Chapter 12

        When Michael arrived at the studio, he parked his car and proceeded inside. Despite Symphony telling him to call her when he arrived, he wasn't too sure if that still applied per their short, but essential conversation about where he should meet her.

       Approaching Studio-A, Michael saw Nicolae and Symphony hug, as he walked past the window of the control room. He knew they were bandmates and all, but there was something he didn't like about the guy. For starters, Nicolae had utterly ignored his existence when he interrupted his meet-up with Symphony at the cafe a few weeks ago.

       But at the same time, Symphony never introduced him to Nicolae either. He had been meaning to ask her if there were something more between the two but chose against doing so. Besides him feeling slighted by Nicolae and his brain jumping to conclusions, there wasn't any reason for him to think the two were more than just friends.

       Opening the door quietly, Michael stood patiently in the corner as Symphony finished up her conversation with Nicolae.

       "Sorry. I don't mean to rush, but I do have to get going now. I'm running late for a date," Symphony spoke briskly, as she made direct eye contact with Michael.

      Noticing Symphony's attention had shot to the corner behind him, Nicolae fumed inwardly when he turned around and saw Michael standing there. "Man! I don't believe this. Is she really dating him?" Nicolae shouted quietly inside of his head.

       Suddenly remembering she had forgotten to introduce Michael and Nicolae to one another, Symphony waved Michael over.

       As Michael approached Symphony, he gave her a small kiss on the cheek. It was something he would have done regardless of his feelings towards Nicolae, but he also wanted to make his position known— Symphony was off-limits to him or any other man for that matter.

       Just as Symphony was about to introduce the two, Michael extended his hand towards Nicolae and said, "Hey, I remember you from the cafe. I'm Dr. Black. It's so nice to meet a member of the band finally. I love you guys, music."

      Attempting to grasp Michael's hand into a firm handshake, Nicolae silently winced in pain when Michael tightened his hold before letting go.

       "Nice to meet you as well, Dr. Black. Symphony has told us so many wonderful things about your class. Thanks for digging our band," Nicolae replied cordially, as he stretched and shook his hand in attempts to rid himself of the pain Michael had inflicted upon him.

       Turning towards Symphony, Michael placed his hand around her waist and said,

       "I wish I could meet your other bandmates as well. Are they still here?"

       "Sorry, Michael. But you just missed them. I'll introduce you to the others at another time," she explained apologetically, "but um, I think we should get going."

       Extending his hand towards Nicolae once more, Michael smirked and said, "have a good night... It was great meeting you."

       Not wanting Michael to crush his hand again, Nicolae reached inside of his pocket for his cellphone. "Sorry, I have to take this," he lied, pretending to have received a call, "you two have a good- night."

       As Nicolae immediately headed for the door, both Symphony and Michael chimed simultaneously in return, "good-night."

      Eyeing Michael curiously, Symphony said, "weren't you supposed to call me when you got here?"

      

        "Sorry, Symphony. But I wasn't too clear on what I was to do. You hung up on me."


       "Oh shit. I'm sorry, Michael. I have a massive headache and had to square away some things with the band. I wasn't thinking clearly."


      "It's alright. Is there anything I can do to help with your headache? We could always reschedule our date if you like?"


       "No-- but thanks. I took a some aspirin a few moments ago. Hopefully, they'll kick in quickly. I hope we're not going anywhere too noisy."


       "Aww. I hope you'll feel better soon. And where I'm taking you is a surprise. It's very peaceful and tranquil."


       "Thanks... I hope so too. I had a bit too much to drink last night," she laughed. "I'm such a lightweight."

      Michael smiled sympathetically. "So am I, but I only felt bad in the morning. But come on... Let's get going. It's getting pretty late."

       While Michael was driving, Symphony became a little weary when she noticed they were descending upwards onto a crooked path. It was pitch black outside, and no other cars were in plain sight for miles. When she heard a loud howling sound, she jumped in her seat.

       "Where are you taking me?" she whispered, her heart pounding in fear.

       Michael chuckled. "Ooooh, are you thinking I'll turn into a monster and eat you?"

       Her eyes widening in slight terror, she tried to speak, but nothing came out.

       "Oh, come on, Symphony! You're safe with me. I'd never let anything happen to you, and I'd most certainly never hurt you," he smiled tenderly, taking her hand in his, as he kept the other firmly on the steering wheel.

       After realizing she had probably watched Michael's spooky short film, 'Thriller', more than enough times throughout her life, she laughed to herself and began to relax. And it wasn't as though she didn't trust him. But after all, she was a woman out alone in the middle of nowhere with a man she hadn't known very long—she had every reason to be a bit apprehensive.

       As they neared the edge of a small cliff, Michael parked his car in place.

       "Ta-da! We're here!" he chimed humorously.

       "And where is here?" Symphony huffed, looking out of the window.

       Enveloping her into his arms, he told her to look out at the sky ahead.

       After doing as he suggested, she gasped at the sight of a thousand or more twinkling stars shining bright across the night sky.

       "Amazing, isn't it?" he spoke low, turning her face towards his.

      "It is," she replied quietly in return.

