A Little Big Crush

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Dinah’s First Date

Chapter 2

Dinah struggled to find the right outfit to wear for her date, thinking which one of her outfits would make her look less fat. She liked,but at the same time, hated blind dates. Guys can totally love your pictures on the dating app but think you look totally different in real life.

That’s why Dinah learned never to put up Instagram-kind of pictures with heavy filters. Though it was her, it was a glamorized and unrealistic picture of herself. Even if it was a bit scary at first putting up her real, untouched pictures, she still received a good number of likes and messages.

She took out one of her many jeans off of the hanger in her walk-in closet and held it up to her waist, walking the few steps over to her bathroom to look at herself in the mirror.

Not bad. The pair of light wash jeans were one of her favorites and were made for curvy, wide hipped bodies like hers.

Good. One down, one more to go. The top. For her, jewelry, makeup, and shoes were easy. It was Miami, so nice sandals were always acceptable, especially to the restaurant they were going to- Chili’s. Dinah preferred chain restaurants because the last thing she wanted was to go to some upscale- fancy schmancy restaurant in Brickell where a girl was judged by how hot, thin, and fit she looked.

That’s why she preferred swiping right on guys that looked as down-to- Earth as she was. And the guy she was going on a date with was as down- to Earth as you could get- loved sports (especially the Miami Dolphins), video games, drinking beer, and always wore khaki shorts, jeans, and sports teams shirts and caps. Plus, from his pictures, he had a cute pitbull that he was holding up in a picture with him sitting on a couch with a red solo cup in his other hand.

In other words, he seemed like a regular, laid back guy. She hoped that he thought her to be just as pretty in real life as in her pictures.

When they texted for the past week, she got a sense that they had similar interests, both nerds in a sense who liked Game of Thrones and other supernatural shows. She didn’t necessarily like sports, and she told him that right off the bat, but she wasn’t afraid to do that since it’s still kind of normal for girls to not like sports and she also figured they had to be different in some way.

Her nerves got the better of her as she flipped through the numerous tops she had. Dinah definitely couldn’t wear a graphic tee from her local California- surfer store, so she turned to the “going out at night” section and chose a loose, but kind of form-fitting top with short sleeves and a black and baby blue flower design. She then did her makeup and put on her favorite pair of gold stud earrings and gold bracelet.

Simple but nice.

In the car and on the way over to the restaurant, she tried not to overthink this night. Turning the radio up louder, she focused on the music rather than what she would say. With a sigh, she tried to physically squash down her natural inclination of being as peppy and friendly as possible to make a good impression. Dinah needed to just be herself, as she discovered through the many dates she had been on.

Once she parked in the garage parking lot, she pulled down the visor in her car and checked her makeup again. Good. No smudges and no mascara under her eyes. Just for good measure, she reapplied her favorite rose mauve lipstick and blotted her lips together.

It’s now or never, she thought.

Once she locked the doors of her Mazda, she made her way over to Chili’s. Taking deep breaths, Dinah repeated her regular pep talk to herself.

Don’t freak out. If you get there before him, make a decision. Table or bar. Be bold. Be brave. It’s okay. And if he doesn’t show up, don’t sweat it. Make it an awesome night out of the apartment and order a drink. Who cares if anyone looks? Really, though. People are more engrossed with themselves than wondering why someone is at the bar or a table alone. You got this.

After thinking that last part, she then decided on the bar. This guy might be an ass and stand her up. It was one thing to have a drink alone at the bar and another to be at a table by yourself. No matter how many pep talks she gave herself, she wasn’t confident enough to sit alone at a table made for one or up to three other people. She would feel that she was getting pity stares.

Before her anxiety got the better of her, she took out her phone and tapped on her last text conversation with her date.

See you soon, his last text said.

Her thumbs moved rapidly on her phone as she typed out the next text.

I’m here. Did you get here yet?

She held her phone in her hands and took another deep breath.

You can do this. Don’t wait for him to answer like an idiot. You just let him know you’re here, so go in and seat yourself at the bar.

Pushing the glass door, she walked right up to the hostess, quickly going over what she was going to say in her head.

“Hi,” Dinah said.

“Hi, table for ….two?”

God, the girl even assumed that no one would dare come to a restaurant and eat on their own, even if she saw only Dinah.

“No, I was just wondering if I could sit at the bar?”

The hostess nodded, her hoop earrings moving from side to side. “Sure, you can just go right on in.”

“Thanks,” Dinah said, making her way over to the bar.

She tentatively sat down on the side closest to the entrance, quickly scanning the room to see if she saw her date. Not yet.

She checked her phone. One new message.

Ok. Just parked.

