Regina kissed my cheek, rested her head on my shoulder, and then took my hand, appearing completely happy. Being the one paid to make her night marvelous, I felt I should be going out of my way to make sure she was having a great time. Instead, Jarod was pouring everyone drinks in the limo again. Regina did seem more content to hold onto me than to let me wait on her, so I supposed that I wasn’t failing my job entirely. I tried relaxing my mind and taking in the moment, despite being uncomfortable with how Regina’s body felt pressed against me. Jarod seemed to be doing quite well for himself by Laura who was resting her hand on his shoulder as they talked and sipped their sparkling grape juice. I smiled as I considered how Ai and Mai would surely find a way to be drinking alcohol despite being minors on the way to a school function. Those two were incorrigible.
I was taking in every detail of the limousine as best as I could manage with Regina caressing the back of my hand with her nails. The black, leather seat stretched behind Regina and I, curving across one side to beyond where Jarod and Laura sat. The other side was taken up by a large, backlit bar bearing drinks, glasses, and an assortment of hors d’oeuvres that only Jarod had touched. The lights directly above the seats were off, but the ceiling sparkled like stars from hundreds of tiny lights that seemed to be placed at random. There was a television on every wall playing through what appeared to be a tour of Venice at night from the perspective of a gondola drifting along the waters. “‘O Sole Mio,” one of Regina’s favorite songs, was quietly playing when I felt her hand rubbing my thigh. I looked down at her hand and tried to keep myself calm, but I saw her smiling at me with a look that made my pulse race as all of my senses were taking in the gorgeous girl at my side.
A sudden vibration in my left pocket from my phone getting a message seemed like a lifeline saving me from desires I wasn’t ready to face. Regina wasn’t even phased by the phone buzzing against her, but she looked amused by me leaping to check it. “Could be my parents. They don’t go to the school often, so they might be lost in the building.” I explained to her as I checked my phone. The text message was from father’s phone, but the message itself wasn’t.
Where are you? We’re inside and can’t see you. They gave me the camera! =D
❤ Aaliyah ❤
PS Your school smells funny.
“James, what is it?” asked Regina. “Aaliyah probably stole father’s phone. I doubt she’s ever been inside a public high school, so the place is umm… odd to her.” Regina wrapped her arms around me and said, “She’s too young to have any need for a high school, so that’s not surprising. I probably would’ve felt lost in such a big school at her age too. Still, she should know you’re busy.” The last part was followed by a smile that left me feeling uncomfortable again, so I hastily explained to her “Aaliyah’s actually in something more equivalent to college now. The girl can easily put me to shame on computer knowledge. I’m actually planning on asking her to help improve my website’s security and general design. Oh, and you should see her dance. Her form is absolutely perfect!” Regina seemed amused as she told me “Sounds like you have quite the crush there, James. Planning on seeing her often?” Regina had resumed caressing my thigh which was entirely too distracting.
Luckily, I was saved by the driver opening the door, signifying our arrival to the dance. I quickly stepped out and offered my hand to Regina, who took her time stepping out. I generally couldn’t decide whether a girl was purposely leaning forward to allow a guy peeks at what shouldn’t be seen or if such moments were entirely accidental. At that moment with Regina, I had no doubt she was perfectly aware of how her dress fit her body. She could make me uncomfortable on whim in that dress and seemed to be relishing in doing exactly that tonight. “Breathe.” I quietly told myself. I did my best to focus on the magic in the air for a distraction as I held Regina’s hand, not wanting to let her get the best of me so easily. I missed Jarod helping Laura out of the car as my choice of distraction proved to be even more distracting than I would have imagined.
Regina’s body was completely covered in residual magical energy giving her a soft golden glow, except where our hands met. I had no clue why, but there wasn’t any energy within several inches of me, which was exceptionally strange considering that physical movement without focus on manipulating the energy had no effect whatsoever on the energy. The initial breathing exercise Emma had taught me only appeared to move the energy through breath due to my focus on it, something I had only realized a couple days ago while practicing more than Emma would likely have approved. I reached out with my free hand and touched some of the energy. It vanished. “What are you doing? Are there bugs bothering you?” inquired Regina. Before I replied her expression changed as if she guessed what I was doing. “You’re playing with magic again, aren’t you?” she whispered. I nodded, and she shook her head with a sigh. “Not tonight, James. You must teach me later, but tonight we dance.”
