"Hey," Dante smiled charmingly as he leaned against the table beside her. "Great party, huh?"
"Yeah." She giggled, turning on the charm as she swirled her hair. She was laying it on a little thick, but he didn't mind.
"So, what brings you here?" His eyes scaled her body.
"Girls night." She superficially giggled again, annoying Dante and flattering him at the same time. "My friend got dumped so she's here to dance away her sorrows. We honestly don't even know the guy throwing this party!" She giggled louder and flipped her forward, obviously trying to impress him, while trying to look casual at the same time.
"So, what's your name?" He smiled as he placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Jenny." She yelled above the music. "You wanna sit somewhere more comfortable?" Without waiting for him to respond, she grabbed him by the collar and pulled him over toward a couch on the other end of the crowded room. She bit her lip and smiled at him as they sat down, practically pleading for him to kiss her.
Dante pulled her in close, and slid his hand behind her neck to kiss her, which she agreed to willingly. As he pressed his lips to hers, he found himself picturing her as Jessie. He jolted his head back in surprise.
"What's wrong?" She pouted with a raised eyebrow.
"Nothing," he shook his head and leaned in to kiss her again. "Sorry Jessie."
"Jenny!" She shouted over the music, tossing another scowl in his direction.
"Oh. Jenny. Yeah, I'm sorry. I must have heard you wrong." He leaned in and locked his lips with hers again, but he couldn't even think about kissing her. Why had he pictured Jessie?
"Is something wrong?" Jenny leaned back a little. "You don't really seem into it."
"I was." He rubbed the back of his neck. "I mean, I am."
"Forget it." She rolled her eyes and stood to mix in with the dancing crowd.
Dante stared in bewilderment and didn't attempt to stop her. He had never thought of Jessie in that way before and wondered why he was now. He tried to toss the thought from his mind, but any time he flirted with someone, it just felt fake. It always had been fake, but he hadn't really cared before. He couldn't stop thinking about what Jessie had always been saying about wanting to be with someone who didn't take advantage of other people, someone who cared.
But Dante wasn't that guy; he never had been and he didn't care to be. He leaned against a wall in a corner of the room, staring at his drink. When he saw Jenny in the crowd again, he scuffled over to her.
"Hey," he shouted above the music. "Jenny, I'm sorry about that."
"Listen," she shook her head and waved him away with her hand. "The moment's over. Nothing's happening, okay? Just go away." She tried ignore him and continued dancing.
"I'm sorry." He hollered, wondering why he was trying so hard to apologize. He didn't even know her and would probably see her again.
"Just go." She rolled her eyes as she sifted through the crowd until she found her girlfriends. When she reached them, she pointed back to him and they all glowered at him. He didn't feel like messing with a pack of hyenas, so he left the party altogether.
He stepped into an alley, wondering to do with the rest of his night. He pulled out his phone to check on Jessie. He unlocked the app to find that she was snuggled into the corner of her couch, watching television in an oversized sweater that had probably been her father's. He had to admit she did look somewhat cute, devouring ice cream as she stared intently at the screen in front of her, her hair in a tousled bun.
He closed his app abruptly, still trying to decipher where his startling feelings for her were coming from. He'd always found her to be dull and quite plain. He tried to shake the thoughts from his mind and stopped at a local grocery store to pick up some spray paint. He also bought some craft supplies, which usually tended to stop cashiers from asking what the paint was for.
He stood in an alley behind a few blocks from the club, and could still feel its beat beneath his toes. He shoved and earbud in his ear, letting the beat drown out his thoughts as he sprayed the brick wall ahead of him.
It had been hard to look at Jessie the same after that night. That next day she'd gone to the library and he'd arrived there early, even though he didn't need to be there. He knew she'd be back by 4:00 to babysit for a neighbor, but he went anyway. When he saw her, he found himself blushing a bit, wondering why he had feelings for her. She was nothing like the girls he was into, superficial and always trying to hard. He decided maybe that was what he found to be refreshing.
When he'd looked over at her across the other end of the library, she seemed different, more mysterious somehow. He knew almost all there was to know about her but still he wondered what she was thinking. She stared at her blank notebook, as if deciding what to write. Her eyes looked intense and he'd never noticed before how bright they were. From the distance he couldn't quite make out the color, but wanted to capture the intensity. He pulled out his sketchbook, and started drawing, hoping she wouldn't move.