Dinah nervously put her phone in her purse. Her heart was racing. To calm it down, she took another deep breath, inhaling and exhaling through her nose.

It’s fine. Nothing to get freaked out about. Think of it like an interview where YOU are in charge. You are here to decide if you like him. Don’t think about if he does or doesn’t like you.

Dinah silently thanked her mom for such sound advice.

She waved her hand, trying to get the bartender’s attention. He didn’t look at her, but was serving other customers and mixing drinks for them. Shit, she didn’t want her date to walk on in and see that she couldn’t even order a drink by herself. Damn this guy.

She stared at the bartender, hoping upon hope that he would come nearer so she could call him again.

Right as he was coming closer to her, she called to him. His attention immediately focused on her. “Can I get you anything?”

“Yeah, I’ll have a margarita,” she said.

He nodded. “With salt on the rim?”

“Yes.”

“Right on it.”

Dinah sensed someone sitting right next to her, and she turned her head to find her date sliding onto the seat on her right side.

“Dinah, right?” he asked.

His deep timbre made Dinah’s heart beat faster. God, his voice sounded sexy. Though she knew they should’ve at least talked on the phone before meeting, she liked being surprised that he had a nice sounding voice.

“Yeah, nice to meet you.”

He greeted her with a kiss on the cheek, which she instinctively returned. Totally Miami.

“You’re Dario, right? I think you told me your name once in our chat but I forget. I’m so used to seeing your screen name, Redwood, right?”

“Yeah,” he said, grinning. “But please call me Dario.”

“Sure thing,” she said, turning her head to face the bar once she realized that the bartender had already brought her drink to her. Dinah’s eyes widened. It was huge, but maybe she just thought it was because she hadn’t had a drink in a long time.

“Thank you,” she said, holding it carefully to her lips and taking a tiny sip.

“What can I get for you?” the bartender said to Dario.

“I’ll have a Sam Adams,” he said.

“Coming right up.”

While he disappeared to get his drink, Dario moved closer to Dinah and said, “ You’re a lot prettier in person.”

Butterflies moved around in her stomach and Dinah felt relief. Good. He thought she was pretty. She obviously looked like her pictures and it was a great sign that that was one of the first things he said. That was out of the way now so now the date can go smoothly.

“Thank you,” she responded. “You look like your pictures.”

He raised his eyebrows, a smile playing on his lips. “Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”

“Good thing,” she said, letting out a little laugh. “I went on a date once where the guy looked nothing like his pictures and not in a good way, so it was torture.”

“That sucks,” Dario leaned against the bar, “ That happened to me too. I’m glad you came by yourself though.”

Dinah furrowed her brows. “By myself? Of course I came by myself. This is a date.” She smiled at him.

“I know, right? But you’d be surprised how many dates I’d go on where the girl would bring a friend.”

“Why do you think they’d do that?” Dinah mimicked Dario and leaned on the bar as well.

Dario shrugged. “Probably because she was afraid that I would be a weirdo. You know, the online dating fear?”

“Well, I wouldn't do that. We’re meeting in a public place so not much weirdness like that can happen.”

“Yeah, totally.” Dario looked at Dinah, and looked her up and down. “So, did you see the latest Game of Thrones episode?”

From there on, the two of them talked about what they liked and didn’t like about the characters, how they were shocked at how Ned Stark died, and why George R.R. Martin took so long to write the next book.

“God,” Dario said, shaking his head. “My sister told me the other day that the first book was published in 1995. 1995! Are you freakin’ kidding me?”

Dinah nodded enthusiastically. “Yea, I know, right? I wasn’t even born yet. I looked that up after my sister told me that the fandom is basically pissed at him for blogging about football instead of writing.”

“You know I love me some football but that man has to get to writing…You said before that you didn’t like football, right?”

Dinah cringed.” Yeah… not really a sports fan.”

“Okay, but have you ever been to any games with your exes?”

“ I have,” she said. “I also went to my first football game with my dad when I was about nine. It was a Dolphins game. I know you like them.”

Dario turned his upper body to face Dinah, really staring into her eyes. It was so intense that she instinctively looked down at her drink.

“You’re shy, aren’t you?” he whispered.

Dinah shrugged. “A little, but I’ve never had a guy stare at me like that before.”

“I’m sorry. But I can’t help it. I really like you and I feel like we have a connection,” he said.

Dinah raised her head to look at him closely, trying to be a little more brave, bolder. “I feel one too, to be honest. You’re a cool person and we have a lot in common. It’s easy to talk to you.”

“Yeah…I asked that question about going to games because I wanted to make sure that if you and I go to a football game in the future that you would like it.”

