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“Hello, how can I help you?” The receptionist asked with a bright smile as I walked inside the building. I had never seen her before; I would remember her if I had. Her hair was light pink, her lips were full, pierced in the middle on both the top and bottom, and painted the same color as her hair. The only thing not pink about her were her sapphire blue eyes and pale skin. The stark white dress she wore made her eyes stand out even more.

“I was wondering if there was a studio open. I have a few tracks I need to put together,” I replied with a small smile. I watched the receptionist look over a chart intently. I couldn’t help but stare at her, she was captivating.

“Studio seven is open for the time being. Hands Like Houses has it reserved at three,” she informed me. I checked the time, I had about four hours.

“I’ll take it.” I signed in on the guest sheet then picked up my guitar. I was about ten steps away from the front desk when I turned around. “What’s your name?” The receptionist looked up and tilted her head slightly.

“Andromeda, what’s yours?” She replied. Her not knowing who I was both surprised and pleased me. It was nice to meet someone who didn’t already know who I was.

“Ricky,” I responded with the small smile I had given her earlier.

“Nice to meet you Ricky. Have fun recording.” Andromeda went back to typing on her computer and I found myself staring at her again. It was like she had her own gravitational pull. Realizing I was being a complete weirdo I continued to the elevator. Just before the doors closed I looked at Andromeda and found myself smiling like an idiot. At the last second, she met my gaze and returned the smile.

A few seconds later the doors opened again and I was on the second floor off the building. I walked down the hallway until I found studio seven. I had never been in this room before. Usually the band and I used studio five. We considered it our lucky room.

I set my guitar down and sat in the large office chair. I shrugged my laptop case from my shoulder and placed it beside the soundboard. Once I had everything up and running I went into the booth. Recording was a difficult task to do by oneself, but the other guys were busy. I had done it on my own before it was just a lot more work.

I was so engrossed in what I was doing I hadn’t heard the door open. I also hadn’t notice someone sit next to me in the other office chair. I tapped my foot softly as I played back what I had recorded. There was something missing or at least needed to be changed and I couldn’t figure out what it was.

“I think it sounds fine.” I jumped and placed my hand over my chest. Andromeda blushed with embarrassment and scratched the back of her neck. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

“No, it’s fine,” I replied and tried to regain my composure. “How’d you know I wasn’t all that into it?”

“You were muttering to yourself,” she replied with a shrug. “Anyway, I just wanted to let you know Hands Like Houses had to reschedule so you can have the studio for as long as you’d like.” When she got up to leave I found myself searching for a reason to get to her stay.

“Wait, um could you stick around for a little bit? Usually I have someone else with me and it’s weird recording by myself.” I mentally slapped myself. I sounded so lame. But Andromeda smiled and sat back down.

“I can stay for a little while. I’m technically on my lunch break.” I smiled and played back what I had recorded and added it to what the other guys had recorded. More than half our album was done, I just had to put the finishing touches on the last half. Andromeda watched me intently and I found myself trying to impress her.

“So, when did you start working here?” I asked casually. I sat back in the office chair and spun it side to side.

“A few months ago,” she replied and crossed one leg over the other. A few months? So why have I never seen her before? “I only just recently started working full time. I was doing part time for a while and working weird hours,” she explained further. That made sense, she just wasn’t working when the guys I came in.

“Do you like working here?” I asked next. I was more than aware I was trying to make small talk and failing miserably.

“I guess so. It’s a job so I can’t complain,” Andromeda said with a shrug. I could tell by her tone that if she had a choice she wouldn’t be working here.

“What’s your ideal job?” I pressed. I was genuinely interested in her answer. I was going off her appearance, but I had a feeling the answer would be intriguing.

“I’d work at an observatory,” she answered immediately. Yep, intriguing. “Space is so fascinating to me.” I noticed her eyes shine and her dimples show through when she smiled as she spoke. I instantly made the decision to take her somewhere she could see every star in the sky. It was a ridiculous thought, but one I planned to follow through with. “Ricky?” I hadn’t realized she was talking me to. Again, I felt like an idiot.

