* IV *

The prelude to the relationship happened like this:

On the day of Emrald's sixteenth birthday party, he went to a bowling alley with a few of his other friends and had lunch out. At about two o'clock, I went round to see him with my present of the next book in his favourite series. I rang the doorbell and waited patiently for him or his parents to answer.

Emrald came to the door and looked surprised to see me.

"Oh, hi there, Anna," he said. "What brings you here?"

"You honestly don't know?" I asked, grinning.

"It might be to do with the fact it's my birthday but I didn't want to assume anything."

I rolled my eyes. "I am here because of your birthday. I got you a present."

Emrald smiled. "Oh you needn't have done that. Come in."

So I followed him into his living room where the TV was on (some F1 racing championship coverage that I didn't care for) and sat beside him on his sofa. I passed him the wrapped up parcel.

He tore off the wrapping paper and looked amazed when he saw what the present was. He looked at me with gratitude in his eyes.

"Thanks!" he said. "I've been waiting so long to read this! And it means even more coming from you."

Then he quite suddenly leant down and kissed my cheek.

"Whoa, it wasn't a trip to the Galápagos islands," I joked, though secretly I was flattered.

"Are you sure your company isn't one of them?" he asked, sounding quite serious.

"Um... thank you," I said, slightly bewildered. "You're in a very ... strange mood," I observed.

Emrald nodded. "I am. I've been thinking ... about you ..., about our ... friendship."

"Yes?" I asked, gently probing him.

"Well, um, tonight... I'd like to ask you out for dinner ... and maybe we can discuss it there."

"Are you ... asking me out on a date?"

He nodded, looking at me searchingly. "Dinner at Amazing Marcorelli's."

"Amazing Marcorelli's?!" I asked in shock. That was only the most expensive restaurant in town, with five star ratings from every critic.

Emrald nodded again, looking nervous.

I thought about the relationship Emrald and I had. We were very close, best friends in fact. Would making it something more risk what we already had or would life get better? I then thought about how I saw Emrald. Yes, I'd only let myself think I thought of him as a friend but deep inside, I liked him more. It was hard not to love him, to be honest: he was kind, carefree, understanding - everything you'd want in a guy. So why was I hesitating?

"Yes," I replied confidently.

"Really?" he asked.

"Really."

"Oh, Anna, thank you!" He hugged me and kissed me.

I was looking forward to dinner for more than one reason that night ...

The End

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