Brigid leaned her bicycle against the wall, hoping it wouldn’t fall again. She needed to make her flower delivery and did not want to lose the little bit of soil left in the baskets. Last week she hit a rock and fell off her bike, spilling flowers and soil onto the pavement in front of Cookie’s Bakery. At least twenty heads had turned to look at her, but she could do nothing except pick up her bike and put the flowers back into their arrangements as close as she could remember. Her face had burned, but she did not look in the window a second time. She had not ridden past the bakery since.
She looked down the street and blew hair from her eyes. She missed seeing Cord’s smile.
They’d been friends since 1st grade when Molly Buttercup had yanked the swing from her grip, sending her sprawling in the dirt. Cord came to her rescue, helping her up and dusting off her scratched knee. She lost her heart in that moment. Afterward, he was always friendly and funny to her, but treated her more like a little sister – someone who needed protecting.
She sighed. Maybe she should stop in to buy a cupcake. Summer vacation was almost over and she would rather face him now, than after school started back up. It was their last year and she really hoped he would ask her to the homecoming dance, but knew it would probably be Bella this time. He seemed to rotate through the five: Bella, Ciara, Olivia, Mona and Lyric. Who named their daughter Lyric, anyway?
She delivered the flowers to the cafe without incident and returned to her bike. She pedaled fast, trying not to think. She knew it would be easier to just do, and not think about doing. Thinking about a plan always seemed to stall her in her tracks and make her lose confidence. That’s why after all these years, she still just gawked at him sometimes. Leaning her bike against the wall on the side of the bakery, she steeled her face into a pleasant expression and stepped into the bakery, trying to be nonchalant.
Of course, she tripped over the door jamb and stumbled.
Cord’s warm hands gripped her shoulders. Her face burned, all nonchalance gone. There he was again, saving her.
She blurted, “Aw, hell!” Then looking up at Cord, her eyes grew huge and she slapped a hand over her mouth.
“Aw, now, Brige, it ain’t that bad,” he drawled. “You don’t need to cuss. You know I’ll always catch you.” He winked.
She didn’t think her face could have burned any brighter as her shoulders drooped. “I’m sorry, Cord. I know you don’t like that kind of language.” Her skin was beginning to tingle where his hands still lay. She looked up at him, through the heat in her face.
He pulled her close for a quick hug and then released her just as quickly. “Um, Brigid?” He shuffled a foot and studied a spot on his shirt.
“Yeah?” She watched him scratch at the bit of flour.
“Um… School’s starting soon, and I was wondering if maybe you’d want to be my date to the homecoming dance this year.”
She blanked. When she didn’t answer, he looked up and into her eyes. The startling green snapped her from her reverie.
“Yes, I would.” She smiled big as a surge of confidence came over her. He smiled shyly back at her. “Geez,” she said, lightly punching his shoulder, “What took you so long to ask?”
His grin grew as big as hers. “I’ve been waiting for senior year. I didn’t want to screw up our friendship, but I think we can handle it now. Can I get you a cupcake?” He winked again.