heart stopped and she instantly dropped down to see if Amy was alright. Susan had already begun toward them, her eyes wide in surprise.
“I’m so pretty!“, Amy yelled as she brought her hands to her cheeks and stared at the mirror.
Zara heaved a sigh of relief.
Sweet heavens. She had freaked out.
Amy’s eyes were as wide as saucers, the dress pooling around her feet in a puddle of blue. She put her hands on her hips and turned this way and that, looking at Zara.
“How do I look?“, she smiled almost flirtatiously, one hand coming up to brush at her curls.
Zara laughed, even as Susan sat back on her heels, as if admiring Amy.
Looking back at the mirror, Zara shook her head as if stunned.
“I think you’re the most beautiful princess I’ve ever laid eyes on, your Majesty.“, she curtsied.
It sent Amy and Susan into a fit of giggles.
“Really?“, Amy grabbed Zara’s cheeks in both hands and pulled her face close till their noses touched.
“I love you.“, she kissed Zara’s nose.
Zara went still and she saw Susan’s mouth drop open before she smiled.
Amy was still holding her, her mouth widened in a grin.
“Really?“, Zara asked, her heart going a mile at a minute.
Amy giggled and shook her head from side to side so that their noses brushed, which made her giggle even more.
Zara grabbed her waist and began tickling her, making her scream and laugh uncontrollably.
Instead of pushing Zara’s fingers away, Amy grabbed Zara’s neck and threw herself against her, her curls buried in her neck. When she stopped, Amy’s laughter didn’t and Zara knew that this little girl had captured her heart.
Nathaniel rang the doorbell and waited.
He checked his watch for the tenth time in the last five minutes.
He was right on time.
Fuck, he had never been so nervous in his life.
He heard Amy’s laughter drift through the door and he smiled. She was one lovely kid.
Then the door opened and he froze, every practiced line disappearing as his mind went blank.
That was his first thought.
Zara stood before him and for a second he thought he was hallucinating.
No woman could look this good. No woman could look so fucking sexy.
She was wearing a baby blue dress that made her look like a fucking doll.
No. A princess.
Her raven black hair was left down and she had on pink lipstick with just a hint of blush on her cheeks. He couldn’t stop his eyes from raking over her body.
She looked good enough to eat.
By the time the evening ended, he’d make sure the blush was coating her entire body.
Crap, he hadn’t even greeted her.
“Hi.“, his voice sounded so rusty.
The blush heightened and he felt the effect at his groin.
“Hi.“, she said slowly, her eyes ducking away, her hand tucking her hair away at her ear.
Shit, he was making her nervous.
Fix it, you moron!
He cleared his throat.
“You look beautiful.“, he hoped he sounded sincere and not just horny.
He was going to have a hard time keeping his hands to himself.
She seemed to relax and she smiled, a genuine smile, the one that made her eyes light up.
“Thanks. You look great too.“, she sounded shy.
He was going to remedy that.
Behind her, Susan appeared with Amy on her hip.
“Go on, you two.“, she shooed them away.
He laughed and took Zara’s hand, loving how her fingers instantly curled to hold his.
“Nathiel!“, Amy smiled and waved at him.
He stepped inside, leaned down and kissed her cheek.
She rubbed her palm over his stubble.
“It tickles.“, she laughed, “I like it.”
Nathaniel dropped a kiss on Susan’s cheek and laughed, holding Amy’s hand.
Then he whispered, “I hope Zara likes it too.“, he winked at her making Susan grin like a cat.
The punch on his shoulder made him yelp.
“I heard that.“, Zara kissed Amy’s cheek.
Ah yes, this was the girl he loved.
Zara slid in the seat while Nathaniel took the one opposite to her.
They were in a restaurant, a very popular one from what she could see.
The place was crowded. But luckily, Nathaniel had managed to get them a table in a corner that gave them some privacy.
“Did I tell you that you look beautiful?”
“Yes, three times now.“, she grinned.
He smiled at her, showing off his white teeth.
Reaching across the table, he took her hand in his and smoothed his thumb over the back of her palm.
“Thank you for coming out with me.“, he said softly, lifting her palm and placing a kiss on her knuckles.
The butterflies in her belly did somersaults.
“Thank you for asking me.“, she replied trying to keep her voice steady. He was making goosebumps rise on her skin.
Their waiter, a guy who looked to be in his late teens, brought them their menus.
Zara picked it up with her right hand.
Nathaniel hadn’t let go of her and she was happy to stay just that way.
“What would you like?”
Zara skimmed through the list of dishes.
