Chapter 50 - The only one
"What are you doing over there?"
I asked Maria, she had been smiling at her phone for five minutes straight.
She shrugged, still smiling.
"Who? Did you meet someone at school?"
I sat down on the couch next to her.
She nodded and set her phone down, turning it over.
Maria had been acting weird for a while. But it was a happy weird so I didn't want to push it.
"So, how many times has Beau came to the diner this week?"
"Every night that I've worked. I'm assuming today will be no different."
I sighed. He had been consistently showing up anytime I had a shift. He would come just as we were closing and walk me to my car. He stopped trying to talk to me after the first week. He would just sit and watch which somehow still made my heart almost beat through my chest.
He didn't have to touch me or even speak for my body to freak out, betraying me in the process.
I stepped into my converse and headed out the door. I had a huge exam tomorrow and the last thing I wanted to do was work but I needed the money.
My shift went by quickly and when 9:35 came around and Beau hadn't arrived yet I told myself it was silly to assume that he would come every night. Or even anymore at all. It wasn't like I was making it worth his while. But the tinge in my heart made me think that I didn't fully believe that.
After cleaning and taking out the trash, Lydia and I locked up the front door. I was walking to my car when the familiar white Bronco pulled into the parking lot. Beau hopped out all out of breath.
"Hey, sorry I'm late. I was-"
Beau's eyes lit up at those two stupid words. He'd been trying to get me to talk to him about anything and everything for weeks and I pick now to speak?
I actually had a lot that I wanted to ask him. I started writing it down so that I could get it out of my head but it didn't quite work. For instance, right now I wanted to ask him how much leave he had to take in order to come here and do whatever it was he was doing. But I kept all of my questions to myself.
"Do you want to go somewhere? Maybe get ice cream? There's a place right down the street."
He turned and pointed his finger in the general direction of the ice cream shop. I knew the place, it was my favorite and even though it was close to freezing outside, I couldn't deny that ice cream sounded amazing.
I nodded again, it was my new thing.
I got in my car and Beau stared at me for a second before getting back in his Bronco and pulling out onto the street. I followed him down the street and after we parked, we both got out and looked incredibly awkward walking into the parlor together.
"Why don't you sit, I'll get the ice cream."
He told me as he turned toward the counter.
I found a table in the back corner and sat down. The girl behind the counter looked annoyed at what was probably her last customers of the day until she noticed Beau. And I couldn't blame her. He was beautiful in his dark jeans a blue flannel shirt. He looked so warm it was hard to resist the temptation to walk over to him and wedge myself against his side. But I managed and picked at my fingernail polish until he was through ordering.
Beau sat a bowl of strawberry ice cream in front of me and I let my eyes wander up to his.
God, I'd missed looking at him. Even though he'd been coming to my work for weeks I didn't let myself stare at him like I wanted to. And now I couldn't look away.
"This feels a little like a date."
He said before shoving a spoonful of chocolate ice cream into his mouth.
"It could be."
He was right it did feel like a date. Well, I assumed so at least but it was hard to tell since I'd never had one. Technically, Taylor and I went to dinner once but it didn't feel like a date. It didn't even come close to what this felt like.
"I've never been on a date."
I confessed and watched his eyebrows rise.
I shook my head and Beau nodded. I swear I saw the corners of his mouth tilt up the slightest bit.
We finished our ice cream and walked back out of the parlor in the same awkward way that we walked in.
We stood in front of my car in the freezing cold but it was the silence that was cutting me to the bone.
"What do you want Beau?"
He sighed and toed his boot against my tire before answering.
A lot. . . Okay. I didn't know what that meant and I didn't have the energy to ask. My exam tomorrow was weighing down on me and I really needed to get back home so I could bury myself in books for the rest of the night.
"I need to study."
I turned to open my door but he beat me to it. He opened it up then moved aside so I could get in. I had sat down just long enough to crank the engine before he was in my space. He was so close to me that I could see the flecks of green in his eyes and I wanted to count every single one of them.
"Are you working tomorrow?"
"Off at ten?"
I nodded again because he was too close to me and I couldn't think straight enough to push any words out.
"I need to kiss you."
I didn't have time to nod. I inhaled and that was it. Beau's lips were just as soft as I remembered and his warm fingers slid down my cheek so slowly it made my eyes fall closed. He wasn't greedy, he just pressed his mouth to mine without any other movement and when I felt him pull away I almost yanked him back.
"Good night, River."
He reached over and turned the heat all the way up before closing my door. I watched him climb into his Bronco and start it up until I realized he was waiting on me to pull away first. I threw my car in reverse and drove home but didn't remember a second of it. All I could think about were Beau's lips and how much I had missed the way they felt.
There was also something different about the way I was breathing. I felt lighter in a way that I hadn't felt in so long. The heaviness in my chest lingered but it was easier to get through. It had been easing up for weeks and now it was barely there.
And I realized that Beau might've been the reason it was there to begin with, but he was also the only one who could make it go away.