"Well, you're not going to get anything done pacing around like that." Jasmine said through a chuckle as she watched her best mate practically wear a hole in the gym floor.
"You're so not helping." Willow replied, her face in a contemplative frown as she paced.
"I don't get what you're so worked up about anyway, it's just planning a date. I mean...haven't you and Alex already been on a lot of dates already?”
Willow stopped mid pace and turned to look at Jasmine.
"No! That's why I'm like this! I'm so nervous. I just want it to be perfect." Willow said through an exasperated sigh as she sat down on a nearby weights bench.
Jasmine walked slowly over and sat down next to her.
"Hold on, I'm a bit confused here. I though you and Alex were dating? So, like...you've already been on dates. Which is why I'm confused as to why this one is so important?"
"No...no, we're not really...actually...dating, I mean I guess not officially. I don't know...we're just hanging out. We've been having "hang-outs." Willow replied, as she air-quoted hang-outs.
Jasmine couldn't help but laugh.
"I don't see how any of this is funny." Willow said through a scowl at her best mate.
"I'm sorry, really. I'm just...trying to make sense of the situation. So, you and Alex...you’re just hanging out? What does that even mean?"
"It means we're taking things slow...seeing where it goes. No labels. You know, just...getting to know each other while I try to freak out a little less each day that I'm falling for...a woman... It's just...no, never mind."
Jasmine scooted in closer to Willow and placed her hand under her chin, gently forcing her to look her in the eyes.
"Hey, I'm sorry. I didn't realize it was getting this serious between you two."
"It's not. I mean...it might be...it is? Ughhhh...I just wish I could figure out what I'm feeling. Then maybe we could get past this whole lame hang-out phase that we implemented because my confused ass couldn't wrap my head around having feelings for her."
"I think you've already figured it out. You just admitted you have feelings for her."
"I did sort of do that, didn't I?" Willow responded through a small smile.
"You did. It's confirmed. No take backs."
"Yeah...I don't want to take it back. And I do still want to take things slow with her. But maybe slower as we're...dating?"
"Okay, so...why don't you tell Alex this?"
"Well that's the idea, hence...the date tonight."
"So, you asked her out on an official date?" Jasmine asked, a hint of excitement in her voice.
"No...no. Just to, you know, hang out tonight." Willow replied sheepishly.
"What am I going to do with you two? This hang-out thing has got to go." Jasmine joked.
"Yeah, I know...that’s why I’m trying to plan a first date but I’m freakin' out in the process. This is a big deal. I want...well, I just want it to be perfect, you know? I want Alex to know that I'm serious about this. That I'm all in. That I want to be..."
Willow hesitated and Jasmine noticed her best mate's cheeks starting to turn a deep shade of red.
"You're adorable when you blush, mate. No wonder Alex has a thing for you." Jasmine joked, giving Willow a playful wink.
"Shut up, you're still not helping." Willow replied, giving Jasmine a nudge with her shoulder.
"Listen, all teasing aside, I'm really happy for you. You light up whenever you talk about Alex. And you just have this...I don't know...glowing smile all the time. I think it's really great."
"Awwww...thanks, Jas. Now...less talking, more helping. How do I plan this date?"
Jasmine slung her arm around Willow's shoulder, giving her a reassuring squeeze before answering.
"Right. So, what were you thinking so far?"
About thirty minutes before sunset, a nervous Willow was still pacing, this time up and down a path that lead down to the beach. With Jasmine's help, she'd planned what she'd hope would be a romantic evening for she and Alex. Also, with Jasmine's advice, she'd gone with minimal makeup, choosing subtle earthy tones and a light pink lipstick and went with a simple yellow sundress that clung and flowed in all the right places. Jasmine assured her that Alex would definitely take notice of the dress and even informed her that she'd be thanking her best mate later when Alex saw her in said dress. But the thought of it made her more nervous. Was she ready for Alex to look at her like that? It was different with the guys she'd dated before. She'd used it to her advantage and welcomed the attention. But this was Alex. This was different. She cared what Alex thought of her. She knew she didn't need to dress to impress the doctor. Alex was always complimenting her even when she was in her typical red work tank top with wind-blown hair after a long day of training on the beach. So, it definitely wasn't attention or approval or the intent to seduce like it had always been with men. This was a whole new realm she was stepping in, and no matter how nervous she was, Willow was determined to at least look good while figuring out said whole new realm. She was too lost in her thoughts and pacing to hear Alex approach.
