The Best Intentions
My name is Lani Amalu. I'm 21 years old, have a nice stable job as a teacher in a good high school. I'm pretty darn attractive if I do say so myself. I have the adoration of my students, and I have a pretty active social life...
So why is it that I can't find a boyfriend?
Unlike most teachers at Roseville high, Lani was young enough to almost be mistaken for a senior attendee. This earned her the love of her students, and the ire of many of the older teachers. But she didn't mind. It was a good job and she enjoyed it. Her one failing seemed to be her terrible track record with love. Every time she though she'd found the right guy, he turned out to be a jerk, a slob, or just plain disinterested.
But tonight was going to be different. She had met a great guy. Damien. He was good looking. Funny. And all around nice. He had agreed to meet her at a classy bar & grill called 'The Maha', where they would have dinner after school. Her face was beaming all day, to the point that even the student's noticed the change in her disposition. The bell rang, signifying the end of the day. Lani packed up her things and turned to head out the door when she found the way blocked.
"What's got you so happy teach?" Paulo leaned against the room exit, a cheeky smirk prominent across his face.
"Well wouldn't you like to know?" She teased, sticking her tongue out. Paulo grabbed his chest and pretended to look hurt.
"Oh! You wound me!" He covered his forehead over dramatically. Lani couldn't help but laugh at his fooling around. He was a cute kid, and they got on fairly well.
"If you must know. I've got a date tonight." Paulo stumbled a little, his expression changing to genuine shock.
"A date?" He asked a little sheepishly. Lani grinned.
"What? Did you have hopes of scoring with me? That's not very appropriate behaviour now is it?" She taunted him. Paulo crossed his arms and looked away, puffing his cheeks out.
"No! I'm just..." He paused.
"Just...?" She goaded him.
"Just surprised you managed to trick some sap into taking you out" He shot back, a grin now prominent on his lips.
"Why you little..." Lani steamed. "Get out of here! Go home you little brat!" She shooed him out of the doorway as he hopped back to avoid her waving arms. He looked back with his same cheeky grin.
"See you tomorrow~" He said in a sing song voice. Lani sighed and put her hands on her hips, shaking her head a little.
What am I gonna do with that kid?
She thought silently to herself. Her watch said 2:50pm, which meant she still had plenty of time to head home and get ready. Tonight was going to be perfect. She would wear her nice dress, put on some expensive perfume, and don her shiniest jewellery. There was no way this one was going to get away.
The Maha lived up to its reputation. The place was very swanky, but the atmosphere was fairly relaxed. It was no wonder that it was the toast of downtown. Lani ordered a table for two, and sat herself down, telling the Maître d' to bring Damien over once he arrived.
It had been a while since she had been to a place as nice as this. She hated really fancy places, so this was a nice compromise. Some bread sticks were placed on the table, and she was given a drink list to look over while she waited. Lani weighed up her options. On the one hand, the really fancy sounding wine's would be best suited to the occasion. But on the other, they were so expensive, and she was genuinely hungry so she wanted to get a good meal too... She spent a while scouring the list, looking for a suitable compromise.
Paulo fidgeted around as he sat in his living room alone watching TV. His dad was working late again, and wouldn't be home till the wee hours of the morning. It didn't really bother him. But tonight he just felt restless.
"Moss is one of the most fascinating types of fungi in the world." The television droned on, showing a documentary about different types of fungus. Paulo placed his head in his palms.
"Is this REALLY what I'm doing with my night?" He sighed and flicked the television off. "There's gotta be bsomeone/b I can hang out with..." The orange cat declared with determination.
"Sorry! Mum's treating me to a movie!" David was out...
"I'd love to! Except I have to study for that test on Monday." Daisy was busy...
"... ... ... *Click*" Calling Amaya was a stupid idea...
"Molly needs help with her girl scout stuff." A no from Abbey.
"You should be studying for that test on Monday..." Mike wasn't going to help...
"The fact that you would come to me is indicative of the fact that you are desperate, and as such have no actual desire to-" McCain was a long shot anyway...
Paulo called everyone he knew, and not a single person was free. He sighed and looked at the TV guide. Nothing but educational documentaries and reality shows. "That tears it!" He announced, suddenly bursting to his feet. "I'm goin' out! A night on the town is just what this tom cat needs!" With an enthusiastic stride, he left the house, locked the door, and rode his bike off towards the city.
-==Back At The Maha==-
Lani looked depressed. Damien was supposed to have arrived an hour ago, but the only people who had come to her table were the waiters who would ask if she was ready to order yet. "Figures..." She muttered, absent mindedly snapping a bread stick in her hands.
