tagRomanceMaking the Most

Making the Most

bySupah_Bi©

Stephani, Steph for short, strolled down the street reminiscing about her wonderful high school years and how sad it would be to graduate in a few days. The goodbye would probably be very teary and near unbearable as she cut ties with friends she had come to know and love over that four—year period. So many memories would be left on that football field, on that campus, and in those hearts, and it was dreadfully sad that most of that would probably fade away in a year or two as friends move away and lives change and college starts. Soon all that would be left of those days would be contained in that memory—inducing relic, the yearbook.

Well, that was not completely true... in fact that bears no semblance whatsoever to the truth. The real truth was that her high school experience sucked and over the space of four years her life had altered, and never in her favor it seemed. She had had four or five crushes and despite her looks she was turned down for others and ended up with a couple loser boyfriends that probably could have won Academic Decathlon competitions in their sleep. Again it could be mentioned that beauty was not a factor for why she ended up with two geeks that she dumped within a week of hooking up. Steph had plenty of pretty, "more than her fair share" some girls would whine, yet she did not know how to use those looks to her advantage and that's where she got stuck.

She slowed down to look into a window at a mannequin that had a mini skirt and crop top on, wondering how it would look on her. Her reflection shone back at her in the mirror: a shorter (5'4"), slim figure with beautiful straight black hair that framed her naturally tan complexion and which she liked to keep in a pony tail but fell halfway down her back when she let it out. Her small, rather petite physique compromised her chest but let her retain a cute B cup that was enough for most guys. She had slightly crooked front teeth but they were not so horrible she had to keep her mouth closed in pictures; in fact, even with the minor problems with her teeth she had a dazzling smile that could be contagious when she was really happy.

Sadly enough those smiles were becoming less frequent. It used to be a common occurrence to see Stephani smile with such enthusiasm that you could not help but smile back at her and be happy. All that was before boys were a factor in her life and way before she decided she was extremely inadequate in the field of romance, in fact the decline had started when she hit puberty and carried on through to the end of her high school career. Things in her life and her own decisions had effected a buffer between her and all the boys she had ever wanted to date.

Silently she studied the outfit and decided that it would never look good on her, much less great, and though her mind filed away the shop for future reference, she still moved on and now just a touch more depressed that she had been before she stopped.

This lack of self—confidence and unwillingness to take a risk is what landed Stephani with two loser boyfriends and what had eventually driven away all of her friends. She was now forced to face that fact that no one wants to live with someone who will not take the chance and jump into the fire when life presents its opportunities. The main problem was that she did not realize this primary edict and no one had shown her that she was disobeying it each and every time she sold herself short or worried so much that she stood off to the side while everyone else jumped into things.

Guys and gals alike shied away from the person she was growing into and none yet had had the courage or compassion to help her. She was in desperate need of a male (or female) companion that could show her what life was about and all the bits and pieces she was passing up that led her bit by bit away from a happy life to a boring and dreary one. Now it was senior year, one week before she had to go out and face the world she needed to be prepared for, one week before childhood officially kicked her out on the street to fend for herself, one week left to cram for the biggest test of all: adulthood.

Later that day when she finally got home after passing up a few more of those vital prospects, her mother asked her again for what seemed the millionth time, "When are you going to get a job?"

"I don't know, Mom," she whined, "I've been trying so hard to get one. Today I went out after school for probably two hours speaking with managers," she paused, wincing inward at the lie and trying hard not to show it on her face, and went on, "Can we please not talk about this today? I am so tired and I have a horrible headache."

"Fine, whatever, Steph, but you know that you are going to be out of this house before the summer is gone and I'll be right there telling you, 'I told you so.'"

Stephani let out a squeal of frustration at her mother and stormed off to her room and sulked for a while, while she glared at the wall. After a while she pulled off her clothes and slipped into bed.

