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He left a few crumpled bills and a generous tip for the waitress and held the door for her. The easy conversation continued right up until he pulled his car into a parking place outside her dorm and cut the engine. It was late, after midnight and the “no boys” rule was in full effect. “I can’t ask you in,” she said. “All girls dorm. Unlike your dad, my father wants me in a dorm because he thinks I’ll be safer.” She smiled at him. “He’s probably right. Control freak though he is.”

“I’ll just walk you to your door, then.” Without waiting for her to demur, he got out of the car and she walked with him hand-in-hand up the front steps to the building. They stood together in the dim yellow glow of the porch light.

“I had a great time tonight,” she said, taking both his hands and holding them in hers. “I’m glad your dad made you go to that party.”

“Me too, oddly enough. I’m not going to tell him that, though.”

“Why not?”

Zack chuckled. “Because my father likes being right way too much.”

“Your dad a control freak, too?”

He nodded. “And the hell of it is he’s usually right. The bastard.” He laughed.

Her laugh blended with his, and then they fell silent again. “I guess I should give you your sweatshirt back.”

Zack pulled his phone out of his pocket and handed it to her. “How about you give me your phone number instead. I can use the sweatshirt as a pretense, thus saving me hours of anguish laboring over a plausible excuse to call you.”

Janie laughed and entered her number into his phone before handing it back to him. “You don’t need a reason to call me,” she assured him.

He smiled and put his phone back in his pocket. “I have lots of reasons, actually,” he said. Again, they fell silent and Janie looked down at her shoes. “I should probably say goodnight, then.”

Janie looked up at him and smiled. “Yeah, I guess so.” She stepped closer to him, tipping her head up to look into his eyes. She felt the warm rush of attraction and smiled at the sensation, feeling butterflies in her stomach at the hope that he might kiss her, and wondering if she should make the first move.

He seemed to study her, as if he was making an important decision, and after a moment’s consideration, he asked, “Would it be alright if I kissed you good night?”

The butterflies swooped and circled at the request. She had become quite accustomed to just allowing kisses to happen, or making them happen if the boy she liked seemed too shy to initiate. Being asked respectfully was a new sensation entirely and she nearly shivered from the pleasure of it. “I’d like that,” she said, and placed her hands softly on his chest.

He leaned his head down and gently pressed his lips to hers. His mouth was soft and inviting, his kiss not a question or a demand, but an affirmation of what he hoped was the beginning of something more. She felt a physical stirring and longed to kiss him more deeply, to fan the spark between them and watch the flames ignite, but he pulled away with a smile. “Good night,” he said, smiling at her and turning to walk down the stairs.

“Good night,” she said, and resisting the urge to add, “Call me!” she let herself into the building. She shut the door tightly behind her and leaned against it, hugging his sweatshirt to her with a grin.

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