Disclaimer: I do not own any of the From the Files of Madison Finn characters mentioned in the story. They belong to Laura Dower.
"Bye!" Aimee Gillespie cried, with a wave of her hands at her fellow dancers.
"See ya, Aim!"
The enthusiastic responses of her friends made the blond ballerina chuckle as she closed the backstage door of the theatre. The evening wind was unusually chilly that Aimee had to tighten her coat as she walked along the streets of New York City.
It had been almost a month since the Far Hills-born lady joined one of the most prominent ballet companies in the Big Apple. But she still felt giddy every time she thought about the fact that all her dreams were slowly coming true. Such to this was that she just landed a huge role in their current production with important solo performances.
Aimee savored the city lights that always remind her on how much she had accomplished. Even though the day was ending, people all over the places were still attached to their phones while moving quickly. And somehow, she enjoyed the hectic atmosphere since it gave her the sense of reality when she still felt like dreaming.
Upon reaching the corner of the path, the green light suddenly turned red for the crosswalk, preventing her from crossing the road. This made Aimee a little irritated seeing that she was in a hurry to get home. In order to keep her temper in control, she decided to check her phone first for possible messages from her best friends.
"Hi," a deep voice said that almost made Aimee jump.
Standing in front of her was a tall man with clean cut brown hair. He looked sleek and polished with his expensive-looking suit and coat. On one of his hands he held a brief case and the other was placed in his pocket, must be due to the cold.
"May I help you?" Aimee asked politely.
The male stranger cleared his throat nervously. "Um, I am not very sure if you remember me but we used to go to the same school back in 7th grade. I'm Ben Buckley."
Aimee felt a tingle on her toes that slowly rose up to her body. But it was not from the cold.
"Oh, of course. I remember you, Ben," she replied coolly. Inside of her, she wanted to scream, 'How can I forget you? I have been crushing on you for so long as I can remember!'
It did not help that he looked more handsome and grown-up at that moment unlike the last time they met when he was still all boyish and a little know-it-all. Or maybe he's still that very smart guy she once knew?
"Huh," she continued, unconsciously tucking her hair behind her ears. "It's weird bumping on you here like this. I mean, I did not even recognize you since it had been, what? Almost 10 years?"
Ben chuckled. "I know. You look, um, different."
Aimee could not keep herself from frowning. "Is that a good thing or a bad thing?"
"Of course it's a good thing," he grinned, showing his straight, white teeth.
"Oh," she smiled back. "Um, so you work here now or are you just around from some business conference or something?"
Ben cleared his throat again. "Actually, I've been around for almost a month now. It was supposed to be just a week-long stay here in New York City for some business deals we're trying to work on. But then, one of our clients gave us these free passes for a ballet show - your show actually."
There was a pause and Aimee waited for him to go on. She tried to keep herself from fidgeting as the anticipation slowly built up on her.
"Then I saw your name listed on the program and remembered you from middle school," he continued. "And then I saw you on stage… And it was so… Um…"
He stopped again as if trying to think of the right things to say. "Well, I came back to watch you again every night, hoping that… Um... I could muster the courage to… Um… Talk to you and… Um… Tell you how… Um… Great you are on the stage… And… You know… I've always had… Um… Problems approaching girls even back then… So… Um…"
Aimee held up her hand to stop him from speaking. The grin on her face was so wide that it could have lit up the whole city if that was still possible. She could not believe what was going on. She never thought this would happen in a million years.
"So, are you asking me out?" she asked bravely.
The balls on his cheeks started to get red. Aimee wondered if Ben was blushing or if it was just because of the cold.
"Well, for starters, it's freezing out here. Would you like to grab some coffee?" he asked softly.
"Oh I don't drink coffee at night," she admitted.
Ben looked dejected. "Oh," he sighed.
"How about some hot chocolate? I know a great place where they serve the best hot chocolate in town," Aimee instantly put in for a rebound.
He beamed with the recommendation. "That sounds great! You're not talking about Serendipity, are you?"
She could not help squealing. "I actually am! It's Serendipity!"
Serendipity, hmm, she thought. If only you know I'm not just talking about the restaurant.
With that, the couple turned around and went towards the way to Serendipity while catching up. Of course, Aimee did most of the chattering.