“Oh my god…”
Leon quietly exclaimed, patting and rubbing his belly, “I had no idea that food could be so tasty...or that one person could yell so loud.”
The two having left the restaurant not too long ago, walked down the Las Vegas strip, a small way to burn off the calories of the lunch that they ate, or rather Leon practically inhaled. It cost a small fortune, but they were in Vegas and it’s not like he was going back anytime soon to eat there, or burp up for a second very appreciative tasting. He definitely appreciated Val’s recommendation to go eat there and though he was fairly comfortable in his workout clothes he was strongly
advised to wear something at least slightly more ‘formal’
. Turning to his food companion he piped up, “Did you ever have risotto before that? I didn’t even know you could turn rice into basically a cheese pudding with toppings!”“Right?!”
the cheerful Val in the short denim dress, white sneakers and round sunglasses
responded, with an ear to ear grin that seemed to be permanently etched on her face. Suggesting lunch at Hell’s Kitchen had proven to be a fantastic way to finally put aside the awkwardness of their prom date and go back to the way things used to be between her and Leon, with the added bonus of some extraordinary cuisine. Of course, not being surrounded by an entourage of people certainly helped matters (at least in Val’s case). “What about that steak, though? I swear to God, I never understood the concept of meat ‘melting in your mouth’ until I took a bite out of that filet mignon.”“I could probably die happy after having a meal like that, but...kind of stinks we didn’t even get dessert before he closed down the restaurant though…”
The unfortunate side effects of Hell’s Kitchen, piss off the chef too much and everyone pays for it...well not literally. Pondering his thoughts, Leon locked his hands behind his head, “Maybe we could get some ice cream or something? It is pretty warm out…”
Leon didn’t care much for things of a ‘frufy’ nature, but something about that meal made the prospect of going for cheap, frozen treats almost not worth it. Idling close by, his eyes caught a brochure stand near a bus stop and he decided to inspect it. His eyes glazing over the different titles and colorful thoughts, maybe something would stand out that might sound better than just the ol’ razzle dazzle of ice cream. Out of everything in the stand though, one thing did stand out, two simple words, ‘Helicopter Tours’. Like the cat killed by curiosity, Leon pulled the brochure out and quickly scanned it’s contents. Vegas strip tours… Grand Canyon… Night time city lights…
Immediately a grin planted itself on his face as he got an idea, “Hey, think you could wait here for a couple of minutes? I need to make a phone call.”
Before even giving Val the chance to respond he started to walk away, all the while grabbing his phone to dial in the number on the cover of the brochure. “Hey, I saw your ad about sunset tours? Does that picnic come with just dessert?”
Within about 30 minutes Leon had booked an open tour, called an Uber and both he and Val were on a helicopter in the sky, flying over the city, with the sun hanging over the horizon. “This is pretty freaking cool right?”
He yelled to Val over his headset, the whirring of the helicopter blades only partially muffled. If the brochure and flight crew had it right, they were going to be flying out over the city, to a secluded part of the area called ‘Black Canyon’ to watch the sunset and eat some kind of fancy treats. “We got pretty lucky with this, too. I guess someone else booked for today, but cancelled at the last minute.”
When Leon had told Valeria that he’d be taking her on a ‘surprise adventure’, the girl had been her usual skeptical self. The buff boy wasn’t exactly known for being creative, so a part of her was expecting that his idea of a ‘surprise’ would be something sports-related, like a basketball museum or even visiting some fancy gym he found online. However, she was pleased to be proven wrong this time around, and highly intrigued by what her friend could possibly have under his sleeve. When they arrived at their destination and Val realized what they would be doing, the short girl couldn’t contain her excitement.“I can’t believe we’re actually doing this!”
she cried out, grinning widely at him. “I’ve never been on a helicopter ride before! This is so fucking awesome!”“Same here, I didn’t think they’d be this loud though! Good thing they gave us these things!”
