I wrap my arms tightly around Conrad's waist as he takes off down the road. The bike is loud on the too-quiet street. The wind is cold on my cheeks, but Conrad is warm against my body. I rest my chin on his shoulder, taking it all in.
“You okay back there?” Conrad asks.
Despite the windiness, I can hear him.
“Yeah,” I answer him loudly.
He pats my hands that are clasped tightly around his waist but doesn’t say anything else. Soon, we are on the highway. I recognize the road we’re on, as I’ve driven down it frequently. It’s a winding road that leads up to the hills. There’s a lookout point where I like to go to read. It’s got a beautiful view of the town and beyond.
We start to slow down just as we reach the highest point. Conrad turns off into a deserted parking area, and I realize that’s he’s bringing us to my favorite place. He pulls into a spot underneath a lamp and turns off the bike. I climb off first and take off the helmet and set it down on the seat just as Conrad climbs off. I watch as he takes off his helmet and shakes out his hair. It makes me wonder what my hair looks like now, but I don’t care either way. Right now, I’m just curious as to why he brought us here. It must be written all over my face because he smiles, reassuringly, at me.
“Don’t worry. I didn’t bring you here with less than honorable intentions.”
“I didn’t think that was the case,” I answer honestly.
“I just like the view here,” he explains, “have you ever seen it? It’s incredible.”
“I have actually. You just so happen to have brought me to my favorite place in this whole town.”
“Well then, I guess I chose a good spot. Let’s go find a good place to check it out.”
“I know just the spot,” I tell him, and start moving forward. This time I lead the way. I know the area like the back of my hand.
“Careful, don’t trip on anything,” he says from the darkness.
“I know where I’m going,” I say, and I hear him chuckling.
“Alright then, lead on.”
Shortly, I find the spot I’m looking for. It’s a bench hidden amongst the trees, with a perfect panoramic view of everything.
“Wow. I’ve been here a few times, but I didn’t know this was here,” he comments.
“I’ve been coming here since I was a kid. My parents used to bring me for picnics and stuff, and then when I was finally old enough to come here alone, I came almost every day. It’s my favorite spot to bring a book, or just- think,” I explain as I take a seat on the bench.
“It’s definitely a good thinking spot. So peaceful and quiet.”
Conrad sits down next to me, close. I feel him drape an arm on the bench behind me. We sit silently and look out across the twinkling lights of the sleeping town. Without even thinking about it, I find myself leaning against Conrad. His warmth is welcome and comforting. The arm he had draped across the back of the bench moves until it’s wrapped around my shoulders.
“Sydney, can I ask you an important question?”
His question catches me off-guard. What could it be? The nervousness creeps it’s way back in.
“Promise to be honest with me?”
“Okay,” I agree in a whisper.
I really do want to tell him the truth if what I think he’s about to ask me is what he’s about to ask me, however, it could mean the last I ever see of him after tonight.
“Are you really twenty-one?”
Yup. He asked it. I stay silent for a beat too long, which gives me away.
“I’ll take that as a no,” he says.
“I’m not twenty-one,” I admit, “Des had fake IDs made for us so we could go to the club tonight.”
Goodbye Conrad. I do note though that he hasn’t removed his arm.
“Okay, so how old are you then? Please tell me you are not sixteen or something crazy like that.”
I feel his arm tense slightly.
“No, not quite that young,” I shake my head fiercely.
His arm relaxes again.
“So, okay, how old then? I need to know before I can pursue this any further.”
“Well, you’re probably going to lose interest now, but I’m eighteen years old.”
There, I told the truth. Now what? I look over at Conrad, and he’s looking straight ahead. His brows are furrowed, and he seems like he’s contemplating this news.
“Eighteen, huh?” he murmurs.
“That’s a bit younger than I was hoping. I figured you were nineteen or twenty even.”
“I’m sorry I lied. I wasn’t expecting anything to happen tonight. I wasn’t expecting to meet you.”
He looks at me then.
“I wasn’t expecting it either, but it happened. And despite your age, I find myself still wanting to get to know you better, and I don’t know if that's right or wrong. On the one hand, you are legally considered an adult, able to choose whom you are romantically involved with, but on the other hand, you’re not old enough to drink or come to the venues that the band usually plays in. I’m not sure how this could even work. I’m nearly ten years older than you.”
“Romantically involved?” I whisper.
Conrad laughs softly.
“Is that all you got out of that?”
“I just didn’t…”
“You had to realize that’s where I was going with this, right?”
“Well, how about this? You said yourself, legally, I’m considered an adult, so you are free to date me if you wish, and that’s what really matters. As for the drinking part, and band gigs- well, I don’t drink much anyway. Tonight was a rarity for me, and I can always keep the fake ID specifically to see a show of yours. However, if this were to go somewhere, I don’t know if I’d be able to attend all the shows anyway because I’m busy with other stuff.”
“Wow, you’ve got it all figured out, don’t you?” he says, sounding amused.
“I just want you to consider every angle,” I say with a shrug, secretly surprising myself with my forwardness.
I didn’t expect myself to blurt all of that, but the thought of not seeing him anymore made me sad- and I barely know him.
“So does this mean you're interested in me too then?” He asks.
“I thought it was glaringly obvious.”
“I was hoping, but I thought maybe you were too shy to say otherwise. But after hearing you argue your case, I can see that’s not the case at all.”
