That Picture Perfect Kind
The knock came at exactly 8:30 pm.
I practically ran to the door, a big smile on my face. But instead of seeing the pizza delivery man from my favorite pizza parlor as I had expected, I saw my sister standing in the doorway.
"Tada!" Grace said, her face radiant as she practically shoved a brown paper bag into my arms the instant I opened the door.
I blinked out of surprise, not expecting either her or the bag. I could tell by her neatly tailored business suit and her high ponytail that she had just come from her office, where she was working as an assistant to some hotshot producer at CBS in Manhattan. Looking at the bag, I frowned as I saw the words "Medium Brown Bag" on the front.
"Geez Ollie," my sister rolled her eyes, calling me by the name she had ever since we were little girls. "I'd have thought you'd be happier to see you big sister show up at your doorstep with a present from Bloomingdale's."
"I am happy to see you," I protested, stepping out of the way as she walked into my apartment. "I'd just be happier to see the pizza delivery guy. I'm starving."
Grace scoffed and shoved my shoulder as I closed the door behind me. I could see the slight downward curl of her mouth as she surveyed my dingy apartment. It was as if no matter how many times she came over, she still could not get used to how small it was.
"I can't believe you gave up an offer with BCG to teach public school in Brooklyn," she muttered with a click of her tongue.
I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. While Grace and I were only two years apart and both lived in New York, we led vastly different lives. I loved her to the moon and back, but we just didn't see eye to eye on almost anything.
"Teach for America is rewarding," I said, in what must have been my hundredth explanation for why, after graduating with honors from Colombia, I turned down a lucrative opportunity with a consulting company to teach high school biology.
"Ollie," my sister said pointedly, looking me dead in the eye as she flung herself down on my couch, "you live in a closet, your roommate is a wannabe actress, and you spend all your time with kids who give you attitude."
I put my hands on my hips as I frowned at her. "My apartment is cozy," I said. "Janine just got called to a pretty promising audition, and my kids might have given me attitude when I started there, but they definitely don't anymore. Besides, did you make a trip all the way from the Upper West Side to tell me that you think my life sucks?"
"Of course not," Grace pouted. "I came to give you a present. I got you that sweater you really wanted."
I looked down at the Bloomingdale's bag that was still in my arms. Opening it, I pulled out a light coral sweater with an intricate lace design on the back. I gasped. It looked as beautiful as when I had first seen it three weeks ago while shopping with Grace, but it had been way out of my price range.
"Oh my gosh, Grace," I said, breathless as I held up the sweater. "It's so gorgeous. I can't believe you—
I stopped, and my eyes suddenly narrowed at my sister, who stared at me from the couch with wide eyes. I knew that innocent expression. It was the one she had used on our parents when they wanted to know who had smashed their new vase. It was the one she had perfected over the years that had gotten her out of all sorts of trouble. I knew she was up to no good.
"Okay, spill it," I demanded, walking over towards her. "What do you want?"
"Oh come on, Ollie," Grace protested, raising up her hands in mock surrender. "Why couldn't I have gotten you a sweater just because I was nice?"
"Because this sweater is too expensive and you're not that nice," I said, my eyes still narrowed. "Why are you really here on a Tuesday night?"
A moment passed, and we both seemed to be testing each other with our eyes. Finally, Grace relented.
"Okay, fine," she said, sighing. "You know last Halloween?"
I crossed my arms over my chest. "You mean when I was dressed as Tinker Bell and you were Catwoman?"
Grace's coworker Lucy had thrown a Halloween party last year, which had basically consisted of us going in ridiculous costumes, drinking champagne, and handing out candy to kids who came looking much cuter than we did in the same costumes.
"Yeah, that one," Grace said. "Do you remember that picture we took with Lucy and Diana?"
I raised an eyebrow. "You mean the one where we were trying to act seductive but ended up just looking awkward and constipated instead?" I had a feeling that this wasn't going to be good.
"That's the one," my sister said, just a bit too chirpily.
"I thought you said you deleted it," I accused.
"Well, I didn't," Grace said, biting her lip as she looked at me. "I printed it out and framed it on my desk at work instead."
I groaned, the image of that embarrassing picture suddenly popping up in my head. "Why would you do that?"
"It's funny," my sister stated simply, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"What if someone sees it?" I said, glaring at her.