***

The next week went by uneventfully, as did graduation ceremonies and the following dance (she played the perfect wallflower). One of the greatest nights of any high school student's life was just another day for Stephani. She was racing her life downhill and there was no way anyone could hope to stop her. That's when the phone rang.

"Hello, Stephani? My name is Todd Parker I was wondering if I could talk to you for a little." Todd had seen her picture in the yearbook and was blown away that he had never heard of such a dazzling girl. "You see, I saw your picture in the yearbook and I was wondering how I could have gone a whole four years without noticing you. I guess maybe I never really looked for anyone out of my own little clique but there it is. Now I know this is kind of weird, but who are you exactly?"

"Well you're pretty damn right, this is weird. I don't know of anyone who would call to ask 'who' someone is. Huh, well..." Steph was trying to actually make something of this conversation at the moment. Such a strange phone call surely needed to be worked out———this could be interesting! But then that other part of her that seemed to surface the most told her, "Just hang up and forget about this loser."

"You're right, this is really weird. Umm let me start over," he paused, took a big breath trying to overcome the sudden shyness that had sprung up within him, and with a shaky voice due to the intimidation her beauty had on him he continued, staring at the picture in the yearbook as he did, "Hi my name's Todd, and I sow you in the yearbook. I was wondering if maybe you would like to go to lunch sometime..."

Stephani was blown away at the simple question that carried so much weight. She knew this was not a question of whether she would like to be his boyfriend, but for some reason her mind was making it exactly that. The biggest thought that blew threw her mind about a thousand times in the space of the next few seconds was, "I can't have a boyfriend right now," and though she knew she was being irrational with that thought, she could not get it out of her head for the life of her. She tried to do some quick mental math with her time allowances made by her schedule, and reminded herself she was probably the most uneventful person in the US.

Her hesitation and silence was starting to become a deterrent for Todd now. He did not know what to think of the silence, because if she was not talking how could he know what she was feeling at the moment. The wait was starting to make him want to hang up and forget he called. He had already gone against his tentative nature in calling her and now he was so scared she would hang up or reject him in some other way that he could not take it anymore.

"Maybe this was a bad idea," he said with a tone of regret, "I probably shouldn't have called you. Umm I'll just go now," he let his words trail off and hesitated a moment hoping that maybe she would stop him from putting the phone down and tell him that 'yes' she wanted to go on a date with him. He was met with silence as he willed himself to wait just a second or two more and he just let the phone fall to the bed as he clicked it off.

Regret at even calling washed over him, relief from the release of the agony of waiting for her answer, and reprimanding thoughts all washed over him in an intertwined conglomeration of the three. He sat motionless for a minute or two and then called up Brad, his best friend, to tell him how it went.

Back on the other side of the phone call, Steph was still holding the receiver to her ear wondering whether she should be happy at being free of the choice or sad that she missed the opportunity to start something with a boy who had taken an interest in her and not the other way around. Her reasoning had also urged her to look at the fact that he was going off of a yearbook picture and probably only knew what she looked like and nothing else about her. Yet he did ask her to lunch probably in order to do just that and now she had pushed him away just like she had pushed everyone else away. Her indecisiveness, which had resulted from her fear of getting burned, had led her away from this relationship that had the potential to be something really great. She had messed up again and this time she realized it and she laid back down and beat herself up mentally.

The clock ticked by on the wall with unnaturally loud clicks as seconds of her life passed her by and she sat there on the bed doing nothing about it. If anything, the short conversation with Todd had been enlightening, showing her not only that she never took chances but also that she would live a boring life without taking those chances. Now the moment was upon her and she realized she could still take one of those chances. She picked up the phone and hit a couple of buttons and her phone dialed back the number that had called her only two minutes ago. She heard the line pick up and opened her mouth to speak and she got an earful of a busy signal.

Steph just had to sit down now. It seemed that everything was going against her in life and that she might not be able to stop it anymore. A feeling of hopelessness started to overcome her feelings. The phone rang again. She answered in sad tones originating from that wash of hopelessness, "Hello."

