Let's Get Textual (Page 14)

I take note of his simple t-shirt, jeans, and leather jacket combo, glad I’m not underdressed for our evening.

When I bring my eyes back to his face, he’s smirking.

“I’m a stud, I know.” He grins. “It’s great to finally meet you, Delia.”

A blush creeps up my face as his words wash over me. It was a simple greeting, but he said it in a way that made me want to strip out of my clothes for him.

He’s going to be trouble, and I plan to enjoy every second of it.

“Likewise, Zachary.”

His grin makes my body hum with anticipation, making me wonder why I didn’t want to meet him at first. That would have been a massive mistake.

“You ready?”

“As ever.”

“You nervous?”

I could lie, pretend like my stomach isn’t trying to push my lunch back up, but I don’t want to. It doesn’t feel right. Playing the “tough girl” won’t cut it with Zach.

“Tremendously.”

His already bright eyes spark with appreciation at my honest answer. “Guess we’re in the same boat then.”

“Who’s rowing?”

“What?”

“This boat, who’s rowing?”

Zach extends his hand my way. “I’ve got you, Delia.”

I don’t know if it’s the sincerity in his voice or his crooked grin, but I place my hand in his with the utmost confidence that this was the best decision I have ever made.

I was wrong.

This was a horrible decision.

The chill in the air is unusual for this time of year, and I can’t stop shivering. I knew I should have grabbed a jacket.

“Uh, hey Zach?”

He’s a few steps ahead of me and turns at the sound of my voice. “Yeah?”

“Can we, uh, can we not be outside right now?”

“S**t.” His eyes roam over me and he takes note of the goose bumps on my arms. “Oh hell. I’ll be right back!”

Zach sprints off toward the car and I’m left standing on my own. I fold my arms over myself and try to generate warmth. Watching as the sun kisses the horizon good night, I can hear the hum of a crowd off in the distance in an otherwise empty park.

What in the hell are we doing here?

“I almost forgot about these.” I turn to find Zach holding a blanket and cooler in one hand and a balled up sweatshirt in the other. “Here, take this.”

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He might be somewhat of a stranger, but I don’t hesitate for a second before reaching for the layer of warmth he’s providing.

Sliding my arms through the sleeves and pulling the top carefully over my head, I moan as the fabric encases me in comfort.

“Better?”

“Much. Thank you. I should have grabbed a jacket—I was kicking myself in the a*s for not doing so the moment we stepped outside.”

“Well now that you’re cozy, come on. I don’t want it to start without us.”

“Don’t want what to start?”

He bumps my shoulder. “Don’t try to ruin the magic of the surprise. Wait and see.”

“Fun sucker.”

“Me? That would be you, trying to figure out where we’re headed before we make it there.”

“But—”

“No buts.”

“Except yours, right?”

His eyes crinkle at the corners when he smiles, and it’s such a genuine smile. I like those. I haven’t seen one in a while.

Zach has been everything I’d hoped he’d be…so far.

“Right.”

The low murmur from before grows louder as we trek across the park. Before I know it, we’re breaching the edge of the crowd. There are maybe a hundred people spread out on blankets and talking animatedly amongst themselves, and a massive blowup screen fills the front of the area.

“A movie in the park?” The last word comes out as more of a squeal than an actual word. I’ve wanted to watch a movie outside for ages but haven’t had the chance to do so. I even asked Caleb to go with me a time or two, but we never made it happen. He either didn’t want to see what was playing or was too busy with baseball.

How Zach knew I’d love this, I have no idea.

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“A movie in the park.” I can hear the smile in his voice. “This is a good thing, right?”

“Very much so.”

“You ever been to one before?”

“No, never. My mom used to tell me about the drive-in all the time, and I figured nowadays the closest I’d ever be is this. I’ve always wanted to go, but it’s never worked out.”

His lips tilt up at the corners. “So you’re saying I’m the perfect date?”