"Yeah…about that…" Grace said, dragging out her words. My mouth curled down as she went on. "You know my supervisor? The new one I told you about a couple of months back?"
"You mean that guy with the new grandchild?" I asked, vaguely remember her saying something about him. "The one who didn't know who Justin Bieber was?"
"Not that one," Grace replied. "The other one. The hot one. The one that Lucy said she would screw in a heartbeat."
I wrinkled my nose. I didn't recall that much, but I did recall Lucy saying that there was someone at work she would screw in a heartbeat. Lucy was like that. I just didn't think it would be their supervisor.
"I vaguely remember that," I muttered. "What about him?"
"Well…" Grace said coyly, smiling at me. "He saw the picture and he thinks you're really cute."
I frowned, glaring at her. "What?" I said, in complete disbelief. "Is he crazy? Why are you telling me this?"
"Do you want to meet him?" Grace said, staring at me eagerly with wide eyes.
My mouth curled down as I narrowed my eyes. "No," I replied adamantly.
"Come on, Ollie!" she whined, clasping her hands together and shaking them at me. "I know you're big into the whole spinster thing, but this guy is really cute and super successful. He's 27, so just three years older than you. He graduated from Northwestern with a journalism degree, and he's really funny. And I said I'd introduce him to you. Plus he already thinks you're pretty for some odd reason."
"Hey!" I protested, rolling my eyes and shoving Grace so that she fell backwards on the couch. I had expected just as much. Grace was big into the whole setting people up thing. I had met my last boyfriend through her too, when we were all going to college together. After I graduated and Mark and I went our separate ways, I had been so busy with teaching that I hadn't had time to date anyone for the past two years, and so my sister had been incessantly bugging me about wasting my best years being single and ending up an old maid.
"I told him I'd introduce you two," Grace pleaded, looking up at me from having sat up on the couch. She made a sad face, and I resisted the urge to laugh. My sister's faces were almost comical.
"Well, then you shouldn't have done that," I said. "I'm not interested in being in another one of your matchmaking games, or going on dates, or having an awkward dinner with someone whose only impression of me is from a picture of me in a Tinker Bell costume."
Grace groaned. "Ugh, Ollie," she protested. "This guy is really great. I'm only trying to set you up because I think you'll really like him."
"No," I said, rolling my eyes and shaking my head. "You're trying to set me up because he's your supervisor, and this would make him like you more or something."
"Ok, fine," Grace didn't even bother denying it. "But it's just one meeting. One night out. It's not like you're going to marry the guy."
"Nope," I said, refusing to waver. But then, just because I couldn't help it, I asked, "Did he really think I was cute from that picture?"
Grace pounced on that. "Yes!" she exclaimed, her eyes sparkling. "Trust me, Lucy and the secretary at work have been shamelessly flirting with him for the past half a year and he hasn't given them a second glance, but he actually picked up the picture from my desk to ask me who you were."
I crinkled my nose. "Still no."
My sister slumped back in the couch in dejection. "I'm taking back the sweater then," she threatened.
I shrugged, even though I loved that sweater. "Fine."
Grace groaned again, but even after half an hour more of cajoling, I still wouldn't budge. I just didn't have time for silly nonsense like this. Plus, I knew the kind of people that worked with her. Go-getter Ivy League graduates interested only in dressing in business suits and leading glamorous lives with nice flats on the Upper East Side. I knew plenty of those from my days at college and knew that I didn't want to date them.
Despite her threat, Grace decided to leave the sweater with me. With one last departing look, she said, "You know, just because he isn't working for some nonprofit organization or Doctors Without Borders doesn't mean he isn't compatible with you. For goodness sakes, Ollie, I know you found Mark attractive because he spent all his summers volunteering in third world countries, but look how that relationship turned out." Then she was out the door.
I couldn't concentrate at all that night as I was writing up notes for the lesson next Monday. Several times, I took out my cell phone and thumbed the numbers on the keypad, trying to decide whether or not to dial my sister. It was the last thing she said, the part about Mark, that had bugged me the most. She had been spot on. I had found Mark unquestionably attractive because he had been involved in all sorts of volunteering trips to the poorest parts of Ghana, of China, of Nicaragua. He was always talking about them too, relating this adventure and that and never asking how my day was. Sometimes I thought that what Mark really wanted was not me, not a girlfriend, but just a real live person to listen to his stories.
