My hands shake anxiously as I watch the clock tick, both nervous and excited for my first date with Talia.I was stunned when she asked me out a few days ago but I greedily accepted the offer, desperately wanting to get to know her.I consulted with Aurora and Rosalie over what we should do, both of them insisting that I take Talia to the local amusement park to reduce the tension between us.
To make Talia feel more comfortable with me, I suggested that Kota join us for the first half and she readily accepted.
In all honesty, having Kota around would make me less nervous too.
We could then head over to the Lake at the AL pack for an evening picnic with just the two of us.
“You’ll be fine,” Agnes reassures me with a kind smile.
“You just have to be yourself and Talia will fall in love with you.She won’t be able to resist,” she wiggles her eyebrows.
“You’ll see.” Kota jumps around the living room like a bunny, already dressed for the park.
It took me a while to get his sunscreen on but the little tyke finally gave in when I bribed him with a cookie.
“Can we go now?” he asks, tugging at his little baseball hat.
“J-j-just a few m-minutes.Mom-my sti-ll n-needs to come ho-home and get read-ready,” I assure him sheepishly as she races into the room.
“Just give me five minutes to change and touch up my makeup and then I’ll be good to go,” she says over her shoulder as she rushes up the stairs.
Kota groans, swinging his arms around in boredom as twenty minutes pass by.
My palms grow sweaty in fear that Talia may have changed her mind entirely, but she finally descends down the stairs looking as beautiful as ever.
She looks amazing in a pair of high waisted jeans and an off the shoulder blouse, her golden skin glowing against the white of her shirt.
Talia flashes me a shy smile as I gawk at her, nearly falling over the chair I am sitting on.
Dude, snap out of it!Grayson growls.
She’s going to think you’re a moron! I try not to make a fool of myself and stand up straight but as I catch a glimpse of the bracelet on her wrist, my entire body fills with butterflies and I trip over the leg of the chair, crashing ungracefully on the ground.
Kota and Agnes burst into laughter while Talia rushes over to help me up.
Sparks tingle up and down my arm when our hands meet, the sensation startling Talia enough that she lets go, letting me fall back onto the floor.
“Oh my goodness,” she mutters to herself.
“I-I’m so sorry.I…I’m just nervous,” she gulps, tucking away a loose strand of hair behind her ear as she once again reaches over to help me up.
“It’s been Oh great, two nervous idiots going on a date to an amusement park with a child” Graysonmutters.
What could possibly go wrong? I block out his voice as I dust myself off, Talia holding out her hand for me to take.
“Let’s go,” She says quietly, waving over Kota to join us.
She checks Kota once more to make sure he’s ready to go before we walk over to the pack house.
Evan takes us to Aurora’s office where she appears to be hiding from the visiting Alphas.
“I’m not hiding,” the Queen mutters as she looks over some documents.
“I’m just very busy.”
Suddenly, a portal opens to her left and she grins at us, wiggling her eyebrows in mischief.
“Now you three have fun!”
She giggles, pushing Talia and Kota through the portal.
“And good luck!”
She hisses in my ear before shoving me through as well.I nearly lose my footing and crash into Talia, my chest bumping against hers.
She timidly looks up at me, our eyes locking in an intense gaze.
“H-hi,” Talia whispers, her lips curved into a small smile.
Now’s your chance, Say something to her, Grayson urges.
I open my mouth but end up choking on my tongue, coughing furiously into my arm.
Smooth, Grayson mutters as I struggle to regain control of my Talia hands me a bottle of water and I finally manage to catch my breath.
We look around the area Aurora sent us to and realize it’s a small alley beside the park.We will have to return here to be transported home again.
Talia takes the lead, leaving Kota to me and we head for the ticket booth to get our park passes.
Kota’s large eyes widened in shock at the incredible display of rides, games, and snack booths.
I’m no different, having never seen so much color and lights in one place before.
The thoughts of thousands of people start racing towards me, but I manage to put up my walls before I become too overwhelmed.
My training with Aurora has been great but I still could not filter out voices among large crowds.
For now, I’ll have to use nods and gestures to communicate.
Kota spots a bouncing ATV ride with flashing lights and loud car horns, nearly taking off before I catch him.
“Kota, you need to stay with Mommy or Zane,” Talia scolds.
“Don’t run off.”
Kota nods halfheartedly, his eyes locked on the Blue ATV he wants to ride.
The ride seems to be able to hold one adult passenger and two kids.
“Will you go with me?” He asks me, dragging me into the line driver’s seat for himself.
