Dear Mia: From, Your Date
“You know, you still haven’t told me anything about it.” Casey’s voice floats into the bathroom from my bedroom, where she’s currently standing in front of my bed, inspecting the outfit I’ve laid out for the evening.
“Anything about what?” I pause applying my liquid eyeliner to respond, though I know exactly what she’s asking.
“About your first date with Hunter,” she replies, her tone indicating that she’s aware I’m avoiding the question. “I mean, it must have gone well, considering he asked you on a second one.”
“I guess it did,” I murmur, feeling twinges of excitement in the pit of my stomach as I push the mascara brush in and out of the tube to coat it in black liquid, my cheeks heating at the memory of our goodnight kiss. He’d texted me before I fell asleep, asking if I wanted to go out again and I’d replied yes almost immediately.
With an annoyed huff, Casey appears at the bathroom door, crossing her arms over her chest and leaning against the door frame as she sends me a pointed glare. “You’re being so vague.”
“I just don’t know that there’s that much to tell,” I reply, continuing to be vague as I apply the mascara, nodding when my makeup regimen is complete and turning to face her. “We went to dinner and then he kissed me goodnight.”
I know that’s the least detailed description of what happened. But honestly, I feel a bit strange sharing anything more with Casey. I felt as though Hunter and I made some real progress on our last date, and that he was finally starting to let me in. And that’s good news, but for some reason, I feel strange sharing it with anyone else. Maybe I just want some part of what we have to stay just between us for just a little bit longer.
“So it was boring?” she asks, tilting her head to the side.
“No!” I reply automatically, pushing past her to enter the bedroom to begin getting dressed, “It was just a very normal date. And I think the reason he asked me out again is because he liked the fact that it was so normal. I get the feeling he doesn’t feel like a regular person very often.”
He’d mentioned before that he wished people didn’t take his fame into the equation when hanging out, so I did my best not to pry into that part of his life too much. That being said, I know that I’ll have to get more out of him eventually.
Casey echoes exactly what I’m thinking. “Okay. Look, it’s great that you make him feel normal, but an article about how Hunter Caldwell is just like everyone else isn’t going to fly with Lillian.”
“I know,” I sigh. I’m conflicted. On one hand, I am genuinely curious about that part of his life and I know learning more about it is what’s going to get me into Lillian’s good books. But on the other hand, whenever it’s brought up, there’s a certain amount of light that leaves his eyes, and I don’t want to be the reason it extinguishes. “He’s just very guarded. I think I’m making progress, though.”
“Good,” Casey nods, busying herself with looking at the various trinkets on my dresser as I strip off my fluffy purple robe and slip into my dress.
“What do you think of this outfit?” I ask her once the sleeves are pulled up my arms and she’s zipping up the back.
“It’s cute,” she assures me, patting me on the back to indicate I’m all zipped up. “Where are you guys going?”
I turn to face her, feeling my cheeks heat slightly as I reply, quickly looking down as I slip my feet into my ankle boots to keep her from seeing me blush. “He told me to choose since he chose last time and I told him I wanted to go ice skating.”
Ice skating is one of my favorite winter traditions. It doesn’t matter where the ice rink is; whether it’s outdoor, surrounded by twinkling lights, or a building in a strip mall, there’s something magical about the frosty air and hearing the blades cut against the ice. My parents used to take me every winter growing up and I lived for the hours gliding along on the ice and the mandatory cup of hot chocolate that was consumed afterwards.
“Adorable,” Casey smirks, undoubtedly thinking that I only suggested ice skating because it would give me an excuse to hold his hand. Which, to be honest, is a huge perk.
“Shut up,” I roll my eyes, kept from retorting further when the buzzer from below sounds and I feel my heart rate spike. “That must be him.”
It’s been a little over a week since I saw him last and I’ve been counting down the seconds until I got to gaze into those deep, soulful eyes once more. I take deep breaths as I buzz him in, preparing to leave by shrugging on my coat and finding my keys and phone and feeling my excitement level rise as I count the moments until I hear him knock at the door. Unable to hold back my smile, I pull the door open and my heart stutters in my chest, because he’s grinning at me, as radiant as ever.
