Kate had stopped for gas, Ethan's only condition to letting them borrow the car was for them to leave him with at least half a tank. "You should text Elliot's brother," Kate suggested with a smirk.
"Kate," Ana sighed, she really wasn't sure why she was doing this.
"They're running a bit late," Kate told her, "Well at least his brother is, but Ethan sent me his number," she raised her eyebrows suggestively. "Come on Ana, you know you wanna."
Ana rolled her eyes, sometimes she swore Kate could act like a girl from junior high who only ever talked about boys. "I don't want to Kate," she assured her, "I'm seriously only doing this for you."
"He's older than Elliot," Kate sang.
Ana lowered her eyes teasingly, willing herself not to say, "I don't care."
"Give me your phone," Kate grinned, "I'll text him for you!"
"No way!" Ana shook her head, clutching her phone tightly. Who knew what Kate would say.
Kate pouted, "Please, it will pain me to see how awkward you both will be with each other, let me break the ice for you via text message."
Ana only gave her an uneasy look, she was already doing something she didn't want, why stop now? Maybe Kate really would help.
Kate smiled brightly, holding out her hand for the phone, "Let me send him a couple of messages."
With another roll of her eyes, Ana handed her the phone.
Christian didn't give out his phone number so freely, and he didn't make a habit of sending messages instead of calling. There never really came times where he thought sending messages was less time consuming than holding his phone up to his ear and actually speaking.
That was why he was so confused when he received a message from a number he didn't recognize.
He stared at the message with the quick greeting and the winking face before replying with a simple, Hello? Who's this?
A reply came almost immediately, one so flirtatious it made him uncomfortable to even read it. The message had answered his question, the number belonged to the girl Elliot had set him up with. Christian groaned out loud.
For Elliot, Christian reminded himself as he typed up a reply. His own message politely told his date that he was about to drive over to the restaurant and it was best to put his phone away now.
Like before, the girl replied quickly. The night was going to be torture, Christian decided, if the girl flirted as much in person as she did in messages. Her message included another winking face, the one he was beginning to detest, along with the text that told him she couldn't wait to meet him. She had also written something about desert, but Christian had rolled his eyes at that part and decided he didn'thave to read all her message.
Instead, Christian entered his car, replied with another rather bland message and began the drive. He wondered how his date would look, maybe she would have brown hair that flowed easily down her back, and blue eyes that were nothing like the sea and more like the never ending sky.
He almost laughed at the thought. Yeah right. Like he'd ever go on a date with someone like that... there were no girls like her.
When her phone was returned to her, Ana suppressed a groan. "Did you really have to be so forward?"
Kate was driving now, telling Ana they were close to the restaurant. "Yes, he'll love it, trust me. I know what guys like," she glanced her way, "and you're totally hot, don't get me wrong, but I think if you put your hair up, and maybe took off that sweater-"
Ana raised her eyebrow, but complied with the hair. She pulled her hair up in a ponytail and secured it with a hair band Kate handed her. "There-"
"I think I have a blazer in the back, it'll look good with your shirt," Kate smiled, "And your jeans will make it look casual."
Ana wasn't sure about that but still she shrugged out of her sweater and reached back to find the blazer before sending a quick message to Elliot's brother.
Let me apologize in advance, she wrote, this is going to suck.
She sent the message before she could back out, he would probably think she was crazy, but it was better than him expecting someone with as much confidence as Kate.
Kate didn't even notice Ana typing down the message, she had began talking about Elliot again.
It felt like only a minute had passed, and then they were there, parking in the lot besides the restaurant.
"His brother isn't here yet, but he'll be here in about ten," Kate said after checking her phone. "Elliot's inside, but we can wait in the car until his brother gets here, so you won't feel left out or anything-"
"No," Ana said quickly, "It's fine. You go inside, just- I'll go in, a bit before he gets here." She took a deep breath and Kate eyed her warily, "I'm just going to listen to some music for now."
Kate still looked at her, "Ookay," she finally said, "He'll probably text you when he's here anyways. I guess it will be less awkward for you if you stay..."
Ana nodded brightly, "Yes, you go on. I'll see you in a few."
Kate smiled back and replied, "Yeah, okay. I'll leave the keys in so you can hear the radio. Thanks Ana."
Once she was gone, Ana sighed and switched the radio on.
Christian drove into the parking lot with a sense of regret. Why had he agreed to this?
Once he parked the car, he reached for his phone but didn't make a move to unbuckle his seat belt or get out of the car.
He opened a new message he had, already dreading what it would say.
'Let me apologize in advance, this is going to suck,' the message said, leaving Christian puzzled. Hadn't she said she was really excited to meet him? Hadn't the girl flirted with him and showed all her enthusiasm? Had Elliot set him up with a girl even more bipolar than himself.
'Why do you say that?' he typed curiously. If she sounded crazy, he would call Elliot and say an emergency came up.
'Let's just say this isn't really my thing,' the new message read.
Christian frowned, 'Going out on blind dates?'