"Augh," I groaned into my notes on mitosis, deciding finally to give up. I picked up my phone and dialed my sister's number.
"I'll do it," I said, gritting my teeth as soon as I heard Grace's hello on the other side.
She had given me a squeal of excitement that made me immediately doubt my decision, and then told me that she would tell her supervisor and set up a date and let me know.
"His name is Ryan, by the way," Grace said before we hung up. "Ryan Williams."
I grunted in reply. It really didn't matter what his name was. I don't know what made me agree to such a crazy idea in the first place, but I supposed that all I could do now was wait for her to tell me where and when to meet this guy.
The next day, during my lunch break, I was surprised to receive a call not from Grace, but from Ryan Williams himself.
"Hello?" I mumbled, attempting to swallow down my last bit of roast beef sandwich before answering but failing. I ended up full on sounding like I had my mouth full. I was in my classroom, going over some grading before next period began when the call from an unknown number came.
"Hi, Olivia?" The voice on the other side sounded tentative, but it was deep and smooth nonetheless. "This is Ryan. I work with your sister Grace, and she gave me your phone number last night."
"Oh, Ryan!" I said, only it came out sounding more like 'Ogh, Wah-whah!" because there was still roast beef and rye bread in my mouth. I grimaced to myself. Ryan had a voice that made him sound sexy. I, on the other hand, sounded like I was slobbering.
"Hey," he replied, and I could almost hear the smile in his voice. I suddenly thought that if this guy was anywhere near as appealing as his voice was, then I wouldn't mind dating him. "Grace said she would talk to you, but I thought I would rather call you myself. Are you free this Friday night?"
I wrinkled my nose. My school let out early Friday too, so I was free after three. The thought of going on this blind date with a stranger who had only seen a Halloween photo of me was still not very appealing, though. "Yeah," I said lightly. "I'm free."
"Great," Ryan replied, his voice smooth and even, "How about dinner and a movie? I can pick you up at 5:30?"
"Sure," I said. "That sounds…" I paused. Dinner and a movie. It was the classic cliché date. It sounded safe. Boring. Okay. "...It sounds nice," I finally said lamely, deciding then and there that this guy wasn't about to exceed my expectations.
"Alright then, I'll see you on Friday," he replied.
"See you then," I said, preparing to hang up. But then, Ryan spoke again, and I could hear the slight hesitation in his voice, as if he had been deciding whether or not to talk more.
"Hey Olivia?" he asked.
"I know you must think it's weird that I'm asking you out like this. Hell, I think I'm half crazy myself," he said with a light laugh that somehow made me smile in surprise as well. I hadn't expected him to admit this.
"No," I refuted immediately and instinctively. "It's, it's…" I couldn't think of what to say, so I finally decided to go with the truth. "You're right. It is kind of weird," I admitted.
Ryan laughed again, and as hard as I tried, I couldn't bite back my smile. "It's kind of ridiculous and kind of crazy on my part," he said, that hint of humor still in his voice. "But that was one heck of a picture."
The bell rang at that moment, signifying the end of lunch, and I knew I had to hang up. Afterwards, I sat grimacing and smiling to myself. I didn't know what he saw from that picture. From what I remembered, I had ended up looking one hundred percent idiotic and zero percent sexy in the photo.
When Friday rolled around, I had to admit to myself that I was kind of nervous for the date that night. Grace had called me again and rambled on excitedly, extolling all of Ryan William's virtues, but I had only half listened. It was his voice. His voice had just been so damn sexy that it was making me nervous about meeting him in person.
The knock came slightly before 5:30 pm.
As soon as I opened the door, I understood immediately why Lucy would shamelessly flirt with this man. Ryan Williams fit the bill of tall, dark, and handsome to a T. He was gorgeous, and he was wearing a neatly ironed dress shirt tucked into dark grey slacks. It made me wish that I had dressed up a bit more, but it was too late to change now.
"Hi, Olivia?" he said with a smile as he reached out a hand. Even the way this guy smiled was ridiculously charming. "I'm Ryan."
As I shook his hand, I noticed that, oddly enough, he was holding a jar of Nutella with his other hand.
