Chapter 16: Going Steady

The next morning, I stepped out of the shower. I towel dried my hair, and yanked a brush through it. I shoved it back onto my usual pony tail. I walked into the main room wearing just my pants and boxers.

“Hey, man. How did it go last night?” Thomas immediately asked. He abandoned his carefully arrangement of his books for the day and followed me into my bedroom.

I left the door open, knowing he was about to drill me for answers about the night before.

I pulled on my white dress shirt, buttoning it over my bare chest. “Okay, I think. I told her everything, and she didn’t scream and run away, which I was totally expecting… she seemed cool with it, actually. I mean… it was weird.” I began stuffing my shirt into my pants. “She’s so… amazing. She’s not like any other girl I’ve known. I mean, she’s just… incredible. She’s smart, and funny, and pretty and she’s the sweetest person… I mean, I knew girls like Olivia at my old school, and they were either bitches or whores, but Olivia is like… a completely different person. She’s like the most incredible person I’ve ever met.” I mused.

“Are you dating? Are you like… boyfriend and girlfriend now?” Thomas prompted.

I nodded. “I think so. She said she still likes me… and we held hands until we got back here. Right? So I guess that means we’re a couple.” I shrugged.

“I would say so.” Thomas agreed.

I began working the tie around my neck, neatly folding it into a knot.

“Did you kiss her?” Thomas asked.

I grinned hugely. “Yeah. Twice.” I smirked.

Ordinarily, I wasn’t one for kissing and telling, but I was feeling pretty damn proud of myself. I had just made out with one of the hottest girls in the entire school. I was tempted to stand on top of the main building on campus and shout it from the roof top.

“Nice.” Thomas chuckled. “So when are you seeing her again?”

“Today, probably in class… it’s Friday night, though. I imagine we’ll do something… is there any good date ideas around this place?”

Thomas frowned, shoving his glasses up his nose. “I… I don’t know. You could always go into town, now, right? I mean, since your academic probation is over.”

“That’s a great idea.” I nodded. I needed cigarettes anyway. “Thanks man.”

“No problem.” Thomas shrugged. “We’re going to be late for class, though…”

“Right.” I quickly grabbed my sweater and yanked it down over my head. “I’m ready.” I grabbed my messenger bag and slung it over my shoulder. “Do I have time for coffee?”

“Not if you want to make it to class on time.”

“Damn it.” I groaned. This day was not getting off to a good start.

I followed Thomas out of the room. He carefully locked the door behind us. I hesitated and walked next to him as we moved down the hallway, amidst a steady stream of other students. We took the stairs.

“So, you told her everything? And she was okay with it?”

“I thought for a minute she might not be. She really hates the idea of me smoking, though apparently.”

“I don’t blame her.” Thomas nodded. “Every cigarette shortens your lifespan approximately seven minutes. There are over four thousand chemicals in cigarette smoke, and over forty of them have been known to cause cancer. Not to mention a lexicon of other diseases. Emphysema, tooth decay, heart disease, stroke, impotency…”

I raised one eyebrow. “Well, thanks for that.” I replied, sarcastically.

“Sorry.” Thomas replied.

I decided to change the subject quickly. “Do you go into town?”

“Not usually. I mean, sometimes I do, not often. Once you go into town so many times, there’s not really much to see.”

“So you don’t want to go with us, then? Maybe Olivia has a friend we could set you up with.”

Thomas sighed. “I doubt it.”

“No, seriously. What’s your type? Do you like blondes?” Now I was pushing it, and I knew it. I could tell by how red his face turned.

“That’s not really…”

“Not really what? What kinds of girl do you like, man? I’ll set you up.”

Thomas clumsily tripped over his own to feet, stuttering over his answer.

“Dude.” I laughed. “I’m just teasing you, alright? Relax, man.”

“Not funny. Not at all.” Thomas grumbled.

“Totally funny, man.” I laughed.

I pushed open the door and Thomas followed me into the hallway, and walked a step behind me.

He flinched instinctively out of the way when two knucklehead football players came barreling down the hall.

“So, are you taking Olivia to the Founder’s Formal?”

“The what?” I asked in confusion.

“The Founder’s Formal.” Thomas repeated. “It’s a fall formal. They have it every year… people just mostly get dressed up and I guess they dance and stuff. I mean, this school was founded by Rosetta Pine, and its tradition that the girl asks the guy… She hasn’t asked you?”

I shrugged. “It’s probably no big deal. I mean, maybe she doesn’t want to go… or maybe she’s just not thinking about it.”

“I’m sure she is. It’s kind of a big deal with girls around here. I mean, all the girls are probably talking about it.”

“Hmm…” I mused, trying to think. “Is it a big formal thing? Suit and tie?”

Thomas nodded. “A big deal. Almost as big as prom around here.”

I nodded. “Great. I hate dressing up.”

Thomas shrugged.

“Should I ask her about it? Or would that be too forward? I mean, I don’t even know if we’re dating yet… I mean, not officially.” I clarified.

I followed Thomas into the classroom, and plopped down at my desk. There was only an hour before I got to see Olivia and I couldn’t wait. Just the thought of her in her uniform was enticing. I missed her already.

