Bradley met Sarah at the Hillsboro Pizza Shop for their last together time before she headed out of town for her summer visit with her father. The two sixteen year olds were just starting to get to know each other, having met through mutual friends at the movies a few months earlier. The young romantics hit it off and quickly became interested in each other so they had been socializing to see if there was anything sustainable between them.
They were still in the early stages of 'dating' – holding hands a few times and a few chaste goodnight kisses but Bradley already knew that he was attracted to Sweet Sarah and he was hoping Sarah might become his first real romance. He liked that idea and he was excited about it.
"I wish I didn't have to leave," Sarah pouted as they sat in the booth waiting for their pizza.
She looked so cute with her freckles and brown-haired bangs and sunflower eyes. Most of all, it was her look of innocence that melted Bradley's heart.
"It's not for that long," Bradley encouraged her.
"It will seem like forever!" Sarah sighed. "Will you miss me?" She frowned.
"All the time," he assured her. "But don't forget I'll be hard at work back here."
"Summer school," she laughed. "What torture!"
"It's my own fault," Bradley sighed. "I slacked off even before my mother got sick."
"I know The Sun Rise Lake School For Boys is academically challenging," Sarah said. "If you need help catching up, it makes sense to get it now."
"I really fell behind after my mother died," Bradley explained. "I lost my motivation and drive and now I'm in danger of flunking out."
"That's understandable," Sarah said with sympathy. "So, your step-sister is some sort of brain?"
"My step mother's brain child," Bradley confirmed sarcastically.
"Boy, your Dad didn't waste any time getting re-married, did he?" Sarah observed.
"He's not the kind of guy to do it alone," Bradley revealed. "They knew each other from before."
"And he thinks you need to be tutored?"
"Yeah, he doesn't want me failing Sun Rise."
"How old is your step sister?"
"Like, twenty, I think," Bradley answered. "She's pretty intense."
"I hope you'll be done by the time I get back," Sarah said.
"God, I hope so! Bradley groaned. "I don't want to waste my whole summer."
"I'm working at Red's Tastee Freeze don't forget."
"And I'll have some hours at the country club," Bradley acknowledged. "But we'll still have time together."
"Promise?" Sarah asked hopefully.
"I promise, Sarah," Bradley said sincerely. "I really like you."
"I really like you too," she blushed.
They stared at each other with goofy kid-like embarrassed contentment while eating their pizza and talking about silly things of little importance, each wanting to avoid the subject of Sarah's departure in the morning. Just being with her made Bradley feel good and Sarah was encouraged by the prospect of dating. She couldn't image what it was like to lose his mother at age fourteen. She was aware of Bradley's Dad prominence as a surgeon at Blue County Medical Center but she wasn't intimidated by the family's status. She liked Bradley and that's all she cared about. She knew he was lonely and that there had been a lot of change in his life. She wanted to be special to him during his time of need.
Bradley walked Sarah home when they were done with the pizza. He was going for his driver's license soon and his father promised him a car to commute back and forth to Sun Rise Lake if he brought his grades up through the tutoring Sarah, who was almost six months younger than Bradley, just got her driver's permit a few weeks earlier.
"I'll miss you," a teary eyed Sarah said when they reached her house in the flats section of town. She was surprised at how emotional she was but that's why she knew she really cared about him.
"I'll miss you too," Bradley smiled, feeling unusually vulnerable and sad. He wasn't used to getting worked up over a girl.
"Text me once in a while."
"I will," he promised, leaning in and giving her a nervous and tentative kiss knowing how serious and important this moment was.
Sarah returned the kiss and he loved how her soft lips felt on his. It was their most meaningful kiss yet.
"Goodnight," Sarah whispered before running up her front walk, turning and blowing him a kiss before disappearing through the front door.
A smiling Bradley caught her kiss and put it in his pocket as he walked home feeling like he was walking on air.