"This is for you," Ryan said, handing the jar to me like a guy would hand a girl flowers on a first date. Only this was a jar of Nutella.
"Oh," I said, totally confused as to how to respond. "Oh."
Ryan's mouth quirked into a light smile. "Grace told me you really liked Nutella. It was the first thing she told me when I asked her what you were like."
I raised an eyebrow and bit back a smile. I was obsessed with Nutella. Obsessed. Unfortunately, Grace was always the one to hear me rant about how awesome it was. I just didn't think that would be how she would describe.
"I am quite a fan," I admitted, turning to put the Nutella on the counter. I finally smiled when I knew I had my back to Ryan. This was certainly a unique first date present. "Thank you."
I could hear his soft laughter from behind me as I grabbed my purse so we could leave. "So where are we going tonight?" I asked.
"How do you feel about Greenwich Village?" he said. "I heard about this hole in the wall place that's French and Chinese fusion. It's also really interesting because the restaurant is supposedly you pay what you want to pay. The dishes don't have prices on them. You pay whatever you think it was worth."
I raised an eyebrow, but secretly I was impressed. I had seen Grace's paycheck, and since this guy was her supervisor, I had expected him to show off and take me to some fancy restaurant like Per Se, which I would have really hated, but this actually sounded pretty interesting.
"How does a restaurant like that survive in Manhattan?" I asked, grabbing a light jacket on our way out the door. "What if no one pays anything?"
Ryan gave me a smile. "Oh, I think people are generally better than that," he said simply, following me down the stairs of my apartment building.
"What about the movie?" I asked on the way down.
"There's a little theater next to the restaurant that shows all these films released in the last couple of years that the owners think people didn't see enough," he replied. I would never admit it to Grace, but his voice was unbelievably sexy. I wished the principal of my school sounded like this. It would certainly make teacher meetings better. Ryan went on, "They're usually small movies that people haven't seen. Have you ever heard of 50/50? Do you want to watch that?"
My eyes widened in surprise. 50/50 was one of my favorite movies of the past year, and I wouldn't hesitate to see it again.
"That sounds good," I said, genuinely impressed. Maybe this standard dinner and a movie thing was going to turn out much better than I had expected.
I found Ryan surprisingly easy to talk to. On the entire subway ride over to Manhattan, I don't think there was ever a lull in conversation. I found out that he was the eldest of four kids. He had grown up in New York. He had been doing broadcast journalism in Boston for a few years after graduation before moving back to New York and going into the producers side. He was also very good at making me laugh.
"So what's working with Grace like?" I asked as we neared our destination station.
"She's great," Ryan said with an easy smile. "She's very outgoing. Very snarky sometimes, but it's hilarious. She also talks about you a lot."
"Does she really?" I was surprised.
"Yeah," Ryan said. We were at our stop now, and both of us moved closer to the door. The subway was full of people getting back home from work, and we had to squeeze a little to get through to the door. "She always says that between the two of you, you're the better one. She sometimes relays your stories from school, and it reminds me of having to deal with my siblings. I've actually wanted to meet you for a while, just from listening to her," he said, and there was a mischievous look in his eyes, "but I knew I just had to when I saw your picture."
I put my hands on my hips. "Really? Just what is it about that picture?"
Ryan shrugged, that smile still on his lips as we left the station. There were skyscrapers all around us. Ah, the bright lights of Manhattan. "You looked like you were having so much fun in that photo. Like you loved acting silly."
"I honestly think I was tipsy when that photo was being taken," I said sheepishly, laughing.
He chuckled slightly, "Yeah, you did kind of look tipsy. But either way you looked like you were the type of person who could laugh at yourself. I work with a lot of people who take themselves way too seriously, and it's refreshing to hear your stories and see your picture."
Huh. Well how about that.
We ended up walking around for quite a bit before we actually found the place. It was a tiny restaurant tucked into the end of a little alley in Greenwich Village. When we got inside, I saw that it was certainly one of the more unique restaurants I've ever seen. Bright green and pink lights hung from the ceilings, and there was a large pane of glass that separated the kitchen where the chefs were cooking their food and where the customers sat.
The greeter led us to a table next to the window pane, took our drink orders, and then handed us the menus.
We had barely opened the menus, however, when a waiter came out, this time with a large plate of what looked like noodles.
