tagRomanceMore Than Friendship Material Pt. 07

More Than Friendship Material Pt. 07


Todd scooted his butt out of Liz's room, so that she could get ready for their first official date. Now, he wished he had actually planned a little further ahead. Where were they going to go? Things had gone pretty well so far with Liz, even if they were both moving into uncharted waters. But, there was some unfinished business Todd wasn't looking forward to. He still needed to talk to Hollie. Todd had figured to go out with the cute cheerleader a couple of times just for fun and be done with it. Instead, in a very short time she had become a part of their close knit group, Liz's good friend, and something more than friends with Todd.

Her intuition and sacrifice had led him to face feelings he didn't really understand and to take this new step with Liz. Hollie had done this for them, no matter the possible cost to her own feelings.

Feeling a twinge of guilt and his stomach tighten, Todd took out his cell phone and dialed.

Hollie picked up on the second ring. "Hey Todd. Everything OK?"

"So far," he replied. "But, we need to talk."

"Well that's almost never a good way to start a conversation," Hollie answered. "I assume its about the stuff from last night, and I understand why you may have not wanted to go into it with so many witnesses."

"Well, some of its about that. The rest is about me and you...and Liz."

"You want to have a threesome? She must be taking things very well," Hollie giggled.

"NO! I mean, not that that wouldn't be amazing...er..I mean, no that wasn't what I was saying," Todd stammered.

"Easy there tiger. I was just teasing to try to lighten the mood. Let me make things easier for you. You're calling to break up with me because you're with Liz now, right?"

"Well, I'm not really with Liz, but after last night I realized that maybe I should be, you know? Wait. Of course you know. You knew before I did. That was sneaky, by the way, but really well done"

"Thanks, I think" Hollie replied. "I had help, but it wasn't easy and I felt a little guilty tricking both of you, then kissing Liz...you sure you don't want that threeway?"

"Not as sure now," Todd sighed. "You know I thought this was going to be harder on you to talk about."

"AWWW, poor baby," she laughed. "Well, if it makes you feel better, I had pretty much figured that this was what was going to happen, so I dealt with a lot of the mixed emotions already. If you two have the love of the ages, it would have been pretty selfish to stand in the way. Should I ask how the magical first night was, or is that none of my business."

"Well since you played Cupid and all," Todd answered," I don't mind telling you that there was no magical first night. I was completely zonked. No kissing, no making out, and we both slept in our own beds, alone. Allen got his good night kiss, though."

"I need to buy more apples." Hollie grumbled.


"Never mind. Have you guys even discussed it then?"

'Some this morning." Todd described the ring and the prior conversation with Liz, as Hollie sighed at the romantic scene. "Now, " he finished, "I want to start things out slow and official. She's getting ready now."

"Where are you taking her," Hollie asked.

'Well, that's the thing, " Todd said. "I'm the party guy, not the romantic guy, and I hadn't thought out all the plans. I hate to ask, but do you have any suggestions."

Hollie hesitated before responding. "I do, but I'm not going to tell them to you. It's not because I'm jealous either. It's because things that would be special to me may not fit what you two have. You need to pick something that has meaning for at least her, and hopefully for both of you. I know you can do it. You are that romantic guy. That thing with your granddad's ring, the way you told me about "your favorite kiss," that was you getting in touch with your inner Prince Charming. The right plan will come to you."

Todd relaxed at Hollie's heartfelt advice. "OK. I think maybe you dodged a bullet, Hollie. Liz has been stuck with me forever, so she hasn't got a choice. But you were probably too good for me."

"Damn straight I was," she laughed, "but I'll keep you on my list of references, and if things don't work out with you and Liz...."

"I'd be honored if you'd lower yourself to go out with me again," Todd laughed.

"Who said I was thinking about you? Liz already knows how good I am." Hollie said slyly. "Good luck, loverboy."

Hollie hung up and Todd shook his head, wondering at how he had been fortunate enough to involve himself with such incredible women.


Liz tried not to rush, but she didn't want to keep Todd waiting too long, either. Taking a quick shower, she shaved and washed her hair, then took a little extra time applying her makeup and straining her hair so that it lay sleek and soft over her shoulders and down her back. She wondered what she should wear. He looked handsome in his dress clothes, so she figured she had to at least match him.

