I went upstairs, checking the reservation place with my phone, it looked nice, and I found Kenzie, she had changed back into something nice; a simple button up shirt with a bowtie.
“What do you think?” She asked, smiling at me, looking beyond amazing.
“You look adorable.” I said blushing. “Do you want to go to a nice italian restaurant for Valentine’s?” I showed her the reservation ticket. “I just got it.”
“How did you get that today? Do you have an ability I don’t know about?”
“No, I don’t have a super restaurant reservation ticket acquisition power. Travis gave it to me as a slightly late birthday gift.”
“Travis? Our Travis? Black guy with a ‘fro?”
“Nothing, I’m just surprised he did. But to answer your question, I’d love to.”
“Well, we have about two and a half hours before that reservation. I should probably dress up some more… Give me some time?”
“Of course. I’ll be in my room when you’re done.”
Chuan and Jessie were sitting on the couch, Jessie watching Cartoons with Lexy in hand while Chuan was just playing around on his phone, lying down and taking a lot of space. I remembered what Kenzie had said about them, so I went their way.
“Chuan, Jessie, do the two of you have a minute or ten?”
“Yeah, why?” Jessie said.
“I have a date with Kenzie, a real date but I have nothing to wear and you two are apparently the beauty specialists or something, normally I wouldn’t mind but she’s super dressed up and...” I’d bought some clothes a few days earlier but nothing date worthy.
“Okay, Okay! See, You’re doing that thing you do when you get stressed out and you talk way too much so I’m going to stop you before we run out of time.” Chuan said gave me the biggest grin. “But just so you know; you’ve asked the right people, isn’t that right, Jessie?”
He got up and then took me by the hand, dragging me to his and Stan’s room, which was empty and he had me sit on the bed while he scrounged in his . “So, I’ve got this cute top or a sexy dress, which do you prefer?”
“The top, I guess.”
He took out a simple red long tube top, the middle of it had a leather belt tied to it that fit just beneath the chest.
“What do you think?”
“It’s nice. Wait… Why do you have that or is Stan into that kind of stuff?”
“It’s mine. I like to feel pretty sometimes.” He said with a shrug. “I have loads of stuff.”
“Oh okay.” I really couldn’t imagine Chuan wearing something traditionally feminine; his usual style screamed would-be rebel with the piercings, the destroyed jeans and the hair dye.
The two of them devised a scheme to make me look great, I didn’t have much of an input but it was okay; I had no real makeup, fashion or hair styling skills. When my old friends had began picking those up, I’d fallen out of touch with them and into the limbo of depression.
They ended up combining the top with tight jeans and dress shoes from Jessie’s own clothes, we had about the same size so it was comfortable enough. Then, She curled up my hair into waves while Chuan applied simple, natural looking makeup, although we didn’t have any foundation matching my skin tone for obvious reasons.
“How do you not have your ears pierced? That’s a crime.” Jessie said. “Girls should have pierced ears. Scratch that, everyone should.” It was my first time really playing attention to her ears, I noticed that she had several studs all shaped like tiny flowers, not just on the lobe but also on the helix and the tragus.
“My parents had me pierced when I was little but I removed them. I kept getting infections so we stopped trying. I have clip-ons but not with me.”
“You bought clip-on earrings?” Chuan asked.
“Yeah, I saw them and thought they looked nice.”
“Well, that’s a good thing, I was about to write you off as a complete unsalvageable fashion nightmare.”
“Hey, I’m not that bad.”
“Paige, you wear the same clothes every single day of your life; identical jeans, loose tees or a long sleeved tee and your hoodie.”
He had a point, but those were the only thing I really felt comfortable in. They finished my little make over and I checked the results. They hadn’t accomplished a miracle, I was still too skinny and not filling the clothes well, but for once in my life, I might have been considered attractive.
I thanked them and left the room, knocking on Kenzie’s door before going in. She was sitting on her bed, laptop on her lap.
She looked up and put the computer down.
