Twister slumped onto the Rocket's couch after Reggie left. No kiss goodbye or hug or anything, just a little smile. It was over between them; he knew it.
"What's up with you?" Otto asked.
"I think Reggie's gonna dump me," he said gloomily.
"Twister," Sam gave him an incredulous look. "She's crazy about you."
"Yeah," Otto joined. "And you've only been together for like a second. I'm sure she's not sick of you yet."
Twister ignored their comments and sunk deeper into the couch. "It's true. She's bailed on me like four nights this week. And when we're all hanging out together, it's like I'm not even there anymore."
"I'll admit, she has toned it down on the PDA a lot since you guys first got together," Sam said, looking a little discouraged.
"Yeah. She's always hanging out with one of you and totally avoiding me."
"Dude," Otto said. "You might be right. But Reggie can't break up with you; that'll mess up everything! As if hanging out wasn't weird enough with you two all mushy. If you break up, it'll be way worse!"
Sam glared at Otto for his insensitivity. "Not to mention the emotional stress it will put on both of them."
"Right, whatever. The point is we need a plan."
"That's actually not a bad idea," Sam agreed. "That way we can show Reggie just what she would be losing."
Otto thought for a minute and then said, "Got it!" The others turned to look at him. "You take her to one of those fancy-pants restaurants. Girls love crap like that."
Twister looked hesitant. "I don't know that Reggie would be very into that."
"I think we should start by going over some of Twister's strengths," Sam offered. "That way we can really highlight the things she likes about him."
"Surfing," Otto started.
"Yes," Sam said tentatively. "But Reggie sees him surf all the time."
"Skateboarding," Twister offered.
"Once again, something you do all the time."
"Oh, I know!" Otto exclaimed. "Sandcastles. He got us second place in that sandcastle competition."
"That is a good skill of his but I don't see how it's going to help him win back Reggie. He's good at singing."
"Dude," Otto hit his shoulder. "You could sing to her in Spanish."
"That's actually a pretty good idea," Sam agreed.
Twister looked skeptical. "I don't know. Won't that be kind of weird?"
"No way," Otto assured him. "It's like a classic move to get the girl. What's the word for it?"
"Serenade," Sam supplied. "He's also good at cooking."
"I've cooked with her before," Twister said doubtfully.
"So? You could totally do like a surprise dinner for her or something!"
Sam nodded. "I think that would impress her. You could set out candles and get her flowers. That will show her how much you care."
"Are you guys sure about this?" Twister asked.
"Twister," Otto looked at him seriously. "Have I ever steered you wrong?"
Twister chose not to answer the question but decided to go with their plan. If it was the only way he could prevent losing Reggie, he had to try it.
He made plans with Reggie for Saturday night, telling her he had a surprise for her. His parents weren't as easily swayed as they had been a few weeks before and weren't going to leave him home alone for the night with his girlfriend. He ended up setting up in his back yard instead, hoping that the sunset and the stars would make up for the fact that they were eating dinner on the ground. Otto and Sam had come over to help set things up. Otto brought over a big blanket to spread out across the grass and Sam brought candles and flowers (correctly assuming that Twister would have forgotten to buy them.)
"Okay, so hand these to her right when she gets here."
"And don't forget to light the candles," Otto added, handing him a lighter which he pocketed. "Just don't burn down the yard."
"You've got the spaghetti cooking?" Sam asked. Otto had picked the meal. He assured both of them that spaghetti was the most romantic food.
"The sauce is ready; I just have to cook the noodles."
Sam nodded in approval. "Just please try not to spill any sauce on your clothes." Twister looked down at his light-blue button-down and khaki pants. "And you didn't end up making the garlic bread, did you?"
"No, Otto said it would make her not want to kiss me."
Sam nodded again, turning to Otto. "I think he's ready."
"You've got this, man," Otto threw an arm around his shoulder.
"Thanks, guys." They all put their hands together, saying, "woogity-woogity," before Otto and Twister left.