With a towel wrapped around her body, she snuck back into her room and turned the radio a bit louder, looking through her things. She really had to get more color! She finally settled on a blue cotton dress that was casual, but dressy enough for a date. The thin straps showed off the smooth skin of her shoulders and arms, with a hint of cleavage were the bodice hugged her, and the skirt flared out from her hips gently and ended at her knees. Slipping on a pair of navy flats, she dabbed on a hint of perfume and then studied herself in the mirror.

Nerves made her stomach flutter and she fiddled with her hair a minute more, before slowly making her way out. Todd was on the phone, standing on the small apartment patio with his back to her. She figured it had to be important, so she slipped into the kitchen to grab a bottle of water and wait. It wasn't long before he finished up, shaking his head before he spotted her and re-entered the apartment.

"Hi." She smiled, feeling rather self conscious now that this was supposed to be all 'official'. "Everything okay?"

He pocketed his cell and smiled, "Yeah, I just thought I should talk to Hollie and well, clear the air I guess."

Liz sipped on her water, nodded. "Yeah. She's great. I can't believe she went through all that trouble." Setting her drink down, she walked to him and grabbed his tie playfully tugging him. A soft flirty smile played on her lips, but her eyes and the slight tremble in her hands gave away her nervousness. "So, what's the plan? I'm not sure how good I am with this dating stuff."

"Oh I don't know. I think Allen had a good time and a good...kiss."

Her eyes widened a fraction and she grinned. "Well, I think he deserved it. After all, he saved our asses, took me on a date and then practically carried your butt to the car. Plus, you were too tired to kiss me, so...." She giggled and kissed his cheek, moving away with a playful swish of her hips.

"Maybe I don't kiss on the first date," Todd said with a grin.

"And maybe monkeys will come flying out of my butt," Liz retorted.

"They make a medicated powder for that these days, Red." he laughed. Then a thoughtful look came over Todd's face. "OK," he continued, "come on. You've already had the magnificent Farmer brunch, so I'm assuming you can hold off on food for a while?"

"We'll see. So where are we going?"

"It's a grand adventure. Do you want the blindfold or not," Todd asked.

Liz frowned. "That's scary. Do I need one?"

"Your call, Princess!" Another evil laugh filtered the air and he waggled his brows.

"Nah! I'll risk it. I'm the kind of girl that likes to live on the edge," she said with a grin. The nervousness was still there, but the return to the playfulness that marked their relationship was a good sign.

"Famous last words," Todd said with a wink, opening the door before taking Liz's arm in the crook of his, and leading her out of the apartment on the first stage of this new experiment in their lives.

An hour later, after a car ride that consisted of the newly minted couple singing along with the radio at the top of their voices, Todd pulled the car onto the Interstate exit ramp and into the line of cars waiting to enter the Atlanta Zoological Park.

Turning to Liz, he proudly announced, "Milady, for our first "official" date, welcome to the site of our "unofficial" first date back in third grade. I hope you'll hold my hand again."

Liz's eyes teared up and she was sure that her heart had melted. She was having a hard time drawing a full breath. When had he gotten so romantic? Even while dating other girls, she couldn't recall Todd actually being romantic. Sweet, fun, funny, but not romantic.

She blinked her eyes quickly and sniffed, "Ugh...allergies." She lied and smiled. "I would be happy to hold your hand. At least this time it won't be all sticky."

"You never know, could be." He shot back and grinned, telling her to stay put while he jumped out of the car and jogged around it, opening her door. Liz stepped out, smiling and blushing. With their things in order, she took his hand and together they walked into the Park.

Todd paid the admission, and the happy pair strolled into the park. He had always loved animals, and Hollie had been right. When he stopped worrying about what to do, it had just come to him. When he and Liz were in third grade, there was a class field trip to the Atlanta Zoo that spring. Todd was used to hanging out with Aaron and Pete, two of his friends, or as teachers usually referred to them, the Three Stooges. But, the bus seats were only for two. The boys were basically harmless, but still energetic. To minimize potential chaos on the trip, the chaperone had made sure that the boys sat in the front of the bus, and they had to board in alphabetical order. So, Aaron and Pete found themselves in the left hand seat, with Todd across the aisle to their right. Through no intention of her own, quiet, bookish Liz found herself sharing that bus seat with a boisterous boy she had nothing in common with.