The professor called the class to order and began handing out our assignments from the day before.

“How did you do?” Thomas whispered loudly across the aisle.

“Eighty-three.” I answered. “I don’t even have to ask what you got on yours.”

Thomas grinned hugely, tucking his papers back into his notebook.

I blinked tiredly, not looking to this too-long hour.

The professor stood at the front of the class and as he went over the answers from the night before, I pretended to be taking notes, when really I was thinking of Olivia. I was starting to think about the Founder’s Formal. I didn’t particularly want to go, but if Olivia wanted to I didn’t think I could turn her down.

I didn’t even have a suit or anything to wear.

The professor dismissed us from class and I gathered my books much quicker than usual. I wanted more than anything to see Olivia again.

I quickly moved down the hall to my next class.

I found my usual seat and carefully watched the door. Each time a student came through the door, I automatically hoped for Olivia.

At last she came into the room. She smiled hugely as soon as she saw me. She was wearing her uniform, which looked incredible on her as always. Her hair was neatly folded into a French braid.

“Hey.” She smiled, sliding into her seat.

“Hi.” I grinned.

“How are you?” She asked, sinking her teeth into her lower lip.

“Good. You?”

“Great.” She laughed softly.

“Good.”

The conversation was a little awkward, but I’d take it. She was utterly perfect.

“Hey, can I ask you something?” I asked, leaning closer to her, hoping no one else would overhear.

“Sure.” She leaned closer to me eagerly.

“What’s the Founder’s Formal?” I inquired.

Olivia laughed softly. “You know about that?”

“I’ve heard some rumors. Are you going with anyone?”

She shook her head. “No. I mean, I’ve had my dress for months… but no one to take me.”

I could tell she was coyly trying to hint toward me. “What about me? Do you think maybe we could go together?”

Olivia grinned hugely. “It’s supposed to be the girl’s choice, isn’t it? I mean, aren’t I supposed to ask you?”

“Were you going to ask me?” I frowned.

Olivia paused. “Well, I… I mean, I though it wouldn’t be your kind of thing, you know? I guess I just imagined you would find it lame.” She seemed to blush faintly.

“Do you want to go?” I pressed. “You said you had your dress picked out… I assume that means you want to go…”

Olivia chewed her lip. “Yes. I do want to go. But I wasn’t going to push you into something you didn’t want to do, you know? And it probably will be so lame.”

“If you want, I’ll go… but I don’t really have a suit or anything. I assume that since it’s called the Founder’s Formal, that I have to dress up?” I wrinkled my nose.

Olivia smiled. “We really don’t have to go.”

“I want to. It would be a waste of a pretty dress not to go.” I grinned. “And not wanting to go would make me a very stupid man.”

Olivia laughed softly. “Could you borrow a suit off someone?”

I raised one eyebrow. “Yeah, right. I think Thomas weighs about ninety-pounds soaking wet. I’d never fit into one of his suits.”

Olivia pursed her lips.

“What about going into town? Is there a place where I could pick up a suit?”

Olivia nodded. “Yes, I believe so.”

“Maybe we could get dinner too or something… it could be our first official date.” I paused. “That is… if you’ll have me.”

Olivia giggled softly. “Wow, such a gentleman. I would love to accompany you on our first official date.” She beamed.

“Great.” I smirked.

Olivia glanced down at sheepishly at her books on the table. Her hair fell in front of her face. I watched, mesmerized by the shifting of her silky curls.

She glanced back up, catching me looking at her. She smiled at me, sweetly before sinking her teeth into her lower lip.

“So, did you finish today’s homework?”

“Yeah.” I answered. “You know I’ve never done this much homework in my life. I mean before I came here, I don’t think I ever did homework. But since I’ve been here, it seems like it’s all I ever do.” I replied.

It seemed so easy now to talk to her, knowing I could trust her, and knowing she could keep my secrets safe.

Olivia smiled. “I could still help you, if you’d like… I mean, I didn’t really help you the last time… How is your mark in this class?” She asked. She blushed gently, a delicious shade of red. I watched the color spill into her cheeks and fade just as quickly as it came.

“Actually, you know I think I might take you up on that sometime.” I smirked.

“Okay.” She smiled. She opened her books in front of her.

She neatly crossed her legs beneath the desk, and I found myself struggling to keep from following her smooth thighs. She removed a pen from her case and neatly wrote the date on her page.

I watched her carefully, not bothering to remove my own books.

Olivia glanced up at me suddenly, and for the second time she caught me looking at her. “What?” She blushed.

“Nothing.” I quickly turned my attention toward my messenger bag. I began removing the books I needed for this class. I found a pen, and as I found a new sheet of paper in my notebook, I glanced up and noticed that this time Olivia was watching me.

“What?” I asked.

Olivia grinned and answered mockingly. “Nothing.”

“Tease.” I replied under my breath.

The professor came into the room, calling the class to order, almost a full thirty seconds late. I was surprised. The professors around here ran things like a prison; every single schedule was executed like clock work.

I glanced at Olivia who hardly seemed to notice. She was doodling absently in the margins of her notebook.

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