– “Do you want to know what really tipped me over the edge? What finally decided me to ask you out? I was talking to Eli about you. I admitted that I would feel bad if I guilted you into dating me. And he said: If you wait too long, someone else is going to ask her. And how would you feel then?”
“I would have been jealous. I would be kicking myself, if you were going out with someone else.”
The waiter brought our food. It saved Rose from having to answer me. But her cheeks were flushed – she was definitely thinking about what I’d said.
The fish was excellent. Mario served up good quality, at a reasonable price. It’s hard to find places like his nowadays. I’d said enough, I thought. So I ate, and waited.
Rose held out until the coffee. Mario himself brought us two shots of sambuca.
– “On the house.” he said, with a big smile. Considering how many times my Uncle Ray had fixed his car, or his wife’s, it was no more than a nice gesture.
“And for the lovely lady …” Mario produced a bowl of gelato – three flavours – with two spoons. He gave me a wink. “Enjoy!”
As soon as he was gone, Rose spoke.
– “I like you too, Joe.”
I smiled. “You do?”
– “I didn’t want you to know, though. I was afraid you’d feel … obligated. You’ve been helping me diet. And walking with me. I didn’t want to make you feel guilty.”
We skipped the Lion. Instead, we went for a long walk around the lake. It was familiar, obviously, because we’d been walking to the bus stop for months now.
But it was different, because we weren’t on the way on to school, or to work. And then there was what we’d said to each other. I reached for Rose’s hand, and she met me halfway.
We talked, of course, but we also walked in silence for a while, just holding hands. It wasn’t awkward, or uncomfortable at all. Quite the opposite: I was incredibly at ease. Yet only a few hours, on the way to the restaurant, I’d been nervous.
Our first kiss was under an old-fashioned street lamp, opposite the old boathouse. Her lips were soft, and I kissed her gently. Neither one of us wanted to stop, though. When I put my arm around her waist, Rose put hers around my shoulders.
After a long, breathless time, Rose broke the kiss, and put her head on my shoulder. I held her tighter. She was an armful – that was for sure. But I wouldn’t have traded places with anyone, that night.
We walked back the way we’d come, and then home.
In the hallway, just past my room, but before hers, we kissed again. This time was a little more passionate. I felt the tip of her tongue, tentatively crossing my lower lip. Soon we were french-kissing, our bodies pressed together. I could feel her massive breasts against my chest; I’m pretty sure she had to be able to feel my erection.
It was a dizzying, knee-trembling kiss, so intense that it left both of us a little dazed.
I recovered first. I kissed her once more, softly, on the cheek.
– “Goodnight, Rose.” I whispered. And I went to my own room.