"Here you go, sir, ma'am," he said, setting the large plate down on the table.
Ryan and I both looked up, confused.
"Excuse me," Ryan said to him, "But we haven't ordered."
"I know, sir," the greeter replied, smiling and reaching forward to collect our menus. "You do not have to order tonight. We'll let you sample all of our specials on the menu. Please do not feel obligated to pay, as this is all on the house."
"Er…" Ryan said, but the waiter left before he could say anything back.
For the next half an hour, the waiters kept bringing out dish after dish of their cuisine without us asking. Every time they brought something out though, it was always accompanied with the phrase, "This is on the house." Strangely, we were the only table that they did this too. Even those around us began to look our way curiously, wondering why we were getting this special treatment. I was as clueless as them.
It was all terrible. French Asian might be a successful fusion, but whatever this restaurant was doing, they certainly weren't doing it right. They gave us pork buns with escargot in them, baguettes with Chinese sausage in between slices of tomatoes and lettuce, and hot and sour French onion soup.
They all tasted awful. I tried to eat it all without protest to avoid offending Ryan, who had taken me specifically to this place, but when I looked up at him, I saw that his face had a look of disgust.
"This is pretty bad," he made a face at me and whispered, so no one else in the restaurant had to hear. I fought back the urge to laugh. His faces were as funny as Grace's. Looking around the room, I saw that the others sitting around us were also looking questioningly at the food on their tables.
"How did you hear of this place again?" I asked.
"A friend of mine," Ryan said with a grimace at his escargot pork bun. "But now I'm seriously doubting whether or not I would trust him again."
I laughed. Just then, a waiter came again with another plate. Ryan held out a hand to stop him.
"Thank you!" he said before the plate could touch the table. He then glanced at me briefly before turning back towards the waiter, "But we're good on the food."
"Yeah we're stuffed," I added, and then just for extra emphasis, I rubbed my stomach.
"So full," Ryan nodded in agreement. "In fact, I think we can ask for the check now."
"Yeah, definitely," I agreed, enthusiastic.
"Oh, it's all on the house," the waiter said simply, taking back the dish that he was about to put on the table, to the relief of both of us.
"I know that this restaurant is pay what you want," Ryan said, "But we'd really like to pay for the food."
"Oh, but this is a treat from the kitchen," the waiter said. "No money, please."
Ryan and I looked at one another, now thoroughly confused as to why we were getting this free food. But at this moment, the waiter leaned in towards Ryan and solved the dilemma for us.
"By the way," he said with a smile, "Our head chef thinks you're really cute. So if you want to leave your contact information or something…" he trailed off.
I could see Ryan's eyes widen in surprise. So that was it. The chef thought he was cute. We both turned towards the window pane, through which we could see the chefs busily working in the kitchen. A rather stout woman with a large chef's cap, whom I assumed was the head chef, looked up and smiled at us.
"Oh," said Ryan, still looking utterly surprised. I, on the other hand, was quite amused by this whole situation.
"Is she your head chef?" I asked, gesturing towards the woman in the cap.
The waiter turned to look to where my finger was pointing, and then turned back towards me. "Actually," he said, "our head chef is a he."
"Oh," I said, blinking. Now it was my turn to be surprised. "Wow that's…" I was at a loss for words, totally caught off guard by this turn of events. Ryan and I looked at each other. The situation was so bizarre that I could tell we both suddenly felt like laughing.
"Wow, that's…that's extremely flattering," Ryan said to the waiter, and he genuinely looked pleasantly surprised. "But I'm with her." And here he pointed at me.
"Ah, I see," the waiter said, now looking over at me. "We thought you guys might be together but wasn't sure. Actually, I was going to ask you how you did your make up."
"Huh?" I frowned, confused.
"I mean, it's so good," the waiter continued. "You look just like a girl."
I blinked. "I am a girl…" I said slowly, not sure what he meant.
"Oh," the waiter said, and now it was suddenly his turn to be surprised. His look was one of dawning comprehension, but I still hadn't caught on. And judging by the look on Ryan's face, he wasn't comprehending either. "Oh! You guys are straight."
We both frowned, looking up curiously at the waiter, who now had his hand on his forehead, covering his eyes.
"Gosh, this is so embarrassing," the waiter said. "I honestly didn't think that you guys were straight. But we welcome straight people here too."
