There were four different outfits on her bed. Riley tried them all on … twice. She finally decided on black jeans, a cute blue scoop neck shirt, with a cream colored lacy undershirt and the perfect black shoes.
Her phone vibrated in her pocket she opened it.
Matt: Hey sexy, I’m here, bring a coat.
“Wow he’s early.” Riley grabbed her jacket and grinned in the mirror.
She opened the passenger door and sat down, he held out a box of roses to her.
Oh my gosh flowers!
“Matt, they’re beautiful. Thank you.”
His blue eyes danced as he flashed her a smile that could melt a glacier. “I wanted you to know… I’m glad we’re goin’ out.”
Maybe he really likes me.
Outside her window, the Arizona sunset looked like vibrant pastel marshmallows swirled together. They pulled into the driveway of an older home, well maintained with several flower beds planted under shuttered windows.
“I thought we were going for pizza?” Riley turned toward him as he took the key out of the ignition.
“Hey… I have the night planned…okay?” His half-smile once again melted her resistance.
“Fine.” She returned the smile. “But I better have a good time.”
“Hey babe, you leave that up to me.”
He grabbed her hand and led her toward the detached garage, stopping at the door he kissed her. The butterflies returned, and he eased away from her holding her gaze.
“I hope you know there isn’t anywhere I’d rather be, or anyone else I’d rather be with.”
“Me too.” Riley’s response was barely audible.
“Let’s go.” He playfully pulled her into the garage, and flipped on the light. Riley gasped as she felt her heart plummet toward her feet.
The acid in her stomach began to crawl into her throat, causing a burning sensation. Nausea rocketed her insides, and the hair on the back of her neck stood up.
“I’m not sure about this Matt,” Riley whispered looking at the concrete floor.
He put his arm around her. “It’s ok Ri, I’ve practiced a lot, I’ve got my license and my dad says I’m ready for passengers. I want to take you for a ride. It’ll be so much fun and I’ve packed us an awesome dinner, even dessert.”
Riley stepped away from him, rubbing her sweaty palms on her jeans. “Matt, my father w-w-would kill me if I got on a motorcycle. I- I don’t think you understand, he’s made me promise to never get on one.”
“We aren’t going far. Just a short ride, and then we’ll come back. Trust me, it’ll be okay.”
Matt’s half smile returned, he pulled her close and lifted her chin. “Hey, babe don’t be scared. It’s so awesome to feel the wind blow through your hair and be part of the road. I want to share that with you Ri. No one else, just you.”
Riley put her head down again looking at the floor. His warm hands embraced her cheeks as his soft lips kissed her forehead. “I’ll just go up the street and back, and if you don’t like it we’ll come back and take the car. Okay?”
Maybe my dad is making a big deal out of this. What if Uncle Bobby had been killed by a bus … would that mean I couldn’t take the bus? What harm would a little ride to the end of the street be?
Riley looked at him. “Okay, I guess I can do that.”
“Awesome. Come on, babe … I know you’re gonna love it.” Matt walked the bike to the driveway. He pointed out a few safety things to Riley, but due to the loud palpitation of her heart, she couldn’t focus on anything he said.
“What about a helmet?”
“Relax, we’re just going to the end of the street.”
He mounted the bike and steadied it while she climbed on. He fired up the engine and the vibration startled Riley into wrapping her arms around him. She pressed her head against his back and closed her eyes.
Matt patted her hands and looked over his shoulder. “You don’t have to hold on so tight.” He chuckled. “I need to be able to breathe.”
“Sorry.” She loosened her grip.
“I’m gonna go real slow.” Matt took off easy and Riley opened one eye seeing the pavement pass under her. We’re moving, we’re moving. I’m on a motorcycle and I haven’t died yet.
Before she knew it they were at the end of the street. Matt slowed the bike and put his feet down to stop.
“See, it’s not very scary is it? Wanna go to the other end of the street?”
It’s not so bad. “Okay.”
Once again she clutched her arms around him and closed her eyes. But this time she didn’t keep them closed for long, just the initial take off. The wind in her hair felt good.
All too soon, they stopped again and Matt’s feet hit the ground.
She wasn’t ready for it to be over. “Do it again, go to the other end of the street.”
“I’m gonna go a little quicker okay?”
“Okay,” Riley said with her head buried in Matt’s back. She giggled at the increase in speed. Dads crazy! This isn’t dangerous—it’s fun!
He pulled into the driveway. “See, it’s fun isn’t it?” He turned to look at her.“So you think you’re up for a longer ride?”
The knot remained in her stomach, but excitement overrode anxiety.