      "How's your head feeling? Any better?" he spoke with care.

      "It's feeling much better now. Thanks for asking."

       As they returned to their sky gazing, they remained silent for the next 10 minutes or so. It had been a long time since either of the two had relaxed in the comfort of a potential love interest arms without having sex beforehand.

       After several more minutes of silence passed between them, Michael was the first to speak. "This is one of my favorite places to visit. I love seeing the night sky lit up like this."


     "So do I, Michael. It's wonderful! With living in the city, it's something we don't get to see very often and never like this. There are too many lights and air pollutants, taking away from the earth's natural wonderment."


       "Exactly, I wonder how many people stop to look up at the sky anymore? We have all this beauty surrounding us, and it's constantly being destroyed."


       Slowly but reluctantly easing Symphony out of his arms, Michael sat upright. He had one more thing to show her. After getting out of the car, he went over to the passenger's side and opened the door for her.

       "Come on! I have something really neat to show you," he yelled excitedly, taking her by the hand.

       Symphony chuckled. "Only if you promise not to eat me."

      Licking his lips slowly, he teased through a wolfish grin. "Are you sure about that? It could be quite fun for both of us."

       "Incredulous!" Symphony blurted at the double entendre, as she playfully rolled her eyes and said, "I'm going to ignore that."

       But who was she fooling, she thought? After her steamy dream about him, she wouldn't have minded one bit if he took her right then and there in the middle of the woods. With every fiber in her body set ablaze, she was surprised she hadn't knocked him to the ground and had her way with him.

       As they continued to walk in the desolate woods with the moon being their only source of light, Symphony squealed at the beautiful sight before them—a sea of flickering fireflies mingling above a glittering pond.

       "Neat, isn't it?" he smiled.

       "It is... I've never seen so many in one place."

       Turning to face her, he gently placed his hands on either side of her face. As the sound of singing crickets serenaded them with their intermittent chirping, he put a soft closed-mouthed kiss on her lips.

      While she enjoyed the kiss, and so did he. She felt some slight hesitation from him. Staring deep into his eyes, she spoke soft and tender. "Is everything ok?"

       "Yes, everything is fine. I just... I know this is going to sound crazy, but I haven't kissed a woman on the lips in over four years," he spoke low in a hushed tone.

       "It doesn't sound silly at all. However, I am a little confused. You do have a bit of a reputation, you know?"

       Michael laughed nervously. "Ok, I'll be honest with you. I do enjoy the pleasures of a woman now and again. But I've never kissed any of them on the lips."

      "So, I'm the first woman you've kissed in four years?"

       "You are," he blushed, "And what have you heard?"

       "Things... But let's leave this topic alone. Let's focus on the here and now, shall we?"

       "Sounds good... Let's get headed back to the car before the wolves descend upon us," he teased.

       Once they were back inside of his car, he presented two champagne glasses.

        "Oh, Michael... This is the reason my head hurts. I'm sorry but I can't--"

       "Relax, I brought orange juice," he giggled, "It should help with your hangover."

      Feeling slightly offended, Symphony crossed her arms and said, "I do not have a hangover, sir."

       "But you said it yourself... You're a light-weight," he chuckled while filling her glass. "Here, taste it and tell me what you think?

       Before taking a sip, she paused and said, "don't try and change the subject... I've never been drunk a day in my life."

      "Maybe? Or maybe not. But you have to admit, we both got a little tipsy last night."

       Knowing he was correct, Symphony kept quiet and took a swig of the juice.

       "Oh my gosh! This tastes amazing. Where did you buy it?"

       "Buy? No-no. I made this! There's a local organic orchard I buy oranges from every Saturday. I love orange juice and prefer to make my own— The fresher, the better."

       After taking another sip, she yelped, "Wow! Is there anything you can't do?"


       "Lot's, but I'm glad you like it. You can have the rest if you'd like."


      "Aww! Thanks, Michael. But are you sure?"


      "Yes! You probably need it more than I do," he laughed, pointing towards her head.

      Punching him in the arm lightly, she chuckled and said, "You know what? Because this juice is absolutely divine, I'm going to let that one slide."

       After their date was over, Michael took Symphony back to the studio so she could retrieve her car. Since he didn't feel comfortable with her driving alone at such a late hour, he asked if he could follow her home. Initially, Symphony protested as to not wanting to take up any extra time of his, but she knew he wouldn't take no for an answer, and eventually told him 'yes.'

       Once they arrived at her home, he walked her to the front door, unlike after their friendly outing to the theater a couple of weeks ago. At that time, his resolve was much weaker. And though his body still craved her, he enjoyed getting to know her before getting between her legs. It had been a long time since he had adequately courted a woman, and the whole experience had him feeling like he was on cloud 9.

        "Thank-you... I had a nice time tonight," Symphony beamed in delight.

       "I did as well, beautiful... Have a good night."

       As Michael turned to walk away,

he felt a small tap on his shoulder, causing him to swiftly turn around.

       Taking him by surprise, Symphony placed a soft closed-mouth kiss on his lip's and said, "what's the ending of a perfect date without a good-night kiss."

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