“I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I didn’t exactly fit in,” Shannon said, pulling her auburn bangs back behind her ear. She blinked back tears, making them fall faster. “I mean, I wasn’t exactly model material. Besides, I was too insecure to go on a date with you in high school.” So what the fuck was this? Was I the victim of a pity date? Because I didn’t need pity, especially from Shannon Taylor. Shannon moved to Seattle from Georgia in the 9th grade. Our parents were good friends, and Mom asked me to take her to senior prom. I’d had no interest in going, especially not with Shannon. When Dad offered me a Jeep if I took her, I jumped at the chance. My parents would have the Taylors over for dinner at least once a month. So, one day, I just came right out and asked her if she’d go with me. But when she rejected me, I felt my stomach in my throat, and I blushed hard. I hadn’t spoken to her since we graduated three years ago. But I was home from college for Christmas, and I saw Shannon at a Safeway. She bumped into me and told me how she was sorry and wanted to take me to the new diner and a movie. I agreed. Christmas lights lit the mall strip, and light snow had begun to touch her nose then the ground.
“Hey”–I griped her shoulder–“don’t talk about yourself like that.” Was Shannon awkward? Maybe back in high school, but not now. I mean, she went from an ugly duckling to a sawn. She’d been beaten down for being an outcast for so long that she started to believe she was horrible. And honestly, back in high school, she had a point.
“Is that your way of telling me I’m crazy?” Shannon raised a brow then a smile tugged at the corner of her mouth.
I wrapped my arm around Shannon. “What do you say we get out of here?” This woman standing before me wasn’t the same punk rock girl. No, this was a delicate well-put-together woman. I knew where I’d wanted to take Shannon, but it wasn’t appropriate to ask.
“You’re not trying to get into my pants, are you?” Shannon raised a haughty brow.
I swallowed hard. “Absolutely not.”
“Am I not good enough for you?” Shannon’s oval green eyes turned to crinkled slits.
“Yes. I mean, no. I’m confused.” I covered my ears.
Shannon laughed hard.
“Kidding. I’m kidding.” Shannon had a sense of humor? I always thought she smoked pot and listened to dark metal.
“Joking,” I said. “Right. I knew that.” Shannon grabbed my hand, pulling me. “Where are you taking me?”
“Mind if I drive?” Shannon said.
Before I could say anything, she took the keys from my hand.
“Good. Get it.” We passed stoplights and street lights, talking about how life took her in a different direction and that she’s thought about me since she was in high school. She just thought she wasn’t good enough. We headed towards an abandoned building. What the fuck? Was Shannon Taylor going to kill me? Maybe she was still that black-wearing gothic chick after all.
“Where are we?” I asked as we pulled into an old barn with a candle-lit dinner and a band playing soft 80s music. I scanned again. “Is this what I think it is?”
“I thought I’d make up turning down your prom proposal.” Shannon winked.
“You bumped into me on purpose. Huh?”
“You got me”–Shannon smiled then gave me a warm kiss–“I bumped into you on purpose.”
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