"Hey did you just call?" Todd's voice coming through the line sparked her attitude and sent a smile spreading across her face that permeated her whole being.

"Oh yeah, I was just wondering if tomorrow at around one 'o clock would be good for you?" Her face heated up in an instant blush as she made this bold move that was so uncharacteristic of her.

"Yeah!" he exclaimed with almost too much enthusiasm, "I'll pick you up around one tomorrow then. Okay then, bye!"

"Alright," responded Steph with a giddy smile, "I guess I'll see you later then."

She hung up. The phone rang again almost instantly and Todd came on the line sounding a little embarrassed, "Umm yeah, forgot to ask where you live..." Both of them dissolved in laughter and the tension seemed to lift just a little more and Stephani was already starting to like him as she gave him her information.

**

One o'clock the next day, Todd knocked on her front door. Todd believed that one of the ways to impress a girl was to be punctual along with gentlemanly, and in this case it was. Stephani was by no means a person who believes so strongly in female rights that she would not let the door be opened for her, in fact she found it rather appealing and mildly sexy that the guy would be so polite. It would not have mad her mad if he did not act so politely, but it was definitely a nice surprise and very pleasant.

They exchanged greetings at the door, taking one another in a moment before they went off on their—for the most part—blind date. Steph had dressed casually for the occasion wearing only a pink Abercrombie shirt and a black skirt that stopped just above her knees but still revealed enough of her leg to be eye—catching for someone who was looking. Todd was looking. Todd noticed, and he realized and appreciated how she made the simple outfit look wonderful by just being happy and outgoing.

And yes, she was very happy and outgoing. This was already one of Stephani's happiest days of the month and they had not even gotten out of the driveway yet. As he led her to his car she studied him, reveling in the fact that he was actually somewhat handsome with bouncy brown hair and green eyes that sparkled with his personality. She could tell that he was probably an athlete or at least that he worked out moderately by the way he moved and the veins that were accented on his somewhat bigger arms. He was not perfect by any means, in fact one of her first impressions was that he needed to pay more attention to his nails and that his eyebrows were a little thick, but these minor imperfections made him seem all the more real to her and dispel the feeling that it was something of a dream that she had not waken up from yet.

They got into his beat up old BMW that looked about six or seven years old and they started down the road. His car was cleaner inside than it looked on the outside and actually drove very well and made for a rather smooth ride.

"Did you have any place in mind?" he asked.

Stephani thought for a moment before responding, "No, I'm drawing blanks, and to tell the truth I was just going to go along for the ride today and get to know you some. I was rather hoping you'd planned things out so I wouldn't have to make any decisions."

"I see, thanks for the notice," he replied jokingly before going on, "It's alright, I've got a plan anyhow. I thought we'd go to Giovanni's, the Italian place over on Sixteenth Street by the new Applebee's."

"That place is pretty old isn't it?"

"Yeah it's been there maybe twenty years and it looks a little beat up but you can't let looks deceive you, you know. My family has been eating there for years and I can tell you that if you have any taste for Italian food at all, then you'll love the place."

"Well, I suppose that sounds pretty nice. That is, it sounds nice as long as they've got a great chicken parmesan, because I've had some great chicken parmesan and I'll be disappointed if it doesn't measure up, you know." She said this with a quirk of a smile on her face.

"Do you like chicken parmesan then?"

"I love it, it has to be my favorite Italian dish."

"Well you're in for a treat then because these people cook it to perfection, I would know—it's my favorite dish too."

"Well I'll have to take your word for it then."

"I remember the first time I had chicken parmesan you know. It was eight years ago when I was only ten. My parents had taken me out to dinner at Giovanni's for my birthday and I picked that thinking it was going to be something like chicken strips. Even though I was disappointed that it wasn't what I thought it was going to be, I loved the dish, and now it's usually the one I get when I go there. Ah, and here it is."