“Yeah?” I asked with obvious embarrassment.

“I asked what your ideal job is,” she explained. Her dimples showed as she smiled again and my stomach fluttered.

“I’m living it. I get to make music, travel the world, and inspire people. I couldn’t ask for anything else,” I replied with a smile. Andromeda stared at me with a soft smirk. “What?” I asked suddenly feeling self-conscious.

“Nothing,” Andromeda stated, “you just have a lot of passion when you talk about what you love.” I don’t know what it was about her but I was on the verge of kissing her. I had barely known her five minutes and I already wanted to kiss her and never stop.

“Do you uh want to um go to dinner with me tonight?” I stumbled over my words. By the way she giggled I figured she thought it was cute.

“I’d love to. I’m working until seven tonight so if you want I can meet you somewhere after I get off.” I was surprised she said yes. I think it showed because she gave me a confused look. Right she was waiting for an answer. Get it together Ricky.

“I can just pick you up from here if you want. When we’re done, I can bring back so you can grab your car,” I offered. Andromeda pursed her lips and I found myself anxious for her answer.

“Sounds like a plan. I have to get back down to the front desk, but I’ll see you later.” I watched her leave and stared at the door long after she was gone. I had a date. I had a date with gorgeous, alluring woman. I turned back to my laptop and smiled proudly.

I worked for another hour then decided to call it a day. It was twenty past one and my back was starting to hurt from being hunched over in the same position. I sighed in relief when my back popped as I stood up to gather my things.

The ride back down to the first floor felt like it took hours rather than seconds. But when the doors opened and I didn’t see Andromeda sitting at the front desk I couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed. A small glimmer of hope reignited when I saw a note with my name on it. The handwriting was elegant and girly so I knew it wasn’t from a guy.

I had to run a personal errand. I wanted to say goodbye but it was urgent. I hope the rest of your recording went as planned and you’re happy with what you created. I look forward to dinner tonight.
P.S. you can call me Ana if you’d like.

I folded the note and stuck it in my back pocket. I stepped outside and breathed in the cool, November air. I watched a few fallen leaves drifted across the sidewalk. Across the street from me a young couple was laughing and holding hands. I had never really noticed the world around me. It was like Andromeda opened my eyes by simply saying hello.

I walked down the street to my car with a skip in my step. I hummed and found myself smiling like a fool. The drive home was the same way. I tapped along to the radio and sung under my breath. The smile was still there. Dexter seemed to notice something was up because when I sat down on the couch he stuck his nose in my face and sniffed me curiously. I grabbed my cat and laid down so he was sitting my chest. I scratched behind his ear and chuckled when he started purring loudly.

“I met someone today Dex. I think you’d like her a lot,” I told my cat fondly. It wasn’t unusual for me to talk with Dexter. I lived alone in my house so unless one of the guys were over I had no one to converse with. I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket and struggled to get it out of my pocket. By the time I had it in my hand I had missed the call. A text came in a second later.

From: Chris 1:49 PM
I’m coming over

I locked my phone and set it on the coffee table a few feet away from me. I wasn’t going to have to get up to let Chris in so I made myself comfortable on the couch and turned on the TV. There wasn’t anything on so I ended up watching Law and Order SVU reruns. I heard my front door open fifteen minutes later and looked over just as Chris walked into the living room. He threw himself down on my armchair and glanced at the TV then looked at me with a raised eyebrow.

“There’s nothing else on,” I said defensively. Chris chuckled then shrugged.

“Liv is hot so I’m not judging. Anyway, it’s your turn to pick where we go tonight,” Chris replied. I groaned. I had totally forgot that the guys and I were supposed to go out. Once a week we took turns picking a place to have dinner and drinks.

