We walk side by side, step for step towards the doors down the black carpet they had sprawling down the walk way to the entrance, they wanted it to be like a “red carpet walk” but black instead I suppose. When we reach the doors Jackson opens it for me and I take a step inside, with him following behind me then returning back by my side. I quickly notice the fact that practically everyone is looking at us and my stomach drops. The girls are taking fawning over Jackson’s appearance as whispers flow around the room.
“Why is everyone staring?” I ask him quietly
“Must be how beautiful you look tonight.” He says with a comforting smile followed by a friendly nudge.
I know he trying to make me feel better, but I hate the attention. I have never been one who enjoyed being put on the spot and that is exactly what it feels like is happening right now. I feel like there is a spotlight on us that I can’t see. I try to steady my breathing but I am shaking from the amount of eyes I see staring back at us.
“If they want talk, let’s give them something to talk about.” he says breaking me out of my thoughts.
“What?” I whisper back
“Dance with me.” He says and reaches out his hand for me to grab.
“Jackson, I don’t know.” I shakily reply
“Trust me.” He says with a smile, his hand still extended waiting for mine.
When I look in his eyes, I do trust him. There is a feeling inside me, I can’t explain that says to place my hand in his and let the rest fall into place, a feeling he wouldn’t let me fall or be embarrassed. Without saying anything, I place my hand in his and he guides me out onto the dance floor, all eyes still on us. When we arrive, he grabs me by the waist and pulls me in close to him as I place my arms around his neck. Our eyes never break from each other’s, as Kiss Me by Ed Sheeran plays. We sway back and forth to the music as he takes one hand off my waist and brings it to meet my hands still wrapped around his neck, he flings me outwards then slowly twirls me around before bringing me back into his arms. He looks down at me and our foreheads connect as we lock eyes again and continue dancing. I am now completely unaware of what is going on around us, I am consumed by him, by this dance.
After the song ends, he smiles at me which I believe is his way of saying I made it through, just like he said I would. We walk off the dance floor together, but I still can’t get my heart to stop pounding in my chest, feeling like it’s trying to break through. We are greeted by one of Jackson’s teammates and his date as soon as we are on the outskirts of the dance floor.
“That was really something.” He says with a smirk looking only at Jackson.
“It was the most romantic thing ever! How long have you been dating?” His date asks boasting a huge smile.
“Oh, we are not a couple.” I quickly answer and Jackson shoots me a glare.
“You had me fooled then!” She laughs.
“So, are you guys coming to the after party tonight?” Jake asks clearly trying to change the subject away from his dates awkward question.
“No we’re not.” Jackson answers for us.
“We’re not?” I ask Jackson with a confused tone and look plastered across my face.
“Nope.” He snaps immediately
“Okay then...” Jake says clearly unsure of what is going on between us, but he’s not the only one. I can’t figure out what is going through Jackson’s head.
“Well if you two change your minds, it’s out at the Nolan’s house.” Jake says
“It was nice to meet you!” His date blurts out before they walk away.
“We aren’t going to the after party?” I ask Jackson
“Like I said, nope.” He smiles.
This is not like him he always goes to every party. “Is he having such a bad time that he doesn’t want to take me to the after party?” I think to myself. I would assume if he was having a bad time, he wouldn’t have danced with me like that. Just thinking about that dance makes my heart start pounding inside my chest and my stomach flutters. He has shown me a side of himself tonight I have never seen before, a soft considerate side and I like it.
The rest of the dance we spend socializing with our friends. Jackson had gone to speak with a group of guys on the baseball team, so I decided to go talk to Kelly and Kyler and see if they were having a good time. I scan my eyes around the room until they land on Kelly’s light pink dress, she looks amazing as always.
“Hi guys!” I say as I walk up to them
“Hi Char!” She beams back.
“Hi Charlie.” Kyler kindly adds
“I saw that dance, that was intense...anything you want to talk about?” She says with a smile.
“No, not really.” I shrug even though my insides are screaming to tell her about everything that has happened so far and the unexplainable feeling I keep getting in my stomach.
“Well I’m going to be staying with Kyler tonight so don’t wait up for me.” She says and adds a wink. I can’t help but laugh at her.
“You ready?” I hear Jackson say from behind me.
