Food, Cats, and Being in Love

I don't want to think about it I don't want to talk about it When I kiss your lips I want to sink down to the bottom Of the sea

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4. Chapter Four

The following week, I decided that I most definitely had a crush on Dustin. I spent the entire weekend thinking about him. And not in that offhand sort of way that I typically thought about people. But in a dreamy sort of way. He had really blue eyes. Not the same as my blue. My blue was kind of pale and almost gray. My eyes were never compared to anything like the sky or the ocean or flowers. My blue was just sort of there. But Dustin’s blues were vibrant and almost shocking. He was quiet when he wasn’t drinking. And he sat there on his phone ignoring everyone. And then suddenly he’d look up at you with those piercing eyes and all sorts of thoughts about the sky and oceans and flowers would pop into your head.

So it was kind of a surprise to me when we were working on pastries one day in class when he leaned over the counter and said, “Hey, do you maybe want to have dinner with me sometime?” I was completely shocked because I’d honestly never been asked out on a date before. Ever. The only boy I’d ever kissed was my sister’s boyfriend, and I still wasn’t even entirely convinced that he liked me. But I tried to act cool about it. I didn’t want him to know this was new to me.

“Um, sure,” I said. He nodded and smiled.

“How about this weekend? Saturday, maybe?”

“Yeah, I can do that.”

“Awesome. I’ll call you. I already have your number. Jaime gave it to me.” I was going to have to thank her later.

I was nervous on Saturday. I’d never had a date before. And Dustin had been totally normal all week. He did his usual phone routine, we did our chores in the kitchen, we went and had drinks on Friday like we did the week before. But he assured me that our date was still on before I went home. So I felt like throwing up and actually called Paige because I didn’t know what to do. Though she wasn’t any help because she just told me to pack condoms in my purse.

I was still a virgin. That was kind of obvious since I mentioned I only kissed one boy before. Paige thought this was the most hilarious thing in the world because she said virginity wasn’t a real thing. But I still referred to myself as a virgin because I’d had zero sexual encounters.

My biggest fear about going on a date with Dustin wasn’t the sex. It was the fear of rejection. It had happened too many times in my life. But luckily, he called me on Saturday and said he would pick me up at seven.

By the time seven rolled around, I was nervous as hell. I had originally planned to wear a dress but immediately scrapped that idea when I realized I’d forgotten to shave like a whole kneecap. I didn’t really have any time to fix it so I changed into jeans and a nice shirt instead. He showed up at my door just after seven, and I felt very relieved. Oh, thank God he didn’t ditch me.

He drove a kind of crappy little car and took me to an equally crappy little restaurant I’d only ever been to once in my life. I was about to tell him about this hilarious adventure when he said, “This is my parents’ place.” And then my mouth snapped shut, and I secretly thanked God again for making him say that before I’d told him how crappy the place was.

Instead, I said, “Oh, how cool.”

He led me to a booth, and we both sat down to order drinks. I looked around and sighed. I really hoped they didn’t have cockroaches.

“So yeah, like I said,” he started as he picked up the menu and focused on it. He seemed kind of shy. Shyer than I was. “My parents own this place, and I decided to go to school so I can someday take over and change this horrible menu.” Oh, thank God. He looked up at me and smiled. “And pretty much—everything else.” I laughed. “I know it’s not the greatest place in the world, but I plan on making a lot of changes.”

“Well, it’s charming,” I said. He just laughed.

“Considering everything we’ve been working on in class, this place is kind of a giant pile of shit. But if you get the spaghetti you won’t be disappointed. It’s my mom’s recipe, and it’s the only thing on the menu I’m not changing.”

“Spaghetti it is then,” I said.

After dinner, he drove me back home and offered to walk me to my door. I was really nervous because I wasn’t entirely sure on the dating protocol and if walking me to my door meant coming inside. I didn’t think it was likely he’d want to get down my pants since he was really kind of shy, but then again he did have the guts to just ask me plain out in the middle of class. I was holding a knife and everything. But when we got to the door he just stood there for a moment.

“I promise next time I’ll take you someplace nicer,” he said. I smiled and nodded.

“That sounds fun,” I replied.

“Then I’ll see you on Monday, okay?”

“Alright, goodnight.” He gave me a quick, awkward kiss on the cheek and left me at the door. When I finally got inside, I felt overwhelmed by giddiness. Were we like dating? Was he my boyfriend? How weird.

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