"Hey, sorry I'm a bit late. There was a last-minute patient emergency. I took care of it as quickly as I could so I-"
Alex abruptly stopped talking as Willow turned around to face her. Seeing the trainer dressed up and framed against the stunning colors of the sunset made her heart skip a beat...and apparently took her breath away as well, since she was having trouble getting any more words out at the moment.
Willow couldn’t help but smile as she internally thanked Jasmine for the dress pick and took a step closer to Alex, gently grabbing hold of her hand.
“Hey, are you okay? ‘Cause you seem a bit...out of sorts?” Willow asked, her smile turning more into an adorable smirk.
“No, I mean...yes...yes, I’m fine. It’s just you looked...gorgeous standing there against that beautiful sunset and that dress is just...it’s...I mean...just...wow. Not that you don’t always look gorgeous! I just...you just...”
“Wow?” Willow finished with a chuckle.
“Yes. Wow.” Alex replied, feeling her cheeks heat up with embarrassment and a bit of something else.
“Dr. Neilson, are you blushing?” Willow teased, giving her hand a small squeeze.
“Most probably, yes.” Alex answered, not able to take her eyes off of Willow.
“Well then I guess Jas’ work here is done. And now I owe her a round of tequila shots.”
“Jasmine? I not sure I follow. What does Jas-”
“Never mind, I’ll tell you later. Because now it’s time to follow me.”
The two women slipped off their shoes, then Willow took Alex’s hand in hers and led them down the path to the beach, walking for few minutes before reaching a steadily glowing bonfire. Next to the fire, a flowing linen beach canopy was set up, lined up and down with glittering fairy lights. Inside, Alex noticed several oversized cushions sitting on a few sprawled out, plush beach blankets. A large picnic basket and a bottle of wine chilling in a bucket of ice sat in the middle of the towels.
“Wow. Is this for us?” Alex asked, in awe of the beautifully romantic set-up.
Willow let out an amused chuckle, causing Alex to look over in confusion.
“Wow seems to be the word of the night then?” Willow stated teasingly. “And yes, this is for us.”
“Well, as you continue to...wow me, I can’t help but be wowed by this beautiful set-up and the even more beautiful woman here beside me. So yeah...just...wow.”
Willow rolled her eyes playfully at Alex’s adorable silliness before leading the doctor by the hand over to the canopy. But before they reached it, Alex stopped, causing Willow to abruptly stop with her.
“Willow wait...is this...as date?”
Willow quickly let go of Alex’s hand, looking down at the sand trying to mentally talk herself out of pacing right then and there. But after taking in a deep, calming breath and gaining the resolve she and Jasmine had talked about earlier that day, she looked up into Alex’s warm, waiting eyes.
“Yes. It’s a date. I hope that’s okay. I mean, I know we talked about just hanging out and taking things slow, and don’t get me wrong, I’ve really enjoyed doing that these past couple of weeks, but...”
Willow bravely stepped closer to Alex, keeping their eyes locked as she took both of Alex’s hands in hers.
“I’d really like to take the next step with you. And I don’t really know exactly what that means. I know we agreed on no labels. I just...really wanted to take you on an official first date to thank you for being so patient with me while sort out all the confusion that’s been swirling around in my head lately. I feel like things are a whole lot clearer now and I know what I want.”
Will stepped in closer to Alex and freed up her right hand, raising it to cup Alex’s cheek.
“I want you, Alex. No more confusion or excuses. Will you go out on a date with me? I mean...as in...right here right now?”
It wasn’t often that Alex was left speechless. But now it seemed to have happened twice in the same night. She wasn’t sure whether to burst out into tears of happiness or pull Willow into her for a passionate kiss. She decided on neither, however, because all she could seem to muster was a slight nod of her head as smile spread across her lips. Finally, the words came to her.
“Yes. Yes, I’d like that very much.”