Outside, Paulo wandered down the footpath, still bored, still annoyed. His impulsive decision was hardly working out for him. It seemed that without friends, 'hanging out' just wasn't the same. He kicked a can that was sitting on the side of the street. A can he had thought to be empty. As he kicked it, the heavy metallic object did two things... Firstly, it sent a jolt of pain through the Somali's toe. And secondly, it flew straight through the glass window of The Maha.
"Ow ow ow ow ow!" He yelped, hopping on one foot whilst gripping the other in agony. Of course, this action had caught the attention of everyone in the bar, resulting in a few shocked shrieks, and more than a few shouts from the staff. But more specifically, it drew the attention of Lani.
"Paulo?" She questioned aloud as she stood out of her chair. This was as far as she got however, as immediately after the manager whipped past her in a blur, hopping through the window and grabbing the injured cat by the scruff of his neck and yanking him up to full standing height.
"Caught you, you little vandal!" The man announced triumphantly. "Do you have any idea how expensive that window is to replace? You'll be paying off every last cent!" The man's eyes gleamed victoriously.
"Ow! Hey! I didn't do it on purpose!" Paulo tried to protest. The manager wasn't even listening though. He was in his own little world where he had just masterfully caught a wanted criminal, and would be heralded as a king. Thankfully for Paulo though, his delusion was short lived.
"Excuse me sir. But I do happen to know roughly how much a window like that would cost, and as this young man's guardian in this circumstance, I'm going to pay for it." Lani strode onto the scene looking very professional. She handed the manager a check for a rather large sum of money, the sight of which made the man release the young cat immediately. "Now if you'll excuse us, I think it's time we were leaving..." The teacher reached out and grabbed Paulo's arm and pulled him close to her, whispering in his ear. "Walk fast, and don't stop!" Her expression was desperate.
The two moved quickly at a power walk pace. They hadn't gotten much further than a 20 yards when suddenly they heard the manager start shouting again. "This check is outdated! Get back here you thieves!" Lani turned desperately to Paulo.
-==30 Minutes Later==-
The two escapees finally slowed their pace as they entered the park, finally having lost their pursuers. Lani was panting heavily, though Paulo was in better shape, and so in better condition. "I've never seen someone in heels run that fast Teach" He half joked, trying to lighten the mood in the hopes that she wouldn't chastise him for his actions.
"Just because... *Huff*... Just because I'm a lady, does not mean I can't haul ass when needed" She shot back with a thumbs up. She was trying to be cool, but her bad physical shape kind of drained the moment of its drama. "Now..." She finally stood up and composed herself, taking a deep breath. "Just what the hell was going through your head back there?" She shouted, causing Paulo to flinch back, half expecting a smack across the head.
"I didn't mean to!" He cried out. "I just kicked a can... I didn't know it was going to be heavy enough to smash through a window!" He slapped his chest with his palm and leaned in towards the teacher, getting defensive. She pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed.
"Look. We can't change the past... Let's just forget anything happened alright." As she lowered her arm, she rose an eyebrow at the Somali. "And just what exactly were you doing out here anyway? Shouldn't you be home studying for that test?" Paulo rolled his eyes.
"What is with everyone tonight and that stupid test?" He groaned. Lani didn't look very impressed. "Well what about you huh? Where's that date of yours?" His expression was harsh at first, but Lani looked away from him, not saying anything. His face softened immediately as the cogs clicked into place in his head. "Teach I'm-" He started to say.
"Forget it. Just... Just forget it Paulo." She dismissed him completely. "As if my night wasn't already in the trash" She murmured quietly.
"I'll make it up to you!" Paulo suddenly grabbed Lani's hand with a determined look in in his eyes. Lani balked at this sudden reaction. "I will be your date for tonight!" His voice sounded out with vigour, as he beamed triumphantly at Lani.
A gust of wind blew past the two as silence fell for a moment. Suddenly Lani burst out laughing, physically doubling over and holding her sides in. Paulo scowled and turned away. "Fine then! Forget I offered!" He scoffed, his pride mortally wounded.
"No! Hahahaha... No no, wait... I'm... Hehe... I'm sorry" Lani tried to hold back her laughter, trying not to hurt his feelings too badly. Finally standing upright again and wiping a tear or two from her eyes, she smiled. "Alright then hotshot. You think you have the right stuff to take me out, then prove it. I promise, I'll give you a reward if you do good" She winked, trying to strike a mature pose. "First, take me to dinner. You owe me that much after you ruined my plans at the Maha."
"Alright! You won't regret it teach!" He declared enthusiastically.
"What're you still calling me that for? It's not much of a date if you keep calling me teach now is it?" She pokes his forehead playfully. "Just call me Lani for tonight ok?" She winks.