"Wait, what?" I asked. "Why not?"
"I mean, you guys are here," he said, gesturing towards the area around him. "At our restaurant." At the look of confusion on both of our faces, he patiently explained, "I mean why else come to our restaurant? It's known for a place for the LGBT community to meet and mingle. People don't really come here for the food. It's not that great."
I was speechless, both at the fact that this was a place for the LGBT community to meet and mingle and the fact that the waiter had admitted himself that the food wasn't great. I looked at Ryan, who suddenly laughed.
"Oh man," he said, chuckling. "I did not know that."
"I thought your friend recommended this place to you!" I said.
"He didn't exactly recommend it," Ryan was still laughing. "He's just always ranting about how awesome this place is, but maybe that's just because he met his boyfriend here."
"The food is still on the house, though," the waiter said, laughing along with us. "Our head chef still thinks you're cute, so hey, if you ever change your mind about which team you're batting for…"
Ryan laughed, and his laughter was infectious. I was grinning from ear to ear too. This whole situation was so ridiculous. "Thank you," he said. "That is really flattering. Let me at least leave a tip. I don't think I've felt so flattered at dinner for a long, long time."
We were both still laughing as we left the restaurant.
"I can't believe I took you to a restaurant where we were the only straight people," Ryan said.
"I can't believe the food was so bad," I laughed.
"I can't believe the head chef thought I was cute," he shook his head. I didn't reply. I didn't think there was anything unbelievable at that, but I certainly wasn't going to say anything.
I grinned to myself the whole way to the theater. Despite the bizarre situation, I had truly enjoyed myself. I don't think I've ever had a dinner where I laughed so much.
The movie started at 8:00 pm. By the time we had left the restaurant, it was already 7:30, and we had to jog the last block to the theater in order to not miss the start of the movie.
The theater was small. It was obviously a very homerun theater, and once we got inside, we saw that there were 5 auditoriums labeled with their numbers.
"Come on, come on!" I said, tugging Ryan's shirt sleeve toward Auditorium number 5, eager to watch the movie start. I loved the plotline, the acting, and everything about the story.
"Wait, Olivia," he said, holding me back and stopping. "Where are you going? We're in Auditorium 2."
I frowned, looking at him and then down at my purple slip of a ticket. Unfortunately, it only had the movie name and the time it started. I looked around the theater. There was no one around save the guy selling popcorn all the way down the hall, and I didn't want to run back up front and ask the lady who had sold us tickets again.
"Are you sure?" I asked, uncertain.
"Yeah, I'm positive," Ryan replied. Then, taking me by the hand, he pulled me towards Auditorium 2.
He held my hand as he led me all the way to the back of the theater. The lights were dimming, and I could see that the auditorium was already packed. Ryan's hands felt warm and comfortable as he led me all the way to the back row, where there were still two empty seats on the side.
"Here?" he whispered to me. I only nodded in agreement, suddenly disappointed when he let go of my hand to sit down.
Once we had sat down, I glanced at the rows in front of me. For some reason, it seemed to be full of preteen and teenage girls and their moms. I shrugged to myself. I guess Joseph Gordon Levitt was attractive enough, even if he was portraying a cancer patient.
To my surprise though, a theater attendant walked into the front of the room, in front of the screen, almost as soon as we had sat down. The room hushed as they saw her stand in the front.
"Who's ready for the movie?" The theater attendant shouted. Her voice was followed by a lot of eager screaming.
Ryan looked at me, raising an eyebrow. I shrugged. I guess people were excited for this movie.
"Alright!" The theater attendant continued, just as enthusiastic. "Now who here is team Edward?"
The screams were almost deafening at this point. I glanced over at Ryan. Team Edward?
"And who's team Jacob?" The attendant had to yell over the remnants of the screaming from the crowd.
More screams. Team Jacob?
"Oh, gosh," I said, my eyes widening as I suddenly realized. I sunk down on my seat. Ryan looked at me, still clueless. "Gosh, this is Twilight," I hissed at him. "Twilight!"
"What?" he still looked confused, shaking his head. "No, we're watching 50/50."
"No," I muttered. "We're definitely in the wrong auditorium. Come on, let's go. Trust me, neither Edward or Jacob are that great." I grabbed his hand and started to get up to leave the auditorium, but as soon as I looked up, I saw that everyone around me was turning around to glare at us. They must've heard my parting comment.