Willow’s face lit up in a glowing, toothy smile, that happy, genuine smile that had reeled Alex in from the start and melted her heart every single time.
“Good.” Willow replied, still smiling as she took a step back but kept hold of Alex’s hand. “’Cause I’d hate for a good bonfire to go to waste.”
She gave Alex a playful wink before leading her over to the canopy. Once they sat down together on the comfy cushions, Willow opened up the picnic basket, pulling out various containers of food.
“I hope you don’t mind take-out from Salt. I know it’s not very original and we go there a lot, but-”
Alex placed her hand atop Willow’s, cutting her off.
She gave Willow a reassuring smile before taking her hand away and allowing Willow to finish taking out the food.
“Oh, and I got your favorite dessert. But that’s not the best part.”
“Oh, it’s going to be pretty hard to top triple chocolate fudge and peanut butter cake, but take your best shot.” Alex said, intrigued by whatever Willow was planning to present to her next.
Alex watched as Willow proudly grabbed the bottle of wine out of the ice bucket, carefully wiping away the excess water from the bottle with a nearby towel before proudly presenting it to Alex. Raising an eyebrow in curiosity, Alex took the bottle from Willow and examined it. Suddenly, both eyebrows raised together in surprise.
“You remembered? Where did you find this? I haven’t been able to find it since I moved to the Bay.”
“Of course I remembered.” Willow responded. “I mean, you may have mentioned it once or twice when you’ve had a glass of wine during our hang-outs, but...”
Willow took the wine bottle from Alex and grabbed a corkscrew out of the picnic basket, continuing as she started opening up the wine.
“...what I remember most is the time you said drinking a glass of this felt like warmth and sunshine and like coming home to the arms of a passionate lover.”
Willow grinned as she poured some wine in a glass and handed it over to a yet again speechless Alex. She poured herself a glass and then scooted in closer to Alex, who was still seemingly in awe of the glass of wine in her hand.
“I never thought someone could be so...enraptured by a glass of wine.” Willow said amusingly, breaking Alex out of her wine-induced trance.
“I’m so sorry, it’s just...”
But Alex stopped herself and started laughing softly as she brought her hand up to her face pinch the bridge of her nose in embarrassment. It was a habit Willow always found adorable.
“You were going to say wow again, weren’t you?” Willow asked, thoroughly enjoying having flustered the doctor so many times already so early in the date.
“I was, yes. God...I’m such a nerd sometimes it seems.”
Willow grasped Alex’s free hand and gave it a gentle squeeze.
“You’re totally a nerd. But I happen to think you’re an adorable nerd. Especially when you geek out about the latest medical breakthrough you’ve read about in your journals. It’s really cute.”
“Yes, really. Now, are we gonna see what this wine tastes like or what? Shall we make a toast?”
“Yes, of course.” Alex replied. “How about...to great wine and beautiful company.”
Alex raised her glass up to Willow’s, and the trainer smiled as she clinked her glass against Alex’s.
“To great wine and beautiful company and...more awesome nights like this.”
This time it was Alex who broke out into a huge grin. It seemed the two of them truly couldn’t stop smiling at each other tonight. And Alex as okay with that. It was the happiest she’d felt in a very long time. She brought the glass to her lips and took a delicate sip of the wine, savoring its deep, complex flavors on her tongue. Closing her eyes, she let out a satisfied hum before opening them back up to see Willow studying her intently, a small smile still across her lips. Although those lips seemed to be a bit closer to hers than before she’d closed her eyes.
“As good as you remembered?” Willow asked, having yet to taste the wine since she’d been too busy observing how much Alex had been enjoying it.
“Better, actually.” Alex responded, moving a bit closer into Willow’s space. “Must be the company.”
“Aren’t you the charmer, Doctor Neilson.”
Alex reached out to tuck a stray strand of hair behind Willow’s ear.
“Yup, that’s me...the charming nerd.”
Willow couldn’t help but let out an amused chuckle as she moved in closer to Alex, their lips only a few inches apart now.
“Alex.” Willow whispered as the doctor closed her eyes in anticipation.
“Yes?” Alex replied, feeling the pull between them.
