“Katherine is a nice girl,” Elaine insists.
“That’s what you said about the last one you set me up with, Sis,” Cameron reminds.
“Well, she was nice…around me,” she responds with a chuckle.
“It’s not funny,” he grins.
“She did want to get married and settle down,” she says through her continued chuckling.
“Yeah, but she proposed that first date,” he replies with an amused look.
“You’ve always said that you like girls who know what they want,” she says. “She was pretty and smart. Everything you always wanted.”
“Yeah. A little too aggressive,” he says.
“Katherine’s not the least bit aggressive,” she says.
“Not around you,” he says with a frown.
“Not around anyone,” she disagrees.
“I don’t think so, sis,” he shakes his head. “I think I’ll try to find someone on my own.”
“Yeah, look how that’s working out for you,” she quips. “You haven’t been on a date in more than a year.”
“I’m not going out with another one of your friends,” he insists.
“Then it’s a good thing she’s not my friend,” she says with a frank look. “She’s just a girl we work with and felt sorry for because she’s new and doesn’t seem to have any friends.”
“Great,” he rolls his eyes.
“Come to the movies tomorrow. It won’t be a date, it’s just a bunch of people hanging out together.” She touches him on the arm and encourages, “You don’t even have to talk to her, if you don’t want.”
He expels a long breath, “Okay.”
“Good. See you at six at the theatre,” she says as she leaves.
The next evening, the movie has already started when Cameron enters the darkened theatre. He looks around for his sister and sees her seated several rows away. He looks next to her to see an empty seat. He takes a quick breath as he gazes at the woman seated on the other side of the empty space. He looks down at the laces of his blue canvas deck shoes and thinks to himself, “How can I meet her?” He chuckles to himself as he climbs the steps and sits down next to his sister. He reaches around her shoulders, leans in and kisses her gently on the corner of the mouth and whispers directly in her ear, “Sorry, I’m late, Sis.”
The woman turns toward him with an astonished look and shakes her head.
“Oh. I’m sorry,” Cameron apologizes and then takes a deep breath as he gazes in her eyes. “Not my sister. She never looked at me like that.”
“I hope not,” she says with a soft chuckle and looks away.
“Cam? Where have you been?” his sister whispers loudly from two seats away.
“Hi Sis,” he says as he stands and leans over to give her a kiss. “I stopped to see Mom. She called me at work to see if I could get her some milk and eggs for the cake for tomorrow’s cookout,” he sits down, making sure to brush against the woman still seated next to him.
“This is Katherine,” his sister informs as she leans forward to point to the woman he accidentally kissed.
He holds his hand out to shake hers. “Hello, Bright Eyes,” he says with admiration.
“Hi,” she breathes. “Didn’t you get any popcorn?”
“I didn’t have time,” he says with a shrug.
“I have plenty,” she says as she offers him some.
“Thanks,” he says as he reaches in.
“You can’t have popcorn without soda,” she informs.
He gazes at her with his eyebrows raised.
“You’ve already kissed me,” she replies with a grin. “We’ve shared germs.”
He looks at her mouth and says, “Yeah, I guess we have.”
“Sh!” a couple of people hiss as the movie begins.
The movie ends and they make their way outside as a group. Cameron finds himself once again next to Katherine.
“Hello again, Bright Eyes,” he greets.
“Hi,” she replies.
“So…” he hesitates.
She looks at him and waits.
“Do you have any plans for tomorrow?” he asks.
“Hey,” Elaine interrupts. “What are you two chatting about?”
“I was just asking Katherine if she was busy tomorrow,” he informs.
“Mom’s having everyone out to the lake for your birthday, remember?” Elaine reminds.
“Yeah,” he responds and turns toward Katherine. “I was just wondering if you’d like to come.”
“Oh. I don’t know,” she looks down.
“It’s nothing formal,” Elaine encourages. “Just a cookout with family and friends.” She winks at Cameron.
“Are you sure?” Katherine looks between them.
“Yeah. We’ll just hang out, swim in the lake, maybe play horseshoes. Please?” he asks with a pleading look.
She bites her lower lip and then accepts, “Okay.”
“Okay,” he grins. “Do you want me to walk you to your car?”
Elaine rolls her eyes at him and turns to the rest of the group.
“Oh. I took the bus,” she informs.
“Then, can I drive you home?” he waits with bated breath.
She studies his face and then says, “Sure.”
He turns to wave at the group and sees his sister looking at him with a smile on her face. He smiles back and calls out, “See you tomorrow, Sis!” He turns back to offer his arm to Katherine and feels goosebumps travel up his arm at her light touch. He swallows hard and leads the way in silence to his car. He holds the door open and waits for her to get in before closing the door. He makes his way to the other side and guides the small sedan onto the busy street.
“It’s not far,” she states as she gives him directions.
Ten minutes later, he pulls the car to the curb in front of her apartment building.
“Nice place,” he states.
“It’s okay,” she replies. “I’m saving up for a house.”
“Yeah? I just bought a place six months ago,” he says.
“Really?” she asks as she studies his face.
“Yeah. I figured it was time I started becoming an adult, you know?” he chuckles nervously.
“Yeah,” she acknowledges with a nod. “I know what you mean. I finished college, got this job and moved here a few weeks ago.” she blushes and continues,” I figure it’s time to start taking responsibility for myself and start life. You know.”
“Yeah,” he says as they stare at each other. A few minutes later, he licks his lips and says, “I guess I should walk you to your door.”
“Sure,” she acknowledges.
He comes around to open her door and offers his hand. She looks up at him and places her hand in his. They walk toward her door still holding hands.
“My mom serves brunch at eleven. Is it okay if I pick you up at ten?” he asks.
“Sure,” she nods.
“Don’t forget to pack a bag with a swimsuit, some sunscreen, and a sweater for the late night campfire,” he says as he stands awkwardly facing her. She turns to place a hand on the doorknob.
“Uh, Katherine?” he whispers in a hoarse breath.
She turns to face him and tilts her head.
“Is it okay,” he takes an unsteady breath, “if I kiss you?”
She bites her bottom lip.
“Again?” he chuckles nervously.
He steps toward her and softly kisses her. He feels her tremble and reaches up to place his hand on the side of her neck. He slowly caresses her and feels himself shiver involuntarily. A few minutes later, he lifts his head and opens his eyes. He sees her eyes remain closed and kisses her again. He chuckles against her lips and holds her face gently with his hands to gaze at her. “I get to make a wish tomorrow.”
She looks at him with a questioning gaze.
“It’s my birthday,” he nods. “When I blow out the candles, I know what I want to wish for.” He searches her eyes for a response and sees hope reflecting back.
“I have a feeling,” she says with a timid smile as she kisses him softly on the mouth and continues, “that your wish just might come true.”
Photo attributed to Brandon Rittenhouse.