Dancing in the Park
We pulled into a large, almost full, car park located in the botanic gardens. What were we doing in a park? It’s dark; surely we aren’t going on a picnic. And why were all these people here? I racked my brain to search for a concert or performance I may have heard about and drew a blank. Before I could work out exactly what was going on, my door opened and Toby helped me from the car. Chivalry seems to be another redeeming quality. He’d done the same when he’d picked me up. Opened the door, helped me in and closed it behind me. No date had ever done this for me before. His car was neat inside, just like his appearance.
As per his instructions, I wore a dress and carried a light jacket. I’d donned flat shoes and was glad that I’d made the choice. Grass and spiked heels are hard work. I couldn’t help but miss that the colour of his shirt matched perfectly with my dress.
We strolled through the garden, following a path into a field. Couples and families were seated on rugs and chairs in front of a large screen. I'm immediately reminded of the scene from ‘The Wedding Planner’, where Jennifer Lopez and the gorgeous Matthew McConaughey arrive at a similar scene. It is literally just like the movies. If a song played during the screening and couples began twirling on the grass, I would know I was dreaming. If he asked me to dance I would simply die from the unbelievable romance of it all. My heart splutters like a car running out of fuel. Words fail me and all the saliva in my mouth has taken a holiday, making speech impossible.
“You like it?” he asked. I turned to him and tried not to let his gorgeousness further render my ability to speak.
“Is this real?” Groan, is that all I got?
His laugh isn’t in the same deep timbre that I’d heard before. It is almost a boyish giggle. Swoon.
“Yes, this was my mother’s favourite place to be. It’s on once a month. We used to come here together all the time with my sister and brother.”
“Yes, we haven’t been for a while.” There seemed to be more to it but his explanation wasn’t forthcoming. Asking him further questions would feel like prying so I changed the subject.
“What’s showing tonight?”
“One of my favourites. Meet me in St Louis.”
“I don’t think I’ve seen it.”
“Well then, Maddie, you're in for a treat.”
How is it possible this ruggedly handsome ‘manly’ looking man liked romantic movies in the park and with his family no less. The total contradiction not only set my soul alight but intrigued me as well. Is it possible a man could be so masculine and sensitive all at once? The fantasies I’ve carried all these years about the handsome prince being kind and compassionate appeared to be eventuating. I must be dreaming. It just isn’t possible. ‘Too good to be true’, Sam’s voice rang in my head again. I always thought she was the voice of reason, a reality check. Could it be that she really was just a cynic? Sam just kept meeting the wrong ones? Too good to be true.
It was at this moment I noticed Toby was carrying a blanket under his arm. The other was resting lightly on my lower back and the heat from his hand warmed my skin. A slight breeze blew through the pleasant warm summer evening and took a little of the heat from the air. I decided I wouldn’t need my jacket after all. The burning of his hand on my skin and the all over warmth radiating from my skin at his mere presence would be more than enough. As he laid out the rug I watched the lean muscles in his arm flex with movement. I wondered exactly what I would find under his polo shirt. My mouth went dry. How was I going to concentrate through the movie?
“Would you like to sit?” he asked.
“Sure.” I curled up on the blanket with my knees facing the empty space he would fill beside me. When he did sit, it was closer than I imagined and my heart fluttered like butterfly wings. I needed to remain poised if I was going to get through the date without making an idiot of myself. The ability to speak or string a simple thought together would be impossible again if he continued to sit so close to me.
“The movie doesn’t start for a little while. Can I get you anything? Something to eat or drink?” How could I eat?
“You have something with you?”
“No, but there are vendors over there.” He pointed to the various makeshift tents to one side of the oval across from where we sat. Of course he didn’t bring anything, where did he carry it? On his head? I really needed to think about what I said before I said it. The ability to filter words between my brain and mouth ceased to function when he was around and seemed to spill out in nonsensical syllables.
“Sure a drink would be great.”
I watched him stride with assurance over to one of the tents. Everything about his demeanour oozed confidence, the set of his shoulders, his straight posture and head held high. Then again, he had every reason to be secure, he looked like a prince. As he walked back towards me, I tried not to stare and instead let my eyes wonder over the crowd surrounding us. The park wasn’t overflowing with people but just enough to create ambience.
“I hope this is okay,” he said as he plopped down beside me.
I took a sip and turned to him. A slight smile touched the corners of his kissable lips and his blue eyes twinkled as though amused by what he saw. I guessed I looked quite ridiculous. I was probably staring at him with starry eyes and my mouth open.
“So, Maddie, what do you do?”
“I work in retail. I’m an assistant manager at a boutique called Blasé.”
“I know the place, very expensive. The girls who work there all look like they have a plum stuck in their mouth. Present company excluded of course.”
I laughed, well let out a girlish giggle, more like. “I know how to play the part.”
“You must because you don’t seem like the stuck up type who would work there.”
I blushed and studied the drink in my hand. “So, what do you do?” I mumbled.
“I’m in sales too.”
“Anywhere I would know.”
“Probably not.” His tone held something that I couldn’t quite work out. It sounded a little like embarrassment and this surprised me. He didn’t elaborate so I didn’t ask.
The opening credits began to roll so I turned my attention to the screen and held my breath with eagerness. I watched transfixed as the movie played out, all the while I became exceedingly aware of my shoulder leaning subtly against his. The heat seared my shoulder and liquefied my insides.
Then as the true romance of it circled around us like stars, the dancing really did begin. It was all playing out just as I pictured. Too good to be true. Sam! Now all it would take is for him to ask me to dance.
I felt him move beside me and found him dazzling me with a smile. “Would you like to dance.” Some day my prince will come...