Shawn smiled as he looked over at her, sensing the nervousness she was feeling. It meant a lot that she cared so much and she hardly knew him. He lifted her hand to his lips as he stopped at a red light, kissing it softly. “You need to relax Angel. And there’s nothing taboo really. Joe and Brenda just want to see me in something serious, something secure. I’m not exactly sure what you do or what your future plans are but I’m sure whatever you say will sound great. I think the important thing is to go over our history. How about we met in our Ancient Greek History class. Sounds promising and I’m actually taking a class like that. I don’t know what courses you’re in but feel free to talk about those, flaunt your intelligence because I’m sure you are very smart and they will love that. Talk about you future goals, if you don’t really have any which is really okay, make something up that sounds nice. Just don’t say you want to travel. I said that and they almost punched me out. Even though I’m still going to. Sound good?”
He laughed as he looked over to her and she tried to take it all in. As the pulled up to the restaurant, he leaned in and kissed her slowly, a large part of him wanting to turn the car around and spend more time with her in his bed. “You’ll be fine.” He winked at her as he got out of the car, opening the door for her as she took his arm. Shawn wasn’t one who spent more than one night with a girl but he needed help and he was thanking whatever God was out there that Dakota was willing to help him. He put on his best smile as he spotted his foster parents and slid his hand down to meet Dakota’s, taking her hand and giving it a light squeeze of reassurance. Clearing his throat as they approached the table, he shook his fathers hand and kissed his mothers cheek lightly. “Joe, Brenda, I’d like you to meet Dakota, my girlfriend. He smirked at their surprise and curiosity as the asked them to sit down and relax and tell them how they met.
Shawn cleared his throat, reaching across to squeeze Dakota’s hand lightly, signaling that he would take the reigns on this one. “Well, I walked into my Ancient Greek history class on the first day and I had my head down because I was trying to look through my syllabus from my last class and I bumped into someone on the way in. I bent down to pick up my papers and I looked up and found this gorgeous girl standing in front of me, apologizing when I was the idiot who wasn’t looking. She was the first girl to make me seem like an awkward dork as I sat next to her and tried to tell her my name without stuttering. And well when I finally did it all just went up from there. I grew a pair eventually and asked her out for coffee our next class and I mean then she couldn’t resist my charm. And now 5 months later, here we are and Mom, Dad, let me tell you, I’ve never more in love.” Shawn looked in Dakota’s eyes and smiled, momentarily ignoring his parents before looking back in them, smiling widely as he took in their faces: Joe with a proud smile on his face and Brenda with her hand clutching her chest with a smile. Damn I’m good. He thought as he took it in. He had even called them Mom and Dad. He would never say things like that, mostly due to the fact that he thought everything he said was bullshit and it wasn’t even true. He knew if Ryder was here he would be laughing like crazy and he smiled to himself, eager to tell his best friend later.
He looked up and winked at Dakota as she stared at him in surprise. Leaning over he whispered in her ear, “I’m a good actor Angel.” He pulled back as their food came and his parents started to ask Dakota questions about her life and her future goals just as he had assumed they would. He squeezed her hand one last time for reassurance before sitting back and waiting for her to do her part.
As hard as Shawn tried to calm her nerves, Dakota was only growing more anxious. She wasn’t the type of girl that guys brought home to Mommy and Daddy. She listened silently as he spoke about their fake history and made note of the story in case she would need to refer to it at any point during their upcoming lunch. No mention of travel. She could do that, even if that was what her plan was. God, how was she going to do this? She wasn’t even really in college. She was enrolled in a couple of night classes at the community college, but she spent most of her time waitressing and partying. She was going places, that’s for sure. Normally, she didn’t question her own plans, but when thrown into a situation like this, she began to realize that she might have to do some reevaluating.
Her eyes drifted closed as Shawn kissed her slowly. She wanted nothing more than to stay in the car with him or to go back to his apartment. They walked into the restaurant together and she tried to keep her heart race and nerves at bay. As they walked over to the table and found his parents, Dakota smiled and shook their hands. She was thankful for the dress that Shawn had picked out for her and for his pep talk. Maybe, just maybe she’d make it through this lunch alive. As the group sat down, she sipped at her water and nodded at Shawn when he squeezed her hand. The more talking he wanted to do, the better.
Dakota could barely believe the story that Shawn concocted. She couldn’t believe that his parents actually bought the story. She was impressed, to say the least. Leaning back in her chair, she was relieved that their food arrived. At least there would be a little something to break up conversation. She turned her attention to his parents. “Well, I’m taking a few classes here and there. Obviously, the Ancient Greek history course, with Shawn,” she started, wrapping her hands around his arm in a comforting gesture. She mustered up the best smile she could. “I live in a small apartment by myself and work part time.” Taking a deep breath, she started to poke at her chicken caesar salad. She let that little information sink in with his parents. She knew that she would have more to reveal about herself, so she needed time to compose herself.
Downing her second glass of water, she cleared her throat. “I’m studying to be an elementary school teacher. I love kids and I think I would really love to make a living teaching them so that I can help to make a difference in their lives. The way I look at it is this, if I could at least change one little child’s life then I’ve made a difference in the world.” The smile that followed was genuine. She actually wasn’t lying to try to impress the Pearsons. She had toyed with the idea of starting a real college education. And if she was to start college, she would most likely pursue a career in childhood education.
Shawn stepped away from the table for a moment, presumably to use the restroom. As he did so, Dakota panicked briefly. However, when his mother leaned across the table and whispered in her ear, the panic washed away. She did her best to control her laughter. He had no idea what was coming his way when he came back to the table. She turned her gaze to thee side and she caught Shawn’s eye as he strutted back to the table. She couldn’t peel her eyes away from him, but she didn’t worry too much. It would be natural for a girlfriend to stare at her boyfriend, especially when the boyfriend was as good looking as Shawn is.
He rejoined them at the table and moments later, there was a trio of waiters serenading the table. The tune of “Happy Birthday” rang out through the restaurant and a delicious looking slice of chocolate cake was placed in front of Shawn. He remained cool and calm, laughing slightly. When the waiters left, Dakota turned and kissed him on the cheek. “Happy birthday, pretty boy. We can celebrate just ourselves, later,” she said in a sultry whisper against the shell of his ear.