“I’m saying this is the perfect date. Jury’s still out on you.”

“It’ll turn out in my favor, I just know it. Now come on, let’s grab a spot before the flick starts.”

He leads me over to a spot off center from the screen where a few other couples are scattered around. We spread out the blanket he brought along and I’m surprised when I find two airplane pillows rolled inside.

“Pillows?”

“In case the ground is uncomfortable for you.”

“You thought of everything, huh?”

He holds up a finger. “But wait, there’s more!”

Zach pulls us down onto the blanket, the cooler sitting between us. I watch as he closes his eyes and holds his hand over the top, wiggling his fingers. “Bip! Bop! Presto magic man, baby!” Once everyone sitting close to us has turned their attention our way, he shouts, “And Zach said: let there be food!”

There are cutesy giggles from the girls and eye rolls from a few guys, but Zach doesn’t notice any of it. He’s too busy pulling our “magic food” from the cooler, and I’m too busy staring at him in awe. He doesn’t care that he made a fool of himself, doesn’t care that he’s made two girls fall in love with him. He’s oblivious to it all, and I kind of adore that about him.

“I brought PB&Js—one with strawberry jam and the other with grape—Nacho Cheese Doritos, and…” He reaches into the cooler again but pauses. “Wait, how old are you really?”

“Really, Zach?”

“Really, Delia. This is age-sensitive stuff we’re dealing with. I can’t believe we didn’t discuss this before. I could have been texting a fourteen-year-old girl for all I knew, and hell, I could have been a seventy-year-old creeper!”

“I’m twenty-one, about to be twenty-two in a few months.”

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“Excellent. Carry on then.” He grabs the last item from the bin, holding it out with a grin. “Orange soda.”

“Orange soda is age sensitive?”

“Certainly. Though you probably wouldn’t understand how an old fart like me could love it like I do, it’s the drink of a generation.”

Knowing exactly what he’s referring to, I take the bottle from his hand and twist open the top. Before I take a drink, I grin at him and say, “Who loves orange soda?”

His green gaze lights with amazement and I almost spit out the soda. “You know Kenan & Kel? You’re my dream girl.”

I wipe my mouth. “You sure you’re not too old for me?”

“I’m only eighty-six and a half, thank you very much,” he deadpans.

“In dog years?”

“No. I’m one hundred and eighty-one and a quarter in dog years.”

“You know how old you are in dog years?”

His lips twitch as he tries to hold in a shy smile. “Uh, yeah. I was bored and used Google. Google is a dangerous weapon, by the way. Anyway, if I was a Golden Retriever, I’d be one hundred and eighty-one.”

“And in human years?”

“Twenty-five.”

I can’t take my eyes off him. The smile stretched across his face is so…warm. It reels you in, making you feel like you’re the only person in the room…or at the park. I love it, and I especially love the dimples it creates. They’re cute, boyish even.

“You’re not that much older than me.”

“Nah, not really. My younger brother is your age, so it’s not that creepy. He knows the significance of orange soda too. I’ve taught him well.”

“You have a brother?”

“I do. He goes to the university here in town.”

“No way! I do too.”

He tilts his head, studying me. “You’re still in college? You never mentioned it.”

My shoulders are rigid with fright. Did I just ruin our date by admitting I’m still in school? “I’m a senior,” I mutter, wanting to be honest but also not wanting to all at the same time.

“You know what I just realized? We didn’t once talk about all that normal ‘get to know you’ s**t you’re supposed to talk about with people. We jumped right in, Zach and Delia style.” He holds his bottle of soda up. “Cheers. I like us.”

I clink my glass bottle with his and take another drink.

“So, you ready?” He waves his hand around. “For the real world, I mean. It’s a scary place.”

My brows crush together. “You don’t care that I’m still in school?”

“Should I?”

“Well…no, I guess not. I suppose I assumed it would be a big deal or something since you asked.”

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