I slunk back down on my seat, afraid to move from all the death glares that I was getting.
"This is scarier than any horror movie I've ever been to," Ryan whispered in my ear as soon as we were both sitting down again. His breath tickled the hairs on my ear, and a shiver ran down my spine.
"No kidding," I muttered out of the corner of my mouth in reply. The lights had completely dimmed by now. It was so dark in the auditorium that we could barely see the row in front of us. I doubted that we could leave now without tripping over someone or causing more death glares.
"I thought you said this theater only played small, low budget films or something," I muttered, leaning over towards Ryan. I had resigned myself to the fact that we were really going to watch this.
"Yeah…" he muttered sheepishly, rubbing the back of his neck. "That's what I thought."
We ended up watching the entire movie. I had never read the books or watched any of the movies, but whatever else I could say about the movie, I had to admit that at least it wasn't boring. Afterwards, Ryan decided to take me back home in a taxi, and we were still discussing the movie on the way back. The cab driver must've thought we were crazy.
"This is why I would never live in Washington state," Ryan said, shaking his head as I laughed. "Too many vampires."
"Don't worry, they're all young and sparkly," I said between bouts of laughter. "No scary ones."
"True, true," Ryan nodded in agreement. "I can't believe I just took you to watch Twilight."
I had to agree with him. "Me neither," I said, grinning.
At that moment, there was suddenly a clacking sound, and our taxi jerked to a stop. Our driver banged the steering wheel, looked out the window, and let out a long string of curse words.
Ryan and I looked at each other, and then we both looked out the window. I could see that there was steam coming from the rear wheel. Our driver went out to check the wheel, let out another long string of curse words, and then leaned in the back window to talk to us.
"The wheel's busted," he said gruffly. "Can't drive you guys anymore. I'm afraid you're going to have to get out and walk."
And with that, we were promptly kicked off the cab. I looked at the scene around us. We were in the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge, and looking over towards the other side, I could see that Manhattan was still sparkling with life. I let out a long sigh. It was breathtakingly gorgeous.
"Gosh," Ryan said, looking down at me as we both stood off to the side of the bridge. "I'm sorry."
I was surprised. "What are you apologizing for?"
"I mean…that was pretty bad wasn't it," he said, looking off into the distance, across the river. He sounded genuinely dejected. "I had really meant to take you out to a nice night on the town, but that was a disaster."
"Wait, what?" I stared at him, wondering if that was what he really thought.
"Come on, Olivia," he said, looking over at me apologetically. "You don't have to pretend. I took you to a restaurant where the food was terrible and the waiter thought you were a guy, then we watched a movie about high school vampires, and then our cab broke down in the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge. This is probably the worst date you've ever had."
I stared at Ryan's dejected expression in wonder. That was not how I saw our night at all. I had to bite the insides of my cheeks to prevent myself from smiling. Then, in a sudden move that was bolder than anything I could have expected from myself, I leaned over and wrapped my arms around his waist. I buried my nose into his shirt, inhaling his scent. He smelled pretty good.
Ryan's body seemed to tense, not expecting my sudden hug, but slowly, he put his arm around my shoulders. For a moment, we just held each other there, looking back across the river at the Manhattan skyline at night.
"Maybe," I whispered into his shirt. "But it's definitely the best worst date ever."
I could feel his body move as he laughed in surprised delight. Suddenly, he leaned over and gave me a kiss on the forehead. It was chaste, but it sent shivers all through my body, and I really liked it.
"Thank goodness," he whispered back. "Should we get another cab?"
"No," I said, shaking my head. My voice was a bit muffled by his shirt, but I knew he could still hear me. "I would rather walk back with you."
By the time I had said goodbye to Ryan and sat back down on my couch, it was already 1 am, but I was still smiling happily to myself. Pulling out my cell phone, I saw that I had missed three calls from my sister. I rolled my eyes, but I knew that she was still up, waiting for me to call back, so I dialed her number.
"Jeez, Ollie, what took you so long?" Grace demanded as soon as she picked up the phone. Then curiosity got the better of her and she asked, "So how was it?"
"Well," I said. I couldn't help the smile that was spreading across my face now. "We're going on another date next week."