“The food’s getting cold.”
Alex quickly opened her eyes to see Willow grinning at her mischievously. She pulled back, shaking her head as she pointed a finger at the trainer.
“I hate you.” Alex stated softly, no actual hatred in her eyes.
“No, you really don’t.” Willow replied smugly.
“No...I really don’t.” Alex agreed as she took another careful sip of her wine and allowed Willow to finish preparing the food.
A few hours late, the bonfire had started to die down while the two women had long finished their dinner and bottle of wine. They’d been spending the time talking about anything and everything while enjoying each other’s company. They sat close to each other, cuddled beneath a blanket Willow had brought along. After the Willow’s laughter died down from hearing another hilarious ER story from Alex, she realized how late it had gotten.
“It’s getting late. Don’t you have early morning rounds tomorrow?” Willow asked as she started to get up so they could start packing things up.
But Alex grabbed her hand and pulled her back down to her.
“Yes, I do. But let’s stay just a bit longer.”
Seeing the hesitation on Willow’s face, she added...
Of course, Willow couldn’t resist those beautiful, pleading eyes. So, she sat back down, scooting in close to Alex.
“You’re lucky I like you.”
Willow drew her face in closer to Alex’s like before. She saw the doctor’s eyes soften, and this time, she was the one to reach up to Alex’s face and tuck a stray strand of hair behind her ear.
“Trust me, I know. I feel lucky every day that you’ve been willing to give me a chance...to give us a chance.”
“Alex.” Willow whispered as the gave the doctor’s face a gentle caress.
“Hmmm?” Alex responded, closing her eyes while leaning into Willow’s touch.
This time, Willow closed the distance between them, gently pressing her lips to Alex’s. Both women were tentative at first, especially since it was the first time they’d kissed since Willow’s tequila-induced lip-lock outside the surf club. It was their first...mutual kiss. So, it was understandable that they’d both be a bit hesitant at first. But it only took a second for Willow to get over that hesitance. And when she moved to deepen the kiss, Alex didn’t hesitate either. In fact, a few seconds later, Willow found herself being pulled into Alex’s lap. Their lips never parted though, as their lips moved slow and sensuously against each other. Willow was feeling sheer bliss. All she could think about in the moment was...God, was Alex an awesome kisser. And...why had she waited so long to do this? She’d most definitely never been kissed like this before...with so much passion, yet so much reverence. Unfortunately, Willow’s thoughts...and the breathtaking kiss were interrupted by the loud ringing of Alex’s cellphone.
Their lips parted, both of them breathless as Alex rested her head gently against Willow’s forehead.
“I’m sorry. I’m still on call. It’s probably the hospital.” Alex said softly, trying to ignore the ringing.
“You should probably answer it then. It could be an emergency.”
“I know. I’m sorry.” Alex replied, keeping their foreheads pressed together, not wanting to end the moment.
It was Willow who finally pulled back, smiling gently at the doctor.
“Don’t be sorry. It’s what you do. Thank you for coming out with me tonight.”
“Thank you for asking me out tonight. I really loved it.”
“Yeah, me too.” Willow responded before Alex’s phone started ringing again.
“Go save some lives, Doctor Neilson.” Willow said as she nodded over at Alex’s purse where her phone was ringing.
Alex couldn’t help but smile at how happy she was feeling in the moment. So, she decided to act on that happiness as she leaned in and gave Willow a quick but searing kiss before jumping up to go grab her phone. Now Willow was the one smiling as she pressed two fingers up against her freshly kissed lips. She barely heard Alex’s phone conversation, being currently wrapped up in a state of euphoria. A few seconds later, she was shaken out of that bliss as Alex approached.
“Yeah, it’s the hospital. I’ve gotta go. But I’m going to make it up to you, I promise...on our next date.”
Willow looked up at Alex and grinned.
“Looking forward to it, Doctor.”
Alex grinned in return and leaned down, placing a kiss atop Willow’s head before saying a quick goodbye and heading away down the beach. Willow watched her disappear out of sight before diving back into the cushions and letting out a contented sigh as she thought to herself...if the first date was this awesome...she couldn’t wait for the second one...