Copyright© 2015 by Lumpy
I woke up earlier than usual, the next morning. Hair was covering my face and making it a little hard to breathe. I instantly recognized the soft, gentle scent of Zoe's hair. She is a pretty light sleeper. So, as usual, she woke up when I started to try to get untangled from the arm and leg gripping me.
I received a sweet kiss and a grimace.
"'Morning breath, ' but totally worth it."
I hopped out of bed and pulled her with me, "I have just the thing for that."
Seeing the coast was clear, I dragged Zoe into the bathroom and showed her the extra toothbrush I had hidden in one of the bathroom drawers. She quickly started to brush her teeth.
"Since you seem intent on crawling through my window pretty regularly I figured I should start providing you with some amenities."
She turned and smiled at me, but she still had the toothbrush in her mouth and a bit of toothpaste drooled out as she did. It was both adorable and totally ridiculous at the same time. We both broke down laughing before catching ourselves. I hoped we hadn't woken up Margret.
Back in my room, she started to pick out my clothes when she laid a bombshell on me.
"Today is the next step in my plan. You have to get a date."
"I thought that is what we did with Tami."
"No, silly. That was a practice date. You have to get a real date. Don't worry, I have picked the girl out and already talked to her. She is prepped for our ... unusual circumstances. Her name is Vicki Hollabrand. I have known her for years, and she is a really sweet girl. You will like her, she is really cute."
"Zoe, I wish I could talk you out of this plan. I don't need to go date some random girl."
"Nope, we are sticking to the plan." She stopped what she was doing and pointed a finger in my face. "I want you to listen to me very closely, Caspian Grey. Don't take this for granted, and don't blow this off. You will give her your best effort when asking her out. You will give her your full attention on your date. And you will give it your best shot. If you hit it off and I am out of the picture, then so be it. You will still be my best friend, and I will still love you. But I need this. I need for you to give 100% to this. Do you understand me?"
I didn't answer for a long while. Zoe probably thought I was weighing her statement, but that wasn't it. I don't even think she had noticed, but Zoe had said she loved me. It was like the air was knocked out of my stomach. I was having trouble hearing and the world started to swim.
Okay, I was quiet too long and she got worried.
"Sorry. You're right. It wouldn't be fair to this girl to purposefully make the date go bad or anything. I couldn't do that to someone else. I will give it my best effort, I promise."
"Great. I knew I could count on you. Now, she has the same lunch as us but sits with some of the smart kids at another table. You need to go ask her out at lunch."
I only wished I was as upbeat about this as I tried to sound.
I had trouble focusing for most of the rest of the morning leading up to lunch. I was incredibly nervous. Not about asking out Vicki, since clearly Zoe had worked out those details already, but about what it might mean for Zoe and me. I was already insanely attached to Zoe. She was my first real friend, fixed my relationship with Tina and was the first one to show me love, even if we hadn't mutually acknowledged it as that yet. The thought of doing something, even accidentally, to hurt my bond with her was gnawing at me.
When Zoe and I entered the cafeteria, Zoe pointed out a tall blond girl just sitting at a table across the big room from where our group's table was.
When I hesitated I got a slap on the ass and a, "Go get her, Tiger."
In a daze, I made my way over and sat in the open seat next to Vicki. She just turned to me and smiled, although everyone else at her table looked at me like I was an alien.
I pulled together as much courage as I could muster.
"Hi, Vicki, I am Zoe's friend Cas. I was wondering if you wanted to go out this Friday."
"Yeah, I think I would like that," she said. She wrote down a phone number on a piece of paper. "Here is my number. Call me Thursday night, and we will work out the details."
"Great. Talk to you then."
My cool exterior was in stark contrast to all the crazy thoughts bouncing around my head. I made my way back to the normal lunch table. I noticed but didn't really internalize the fact that everyone at her table looked like someone had just told them who killed Jimmy Hoffa. What was weird was most the kids at my table, except Zoe, had the same look. Zoe just looked smug.