My Imaginary Boyfriend, Episode Six: Fearless

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My stomach and cheeks ache and my throat is scratchy from the salty popcorn, but I can't stop laughing.  Rykel's scratchy laugh joins mine and I bask in the wonderful feeling of just being together.

"Did you-"  I suck in a breath.  "Did you see the look on her face - in the airport scene?  She was just like - Oh man, that was awful!  She is such a terrible actress."  My words dissolve into giggles, and I ignore the other patrons in the theater lobby glaring in our direction.  I can't help it if they came to a terrible horror movie to actually be scared.  I'm here to have fun!

"That part when the alien came out was way worse!  We're in the twenty-first century.  There's this thing called CGI.  Those people clearly don't know how to use it."

Rykel slips his warm, strong hand into mine and, still laughing, we exit the theater into the dark parking lot.
 The pavement, wet from the rain while we were inside, glistens under the glow of the street lights.  That damp, earthy after-rain smell fills the cool night air.  I untie the jacket around my waist and slide it on over my Hunger Games t-shirt, flipping my hair out over my collar before slipping my hand back into Rykel's.

I let out a deep breath and smile.  Music from a country radio station is playing through speakers mounted on the walls of the movie theater.  One of my favorite songs comes on and I step in time to the beat.

Rykel laughs and I look up at him.  "What?  I love this song.  Don't tell me you don't like Taylor Swift.  Come on!"

He shakes his head; I roll my eyes.  After a minute, though, he pauses.  I turn to him.  He looks older, more mature somehow under the strange lighting that casts shadows over his half-hair, red ripped-sleeved t-shirt, and thick, tattooed arms.    "What's the matter?"

"Want to dance?"

"Here?  Now?"

He nods.

I smile nervously and look down.  This is definitely out of character, and there are still several people in the parking lot around us.  But I'm not about to pass up the chance.  I look back up at him.  "Yes!"

He pulls me closer to him and takes my free hand in his.  Strong, scarred fingers wrap between mine.  I rest my head in the groove of his shoulder and close my eyes, breathing in his smell.  Heat between our so-close bodies, the thick smell of earth and rain, soft strains from a song I love, the spicy smell of the boy I've fallen for, a peaceful calm in my laughter-aching belly all tumble through my senses into my heart.

When the song ends, I sigh and reluctantly pull away.  "We should be going."

He nods and drops one of my hands, squeezing the other and sliding his free hand into his pocket.  "I got you something."

I watch his face, but he doesn't make eye contact.  "What is it?"

He pulls his hand out of his pocket, with his fingers wrapped around something small.  "It's nothing much.  I saw it at that store in the mall when we first came in, and I thought you'd like it.  I mean, it seems like your kind of thing.  Just - here."  He holds out his hand and opens it to reveal a delicate silver necklace.

I take it and slide my fingers in the chain, letting it fall so I can hold up the charm.  "Oh, it's a motorcycle!"  I giggle and look up at Rykel.

He smiles, but his eyes still seem a little uncertain.  "So you like it?"

"Of course I do!  It's perfect."  I let go of his hand and undo the clasp, then turn my back to him.  "Here, can you hold my hair up?"

"Okay."  His hands brush against my neck as he gathers the hair together and holds it up out of the way.

I slip the necklace on, and the clasp catches on the second try.  Rykel releases my hair and I turn back to him, holding the necklace up to look down at it.  "I love it, Rykel.  It's perfect," I repeat.

I look up to see him practically beaming at me.  I slide my hand back in his, still smiling.  "Let's go."

We walk back to the motorcycle.  I wipe the water off the seat with my hand and Rykel reaches over and starts the engine, but he doesn't climb on.  He grins at me.

"One more song?"

I laugh.  "What song would that be?"

He leans over the motorcycle and turns on the radio.  An electric guitar starts to play.  I raise my eyebrows.

"Come on, we did your song.  This is my kind of music."

I laugh again and shake my head.  "Okay, you win.  But I'm warning you, this won't be pretty.  Dancing is not exactly a strength of mine."  And I definitely don't know how to dance to this kind of song.

He grabs my hands and we start to do something that I guess resembles dancing.  I feel like a cross between a freshly-beheaded chicken and a little kid who's had one too many Mountain Dews.  Still, I'm laughing and bouncing around and having fun even if I do look like an idiot.  Rykel is definitely doing better than me, although I'm not sure if his kind of dancing would fit in anywhere except an 80's movie.  Whatever.  We make an awesome pair, looking like fools in the parking lot.

The song, which I honestly thought sounded like the same set of chords played over and over again, ends soon.  I collapse onto the motorcycle seat and try to calm down my laughter.  Rykel watches me, grinning.

"It was awful, wasn't it?  I told you."  I reach for the helmet hanging on the handlebars and pull my hair out of my face to strap it on.

Rykel crosses his arms and leans against the car parked beside us.  "You're fun, you know that?"

I focus on putting my helmet on and not looking at him.  No matter how much I hang out with guys, I can never quite figure out how to take a compliment from them.  I know for a fact that I'm blushing right now.  "Well... thanks?  I mean you're not exactly a bore either."

He chuckles and pushes off the car, stepping up beside me.  He reaches out and grasps the handlebars, but before he climbs on he leans in beside me and whispers in my ear.  "I mean it.  You're a special girl, Emily."  He climbs onto the motorcycle seat and I wrap my arms around his chest.  As the engine revs and we take off out of the parking lot, I can feel practically my entire body blushing.

Is this love?


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