(Edited) Chapter 26 & 27

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It wasn't just one harmless date.

It was more than one. And they were definitely not harmless. One followed the other, and then another followed. I'd promised myself that this would be a onetime thing, but William succeeded into coaxing me to go out with him every single time. I can't say I minded very much. I liked spending time with him, talking with him. We didn't have a whole lot in common but William was a great listener, and for the first time I came to realize how much I actually had to say.

Our dates were fun. The first time, he took me out bowling followed by a quick dinner, nothing fancy. We bonded over bowling pins and burgers. He'd lost at bowling from me, and I'd teased him about it endlessly. The date was friendly and light and I enjoyed myself. He didn't try to kiss me when the night ended. I guess he was trying to take things slow. Weird thing is, I didn't really mind.

Once it was over, I thought—there, that's that. We went on a date and now it's over. I can head back to my normal, stable, uneventful life. I'll probably not go on another date for a while. And again, I was okay with that. Why? Because going on dates is a stressful affair. Boys are a stressful affair. Especially attractive ones. So I was happy knowing that the much needed peace and calm would return to my life now.

But William called me three days later telling me about this really cool Pizzeria, that I must visit—with him. And he was being so persistent and I wanted to say no, but the words got stuck in my throat. So I just agreed instead.

After another three days, amid the heavenly smell of baked garlic bread, and warm melting cheese, William and I spent yet another evening together, getting to know each other. Again, it was fun. Every now and then, we'd be shrouded by a blanket of awkward silence, but it never lasted very long. He made sure of that.

When it was time to leave, he asked me if we could take a picture together, you know, for the memories. I obliged. So we took a selfie, smiling widely at the camera. His arm was wrapped around my shoulder the entire time.

After finishing up our Pizza, we went for a walk on the beach. It felt completely wrong. This beach...this was our thing, Aiden & mine. He was the one I came here with at night. It felt completely wrong to be here with some other boy. But here I was, with William, holding his hand and pretending I wasn't just waiting to get the hell outta here.

It's nothing personal. It's just this...place. It reminded me of the night Aiden & I lay here on the sand; of how he kissed me when he got drunk. I'll never forget how it felt when he cupped my face in his hands, and kissed me like I meant something to him.

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