Kota’s screams when the ride starts.
The ATV suddenly starts to bounce up and down, my hands gripping onto the sides of the car in shock.
I have never experienced this type of movement before, and while we were only moving in a circle, it’s the most exhilarating moment of my life.
I have to bring Agnes here, I tell myself as Kota and I bounce up and down.
Kota honks his horn and we wave our hands at Talia every time we pass her, Kota and I laughing hysterically with every bounce.
Dude, what are you, five? Grayson laughs but I ignore him, just wanting to enjoy the ride.
Talia chuckles when the ride is over, helping Kota off the ATV.
“You looked like you were having more fun than Kota,” she giggles as we walk out of the enclosure.
I want to ask if we can go again when Kota starts to pull us in the direction of some flying dragons.
“I want to ride the pink one!” Kota calls out, pointing to the pink dragon creature with horns.
Kota requires a chaperone for this ride and I happily volunteer, Talia chuckling to herself at my eagerness.
Once strapped in, Kota and I pull on the lever, the dragon slowly ascending until it reaches its the view is pretty.
“Make a silly face when we pass Mommy,”
Kota instructs, sticking his fingers into his mouth to pull his lips apart and hang his tongue out.
I take his lead, pushing out my lower jaw so that my teeth stick out and pulling my eyelids back with one hand while the other continues to pull the lever.
Talia bursts into laughter when she sees our faces, snapping a few pictures of us.
Kota takes complete control of the date, dragging us from ride to ride, but I don’t mind one bit, getting on as many rides as I can with him.
We try the bumper cars, the train, the merry-go-round, and the spinning teacups, the last one nearly making me vomit from all the spinning.
Talia and Kota couldn’t help but laugh at me as I held onto the grip for dear life, some of the people in line joining in.
Even Grayson laughed but it did not matter to me, I liked seeing Talia laugh.She was worth getting on a terrible ride for.
Kota suddenly pulls us to a giant game booth.
“I want the Octopus!” Kota smiles, pointing to a giant purple Octopus hanging on display.
The game is a milk bottle toss where we have to knock over a tower of 6 milk bottles with baseballs.
We get three tries but knocking all of the bottles in the first toss would get us the Octopus.
Talia pays the booth operator for a try and the operator hands her three balls.Her first throw narrowly misses the tower of bottles but her final throw manages to knock three bottles over.
“Sorry, sweetie,” Talia sighs sheepishly.
“No Octopus” Kota pouts, Talia attempting to soothe his broken heart with a bribe.
“How about we get some ice cream?” She asks.
I hand the operator another dollar so I can play.
Let me do it.I’m more coordinated than you, Grayson grumbles but I refuse, wanting to prove to myself that I could be useful.I line up to the toss and aim for the center, throwing the ball with all my strength.
We watch the ball strike the center of the tower, all 6 bottles tumbling into the pit.
The operator hands me with the Giant Octopus and I turn around to find Kota and Talia clapping for me.
Kota waddles over to me as I get down on my knees to show it to him, stroking the giant octopus’s head with his little fingers.
“Can I have it?” He asks shyly, his large eyes twinkling at me.
The biggest smile stretches across his mouth when I nod, the little boy jumping into my arms and kissing me on the cheek.
He struggles to wrap his arms around the large octopus, the stuffed animal nearly twice his size.
“Thanks Dad!” He cries, dragging the toy to his mom.
My heart skips a beat when the word slips out of his lips, all of my thoughts melting away to focus on the little boy who just claimed me Grayson howls in approval, liking the title for himself.
We had already claimed Kota as my own during the face off with the Alphas but it’s different knowing Kota felt the same about us.
I want to hear him say it again but I eye Talia nervously, knowing Kota calling me Dad could upset her.
Something flickers in her eyes, but whatever it is disappears before I can decipher what she’s feeling.
“Look Mommy!” Kota says, shoving the octopus in Talia’s face.
“Look what Zane got me!”
“Very cool,” she grins at him, taking him by the hand.
“Should we get some ice cream?”
The little boy nods, handing his stuffed toy to his mother to skip over the booth directly across the game booth.
Talia looks over at me, the smile on her face a little tight as she reaches for my hand and pulls me towards her.
She stands on the tips of her toes and kisses me on the cheek, my heart feeling as though it might burst out of my chest.
“Thank you for not overreacting about what Kota said,” She whispers.
“I’ll talk to him tonight and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
I shake my head at her, wishing I could put into words that it means the world to me that he sees me that way, but only a small groan escapes my lips.I sigh in frustration to myself, but she doesn’t seem to notice, already pulling me to the booth labeled Dippin
“What flavor do you want?” she asks, pointing to the little menu on the glass window of the booth.