“Don’t tell me you forgot. You’ve been whining about when it was gonna be your turn for two weeks,” Chris sighed. I bit my lip. I couldn’t flake on the guys but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to spend some more time with Andromeda.

“I met someone today,” I told Chris. When he didn’t response I moved Dexter so I could sit up and look at him. He had a surprised expression on his face.

“I haven’t heard you say that since Jessica,” Chris finally said. I nodded and smiled slightly. It had been a year since my breakup with Jessica. After that I hadn’t had any interest in meeting someone new. “What’s her name?”

“Andromeda. She’s a receptionist at the recording studio,” I told him. I couldn’t hold back a smile as I thought about her. “I completely forgot it was our hangout night so I invited her out to dinner.”

“Bring her with you,” Chris suggested. That thought hadn’t crossed my mind. I had no doubts the guys would like her. I just hoped she didn’t see it as me trying to get out of taking her to dinner. “When did you plan to pick her up?”

“She gets off work at seven so around then.”

“That works, I’ll let the guys know. Don’t worry I won’t say anything about Andromeda, you’d never hear the end of it and it’d make the teasing even worse during dinner.”

“It’s going to be terrible no matter what.”

“Good point.”

Chris hung out with me for a few hours. We watched Law and Order and when we got tired of that we played a couple rounds of Black Ops. I showed him the progress I had made and he was thoroughly happy with it. We talked about random things but it mainly ended circling back to Andromeda.

“Here,” Chris said when we got to the front door. He took a key from his key ring and handed it to me.

“What’s this for?” I asked with confusion. Chris smirked.

“To impress your lady. You know the combination to the garage,” Chris replied. He hugged me quickly then left. I looked down at the key and a smile slowly spread across my face. It was the key to Chris’s Audi r8 Spyder. I tossed the key onto the kitchen counter then checked the time on the microwave. It was four o’clock. I still had a ton of time to kill before I had to go get Andromeda. I pursed my lips and decided to see what Balz was up to. It was Saturday so he was most likely at his oddity parlor with Ryan Ashley.

“I’ll see you later Dex,” I called to my cat. He was asleep on the couch though and couldn’t care less that I was leaving. I lived about ten minutes from the shop. The drive was quiet but it was serene. When I pulled up in front of the shop I noticed Ryan’s car in its usual spot. I assumed Balz was with her but if he wasn’t it didn’t matter. Ryan was good company.

“Ricky how’s it going?” Ryan asked when I walked inside. She was behind the counter which was an odd sight. Usually she was in the back tattooing.

“Pretty good. Where’s your idiot?” I asked as I looked around the shop. They had gotten a few new taxidermy animals and framed skeletons in but other than that it looked the same.

“He’s at home being lazy. When I left home at one he was still asleep with Casper and Toronto,” she explained. “What brings you in here?”

“I just wanted to hang out. Chris stopped by for a few hours but I didn’t want to stuck at home,” I replied. Ryan nodded and pursed her lips.

“How much time do you have to kill?” I always liked when she asked that. It meant she had a tattoo idea she wanted to try out.

“About three hours.”

“Follow me Mr. Olson.”

I sat down in the torture chair, as she liked to call it, and watched Ryan gather her things. “So what are we doing today Ms. Malarkey?” I asked in a fake English accent. Ryan chuckled and held up an elegant sketch. It was amazing. “So where are you putting it?” I asked. Ryan looked at me as if it should’ve been obvious.

“Your arm doofus,” she teased.

“You’re going to do all of that in three hours?” I questioned. Ryan rolled her eyes.

“No, but I can probably get most of the outline done.” Ryan rolled her stool over to me and set the sketch on the rolling table beside her. It wasn’t unusual for Ryan to freehand, but it never ceased to amaze me. I watched Ryan tattoo me with contentment. I enjoyed getting tattooed, I found the whole process calming.

“Hey fucker!” Balz yelled two hours later. I looked up and flipped him off with my free hand. “How’s it going? Ooo that looks great babe!”

