Chapter Twenty-Two

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Later that night, as Tristan waited impatiently outside Jada's apartment, he inwardly admitted he'd missed her more. Eagerness raced through him the second he spotted her coming out of the building's front entrance. She looked phenomenal as always as she walked up to the car.

"Your carriage awaits, m'lady." He pretended to tip his imaginary hat as he opened the door for her, and Jada gave him a brilliant smile. A reward that made him perfectly content.

"It's good to see you too," Jada admitted, despite glancing down at her hands nervously. Tristan felt a cocky remark on the tip of his tongue but held it back. If he was going to persuade Jada to keep masquerading as his girlfriend, tonight had to go well.

"Well, are you ready for a night of fun?" he asked.

"Sure. Where are we going?"

"The Bright Future Festival. It's a fair in honor of this non-profit that assists underprivileged children. It's going to be going on for the next two months."

"Let me guess, you're a sponsor?" Jada raised a knowing brow.

"Yes," he replied sheepishly. "But it's a super awesome cause and I hear the rides are great."

"There's not gonna be like, a gazillion clowns, are there?" she asked uneasily.

"Don't worry. I'll protect you from their big plastic shoes and balloon animals." He assured her by squeezing her hand. When she didn't respond right away, Tristan looked over and caught her blushing.

"I'm not scared. I mean, the movie, It, is incredibly creepy but I can handle it."

"Okay," he suppressed his laughter.

To his delight, The Bright Future Festival turned out to be a hit spot. Happy families and excited children were everywhere: playing carnival games, eating cotton candy, screaming their heads off on rides. Knowing all the attention would help raise tons of money for his favorite charity was a big upside to their evening. Before he entered the festival grounds, he took several pictures with attendees and even did a short interview, all with Jada beside him. Then, he and Jada scored their tickets and joined the chaos inside.

"What do you want to do first?" Tristan said as they took in the noisy atmosphere and various aromas from different food vendors.

"First stop: funnel cake." Jada pointed at her favorite stand.

Throwing both of their diets to the wind, the two of them savored the fried treat as they perused the numerous stations. They played a few games before Tristan landed on the classic Whac-a-Mole. He looked at her meaningfully.

"You know I have to, right?"

"Fine. But you better get a super high score. And win me that unicorn!" Jada gushed over the ugliest stuffed animal of the booth. It's hard to make a purple unicorn hideous but they'd succeeded.

"That one? It's totally cross-eyed!" he protested. However, under her insistence, Tristan did his best. He came up a few tickets short and they chose a jester doll instead.

"Because you're such a fool," Jada illuminated when he asked her about her back up choice. 

"I am not." He scowled.

"How would you like to be Maxwell, Jr.? Huh?" Jada spoke to the doll, then looked up at Tristan. "He says he likes it."

"I bet he does. So what, I win you toys that you use to insult me?" Tristan said.

"That's what you get for missing the unicorn."

"Why did you want that googly-eyed monster anyway?" Tristan asked.

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