Dave and Jean took the elevator up to the terrace. When they stepped out, it was as if they were transported to a whole new world.
Calling it a grand party with exquisite lighting would have been an injustice to the spectacle that lay before their eyes. To their far right, a DJ was playing loud music while a small group of people grooved to the beats. On the far left of the elevator, a bar had been set up where a few people were enjoying drinks in varied glass sizes. Tables and chairs had been set up temporarily to accommodate people tired from dancing and also for couples looking to enjoy a quiet private moment.
But the party was given an ethereal look by the lights that shone above. A plethora of tiny lights lit up the clear moonless sky. They were laid out in symmetrical vertical and horizontal patterns forming a large ‘net’. These lights were in sync with the DJ’s music and danced as if they had a life of their own.
A large gathering of people had gathered in the center and was talking to someone partly hidden due to his short height. Dave and Jean made their way over to the gathering. Raul spotted the couple and pushed and shoved his way to the periphery of the circle to meet the couple.
“I can’t begin to tell you how delighted I am on seeing you both. Glad you could come”, said a jubilant Raul.
“It was our pleasure. I must say though you sure know how to throw a party. Happy Birthday” said Jean, handing Raul his present. After they exchanged pleasantries Raul went over to the bar and signaled Dave to come alone.
“I will get us something to drink. Till then why don’t you make yourself comfortable”, Dave pointed to a just vacated table.
As soon as Dave was within an arms-length of Raul, Raul yanked him close so that no one would eavesdrop. “Why don’t you ask her out tonight? The setting is fantastic and you could not have asked for a better moment” asked Raul excitedly in his typically Spanish accent.
Dave was taken aback by the gravity of the question and looked at Raul with shell-shocked amusement. Even though he had been contemplating the same thing for quite some time, he did not have the guts to say it to Jean.
“I-I don’t know what to say. She could reject me and I would lose her company too”, Dave hesitated. He knew his chances of being accepted by Jean were pretty slim.
“You have to try amigo. You won’t know unless you speak it up. Maybe she is waiting for you to make the first move. Girls love confident men.”
“Let’s see about that. I haven’t really given it much thought” lied Dave. Raul caught him within a second.
“Don’t worry, just go back there and tell her what you feel. I am sure it will work out.”
Dave made his way back to Jean holding two glasses of cocktail. Jean had found an old friend of hers, Celina. Celina greeted Dave and went on ahead to afford Dave and Jean time together.
Dave decided he would play it out a bit and see how things worked; if they went well, then he would ask her out or else he would wait a bit longer. They chatted for a bit and then decided to dance. Though Dave was a hopeless dancer, the thought of being in close proximity to Jean was an opportunity he did not want to give up. Jean danced majestically. It was as if while creating her God made sure that there would be no department in which she would lack others. All in all, they both had a great time. Seeing her so happy Dave decided that he could take a chance.
They were at the far end of the terrace near the DJ’s table when Dave’s roommate called. Dave excused himself and went over to a quieter area of the terrace. The call was to inform him that his roommate had forgotten his key inside the apartment. As a result, he was outside in the corridor and was asking Dave to come and open the apartment. Dave had to make a choice. In the end, he decided that he would help his friend and be back with Jean as quickly as possible. He walked back to Jean. She was still dancing around alone to the music being played.
But then destiny intervened.
“I am having a great time Dave. I would love to spend some more time here” Jean said as soon as he reached here. She pulled him in and signaled him to catch the beat.
“Yeah, I enjoyed too. But unfortunately, I have to leave. My partner forgot his key” said Dave clearly irritated that he would have to leave Jean for a while. “I will be back in an hour.”
“Ok, then I will hang around with Celina till you are back.” Her bubbly enthusiasm had deflated a bit. Seeing her sad Dave began having second thoughts about his idea of asking her out. But he knew he had to stay strong and say it to her tonight.
Her eyes had that unmistakable happiness of making the right decision which her lips were yet to convey.
“Care to walk me to the elevator?” Dave offered his arm.
“Yeah sure,” said Jean offering a half-hearted smile which didn’t have even one-tenths of the intensity of her usual sparkling smile.
“What I am about to say to you should not, in any way, affect our friendship.”
“It won’t” assured Jean, squeezing his arm. Dave let out a sigh and began speaking what he had been rehearsing for the past week.
“Jean I have been thinking about us and how we are so different yet so alike. From the day you walked into my life, it has been nothing short of a fairytale dream. Spending that amount of time for an ordinary person like me, with a beautiful woman like you, is something people can only wish for. If only you could see through my eyes how beautiful you look. As much as I like your outer appearance, it is your truly pristine heart that has made me fall for you. I have never seen someone who is so concerned about my well-being. Whenever I see you, it gives me a boost of energy and I smile from within.”
Jean withdraw her arm and walked beside Dave solemnly. Dave got scared that he had messed it up big time.
“If it would have been any other girl I would never have had the courage to speak up. But for me, you are not just any other girl. You are special to me. I really wouldn’t feel bad if you choose someone else who is better looking than me.”
Silence. Jean looked into space ahead, deep in thought. Dave went on, now ferociously sweating in the cool breeze that blew. He was walking sideways all the while looking at Jean.
“But I do hope that we would still have the occasional lunch together and spend time like we do now.”
Still silence. This was beginning to freak out Dave.
They had reached the elevator and Dave pressed the elevator button. That wait till the elevator came up seemed like an eternity. Neither one of them spoke a word. Dave quietly got into the elevator and turned around to face Jean who was still looking at her feet unsure of what to say.
“I really like you, jean. With all my heart, there is nothing in this world that would make me happier than going out with you” said Dave.
As the doors started sliding shut, Jean finally looked up to Dave. Her eyes showed how overwhelming the situation was. The door began to slide shut and Dave knew the inevitable answer. Dave was deeply worried that he had messed up their friendship.
But then destiny intervened.
Just as the elevator door was about to completely slide shut, he heard a loud tingggg of someone pressing the elevator button. He looked up to see her.
There she stood with a slight smile on her pretty face. Her eyes had that unmistakable happiness of making the right decision which her lips were yet to convey. Dave and Jean looked at each other as if they meant the world to one another.
The door slid open and she stepped into the elevator.