“I’m not always so mousy. I have my moments of strength.”
“Well then, Sydney, I’ve made my decision. I think that maybe we should give it a shot. Screw it. I like you, and you like me. Let me take you on a real date next weekend.”
“Yeah. I guess I’m going to try something new too.”
“So, my age doesn’t bother you?”
“Well, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me a little nervous, but I think there’s something here, and I’d hate to let it slip away because I was scared of what other people might think.”
“You’re scared of what people might think?”
“It’s crossed my mind, yes. My other job…”
A shrill sound cutting into the darkness cuts off Conrad. It causes both of us to jump, and I realize it’s my phone. I quickly fish it out of my pocket and answer it. It’s Desiree.
“Where the hell are you?” she practically shrieks into the phone.
“You disappeared. They said you took off with Conrad on his bike.”
“I disappeared? You disappeared first with Harrison and didn’t tell me where you went,” I fire back.
“Okay. Okay. Just get back here, though. I’m tired and want to go home.”
She hangs up on me without hearing my response. I put my phone back in my pocket.
“Wants us to come back. Yeah, I heard,” Conrad, says with a smirk.
“Sorry. You were about to tell me something?”
“It's alright. It can wait. Come on. I’ll get you back to your friend.”
Conrad drives a little faster on the way back to his place, but this time I’m more comfortable on the bike. I don’t feel the least bit worried anymore- In fact, I like it a lot. We make it back to the house in less than twenty minutes. We pull into the garage, and he cuts the engine. I climb off and place the helmet on the workbench. Just as I turn to head back out of the garage, I walk right into Conrad’s chest.
“Oops. Clumsy me. I’ve gotta stop doing that,” I giggle.
“It’s my fault. I was too close.”
“Too close? That’s not necessarily a bad thing.”
I’m blatantly flirting now. Now that I know how Conrad feels about me, I feel a little braver to do so.
“Oh really now? So...” Conrad steps closer to me until I have to crane my neck to look up at him, “this isn’t too close?”
“No,” I say, feeling a little breathless now.
He steps closer then, until I’m backed up against the workbench, and my chest is practically pressed up against his stomach.
“This?” he murmurs.
All I can do is shake my head. My voice lost in my throat.
“Okay, how about this then?”
Suddenly he bends and takes me by the waist, lifting me until I’m sitting on the workbench. He steps forward so that he’s standing between my legs, and we’re face to face.
“How about now?” he whispers, his face so close to mine that I can feel his warm breath on my face.
“No,” I manage to whisper.
He lifts one hand, and he brushes my hair away from my face, his dark brown eyes are locked with mine, it’s intense. He raises his other hand and places it on the other side of my head. I know he’s about to kiss me, and I want him to, so badly. He hesitates, wordlessly asking my permission. I lean forward slightly, giving him my answer. He takes the cue, and finally, his lips meet mine.
I practically melt into him as he kisses me. He’s so gentle, and so…good at this. Now, I don’t have much to compare him to- I’ve only ever kissed two boys. One in Junior High on a dare, and it was terrible. The second one was my first and only boyfriend in grade ten. I thought he was okay, but now I know better.
Conrad’s kiss is the stuff dreams are made of. This is the kiss of a man who knows what he’s doing. I wrap my arms around his neck and pull him even closer. It’s like my whole body has come alive, and all these new feelings start coursing through me. On their own accord, my legs wrap around his waist and pull him forward, and a sigh escapes my throat.
“I think I heard a bike,” Someone thunders as they swing the garage door that leads into the house, open.
I untangle myself from Conrad, and he takes a step back. He frowns at the intruder. It’s Harrison.
“Hey uh, sorry guys,” Harrison says with a smirk, “but I think Des is feeling a little anxious.”
“Yeah, yeah,” I grumble, hopping down off the workbench.
I know my face is once again turning red, embarrassed that we were caught the way we were. I push past Harrison and into the house to look for Des. I faintly hear Harrison talking to Conrad.
“Sorry man. If I knew you were about to get lucky I wouldn’t have barged out here like an idiot. I could’ve stalled.”
“That wasn’t the case, and mind your own damn business,” I hear Conrad tell him.
It makes me smile. I go into the living room, and it is nearly empty now. Only Des and a few stragglers are left. When she sees me, she hops up off the couch.
“Good, you’re here. Let’s go.”
I’m curious as to why she’s in such a hurry to leave when she seems so into Harrison. I turn to look at Conrad, who is standing near the door already.
“I’m going to take you guys home,” he tells us.
“It’s okay, no need. We’ll be okay,” Desiree replies, shaking her head and heading towards the door.
“No, I insist. It’s almost four in the morning. I don’t want you guys out there by yourself. This is non-negotiable.”
She sighs loudly but decides not to argue with him. I smile at him from behind her back, and he smiles back at me.
We step outside.
“You know, I can drive you guys back in your Jeep and walk back myself. It’s pretty chilly out now,” Conrad offers.
“Oh man, that’s a great idea,” Desiree finally perks up and practically throws her keys at him.
“I guess that’s a yes,” he murmurs in response.
We get into the Jeep, and Des lets me have the front seat again. As we drive down the quiet street, I take a peek at her in the back seat, and her eyes are almost closed. She’s exhausted, and I can feel the drowsiness starting to overtake me as well. It’s been a long and eventful, beautiful night.