Chapter Thirty Four: Stay Close To Me
Natalia sat in the library reading the newspaper. She was trying to ignore the excited babbling of the group in front of her. Natalia sighed. It's not working, she thought to herself. Natalia folded the paper and placed it on to the table.
“So are you going?” Andre asked her. Natalia knew exactly what he was talking about.
“No...” As soon as she had started to answer, both Clara and Dawn spoke up. “No, she's not!” They said in sync.
Natalia sighed. They had her down to a science. She had to give them that much.
“They’re right. I'm not going to go.” She told her friends. “Why not? You could bring Dallas along.” Dawn asked.
“I don't really feel like going. We have a few assignments due next week anyway. So it's better if I stay home and do the work. Besides you do realize that prom is on Thursday and our teachers have already told us they expect us in class on Friday...regardless of whether or not we're plastered.” Natalia told them, pointedly.
“Who said we were planning to get drunk?” Steven asked, sounding defensive.
“Oh I don't know...you...because that's all you and Andre have been talking about.” She told them, dryly. “Kill joy...” Steven muttered.
Both Andre and Steven looked guilty. “See what I mean?” She said to them.
Natalia turned her attention to the girls.
“What are you two going on about?” She asked. The two of them were talking heatedly about something.
“It's nothing...” Clara said. But Dawn wasn't able to contain herself. “Marissa is wearing this gorgeous dress! I swear it costs a fortune! She got it custom designed for the prom, and she got Raine to match her!” Dawn went on to describe the clothes in great length.
Not being able to mask the disdain on her face as she listened, Natalia kept quiet allowing Dawn to finish. The two girls knew she could care less about what Marissa was wearing, what Marissa was doing, or what after parties Marissa was going to go to. Good thing too...the less drama the better...Natalia thought.
“So what are you two going to wear?” She asked them. Natalia didn't have any homework to finish, and decided to humour them for once. She knew the two of them were dying to tell someone...and they had always been there for her.
“We thought you'd never ask.” Clara told her. They were grinning evilly.
What did I get myself in to this time, Natalia thought with a gulp.
Dallas waited for Natalia after school. He looked around only to find a banner hanging over the entrance. Prom was upon Natalia and her friends.
He hadn't asked if Natalia wanted to go, the thought hadn’t occurred to him. Today would probably be the best day to ask her. Since there are only a few days left, Dallas thought.
The school bell rang and Dallas watched as students began to come out of the building.
Soon he saw Natalia come out. She was talking to Taylor. Their discussion looked intense. Probably arguing over something, Dallas thought with a smile.
“Hello!” Natalia chimed as she entered the car. “Hey.” Dallas replied. “You sound cheerful.” Dallas said, observantly. Knowing Natalia’s nature, she had probably won the argument.
“I proved Taylor wrong.” She told him. “About what?” Dallas asked, curiously.
“He thought I couldn't remember to wire a bread board properly, using the NAND gate. I showed him!” Natalia explained. “Okay...I'm going to nod and pretend that I know exactly what you're talking about.” Dallas told her, with a grin. “Don't worry...it's nothing.” Natalia laughed.
They drove along the local road towards home. Dallas thought that this was the perfect time to bring it up.
“So I've been thinking...why don't I take you to prom?” Dallas asked Natalia.
Natalia looked at him. “Dallas...I'm not going.” She told him. Dallas glanced at her. “Why not?” He asked. “I don't think those things are meant for me.”
“What do you mean?” Dallas shook his head, she was making no sense. “It's just the semi formal didn't really work out...and besides I have school the next day, so I might as well stay home and finish up work.”
“Right...and you really think your teachers are expecting you guys to come to school the next day?” Dallas glanced at her, trying to read her face. She always made excuses for these things.
“Yea...okay no...but still I really don't want to go.” Natalia said to him. Dallas sighed. “Okay...are you sure?” He asked one last time. “Yea, I'm sure.” She told him.