“Thank you,” Ryan said distractedly. She was concentrating so hard I was sure she’d have a permanent crease in her brow.

“Where are we going tonight?” Balz asked as he pulled up a chair beside me.

“I was thinking Olive Garden,” I replied. I knew what was coming next.

“Why so fancy? Can’t we just get wings and pizza?” Balz asked. I sighed and pursed my lips. He was going to find out later so there was no point in hiding it from him.

“I met someone today and I want her to meet you guys,” I admitted sheepishly. That got Ryan’s attention. She stopped tattooing and her head snapped up. She and Balz exchanged a glance and I mentally prepared myself for the assault.

“That’s awesome Rick! Where’d you meet her? What’s her name?” Balz asked before Ryan could. She stuck her tongue out at him then went back to tattooing.

“At the recording studio. Her name’s Andromeda, she the receptionist,” I told them. “She’s amazing I hope you guys like her.”

“Well if she’s nothing like Jessica then we’ll love her,” Balz responded instantly. It was no secret that the guys hated Jessica.

“I’m sure she’s lovely,” Ryan said and gave Balz a dry look. He held his hands up in surrender. I had to admit I was jealous of Balz and Ryan. They had such a great dynamic and complimented each other perfectly.

“How much more do you have left?” Balz asked Ryan. He leaned over to inspect the work she had done and gave an impressed look.

“If you’re hinting that you want to take Ricky away from me then I can finish up these last few lines and let him go,” Ryan replied knowingly.

“You’re the best!”

It didn’t take long for Ryan to have me cleaned up and set to go. Apart from the lines on my shoulder, the outline was pretty much done. I assumed we were going to his house so I was about to get in my car but Balz’s stopped me and told me to ride with him. I asked him where we were going multiple times but he refused to tell me. I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when we pulled up to a jewelry story.

“If you plan on buying me a ring I’m not ready for that step in our relationship,” I teased as we walked inside. Balz punched me in the arm. “Ass.”

“I want to show you something,” he said nervously. Balz very rarely showed when he was nervous, that’s what told me it was serious. He caught the jeweler’s eye and she nodded with a bright smile.

“It was just finished this morning,” she told him when she returned with a square black box. Balz took it from her gently then opened it to show me.

“I’m purposing to Ryan.” I stared at the ring then at Balz. The ring was beautiful and I knew Ryan would love it. I was so happy for them I was at a loss for words. “Say something please you’re making me nervous.”

“Congratulations man,” I cheered with a bright smile. “When’s the big day?” Balz closed the box and handed it back to the jeweler.

“I’m not sure yet. I’m leaving it here though until I figure it out so I don’t lose it and she doesn’t find it,” Balz told me. We thanked the jeweler then drove back to the parlor. “You sticking around?” He asked as he cut the engine.

“Nah, I’m gonna go home and shower. Maybe stress over what to wear,” I admitted. Balz chuckled and patted my shoulder.

“Just be yourself. What time should we all be there? I’ll send out the announcement.”

“Probably around 7:30. Please don’t tell them about Andromeda. Chris already knows but I really don’t want to have to hear about it before I have to hear about it.”

“Will do. See you tonight.”

This time the ride home was nerve wracking. I was going over what I should wear in my head but nothing I came up with seemed like it would be good enough. Even though it wasn’t technically a date I wanted to impress Andromeda. I didn’t understand why I was so infatuated with her but I wasn’t going to fight it. Dexter greeted me with an angry meow when I walked through the door. His food dish was empty.

“Fatass,” I muttered but filled his dish anyway. I glanced at the time on the microwave. It was almost seven. I had about half an hour to get showered, dressed, and try to keep myself from throwing up. One step at a time. I wondered into my bathroom and turned on the shower. While I waited for the water to heat up I stripped out of my ripped jeans and Hail Horror t-shirt. I was careful about washing the work Ryan had done then went to work washing the rest of my body and my hair. For good measure, I repeated the process.

