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Fiction Romance

These shorts don't have pockets. What kind of monster makes shorts without pockets? She had been wearing pants. Ones with deep pockets, where she could tuck her phone, headphone cord winding up her side. 

Instead she carries it, because her backpack is stuffed with her pants and that book that she brings to read on break.

"Hey!" she hears. Her music is loud, a feeble attempt to drown out the past eight hours. She almost doesn't hear it. Her name follows.

The truck pulls to the curb. Behind the wheel is the new guy, Ethan. 

"Hi."

"Get in." 

She lets one of her ears free. Had she heard that right? "What?"

"Come on, hop in."

It's a tall truck. Lorelei is a short girl.

"I think you severely over estimate my hopping abilities," she says. There are cars whizzing around him now, speeding past. Realizing that he's not going to budge, and that frankly it is too dang hot, even in her new shorts, she grabs for the door.

He grabs her hand to help her up. Once she's there, she lets her other ear free.

"Alright, where to?" He reverses his blinker, waiting for the traffic to clear.

"You're the kidnapper. You tell me." The air conditioning feels good. Quite honestly, he could tell her they were going to a secret dungeon to lock her away and she'd be fine with it.

Thankfully, he doesn't.

"Where were you headed?" he asks instead. 

"I was going to the dollar store to get some ice cream to eat in the park before heading home." Usually she heads straight to her apartment. But the heat seemed like the perfect excuse to sink her tongue into some bargain brand ice cream. She'd even stolen a spoon from the break room for the occasion. 

"Say no more." He pulls out, and does a U-turn. She should mention that he's going the wrong way. That'd be a violation of his request. Besides, if he's going to let her soak in his cold air for free, they might as well take the long way. 

At the traffic light, he turns to her. The headphones are still leaking music. It feels rude to put them back on, so she hits pause.

"Actually, I was going to ask if you wanted to plug your phone in, turn it up. That way I don't have to squint to hear the music."

"I don't think squinting your eyes is going to make you hear it any better." She takes the cord from his fingers.

"Who said anything about my eyes?"

The light turns green as she presses play. It's her favorite song. She watches for his reaction. It sends more terror through her than it should. So what if Ethan doesn't like her taste in music? 

She doesn't need to answer that, because he's drumming on the steering wheel, enjoying it. 

"It's even better live," she comments. The record is great, don't get her wrong, but there is something magical about letting all of her stress dissolve as she pumps along with the crowd. 

There's something magical about the smile on his face. 

"Wait, you've seen them in concert?" She nods. "I am beyond jealous. I would kill to see them."

"Pretty sure they don't let murders go to concerts." 

"My soul, Lorelei. I would kill my soul with this minimum wage job to spend my wages resurrecting it with the medicine that is this band." His hand is on her shoulder, gripping it out of excitement.

His touch burns. She wants to blame the summer heat. In actuality, it's the way his brown eyes are boring into hers, until a car honks from behind. He proceeds through the intersection.

Back at the wheel, his fingers dance to the music. His head is bobbing, and it makes his hair fall into his face.

"Well, if you're really willing, their closest show is two hours away next month. I'm going." She bought her tickets the moment they went on sale. One for the concert and one for the bus trip there. Her boss approved her vacation days, so she'll be staying in a bnb that night.

His head is turned away, checking for traffic. When it swivels back, there's a huge grin painted on his face. "Please say they aren't sold out yet."

"Do you want me to say that, or should I check first before I make you pee yourself in excitement?"

"I'll have you know that I am in complete control of my bladder, thank you." 

They pull into a parking lot. She's busy on her phone, so she doesn't realize right away that they aren't at the dollar store. 

"Wait, where are we?"

"We're in the middle of me hijacking your vacation plans to cross the number one thing off my bucket list." He slips the key into his pocket, not making a move to leave the vehicle.

"Your number one thing on your bucket list is to hijack a co-worker's vacation plans?"

They've got this easy banter going, and her heart wants him to say, 'to hijack a pretty co-worker's plans,' because he's practically glowing in front of her. That'd require two things. One, that she not look like a sweaty mess in lime green shorts and a polo shirt, and two, that he be single. 

Half credit would be fine, yeah?

She can't guarantee that second one.

"If that co-worker is seeing my all time favorite band, yes. And only if there are tickets, because while you are a munchkin, I don't think we could pass for a really tall guy in a trench coat." He taps the top of her phone. "So, what's the consensus?"

There are still tickets left. Does she tell him, let him tag along on her trip? Or she could lie and pretend that she doesn't want to share her bnb, when she could save fifty bucks and buy herself a tour t-shirt, because it only has a twin sized bed. She should tell the truth. She should tell him there are tickets, and let him rent his own bnb, and party by himself on the other side of the bar, because there is no way that he would ever want to go with her. Guys don't want to date girls like Lorelei.

"There's a few left."

"You have got to send me that link." He takes her phone from her, composing a text message to himself.

She wouldn't call this getting his phone number.

She saves it after he hits send. In case he has more questions about the concert, she tells herself. 

"So seriously, where are we?"

"You wanted ice cream. We're getting ice cream. And hot dogs, because it's already five, and I'm hungry." He opens his door, not giving her the chance to argue. Just like how he won't let her argue when he pays for her scoop of rum raisin. 

She swirls her tongue around the base to catch a droplet. "You didn't have to pay."

"You paid for my hot dog. It seemed fair."

"It was to thank you for the ride."

"Eh, I would've given you the ride for free. I like you." He licks his red velvet cone. "Even if you have horrible taste in ice cream."

She hopes her sunburn hides her blush. 

"I've been told it's an acquired taste." Kind of like herself. 

He moves his cone to the side. He's aiming to take a lick of hers, but she's moved hers aside to wipe her cheek, and now his tongue is on her lips, and she doesn't know what to do as he realizes what he's doing and pulls away.

"I don't usually lick on the first date," he jokes. She wonders if he tastes like mustard and chocolate. She wishes she had an after meal dinner mint, even though her melting ice cream isn't finished. 

Even though she doesn't know if he even likes her like that, or if this has all been an attempt to make a friend at work, cranked up to eleven by the elation of concert tickets.

"What about the second one?" she asks. She means for it to come out in a humorous tone, yet it is barely above a whisper.

"I guess we'll have to find out tomorrow."

She takes a lick of her cone to hide her smile.

She can't wait.

June 26, 2021 20:02

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1 comment

Tricia Shulist
17:22 Jul 03, 2021

Nice. Awkward and funny. Thanks for this.

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