"O-ok then! Come on Lani!" He holds out his arm which she takes, and leads her towards their destination.
"Well... It's no three star restaurant..." Lani sighed softly as she sat down at the table, Paulo easing her chair in underneath her. "I guess fast food is all you can afford on your allowance" She teased a little. Waved a finger knowingly.
"Au contraire. I'm being original. Anyone can take a girl to a pricey restaurant. It takes a real man to make a McDonalds romantic" He struck a pose, angling his chin into the gap between his index finger and thumb. Lani stifled a giggle. He was being so over the top it was hard to take him seriously.
Paulo winked, trying to look as mature as possible. "Wait here while I go and get your meal" He took off at a hastened pace, turning around the corner and making his way over to the front counter, concealed from Lani's view.
Sitting and waiting, the young woman took in her surroundings. Like any fast food store, the atmosphere was almost oppressive in it's density. The overpowering smell of super heated vegetable oil mixing heinously with that of the industrial strength cleaner they used to thankfully mask what would be potentially be a far worse odour.
"Your meal milady" Paulo wheeled around the corner with a tray balanced precariously on the opened palm of his hand, a paper napkin draped over his arm, imitating the look of a fancy restaurant server.
"Oh god..." Lani grinned from ear to ear as she shook her head at the sight. He placed the tray in front of her, revealing that he had in fact taken a little extra time in the preparation of the presentation.
All of the chips had been splayed out onto the tray, and organised in such a way that they left a heart shaped hole in the centre. Filling that hole was a large drink, a burger, and one of the expensive ice cream's that the store sold. Lani's grin slipped a moment as her eyes scanned the tray.
"Paulo... This is actually pretty impressive..." She looked up at the Somali who had a rather smug look on his face. The sly grin returned to Lani's face. "Don't get too cocky" She teased. Paulo sat down and folded his arms, trying to suppress his grin. After a moment or two, something dawned on her. "Where's your dinner?" She asked, noticing that there was only one burger, drink and ice cream.
"Oh, I'm not hungry" Paulo replied waving her off. "I ate before I came into the city" He laughed a little, but was unable to mask the unmistakable sound of his stomach grumbling as the intoxicating aroma of the food filled his nostrils. Lani's look of puzzlement turned sly.
"Not hungry huh?" Paulo looked embarrassed for a moment. Lani guessed that his allowance probably wasn't enough to get them both a meal, but she knew he was too proud to admit it. She picked up the burger and unwrapped it before carefully pulling it in half and giving one side to Paulo. "Here, eat it" Her expression told him that she wouldn't take no for an answer.
"Well... If you insist..." He took the half he was offered and grinned sheepishly. The two of them ate and chatted for a while. Lani would laugh at Paulo's jokes, and he would listen intently to her stories about when she was his age. After about an hour, Paulo stood up and smiled. "Now! For phase two!" He declared loudly.
"Phase two? What are you doing? Launching a rocket?" She giggled at his over dramatic nature. Paulo shook his head and motioned for her to follow him. She sighed and stood up, shrugging to herself. "Lead the way Romeo" She half heartedly teased.
Bright neon lights. The ear splitting sound of metallic parts grinding and snapping together just barely outplaying the garbled tinny sound of bad speakers blasting pings, wizzes and horrible music. "The arcade?" Lani asked rhetorically, almost unable to believe her eyes.
"More fun than a movie!" Paulo exclaimed proudly. "Especially since Amaya isn't on shift at the moment..." He mumbled quietly below the ear-splitting ambience.
"What was that?" Lani near shouted as they moved into the building.
"Nothing! Anyway! I'm going to kick you ass at air hockey!" Paulo pointed over to the rickety old machine that was missing a leg, propped up by boxes.
"Isn't the gentleman supposed to let the lady win?" She asked with a teasing smirk.
"I'll keep that in mind in case I see one!" He shot back quickly, a glint of victory in his eye.
"Oh it is so on little man!" Lani stormed over to the machine as she rolled up her sleeves. Paulo followed her over and chose his side. He rolled a coin into the slot, and placed the puck on the table.
"You ready?" He asked with a smirk.
"Bring it!" She grinned, her war face in full gear. Paulo smacked the puck, trying to rebound it into her goal. In one lightning quick movement, Lani slammed the small orange disk on the return, and in a series of quick movements, the puck sunk deftly into Paulo's goal.
"What the..." He stared at the thin slot in shock, the loud thunk of the puck arriving in the return chute the only thing snapping his attention back.
"Don't bring that weak stuff to me! You'll need to be a lot better than that if you want to win kiddo." Lani taunted from across the table. Paulo gulped hard, a little nervous of the beast he had unleashed.
