Chapter 13: The Big Reveal

Chez Badger is a fancy place. It's super fancy.

I was glad I'd decided to dress up.

Jaycee dropped me off in front of the restaurant and smiled at me. "Have fun on your date."

"I'll tell you everything afterwards," I promised.

I entered and walked up to the very tall check-in desk thingy. The host looked down at me condescendingly from his pedestal.

"And...you are?"

"I'm Adyson Sweetwater. I'm here with a friend, but I don't know his name."

He raised his eyebrows at me. "You don't know his...name?"

I blushed. "He's a secret admirer and he's revealing his identity to me tonight."

The host gasped in surprise. "Oh, so this is Miss Sweetwater! We have express instructions for you, mademoiselle," he said, handing me a menu and leading me to a secluded table near the back of the restaurant.

He pulled out the chair for me to sit, and patted my shoulder. "Do not worry, mademoiselle, your love shall arrive extremely soon!"

"Thanks, sir," I said, giggling girlishly.

Now all I could do was wait.

oOoOoOo

Soon, a guy showed up at my table. Unfortunately, he wasn't wearing a yellow tie or a carnation, and double unfortunately, the guy was Django Brown.

"Hey, Adyson. You certainly clean up well; you look really pretty tonight."

"Django? What are you doing here? This seat's kind of reserved."

He sat down quietly. "My folks are here, and I saw you sitting all by yourself, so I came over to investigate."

I huffed. "Well, it's a long and complicated story, and I don't feel like it's necessary for you to know it right now." There was that funny feeling again, taking its usual place in the pit of my stomach. How was Django getting tangled up in all of this?

"My parents are doing their usual parent thing and discussing their early years together. So I've got plenty of time." He looked at me expectantly.

I rolled my eyes. Why was he prying into my personal business?

"If you must know, I have a secret admirer. You might not believe it, but it's true. And he's showing up any minute to reveal his identity. So I'd prefer to not surprise him with another kid sitting in his seat. If you know what I mean."

The stomach feeling was getting worse. What was I going to do?

Django smiled. "I can believe that you'd have a secret admirer. You certainly have admirable qualities."

I frowned at him. "Like what?"

"You're headstrong, and passionate, and you always know what you want. You care very deeply about your friends. You keep straight As with very little trouble."

Huh. I guess I was more admirable than I realized.

But nice as he was being right now, I figured Django ought to get lost before SA really showed up.

I texted SA: *Where are you? There's this annoying guy I know sitting at my table. I promise I didn't invite him here on purpose.*

I looked Django straight in the eyes. His big, delicious, chocolatey brown eyes.

Wait, what?

At any rate, I gave Django a steely look, and said, "I just texted my secret admirer. When he gets here, you kind of have to leave. Otherwise this could get awkward."

Django raised an eyebrow, then took his phone out of his pocket. "Where are you? There's this annoying guy I know sitting at my table. I promise I didn't invite him here on purpose."

I gasped. "How did you get that message?"

Slowly, he removed two things from his pocket.

A yellow tie and a carnation.

Suddenly, everything clicked in my brain.

"Django...Brown...is my secret admirer...?"

He sighed, shaking his brown bangs out of his face. "I know you said you'd never want to date me, or even anyone remotely like me," he said, shooting my own words back in my face. "But I knew I had to try somehow. Believe it or not, Adyson, you are the most beautiful person I've ever known. And I don't think you know that about yourself."

I was completely dumbstruck. How...on...earth.

But then I thought to myself, Relax. Remember how much he's changed in the last month? He's not that weird kid you sit next to in history class anymore.

No, he was definitely something else now.

"Django...thank you. I guess I was just a little weirded out by your, uh, poking me in class."

He flushed red. "Sorry about that. Whenever I'm next to you, I just want to shout my feelings from the rooftops, and I poked you because I thought I'd worked up the courage to tell you, and then I realized I hadn't, and that it would be a horrible idea since we're sitting in the middle of World History..." He sighed. "This probably isn't making much sense."

The funny feeling in my stomach wasn't staying still. It was doing gymnastics around my internal organs.

Honestly, it was a little uncomfortable.

"Django?" I said quickly. "Do you ever get funny feelings in and around your abdominal area? Just from being in my presence?"

He grinned at me. "All the time, Adyson."

"Does that have something to do with the fact that you like me?"

He was shaking with laughter, though I didn't understand what was so funny. "I'd say so, yes."

I frowned at him in a flirty sort of way. At least, that's what I was going for. "What's the big joke here, mister?"

"Oh, nothing, I'm just laughing for joy that the girl of my dreams is talking about possibly regarding me in the same way, for once," Django said, ruffling his hair and leaning back onto two legs of the chair. "So...I know you like food. Have you even looked at the menu yet?"

I laughed with him. "You know, I was so nervous that I forgot that we came here to do that. You know, eat food."