During the ride to the zoo, Todd barely noticed Liz was even there, and Liz didn't do anything to change that happy fact. But, the fates conspired to bring the mismatched pair together, once the bus pulled to a stop in front of the zoo entrance. "Alright children," their teacher Mrs. Buchanan announced, "this isn't just a fun trip, it's a learning experience. You are to explore the zoo with the person sitting in the seat next to you, and when we return, you will work together to make a report on one of the animals. It has to be an animal that starts with the same letter as one of your names."

Liz reflected back and inwardly smiled. She had been so shy and everyone had known Todd. He was a popular kid, usually laughing and joking around with his buds and she was almost mortified to be stuck with him on the trip. But she had tried to act as though she wasn't in the least bothered. Instead, when he had let out a bit of a whiny groan, she'd shot him a glare and shrugged.

Lifting her chin, she'd practically scooted him off the seat and followed the others off the bus. "Now children, we don't want to get lost! Be sure to stay with your partners and hold hands so no one gets left behind."

This time they had both groaned. Todd has stuck his hand out and she'd sighed, holding onto his sticky, slightly sweaty hand in her own and feeling generally grossed out. Who would have guessed that they would have become thick as thieves after that one day.


In many ways, as they wandered the zoo, Todd and Liz were venturing on a road not traveled. When they were thrust together as 9 year olds, the thoughts of a romantic relationship were (and should have been) the farthest things from their minds. But, the day set the tone for how they saw each other. Todd was a mediocre student that had no sisters and didn't understand girls. Liz was a serious, only child, who was often the target of bullies of both sexes. That day, they each found the other side of the coin that neither child knew was needed.

Of course, having names that started with T and L gave the pair a lot of choices as to what animal to pick. Todd started off with Tiger, but Liz was adamant that it would be picked by someone else. Liz offered lion, but Todd rightly disagreed on the same principle. Lizards were too basic. Tortoises seemed too boring. Nothing seemed right. But, eventually, as they were coming to the end of their day, just the right creature revealed itself. In the present, as Todd and Liz strode arm in arm up to that exhibit the same thought hit them. "Hey!" they exclaimed together, "It's the lemurs!"

"Remember the Lemurs?" Liz asked him as they strolled. "L for lemur."

He chuckled, "I do remember and what was it - T for tarantula?"

"Ick. No spiders. Then or now," she giggled, "That was a fun field trip. Who would have thought we'd still be together after all this time...at least as friends, never mind anything more."

"Looking back, I'm really surprised we didn't do anything before now. I never really gave it serious thought, but now that I'm thinking..."

"Mmmmm..." She gazed at a brightly feathered bird and nodded, "Yeah...you were my first kiss and the first boy I showed my boobs to." She giggled, remembering that she had done it on a dare.

A huge grin split his face as he recalled. "Oh yes, the "I'll show you mine if you show me yours." Worked like a charm."

She punched his arm playfully and gave him another mock glare. "Whatever. Wasn't very fair considering I thought you meant...you know...your thing, not your own chest!" Giggles bubbled up her throat and spilled out as she remembered the way his jaw had sort of hung open for a while, transfixed until she shoved her shirt back down. "But it was worth the look on your face."

"If stupid looks were all it took to see your boobs, I wish you'd said something sooner," Todd said, as he affected a cross-eyed, tongue out expression.

"Forget that. You still owe me. The closest I've come to seeing Little Todd is the hammock," Liz said saucily.

"Get a room," a teenager walking by added. Todd and Liz laughed for minutes.

They continued touring the zoo, noticing that while there had been some exhibits added, much of the park was just as it had been when they were kids. The day was surprisingly warm for October. Taking a break, Todd sprung for some ice cream and the couple leaned against one another comfortably on a bench. "You know what the best part of that day was back then?" Todd asked.

"No, what?"

"You didn't treat me like I was dumb. I know I was stupid and loud and had sticky hands and all. Plus, I didn't have a clue how to communicate with you. You were smart, quiet...a girl for God's sake. I knew nothing about girls, except they played with dolls and had tea parties and sappy stuff like that. But you weren't like that."