Seven rounds later, the machine made a loud celebratory ringing noise, as Lani stood victorious over the defeated Paulo. "Where did you learn to play like that?" He shouted in disbelief.
"I was the reigning air hockey champion in college." Lani said nonchalantly brushing her nails against her shirt. Paulo's eyes seemed to sparkle in awe of the young teacher.
"You're really cool Lani!" He exclaimed excitedly. Lani shook her head at him. "Come on! I'll bet I can beat you at that game!" He points at an arcade cabinet with guns attached to it. Lani sighs a little before grinning once more.
"Alright. Bring it on!"
The two of them continued to play the different games in the arcade until closing time, when finally the manager kicked them out of the building. Lani and Paulo were laughing as they left the building. "Man you kicked my ass bso/b bad Lani"
"Well that's what I get for having a video game obsessed room mate in my dormitory." She smiled genuinely. The realisation dawned on her that this was actually possibly the most fun she had had in a long time. "So what now Mr. Date? Are you going to walk poor little old me home?" She struck a girlish pose causing the Somali to laugh a little more.
"I wouldn't be a very good date if I didn't!" He declared proudly. "I just need to get my bike from where I parked it, and then I'll get you home safe and sound" He gave her the thumbs up as she tried her hardest to hold in her laughter.
The walk had taken longer than expected. In the end, the two of them had moved very slowly, just talking and admiring the night sky. It was past midnight by the time they reached her front door. "Wow... Look at the time... Geez... How far away from here do you live?" Lani asked her companion.
"I can get home in about half an hour from here" He estimated, looking over at the road sign. "It's not a problem!" He confidently pounded his chest with his right fist. His eyes told a different story though. He was tired, it was plain to see. He wasn't used to being up this late.
"No. I can't in good conscience let you go ride home this late at night. Come on inside." She stepped aside as she opened the door for him.
"Wait... Really? You're inviting me to stay here?" Paulo asked, somewhat shocked.
"Don't get the wrong idea. Your sleeping on the couch." His heart sank a little. Shaking her head she placed her hand on his shoulder. "Besides. I still haven't given you your reward have I?" Paulo's eyes brightened as he immediately locked his bike to her fence and walked inside as instructed. Lani giggled a little at how easy he was to manipulate.
"You have a really nice house Lani" He commented as he looked about. It was a very warm interior, with nice carpets and photos of Lani and her friends hanging on the walls of the hallways.
"Why thank you. That's very kind. Now go sit on the couch while I go clean up." Paulo obeyed without question, marching straight into the living room and sitting himself down. The couch was extremely comfortable. A very soft and smooth couch. Almost designed to be slept on. He couldn't help but lay down on it, feeling like he was laying on a cloud.
A few minutes later, Lani walked back into the room, now wearing a t-shirt and some more comfortable pants, feeling much more free now that she was rid of her stuffier nice clothes. She made her way over to Paulo, but as she got closer, she knew that her couch had already claimed another victim...
Paulo dozed quietly on the sofa, looking very comfortable and content. Lani shook her head softly as she looked at his sleeping form. "Couldn't make it huh? Just a few minutes shy... But, I'm a woman of my word..." She leaned down and lightly pressed her soft lips against his forehead, gently caressing the back of his head. "Sweet dreams Paulo... You did good. I had a great time tonight..." She stood back up and pulled a blanket over him, a slight smile forming on the boy's face. Lani giggled a little, finding it very cute to see the usually macho Paulo in such a cute state.
She left the room and moved towards her own bed, noticing a blinking light that caught her attention. The answering machine flashed a single number. Lani curiously pressed play...
i"Lani? Hey! It's Damien! Ummm... I missed you at the Maha! I was waiting there for a few hours, but then I realised that maybe you were at the downtown one. I actually meant to meet me at the Maha in the central shopping district! Anyway... Call me when you get this! I'm sure it was just a big misunderstanding!"/i
The machine went on to explain in it's robotic voice that she had no more messages, but she wasn't listening. Her expression was frozen in a mix of realisation and embarrassment. The whole time, she had been waiting at the wrong restaurant. The whole time...
"Not my spaghetti pants!" Paulo confusingly shouted from the lounge, grounding Lani back into reality. She turned to look back and see him rolling about, getting comfortable again, and her smile returned.
"No... I wouldn't have had tonight play out any other way..." She quietly muttered to herself. She erased the message and wrote a reminder to call Damien the next day, before slipping into her bedroom and slowly closing the door, steeling one last glance at her guest.
"Goodnight Paulo... And thank you for a wonderful evening..."