Jamie Dodson was reading his paperback book in the school library. He wasn't paying attention to what was going on around him which is why he was surprised to look up and see Elsa Keller leaning over his table
"Earth To Jamie!" She laughed, bringing him out of his concentration.
"Oh, Hi Elsa," he said.
"Hey," she replied, leaning her backside against the book counter against the wall across from his table. "I was hoping for a favor."
Jamie, of course, would jump out the window for the cute brunette with the long straight gorgeous hair.
"What kind of favor?" He asked cautiously.
"Allen and I are going to the Real Solutions dance at the Moose Lodge Friday night," she said.
"What does that have to do with me?" Jamie frowned, annoyed that she would once again mention her longtime boyfriend in front of him.
Jamie and Elsa had been friends for a long time and they even did the awkward middle school dating routine for a while but it was more platonic than romantic and Elsa eventually moved on to other guys in a subtle but noticeable exit strategy with Jamie.
They never officially broke up – they just stopped being a couple and while they remained friendly now that they were Hillsboro High School seniors Jamie knew that it would never be anything else but that between them.
"My friend Patience from dance class wants to go too," Elsa explained.
"Patience?" Jamie asked, not recognizing the name.
"She goes to Greenville High with Allen," Elsa said.
"Wait, you want me to go with her to the dance with you and Allen?" Jamie asked.
"Yes," Elsa replied. "But it's not a mercy date or anything."
"For her or for me?" Jamie frowned.
"She's shy like you," Elsa explained. "Quiet. Likes to read."
"Aren't there any shy guys who like to read at Greenville High?" Jamie asked.
"Are you going to help me out or not?" Elsa asked with irritation.
"I'm supposed to go to a dance with a dancer when I'm known to trip over my own two feet?"
"You'll be fine," Elsa assured him. "I taught you in middle school, remember?"
"That was a long time ago," Jamie sighed.
"When's the last time you've been out on a date, Dod?" Elsa wanted to know. "I'll be doing you a favor too."
Jamie considered her proposition for a moment. "Okay, I'll go," he reluctantly relented.
"Thank you," Elsa said with a smile, lifting her backside off the counter. "We'll pick you up at your house around seven on Friday."
Jamie nodded and watched Elsa float gracefully like the dancer she was through the library.
Jamie didn't think about Friday night too much. It wasn't as if he'd never dated before in his post-Elsa life. He was friendly with Lauren Turner who was gay but that didn't stop them from going out and having a good time! Sure he was shy and not all that socially adapt, but he wasn't a total loser.
Friday night arrived and Jamie stood anxiously on the front porch waiting for the ride to show up. He could avoid his mother's involvement if he got into the car without having Elsa or the others ringing the doorbell at which point his mother would invite them inside and ask a hundred questions.
Finally, a red Toyota Camry pulled into the driveway. Jamie trotted off the porch and approached the car. Elsa was getting out of the front passenger seat and climbing into the back where Allen was already seated.
Jamie replaced Elsa in the front and he threw a nervous glance at Patience, a slender brown-haired girl and Jamie immediately realized that he was way out of her league as soon as he laid eyes on her. She was giving him a quizzical look which only made it worse.
"Dodson," Allen grumbled from the backseat.
The two had met before but Jamie avoided the Greenville High School athlete, jealous that he was the one who landed Elsa Keller.
"Jamie, this is my friend Patience Ryan," Elsa said from where she sat with Allen in the back. "Patience, this is the guy I was telling you about. Jamie Dodson. Some of us call him Dod."
Jamie felt his heart begin to race in his chest. "Hello," he said, trying to sound as normal as possible.
"Hi," Patience replied, but she was now focused on backing the car out of the driveway and not paying attention to him.
Naturally, the more outgoing and talkative Elsa dominated the conversation during the ride to the Moose Hall, with Allen maintaining control of the topics.
Jamie mostly said "yeah" and "uh-huh" and 'oh really' and Patience didn't say much as she mostly focused on her driving.
The Moose Lodge in Greenville wasn't that long of a drive and Patience pulled into the already filled parking lot although the found an open space way in the back.
It was a cool evening in mid-March and they hurried for the warmth of the Moose Hall. The place was packed as Real Solutions was a popular regional band. There was a large dance floor in front of the stage at the far end of the hall with a bar and several tables at the opposite end. Many people were standing.