When I got out of the shower I wrapped a towel around my waist and went back to my closet. Almost every piece of clothing I owned was black. I ran a hand through my hand and sighed heavily. But I remembered what Balz had said it made me feel a bit better. Andromeda had seen me in what I was in earlier and she still agreed to have dinner with me. With newly found confidence, I grabbed a pair of black skinny jeans and a BlackCraft t-shirt. While I got dressed I realized how much Andromeda and I contrasted. She was a pastel princess and I was the spawn of Satan. It worked in my opinion.

“Wish me luck Dex. I think this girl could really be something special,” I told my cat as I sat down next to him on the floor. I had ten minutes to kill and I was going to send it giving myself a pep talk. Dexter climbed into my lap and rubbed his face against mine. “Yeah you’re right. It’ll be just fine.” My cat meowed loudly and I chuckled. “I think I’m going to go Dex. I still have to get the car from Chris. See you later buddy.”

I expected Chris to be home but his car wasn’t in the driveway. Like he said, I had the combination to his garage so it wasn’t a problem. As the door slowly lifted I shuffled my feet nervously. Before I left my house I was incredibly confident, now I was a nervous wreck again. I climbed into Chris’s Audi and adjusted the radio then took off for the recording studio.

When I pulled up I saw Andromeda gathering her things. I hurried to get out of the car then leaned against the passenger door and watched her. A minute later she exited the building and locked it up. When she turned around she stared at me with wide eyes. I felt self-conscious beyond belief. Did I look bad? Was my hair messed up? Slowly a smile spread across her beautiful lips and every worry I had disappeared. With slow, graceful steps she approached me. She looked the same as this morning but she was still gorgeous.

“Hi,” she said softly. It was like that single, two letter word held the answers to the universe. “Is this the part where I get into your car, no questions asked, and let you take me where your heart desires?” She asked when I didn’t respond.

“I um you look beautiful,” I stuttered. Andromeda looked down at her dress then shrugged.

“It’s an old dress,” she replied.

“So I kinda have a surprise for you,” I told her as I stepped aside and opened her door for her.

“Oh?” She questioned with curiosity then climbed inside the car. I closed her door for her then tried to look casual as I hurried around to my side and got in the driver’s seat.

“Well you’re more of a surprise for them,” I rephrased. Andromeda titled her head and I sighed. “I forgot that tonight was my night to pick the hang out spot for the band. I didn’t want to cancel on you but I couldn’t cancel on them but my friend Chris said I could bring you along.” I realized I was rambling and gradually my voice trailed off.

“I’d love to meet your friends.” I looked over at Andromeda and found a genuine smile on her face. I sighed in relief and nodded. “So where are we going?” She asked when I started the car and did a quick U-turn.

“It’s a surprise,” I teased. Andromeda rolled her eyes but the smile still remained. We sat in a comfortable silence the entire ride to the restaurant. Usually I hated being in a car with someone else and not talking, but having Andromeda sitting beside me was enough.

“Olive Garden huh?” Ana commented when I opened her door for her. “I feel spoiled.” I smiled sheepishly and shrugged.

“I wanted to impress,” I admitted. “I just got a text from Chris, the guys are inside,” I added before she could say anything about trying to impress her.

“Lead the way.” Ana placed her hand on my arm and I had to fight the large smile that was about the spread. Her touch was gentle and almost feather-like. I could smell the faint smell of her perfume. I couldn’t put my finger on what it smelled like, but it was divine.

“Welcome to Olive Garden,” the host greeted us with a smile.

“Hi, we’re meeting some friends,” I told him with a soft smile.

“Would they happen to that group over there?” The host asked and pointed to a booth in the back corner. I wanted to face palm so hard. Ryan and Balz were having a breadstick fight and Vinny was filming it.

“Yeah,” I sighed, “that’s them.” The host chuckled again and grabbed two menus. When they saw me approaching the table with Ana their eyes grew wide and the breadsticks were immediately dropped. I sat beside Devin while Ana sat across me and next to Vinny. All eyes were on her and I felt embarrassed by the way they were staring.

