Chapter Eleven

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"See, that wasn't so bad, was it? You acted like I wanted to take you out to torture you."

"It was a nice time," Dorothy replied, and hoped she hadn't spoken too dreamily.

Her evening had been more than nice. With Charlie ducking out on their game to spend the night with the Barrett twins, Robbie had tidied the cards Dorothy laid out for their game of Gin Rummy and tucked them back on the shelf, then announced that they were going to the pictures.

She'd tried to talk her way out of it. She didn't have the money for it ("Quiet, I'm asking and I'm paying,") and that it was too cold to walk ("Then put on a sweater, for God's sake,") and when he threatened to go alone, she bundled herself up and followed.

Before she'd lost her job at the Chinese cafe and there was money for fun, she would take Charlie to the pictures every second Sunday. It had been as much for her as it was for him. She loved sitting in the dark and losing herself in the exciting world on the screen, and she liked going with Charlie more than with Ian, who would make fun of her when she clutched his arm during the exciting parts.

Robbie had hoped to see a mystery, but they'd settled on a comedy and a western that were playing. Though Dorothy wasn't particularly keen on mysteries, she had been a secretly disappointed there was none. If they had been watching a picture with a devilish man menacing the townsfolk, she could have clutched Robbie's hand or hidden her face into his shoulder during the more thrilling parts, and could pretend she only did it because she was scared and not because she was so thrilled to be out on the town with a young man.

She was content enough. As soon as they had left the theatre, Robbie took her hand and looped her arm through his. It was just the sort of gesture to make her insides gooey and warm, but not so much that she felt like she ought to pull away.

"That's where I was coming from the night I met you in the cafe," he told her as they walked. "It's what I did when I first came home. If Mother drove me up the wall or I was bored, I'd go and see a picture. I liked going alone." He gave her arm a tug and smiled. "I like taking pretty girls to the pictures, too."

"Don't get fresh."

"I've been nothing but a gentleman since we met. I think I've earned the right to be a little fresh every so often. Besides, it keeps you on your toes."

"That's all I need: something else to keep me on my toes." When he didn't say anything, she looked up at him and caught the mischief in his smile. "What?"

"If I wanted to keep you on your toes, there's a good place to start."

He pointed, and she regretted quipping back at him. They were near the YMCA, and the music drifting from within told her that there was a dance happening that night.

Dorothy shook her head. "Absolutely not."

"You don't know how to dance?"

"I do, but I'm not going to a dance."

"And why not?"

"Because -- because I don't want to. I don't like dancing."

It wasn't true. She didn't know if she liked dancing or not because she'd never been to a dance.

This method of flat out denial usually worked on Charlie, but with Robbie, it just earned her a scoffing laugh.

"That's too bad, isn't it? Because, once again, I'm going in whether you're coming with me or not."

Dorothy pulled away from him and crossed her arms over her chest. "You'd just leave me here on the street to you can go in there and dance with other girls?"

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