My angel fluttered away from me. Knees not quaking. Teeth not chattering.
It was as if Charlie had cast some freakish spell over her.
And I had to deal with my best friend who was currently being a jackass.
“You look simply delicious tonight, Jenn,” Colin purred in my ear. “I want to eat you up.”
“Eat this.” I punched his nuts and he let out a satisfying groan.
“Sweetheart, is that the thanks I get for taking you out? That hurt.”
“Cut the crap, Colin. No one can hear us. Now, your job is to keep Tsui occupied. Got it? Lexie said she wanted me to stay by her side all night and that’s what I intend to do.”
“Aw, baby, you’re no fun. At least let me feel up those huge silicone lumps of yours.”
I rolled my eyes. “Tell me why I let you be my friend?”
“Because you adore me and because no one else would do this for you.”
“True. Come on, let’s go.”
The night started out pretty good. Lexie calmed down and we chatted normally. But my plans of a romantic time at the skating rink, making sure Lexie didn’t fall and wrapping my arms around her were completely shattered by a jerk wearing a wig. And Lexie didn’t seem to mind that he was monopolizing her, so I gave up.
“Hey, Charlie.” Colin came up to me, hands in his pockets. “Having fun with your date?”
“What does it look like?”
Rolling over to us, James said, “Be a dear and take a picture of us, Col.” He was holding MY date and winking, obviously shoving it in my face that he had the upper hand. Well, I wasn’t about to fight. I mean, I didn’t know Lexie very well anyway, and James must have liked her a lot to go to all this trouble to be with her. Who was I to stand in his way?
Colin dutifully snapped some pictures with his phone. I rolled my eyes.
James was enjoying this way too much.
“James is being a dick, you know,” Colin said.
“Yeah…it looks that way.”
They made another circuit around the rink.
“Are you going to take that, Tsui?” Colin asked. “Now he’s taunting you.”
I knew what he was doing–trying to make me feel low so I’d give up. It was working.
“What the hell am I supposed to do? Lexie doesn’t want to be with me or she’d leave him and come over here.”
“Dude. Take her away from him. Don’t let James get away with that shit.”
I sighed. “It doesn’t matter anyway. The guy is living with her.”
“Yeah…as a girl. He doesn’t realize if he gets caught, it’s over. Plus, he told me Lexie won’t have anything to do with him. She’s like his anti-fan or something while she’s your biggest.
“It’s a no brainer, in my opinion. I’ll help, if you want.”
I lurched my head back. “He’s your best friend. Why do you want to help me?”
“Because, would you look at him? He’s not acting like himself. I mean, I know he likes dressing in drag, but this is going too far. I want my friend back. I haven’t heard from him in two weeks and it’s because of her.”
Colin sounded a little jealous, but whatever. He was right. If I wanted to move forward with Lexie, I had to do something.
So I rolled over to her and literally grabbed her from him. It was time to spend some quality time with my date.
“What’s that asshole doing?” I spat, charging after them, but Colin pulled me backwards.
“Not so fast, sweetcheeks. Let the love birds alone.”
That shitty look on Charlie’s face said everything.
I just lost Lexie.
I tried to wriggle out of Colin’s arms, but even though he didn’t look like it, he was ten times stronger than I was. “Let go, damn it. Lexie said she didn’t want to be left alone with him.”
“I know, darling, but she’ll be fine.”
“And get your fucking hands off my boobs, pervert.”
It all happened so fast. One minute I was happily skating with Jenny, the next, Charlie grabbed me by the waist and we went sailing toward the exit. My heart fluttered in my chest.
“Is it okay if we get out of here?” Charlie asked.
Not even thinking, I nodded.
We rolled right off the rink and out the door. We didn’t even take off our skates!
After skating about the city streets, Charlie nodded toward the bay, so I followed. My knees were at the squishy, blubbery level and my stomach felt queasy, but I kept it to myself. I didn’t wan’t my insanity to screw up my chances with THE CHARLIE TSUI!
I still couldn’t believe I was actually talking to him let alone out on a date.
“I’m glad you’re not running away from me anymore,” Charlie said, finally, after both of us hadn’t talked in an awkward amount of time.
“Well, I can’t,” I answered. “I’m wearing these shoes of humiliation. You do realize I’m certifiably clumsy. I’ll trip at a moment’s notice. And being on wheels really doesn’t help.”
His dreamy eyes locked on mine. “Don’t worry. I’ll catch you.”
Did you see that? Butterflies fluttered all around as symphonies played love songs. I was in literal Charlie Tsui heaven.
When I didn’t say anything else, he asked, “So, have you always lived in San Myshuno?”
Shaking my head, I answered, “No…I grew up in Brindleton Bay.” Just saying the name made me wistful for its sandy beaches and the cry of seagulls in the salty air.
“Really?” he said. “My folks own a little place there. We would spend summers at the bay when I was a kid.”
I snapped my fingers. “So that was you–always doing cartwheels on the beach and singing, ‘Baby, Baby, Oh, Baby, Baby’!”
He laughed. “Funny. Honestly, that was one of our worst songs. I have no idea why it got so popular.”
I tilted my head and shrugged. “Maybe because it’s fun to watch you adorably sing and dance. I know I became a fan the minute I went to your concert. I’ll have to admit, I didn’t like the songs until then.”
“So you hate our singing?”
“I didn’t say that…”
“That’s exactly what you said…”
“I did not!”
“Admit it. You think we’re lame.”
We teased like that for a while until we stumbled onto a cute kiddie park.
“Let’s crawl inside,” I said, pulling his arm and bumbling in the grass toward a playland.
“But…we won’t fit. It’s for toddlers.”
“We’ll fit fine.” I pushed his cute tushie inside and followed after him.
We finally settled into one of the openings, and I asked Charlie how he got into singing.
He told me that he’d always danced his whole life and was actually thinking about becoming a professional ballet dancer. This floored me. But I thought it was kind of hot. I soooo wanted to see him in tights. And I knew he would have made a gorgeous ballet dancer, holding the girls, spinning them in the air.
My mind zoned out for a minute and went into dreamy-Charlie-land….
From out of the clouds I heard, “Lexie? Hey…is anyone home? Lexie?”
“Mmm?” I said, mesmerized.
“Did you hear anything that I said?”
“Uh…that you were a fine polka dancer and your sister pushed you into trying out for the Heartthrobs. Am I right?”
He laughed so hard, he coughed at the end.
“You’re such a bad liar,” he said, half grinning. “But I’ll forgive you. This once.”
He took my hand and rubbed my cheek. “Thanks for tonight. I’m really having a fun time with you.”
Squee! Warning bells went off in my head like a firetruck siren. Wee-oo Wee-oo! Alert! Lexie’s heart was about to explode in five seconds!
And before I could bolt right off the side of the playground equipment, he started to inch closer.
And that’s when my knees stopped quaking and my nervousness flew away. I melted into Charlie’s warm kisses in total and utter bliss.