“What are you two talking about? When did James start doing magic tricks?” asked Laura, who appeared quite confused. Jarod came to the rescue, kissing her head. A smile sprung to her lips and a rosy hue lit up her cheeks. “Let’s go in,” she said with a giggle. Regina and I looked at one another, smiled, and followed them inside. The idea that Regina could join in my magical training was a strange joy to me. I generally did enjoy her company and was very much accustomed to her presence, so having her struggling along with me in the study of magic seemed natural. There were so many times I wanted to talk with Jarod about what Emma was teaching, but I generally felt the need to hold back, not wanting to cause him further anxiety over not being able to do any of it yet. I knew Emma would gladly talk with me, but talking with someone who had been immersed in that world since childhood was different than talking with someone as awed as I was by its mere existence. Only when we were almost to the gym did I consider that Emma might not want another student.
Regina felt me tense for a second and looked concerned, but we continued walking after I gave her a smile. She guided me up to have our pictures taken first, leaving Jarod and Laura to wander out onto the dance floor without us. I definitely could see her touch everywhere around me. The Prom theme was “An Italian Paradise,” which was demonstrated throughout the gym with elaborate paintings by the school’s top artists portraying some of the most beautiful parts of Italy. The backdrop for pictures, a nearly photorealistic painting of the Italian Riviera, was probably done by Regina herself. Mother would definitely be talking with her about how beautifully everything turned out, assuming mother hadn’t already helped with some of it. I now knew not to underestimate the lengths the two of them would go when working together. Lost in my thoughts, I was almost late smiling for the picture, which I wouldn’t want even if I wasn’t being paid. Regina had obviously worked so very hard for this night. She deserved the best from it.
As we walked onto the dance floor, I couldn’t help noticing the various people watching us and whispering to one another. I knew our recent disagreements were part of common gossip, but I felt like most of the gym was watching. If Regina and I were going to have this much attention, then I would help her enjoy every moment of the spotlight. I decided not to hold back at all this dance and demonstrated what someone with years of success at competitive dancing could do when given the spotlight and a marvelous partner. In no time, the crowd gave us a wide berth with most of them simply watching rather than dancing themselves. When we went for refreshments after the fifth dance, we actually received an applause. Regina’s resplendent smile made the exuberant display completely worthwhile. I could tell that she truly was having a marvelous time. Jarod and Laura came over to sit with us carrying Regina’s shoes, which she had kicked off early in the dance.
“That was quite the fancy footwork,” said Jarod with a smile. “Well, I thought I’d let Regina lead, and we all know how crazy she can get when there’s a dance.” Regina playfully smiled and called me a liar while Laura giggled. Then several of our other friends started gathering around. Everyone seemed to be having a splendid time, and most of them thanked Regina directly for it. The money which paid for everything came from fundraisers she ran. The band was playing at a discounted rate as a favor to Regina’s father. I was feeling like a complete jerk for being paid to be her date. Any number of the guys would have gladly gone with her, and many probably deserved to far more than I did. I never had volunteered for any of the school events. Regina had always talked me into one or another as a favor to her. She was probably the single most effective and influential class president the school had ever seen, and I was the jerk she prodded along into helping make things work.
No one was surprised when Regina was elected Prom Queen, and I was feeling completely unworthy when I was elected King. Even if the school didn’t deserve better, Regina did. I smiled and did my part, but Regina could tell I was feeling down when we started the royal dance. “James, are you still upset that I tricked you into coming here even after all of this?” She looked worried as I gazed into her eyes, still tear-streaked from the joy she felt over us being elected together. “No. I…” I attempted to explain how sorry I felt for everything and how unworthy I was for a King. She put her finger over my mouth to quiet me and smiled at me before speaking. “You are all I’ve ever wanted since we met, and having you here is the most fantastic thing imaginable to me. You could’ve walked away when you saw me in the limo, but you didn’t. You came here. People love you. There are countless girls out there dying to be on your arm tonight, especially after what you’ve been pulling on the dance floor. Accept it and enjoy it. I’m the lucky one.”
I still felt guilty, but I couldn’t help smiling as those intense blue eyes gazed into mine. I was a very lucky guy. As the song came to an end, Regina wrapped her arms tighter around my shoulders, closed her eyes, and leaned up toward me. I closed my eyes as our lips met and enjoyed the sweet taste of her lip gloss as I felt her tongue lick my lips. I don’t know how long we were kissing, our lips finding new ways to connect, but even after such a perfect moment with her, I wasn’t able to ignore the fact that my phone seemed to suddenly be alive in my pocket. Regina was smiling gloriously, looking as if she might giggle with joy, and said, “Let’s go check it, Mr. Business.” We slowly walked to a table and sat down together near my parents and a strangely sad Aaliyah who was standing on a table and pointing father’s video camera at us. When I pulled out my phone, I had expected it to be lit with an incoming call after such a long period of continuous buzzing, but I found that I had received several hundred messages within the past minute. What in the world was happening?