Dallas would be damned if he was going to allow Natalia to miss out. Natalia may not have wanted to go...but Dallas was determined to do something that she would remember.
Thursday came much too quickly for Natalia's liking. There weren't many people in class. Most of the students had gone home early to get ready. A lot of the girls had left to get their hair done at salons, the guys had gone home since they had been given a good excuse. Natalia doubted it took boys that long to get ready.
Natalia sat in the library with Taylor. Everyone else had ditched them. Both Clara and Dawn had gone home to get ready, while Steven and Andre hadn't bothered to come in the first place.
Taylor was planning to go to prom, but he had told Natalia that he didn't want to miss out on his school work. He was always around for Natalia; it was something that comforted her a great deal. She realized how he made sure she was never completely alone. Good thing too...who knows what mess I can get myself in to...Natalia thought, grateful for his presence.
“Are you really not coming?' Taylor asked. Natalia snapped out of her thoughts and looked up at him. He looked curious.
“Yea...I'm really not going.” She told him. Natalia wasn't really bothered by that. She hadn't really planned to go anyway; it wasn't such a big deal. Besides she would get to see Dallas at home.
“Hey Derek. Is it okay if I take Natalia to prom?” Dallas asked. He was sitting in his room. Derek was on his break at work.
“Natalia said that she wasn't going.” Derek told him. “I know...but if I convince her...is it okay?” He wasn't in the mood of giving too much away. “Yea, sure. Hold on...what are you going to tell my parents?” Derek asked, suddenly.
“Good question...” Dallas mulled over it. Suddenly Dallas had an idea. It would definitely work! “Don't worry...I'll take care of it.” Dallas told his best friend.
“Alright...have fun convincing Natalia.” Derek said. They said their goodbyes, and Dallas ended the call. He got up. There were things that needed to be prepared for the night ahead.
Natalia stood in her room looking at herself in the mirror. Her hair had been let down, her eyes lined, and she had put on some lip gloss.
Dallas had told her they would be going out for dinner to some restaurant. They were going to have dinner with his team mates.
So why exactly do I need to be there? Natalia wondered for the hundredth time.
She was wearing a black, knee length, empire waist dress and had a silver belt around her waist. She had gotten out matching ballet flats. Natalia had never liked high heels...of course they looked great...but Natalia couldn't walk for long in them without tripping, and usually they had cut into her feet.
Natalia gave herself one more look over before heading down the stairs.
She walked in to the living room, only to find Dallas talking to her parents. He had changed in to a black collared shirt, and black pants. It was the most formal she had ever seen him look.
“Natalia, you look lovely.” Her mother told her. “Enjoy yourself at the prom, honey.” Her father told her. Natalia did a double take. She looked at her father and then her mother.
“Huh?” She mumbled, cluelessly.
“Dallas told us. Don't worry. He'll be dropping you off since he has dinner with his team.” Her mother told her. “Have fun, sweet heart.” Her father said.
Dallas quickly led Natalia away from her parents before she could do or say anything that might ruin his plan.
She looked like she was about to string him.
They sat in the car. “I'm not going to prom!” She told him, adamantly.
“Yes you are!” Dallas told her, sounding equally as stubborn.
“You told me I was going with you to dinner!” She was contrite.
“Yea! Only because I knew I couldn't get you out of the house any other way.” Dallas argued.
“I'm going home.” Natalia turned to open the door. It was locked. “Oh no...this isn't fair!” She was stuck.
Dallas started the car. He was grinning. “Told you; you were coming.” He said to her, sounding smug.
Dallas drove out of the drive way.
“I hate you!” Natalia muttered in annoyance.
Dallas sighed. What he had in mind would be worth a few minutes of her anger.
Natalia couldn't believe he had blind sided her. She didn't even have a way out this time. Not only had he locked her in to the car...but he was driving her to prom...something that she had already told him she didn't want to attend.
