“So, where are we going?” Brandon asked. “Was there a big group of you getting together for dinner or something?”
“We have reservations at Palette Bistro,” I said. I maneuvered the seatbelt over my dress trying to fit all the layers around me without destroying the taffeta.
“Dang, you guys don’t mess around.” Brandon put the car in gear and tapped the accelerator.
“I’ll cover the cost of the dinner if you want.” My heart rate increased. I didn’t know how much money Brandon had. This was totally last minute for him.
“Babe, don’t worry about it.” He picked up my hand and wove our fingers together then kissed the back of my hand. “Money is not an issue.”
I was too distracted by the fact that he’d just kissed my hand to respond. Something about money and dinner and his lips and oh my gosh, his eyes were so blue.
We barely took our eyes off each other the whole trip to Petoskey, which was a real trick considering Brandon was supposed to be driving. Maybe it was just me who couldn’t keep my eyes off him.
We were the last to arrive at the Palette Bistro, and the hostess led us upstairs to the private dining room overlooking the bay. My friends cheered when they saw us, and Krystal rushed over to hug me.
“You made it!” She pulled back and made a show of stepping back to view my dress. “You look incredible!”
“Thank you.” I felt my cheeks flush and reached for Brandon’s hand.
“Brandon, you look smokin’ hot as usual,” Krystal said. “That was so nice of you to drive all the way up here.” Brandon nodded politely, and we headed over toward the table.
Chairs were moved, adding space, fitting us in to be a part of the group. Everyone already had drinks in front of them and menus were no longer on the table. We were very late.
A waitress quickly placed silverware and napkins before us and handed us each a menu before discreetly leaning close. “What can I bring you to drink?”
“Water with lemon?” I smiled up at her.
“I’ll have the same,” Brandon said. He put his arm around the back of my chair while opening his menu with his other hand. “What’s good here?”
“I have no idea. We’ve never eaten at a place this fancy.”
“You should get the Taste of Palette,” Kat said, leaning across my arm to point at the menu. “It’s literally a three-course meal, complete with dessert! The key lime cheesecake is phenomenal!”
“Let’s each get something different and we’ll share,” Brandon suggested.
“That sounds like a great idea.” Did I really just bat my eyelashes up at him?
Once the waitress had returned with our waters, and we’d gotten our food ordered, the guys at the table took the time to introduce themselves to Brandon. That was a nice gesture. The twins had landed a couple of guys from Lake Superior State University, and two other girls from the track team had older dates, all the rest of the guys were from our high school.
My head spun trying to pick up several different conversations at once, but I focused on Brandon. He fit right in as if he’d been friends with these guys all his life. I hadn’t felt this comfortable and happy in years.
I laced my fingers through Brandon’s and held on, looking forward to the greatest night of my life. I enjoyed the meal and the fun, but I looked forward to getting him alone.
Finally, alone on the dance floor. The Vienna Ball Room at Boyne Mountain was decked out in all its elegance, but I only had eyes for Sammy.
I slipped her hand into mine and pulled her close. Neither of us was an experienced dancer, but that’s not why we were here. We were here to gaze into each other’s eyes with a longing that was understood without words. I didn’t need to tell her I wanted to be here with her.
I allowed my eyes to wander around the curves of her face. The freckles on her nose. The dimple that stayed in her cheeks even when she wasn’t smiling. Those naturally-long lashes with just a hint of shimmer from where her sparkly eye shadow has dusted onto her freshly applied mascara and had stuck there. Her lips. My gaze stayed there for a long second before returning to her eyes.
The invitation was there in her eyes. Her chin raised. It wouldn’t take much effort to lean down and brush my lips with hers. What was I waiting for?
She didn’t wait for me. Her heels raised from the dancefloor and she was inches away. Centimeters. Millimeters. I lowered my face and our breaths intermingled. Her lips were feathers on mine.
I was tempted to deepen the kiss, to see where this would lead. I knew where I wanted it to lead and that frightened me. I wouldn’t do that to Sammy. She deserved better than anything I could physically give her. She deserved my heart. She deserved my soul. She deserved my forever.
“I’m in love with you.” My whisper was barely audible, even to myself. She could probably feel my declaration against her lips more than hear the words. She didn’t need to answer me. I already knew.
She pressed her lips closer to mine and my phone vibrated in my jacket pocket.
What horrible timing!
I wasn’t going to answer it, but the moment was lost. Her heels lowered, and our bodies separated. Ugh! I started to pull her close again when my other jacket pocket vibrated. Her phone?
I reached into my pocket and pulled out my own phone. Hers was the first to ring, the one in my other pocket. Someone was trying to get ahold of us and when they didn’t reach her, they tried me.
“Hello?” I whispered into the receiver, hoping to not disturb the dancers around us. I grabbed Sammy’s hand as we discreetly slipped off the dance floor and into the hall.
“Is this Brandon?” an unfamiliar woman’s voice asked. “I’m trying to reach Sammy. Is she with you?”
“Yes, she’s right here.” I handed her the phone, but she touched the screen to turn on speaker.
“This is Sammy.”
“Your mom’s in the hospital.”
Running To You
Click here to read the next chapter in my work-in-progress!