My date with Doug went beautifully. He didn’t even put the moves on me, except at the end of the movie when he held my hand. Then we were going to go to a super fancy restaurant that usually required reservations weeks in advance. Doug winked and told me he ‘knew someone’. The place was crowded, though, and I began to get nervous. He pulled the truth about how anxious I got in crowds (and it was super crowded that night) and then canceled the reservations despite my insistence we could eat there. So instead of that fancy (and probably overpriced) place, we went to a nearly-empty burger joint and talked until well after midnight.
“This has been a great evening,” he said as he walked me to my door. Not outside the building, either, but to my apartment door. “I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as me.”
I smiled, feeling myself blushing. “I had a great time too.”
“Great enough for… say, another date?” he asked, practically on his toes. “Maybe next weekend? We could drive down to the beach. It’s only an hour’s drive.”
I bowed my head. I had just gone on my first REAL date, and was making plans for a second. With someone I had only known for a couple months. I had changed. “I’d enjoy that,” I said and he leaned forward, kissing the corner of my mouth.
“G-goodnight, D-Douglas,” I squeaked out then hurriedly unlocked the door and dove in.
Over the next week both Vi and Zari tried prying into what happened. I hadn’t told them it was a date but Vi suspected and she apparently told Zari. So I was bombarded by both of them. Only Hal was quiet about it, and never asked me anything about that night. Actually, he was spending even more time away from the apartment…
On our second date we went to the beach which was empty due to the chilliness. It wasn’t too cold though, but we didn’t go into the water. We built a sandcastle and then took our shoes off and walked along the sand, chattering away. Then a late lunch at some seafood place he liked that was open all year. Apparently it was busy during the dinnertime but we managed to go early enough to avoid the crowds–that was Doug’s idea. Since I didn’t like crowds. We finished up the afternoon date with a visit to the aquarium, then spent the hour back talking and laughing. It was strange how comfortable I felt around him.
When he dropped me off at my place, this time it wasn’t the corner of my mouth but a full-on kiss and the promise of another date.
As finals approached, Doug and I went on several dates. He did his best to take me to places without a ton of people around and we never did anything more than a goodnight kiss at the end of the date.
I enjoyed the time with him a lot but I still had an ache in my heart whenever I was around Hal. It wasn’t easing up like I thought–and hoped–it would. So when Douglas asked me to be an official couple, I told him I needed some more time to think about it. I didn’t like saying it, worried he might get annoyed. But all he did was squeeze my hand and insist it was perfectly fine, that I should take all the time I needed.
I can’t keep pining over Hal, I thought one evening during dinner. Vi and Hal were discussing something they had to do for one of their classes. I have to get over him. And I do care about Doug. I really like him. Maybe I should. It’s not like he proposed marriage. It’s just steady dating.
I was jolted out of my thoughts at Hal’s voice. “Huh?”
He smiled. “I asked what you were planning for after graduation.You going back to the Valley?”
I poked at my food and shrugged. “Yeah, I’ll try to find a job there. How about you?”
“Sunset Valley for me, too!” he said very happily. I looked up, feeling both thrilled and miserable about this. “I was contacted by someone at Doo Peas last month, saying if I kept my grades like they are then they’ll hire me right away.”
“They contacted me, too!” Vi giggled. “Isn’t that exciting?”
“Yeah. Sounds great.” I bent down so I could quickly push food in my mouth. I was aware of them both staring at me so I quickly chewed and swallowed. “What? I think it’s great.”
“You seem kinda down,” Vi pointed out.
Surprisingly it was Hal who figured it out before I said anything. He politely coughed then reached over, his hand on my forearm which sent jolts of electricity down my spine. “You’ll find a job, too. Anyone would be insane not to hire a hard worker like you.”
I smiled, feeling grateful he said that even if it was a lie. “Thanks. If all else fails, I could just transfer as an epitaph writer.” I wished he’d move his hand. It was driving me insane. If I start dating Doug officially, maybe that will help, I thought, and then finally I pulled my arm away since he was still patting my arm. He raised his eyebrows but just went back to his own food. Vi was giving me a rather dark look and I glared back at her.
“You seem really whacked out or something,” she said.
I inhaled sharply and then blurted out, “I’m just looking forward to seeing Doug.”
They both looked at me again. “That guy you’ve been hanging out with?” she asked, since I still hadn’t said we were going on dates. She knew we were, though.