Dinah smiled. “Sure, I think I’d like it because it’s not something I do all the time, and if I’m in a relationship, I like spending time with my boyfriend and doing things he likes.”

Dario nodded in approval, “Sounds good.”

And there it was. A hint that he’s seriously interested in her. Talking about a possible future relationship. Though Dinah knew that she shouldn’t get ahead of herself, this sounded really good. And now she felt more confident just knowing that he liked her. It made her bold enough to start asking him questions.

“ So how many sisters do you have…just one?”

“No, I have two more. But they’re stepsisters. My parents are divorced.”

Dinah placed her hand on her heart. “Mine are too. They have been since I was fourteen. I have a younger sister. “

“Do you talk to her a lot?”

“I try to. She lives in D.C. so it’s difficult.”

Dario raised his eyebrows. “Damn. My stepsister lives there now. She’s with her boyfriend up there studying to be a lawyer… I also have another stepsister from my dad’s side.”

“Wow. I only have one and we’re full sisters. Her birthday’s coming up soon so I have to find something to get her. I’m thinking of another book. She likes to read.”

“I don’t read that much, though I like to. When’s your birthday?” he asked.

“August 9th.”

“No way. That’s mine too,” he said, shock written all over his face.

“No, you have to be kidding,” she said. “You’re lying,” she teased.

Dario held his two fingers up. “Scout’s honor. Here, I’ll show you.” He took out his wallet, opened it, and slid out his driver’s license, showing it to Dinah.

There it was… August 9th, 1995.. Same day, but five years older than her.

“Omigod, unreal,” she said, eyes wide. “The same day, but different year. Mine’s 2000.”

“Aw, and here I thought we were in the same hospital and in the same baby crib room or something.”

“Thank God not.” Dinah took another sip of her margarita. “That would be beyond coincidental and a little weird.”

“I agree,” Dario said, downing the last drops of beer before slamming it down on the table. He cringed. “That was a lot harder than I meant it to be.”

The bartender, who Dinah finally noticed was named Osvaldo because of his now shiny name tag, immediately took the empty beer bottle from Dario. “Want another one?”

“Sure.” Dario looked at Dinah and grinned. “Do you want another one or will I be drinking alone?”

Dinah shook her head. “No, thanks. I can barely finish this one. I’m not much of a drinker and I got work tomorrow.”

Osvaldo nodded and immediately whipped up another Sam Adams for Dario before disappearing to the other side of the counter.

“Yeah, I’m pretty much a lightweight too. I don’t drink that much either, only beer, which doesn’t do much to me,” Dario said.

Now Dinah rearranged herself in her seat. She didn’t know if it was the right time to broach the subject. Some people said it wasn’t a good idea to talk about past relationships on the first date and others say it is a must in order to feel out what the other person is really looking for. Of course, on Dario’s profile, it said that he was looking for a relationship and his last relationship lasted eight years. But in Dinah’s experience, some guys did lie and it was better to find out from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

Screw it. “So, generic question, but what are you looking for on the site, exactly?”

Dinah almost sighed in relief as Dario’s facial expression didn’t change much. It was as if he kind of expected the question and didn’t think anything of it. She realized that in the moment like this, when two people are talking naturally, she shouldn’t overthink it. Forget what everyone else says you can or can’t do on a first date. She had to trust her instincts.

“I’m ready to start a relationship,” Dario began, “ My ex and I broke up a few months ago and I’m ready to move on.”

Hmm… A tiny wave of panic coursed through Dinah, starting in the pit of her stomach. If a guy mentioned breaking up with his ex so soon and in the same sentence as “ready to start a relationship,” it told Dinah that he maybe wasn’t over her. But she hoped against hope that she was wrong.

“Do you think you are? Maybe you need more time? I know that I’ve been single for more than a year,” she said, twirling the tiny black straw of her margarita around and around.

Dario shook his head immediately. “No. We’ve drifted apart for a long time now, a lot longer than I wanted to admit. Our breakup was pretty mutual and we both were pretty cool with it. I’ve gone out with other girls and it’s been alright.”

Dinah continued swirling her drink, forcing a nonchalant attitude that she definitely didn’t feel. “ They were just alright?” She made a point to turn to him and flashed him a bright smile.

“Eh, yeah. They were nice girls. But it would've been better without the friends around.” He stared into Dinah’s brown eyes. “But you’re different. I feel like I can really talk to you. We don’t run out of conversation, which is cool.”

Dinah raised her eyebrows, playing the part of “cool girl” but inside, butterflies fluttered in her stomach, heat rose in her cheeks, and her heartbeat pounded what felt like a mile a minute. “I think you’re cool too.”

