Alas, It Was Not A Date.
After the ambulance pulled away, I walked back into the restaurant. A few people stared at me curiously and then turned back to their previous conversation. I started to head straight through a row of booths when I realized I couldn’t find where Ryan and I were sitting.
“Can’t remember where your sitting?” a feminine voice asked.
I pivoted to see Dani holding a huge tray of porcelain dirty dishes.
“No, it’s pathetic I know,” I chuckled, fidgeting with my hands.
“No, not pathetic. This place is pretty big. I’ll take you back,” Dani chirped.
“That would be appreciated, thank you,” I said.
Dani turned around, her plates clattering together and gestured for me to follow.
We zipped through the row of booths and then took a right where I ran into a hard chest.
“Oomph” exclaimed, rubbing my throbbing head with my hand.
“Oh, thank god I found you, Lia! I thought he kidnapped your or something!” Ryan proclaimed, relief evident on his face.
“I just had to call him an ambulance, there was no need to worry,” I replied. Though it was cute that he was worried, I thought to myself.
“Tell that to that dog who almost kissed you without your consent,” he snarled
“A dog, really Ryan?” I giggled.
He rolled his eyes at me and grumbled “There are a few other choice words I could call him but they aren’t exactly appropriate in mixed company,”
“I guess that’s true, but maybe next time you try to find me, don’t run into me?” I conceded.
“I will try my best Miss. Letters,” he smirked
I shook my head but realized that was the best answer I was going to get.
“Let’s go eat then,” I finally sighed and he grabbed my hand, causing me to blush.
“You know; you don’t have to hold my hand. Your pretty tall, I will be able to follow you,” I stuttered, feeling quite embarrassed.
“Yes, I do actually. It’s my job to protect you,” Ryan murmured, offering me a genuine smile.
“I don’t need your protection! I am not some damsel in distress!” I protested.
“I never said you were, but its ok have to someone looking out for you,” he countered.
“Why would you look after me? You don’t know me!” I questioned, frowning at him.
Ryan didn’t answer me but instead pulled me along, our hands still intertwined together. If I was being honest with myself, it felt nice. My petite hand fit perfectly in his large one, which sounds cliché, but sometimes cliché’s are the best way to describe things. We reached our table where two plates of steaming gnocchi sat and my mouth watered. I had to wipe my mouth, I was drooling that much.
Ryan chuckled and let go of my hand. For a minute, I missed the warmth but then I remembered the food and sat down to devour it.
The rest of the evening was pleasant and uneventful. We played a game of twenty questions in which I asked him what his favorite color was, his favorite animal, his favorite show, favorite movie, and so on. He told me his favorite color was emerald green and I told him (after he asked) mine was a lavender purple. Ryan’s favorite animal was an elephant and he asked and mine was a dolphin. I told him the gnocchi was wonderful and he laughed and said, the desserts were even better.
Dani came back and collected our empty plates and Ryan ordered a type of chocolate cake mousse thing for us to split. Ryan was right of course, in saying the dessert was even better. The chocolate mousse cake was heavenly and he informed me that it was an old Dutch recipe one of his great-grandmother’s created. After we finished dessert, I offered to pay for my portion of the meal but he shook his head and said it was “on the house.” Ryan even offered (or more like demanded) to drive me back to my house. A perfect Lady and the Tramp kind of date except we did not eat the same spaghetti and end up kissing.
And, Alas, it was not a date.
That of course, did not keep me from staring at the ceiling, like a love-sick fool, pretending it was his face. But, a girl was allowed to dream, right? Lying flat on my bed with my arms crossed behind my head like a pretzel, I decided it was ok to dream. Dreams are often what keeps hope alive, after all.
I wasn’t really sure when my feelings for Ryan changed, I thought to myself. My rational self-protested with annoyance at this statement. I knew exactly when my feelings changed. It listed them off from me
1. He always said hi to you and remembered your name
2. He spent a whole evening talking to you instead of partying
3. He defended you when you were in trouble
4. He treated you to dinner when it wasn’t necessary.
5. He was, is, attractive, something I realized with more clarity
And most importantly;
6. He made me feel good about myself.
I scowled up at my ceiling, cursing silently at my heart. Ryan seemed like a nice guy but we hardly knew each other. He could end up breaking my heart just like Kevin Arnold. I couldn’t go through that again, or ever. I almost lost myself the last time.
“I’m probably just blowing this out of proportion,” I told myself, switching on my ocean radio.
“It’s just a little crush, nothing serious. No need to go all panic mode,” I whispered, pulling my covers around me.
“You need to sleep now, Lia. You have a busy day tomorrow,” I commanded myself, closing my eyes.
Ryan’s blue eyes stared back at me in my inner mind but it no longer bothered me. We were just friends, after all. Drifting off on the cloud of sleep, I relaxed, smiling. In my dreams, my inner conscience told me it was ok to like him. It was ok to imagine what his midnight hair felt in my fingers, what the touch of his lips felt like, his embrace.
Most of all, what it’s like to have someone love you back.