For all the excitement of the previous night, it hadn’t been a thrilling day for Mea. Classes proceeded as usual; even Kailani, whom she’d almost bonded with a little that morning, was back to snapping at her to keep away from her man. At least it was normal. She sat on the living room couch, perusing her Statistics book disconsolately. Maybe if she looked pathetic enough Finn, who was a math whiz, would notice and offer to help. When the knock came at the door, she assumed it was one of Smitty or Sarita’s friends, but she got up to answer it regardless, since no one else was about.
Taro stood in the hallway, looking uncertain, maybe a little constipated. “Hi,” he said nervously. “Can I come in?”
“Yeah, sure Taro,” she smiled, bouncing back a step. What was he doing here? Was this about last night? He was cute when he was nervous.
“You saved my life yesterday,” he blurted out. He sounded almost angry about it.
She took another half-step backwards. “I guess I did, yeah.”
“I…” He reached out towards her, and then dropped his hands to his sides. “I’m not going to hurt you.”
“Of course not,” she giggled. Oh, thank God. What did he want then? “What are you going to do to me?” She smiled coyly, her natural defense springing to the fore.
“I was thinking I could take you to dinner, maybe? As… as a kind of thank you?”
"That would be nice,” she nodded. A date, a real date? No one ever took her out to dinner.
He smiled, finally seeming to relax a little bit. “No-one’s ever saved my life before,” he admitted. “And then you nearly knocked yourself out doing it.”
“Um. Well, it was kind of hard,” she said. ”I’ve never done anything like that.”
“Yeah. It was pretty cool,” he smiled. “What did you do? Your skin was icy when I touched it.” He reached out, as if demonstrating, but his hand fell back to his side again.
“I kind of... gave you my warmth,” she said sheepishly, leaning forward just a little. She wouldn’t mind if he touched her, not at all. ”I guess it wasn’t the brightest way to go.”
“It’s smarter than I would have come up with.” He did touch her this time, a very careful hand-brush against her arm, like he was afraid he’d hurt her.
“Well... have you had dinner yet?”
“No,” she said, with just a single glance back at her discarded math book. Finn wasn’t coming. He wouldn’t notice her no matter what she did, he was too absorbed with his perfect little princess. Here was Taro, and he was sweet to her, and actually interested in her while she was standing up... “Let’s go now.”
He smiled. “Great!” With a clear effort to remember what he was doing, he crooked his arm for her. A gentleman, even. This was going to be all right. She slipped her arm in his and stepped out, closing the door behind them.
“I thought we could go to the Café,” he offered. He was heading towards the nearest Village entrance as he talked, his eyes on her rather than the hallway.
“That sounds nice,” she agreed.
“Good.” He grinned a little bit. “It’s the best restaurant in Addergoole.”
She laughed. “Is there another one?”
“Nope,” he grinned, “but that means it has to be the best, right?”
The air outside was just a little bit chilly in contrast to the constant weather in the school; Autumn was finally here. She pulled a bit closer to him, leaning into his arm as they walked. “I guess it does.”
He wrapped his arm around her waist cautiously. “Are you cold?”
“A little, maybe. It’s nothing.” Now was not the time to show weakness. Stupid, weak girl. He wouldn’t want her at all. Rozen had taught her that much, at least.
“I’d give you my coat, but, ah, I forgot it,” he admitted. Instead, he pulled her closer to him.
Ah, that was okay, then. He didn’t think she was worthless, he just wanted an excuse to touch her. That she understood.
“We’re almost there,” he reassured her. “Next time I’ll remember a coat.”
“It’s okay; you’re nice and warm.” He was right, there it was. She hadn’t been here in awhile, but she remembered well the cozy ambience.
“Geothermal heat,” he joked softly. His hand was light on her back as he directed her to a corner booth.
For a moment she didn’t get it. He was joking with her, that much was clear from his tone, but she couldn’t figure out how it could be sexual, and it wasn’t at her expense, and no one was getting hurt. She smiled broadly as it sank in. She daren’t hope, but maybe, just maybe, here was a man who would respect her.
Copyright © 2009-2011 Lyn Thorne-Alder with Elasmo. All rights reserved.
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