I had so much fun with this last week that I thought I'd do some more scribbling this weekend. And it's a U-Pick week, where I can pick from any of the 101 prompts that have been offered up so far. When I saw "Kissing" in the list, I thought, Why not continue my story from last week? And then I got the crazy idea to try to include both this week's prompt (smörgåsbord) and kissing. Let's see how I do.
If you'd asked her six hours ago where she'd be at midnight, her answer would not have been sitting in a dark corner booth at the local pizza dive sharing a large pepperoni and extra-cheese pie with a guy she'd just met a few hours before.
For the last hour, they'd been chatting like old friends. They talked about their families, their friends, the environment and politics. It was a veritable smörgåsbord of conversation. Andrew was a junior, and a business major, and it turned out he'd never been in the science department before this semester. He was, in fact, taking the only science requirement he needed to graduate. If he hadn't dropped his cell phone during class that afternoon, he would have never run into Jessie and they probably never would have crossed paths.
There was a momentary lull in the conversation, as Andrew chewed. Jessie sat across from him, picking a piece of pepperoni off her third pizza slice and eating it, wondering how she'd gotten here. This was not what happened to her. She was not the girl who got the guy (the really hot guy)...ever. She was, after all, the girl who spent her evenings and weekends in the science labs or the library. She didn't go to fraternity parties or happy hours at local bars. She wasn't a sorority girl or a flirt. She was just Jessie. Yet, here she was, on a date (was this a date?) with the cutest boy she'd ever seen on campus.
Andrew broke into her thoughts when he reached across the table for the cheese shaker and brushed her hand. "What's with the grin?" he asked.
"What?" She looked up at him, only then realizing that she was smiling. "Oh, nothing. I was just thinking."
"About?" he asked, taking another big bite from his own slice after coating it in more Parmesan.
"Tonight. How I ended up here." She stopped talking abruptly. Was that even OK to say? she wondered. She was no good at this. Andrew smiled at her, though, and she relaxed a bit and continued. "I mean, this isn't how I normally spend my Friday nights, eating pizza with a stranger."
Andrew put his pizza down and looked at Jessie. "Change is good," he said in his nonchalant manner. She already liked this about him. When they were leaving the lab, she'd asked him where they could eat at that late hour, and he had just shrugged his shoulders and said, "We'll find a place." She probably should have been worried, should have begged off and headed back to her dorm room instead. But for some reason, she wasn't afraid. It never crossed her mind to be, not from the moment he walked into the lab and offered his help.
"So what do you normally do on Friday nights?" Jessie asked, breaking a bite-sized chunk off her slice and sliding it into her mouth.
Andrew finished chewing and then said, "Pick up unsuspecting strangers in the science lab and take them out for late-night pizzas."
Jessie stopped chewing mid-bite and looked up at Andrew, a worried look crossing her face. When he smiled his broad, perfectly straight-toothed smile, she let out her breath and grinned back at him. They both laughed, but Jessie sat back in her seat and watched him more closely now, wondering if she'd misjudged. She mentally calculated the best escape route, just in case things got out of hand. "Really, though," she started, more hesitantly, "you don't seem like the study-on-a-Friday-night type. You must have had better plans than hanging out with me running organic chemistry reactions."
Andrew sheepishly picked at the cheese stuck to his plate. "I was supposed to meet some buddies at a party, but..."
Jessie waited for him to continue. When he didn't, she leaned forward again, crossing her arms and putting her elbows on the edge of the table. "Won't they wonder where you are?" she finally asked.
"Nah, they're probably wasted by now trying to hook up with the first girls that cross their paths." He smiled at her again, the uncomfortable silence gone. "That's really not my scene. I only go because they go. Believe me, I was much more comfortable watching you mix your compounds than watching them make fools of themselves."
Jessie laughed and felt her shoulders relax. She hadn't even realized how tense she'd gotten. "That's the good thing about being a nerd," Jessie joked. "No one expects you to go to parties and socialize. They know you'd rather be in the library than at a fraternity any day."
Without any warning, Andrew raised himself up on the edge of the table and leaned over the pizza pan to kiss her. His lips were soft and tender against hers. It only lasted a moment, but it seemed like a lifetime. When he pulled away she found herself following him for a few inches back toward his seat. She caught herself and pulled back when he said, "I'm glad I'll know where to find you."
Jessie, her face flushed with excitement and embarrassment, looked in Andrew's eyes and nodded. After a long moment of silence, she asked, "So, you know where to find me, but where can I find you? I don't think I've ever seen you around."
Andrew went back to eating his pizza. "I'm around. Don't worry, you'll see me now."
One of the bus boys started mopping the floor near their booth and giving them the evil eye. It was after 1AM. "I guess we should go," Jessie said, tossing her napkin on her plate. "I'm stuffed anyway."
"Yeah, me too," Andrew said, tossing the three remaining pieces into the box they'd asked for over a half-hour ago. "Do you want to take these for breakfast?" he asked her.
She cocked her head and raised her eyebrows. "You eat pizza cold for breakfast?"
"Really good," they both said at the same time. Then Jessie said, "I thought I was the only person who ate cold pizza for breakfast." They laughed until the bus boy stopped mopping and just stood watching them.
"OK, OK," Andrew said, standing and grabbing their jackets from the hook on the booth post. "We're leaving." They laughed all the way out the door and back to Jessie's dorm. At the door to the building, Jessie thanked him for the company and the dinner.
"Can I call you sometime?" he asked her.
"I'd like that she said," pulling a pen from her bag and ripping a piece of paper from her notebook. "I'd like that a lot." She handed him the number and he held her hand for just a moment longer than necessary.
"Good," he said and kissed her one more time.