I slide my legs out of the car, my heart in my mouth as I consider every option that could possibly go wrong.
He puts his finger to my lips, and shuts the car door behind me. He leans against me, kissing me hungrily.
I'm breathless from his kiss, his touch, damn; even his presence. He laces his fingers through mine and leads the way up my drive, towards my house.
"They thought I was at Rosies," I hiss, my eyes wide as he smiles at me, ringing the doorbell.
"Cal I don't need to ring the doorbell at my own home," I bite back nervous laughter as the door swings open to reveal my mother.
Her eyes crease with confusion when she sees Cal, before me. She looks back at Cal and widens her eyes.
"Gretchen?" she says questionably.
Cal steps forward, moving his hair out of his eyes.
"Hi, Mrs Red. I think it's time we met. I'm Cal."
Their eyes meet and I watch as my Mom moves through about a million different emotions. She frowns, then looks back at me, my cheeks flushed with happiness, my eyes shining with love and adoration.
"I thought you stayed at Rosie's last night Gretchen?"
She is now looking back at Cal, who hasn't missed a beat.
"She did, I gave her a ride home this morning as I didn't want her walking home alone."
Cal smiles at her then as her face relaxes slightly.
"I see. So, are you going to come in, Cal?"
I nearly fall over when she says this, whilst Cal nods and holds his hand out for me to go first. I walk in, staring at my Mom quizzically whilst she closes the door.
"So, Cal. It's good to finally meet you, but I have to say: I thought you and Gretchen had cooled it off somewhat lately?"
She sounds almost hopeful until he laughs.
"Certainly not. I decided to give Gretchen some space to concentrate on her studies. I know how much she wants to be a therapist."
He sits down in the chair beside him. I stare at him, this smooth talker who seems to have the answers to everything. He glances back over at my mother who is watching him suspiciously.
She clears her throat and fixes him with her fierce gaze.
"So, it is graduation soon. What are your plans Cal?"
He frowns, as he appears to be deep in thought.
"Well, I'm not entirely sure which path is best to take. I could follow my father down the acting route, or I could stick with sports therapy, which I am better at, to be honest."
He laughs easily, and I can't hide my surprise as I took this information in. He was interested in sports therapy? His dad was an actor?! His eyes meet mine and he tilts his head to the side, acknowledging my confusion.
"So I assume you won't be keeping my daughter out overnight anymore without letting us know first, right?"
My Mom's voice had softened slightly, but she still made it clear she meant business. Cal holds his hands up, his eyes wide.
"M'am, I can only apologise about that. It will not happen again."
We were all quiet for a moment until Cal rose from his chair, smiling at my Mom as he did.
"It was a pleasure to meet you, but I have to head home. I have so much to be getting on with. Oh, Gretchen, I didn't know if you were free this evening, but I wondered if you would like to come out for dinner with me?"
My Mom folds her arms, looking at me with wide eyes. I couldn't have loved him any more than I do right now.
"I would love to, and Mom, I will be back home straight after. Promise."
My Mom purses her lips and nods.
"Does Cal know you will be going to Hayville?"
She sounds so proud, beaming at me as my eyes meet Cals. The colour drains from his face as he recognised the name, and more importantly, the location. He recovers quickly, nodding enthusiastically.
"It's great news, I am so proud of her. That's what tonight is about, celebrating."
His voice hadn't changed at all.
Wow, an expert liar. I need to take note of this.
My Mom nods in approval.
"We are so proud of her, I have no doubt she will excel at everything she does."
I walk Cal to the door as he waves goodbye to my Mom. I pull the door closed behind me and lean against it, my eyes closed.
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you…" I mumble, refusing to meet his gaze. "You weren't around, I didn't know…"
He nods slowly. "New York hey?"
I gulp, unable to take the pain in his voice. He stands up straight, leaning over to kiss me lightly on the lips.
"I'll pick you up later, about seven?"
He walks down the steps from the porch, walking backwards so he can still see me. I can't stop staring at his beautiful face, his hair in his eyes.
"So the beard- are you gonna lose it?"
He laughs then, running his hand over it slowly.
"Hmm, you seemed to like it this morning?"
He smirks and walks around to his car. I watch him longingly as he swept his hair back, pulling on his aviators to avoid the glare of the bright sun. He looks at me one last time, his lips curling into a smile before he drives off back in the direction we had come.
I sigh, not entirely sure what to think. There was so much to consider.
What had happened to him in New York?
What would happen when I moved to New York?
How did he feel about it?
My mind buzzes with questions as I make my way back to the house. My Mom is sitting at the kitchen table, coffee in hand. Her sapphire eyes lock onto mine when I walk in, a small smile playing on her lips.
"He was...Interesting. I can't think what you see in him."
We both laugh then, thawing the ice between us. I take a seat in front of my Mom who watches me quizzically.
"Everything ok honey?" she asks quietly, watching me.
"It's really complicated Mom...I am so in love with him."
She doesn't respond, instead sips her coffee silently.
"He's all I think about. I know me moving to New York is going to be a big thing for him...but I also know he supports me entirely."
I sigh, absentmindedly playing with one of my dark spirals as it falls over my shoulder.
"I don't doubt you are in love with him. I think it is quite clear you are both in love. I know long distance is hard, really hard. Where will he be able to study sports therapy?"
She cocks her head to the side as she gives it some thought.
I look at her, answering her honestly. "I have absolutely no idea."
She shrugs then, reaching for my hand.
"If it's meant to work, it will. Now why don't you go and have a relaxing day before your date tonight? I have to go to the supermarket if you want a ride to the mall?"
I want to pinch myself. My Mom actually understood for once? I smile and grab my phone, dialling Rosies number. She answers with a yawn, asking what time I called this.
"Rosie, I need to see you. I need your help."