He’ll be careful. And he wants to do this… with me! Only me. But Dad… if he finds out, he’ll kill me.
Matt took her hands and leaned down making eye contact with her. “Babe … I knew you belonged on that bike with me.”
She caught her breath. He just said I belong with him.
“Just a short ride, okay?” Riley bit her lip as her anxiety heightened.
“Alright, hold on, I’m gonna go get the backpack and then we’ll head out.”
Riley’s legs held the bike up as her heart raced. She struggled to breathe, watched him run over to the garage and grab the backpack. She had difficulty swallowing and struggled to breathe. You don’t have to do this, it’s dangerous. I want to though. I think.
He returned, holding the pack. “Are you okay wearing this? Or should I?”
Riley nodded and Matt slipped the pack over her arms and fastened the chest clamp. He passed her a helmet. She squeezed her head into it, and then lifted the visor. “I don’t like the helmet, it’s really tight.”
“You gotta wear it, I’m not gonna take you for a ride without it. You wanna try mine?” He sat down in front of her..
“No.” She flipped the visor down.
Her arms wrapped around him, as he fired up the bike again.
“Ready?” Matt asked as he revved the engine.
“What?” She couldn’t hear anything with the helmet on.
He gave her a thumbs up sign, and she returned it. He slowly pulled out, only this time Riley never closed her eyes … watching the scenery as houses passed by. .
The bike accelerated— instinctively her arms squeezed tight around him. She couldn’t stop smiling. This is so totally fun! I could hold onto him all night.
She snuggled up against him until he pulled into a gas station and stopped the bike. Matt lifted his visor and turned towards her.
“Are you okay?”
She flipped her visor up. “Yeah. What’s up?”
“Just wanted to make sure you were okay before I kept going.”
“Where are we going?”
“I wanted to go up by the river. It’s a pretty fun road, I think you’ll like it.”
“Sounds good to me.”
He turned on the headlight, and they took off a road that wound around a series of hills. Their bodies moved with the bike as they took each curve. Excitement warmed her body, even as the cold wind nipped at her hands.
Matt pulled onto a dirt road and stopped at a day camp area. Once off the bike he removed the backpack from her shoulders.
The full moon illuminated the area. Riley walked to the shoreline and looked across to the other side enjoying the soothing sound of the water against the rocks. When she turned around, Matt had laid down a sheet for them to sit on. Plates covered with food were illuminated by a single glowing candle.
“Wow.” She took off her coat and sat down next to him, surprised that it didn’t seem cold.
“Come on, let’s eat.”
They ate pizza and Matt pulled a bottle of champagne and two plastic glasses from the bag. He smiled at Riley. “I want to celebrate you being my girlfriend.”
Just relax, calm down. He’s trying so hard to make up for being such a jerk. You didn’t want to get on the bike and that ended okay. What’s wrong with one glass of Champagne? He just said girlfriend … you’re his girlfriend. Just one glass, it’s only champagne.
Matt popped the cork and it gushed out – he put the bottle to his lips, spilling quite a bit on himself. Riley couldn’t help chuckling. He poured both glasses and handed her one.
“Babe … I think you’re awesome. You’re not like any other girl I’ve dated. Thanks for giving me another chance.” He tilted his head back and downed the drink.
Riley stared at the cup, watching the bubbles float to the surface. She wanted to toss it behind her, and would if she thought he wouldn’t notice.
“It’s just champagne, it’s not a big deal, not like you’re gonna get drunk.”
“I know. I’ve just never drank alcohol.”
“And you’d never ridden a motorcycle either.” He smiled at her, the flicker of the candle dancing on his cheekbones.
She took a sip, it didn’t taste bad and before she knew it he’d refilled both cups.
They chatted about school and music and Matt talked about all the places he’d been riding and how much he liked the road up to the river. “Ever since I came up here, I wanted to bring you. I knew you’d like it.”
Somehow they’d both ended up lying beside each other on the sheet. Matt propped his head on his hand, and looked down at her. “I’m glad you came. I wanted to share this with you.”
Gosh, this is like a dream.
Riley felt her heart melt. She pulled him towards her, urgent to kiss him. His lips were full and soft. She ran her hands over his muscular arms as he held her close.
He pulled away from her. “I knew you belonged on the bike with me.”
How did I get so lucky? I can’t believe he likes me.
Matt leaned in and kissed her again. She kissed him back her fingers tangled in his curly hair.
“Babe, you’re the only one for me,” He breathed in her ear then kissed her neck.
A knot formed in her stomach. How could this moment be wrong, Matt is everything I want. He’s really likes me. Jeez ….stop being a worrywart.