I have never had Dippin’ dots before, so I stare at the assortment of colorful dot-like ice cream flavors, unsure which to pick.
“You should try Cookies and Cream,” Talia suggests.
“You can’t go wrong with Oreos.”
It’s been years since I’ve had Oreos, the last time being when my mom snuck some into my room to share with me on my 6th birthday.
Cookies and pastries were rarely available to us back at the Hive.
If by chance a pack of Oreos made an appearance in the pantry, they were gone before Agnes, and I could ever grab some.I nod my head at her suggestion, and she hands me a cup full of black and white dots with crushed cookie pieces.
Kota gets Rainbow dots and Talia picks Mint and chip.
We take our treats to a nearby table and Talia watches me careful as I take my first bite.
The little dots melt in my mouth almost immediately, leaving an Oreo taste on my tongue that nearly brings tears to my eyes.
I eagerly put another spoonful in my mouth, moaning a little as I savor the sweet taste
“Do you like it?” She asks, letting out a sigh of relief when I nod.
“Can I try yours?” Kota asks, pointing at my cup of dots with his spoon.
“Kota, you have yours,” Talia scolds.
“Don’t be greedy.” it out for Kota.He opens his mouth and I sprinkle in the dots, Kota licking his lips when he’s finished.
“Yummy,” he hums.
“These are good.My turn,” he grins, scooping up a few dots onto his spoon for me to try.
I lower my head a little to help him drop the dots into my mouth, a burst of fruity flavor exploding on my tongue.
Talia snaps a photo of Kota feeding me his dots, a small smile on her lips as she saves the memory.
When we’re finished with our treats, I take Kota to the restroom for a potty break and to wash his sticky hands.
Once groomed, we go on a few more rides.I particularly enjoy the Flying swing set, the wind in my hair feeling amazing.
As we are about to call it a day, I spot a large black box labeled Photoboth, halting in my tracks to stare at it.
“Have you never seen one before?”
Talia asks when she realizes ’’m no longer following them.
“It’s for taking pictures,” Talia explains when I shake my head.
Her eyes flicker with sadness before she grabs my hand and drags Kota and I towards the box.
“Come on, let’s take a picture.”
She shoves me in first before climbing in with Kota.
There’s a small bench inside the booth just big enough for Talia and I, but Kota has to sit on my lap to fit.
A large screen sits in front of us with a camera on top.
Talia inserts some coins and starts the timers on the screen and I following her instructions and contorting our faces as the camera flashes.
“Okay, now.We kiss Kota,” she laughs, both she and I kissing one of Kota’s cheeks as he smiles.
The camera flashes once again before the timer restarts, Kota turning to Talia and grinning.
“Now Mommy kisses Zane!” He cries, pushing Talia’s face closer to mine.
“Kota, stop being silly,,” Talia scolds.
Dude, the kid just gave you an opening.
Take it! Grayson snaps, urging me to kiss Talia.
Mustering up all of my courage, I place my hand on Talia’s cheek and pull her closer to me.
“what are you-“
Before Talia can say anything else, I press my lips against hers, sparks exploding all over my body.
She doesn’t seem to know what to do at first but as I kiss her again, Talia moves her lips with mine, her hand pressing up against my chest for support.
Kota stands on his tippy toes as the camera flashes, his smiling face covering up the camera.I don’t want to pull away, not ready to let her go, but Talia comes to her senses and turns away from me.
“We should go,” She mumbles, carefully wiping her lips as she steps out of the booth.
“Aurora is waiting for Kota.” My heart sinks.
She must have not liked the kiss…
I sigh, cursing myself for taking Grayson’s advice.
Talia collects the strip of pictures as Kota and I climb out, shoving the photos in her purse.
The three of us head back to the alley, a portal suddenly opening for us.
Aurora kindly greets us, Kota explaining in detail what we did.
“Sounds like a fun day,” She chuckles.
“I’m glad you liked the park.”
The Queen glances at Talia and the two women seem to have a private conversation.
I grow nervous as Aurora switches her eyes between Talia and I, her face unreadable.I want to open a connection when she raises her eyebrows in surprise.
“Okay.Just text me when you’re ready,” the Queen grins, taking Kota’s hand and his prize before waving at us.
Talia suddenly slips her hand in mine and pulls me back through the portal, both of us returning to the park.
“Now, it’s just you and me,” Talia smiles.