We drove for a few silent minutes down the highway before pulling off and into the parking lot of a nearby restaurant.
It was one I knew well. I had been there a few times before with my father.
My initial thought was that we would be turned away because Jason wasn’t wearing a tie and was far from appropriately dressed. To my astonishment though, the host ushered us to a table right away.
Once seated I turned to Jason, “I told you I don’t have my purse.”
How were we going to pay for this? Even if I had my purse a meal alone was $100 easy, at this place. This was excessive. Could he afford this? Wasn’t he supposed to be some sort of artist?
“You know, when you think hard about something you get this little crease between your eyes.” Avoiding my statement, he motioned to the spot where I must get that “crease”, “It’s cute. It kind of reminds me of someone.”
“Who?” I asked. Was it the mysterious girl again? His ex?
“Just an old friend.” A ghost of a smile crossed his features again. Watching him I’d almost forgotten where we were. He was devastatingly beautiful, like a fallen angel.
“Order whatever you want.” He suddenly grinned widely into his menu, pulling me out of my thoughts, “It’s our first date.”
“This is not a date,” I shook my head.
“You’re dressed up.” He pointed to my dress. “I technically picked you up, we’re at a restaurant that compliments your fashion and I’m paying. I don’t know what constitutes a date to you, but to me, that’s a date, Cortney.”
“Asshole.” I sat back and smiled at him in astonishment, “You tricked me. Do you even know how much this place costs?”
“Did you not notice how we just bypassed the people waiting in the entry? I didn’t even need a reservation, did I?” He smiled brightly, “I play the drums, which burns a lot of energy and I come here a lot to chow down. You really don’t know who I am, do you?”
“I told you I don’t listen to your music.” I smiled widely, looking at the menu, “But, since this is a date, I’m getting booze.”
“That-a-girl.” He gave an approving chuckle, “Wouldn’t expect any less.”
After drinks and food were ordered we enjoyed some harmless banter. This was actually the easiest, slash, most interesting date I’d had in months.
Jason was easy to talk to, funny and animated. I truly enjoyed his company.
“So, what do you do for fun?” He finally asked.
“I read.” I felt my face scrunch. I knew this was where I’d lose him. “I work a lot, with a lot of strange hours. When I’m not working though, I like to read.”
“What do you read?”
“I like fiction, romance and paranormal romance,” I shrugged, “As long as there’s an interesting storyline, I’m in.”
“I read a lot on the road.” He looked around, “I’m a fan of paranormal and thriller myself. Kindle, Nook or paper?”
“Paper,” I smiled widely. There was something about the feel and smell of the paper.
“There’s just something about the smell of a book that sucks you in. You just can’t beat it,” he smiled.
“I could spend my whole day in a bookstore.” I grew excited at the thought of spending my next day off in the bookstore. I still had all of that well-earned overtime money.
“We should do that sometime,” he said with a dreamy gaze, “Just you and I.”
She directed me to her apartment building. There was no way she could have walked all the way out here, especially not on her own. Not from the Hills, where I’d met her. Where had she been coming from?
I glanced at the clock on my dashboard, it was almost midnight. I was glad she’d accepted my ride, especially in this neighborhood. It was sketchy out here.
I pulled over to the side of the road and began to climb out.
“What are you doing?” she asked, looking at me in terror.
“This is a date,” I mocked her fearful face, “I’m walking you to your door.”
I walked to the passenger side and let her out.
“You don’t have to.” She tried to smile. She was nervous, I could see it on her face.
“I’ll be just fine,” she pleaded, “It’s up on the top floor and there’s no elevator.”
“Go.” I pointed to the building as she marched toward it.
Walking into the building, the smell of stale pizza and beer hit me. There were the sounds of TVs blaring through doorways, people yelling and, behind one door, a baby crying. This couldn’t be where she lived.
She continued to nervously climb the steps, looking back at me every so often. As we made it to the third floor, she pulled a key out of her bra.
“Sexy,” I laughed.
“Shut up. I always have one in my bra just for good measure.” She smiled and fidgeted with the lock. I knew what she wasn’t saying though. It was in case she got mugged, poor girl. When she was finished, she turned to me, “Thank you, for dinner and the ride, Jason.”
“Well, thank you for a very nice, very unexpected date.” I leaned against the door frame that encased her apartment, crossing my arms over my chest.
I was trying to look good. The look on her face said it was working. I never normally tried to impress girls, I either did or didn’t, but I wanted to impress this one.
She hesitantly pushed the door open and moved to walk in, but I couldn’t let her go. I grabbed her before she could enter and pulled her lips to mine.
Just one small kiss. I told myself. One small taste... It was all I needed.
I’d been wondering for weeks, how those lips felt. I’d never had a girl on my mind that long, but this one lingered in my thoughts.
Her lips told me that she’d stay in my thoughts until I saw her again.
I needed to break the kiss and move away. I couldn’t go fast with this one. She wasn’t the typical girl I was used to.
I didn’t date at all. Her, I wanted to date. I wanted to get to know her. I needed to get to know her.
When she deepened the kiss I couldn’t help but lean into her. She tasted like fine wine and smelled like flowers.
Damn... She was a good kisser too.
When she pulled away, she smiled up at me through hooded eyes.
“You, uhm... Want to come in?” She pointed a thumb into her apartment.
“I’m trying hard to be good here, Cortney.” I sighed, leaning my forehead against hers.
“Well,” She worried her lower lip, “What if I don’t want to be good?”
I groaned. Why was she making this so hard?
I huffed a laugh, “Only if you promise to call me tomorrow.”