Repeat

16


True to her word, she showed up to the house a little after four, dressed in a t-shirt dress that fell around her thighs, accenting her delicate calves and the black flats she wore. Her hair was pulled back into a loose French braid, draped over one shoulder.

"Hi," she said, smiling.

He managed a smile. Dear god, help me. "Hey," he greeted quietly, stepping out next to her. In his plain t-shirt and jeans, he felt severely underdressed, but she'd make trash bags look fancy. "You ready?" He let her pass him and wondered how he'd gotten so lucky to land such a pretty, caring girl.

"Yeah," she murmured demurely, casting a glance at him from under her eyelashes as he got the door for and waited until she was seated to close the door and head to the driver's side.

Be a gentleman, Simon had advised him when Derek reluctantly told his brother about things with Chloe. Treat her like a princess. Hold doors for her, pay the check, if she's cold put your jacket over her, be polite which I know is hard for you but you must control your temper. He'd even helped Derek pick out his outfit since he claimed Derek was "fashion blind like a seven-year-old Tori".

The silence in the car was painful to endure. Is she mad at me? he worried as she gazed out the window, her eyes half-lidded like a seductress's.

She hadn't said a word since they'd started driving and he couldn't help but think he'd really screwed things up.

Of course she's mad. You ignored her for an eternity, he told himself and tightened his grip on the steering wheel.

The silence grew even louder, until he thought his head would explode and he knew he had to turn on the radio or say something because he didn't want this silence; his thoughts would slowly smother whatever good mood he was in. Making up his mind, he flicked on the radio just to fill the silence and, out of the corner of his eye, saw Chloe's head jerk up.

A Luke Bryan song was playing, the same one from when they met if he remembered correctly, and he thought about the warm summer sun and the way her tan legs had swung back and forth and the way she flushed and stammered when he came over.

"This song," Chloe said absently, drawing his attention away from the singer.

"What about it?" he asked as he turned off of I-30 and headed down the incline that lead to a highway, which would take them to the ice cream parlor.

"We listened to it in your car that first time."

For a moment, he was dumb-struck that she remembered. "Yeah," he muttered and flicked the volume up by seven notches.

A wide smile spread across her face, lighting up her eyes like a lake reflecting sun. "I love this song," she explained to him as she twisted around to face him.

"Chloe, I'm gonna tell you something."

He passed two Walmarts, a Taylor's Do It Center, and four Subways. Four minutes until they got to Cold Stone.

"I'm sorry. I've been an complete ass and nothing really excuses it. I really, really like you and I want this to work and don't be scared to tell me I'm being a dick. I don't bite."

"From what I've seen, that's a good thing," she laughed and the sound made all the unease melt away. "Next time, instead of being a complete prick and shutting me out, how about you lean on me. I won't let you down."

Her clear, blue eyes met his and he was shaken by the amount of determination glinting in them.

"I promise." There was no indecision or hesitance in her voice.

He felt his face warm. "Okay," he said demurely, feeling her fingers slide through his free hand to squeeze his fingers. Blood pounded in his ears as the Carvel ice cream store came into view.

"Okay," she murmured, smiling as he turned into the parking lot.

"I won't let you down this time. I promise," he told her, turning off the ignition to look at her and brush a stray lock of hair out of her face. "I promise."

"Okay, okay," she sighed and pulled away.

I won't mess things up this time.