“Hey,” I manage to breathe out.
“Hey,” he replies softly, stepping forward.
He leans towards me as though about to kiss me hello and I’m aching for it, until I hear Casey subtly cough from behind me, reminding me that we’re not alone. Feeling my cheeks heat, I gesture to her, a bit disappointed at the lack of physical contact thus far. “This is my friend Casey.”
“Hunter,” he nods, raising one hand in a wave. “Nice to meet you.”
Casey flashes him a smile and gently pushes me towards the door, shoving my purse into my arms and directing her words at my date. “Get her home before curfew, okay?”
“We should go,” I agree, glaring at Casey, who is grinning like there’s no tomorrow. I shut the door behind us once I manage to toss all my belongings in my purse and as we head towards the elevators, I apologize. “Sorry about her.”
I’m not really sure what I’m apologizing for. It’s just been a while since I’ve felt like a teenager going out with a boy for the first time.
“That’s okay,” he shrugs off Casey acting like a concerned parent.
Although we walk side by side as we exit the building and make our way to the nearest outdoor ice rink, we still don’t touch and I wonder what it means that I long to hold his hand. He tells me about his day and how the band is in the midst of rehearsals for their upcoming tour and how sometimes he thinks he loves his bandmates a little bit more each day. I’m watching the way his eyes fill with light and love and passion and all I can think about is how I hope there will come a time when he’ll get that expression when he’s talking about me.
“So, you any good at ice skating?” he asks once we’re standing in line to get our rental skates, bouncing on his toes to keep warm.
“Not really,” I admit. Despite having gone ice skating every winter while growing up, I’d never actually developed enough coordination to zip around on the ice like a professional. Still, I love the feeling of the cold air and the excitement in the atmosphere. It’s pretty hard to be anything but happy when you’re ice skating.
“That’s good, actually, cause neither am I,” he replies, sounding a bit relieved. Pausing, he says his next question cautiously, as though unsure of how I’ll respond. “Can I hold on to you?”
“Are you sure?” I lift my eyebrows in surprise. “There’s people watching.”
There’s at least five paparazzi staggered at various positions around the rink and pretty much everyone here probably has a camera on their phone. Being with Hunter only a short amount of time has made me more aware of my surroundings.
“Yeah, sorry about that,” he winces apologetically.
I realize he’s misunderstood why I pointed out the fact that we’re in public and immediately go to correct him. “It’s okay, it’s not like you can control it. I just don’t want to make things worse for you.”
I don’t blame him for having cameras on him all the time; I suppose that’s the price of fame. But I know how much he dislikes the attention and holding hands with me in public will definitely make a statement. Sure, we’ve been seen together before, but holding hands and ice skating is quite possibly the most coupley thing the two of us could do together, which means that the relationship between the two of us will be officially confirmed as soon as the pictures hit the tabloids. And as much as I would love to hold Hunter’s hand, I don’t want to put him in that position if he’s not ready for it.
“By holding my hand?” he laughs softly, his smile widening. “Trust me, that could only make things so much better. You don’t have to if you don’t want to, though.”
“I do want to,” I reply immediately, not wanting him to think I’d want to be anywhere else with anyone else.
His smile is hopeful. “Yeah?”
“Yeah, it’s just…,” I pause, unsure of how to word how I feel, “well, that kind of makes it all real, doesn’t it?”
“I guess so,” he nods. “Does that scare you?”
Once we do this, there’s no going back. We’ll officially be a couple, which means that the expectations of us will be more than I probably realize. Because on top of having to make notes on Hunter’s lifestyle in order to report back to Lillian, I also have to control my emotional attachments to him. Up until this point, I had the option to walk away; maybe tell Lillian that it didn’t work out and I couldn’t do it and just resign myself to the fact that the column would be the only thing I’d ever write for the magazine.
But I can’t let him go. Not yet. And maybe that’s selfish of me; but I just want to spend more time with him, so I reach out and intertwine our fingers, squeezing his hand as I smile up at him. “Not if I’m with you.”