Rhyley was gazing into Sandra’s eyes, and she was gazing back unembarrassed. She reached out and lightly stroked the back of his right hand. The air felt electrified... and not in the way it did when he had shut the door of either his bedroom or that of a girl he had the intention of making love to. It was slightly intense - Sandra’s open desire to connect with him and bond with him in the more serious, loving way - but sort of exciting as well. They had talked about the hot drinks their mothers had made them before bedtime, and though it might be a small thing, it had been a connecting thing - a sharing. Rhyley wanted to hear about more lovely memories Sandra had of her childhood, and he knew she would want to hear about his.
“Is this love?” he heard himself asking. “Not the date in a café, not the kiss on The Common - this ... togetherness, and connection?”
Sandra looked so touched that Rhyley felt warmth spark inside him.
“I think so,” she whispered. “Whatever it is, I want it forever.”
“Forever,” Rhyley said quietly. “I think it must be then. I ...” he took a deep breath, looking at the table before raising his eyes to meet Sandra’s again. “I love you, Sandra.”
Sandra looked shocked and moved.
“Oh, Rhyley,” she murmured. “I love you too.”
Rhyley clasped her hands on the table.
“I don’t know what else to say to you... except... I want you to be happy. Are you happy, Sandra?”
“How could I not be?” Sandra asked softly. “Today’s been absolutely beautiful.”
“Good. I’ve enjoyed it too.”
“One hot chocolate?” The waiter had reappeared and Rhyley quickly let go of Sandra’s hands.
“Mine please,” said Sandra, blushing.
The waiter set the glass down before her. Sandra took out the wafer biscuit wedged into the cream and offered it to Rhyley.
“Don’t you want it?” he asked.
“Nah, I’m good. And you should have something, if you’re paying.”
“I don’t mind about that but if you don’t want it, I’ll have it.” He took the wafer from her. “Thanks.”
He ate it as Sandra made a start on her marshmallows.