The Ruby Perrin Memorial Park transformed into a winter wonderland of sorts, and would without a doubt see some teenage dreams come true that night.
Ralph had to admit it looked quite nice. Especially at the start of the night, with only a handful of people about – you could still hear their footsteps crunching through the snow.
He shook his head, amused by how sentimental he’d become lately. It wasn’t like him to think about things like that. It wasn’t like him to show up to events this early either. Plum, it wasn’t like him to go to things like this at all. A winter formal? Seriously?
But he couldn’t help but feel excited for tonight. Excited, but nervous. He wasn’t waiting for just any girl, after all…
When he first started chasing after Sera, he didn’t really have a care in the world, nor much of a plan. He knew she was likely to shoot him down, and partially found amusement in the situation. But ultimately her initial rejection didn’t really mean that much. That’s why he made his pursuit of her rather public, much to the school’s entertainment.
But with Lottie, it was different. What she thought of him mattered. Everything about her mattered. And tonight had to be special for her. He’d make sure she’d feel like a princess. She’d…
Then again, she seemed to have the whole princess bit covered already. Ralph’s heart skipped a beat when he saw her. It’s been hard to watch her be so unaware of how pretty she was, but surely tonight, she had to know how beautiful she looked. They were off to a good start already, he smiled to himself as he stood up.
“Hi Lottie!” It seemed that his normally witty mind betrayed him, and he couldn’t come up with anything better to say.
The girl curtsied, showing off her dress: “What do you think?”
“You don’t scrub up too bad!”
“Neither do you,” she told him. “You know, for a pirate.” The girl giggled.
“Well you know, even we pirates have to bathe once in a month or so…” What a lame joke. He felt so inadequate. Somehow, this was a lot harder than he’d pictured it.
“Carly? Is that you?”
Jarrett, Danrof’s son approached the girl: “I barely recognised you!”
“You’ve known me since we were kids!” She reminded him with a smile.
“Yeah, but you never looked like this! I mean… not that you looked bad or anything. But tonight, you look gorgeous!”
Her cheeks got a slight tint of pink. “Why, thank you Jarrett!”
“Would you like to go to the dance floor?”
“I’d love that!”
They walked off together, leaving Ralph on his own. He sat back down. He decided to let Lottie enjoy all of the newfound attention. She deserved it. And he could wait. After all, he had all night.
Hallie admired the cool setting. She did feel a little jealous of the DJ. Hallie always felt more comfortable in the DJ booth, observing all the action and cheering the crowd on, rather than being on the dance floor herself.
Of course, it didn’t help that so far, the only other people on the dance floor seemed to be the overly infatuated Vito and Louis. Hallie felt relieved when she finally spotted Larobb arriving.
“Finally!” She hurried towards him.
“You know, if you let me actually pick you up at your house like a guy normally would for a formal, we wouldn’t have the issue of arriving at different times!” Larobb reminded her.
“Fair enough,” she said. “But it felt a bit too princessy. I don’t do princessy.”
“I know,” Larobb replied. “Nice suit!”
“Hey gang,” Vito finally detached himself from Louis for long enough to acknowledge Hallie and Larobb’s presence. “Are we the best looking crowd on the dance floor, or what?”
“I don’t know, Carly’s looking better than any of us tonight,” Louis smiled softly.
“Good job she’s not on the dance floor then, isn’t it?” Vito laughed. “Now come on, party people, let’s show them how it’s done.”
Hallie and Larobb exchanged amused looks. Party people. Who says that? Just go with it, Louis mouthed at them.
So they did. They all seemed fairly into it by the time Carly and Jarrett joined them on the dance floor.
“Hey Jarret, here to join the party people?” Larobb joked.
“You think you can handle it?” Vito jumped in. “Show us your moves!”
Jarrett started jumping around with enthusiasm, spastically showing his arms and legs in various directions.
Vito burst out laughing. “This is what you call moves?”
Hallie glared at him: “Vito, be cool!”
Vito let out chuckle: “Cool? Well, I am… can you say that about him though?”
“I think your moves are great, Jarrett,” Carly said encouragingly.
“Thanks Carly,” Jarret smiled at her gratefully. “You’re always so nice to everyone.”
“It’s my greatest flaw,” Carly laughed.
Hallie evaluated the situation. It looked like Louis was taming Vito, and Carly seemed to be doing the damage control with Jarrett. Still… she shot Larobb a quick look.
“Bail?” He uttered. She nodded.
“I don’t think I’ve been to this park since I was a kid,” Larobb said noncommittedly as they made their way away from the dance floor.
“I don’t recall ever coming here, actually,” Hallie told him.
“Oh really? But your family built this place,” Larobb seemed surprised. “I used to play on the jungle gym all the time.” