There was a lot happening around her that, if she was being totally honest with herself, she found a bit overwhelming. Everything from her pairing being someone who, up until just a few moments ago, didn’t know all that well. She knew Oliver, of course, but only through passing glances. She didn’t interact with that particular crowd he often rolled with. She always saw him with Raven, the girl whose three names confuse Stella. Every time she would try and guess which name was the right one, she just found herself drawing a blank. Then again, Stella didn’t really talk to Raven or Oliver enough to wage whether either of them was particularly fond of her. She knew how she could be. And what was even worse for the poor girl, she wasn’t even sure what to make of it all.
And of course, Kavi’s words about how she was least likely to get laid of the three seemed to bother her more than it should’ve. Okay, sure Stella wasn’t like a lot of girls at the school - especially not if the rumors were true about that XiXi girl. And definitely nowhere near the levels of some of the guys in their class (yeah she’s looking at you, Kavi Salvador), but that didn’t mean she wouldn’t be up for it. If Oliver was a gentleman or if they clicked, she wouldn’t turn it down, but there was just something about the way he dismissed the possibilities of her ever getting laid with Oliver was what had the brunette in a rare state of equal annoyance and irritation. Okay, both were the same, but to Stella, they were two sides of two very different coins.“Kavi can be a jerk all he wants. I’m not gonna be unlaid come next week. He can bet!”
Stella told herself, huffing as she went to eat her salad.
And as her own words of encouragement drove the girl to chomp hard on her leafy greens, from behind her, she heard Oliver speak to her. "Stella, my darling. Any chance we could discuss the news over lunch?"“Oh,”
Stella managed to utter a single word, though she said it a surprised, almost-hushed tone, so it was practically mute at this point. “I mean, hey, yeah! Go ahead and join me,”
she said to the blonde teen, gesturing him to take a seat at the empty table she was sitting at. “What’s on your mind?””Nothing much,”
he replied, taking the seat across from her. ”I figured that since we're being forced to go to homecoming together, we better make the best of it. So… uh… did you already have a dress picked out or anything?”
Stella smiled at Oliver, though there was a moment where she thought he didn’t know her at all. Even at a passing glance, it was obvious what kind of girl that she was. “I had mine picked out since labor day. My Aunt Florence took me shopping in New York,”
she told Oliver with a smile. “Do you have your tux? Or are you one of those blazer kinds of guys?”
She asked him.
A special shopping trip to New York? Wow. ”In all honesty, I was planning on sitting this one out,”
he said laughing. ”But definitely more of a tux guy. I'll try and pick one out real soon. Did you want my tie to match your dress or anything?”
On that note, Stella instantly perked up, a smile that could light up the stars went off. It was as if her wishes of the perfect date had finally been answered. So, as her brown eyes sparkled with an imaginary shade of bright orange like a sun within the night sky, she pulled out her phone. “This is the dress my aunt got for me. They even photographed me and everything. It’s lavender, so if you could get something similar. Maybe a lavender tie with a darker shade of purple. Or maybe cornflower blue with a lavender tie!”
Stella found herself thinking out loud. After the second suggestion, her mouth kept rambling on and on as if it faded into white noise, though her voice certainly would carry.
Nodding along as she spoke, Oliver’s eyes widened as he looked at the picture. ”Dayum… You look freaking stunning. Well, I mean, you always do, but anyway.”
He cleared his throat, taking a moment to think. ”I actually love cornflower blue, but are you against bowties? That's a bit more my style than a tie.”
She didn’t know why, but when he called her stunning, her cheeks turned a shade closer to strawberry red rather than the fleshy tone of peach her skin has always been post-makeup time. This alone had her looking at Oliver in a new light. The words Kavi had spoken to her started to fade as Stella was now actually starting to see Oliver as someone she could see herself with. To hell with Lucas Anderson,
she thought to herself, the thought itself taking her by surprise. Was she really that kind of girl now? It was her fault for not following up with Lucas, wasn’t it? No, that wasn’t why. She didn’t follow up that night with him because she found out he was Diablo’s best friend. She didn’t want anything to do with him, so she punished Lucas for it. Oh God! I’m just like all those bitches from those mean girls-type shows..
Completely beside herself, Stella just tossed those thoughts out of her mental window as she chose to focus on Oliver - sweet, sweet Oliver. “I love bowties! And you’d look super cute in one, I’m sure of it!”
She couldn’t believe she actually said that, but to her surprise, Stella wasn’t going to take it back. She just smiled at Oliver, slightly batting her full eyelashes at the blonde teen.
Everything was going so smoothly. Stella was just as great as he had always imagined and heard about - though he would admit he was still a tad curious about the rumors of what a party girl she could be. Most of the others were probably at their appointed partners throat. Some of those pairings had been interesting, to say the least. He noticed her blushing and felt a small sense of accomplishment. His passing for straight was working. (Well, it had been working for the last eighteen years, but you get the point.) And he had gotten her approval for the bowtie! ”So…”
Oli said thoughtfully, squinting his eyes slightly in concentration. ”Excellent homecoming partner, check. Wardrobe, check…. Was there anything you wanted to do beforehand? I known of this great Japanese joint about fifteen minutes from the school.”“Wait, you mean Kiyoshi’s Sushi Bar!?”
Stella had to ask. If true, then she loved him even more than she was starting to already.
He laughed seeing how her face lit up in excitement. ”Yeah, that's the one. I freaking love that place.”Oh. My. God!
Yeah, Stella was practically freaking out right now but in the best of ways. They were so in sync that they might as well be saying Bye Bye Bye!
to this place and make a beeline for the sushi bar. How could someone be so perfect for her and she not even know they really existed? Well, she knew about Oliver - that was a no duh, but what she didn’t know was, in the ten minutes they’ve been talking, she has gotten to know him more than she thought she was gonna. They were, if anything, one of the best pairings to come out of this arranged ordeal.“I love-love-love-love their spicy tuna roll. It’s so yummilicious!”
This was starting to get a little crazy - but in a good way. Stella had excellent fashion taste, shared the love for his favorite restaurant, and was actually quite… adorable. If he was into girls, she would most definitely be his type. ”That one definitely makes my top three. It's delicious.”
Still thinking, he ran his fingers through his hair. They had discussed wardrobe and dinner plans. That was about it for homecoming plans. Oliver found that small factoid to be disappointing. He really enjoyed talking to Stella. ”Was there anything you wanted to add?”
he asked, out of ideas to keep the conversation going. “Oh, uh, there is something,”
Stella said, though she hesitated from saying anything further. A part of her grew embarrassed, her cheeks unintentionally flushing a slightly darker shade of pink. “You’ll have to pick me up. My dad is - how to put this gently - over-excited for homecoming. When I told you my aunt took me to NYC for shopping, what I left out was that my dad came along and he picked out all of the possible dresses.”
She seemed to be regretting this particular mention. She loved her father, but he was way too excited for his own good. “So, when I got my dress, he told me that whoever my date is, they have to pick me up and meet him, my mom, my Aunt Florence, Uncle Wesley, and basically the entire Lambert clan.”
She could feel a familiar anxiety building up as she went to a mental place that made her think this would scare him off.
Well, it wasn't the scariest thing he had ever done or been propositioned, but it was definitely up there on the list. He hardly knew Stella personally, and here he was more or less invited to meet her whole family. It couldn't be that bad though, could it? All of his friends mom's had always liked him. Dads had always seemed indifferent. There were worse things in life that could happen. However, meeting the family meant he would have to keep his sass toned down to a minimum. Or maybe her family was super sassy too, and they could all just have one huge sass party. Okay dude, chill. You're anxious. You're over thinking. It's okay.
Regaining his mental composure, he smiled at her reassuringly before speaking. ”Honestly, Stella? I really don't see a problem with that.””Well, uh, well shit..”
That was the only thing that had made it out of her mouth and it was so unbecoming for someone like Stella. She hardly ever cussed and when she did, it usually was in a positive manner. Her brother, cousins, father, and friends all had a sailor’s tongue, but she never showed signs until now. Truly, when she was as taken aback by something someone says, she really didn’t know what to say. That was exactly what was happening right now. She half-expected Oliver to be jittery or be overconfident about it. She also thought he was going to back out. This obviously wasn’t the case.
Collecting herself, Stella coughed, letting out a few, short, awkwardly-nervous laughs as she fixated on the eyes that, at this moment, felt like they were the only thing able to calm her down. “I mean, if you really don’t mind my family’s erraticness, then I guess it’s a date..”
She uttered slowly, a smile of relief forming where anxiety previously resided.
Oliver grinned. This had truly gone way better than expected. ”Sounds good to me. Now, if you'll excuse me, I gotta go catch up with Martha,”
he said grabbing his things.
“Wait!” She stopped him real quick, “let me give you my number,” she said, pulling out her iPhone 9. “Ya know, just so you can text me or whatever.””God, yeah,”
he said, laughing a bit and handing her his phone in return. ”Almost forgot that. I feel like such an idiot now.”
She waved up her hands. “Oh, no it’s my goof! I should’ve asked for it before now,”
she told him, holding up his phone and taking a selfie
, and set it as the pic that came up whenever she would call him or text. “And done. I even added a cute-ass selfie for you too.”
There she went cursing again. And what’s this? She winked at him. God, Stella what is up with you?
Oliver smiled, looking down at his phone and seeing the picture. ”Awesome. I'll catch you later, Stel,”
he said pocketing his phone and turning to walk away.
When she was left to her lonesome, Stella was gushing and just staring at her phone with Oliver’s picture there as well. Well, it was a quick shot from earlier, but she had it and goddamn he was cute. His blonde hair, his eyes, his dimples - everything about him made her feel all warm and fuzzy inside. She hasn’t felt this way about anyone since the days she and Santiago were dating. Okay, so it wasn’t dating in the traditional sense, but they went out on a date or two and she thought he actually liked her, but now? She really felt like Oliver liked her in the way she has always wanted a guy to like her.“It’s just perfect!”
She squeed to herself, getting up as she knew the first person she just had to tell!