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“So who are you voting for?”
I jerk up from my reading to see the hottest senior in school motion at my stack of biographies and autobiographies. Blinking, I refocus my eyes behind my glasses. “I’m investigating.”
Collapsing in the chair next to me, all male and taking up twice as much space as me just sitting down, Grayson pulls out “The Art of the Deal” by Donald J. Trump from my pile and starts thumbing. New ink and paper scent waft to me, my personal aphrodisiac, sending my heart double-time. The town library hadn’t been able to keep up with the demand until the most recent book order came in. They called me immediately since I donated to the special election order, and I think I have the only one still left in the building.
I set down “Living History” by Hillary Rodham-Clinton on top of “Hard Choices” by the same author. “I’ve already checked that out.”
“I’m only looking.” Grayson snaps the book closed and tossed it on top of “Seven Principles of Good Government” by Gary Johnson.
“Have you decided yet?”
His dark eyes roll before he pushes his hands through his hair. “Who knew adulating would be so hard?” He links his hands behind his head, leans his chair back on two legs, and looks at me. “I was ranting at my mom since she was forcing me to finish my homework early so I could watch the debates. I mean, what does it really matter? I’m stuck with whatever people decide, right? She stopped me cold when she pointed out my birthday is the day before the election, so I will be 18 and get to vote.” He gives me a half grin, making my heart beat even faster than opening a new book. “The next day after school, she dragged me to the board of elections and got me registered.”
“Did you do that draft registration thing too?” I smile back. Grayson and I have been teamed a lot since junior high for group projects, mostly by teachers to keep the star running-back's grade point high, so him talking to a nerd like me didn’t make me go all tongue-tied.
He rocks a bit. “Nah. I’ll just run by the post office the week of for that one. I just got to get it done before the summer job starts.” The chair clicks as all four legs returns to the floor after the librarian wiggles a finger our way. “So what is a brainiac like you still doing in school at 18? I figure you would have skipped a grade or two.”
“An accident kept me out of school for four years. I’m lucky to be on level. My birthday is November first.”
He whistles softly. “That was some accident.”
I glance over his shoulder. “Yeah, it was.”
“No fly zone. Gotcha.” Grayson stands. “But, you know, if you need to talk about it…”
Smirking, I cock my head. “And why would I talk to you?”
“I don’t know.” He reaches behind his head to adjust the hair band holding his dreads, blushing a bit. “I thought, maybe, we were, like, friends.”
I bite back a laugh. He was serious.
“We are, kind-of.” I stand, stacking my books. Hell, why not. If the people I am reading about can run for president, I can at least ask. “So are you taking anyone to the prom yet?” I glance sideways, causal-like.
A smile starts spreading wider and wider on Grayson’s face. “Depends. Are you asking?”
My eyes immediately drops to “A Woman in Charge,” and I gulp. Women can be anything. Firmly putting the books back on the table, I turn to face Grayson, clasping my hands in front of me. “Would you do me the honor of escorting me to the Senior Prom?”
He leans forward and grasps my right hand. Reluctantly, I let him pull it up towards him. I’m sure my face was a mask of confusion. He gently kisses the knuckles while staring down my arm into my brown eyes. “The honor is mine.”
What? He wasn’t joking.
Breathless, I couldn’t keep from asking, “This is for real. You aren’t going to a locker room and joking about this later.”
“I don’t do locker room talk.” Grayson’s tenor hardens. He hadn’t let go of my hand yet. I feel his breath brush my fingertips.
I swallow again. “Okay.” I step closer as my arm is a little uncomfortable with the way he is holding it. I apply a little pressure downward.
He guides the joined hands down but still doesn’t let go. “You have my number, right?”
“Good. I still got yours from the science fair project.”
I nod again.
“Would you like to go for pizza?”
Pizza. A date. Think. “Who’s driving?”
Grayson shrugs, pulling my hand up a little with the motion. “My provisional license won’t let me have passengers, how about you?”
“I’ve got a full license, but no car. I was going to walk home.”
His eyes drop to the table. “With that load of books?”
“A girl’s got to do.”
Grayson grabs my other hand and wraps both around him. “How about this? You drive my car. We go for pizza. You drive home. And then I can get home from there.”
“Sounds like a deal.”
A new smile crosses Grayson’s face. I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life. “Deals should be sealed.” And his head drops until I feel his lips on mine.
(925 words – first published 10/23/2016)