Chapter 39: Finding the Path
She hadn't fallen asleep, but she'd allowed her mind to wander while it was pillowed against Rico's shoulder, and only came back to herself when she heard the movie's familiar closing music. She didn't think it had been that long; they must have been talking for a really long time. Well, she had a long story to tell, after all. She sat up as lights on the back of the gym came on, flooding the area with yellowish light, and stretched. Rico stood up and helped her to her feet, then bent down to roll up the blanket. She sighed, watching him work. "Sorry I'm not a very entertaining date."
"Are you kidding?" He laughed over his shoulder. "Most girls I've dated either want to talk about jewelry or recite the mundane details of their lives. You're the first girl who's cared about something other than herself."
She grinned. "What about you?"
He shook his head, standing up. "If they cared about me, they didn't show it."
"We still don't know the mundane details of each other's lives." They started walking back toward the path that had brought them there. They were forced to go slowly because of the crowd that was going in the same direction as they were, but Dawn didn't mind.
"Sure we do. We know what school we both go to, and we know where we grew up."
"How do you know where I grew up?"
"You said you were from Canada at the dorm meeting."
"Oh. I guess I did." She didn't really remember saying that, but Rico did. That made her feel irrationally pleased. Or maybe it was rational. She liked him (more and more now), and he remembered a silly, inconsequential detail just because it was about her.
"But now that I've told you how you compare to my other dates, how do I compare to your others?"
Dawn laughed, embarrassed. "Well, I haven't been on too many others. But you definitely compare very favorably to those I have."
He stopped in his tracks, forcing other people to move around them, and stared at her with exaggerated horror. "You haven't been on many dates? No," he shook his head, "I won't believe it. You are much too gorgeous."
She couldn't keep a giggle from escaping her. "I'd protest if you weren't obviously being sarcastic."
Rico grabbed her hand with his free one and brought it to his lips, kissing it gently. Her heart fluttered. She didn't care how cheesy it was, "fluttered" was definitely the word. "About your beauty, my dear, I would never be sarcastic." He smiled into her eyes, and she smiled back at him, speechless and only dimly aware that the crowd had passed them by minutes ago. He dropped the blanket, freeing his other hand, and used it to bring her closer to him. She didn't resist. He bent and kissed her lips, and she kissed him back, reveling in the joy of the moment.
After a few minutes they parted, dropping their hands and smiling sheepishly at each other. Dawn couldn't help feeling very happy. It wasn't her first kiss, of course, but, at least in that moment, it seemed the best she'd ever had. Rico bent down and clumsily started picking up the things he'd dropped on the ground. It took him two tries to roll the blanket back up, exacerbated by her attempts at helping. Eventually they had everything again and they started walking back toward the path. The lights shut off as they neared it, making Dawn jump. They laughed nervously and sped up their steps. Dawn felt better once they were on the path; it was safer there, and not so dark.
"So, uh. Good movie, wasn't it?" she asked, wanting to make conversation and break the silence that surrounded them. She felt a little giddy, too.
Rico laughed. "It was! Of course, I wouldn't have known that had I not already seen it a few times..."
Wait, was that a complaint? Did he wish he'd actually gotten to watch the movie? It was a very good movie. "Sorry," she said quickly. "I didn't mean to distract you."
"No, no, that's not what I meant!" He took her hand and squeezed it, making her instantly feel warm inside. "Actually, this was a way better date than just watching the movie would have been. I got to know you. And now I know that my instant attraction wasn't misguided."
Instant attraction? Now that was flattery. "Well, I know we've only had one date now, but uh..." She knew what she wanted to say, she just felt very awkward saying it. What if he said no, or thought she was being too clingy?
"What is it?" he prompted.
She sighed and decided to go for it. "Do you want to be a couple?"
"Yes. I'd like that very much."