He went inside to go ahead and start on the spaghetti noodles. They only had a few minutes left to cook when Reggie walked into the kitchen.
"Wow," she said, scanning his outfit before going in for a kiss. "You look really nice."
"Thanks," he smiled, feeling a little encouraged by the kiss. "So do you."
She looked down at her dark-wash jeans and gray v-neck. "Dinner smells amazing. Are you making spaghetti?"
"Yeah, it's almost ready," he said, testing one of the noodles before straining them. "And since my parents refused to leave, I thought we could eat outside tonight."
"That sounds great."
He followed her eyes to the flowers sitting on the counter and remembered he was supposed to give them to her. "Oh, right," he said as he handed them to her.
"They're beautiful, what's the occasion?" she said, smiling as she smelled them.
"No occasion," he said vaguely, handing her a plate.
She set the flowers down, scooping some food onto her plate, and grabbed a soda out of the fridge. "Ready?" she asked once he had gotten his plate fixed.
He led her outside, struggling to get the door without spilling his food all over himself. He was determined to listen to Sam and not get any on his clothes. When they walked outside, he realized he forgot to light the candles. "Oh, man."
"What?" she asked, walking towards the picnic blanket.
He scrambled to set his plate and soda down on the blanket, reaching into his pocket and pulling out the lighter. "Twist, it's fine," she assured him as he started lighting them. "This was really sweet of you to do all of this."
"Okay," he said once the last one was lit. "Done."
Things felt normal with them again as they ate and he was pretty sure the plan was working. They watched the sun setting as they finished eating and she leaned into his shoulder. He wrapped his arm around her shoulder and she wrapped hers around his waist.
"You know you didn't have to do all of this for me."
"I just didn't want to lose you," he confessed.
"Lose me?" she said, leaning up to look at him. "What are you talking about?"
He felt a little silly saying it out loud but he wanted to be honest with her. "I know you were planning on breaking up with me."
She looked at him like he was crazy. "How in the world did you get that in your head?"
"I don't know. You haven't seemed like you really wanted to be around me as much lately and you've been making up excuses to not hang out with me alone."
She looked up at him with sad eyes and brought her hand up to rest on his cheek. "Twister, I'm so sorry I made you think that. I was never going to break-up with you. You make me so incredibly happy and I'm so thankful for our relationship." She looked at him intently, making sure he understood.
"Yes," she kissed him and then smiled, still resting her hand against his face and stroking his cheek with her thumb.
"So why were you acting like you didn't want me around before?"
She smiled as she shook her head, lowering her hand down to hold his. "I was trying to avoid being too couply with you because I knew it was bothering Otto. That's why I stopped kissing you or touching you when he was around. I was trying to focus on hanging out more with him and Sam so they didn't feel like it was just you and me all the time."
"Ohhh," he said in understanding. "And that's why you kept trying to have me hang out with him instead of being with you every night?"
"Yes. I was trying to make sure he knew that he hadn't lost his best friend. I should've told you. This is just all so new for me. For all of us. I'm still trying to figure out a balance. But I'm really, really happy with you," she gave his hand a little squeeze.
"I'm really happy too," he smiled back at her and they leaned in for another kiss. She pressed against him, lowering him onto his back as he stroked her hair. He didn't know how long they kissed but when they finished, the stars were starting to come out. She rested against his chest and he stroked the top of her head as he held her. They looked up at the sky, not saying anything for a few minutes.
"They helped me set this all up, you know. Otto and Sam. They didn't want us to break up either. They kept trying to come up with all of these ideas to help me impress you."
"Landing on the candlelit picnic," she said with a smile, kissing his chest.
"Mostly. They also wanted me to serenade you."
"Man, they pulled out all the stops."
"Yeah, I told them I thought that might be kind of weird."
She shifted in a little closer to him. "I don't know. I think it sounds nice. Will you?"
He still felt nervous about it but he obliged, softly singing the Spanish lyrics as he held her, looking up at the stars.