He pulled into the small parking lot out in front of a small brown building in an L—shape that had a neon "Open" sign and a menu in the window and a big sign over the door that read, "Giovanni's Italian Diner". It looked to be a nice family-run place that probably served hundred—year—old recipes that had been passed down and perfected through five generations. The parking lot was fairly empty for a Saturday at lunchtime and for no apparent reason, but it allowed the two of them to pick their own table, a booth near the back and adjacent to a window that showed a cute garden that was being grown behind the restaurant. Besides an older couple sitting near the front of the restaurant, there were no other patrons and Steph and Todd were relatively alone to talk as they wished.

As they took their seats a waitress came over to take their orders for what they would like to drink and Todd informed her that she could also take their entrée requests also. He ordered for the two of them, chicken parmesan of course, and then they got to talking about each other.

"So, my name's Todd," he started with a smile on his face, "I suppose you might want to know a little more about the guy who brought you to lunch huh?"

"Oh you definitely read my mind, not that it could have been hard. I mean seriously, you called me last night with no more than a name and a picture to go on."

"Well you are beautiful," Stephani felt her face heat up as he went on, "but you're right, I don't usually just call up girls that look as dazzling as you do." He winked.

"Okay, okay you're making me blush with all the compliments, I thought we were talking about you," she laughed.

"Right, right, as I was going to say then, my name is Todd." He stopped and looked at her appearing to have finished.

"Uh, I knew that, silly, you've only told me about four or five times."

"I used to go to the same high school you went to and I work for my uncle at his furniture store here in town. Let's see, I wan to be a musical engineer after college, and speaking of———"

"Wait, wait, you're going too fast. What's a musical engineer? It sounds kind of cool."

"Well basically I work with music to make sure it sounds just like the artist wants it to sound. A lot of music engineers are the guys who work soundboards at concerts. It's a lot of technical stuff but I like doing it. I've been doing it for my cousin's band for about four years now."

"Wow that's awesome. It sounds pretty fun too." She put on a coy smile, "So you're in a band? That's pretty hot ya know." They both laughed at the obvious pick up line.

"What about you then? Got a job, want to go to college, want to be something special?"

"Well, actually I want to go to college to learn how to cook. I love cooking and I really want to get into a good culinary school like one of The Art Institutes."

"What's that?"

"It's a culinary school that offers training in a lot of the big cities."

"That's pretty cool. You wanna be the next Emeril or what?"

She laughed at the thought of her being on television shouting out some dumb catch phrase every twenty seconds. "No, I'd like to own my own restaurant sometime. Don't you think that would be kinda cool? It's my dream."

"Yeah I do like that it's pretty cool."

Their food came and they talked and ate for about an hour and then sat there and talked some more for probably an hour after that. Even though neither of them thought they had anything left to talk about, both kept coming up with more and more. They had developed a strong rapport in a short time and both liked each other and suspected the other of the same. They would have gone on for another hour or two had not Todd suggested they go talk somewhere else and get some fresh air. Stephani agreed, though she was somewhat skeptical of what he might have in mind.

He drove them out into the country a ways before turning down an old dirt road that led to a shallow stream that was about four feet deep and twice as wide. They sat on the grass and kicked off their shoes, sandals in Stephani's case, so that they could put their feet in the water.

As they spoke, the wind died down and the sun fell to an angle that left them in its rays. The water remained cool, but the air grew hot and the two of them were starting to heat up and get a little perspiration. Stephani made a comment about how it had gotten so hot all of a sudden.

"Well, there's a stream right here, let's go for a quick dip. What do you say?" He said it like it was a question but his shirt was already off before he could get the last word out of his mouth. Stephani was left dumbfounded at the remark and quick decision on his part and also at the fact that she was right: he must work out at least a little. He had a nice, toned body, not extremely buff or too muscular, but he did have a six-pack and looked rather attractive standing there with a big grin on his face with only his pants on.

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bySupah_Bi© 1 comments/ 13901 views/ 2 favorites

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