The teenagers couldn't drink, of course, but they were there for the music anyway. Elsa and Allen quickly disappeared onto the dance floor, leaving Jamie standing awkwardly with Patience whom he'd barely said two words to since getting into the car.
"Don't worry, it won't be that bad," Patience said with sympathy.
Jamie wondered what he was supposed to say or do. "Would you like to dance?" He thought to ask as the music was upbeat.
"Sure," she smiled.
Jamie followed her to the dance floor and he slowly put his arm around her waist, feeling panicked. Patience took his other hand in hers and they began to sway about the floor to the music. J
amie's nervousness eventually dissolved as the night went on. Elsa had been right – the two were very much alike and that took the pressure off of him.
"Didn't O'Brien have some pal who could have brought you?" Jamie asked Patience during one of their dancing breaks.
They had claimed a table but Elsa and Allen never seemed to be around.
"I didn't want to go with any of Allen's pals," Patience replied. "I know every guy at Greenville High School and I've been out with enough of them to know there must be somebody else."
"So you decided to go to a dance with some guy from Hillsboro High who you never met before?" Jamie asked with doubt.
"Elsa said you're a good guy," Patience revealed.
"She did?" Jamie asked.
Patience laughed. "Please don't tell me you're still stuck on her," she said. "Middle school was a long time ago."
"How long have you known her?"
"We've been dancing together for several years," Patience revealed. "Step Up!"
"I've seen some of the shows and performances," Jamie acknowledged.
"Well, if you've seen Elsa you've probably seen me," Patience replied. "We're practically joined at the hip."
"It's hard to know any of you with all the hairdos, make up and costumes," Jamie admitted.
"That's true," Patience grinned. "We all sort of lookalike sometimes, don't we?"
"So you like to dance," Jamie said, stating the obvious.
"I don't have to be me when I'm on stage," she explained.
"What's wrong with being you?" He asked.
She shrugged her shoulders but didn't answer.
They danced a few more times and listened to the band and Jamie had to admit they were pretty good. Elsa and Allen returned to the table on occasion but floated away a lot too.
It was hard to converse unless the band was on break so Patience and Jamie spent most of their time when they weren't dancing sitting at the table listening to the band without trying to scream at each other over the music.
The final set ended at 11:30 and the four teens had to patiently wait for the parking lot to empty out before they could leave. Jamie thought he smelled the stale scent of marijuana from the back seat but he didn't say anything about what those two may have been doing in (or behind) The Moose Lodge.
"Good thing I have patience," Patience quipped as they waited on the traffic and Jamie was positive that was not the first time Patience had delivered that line.
Elsa and Allen once again dominated the conversation during the wait and when they finally got on the road, Allen requested that Patience drop him and Elsa off first at Elsa's house so they wouldn't have to be bothered making the ride to Hillsboro.
Patience did what was asked and once Elsa and Allen had said their goodnights, Patience continued on to Hillsboro and the ride was uncomfortably quiet but Jamie couldn't think of anything to say.
Patience pulled the car into Jamie's driveway and she looked at him. "I had a great time," she said. "Thanks for coming with us."
Jamie smiled shyly. "I enjoyed meeting you."
"Elsa's right, you are a good guy," Patience told him.
"Too bad I don't go to Greenville," he said with a sigh.
"I know where you live now, Dod," Patience laughed.
"You mean you might want to see me again?" He asked with a mixture of disbelief and hope.
"Of course!" She grinned.
Patience leaned over the shift console and kissed the unsuspecting Jamie smack on his lips.
"Wow," he said when she pulled away.
Patience giggled and then she kissed him again and Jamie was unsure how long the kiss might last.
"I like you," Patience told him, pulling her lips away ever so slightly to tell him so and then she kissed him again and Jamie felt her tongue entering his mouth.
It was his first French kiss and he wasn't sure how he was supposed to react but he figured he was supposed to return the gesture so he stuck his tongue inside her mouth while her tongue explored his mouth.
It went on until they both were having trouble breathing and keeping their drool from leaking out of their mouths.
Patience finally pulled away and she gave him a wide smile. "You're pretty good at that," she said happily.
He didn't know what to say in response.
"You're welcome," Patience finally cued.
"Thanks," he said with embarrassment.
"I'll see you," Patience told him.
Jamie nodded and half climbed-half fell out of the car.
Patience waved and backed the car out of the driveway and Jamie watched as the best date of his life drove away into the night.