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“No, please, I got this one,” Eric said as he handed his credit card to the server. Across the table, Alyssa smiled at him, and Eric’s mind started racing on what to do next. The date had gone well. Actually, that was underselling it. The date had gone fantastically.
“Tom was right,” he thought. “She is cool.”
They were perched at a tall table at a cozy happy hour joint near both their works that Alyssa had suggested, and from the moment they met, they had hit it off. She had come straight from work, and her scrubs-and-ponytail look had Eric frazzled. He had always had a thing for girls in scrubs, and the fact that she was cool with coming straight from work without changing showed him that she was both excited for this date and not a girl who put too much stock into putting on a front.
After grabbing matching margaritas, they dove into conversation like they were old friends. She was a nurse at a local pediatrics office and, by all accounts, loved what she did. Even more unbelievably, she seemed genuinely interested in Eric’s job. He was used to giving dates a short and somewhat inflated version of what his job entailed; just enough for them to confirm that he made decent money and had goals for himself, but not enough for them to get bored. Hell, even Rachel used to start yawning when he talked about work. But not this girl.
She asked questions and — armed with her knowledge of the company she had learned from Tom — immediately called him out on inflating his position to, in her words, “try and impress me with jargon.” With that exchange, the tone for the date had been set. They had traded stories and life views all intertwined with teasing, shit talk, and — if he was being honest with himself — a ton of sexual tension.
He wasn’t sure what it was, but something about this girl made his pulse jump. She was just his type, with light brown hair framing an oval face, bright green eyes that crinkled when she smiled, and a button nose that was only missing a corncob pipe. She seemed sweet and caring, yet sarcastic and pointed in a way that only someone who worked with kids (and asshole parents) all day could be. Whatever it was, he was infatuated, and had to actively remind himself to keep his cool.
But now, as he stared at her across the table, his cool was cracking. He had been enjoying himself so much he hadn’t thought yet about how to end the date. A Friday afternoon happy hour was fun, but confusing in terms of post-date activities. Should he ask her if she’d like to go to another bar? Invite her to meet up with his friends, who were all out on a rooftop? Should he play it cool and say that he had evening plans, or take a long shot and see if she wanted to go home with him at 7 p.m.?
“Shit.” He thought as weighed his options. “If I ask her to keep hanging out and she has plans, she gets the edge as the one who cares less. If I preemptively tell her I have plans, I look cool, but blow my shot at seeing where tonight takes us. Inviting her to hang out with my friends or seeing if she wants to go home with me definitely isn’t the move.”
His thoughts were interrupted as the server returned with his receipt. He continued to struggle to make a decision as Alyssa thanked him for the drinks, and as they walked outside, he decided to go for a gamble.
“Hey, if you don’t have any plans, I’m actually starving,” he said, hoping his face wouldn’t betray his nervousness. “There’s a tapas place a couple blocks down I’ve heard good things about. Do you want to get dinner?”
“I’m actually supposed to meet up with some friends for dinner,” Alyssa said, “but I’d love to get dinner another time.” Eric was disappointed, by that was quickly mitigated as he noticed she had taken a half step towards him.
She was staring up at him with a soft smile, her hands clasping each other as her eyes shone brightly in the fading light. Eric slowly leaned towards her, frozen in a moment. All he could smell was her floral perfume surrounding him, and all he could see were her lips. Her hair glowed like a halo around her, and his heart raced as he reached out for her neck. His fingertips connected with her skin just under her ear, and he felt an electric shock course through his body as he drew his face to hers.
It was a moment that lasted only a fraction of a second and eternity at the same time. A moment where he was completely vulnerable. He could be rejected. Humiliated. Or he could emerge victorious. He knew the risks, but in that moment, they were nonexistent. His mind was no longer involved with the situation. He had as much control over whether he would try to kiss her as a baby bird has as it leaps from the nest. It may crash and fall, but it’s past the point of no return.
Their lips met gently, parted, and then met again more passionately. She fit perfectly in his arms with her lithe body pressed against his. He felt her hands run down his back as he cupped the smooth skin of her face and as let his hands surge through her hair. The moment felt both unexpected and unavoidable. Like achieving a goal you’ve imagined for so long you’re unsure of whether it’s real or your dream. It was a moment of victory and satisfaction, comfort and excitement, all wrapped up in one.
And then, it was over. They parted, a little awkwardly, as people always do after an unexpected display of passion. “I think my Uber’s here,” she said, a little breathlessly. Eric swallowed hard and nodded firmly, unsure of his ability to form words. She smiled back at him as her hand slipped out of his, and called over her shoulder. “I’ll see you soon.”
Eric blew air out of puffed-up cheeks as he slowly ran his fingers through his hair. Only his phone vibrating in his pocket jolted him out of his reverie. He pulled it out to read a text from Jack asking how the date went. Willing his fingers into movement, he slowly typed back with a grin on his face.
Eric [7:18pm]: Pretty good. Just had a nice lil’ sidewalk makeout lol. Y’all still at the rooftop? Ya boy wants to drink..