“Can I get you two something to drink?” A waiter asked a minute later.

“I’ll have a coke,” I told him then looked at Ana.

“Sauvignon Blanc please,” she said with a perfect French accent. I, along with the guys, looked at her with a surprised expression. “I spent sometime in Paris,” she explained.

“We waited to order until you guys got here,” Chris informed us. “I’m Chris,” he added and held his hand out to Ana.

“Nice to meet you,” she returned as she shook his hand, “I’m Andromeda, but you can call me Ana if you’d like.” Introductions went around the table and then the teasing started.

“Ricky why didn’t you tell us you were bringing such a lovely woman with you?” Devin asked curiously.

“Yeah, way to catch a guy off guard,” Ryan added.

“I would’ve worn my nice pants if I had known,” Vinny whined. I sighed and shook my head.

“If he had told you then you would’ve tried to impress me and then I wouldn’t have gotten to properly know you,” Ana answered for me. This woman was perfect. Chris chuckled at how they gaped at her and I felt a sense of pride.

We put our orders in ten minutes later and once again we were impressed by how perfect Ana pronounced everything. Apparently, she had spent quite a bit of time in Italy as well. “So what are all the places you've traveled to?” Balz asked curiously.

“I’ve been to every country,” she replied. Everyone’s mouth fell open, including mine.

“Every single one?” Ryan asked with disbelief. Ana nodded.

“My favorite place though is the Atacama Desert in Chile. They have such beautiful night skies.”

“That must’ve taken forever,” Chris commented. Ana shrugged.

“I wasn’t on a schedule so the days just blended together. It probably took me years, but I never knew how much time went by after I was finished. I met some incredible people in some incredible places. But I’m sure you can relate being in a band and all.” We all shrugged in unison.

“We’ve been to some pretty awesome places but I’m sure they don’t compare to half the places you’ve been,” Devin answered. Ana took a sip of her wine and it was the most graceful thing I’d ever seen. From the way others stared I figured they thought the same thing.

“Do you know guys know how to tell if you’re going to like a certain wine or not?” She asked after putting her glass down.

“You drink it?” Vinny questioned. Ana chuckled and shook her head.

“Without tasting it,” she clarified. We all shook our heads no.

“The smell. When you smell it you have to pay attention to how your tongue reacts. If it doesn’t tingle slightly when you smell it then you won’t like it,” she explained.

“Bullshit,” Ryan said immediately. We all glared at him, but Ana smirked. Without a word, she handed him her glass of wine. He was hesitant to take it at first but eventually did. He smelled it a couple times then took a sip. His tongue must’ve not have tingled because he made a face like he had just drank something sour. “That’s disgusting,” he choked.

“Did you tongue tingle?” Ana asked and took back her glass. Ryan shook his head and gulped down his soda. “Excuse me Sir,” Ana called to our waiter then finished the rest of her wine. “Could you bring me a glass of Chitani?”

“Of course,” the waiter replied with a kind smile. A few minutes later he returned with a glass of red wine.

“Try this,” Ana insisted. Ryan grimaced but took the glass. He smelled it then hesitantly took a drink. He tested the taste on his tongue then gave an impressed look. “Did it tingle?”

“Yeah, that time it did,” he admitted. That was how the wine tasting game started. Ana ordered the wine since we couldn’t pronounce half the names and we all took turns trying them, apart from Chris of course. He just smelled them.

By the time we got our food we were all buzzed, except for Ana. I found it odd since she drank more than we did but she seemed to be in the same state as when we arrived. “Ricky, I really like her,” Balz announced loudly. The guys nodded in agreement and I smiled at Andromeda.

“I think you should bring her to the thing,” Vinny said with a mouthful of food.

“The thing? That’s incredibly specific Vinny,” I teased.

