I nodded then traced my gaze back to the picture. "You're so happy in this."

"Honestly, I was."

"Could I ever make you that happy?"

He leaned close to me and placed a kiss along my neck. "Maybe even happier."

I smiled softly, holding his hands. "I'm sorry about him, David."

"Don't be. When I met Rowan, I was finally able to break away from my family's expectations of me. I don't dwell on the sadness of his death, but I'll always appreciate his life."

My blue eyes glistened with curiosity. There were lots more pictures, but I figured we could look at them later. I peered toward all the candles. "Where do they lead to?"

"Why don't you find out?" Still holding one of his hands, I walked through the path created by the petals and Sofie followed us, barking with happiness. The trail led to his backyard patio, decorated with candles and food--very aromatic food.

I spun around and hugged him. "Thank you, thank you, thank you! You were right; it's cheesy." I loosened my hug, but I kept my arms around his neck. "But considering I've never had anything close to this in my life... it couldn't be any more romantic."

"Casper... can I kiss you?"

I laughed, nodding. "You don't have to ask."

We leaned closer to each other and I closed my eyes, letting myself feel the bliss of the moment. I couldn't help but notice the fact that I'd grown a little more confident in myself when our lips met. I was certainly bolder and not embarrassed to like someone as much as I liked David. The fact that I could be open with him said a lot about him.

He brought out the courage in me. He believed in me and supported my dream to become a surgeon.

"Thank you," I appreciated again once we separated. My eyes were as illuminated as the candles and we took a seat on the patio, with the fragrance of the food wafting through my nostrils.

"Totally wife material, aren't I?" David joked, uncovering our plates.

"Definitely," I agreed. Clearly, anyone who married him would be the luckiest man in the world. It was hard thinking that it might not ever be me.

I didn't want to start off our date on a low note, but I had to ask it. "I'm kind of a... dreamer- I mean, sometimes I find it hard to be realistic," I began, cutting into the steak on my plate. "I've read a million books so I'm pretty good at coming up with just as many scenarios and endings."

He nodded, listening intently, which I appreciated.

"What I'm trying to ask is, realistically speaking, where do you see our relationship going? Because in my mind, this is a fantasy. And those never end well." I suddenly pouted. "I don't mean to put you on the spot-"

"No, you're right to ask. I understand actually. It's your first relationship, and it's with a man, even while you're figuring out your own sexuality. On top of that, I'm a professor. So yes, it's no surprise that you're questioning this. I can only tell you my intention, and that is to be with you as long as I possibly can. I want to see you come out of your shell even more than you have. I want to watch you smile..."

Automatically, I smiled brightly and looked down at my food.

"I also really want an inside joke or two. Just between us so we can use it and make people so confused while we cry tears of laughter-"

I giggled at that, gazing back at him.

"Which leads me to the next thing I want. For us to be a public couple. Go out, hold hands, kiss in a restaurant."

"I'd love that." I blushed. "I don't know if it'll happen any time soon though, unfortunately."

"No, but that's the point. It's gonna take a while. But it's ok because we'll still be together by then and that's what matters." He held my hand and gave it a squeeze. And here I thought we'd start off on a bad note.

If anything, his ability to turn my concerns into a positive made me trust him even more. I could really just... come to him with anything on my mind, and he'd be reassuring. Perks of dating a psychologist? Or just David being David?


I returned home that night in smiles, very shy, excited, fluttering smiles. David had driven me back, sending me off with a goodnight kiss. I felt all kinds of special, having had a breathless day with him and a playful Sofie.

I stopped at my room door, fishing for my keys in my pocket.

But I noticed the door wasn't locked and there were several voices in the room.

I internally groaned, dreadful of what surprise awaited me in my room. Seriously, this happened to me all the time now. I didn't know what--or who--I'd be opening my door to, but there was only one way to find out.

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