"If you say I was just like a guy, you're never seeing these boobs again," Liz warned teasingly.

"No, that's not what I meant. I meant that you listened to me. You treated me like a person, not the troublemaker, and it got me to see you as a person. I could have let you take over the whole assignment,but you asked what I thought and actually listened to what I said. The grade I got on that report was the best I had ever had. My mom had it on the refrigerator for a year. I realized that I could have fun and still do OK in school."

"You were always smart, but your friends were too stupid to see that. Excluding me of course.* She smiled warmly at him, turning her look at him. A smudge of chocolate ice cream lingered on his bottom lip as he licked at his cone and she grinned. "Um...Todd?"

"Mmmmm?" His gaze slid hers and she pointed to her own lips, trying to give him the hint. "What? Nothing is there."

She rolled her eyes and giggled, "No you goof." On impulse she leaned further in and turned his face to hers. "Come here."

She kissed his bottom lip and then let her tongue sneak out to lick the sweet ice cream off him, making another group of kids go eeeeewwww. Pulling away, she turned back to the sights and licked the dripping strawberry ice cream off her hand. "I think I'm the one with sticky fingers today."

"Well I think that officially puts this official first date as better than the unofficial one," Todd grinned. "and I guess I do kiss on the first date. I already knew you did. But hands off of Allen now, Red."

The rest of the day was part reminiscing, part acclimating to their new status, and part just goofing off like kids again. All of the stress, drama, and weirdness of the past couple of weeks faded away. Liz liked the zoo train ride where they cuddled in the last car. Todd liked tickling Liz in the dark reptile and insect exhibit. As the sun started to go down, the happy couple made their way to the last exhibit of the day: the orangutans. There was a family group, with a nursing mother and a younger male. The dominant male though was what caught their attention. The large hairy red ape swung easily from rope and tire swings before landing right in front of Liz.

"Looks like you have competition," Liz giggled.

"That's because you're flirting, have the same hair color, and a red monkey butt." Todd retorted. "Wow, you really have caught his eye or something at least."

Todd pointed and Liz turned to see the ape sporting a massive erection. She yelped and turned as red as her hair. "Maybe this is proof I should bow out gracefully and leave you two to some privacy," Todd laughed.

Liz punched him in the arm, but Todd just took her hand in his again and they walked to the exit. Just before they left, Todd hesitated. "I have to go to the little boy's room. Can you take the keys and start the car?"

'Sure. Hope everything comes out all right."

She followed the mass of people heading to the parking lot, but the car wasn't too difficult to locate. Turning on the car, the AC, and the radio in that order, Liz reclined the seat and closed her eyes, fingering the ring dangling on her chest and smiling. A few minutes later, Todd knocked on the window for her to unlock the door. When she did, Todd tossed a large stuffed orangutan onto her. "I didn't want you to have any regrets, like you said with Allen. If things don't work out with me, there's always Monkeyboy for you."

Liz threw her head back and laughed, squeezing the large stuffed animal close and grinning. "I suppose he is humpable. If my batteries die, he could do the trick." She wiggled her brows and fell into fits of giggles as he shook his head and did his best to look disturbed, but in all actuality, Liz and humping only seemed to fuel his imagination.

"By the way, you sure have mentioned Allen a lot." She continued, eying him curiously. "Do I detect a note of jealousy, Mr. Farmer?"

"No. Just precaution, Ms. Mason." Todd winked. "Allen seems to have a way with the ladies that I never would have guessed about, and I tend to be wary about nice guys who could beat the crap out of me if they so chose."

"Tell you what," Liz offered. "No other people involved unless the both of us are there too. We can call it the Ben and Mary rule."

"Fair enough, but don't tell Mary. She'll take that as an offer to join us." Todd pulled out of the parking lot and drove back to the interstate. "Now I hope you're hungry, " he said, " because I sure am. Any particular type of food you're in the mood for?"

She decided the bite back the innuendo that tickled the tip of her tongue and smiled. "Mmmm, Mexican is my favorite. Cheap and good food."

He nodded in agreement. "I can't argue with cheap, good food."

The redhead giggled, feeling blissfully content for the first time in a while now. She had always been reasonably happy, but this seemed to be the perfect day together. And it had been a while since they had spent any quality time alone.


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