He shouted pointing to his headset. It wasn’t long after that the pilot informed them of their destination coming up. Looking out the window, all Leon saw was a vast expanse of rocky terrain overlooking a canyon, and try as he might he didn’t see anything that resembled where they might get some dessert. Thinking on it, the brochure did
say that the area they were headed to was secluded, maybe it was underground and would pop up like the villain’s base in a James Bond movie. “I know it’s not Hell’s Kitchen, but hopefully where we’re going for dessert is going to be amazing!”“Are you kidding me?! This is so much cooler than Hell’s Kitchen!”
she shouted back. As if dining at a fancy restaurant could ever top a fucking private helicopter ride
The helicopter slowly descended and landed upon the rocky plateau of the canyon and the two were led along a trail to their destination. The air was still warm from the sun beating down all day, but was slowly beginning to cool as it descended down towards the horizon. After a few minutes of brisk hiking, able to take in their surroundings, they were brought towards a small table situated on flat terrain. It was just big enough for two, with a chair on either side, white tablecloth, plating and silverware, adorned with a single vase containing a small bouquet of red roses. This was unexpected in both fanciness and seclusion, how Leon hadn’t seen it on the way in, he was unsure, but perhaps that was the majesty of the terrain. As for the table setting, well his only real experience in ‘fine dining’
was only an hour or so ago at lunch so maybe this was just another level of sophistication he didn’t understand. The two sat down and before a word could be said, a bottle of champagne was opened and poured in their empty glasses and they were informed the chef would be with them shortly.
Leon looked at the glass curiously, it wasn’t that he didn’t
drink alcohol, but they hadn’t even carded or anything, maybe they got special service or something? “You think he was talking about that guy who was riding shotgun in the helicopter?”
Leon asked as he lifted the glass to inspect the slowly rising bubbles.“I don’t know, but I’m not complaining,”
the smug girl answered, clinking her glass against Leon’s before taking a long sip of champagne.
He jumped back a little at the clink, preoccupied by his filled glass, but as Val took in her sip he felt it cordial enough to take on himself, the fizzy, somewhat dry and bitter drink flowing down his throat.
For the next few minutes, Valeria remained quiet as her brown eyes scanned their surroundings. There was something to be said about the beauty of the canyons, with mountains upon mountains of red rocks and vegetation stretching out in front of them under a blue, yellow, and orange sky, while The Strip and all its adventures seemed to gracefully fade into the distance. Although the day had been warm before, the altitude provided them with a comfortable breeze that played with Val’s long, dark locks of hair. Meanwhile, the retreating sunlight basked the pair and everything around them in a warm, comforting glow. “This place is beautiful, isn’t it?”
she mused aloud, still admiring their breathtaking view.
Leon smiled as he watched Val relax for a moment, sometimes she was so high strung that it was a pleasure to actually watch her be calm for a moment of time. It’s not to say that their day wasn’t great, she was smiley and giggly and laid back, but this moment, right here, it was a good one in and of itself. “Yea, it sure is,”
he chuckled, taking another sip.
It wasn’t long before their ‘esteemed chef’ appeared before them and introduced himself, “Bonjour, welcome to the Black Canyon. My name is Andrew, and it is my pleasure to be serving you this evening. I understand I am preparing you a delicacy of the dessert variety, I hope you will both enjoy it!”
So polite and again, fancy
, Leon was rather excited to be here with Val. With things having been so weird between the two of them lately, this was a rather refreshi-“So how long have you two lovebirds been together?”
Chef Andrew asked the pair with a polite smile....Wait..wut?
Valeria, who had been excitedly anticipating for the chef to start working on what she knew would be a five-star dessert, was throwing for a loop at the older man’s question. “I’m sorry… Come again?”
she heard herself asking with wide eyes, curiosity getting the best of her. Did he mean what she thought he meant?
Leon found himself rather stunned by the question, only bits and pieces of it made sense to him, maybe he just meant, ‘how long had they known each other?’ “Since the beginning of high school. Freshman year, actually…”
Despite the answer, his emotion was rather deadpan as his brain continued to wrack itself trying to understand the question he was being asked.“Oh, so you two are highschool sweethearts?”WAIT...WUT???!?!?!
Oh, he definitely
meant what Val was thinking.
Giggling, the young woman decided to just go with it. “Yup, we sure are!”
she answered cheerfully, giving the chef a bright smile as she placed her hand over Leon’s. It was Vegas, after all, so why not have a little fun with things rather than make things awkward with the truth?
Leon’s expression was a mixture of confusion-- okay, mostly confusion. But there was also surprise. He wasn’t really expecting this and Val was… Val was definitely doing a thing that Leon wasn’t sure how to comprehend. When she placed her hand on his, he stared at it, mouth slightly agape.“Sir, are you alright?”
Leon turned to him, mouth still hanging a bit, “Uh huh,”
he nodded in a rather affirmative motion. He wasn’t sure what was happening, but rather than get any more weirded out than he was, he just rolled with whatever situation he was thrown into. “It’s great, just...the best!”
Without thinking, he placed his free hand on top of hers and clasped it gently, just going with the moment.
Grinning, the young woman turned to Leon with soft, affectionate eyes. For the first time in four years, Val would be able to truly experience what being his girlfriend could be like- even if it was just by playing pretend for a little while. This chance was certainly the opportunity of a lifetime. “Being with him has made these the best four years of my life, without a doubt. I can’t complain.”
she told Chef Andrew, keeping her eyes on Leon. He’d know what she was saying wasn’t a lie this time.“I…”
He felt somewhat choked and at the same time, Val kept looking in such a comfortable way that he felt a little relaxed, “I can definitely agree with that.”
If not somewhat awkwardly, he did manage a smile, he did enjoy being in Val’s company even if it was… whatever this
As he looked at Val, and she looked right back at him with their fingers still gently grazing over each other, the chef brought them their dessert: a decadent chocolate cake in the shape of a decorative heart, with a few strawberries strewn around it for decoration. Leon’s eyes grazed over the cake, partially hungry, partially confused, before he raised his gaze back towards Valeria, who was staring in awe at the delicacy in front of them. Without wasting any time, the two picked up their spoons and dug in.
To nobody’s surprise, the dessert was gone in less than five minutes, but the best friend duo spent the rest of their time talking, laughing, and simply enjoying each other’s company without a care in the world. It was refreshing to know that, even after her weird behavior and the tense atmosphere between them after the prom night sisterzone fiasco, they were able to easily fall back to their old dynamic. It certainly further convinced Val that she’d done good in attending the trip.
Finally, it was time for them to return back to the group. But before they left, the day had one more treat under its sleeve…“Alright you two!”
Chef Andrew exclaimed with a smile, pulling out a camera, “How about we take some photos of your date before we go back?”
Valeria gave Leon a quick look, but wasted no time in standing up, pulling him up along with her, and dragging him in the direction of the nearby cliffs. Without missing a beat, he started taking pictures, flash after flash on the sweet young couple, with the breathtaking view of the sunset in the canyon behind them. Leon stared at the camera somewhat unfazed, while Val with the brightest of smiles, both of them closely holding each other by the waist.“Now, how about a kiss?”
The chef asked, raising the camera’s lens towards his eye to grasp the perfect shot.“Um…”
the young woman hesitated for a second, looking up at Leon with nervous, questioning eyes. “Are you fine with that?”
she asked him in a small, rather shy tone of voice, her cheeks flushed.
She was...so innocent, and red, and yet, could he just... was his face just as flush as… “It’s not like...I’m..you’re just someone I...I…”
his mouth hung open, unable to speak. Was this really happening?
Well… It's now or never, Val.
The short girl swallowed hard, took a deep breath and stood in her tiptoes. She took a second to take in Leon’s handsome features, focusing on the way his blue eyes were shining in the dusk sunlight, before closing her own eyes, cupping his face with one hand and pressing her full lips against his.
And all Leon felt in that moment was the flashing of the camera as he kissed back his best friend.