Ashley felt terrible about breaking things off with Vince but she knew it was for his own good. He looked so confused and hurt when she had told him she didn't think they should see each other anymore. He was probably over it by now though. He probably realized how crazy it was that he even considered dating her in the first place. It wouldn't take long for him to move on.
When he saw her at school, he didn't try to avoid her. He made eye contact with her without any facial expression to give her a clue as to what he was thinking. She tried giving him a sympathetic half-smile, but he just turned away and kept walking.
She thought she could get over Vince quickly, but it was proving to be more difficult than she expected. After a few days of school, she was really starting to miss him. They were cordial enough with each other, but she missed talking to him. She missed the way things were. She just kept telling herself it was better this way as she tried not to think about it.
The first football game felt off. She cheered, Vince played a great game, they won. It just made her miss being back at camp with him. Despite the voice telling her it was a bad idea, she went up to talk to him after the game.
"Hey, good game," she forced a smile.
"Thanks," his face remained neutral as he said it.
"So," she continued as her brain told her to stop. "How have you been?"
He shook his head with an incredulous smile. "Are we really going to do this?"
"Do what? I just asked how you were," she sounded more defensive than she had intended.
He sighed. "I've been fine," he looked annoyed. "Happy?"
He turned to walk away before she could say anything else. So that went about a hundred times worse than she had planned. She shouldn't have even tried to talk to him. What had she expected anyway? That he would've just blown the whole thing off and agreed that they had some fun but it hadn't meant anything? That's what she had thought. The problem was that it had meant something. In the few weeks they had dated, she had felt like she had been more open with him than she had with any guy. Their time together might not have lasted very long but it had been real and she couldn't deny that.
Vince was sitting on the couch, watching tv, when something caught his attention. A flash of red hair passed by the window. At first he thought he was imagining it, but then he leaned over to look towards the front door, where he saw a figure standing. He didn't get up immediately. He was still sort of shocked that she was here. But she didn't knock. She just stood there. After a few seconds, she turned to walk away. He got off the couch and opened the door, watching her walk to the curb where her car was parked. He thought about calling out to her, but he didn't. Why hadn't she knocked? He watched her get in her car and drive away.
He tried to catch her eye at school to give her another chance to say whatever she had come to say but she avoided looking in his direction. He didn't understand what was going on or why girls had to be so confusing.
After football practice, he saw her again. She was waiting near his car, but when she saw him, she quickly turned to walk away.
"Ashley," he called out, jogging up after her.
"Oh, hi Vince," she said uncomfortably as she turned around.
"What are you doing?"
"Nothing. I was just leaving," she turned to walk away again but he grabbed her arm to stop her.
"I saw you waiting." She looked even more uncomfortable, opening her mouth to try to argue but he kept talking. "And I saw you come to my house the other day. What's going on?"
"I don't know," she shrugged, looking down.
"Yes, you do." He looked intently at her. "Why can't you just tell me the truth?"
"I guess," she sighed before saying quickly, "I don't know, I guess I just missed you."
"You were the one who said we shouldn't see each other anymore."
"What are you so afraid of?"
She looked off to the side, pressing her lips together and folding her arms. "I'm afraid that you're going to wake up one day and wonder what you ever saw in me. I just don't understand why you even like me."
Vince stepped forward and wrapped his arms around her. She gave into the hug, pressing her arms and heads against his chest.
Ashley and Vince sat on the curb, talking for hours. He had to pause in the middle to call his mom back, who had been worried about him when he didn't come home for dinner. They had talked about going to grab dinner but kept getting distracted in conversation. Telling him how she felt had been really hard but it was also really good. She opened up a lot to him after that about her insecurities that she tried to cover up with money or popularity. As she talked to him, she felt the walls that she had built start to come down. He listened as she talked and was supportive about some of the internal struggles she had been facing. He wasn't mad about her ending things with them and he wanted them to give it another shot. He opened up to her too, mostly about some of the mistakes he had made in his last relationship that he didn't want to make with her, but also about the pressure he felt to be the best athlete possible. She couldn't remember a time where she had talked to someone like this, on such a deep level. With her family or the other Ashleys, most of the conversations were more surface level. It felt good to share some of the things she had bottled up and to be there for Vince as a confidant.
Vince's stomach growled loudly. "Sorry," he looked slightly embarrassed. "I think we were supposed to grab food awhile ago."
"Yeah, I guess we got a little sidetracked," she stood up and checked her phone. "Oh, wow, it's already 9:30."
"That's crazy," he commented. "I had no idea we had been talking that long."
"Neither did I."
"Well, let's get some food."
"Wanna do Waffle Barn?" she suggested.
"Sounds great," he said, probably thinking of their last night at camp like she had been.
Their conversation carried on through their late dinner and they ended up staying in the booth for awhile after they finished their food.
"More coffee?" He asked, pouring the pot of decaf coffee the waitress had given them into her cup as she nodded.
"This feels like we're back at camp again," she commented as she took a sip.
"It was definitely a very good last night," he said and she thought back to them laughing together in the Waffle Barn at 2am. "Although, I didn't mind sneaking out there. If I break curfew here, my parents will kill me."
"When do you have to go?"
He checked his phone for the time and frowned. "Uh, like ten minutes ago."
"Oh," she said standing up. "I'm sorry. I don't want to make you late."
"It's okay," he pulled out his wallet and left a tip on the table. "It was worth it."
When they got to their cars, she didn't know what to expect. He was already running late so she was surprised when he lingered.
"Thanks for doing such a bad job at stalking me earlier," he teased as he held her hand.
"Anytime," she played along even though she could feel her face turning red.
He smiled at her and she wondered if it was because he was noticing her blushing. He didn't say anything though, he just stepped towards her, wrapping his hands around her waist before slowly leaning in to kiss her.
"Now, you're guaranteed to have good luck for the rest of the year," he said softly.
She rolled her eyes before putting her hands around his neck and bringing him in for another kiss.