"Right turn 200 feet," the GPS's annoyingly perky voice chirped.
I reached over and switched it off more forcefully than I should have, all because of my nerves. I knew how to get to my destination from here by heart, thanks to many run-throughs with Google street view. I slowed down and made the turn, beginning to count houses.
My hands curled around the steering wheel tightly, a physical sign of my anxiety. The jittery feeling in the pit of my stomach made it hard to focus. I lost count of the houses and resorted to repeating the house number I was looking for over and over in my mind. 407, 407, 407.
It seemed surreal that after two years of her just being a name and face on my computer screen, I was about to meet her. I'd had to drive nearly 22 hours just to get to her city. It felt like I was still forever away and that all of this was a dream, though I knew there was less than a block between us.
It had taken me a whole month to work up the courage to talk to her and send her that first message. Then it took me six months to realize how I felt about her. Three months after that, I finally told her. We'd been in a very dedicated long distance relationship ever since.
She had no idea I was coming, and I could hardly believe I was nearly there. We'd tried to organize things like this before. Nothing had ever worked out. Something always got in the way. So we'd just resolved to wait until life could bring us together. But that just disappeared when I realized I'd taken a week off and packed my bags and was halfway to her house. I couldn't stand the distance much longer, not without meeting her and being able to hold her. And now, after all our failed attempts to meet, I was finally-
I hit the brakes and stared at the number on the mailbox for a moment. My throat was suddenly dry. My heart hammered in my chest as I forced myself to turn into her driveway and park in front of the slightly open garage door.
I felt like I couldn't breathe. I shifted into park and turned off the car. My stomach rolled nervously. What if she thought I was boring? What if I only had the ability to charm her over the internet? I drew a shaky breath, forcing my worries away. I close my eyes and pictured her smile, trying to calm down a little.
I got out of the car and closed the door, startled to hear a jingling noise. I glanced around and spotted her white Jack Russel wriggling out under the garage door. He looked at me curiously, and I prayed he wouldn't start barking. I knelt and reached out a hand toward him, calling his name softly in hopes that he wouldn't start throwing a fit and alert her to my presence.
Instead of barking, the dog wagged and trotted over to sniff my hand. I cautiously scratched his ears and patted him on the head. "Good boy," I murmured, standing and looking at the front door nervously.
Somehow, I managed to walk up to it and stand there in front of it. My arms felt like they were made of lead as I reached up to knock.
Seconds ticked by, each one feeling like an eternity. I was about to turn away when I heard footsteps coming and the deadbolt turning.
"Sorry about the wait," she apologized as the door swung open. "I was just—oh my god."
I stared at her, taking in the sight of her. She was more beautiful in person, despite already being gorgeous. I'd thankfully caught her unawares; she was without makeup and dressed in sweatpants and her college t-shirt. Her hair was what she'd call a mess, but was adorably mussed and lazily put into a ponytail.
She looked completely stunned, as if she couldn't quite grasp what she was seeing.
I managed a weak grin. "Hey, Gorgeous."
She let out a happy cry and flung herself into my arms., nearly knocking me over. "What are you doing here? Oh my god you're REAL! How? Why? I had no idea! What's going on?"
"I wanted to see you," I replied simply, smiling so wide my cheeks were beginning to hurt.
"So you drove for like 20 hours?" She looked incredulous, yet elated. Happy tears were shining in her eyes.
"I really wanted to see you," I amended, making a goofy face at her.
She laughed and hugged me again. "I love you. I'm so glad you're actually here. I can't believe it but I'm glad. God, I love you."
I laughed and ignored the stinging of my own happy tears. "I can't believe it either. I love you, too. So, so much."
We grinned at each other and leaned in for our first kiss. It was cautious, slow, soft, and sweet. It was a million times better than I'd ever imagined. I already knew how absolutely in love with her I was, but that kiss reaffirmed it.
After sharing a look full of affection and wonder, she began showering me with kisses.
"Easy there, Darlin'," I teased with an embarrassed giggle; we were still standing on her front porch for the world to see. "The neighbors will see."
She grinned. "Let them see. They'll be jealous." She grabbed my hand and pulled me out into the middle of her front yard, exposing us even more. "Hey everyone!" she yelled at the top of her lungs. "I'd like to let you know that my amazing girlfriend just drove 20 hours to see me and I am hopelessly in love with her and I plan to spend the rest of my evening, and the rest of my life, kissing her!"
My cheeks burned with embarrassment. "You're such a dork," I informed her as she pressed a kiss to my cheek.
"But I'm cute, so it works out," she teased, leading me back toward her house.
I grinned as we walked in and she began showing me around. Everything was totally worth it. The torturous, never-ending drive, the entire trip, getting the time off from my boss... She was amazing, just as I knew she'd be.
"... And this is the laundry room. Ick." She made an exaggerated face of disdain; laundry was not her favorite chore. "Over here-"
"Hey, Darlin?" I interrupted, unable to take my eyes off of her.
"Yeah?" She turned and looked at me quizzically, that happy grin still in place on her face.
"I love you," I told her again, gently pressing her back against the nearest wall and kissing her.
Totally worth it.