a moment to slow down and appreciate the good things in life.
I walked hand in hand with Cooper into the heart of the carnival, passing by countless food trucks before we finally reached the games. He quickly scanned the area and suddenly yanked me forward as we practically jogged toward a booth that contained a bunch of stuffed animals.
I giggled as we came to a stop at the front of the booth and Cooper took his hand out of mine to wrap around my shoulders.
"You ready to play, lad?" The elderly man running the booth asked as he placed a toothpick in his mouth. Cooper smiled down at me and nodded eagerly before he walked up to pay him.
"Yes sir," he said as he accepted the five baseballs the man handed to him and laid them out on the wooden plank in front of himself. "I need to impress the lady and what she wants, she gets."
It was a simple game, a pyramid of glass bottles that he had to knock over. Cooper smiled down at me as I slid up to his side and he looked so giddy that it caused a smile to cover my face. He reached for one of the baseballs and stood like a pitcher, bringing his knee up to his chest before he wound up and threw the ball.
I rolled my eyes at his antics but stood there frozen when he knocked all five of the bottles down on the first try. The elder man seemed disappointed that Cooper had won that quickly as he folded his arms over his chest and huffed to himself.
Cooper beamed down at me, proud as ever, and held his arms open for me to jump into. He spun me around in a circle before he set me back down and my cheeks flushed red in embarrassment but Cooper didn't say anything.
"Did you play baseball?" I asked with a raised brow, ignoring the man who was still staring at us.
"Yes I did," he informed me with a smile. "I still do, actually."
"Wait," I spoke quickly as I pushed away from his chest and put a hand on my hip. "You play baseball for the school?"
"Maybe," Cooper replied with a cocky grin as he turned his attention away from me and faced the elderly man. "Which can she choose from?"
"Anything," he grumbled as he leaned against the wooden frame of the structure, taking the toothpick out of his mouth and flicking it into the dirt.
"Take your pick, El," he said as he turned to look down at me with a satisfied smile. I glanced around at my options with a grin on my face, teasing myself in my head. I had been judging Cooper for acting like a little kid, yet here I was feeling like a child in a candy shop.
I glanced at the couple life sized bears and shook my head, knowing I wouldn't want to haul that around nor was there any room for it in my apartment. I looked over at the medium sized stuffed animals and my face instantly lit up as I pointed at the elephant.
The man walked over, taking it off the hook and handing it to me. I quickly ripped it from his grasp and hugged it to my chest as if it were my most prized possession. Cooper chuckled as he wrapped his arm around my shoulders, leading me in the direction of the food trucks.
"So elephants, huh?" Cooper asked once I finally decided on what I wanted to eat. I was starving so everything had sounded good which, at a carnival, definitely made things a little more difficult.
"God, I love them," I said instantly as I squeezed it to my chest again. The elephant was about the size of my torso and had an actual trunk and over-sized ears and everything. "I don't know what it is, but they're just so cute."
I held the elephant up to Cooper's face and shook it which caused him to laugh as he smiled at me. Grinning, I pulled it back into my chest as the person in front of us got their food so it was our turn to order.
"I'll take two taco-in-a-bag's, one with no cheese and the other with no tomatoes," Cooper informed the guy standing behind the window. "Oh, and two cherry cokes."
I sucked my lips between my teeth as I looked up at Cooper in awe and he must have felt me staring because he slowly looked down at me with a raised brow.
"How'd you know I don't like tomatoes?" I asked as my face contorted slightly.
"You wouldn't accept ketchup for your fries or your burger at the restaurant and you also said you don't like, and I quote, 'most red foods' which, while I find it strange since you love the color red, is also kind of extremely adorable."
I blushed profusely as I looked down at my shoes and noticed they were covered in dust from the dirt we had been walking in all night. Normally that kind of thing would bother me, I have a weird thing about my shoes, but there wasn't a lot I was concerned with when I was in Cooper's presence and that was starting to scare me.
The man in the window handed Cooper the drinks which he handed over to me before he grabbed our meal. Following him over to an unoccupied bench, I sat down on his left and smiled as I handed him his drink in exchange for my food. I wasted no time in picking up my fork and scooping up a bunch of meat, cheese, sour cream and Doritos and shoving it into my mouth.
"Oh my goodness, this is so good," I mumbled through a mouth full of food.
Cooper chuckled next to me as he dug in but not as aggressively as I had. We sat there in silence for a few minutes enjoying our meal when Cooper decided to speak.
"So, you're a lefty, huh?" I stopped mid bite with a raised brow in surprise before I realized I was holding my fork in my left hand. I laughed and nodded before plopping the food in my mouth and placing my fork back in the bag.
"Yes, sir. I'm quirky in more ways than one, apparently," I noted with a shrug.
"Is that why you always have to be on my left side?" He ventured as he turned his body toward me. He brought one leg up on the bench while the other hung off it and rested his right arm over the back of the bench near my shoulders.
"I don't always have to be," I started to argue but Cooper chuckled which made me stop.
"Anytime you end up on my right side, I see you subtly trying to make your way back over to my left," Cooper pointed out as he smiled at me like he was waiting for me to try and tell him any differently but we both knew that I couldn't.
I rolled my eyes and went back to my food but it was like there was a permanent smile plastered on my face. The rest of the night was amazing; we played plenty of games which ended up showing us that we were both extremely competitive. After we finished, Cooper insisted we go on a couple of rides and that ended with us on the Ferris wheel.
Once the night was over, we walked hand in hand out to his car where I let Cooper open the door for me. The drive back to my apartment was spent playing twenty questions where I learned some very interesting little things about him – one of them being that he has a birthmark on his back that looks like a heart.
I sighed when we pulled up to my place and I undid my seatbelt before reaching into the backseat for my elephant. Turning to Cooper, I smiled when I saw him already smiling softly at me.
"Thank you so much," I told him genuinely. "I had an amazing night."
"Me too," he said quietly as he stared at me intently. "I really hope we can do this again sometime."
"Of course we can. I'd love a friend for my elephant," I teased as I bit my lip at his soft laughter.
"Then let me take you out this weekend," Cooper said as he placed a hand on my arm. My breath hitched in my throat as I looked into his dark brown eyes and felt my heart flutter.
"I'd love that," I told him as I leaned forward and pressed a kiss to his cheek. "Goodnight, Coop."
I opened the car door and slid out, making my way toward the apartment building. Turning back, I saw Cooper waiting and smiled; he didn't drive away until the front door closed behind me.