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saving all your slow dances

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“Can I have this dance?”

Helen looked up in surprise. “Me?” she asked.

Aline Penhallow only raised an eyebrow. “Is someone else hiding in this corner with you?”

And well, no was the answer to that, because Helen was entirely alone. Mark had abandoned her as soon as they’d arrived at the dance, and she hadn’t seen him since. She assumed he was off dancing with Christina or Kieran or both. And all of her friends had dates. So there she was, in the middle of her senior Homecoming, hiding in a corner—or failing to because the girl who was probably going to win Homecoming Queen that night was standing in front of her and asking her to dance.

“You want to dance with me?” Helen asked. “Do you even know my name?”

“Helen,” Aline said, and even though she had to yell it to be heard over the music, the sound of it was beautiful in her voice. “We had chemistry together last year. You’re always in the library after school, doing homework or reading.”

“Wait, you noticed me there?”

Aline smiled. “Yeah. You’re cute. And I could never get up the nerve to talk to you. I almost came up to ask what you were working on once, but I chickened out.”

Helen blinked, dumbfounded. This couldn’t be real. Someone must’ve spiked the lemonade. There was no way the prettiest girl Helen had ever seen was saying that she was cute. “You’re talking to me now. What changed?”

Aline pointed a thumb over her shoulder. “I really like this song. So, want to dance?”

Helen nodded before she even knew she’d decided to, and then Aline took her hand and led her into the crowd she’d been determined to avoid earlier.

Aline turned to her, raising an eyebrow as her hands hovered over Helen’s hips. Helen nodded, and Aline settled her hands there, warm through the fabric of her dress. Helen looped her own arms around Aline’s neck, smiling as they settled into the rhythm of the song.

“Research,” Helen said suddenly. “That’s what I’m always doing in the library. For an art project I’m working on.”

Maybe it was the lights, or the cliché disco ball hanging above them, but Aline’s eyes seemed to glow. “Maybe, uh. Maybe we can do some research together. Sometime.”

Helen grinned, biting back a laugh. “I’d like that.”