“How about Michoacan-style tacos?”
“We could share it.“, she said, showing him the dish in the menu.
“Citrus-marinated chicken. Definitely.“, he said, gesturing to the waiter.
When their order was placed, he turned to her.
“How did today go?“, he took her hand in both of his.
Zara shrugged, her skin tingling where he touched her.
God, why was she so easy?
“Not much, just classwork and Amy. Susan and I managed to get her to eat cereal in the morning, so it was an achievement.“, she smiled.
He laughed, the sound reverberating through her.
Was it crazy how much she liked it?
“Amy is a darling.“, he said, his thumb tracing patterns on her palm.
“She is. But I think she should be around children her age more often.“,
“Yeah. It must be difficult for her to be carted around like this. Atleast she’s happy with Matt. I don’t know how his grandmother manages to keep Amy busy. I mean, she is quite old from what Matt told me.”
Zara nodded and flipped his hand over, so that hers was on top.
“I like your skin.“, he said, making her look up in surprise.
His eyes were on her lips and she felt heat creep up her neck.
Taking her palm and cupping it in his, he brought it to his mouth and inhaled.
The heat reached the back of her ears.
“You don’t remember me, do you?“, his hand reached around her forearm and his lips moved to her wrist. He kissed the spot where her pulse beat wildly and then made her gasp when she felt his tongue there.
His eyes turned a shade darker.
She blinked hers shut and tried to speak.
“What are you talking about?”
“You saved me. A long time ago. My beautiful dark-haired knight.“, he chuckled and scraped his teeth across where his tongue had been.
Zara was grateful that were away from the crowd.
“I don’t understand.”
"Lay all your love on me by ABBA. Do you remember that song?“, he asked her, his voice low, almost hypnotic.
“You were humming it that day at the park.”
He kissed her palm three times.
Zara rubbed her thighs together to relieve the discomfort. How the fuck could he get her this hot just by kissing her hand?
“I was a fragile dork back then, bullied so many fucking times, I had lost count.“, he said, bringing his gaze back to hers. His eyes were dark now. Almost frighteningly so. And yet, Zara leaned forward, letting him hold her.
“I don’t remember.“, she said softly, squeezing her eyes shut as a frown marred her features.
“You made those guys run like they were followed by wolves.“, he gave a humorless laugh.
“So you’re saying that I helped you?”
It was incredulous.
“No, Zara. You saved me. It was the last time I let someone think they could badger me around any time they wanted.“, he brought her hand to his cheek. She felt the bristles of hair rubbed against her palm. Like Amy, she liked it. She wanted it against her cheek. And later, against her chest.
The dampness between her legs increased.
“You walked me down to the security cabin and then left after asking me just one question.”
“What did I ask?”
Nathaniel looked at her mouth, then her eyes and back to her mouth.
“You asked me not to let that happen to me again.”
And then it clicked.
She remembered him.
“Oh my God, it is you.“, she was taken aback at the knowledge.
He smiled, “You remember.”
Zara nodded her head vigorously.
“They were beating you up so badly and you were curled on the ground, almost like a foetus, tall, lanky, the same brown eyes- Ohmyfuckinggosh! It is you!”
She leaned back in her chair, taking her hand away, mind-boggled at the discovery.
They were silent for more than a minute, both staring at each other.
The waiter arrived with their food and placed the dishes before them.
When he left, Zara didn’t reach for the food.
“When did you remember?“, she asked shakily.
“The day you punched Danielle in the face after what she did to Amy.”
Zara nodded, her mind in a whirl.
“I tried searching for you at school.“, he said.
“All I knew was your face. I didn’t even have the sense to ask you your name before you left.”
Zara gave a small laugh, “I had to change school-“, she hesitated, “Uh, my mom got a different job and we had to move.”
“I have you now.“, he grinned, the lightness in his eyes returning.
She laughed easily.
He reached for a taco.
“Will you do me the honor of being my girlfriend?”
Her heart kicked against her breastbone and then stopped altogether.
“Y-you mean you want to make it official?“, she stuttered, her eyes going wide.
He nodded, taking her hand again.
Oh my GOD!
She looked at their joined hands.
“I-I don’t know. What if we don’t last and-”
“I care about you, Zara. More than a lot. I’ve never been with a girl before, never had a relationship. The only person I want to have one with is you.“, he said softly.
She looked down at her lap.
Follow your heart.
Her heart definitely said yes.
She raised her head.
“Yes, I will.”
His face broke out into a grin. He clasped her hand and kissed it.
Zara gave a nervous laugh and then they began their meal.