“The party asshole.” I had forgotten about the giant party Of Mice & Men was throwing. Apparently, there was supposed to be a bunch of other bands plus their friends and family attending. That was why they were having it at Austin’s house. It was the biggest one out of the band. That meant we had to fly to California for a few days, but we needed the vacation.

“Would you like to go?” I asked Andromeda with a large amount of hope in my voice.

“I don’t want to impose,” Ana replied modestly. I admired her. Anyone else would’ve jumped on the idea.

“Come,” Chris insisted, “Austin and his band won’t mind. They’ll love you actually.” Ana smiled and nodded. The rest of dinner all I could think about what the seeing Andromeda again. Most of the conversation ceased, aside from a bit of small talk, as everyone enjoyed their food. Actually, we were all trying to discreetly watch Andromeda eat. Every move she made was so elegant.

“Etiquette classes,” she said randomly.

“What?” I questioned after swallowing a mouthful of food.

“When I was in England I took etiquette classes. That’s why I look graceful when eating,” she clarified. It was like she read our minds. “They’re actually quite fun.” I didn’t see how an etiquette class could be fun but then again, I had never taken one.

I noticed Ryan look back and forth between Andromeda and me. When I caught his eye, we shared the same expression. She was my complete opposite. It was most likely that quality that attracted me to her. I enjoyed how she contrasted in comparison to me.

When we were nearly done with our food, our waiter brought us our check. Before any of us to grab it Andromeda snatched it off the table. Every single one of us was about to object but she held up her finger and silenced us.

“The two closest to the total have to pay,” she wagered. The guys and I exchanged a glance then nodded eagerly. We took turns guessing then Ana slowly opened the check and exposed the total. Ryan and Devin were the closest. They groaned but were good sports. But Ana was clever. While they were digging for their wallets Ana pulled out a card, stuck it in the check booklet, and handed it back to the waiter.

“Ana!” Ryan whined. “You didn’t have to do that we would’ve paid for it.” Devin nodded in agreement.

“Hush, I’m trying to be nice,” Ana insisted. Since there was nothing they could do about it, Ryan and Devin didn’t argue. While we waited for Ana to get her card back we began gathering our to-go boxes and cleaning up the table slightly. Ana surprised us again by opening her purse and sticking all the breadsticks inside it. “What?” She asked with genuine curiosity.

“You’re so adorable,” Devin chuckled. To prove his point, Andromeda smiled brightly and titled her head to the side. “Keep her around Ricky,” he whispered to me while Ana was distracted with putting her card away. I planned to so long as she let me. I wasn’t sure what it was about her, but I was hooked.

“I had fun, thank you for letting me meet your friends,” Andromeda said with a smile when we got back to Chris’s car. I planned to drop Ana off at her car then crash over at Chris’s place afterward.

“They like you a lot. I know they seem like immature weirdos but they’re great guys,” I replied. I didn’t know why I felt the need to explain them to her. I was never like that with Jessica or any of my other girlfriends. Then again Ana wasn’t my girlfriend. She wasn’t forced to be near them by default.

Again, the ride was quiet but I still didn’t mind. When we reached a red light, I worked up the nerve to reach over and grab her hand. I expected her to pull away, but she laced our fingers together. Although she wasn’t looking at me I could see a hint of smile on the corner of her mouth.

The drive to her car didn’t take as long as I would’ve liked it to but I was going to see her again. “Thank you again,” she said shyly and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. I smiled and shrugged. “I um,” her voice trailed off and I was surprised by her nervousness. She didn’t try and finish what she was saying, instead she leaned in and placed a gentle kiss on my lips. “Good night Ricky.”

I watched Ana get into her car with a dumbfounded expression. Long after she left I was still sitting there like an idiot. She had kissed me. I had just been kissed by the most gorgeous woman I’d ever met. I reached into my back pocket to pull out my phone so I could call Chris. A piece of paper fell onto the floor and I stooped down to pick it up. When I opened it I instantly smiled like an idiot.

Ana xx