Brendon drives me back to the mall where my car is after we finish, but not before Taylor makes sure she has my number and cuts off my air supply by hugging me tightly. She doesn't let me leave until I've promised I'll come back to see her soon, and I extract my own promise that she'll ask Josh to that dance.
The ride back is much more soothing than the one there, the cool air of the evening weaving through my hair as I lean out the window. Brendon is cautious as he takes my hand, but he smiles when I don't pull away. I don't bother to scold him about safety.
When we pull up to the parking lot of my building, it's quiet. Hardly anyone is around, either tucked inside or already out for the night.
There's only a distressed mother trying to strap her far too energized kids into their car seats and a man laid across a bench. I wonder where the mom is taking her kids so late. She's dressed in athletic clothes, so it must be the gym. There's one several blocks down the street that has a play place in it as well. Good luck getting them to go to sleep afterwards, gym mom.
The man is limp as he lays there, making me concerned. I'm not sure if he's drunk or just immensely lethargic, and I don't want to. He's kind of creeping me out with his spaced-out stare.
I slide out of Brendon's beautiful vehicle, reluctant. I sigh.
"It's not fair you have this car," I say, sulking.
"And why's that?"
"Because you don't appreciate it like I do."
"Hey!" he exclaims. "I do too! I love my car. Just because I don't know everything about it doesn't mean it can't have a special place in my heart. Shush."
"You're just jealous."
"I'm not going to respond to you."
"Because I'm right."
He laughs, reaching down to hold my hand.
"I had a good time today, pretty boy," I say, looking up at him.
"Oh, I'm sure," he replies, sarcastic but light-hearted. "What was your favorite part? When I made you think I was cheating on you? When we yelled at each other? Or was it when I kidnapped you?"
I smile, squeezing his hand.
"We've had an eventful day, haven't we?"
He scoffs, looking away.
"I'm an idiot," he says.
"So am I," I reply, voice soft. "At least we can be idiots together."
He doesn't say anything, but his lips quirk up just enough for me to know he's pleased.
"Actually, I did have a favorite part," I announce, trying to make him really smile.
"And what was that?"
"I don't want to tell you," I tease. "You'll be obnoxious about it."
"Aw, come on," he whines, facing me. "I want to know."
"It may or may not have been the frogs."
He processes that for a moment, thinking of what I mean. Then his face breaks out into a dazzling smile, and I don't regret having to hear what comes out of his mouth.
"Jenna, I can't believe you. You mean you actually liked something fun? Something that wasn't what you consider entertainment for adults?"
"See? I said you were going to be obnoxious. I was right."
I pretend to hit his shoulder, but I don't put any effort into it.
When he places his hands on the car, one on each side of me, I don't mind at all. I like the small spaces he makes.
He tilts his face down as I tilt mine up, and our eyes meet. I get lost in the sea of green, so it's several moments until I notice that he's about to kiss me.
And then at that exact moment two things happen. Neither of which are what I expected, nor are they things I appreciate.
One, the gym mom's youngest child decides to bust a lung by screeching as loud as humanly possible.
Two, the previously semi-comatose man from before lurches out of his seat and starts singing something incoherent.
Brendon stops, startled. Just before I have the presence of mind to push forward and connect us, he pulls away to look at what's causing the commotion. Damn it.
Does the universe just not want us to kiss? What have I done to it? Was it that time I said it was a meany face because I dropped my ice cream? I was five, for crying out loud. I didn't know what I was saying. I would have just kept my mouth shut if I had known was going to take revenge on me. If it wants to be like that though, I have some much more potent words I could use to describe it now.
"Oh my god," I groan, clutching at Brendon's collar. "Why does this keep happening?"
The man simply smiles, wrapping me up in a hug.
"Sorry, Jenna," he coos. "Looks like we'll have to wait again."
"I don't wanna," I sulk. "Come on, let me just get it over with."
"That is quite possibly the least romantic thing you've ever said," he teases, leaning back. "And that's saying a lot."
I smack him for real this time, irritated.
"Why not?" I whine.
I'm tired of other people infringing upon my romantic moment.
"You really want to have our first kiss surrounded by screaming children and a drunk man?"
"Maybe," I reply, sullen.
He laughs again, and then lays a kiss against the edge of my mouth. Not enough to actually count for anything, but certainly enough to tease me.
"Now you're just being mean," I complain, shoving him.
The intoxicated man gets louder, stumbling towards us.
"H-h-hey," he slurs and hiccups. "Ain't you t-two lovebirds a s-sh-s-sight? You . . . You . . . You're somethin'. Where's my beer?"
He departs again, frantic in his quest to find the alcohol that's actually still on the bench. I'm wondering how long it'll be before someone calls the cops on him for public intoxication.
"It's not that bad," I tell Brendon, trying to make my case. "This is romantic, right?"
Before he can answer, he's interrupted by gym mom.
"Timothy! I said put on your seatbelt! Young man, I will take away your game system. Hey! Gregory! Stop hitting your sister! I don't care if she started it!"
"So romantic," Brendon teases, laughing at my exasperated expression.
"Fine," I concede, shoving him again. "Go home. You're awful."
He pulls me back to him against my protests, smiling as he holds me. He buries his nose in my hair.
"I'll call you tomorrow sometime to arrange something and then maybe for once we can have a normal date."
"I doubt it," I answer, still pouting. "I don't think that's possible for us."
He laughs, and it puts me in a better mood. It's soothing to feel the vibrations of his chuckle through his chest.
"Let's hope for the best, then," he responds, drawing away.
"Okay," I say, sighing. "Don't get fired for calling me at work."
"Of course not. They won't fire me. I think."
I don't mean it.
"I know. Goodnight, Jenna. Sleep well, have pleasant dreams."
"Goodnight, pretty boy. You too."
He lays his lips against my cheek, lingering longer than normal. Okay, maybe it's not so bad. It's just not what I want.
He smiles as he pushes away from the car, walking to the driver side.
He waves at me before he slides in, blowing me a kiss.
I know he'll sulk if I don't, so I pretend to catch it in the air even though that's extraordinarily corny. Like him.
I evade the drunk man as I slip inside my apartment building, running a hand through my hair.
It's been a long day. Not that I really mind, but I'm tired now.
I barely make it to my bed before I fall asleep, still in my shoes and regular clothes.
At least I do indeed have pleasant dreams.