As if the mention of food had summoned him, the host returned with a notepad. "Are you ready to order, mademoiselle? Monsieur?"

Django smiled at him. "I think I'll have a burger with sweet potato fries, and the lady would like a bowl of the finest chili," he said, winking at me.

The host took our menus and we were left alone again.

"So...after dinner, would you like to go out on the balcony and look at the stars? Chez Badger has one of the best views in Danville," he said sweetly.

I nodded. "How do you know that? Have you been here often?"

"My dad made the giant badger statue for the roof of the building. So we've kind of got an in here. They invite us to eat here at least once a week." He grabbed my hand. "Adyson, I'm sure this is all kind of freaking you out, because it's freaking me out too, as you can probably tell from the fact that I'm suddenly speaking in run-on sentences when I've said all of five words to you before in person."

I giggled. "Just a bit. But I'm kind of getting used to the idea."

Django smiled. He had a nice smile. "The idea of me being your secret admirer?"

"Mmhmm," I said, more flirtatious than ever.

Our food came quickly, and as we ate, I reflected on the last month of ridiculousness. How it had all started the day of that Girl Night at Holly's house. His first, unsuspecting text. The hours of conversations we'd had. How much he'd helped me be...me.

The way I'd seen love around here, I'd been under the impression that it was all puppies and rainbows. But with Django, I realized that love was just about being yourself. And under that geeky shell, he had a really great self.

The view from the balcony was just as great as Django had said it would be. In the chilly November air, I allowed Django to lend me his suit jacket.

"Won't you be cold?" I protested.

"Nah, I'll be fine. You don't have any sleeves, you should wear it."

We looked at the stars in silence for a long while. But it wasn't an awkward silence. It was simply a moment that needed no words.

"This evening has been really great, Django," I said, turning to look at him. "I certainly have learned to never judge a book by its cover."

He took my hand again. "I know that my cover wasn't exactly the most appealing, but I'm glad I got to tell you the story inside."

"You know, that was really corny."

Django shrugged. "I do my best."

"So you said your mom's a psychiatrist. That must be fun," I said, trying to come up with some sort of conversation.

"Oh yeah, I have to tell you about what my mom said! She wants to see your mom in her office, and try and gauge exactly how to help her out. She said that based on what you told me that she might just need antidepressants."

"Really? That's great news!" I said, hugging him suddenly. I was a little surprised at my own behavior, but I felt that a hug was perfectly acceptable in this situation.

And the stomach feeling was steadily creeping back.

I realized that I'd been clinging to him for longer than a hug usually entails, and I stepped back, perhaps a little too quickly. "I...I'm sorry, I didn't mean to pounce on you or anything..."

Django stepped towards me, more slowly. "It didn't feel like a pounce to me." His smile grew wider. "Adyson, I think we both know that I really, really like you. Would I be wrong in saying that...you like me back?"

Did I like him back?

As I looked at him, his sunny smile, his captivating brown eyes, I realized that I did.

"No. No, you wouldn't. Be wrong, I mean. Because I do like you. A lot," I stuttered, and grabbed his hand. "You're a really great guy, Django," I said softly, feeling myself blush.

I was sure I was as red as my dress, and Django grabbed my other hand. "You're cute when you're embarrassed."

I tried to come up with a witty comeback. "You're cute when you...uh...well, you're cute all the time."

The stomach feeling was getting stronger. I could imagine it now as an annoying romantic cheerleader that lived in my abdomen. It looked kind of like Isabella.

I realized that this was probably due to the fact that Django and I weren't very far apart right now, and our faces were being slowly drawn together like a magnet.

"Kiss him!" said the annoying romantic cheerleader that was the stomach feeling, waving her pom poms. It was making my heart beat a million miles an hour.

Correction: he was making my heart beat a million miles an hour.

I stood ever-so-slightly on tiptoe and kissed him. Not for very long, mind you, it was a tiny little peck. But I'd done it - I had kissed myself a secret admirer! - and no words I could ever think of would be adequate to describe my happiness.

"I gotta say, Adyson, I certainly wasn't expecting that tonight," said Django, obviously as amazed as I was.

I smiled at him, still trying to force my brain to work and not continue to relive the last few minutes.

"What can I say? I'm full of surprises."

And then he turned into a centaur and we rode off into the sunset -

Just kidding, that's Isabella's dream.

But at any rate, I had learned my lesson, and snagged myself a boy in the process.

And I, Adyson Marie Sweetwater, couldn't be happier.


A/N: So that's it. I know I made it totally obvious that Django was her secret admirer all along, but Adyson really could not see it. She's just as clueless as Phineas, basically, which is important for her son Cameron (who will be playing Marius in The Miserable People, once I write his chapters).

I have to say, I think this is one of the best things I've ever written. And Django's frickin' adorable.

I wasn't sure whether I wanted to have them kiss or not, but I figured, what the hey, it's a sappy fluffy little story. This isn't a snogging-free zone. XD

See you next time!