“The guy I’ve been dating,” I replied brusquely. “It’s pretty much official, you know.” I began eating again. It wasn’t exactly a lie. It was pretty much official… as soon as I told him yes. Which I would. As soon as I was done with dinner. Actually, why wait? “This was delicious but I really should go.” I pushed my plate back and stood up.
Vi narrowed her eyes and Hal looked… sad? He avoided my gaze by doing what I had done–quickly shoveling food into his mouth. “See ya,” Vi sighed.
I went to get my shoes on then texted Doug as I left to meet me at the cafe. I got a reply shortly after I got there saying he was kinda busy but he’d be there in about half an hour. Grumbling, I ordered a pie and slowly ate it, wishing I had brought a book or something.
“I’m so sorry!” Doug came jogging over to me about forty minutes after the text. “One of my mom’s friends was over for dinner. I tried to get out of it but you know how parents are. So what’s up?”
I paid the bill then we began walking towards the park. “I just needed to see you,” I mumbled.
His hand bumped into mine. We tried not to hold hands in public too much since neither of us were really out-out. “Well. That means a lot. But I can tell you’ve got something on your mind. Let’s go sit down and you can tell me.”
We went to the park and sat down near the fountain. Since it was getting dark and there weren’t many people around, he inched his hand into mine. “I’ve thought a lot about what you asked me,” I said and I felt his hand go limp before he pulled it away from me.
“Yeah that’s a pretty important reason to want to meet me,” he said, slowly inhaling and sounding disappointed. I smiled, feeling super flattered that he’d be so sad at the thought of me turning him down. He does like me. “Before you tell me, can I… just…” He looked up into my eyes. “You know… a kiss?”
I blushed and began giggling. “If you want but my answer is yes so I’m sure we’ll have plenty of time for–“
He pulled my chin so he could kiss me, long and hard. I closed my eyes, reveling in this feeling of being so wanted. I kissed back but only for a short time since he pulled back, eyes sparkling. “You’ve made me so damn happy.” The he kissed me again, very hastily this time since he was excited. “And I’ve been thinking.” He stood up, taking both of my hands in his. “About the whole graduating thing. I don’t care about finishing college and I really miss Sunset Valley so I was thinking I could move there. That way it wouldn’t be a long distance thing.”
I grinned. “That sounds great.”
He pulled me up into his arms so he could kiss me again, this one was slow and lingering. “You mean so much to me, Sebastian,” he whispered, running a finger down my cheek.
A shiver went down my spine. Nothing like the jolt of electricity when Hal had touched my arm but a shiver was good. Right? And electricity was… bad. “You mean a lot to me too, Doug,” I replied and we kissed yet again, both of us swept up in the romantic moment.
As my last days at college dwindled down, I spent all my free time with Doug. Vi was getting annoyed and sometimes it seemed like Hal was upset about it, but being out with Douglas was a lot better than being at home and trying to deal with the ache that Hal still gave me.
Just before finals, I had my last day of work. I received my final paycheck, gave my boss a quiet goodbye (with a glowing recommendation sent to the cemetery in Sunset Valley), and headed home.
Hal was pacing around, apparently waiting for me. When I came in he whirled around, a look that seemed like a mix of happiness and fear. At first I was worried that something happened to Vi but before I could ask, he began speaking. “Seb! I was wondering when you’d…” He stopped and then seemed quite flustered.
“Is everything okay?” I asked and then gulped when he came close. “Is Vi okay?”
“Vi is fine, she’s on a date,” he mumbled. “Can we… uh, talk? About stuff?”
“What stuff?” I asked, feeling miserable when he took my hand and pulled me to the sofa. I wanted to throw up. Not a healthy reaction, but it was a sign that I didn’t like him, right? I mean feeling this sick over someone…
We were on the couch and he just stared at me. Then quickly he released my hand, flushing. “Sorry. Um, well, the thing is… I w-wanted to tell you something that–well, um. So how are you?”
Wow, he is acting strange. “I’m all right,” I said. “You okay? You seem really upset or something.” I couldn’t quite tell if he was upset or excited or what.
Hal rubbed the back of his head and nervously chuckled. “I guess I am kinda upset but… er, okay well the thing is–” He paused to take a deep breath, and then plunged forward. “Todd and I broke up.”