“You look gorgeous.” She said, she got up came forward and I leaned in closer, expecting a kiss, only for her to pinch my shoulder flesh. “You have skin there too, I’m learning more and more about you.”
“I have lots more skin.”
“I’ll look forward to seeing it for my own eyes. Soon, maybe?”
The remark made a knot in my stomach. I couldn’t help but over analyze it. Kenzie probably noticed because she kissed me gently.
“But only when you really want me to.”
We sat down on her bed and cuddled up, watching silly things on her computer and watching the clock like a hawk. When only half an hour was left before our reservation we tagged a driver downstairs and she drove us to the restaurant.
The Gondola was a small restaurant that looked like it hadn’t changed in decades, there was nostalgia in the decor and a retro, kitschy vibe to it while still having some energy to it, there were pictures of the place’s history on the walls and italian paraphernalia. The dining room was built around an octogonal dance floor with a small stage where a group of musicians played live music.
The waiter and maître d' seemed unfazed to see two dressed up teenage girls together at a table on Valentine’s day, just sitting us and taking our order politely. I couldn’t help but wonder if they saw us as a couple or not, which gave me a bit of anxiety; yet I wasn’t even sure which I wanted.
We opted for a shared antipasto platter for two, followed by Italian wedding soup as an entree and finished with carbonara and puttanesca pasta as a main course. As we ate, Kenzie and I talked about everything and nothing.
“You know, this is nice.” I said, after the second course was over. “Being here, not for dinner but on a date... I kind of feel like crying to be honest.”
“That’s just it, nothing is wrong. I just realized that for the first time in my life everything is okay. I haven’t been happy in years and it just fucks me up inside… I love you so much...”
She got up and leaned in giving me a kiss in front of everyone.
“I love you too, Paige.”
Almost as if it was on cue, the band began playing a slow song. Kenzie put her hand on mine.
“Do you want to dance?”
“I have no idea how.”
“It’s okay, just take my hand.” She said.
I did and she guided us to the dance floor, moving our hands to the right place, hers on my hip and mine on her arm, the other holding her hand, raised. She held me close, enough to feel her breath on my skin.
“Just follow my lead.” She said, beginning the movement as the music picked up, moving with every beat.
I did my best and yet I must have stepped on her feet more than on the dance floor, but still, she didn’t mind, laughing gently at everyone of my faux-pas and correcting our movement graciously. Near the end of the song, my dancing had slightly improved, and I stared into her amazing eyes that glowed. As the song faded out, she stole a kiss from my lips, breaking away from the routine. She took me hand and led me to our table, where our desert had just been served.
“Sorry about the dance. I did warn you.” I said.
“Don’t fret about it, you were fine.” She answered, dipping her spoon into the orange sorbet.
“I didn’t know you could dance, but you were amazing.”
“It might sound odd, but I’ve always dreamed about dancing with a romantic partner. It’s like the one girly thing I obsessed about; those big lavish fairytale like dances, balls and et cetera. I have an embarrassing amount of dancing movies, like way more than is healthy.”
“Well, I promise the next time will be better then.”
“That’s so sweet of you.”
I couldn’t help but notice that she looked rather tired, fidgeting and stretching her legs over and over. After spending a while with her, I’d gotten to learn how to tell when she was running on fumes and hiding her pain from me.
“Do you want to go home?” I asked stretching my arms.
“That would be great.”
We got the check and I paid using Travis’ gift card. We hadn’t exactly went with the expensive stuff which left enough on the card for a second visit for the future. I got a taxi from the stand a street corner away and we settled in the back.
“My place?” I suggested to Kenzie. “We can watch a movie and relax.”
I gave the driver the address and then she leaned over and kissed me. We made out in the back of the cab until the driver cleared his throat, indicating that we were home. I turned bright red as I gave the man the fare and a generous tip, he was probably used to people making out in the back.
We went upstairs, my parents were still away and we cuddled on the couch, watching a movie until Kenzie fell asleep in my arms.