Leave it to Dallas to figure out a way to take me go to things I don't like, Natalia thought, annoyed. Why he cared so much about her going to school events confused her still.
She stared out the window. She didn't even know if they were headed in the right direction. For that matter, she didn't even know which banquet hall it was being held in.
Closing her eyes, she leaned her forehead against the cool window. She thought of ways to get back at Dallas.
It was a while before anyone spoke.
“We're here!” Dallas informed her.
Natalia opened her eyes. “This isn't the right place.” She told him. They were in the clearing.
“I bet you don't even know where it's being held.” Dallas said to her with a smirk. “Uh yes I do! In a room with four walls...and a roof.” She retorted.
She looked around confused. “I thought you had dinner.” Wasn't that what he had told her?
“Yea...with you.” Dallas looked over at Natalia. “What about your team?” Natalia asked. This was getting to be very perplexing. “I don't have dinner with them...I just had to get you out of the house!” He told her with a laugh. “You lied!” Natalia said in astonishment. “It was a means to an end.” He defended himself. “Don't worry, I told Derek.” Natalia should have known her brother would be in on this.
“So what are we doing here?” Natalia asked, shaking her head in disbelief.
“Well you didn't go to your prom...so I thought I would bring prom to you.” Dallas told her.
“What? Why?” Natalia looked at him; she was at a loss to understand.
“In case you didn't want to dance in front of any one...you know...because you might feel embarrassed...so I thought...maybe you would dance with me.” He made sure to tease...even if it was a little bit.
“You're so full of it...that's not why I didn't want to go!' Natalia protested.
“Uh huh...well we're here now. So come on.” Dallas said, unbuckling both their belts.
Natalia sighed. “Fine.” She got out of the car after him.
Dallas turned on the headlights of his car. They gave Natalia a lovely glow.
He went to the trunk and got out the things he had brought. Out came a CD player, a picnic basket, and a blanket, lastly he took out a flood light. He closed the trunk.
“What's all this for?” Natalia asked.
Dallas grinned. “Well we need music...and light...and food!” He told her.
Dallas turned on the battery operated flood light. He had it facing Natalia. Natalia put up her hands, as the bright light flooded the area. “Sorry.” Dallas mumbled.
He put the light on top of the hood of the car, pointing it downwards. Going back to the car, Dallas turned off the headlights.
Natalia helped him spread the blanket on the ground.
He put the basket in the middle.
“First we eat.”
Natalia sat on the blanket beside Dallas. Why does he always do this? She thought. Sometimes she wished he didn't care so much. It would make life easier...who am I kidding, Natalia thought.
She hated admitting to it...but he made her feel special. Even when he defiantly blind sided her it was only because he wanted her to enjoy the night...even if it was on his terms. She felt a little bad about giving him such a hard time.
Natalia's attention returned to Dallas. He was busy taking out something.
“What did you bring?” Natalia asked out of interest.
“Well it's no feast...but I did make us some sandwiches and I brought dessert.” He told her with a grin. “You made them?” Natalia asked, slightly in awe. “Yea...I'm not entirely useless in the kitchen.” He told her with a grin.
That was sweet, she thought, not having the courage to say it out loud.
He handed her a wrapped sandwich. Natalia took off the wrapping and bit in to it.
Dallas watched her, awaiting her response.
“That tastes delicious...I still can't believe you know how to cook.” She told him with a smile.
“Well I guess the secret's out...just don't tell Derek though...” Dallas told her, chuckling.
They ate in the clearing, as the sky started to darken around them.
Dallas was enjoying himself. He and Natalia had finished eating. She looked content. The stars were out. The moon was shining upon them. Everything was going as planned.
Getting up from the blanket and putting away the basket, he returned to find Natalia looking up at the sky. She was trying to connect something, from what he could gather. Her fingers were pointing at the stars connecting something together.