“So, what about you?” he asked.

“What about me?”

“What are you looking for?”

This was always the tricky part, especially when Dinah was single while in college. The response a girl should always use was “I’m looking for maybe- a relationship but I want to see where it goes.”

Now, fresh out of college, , according to advice from various friends and dating books, it was best to be upfront and honest. Show men that you were the real deal and be confident in what you want.Now as a kind-of- adult,, it works against you to say the “see where it goes” line. At this time, if you want to get married, you need to be upfront about the kind of relationship that you want.

“I’m looking for something that can get serious. I’ve never been the kind of girl that looks for something casual. It’s not me at all,” she said.

Based on Dario’s grin at her words, she knew it was the right thing to say. “Good, good. I like that. I’m looking for that too.”

From then on, they talked some more about their childhood- they both watched Nickelodeon and Disney Channel religiously as kids and actively discussed various characters. They both shared their experiences of going to private schools but then state colleges and Dario looked particularly shocked when Dinah said she majored in theatre.He majored in Criminology but now works at his aunt’s insurance company as a medical account billing specialist.

He made it seem as if it was nothing, but to Dinah it only said he had a good, stable job and income. It was also a plus to find out that he wasn’t living at his parents house but actually owned a house. This was looking better and better.

Dinah had no idea how long they kept talking. Between reminiscing about the various silly games they played in middle school and ordering appetizers, She was so entertained that it wasn’t until Osvaldo came by with the check that both her and Dario realized how late it was. According to his phone, it was ten- thirty. They were talking for three and a half hours!

“Damn, it’s late,” Dario said, taking out his wallet and leaving his credit card on top of the bill.

For a second, Dinah felt bad that she didn’t even offer to pay for half of it. She made a move to take out her wallet from her purse before Dario took out his card but he didn’t seem to notice. Even though Dinah believed that a man should pay on the first date, she still didn’t want it to seem like she just expected him to pay, but it seemed natural for him, so it was a great relief to her.

“Yeah, I know. I got to get up early. I need to get to the classroom to prepare a classroom transformation,” she said, grabbing her purse and getting up out of her seat once everything was paid for.

“Man, I don’t know how you teachers do it, but major kudos.” Dario led the way out the door and stopped at the entrance.

Dinah stopped as well and faced him. “Yeah, it’s challenging but I love it.”

For the first time all night, an awkward silence lingered between them, both of them unsure how they would end the night.

This very moment was the time Dinah allowed herself to admit to herself how attractive she thought Dario was.Though his tall stature, raven hair, chiseled features and icy blue eyes were enough to rival A- list movie stars, what she lived the most was how down- to- Earth and normal he seemed. His eyes wouldn’t leave hers and he took a step closer to her.

Was he going to kiss her? Dinah had no idea what she should do. What would he think if she let him kiss her on the first date? Where would this lead? She half hoped he did just so she could know how it would feel to have his mouth on hers but half-hoped he didn’t so she wouldn't have to tell him no if he asked to take it further.

One thing she knew for sure, she didn’t want to give him the wrong impression of what kind of girl she was. Dinah strongly believed that actions spoke louder than words and she’d look like a hypocrite if she said she wasn’t easy but acted like she was and easily let him kiss her.

He leaned closer and closer until his mouth was a few inches away from hers. She was on fire. Her breathing was labored and her heart pounded loudly in her chest. She was shocked to feel a tingling sensation in between her legs. This had NEVER happened before. This had to mean something. This had to be a sign. Her body definitely knew more than her brain did. What did this intense reaction mean? It had to mean something more than just physical attraction. She was physically attracted to other guys in the past, but never like this. It was so intense and overwhelming. All it took was near proximity and she was a goner.

Even after feeling and acknowledging all of this, Dinah was relieved when Dario only kissed her on the cheek, the same usual Miami greetingwhen seeing each other and when leaving. Maybe another time Dinah would’ve taken that action as a signal that he wasn’t interested in her the way that she was interested in him, but the way he looked at her, smiled at her, told her a different story. He told her that he was just as attracted to her as she was to him.

“I had a great night,” he said, pulling away from her slowly. “I’ll text you and we can hang out again.”

Dinah smiled, trying her best to sound as nonchalant as possible. “Yeah, that sounds cool.”

He turned around and walked away to their left and Dinah walked in the opposite direction to her car.

Don’t look back. Don’t look back, she told herself.

Once she slid into the driver’s seat of her car and turned on the engine, she heard a ping from her cell phone.

I had a great night. You r pretty.

Dinah smiled and put her phone back in her purse. As she pulled out of the parking lot, she realized she had never felt more admired and confident in her life.

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