“Sure, we can go.” I smile
“It’s nice to see you again Kelly.” He says and then gives Kyler a nodd.
“Tomorrow then?” I say to Kelly giving her a smile.
“Tomorrow.” She laughs
Jackson places his hand on my lower back to help guide my through the crowds of people. His touch sends goosebumps rushing down my body as we weave our way through sweaty college students grinding and making out. I never have understood the appeal of publicly displaying your affection like that, I find it a little obnoxious actually. When we reach his truck, he opens my door for me and lifts me in once again and we both laugh about it.
“You hungry?” He asks as his fastens his seatbelt.
“I am actually.” I reply
“I want to take you somewhere.” He insists.
“Okay well I am not a picky eater.” I assure him.
“No not for food, somewhere else.” He says softly
“Take me.” I surprise myself by saying.
He puts his truck in drive and we leave the formal behind as we head to wherever it is he wants me to go with him. We decide to stop and drive through Smitty’s Burger Bar on the way. It is a famous burger joint here in Eugene, it has been here for years and the food is so good. After we get the food we continue to drive, the road is windy and dark until he takes a turn onto a dirt road and we take that for about a mile until we come to a stop.
“Hop out.” He says with a smile.
“Where is this?” I reply
“Get out and I’ll show you.” He says
I collect the bottom of my dress in my hands and hop out of the truck. When my feet touch the ground I realize we are on grass and my feet are in so much pain from wearing these heels all night I decided to unclasped them from my ankles and throw them in the truck before walking to the front and meeting him.
“Barefoot huh?” He jokes and reaches his hand out for mine. But this time I don’t hesitate, I connect my hand with his and we intertwine them as he guides us through the tall grass. I’m not exactly sure where we are headed and then I stop in my tracks and look around. The full moon is lighting up the mountains surrounding us as we stand in this field full of tall grass that reaches up to my knees. It is absolutely beautiful up here.
“It’s a look out spot.” He says breaking me from my stares.
“I see that.” I smile.
“It’s not on any of the trail maps, so no one is ever here. I sort of just found it one day while driving around, been coming up here ever since.” He smiles.
“It is really beautiful.” I shiver and without having to say a word he takes his blazer off and wraps it around me.
“Why did you bring me here?” I blurt out before I can stop myself.
“I just mean, I figured you would want to go to the party, I didn’t know.” I try to recover.
“I don’t know. When I saw you tonight in your dress, I decided you are not the type of girl I want to just bring to some party.” He said sweetly locking his eyes in mine.
The way those words sounded coming from him made me weak in my knees.
“Oh really? I thought you would be dying to get to another party so you could dance, since you apparently like that so much.” I tease giving him a playful push.
“Who says we can’t dance up here?” He smirks
“What? No way. There’s not even any music.” I reply with a shy smile as he takes off back towards his truck.
“Stay right there!” He shouts back at me.
It really is a breath-taking view up here; I can only imagine what it looks like during the day when it’s not so dark. The fact that he brought me up to his special spot is both flattering and surprising. I can’t help but wonder if he brings a lot of girls up here, as sweet as he has been tonight, I can’t forget how he is.
My thoughts are interrupted as music starts to play from Jackson’s truck speakers, he has opened up all the doors and turned the volume all the way up allowing the music to flow through the field. I recognize the song he chose, it’s “I’m with you” by Vance joy which only furthers my surprises from him tonight, this is not the kind of music I pictured him listening to.
“Dance with me?” He smiles.
“This again? Really? Haven’t we danced enough for one night?” I tease.
“Not even close.” He says while pulling me into him closer than before and wrapping his arms around my waist. I give in and toss my arms around his neck. We sway to the sound of the music and I am once again totally consumed by Jackson Thomas.
“Charlie.” He whispers in my ear as we dance
I don’t say anything I just bring my eyes up to meet his. He places one hand under my chin and raises my faces up more, we both stare into each other’s eyes before he gently brings his full lips to meet mine. The kiss is gentle and long before he breaks the kiss only to draw our lips together again bringing his tongue to meet mine. My insides are exploding with butterflies as our lips slowly separate and I rest my head on his chest. We continue with the way we were swaying to the music, no one saying anything because in this moment, no words are needed