“What are you looking at?” Dallas asked, amused. “Nothing...just looking at the different constellations.” She said to him, sounding sheepish.
“So what's next?” She asked him. He grinned. “Well first we have to put away the blanket.” He told her. “And then?” She asked. “One thing at a time, Lia...one thing at a time.” He said, with the air of an adult talking patiently to a child.
They folded the blanket which Dallas put in the car. He took out some CDs he had brought from the house. He looked at the track list of one CD and put it into the player. He pressed play.
“Now, we dance.” Dallas told her. “Nah uh...I don't dance.” Natalia confessed. She crossed her arms.
“Well now is a good time as any to start!” He told her cheerfully. “But...but...no!” Natalia stuttered. “Too bad!” Dallas dragged her to the middle of the clearing, not hearing any more excuses.
He placed her arms on to his shoulders, putting his hands on her waist, and started to lead her.
“Wait.” Natalia muttered, not moving. Something had caught her attention.
“What did you do? Steal my music?” Natalia asked Dallas, jokingly. She knew the song that was playing. It sounded like something from her collection. She listened carefully.
~Do you ever think, when youʹre all alone, all that we could be, where this thing could go, am I crazy or falling in love, is it real or just another crush. Do you catch a breath, When I look at you, are you holding back, like the way I do, cause Iʹm tryin, tryin to walk away, but I know this crush ain’t goin away...~
Dallas laughed. He sounded a little nervous. “What makes you say that?” He asked. He didn’t look at her as he said this.
“This is the stuff I like...you took my music didn't you!” Natalia smirked. “Shut up, Lia, and just dance with me. Will you?” Dallas laughed. He pulled her in towards him.
~I don't know where we're heading I'm willing and ready to go. We've been driving so fast we just need to slow down and just roll...~
Dallas would never tell her how he had gotten music. Dallas had called Derek...asking him what music Natalia liked. Derek, instead of answering the question, had given him Natalia's password on her computer.
Guiltily, Dallas had searched through her music and burned a few CDs. He was really at a loss for which artist she would have liked...at least that was how he justified it.
He had gone through her i-Tunes playlist. She had an extensive collection of Girls Aloud songs. Several artists on her list had been people he had never heard of. Cheryl Cole, Luigi Masi, Taio Cruz, The Saturdays, Alesha Dixon, and more. Of course, her music had been interesting. Who would have thought Natalia would have so many ballads and love songs on her computer.
She really was much too perceptive; having guessed that he had taken her music.
Dallas spun Natalia in a little circle, pulling her in. He heard her quiet laugh.
~Anything that's worth having. Is sure enough worth fighting for. Quittings out of the question. When it gets tough gotta fight some more. We gotta fight fight fight fight fight for this love...~
“Enjoying yourself?” Dallas asked. “Maybe...” Natalia answered, cryptically. “You should have just let me take you to prom.”
Natalia looked up, confused. “Why?” She asked. “Because you would have gotten to spend the night with your friends.” He told her. Natalia didn't say anything. Another song had started.
~Today this could be, the greatest day of our lives. Before it all ends, before we run out of time. Stay close to me, stay close to me. Watch the world come alive tonight...~
“No...I'm glad I didn't go to prom.” She told him. It was Dallas's turn to be puzzled. “Why?” He asked.
“Because you brought me here...and I get to spend the entire time with you.” She told him. Natalia pulled him in for a kiss.
The answer surprised him. He couldn't help but feel elated. She wanted to spend time with him...just him...Dallas couldn't help but smile at the thought.
“So thank you, Dallas.” She told him, once she let him go. “Anytime.” He told her. Dallas kissed her softly.
They danced well into the night. Dallas pulled Natalia in closer, never letting go.
~Stay close to me. Hold on. Stay close to me. Watch the world come alive tonight. Stay close to me. Oh, and the world comes alive. And the world comes alive. Watch the world come alive tonight. Stay close to me...~
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