It's not a date. That's what I've got to keep in mind if I want to make any kind of decent impression at all. This is NOT a date!
The bus let us all off at our stop, and even from a block away, I could see Niles standing outside of the café. He was waiting for us. Were we late? No way...we were still a few minutes early. Was he anxious? Maybe he wanted to get there super early. What should I say? May I can say, um...I can say...'I guess you caught the worm today'. Hehehe, right? Like...like...since he's the early bird? He'll get the reference, right? Or...maybe he won't, and he'll think I'm being dumb. Or...maybe he WILL...and he'll think I'm being dumb anyway! I've got to think of another joke. Something casual, but something cool. Something chuckle worthy, but I'm not trying to be a comedian or anything. Maybe I can...
This is EXACTLY what Summer was talking about, isn't it. I'm thinking too much. Trying to plot the whole greeting out ahead of time and 'control' everything instead of just relaxing and letting things happen naturally. I need to relax. I can't be a control freak about this. I want to be a part of the experience. I want to let go and just enjoy myself for once.
Let it go, Gabe. Just...let this day happen. It'll be ok. I'll be safe. Even when I'm not in control...
It's not like I had any control over this situation in the first place.
We got to the front of the café and Niles was happy to welcome us with open arms. He hugged Summer first, and gave Jason a perfectly acceptable jock boy handshake-hug thingy shortly after. Then...those neon blue green eyes of his met mine, and we both grinned to ourselves for a moment as we tried to figure out what our approach should be.
"Hey, Gabe. I see you turned out today after all." He said. Ahhhhh! That accent! I'm going to tackle that boy right here in the street if he keeps being so goddamn cute about this!
"Yeah. I guess I did." I said. No, wait...I can do better. "After talking to you on the phone...how could I say no?"
Yeah. That sounded better. Wow, where did that come from? Who knows? Who cares? If I can relax and just keep that kind of social momentum going, then this date might go alright after all. NOT that this is a date! You know...because it's NOT!
We all walked inside, and Niles made sure to hold the door open for me, giving me the most enchanting smile as I passed him. Wow...his smile could cause sailors to run their ships up against the jagged rocks of the shore when he flashed it in their direction. "Thank you..." I giggled shyly, and walked on in.
We got a table and all, not far from where we were last weekend, and I braced myself for things to kick into a higher gear from there. I didn't know what to expect. and I usually HATE not knowing what to expect. But today? I don't know...today it seemed kind of cool.
Niles looked into my eyes, smiling cheerfully at the fact that he got to be close to me again. I know that I had the almost irresistible urge to bury my infatuated gaze into the wood of the table below me...but I fought it. It wasn't easy, but...I managed to keep my head up a bit more this time around. I even managed to send Niles a sweet smile of my own every now and then. I wish I had those little dimples like he did. His smile was SO much cuter than mine! Hehehe!
Then...Summer saw us smiling at one another, and she suddenly stood up from the table. "Why wait for a waitress, right???" She blurted out. We were all a bit baffled by that unsolicited comment. Then she said, "Jason...we're going to go order some more ciders!Just like last week? That's good, right? Gabe? Niles? Ciders? We'll get ciders! I'll be right back. We'll BOTH be right back! Won't we, Jason?"
Not daring to face Summer's wrath later on, Jason put his hands on the table and got up on his feet. "I guess. Let's go." He groaned slightly.
And with only a glance or two in my direction, they both went up to the counter and left me and Niles there to talk.
Niles shook his head and said, "Subtle buggers, aren't they?"
Thank God, he didn't find it as utterly ridiculous and awkward as that could have been. I laughed a bit and said, "Yeah...those two are...'special'." I had to struggle for a moment, then said, "Listen...about last week...I'm really sorry about what went down with this whole...set up thing."
Niles said, "Oh? How come?"
"Well...I had a good time and all, but I never would have just...that is...I didn't know what they were up to. I hope that wasn't weird for you."
He smiled and told me, "Actually, it wasn't all that weird at all." He grinned to himself, and added, "For the record, I was actually trying to tell Jason that it would be better if you knew what was going on ahead of time. I didn't want to come out here and ambush you the way I did. But he was convinced that you wouldn't come out and join us if you knew the game plan."
"Probably would have made for a better afternoon if I hadn't, I'm willing to bet." I said.
But Niles said, "Oh, I don't know about that. If I can be frank for a moment...after everything Jason told me about you, I half expected most of that stuff to be an outright lie." Then his voice softened, and he tugged gently at the sleeve of his shirt as he said, "Turns out...he wasn't exaggerating. You're everything that he said you would be. Maybe even a bit more."
Wait...so, I get it...I'm still asleep, right? I thought that I was awake, but I'm still asleep, and this is the part of the wet dream where I cum all over myself and wake up having to put my sheets in the laundry again! Right? I mean...I mean, right?
Waiting a second for some kind of 'punchline' to follow his flattering comment, I said, "Maybe Jason just took some extra care to leave out all the bad parts. Hehehe..."
And Niles said, "Always a possibility. But...I'm thinking that any of your dingy parts will pale in comparison to what I've seen so far." It was hard for me to just accept that this was happening. but as long as I was skipping through 'La La Land', I figured that I might as well play my part.
"Good. Then...I'm glad I made the kind of impression on you that would come close to the impression you made on me. Because...I'm actually really nervous right now."
"Really? I thought it was just me." He said. Then he peeked over my shoulder towards the counter, and he blushed even harder. "Don't look now, but your friends are taking a cell phone picture of us sitting together right now."
"UGH! It's Summer, isn't it???" I snarled! "I am SO sorry, Niles! Seriously!"
But he just grinned at me. "It's alright. Totally." I felt his foot lightly brush up against mine under the table. I couldn't tell if it was an accident or not, but it made us both giggle regardless. He said, "You know...at this point...if you and I don't at least try to go out on a date or something in the near future, this whole set up is going to seem like a total waste of their time."
"Hehehe, well...we can't have that, can we?"
"Seems like they put an awful lot of effort into this. it'd be a right shame to disappoint them."
Feeling this growing excitement in my chest, I said, "Maybe. Then again, it would serve them right for being a dastardly duo of schemers. Hehehe!"
"And that's a bad thing?"
"Sometimes it is. I just...I feel weird. Right now they have their eyes on us. Watching to see what happens next. I just don't always do well with spectators involved. That's all."
"Doesn't bother me so much. Let them watch." He said.
"It doesn't make you feel...'exposed'?"
"Not at all. If anything...it makes me want to give them something to see." He gave me a flirtatious smirk, and just before Summer and Jason got our drinks and started heading back towards our table, Niles said, "Listen, we've only been here a couple of minutes, and I'm already feeling really good about being able to talk to you again. I don't want to sound too forward, but...do you think that maybe we can do this again sometime? Just you and me. No pretense. No 'set up'. Hehehe, I'm thinking that it might be a lot more fun for the both of us."
"Yeah. Ahem...I mean, like...sure. Yeah. I think I'd like that, Niles. I think I'd like that a lot."
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