'More like, JUST, going out. Definitely not a people person. You'll see.'
He stared at the message, wondering where the girl who had been sending him winking faces had gone.
'We'll see,' he finally wrote, 'I'll be inside in a minute.'
Before he sent the message, he remembered he couldn't just keep calling her 'the girl Elliot set him up with' and added, 'I almost forgot to ask your name.'
When that message was sent, he typed up another one, 'My name's Christian, by the way.'
Almost at the same time he pressed 'send', a message from the girl came in. He came out of his car, shook his head a bit, and opened the new message.
'Anastasia,' the message read. Christian felt his blood go cold. 'It's kind of a a drag to hear/say it. Everyone calls me Ana. I'll start making my way inside.'
Christian felt his body go tense. It was all a coincidence, he told himself. It had to be. He wouldn't be set up with someone Elliot's age... Would he?
Almost, as if with instinct, Christian turned back and scanned the parking lot. His eyes were met with another pair of bright blue eyes who were fairly close to him.
They were eyes like the sky in a clear blue afternoon, the same skies where birds felt free, and people felt small.
"Mr. Grey," she said, though Christian barely heard it.
Christian opened his mouth to say something, but no words were formed. What was he suppose to say? Are you my date? Because I would really love that?
"What are you doing here?" he heard himself ask.
Ana blinked, "I- I just have- Well Kate- .. Double date," she finally said, wrenching her fingers together.
"You're going on a date?" he raised an eyebrow. Just how long ago had she admitted to liking him? And now she was going on a date? He remembered the way he had received flirty messages right before saying she wasn't going to enjoy the date. "Is that a hobby of yours?" he said without thinking. "Do you like making guys think you like them?"
Ana only blinked again, looking confused. "A-are you Elliot's brother?"
Christian felt his heart sink, she really was playing with him, wasn't she? And here he was, feeling special that someone like Ana could like him. God, he had been so stupid. "Elliot's my brother," he nodded with a grimace, "And I'm going to kill him for setting me up with someone his own age."
Ana tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear, one that had fallen free of her pony tail.
He hadn't noticed before, but now he saw what she was wearing. It wasn't anything too special, but she had obviously put at least some effort in dressing, when usually she looked casual and at ease in comfortable clothes. "You said you liked me," he reminded her, sounding sour even to his own ears. "And yet, the same afternoon you 'admitted' that, you had a date with someone else?"
Ana seemed to wake up then, her eyes focused and Christian thought she stood up a little straighter. "Did you forget you said the same thing?"
Christian didn't reply quickly enough, and she continued.
"And then you said that we should just forget about it. You should be happy, it's all forgotten now Mr. Grey- Oh but wait, too bad Elliot set you up with me. Is that what you're irritated about? Maybe if you're quick enough, you can call him and he'll have another girl to set you up with. Maybe you can call Mrs. Lincoln!" she gave him an encouraging smile, "Yeah, and then you can tell her you like her so much, but don't forget to confuse her feelings and start telling her to forget all about you. Maybe you can try to kiss her and – and I don't know.. tell her you can't-"
"Anastasia, don't you dare turn this on me," he whispered harshly to restrain himself from shouting. No, she couldn't make him feel guilty when she had been doing the exact same thing. "I only agreed to this date because I need a favor from Elliot- He can get me another job, I just need to be nice to him – God," he closed his eyes. He had done this to get out of teaching, he had gone on this stupid date for a chance with Ana, and now he felt like the biggest idiot. She didn't actually like him, he should have known that. He couldn't figure out why a girl as great as her liked him, and now he knew the truth. "I can't believe I even-" he shook his head and laughed quietly without humor.
"I like you!" she nearly shouted, "I like you so much I had to call Kate to distract me. I had to do something to try to get you out of my head because my stupid heart is too stupid to know you're a fucking teacher!"
Christian snapped his eyes open and saw Anastasia had came closer. Her eyes were burning with sincerity, and it almost soothed him to hear her say she liked him.
"I agreed to a stupid date because I didn't want to be alone. I wanted to be with you-" she stopped, and Christian reached out to her. "This is all so stupid," she muttered.
Before he could believe it all, Christian mentioned the flirty messages.
"Those stupid messages? God, that was Kate 'breaking the ice'," she groaned, covering her face.
"So... you don't.. not like me?" he said warily.
"I think you're stupid for thinking I would stop liking you after just an hour," she said sternly.
Christian allowed himself to smile, "I think you think a lot of things are stupid today, we really need to improve that vocabulary of yours Ms. Steele."
Ana breathed in quietly, "We should... I could use the help of .. oh, I don't know, maybe an English teacher?"
"I think I may know a guy," he whispered.
"We can bail out on Elliot and Kate," she suggested in the same whisper he used. "We're not really close to the school.."
Christian stared at her, searching for anything in her expression to make him say no.
He only saw her hopeful eyes.
Screw the rules. Screw it all.
"Dinner's never hurt anyone," he agreed, his smile wary.