I laughed silently as Riley stepped towards my truck, giving Julian a smug smile. He glared at me, and if looks could kill I’d be dead a million times now. Tori was oblivious to it all, her eyes trained on the rear mirror and her pale hands fluttering over her head in an attempt to fix up her already-perfect hair. I reached out a hand to take Riley’s gym bag off her shoulders and walked around to dunk it in the boot as she seated herself on the passenger’s seat. Slamming the boot shut and sliding in behind the wheel, I clicked on my seatbelt and pulled out of the parking slot.
“Since when did you dance?” I asked her, taking my eyes off the road for a moment to face the sweaty specimen beside me.
“Since forever,” she said, her arms held high in a bid to neaten her bun, “Guess I just forgot to tell you.”
“So ballet? You look more like a hip hop dancer to me,” I said, “And I thought you hated all things classical anyway.”
“No, it’s more contemporary than ballet, although I did learn pointe and such,” she replied, reaching down to wrap a bandage around her feet, “Pointe’s bloody painful, my feet are raw from just an hour of practice.”
“Care to teach me to dance one day?” I asked her, keeping my voice casual.
“Are you flirting with me, Jackson Barker?” she faced me, winking, “Sure I’ll teach you. You need all the help you can get dancing-wise anyway. My toes are still bruised from your clumsy heels at the Graduate’s Ball.”
“Hey, don’t you dare bag my dancing!” I said defensively, “I was just nervous that day.”
“About what? Taking the hottest girl in the school to the ball?” she pressed on, her beautiful blue eyes twinkling mischievously.
“Maybe,” I conceded, blushing, “We’re here now. Tori left a change of clothes for you in the backseat.”
“Don’t you try changing the topic Mr Barker,” Riley teased, “It was me wasn’t it? You’re blushing real hard Jackson Barker.”
“Shut up Riley!” I pleaded, “The restroom’s that way, you can go change before we go in.”
“Fine, don’t admit it Jackson,” she said, “I know you love me.”
I backed away from her, walking towards Julian’s car as Riley headed for the restroom. Julian was trying to console a fuming Tori, rubbing her hand and awkwardly murmured soothing words. I hesitantly came closer.
“It’s not that bad Tori,” Julian was saying, “We can always book a place again next week.”
“No! How dare they tell me that I booked the wrong restaurant!” Tori screamed, “I clearly said that I wanted table 9 at Seaside Restaurant, not table 9 at Seesaw Restaurant! I swear they just wanted to get rid of us so they could give the table to the Mayor’s wife.”
“We can go to Seesaw this once, it’s still a branch of the same catering company,” Julian said, “The food will be just as good.”
“But it’s a children’s restaurant! We were meant to be eating out in style tonight!” Tori said heatedly, “Look at my clothes, my heels! Arghhh!”
“What’s happening?” asked the voice of Riley, “Why aren’t you all inside?”
“BECAUSE THEY TOLD ME I DIDN’T BOOK THE RIGHT RESTAURANT!” Tori snapped, “Now we’ll have to go to Seesaw instead.”
“I love Seesaw!” Riley exclaimed, her eyes shining, “Remember my eighth birthday party at Seesaw Julian? Ah the good times.”
“Of course I do!” Julian said, “Now, let us drive to Seesaw before it’s too late. Riley, want to ride with us so we can reminisce the good times?”
“We have the whole night to talk, Jules,” Riley said, smiling at him, “I can’t abandon Jackson to talk to you.”
She turned and walked back to my truck, leaving behind an annoyed Julian and an angry Tori. I widened my eyes as I saw her outfit for the first time. She was wearing a navy blue cocktail dress with pearls seeded all over the skirt. The flowing blue material reached just above her knees, allowing room for her long toned legs to be displayed. Over the dress she wore a black fitted blazer with silver buttons and silver piping at the cuffs, matching perfectly with her silver locket and silver earrings. Her hair was done up in a hasty bun, with curling strands escaping the elastic to cascade around her neck. Her black stilettos clip clopped across the car park. I’ve never seen a prettier girl in my life.
“I’ll see you there,” I told Julian and headed after the girl of my dreams.
We arrived at Seesaw a few minutes after Julian, after getting lost on the way. Perhaps getting lost was not quite the truth, since I deliberately took the longest route there so that I could spend more time with Riley alone. Seesaw was indeed a children’s restaurant. We were greeted by waitresses dressed as mermaids, who smiled and explained that it was a little girl’s seventh birthday that day, and the theme of the party was Under The Sea. They pointed us to a table near the back of the restaurant, a nice secluded spot behind some massive decorative shells. I headed over and sat down opposite Julian, and waited as Riley made her way through the underwater world, her eyes wide with delight.
“I’m quite ravenous,” announced Tori as Riley sat down next to me, “Shall we order?”
By “Shall we order” she really meant “Shall I order”. Tori read off an incredibly long list of dishes that we would eat, frightening the waiter into a panic with her lightning-fast offers. I excused myself from the table to go to the restroom as we waited for the entrees to arrive, and was surprised to find Riley right on my heel.
“I need to wash my hands,” she said by way of explanation.
“Ok, whatever you say,” I replied and stepped into the male restroom.
Riley was outside waiting as I stepped out of the toilet, her eyes looking fondly over at the children’s game of musical chairs. A round of the game had just finished, and the mermaid waitresses were getting ready to press play on the big coral CD player. I walked up silently behind her and laid my hands over her eyes.
“Jackson?” she said, her delicate hands over mine.
Just then, a song from The Little Mermaid started up, and I could hear children scrambling to win musical chairs. Looking down at Riley, I felt the overwhelming desire to touch her lush red lips.
“Yes, you want her
Look at her, you know you do
It’s possible she wants you, too
There is one way to ask her
It don’t take a word
Not a single word
Go on and kiss the girl”
Leaning down, I brushed my lips gently against her soft mouth. Without a word, she wrapped her arms around me and kissed me back.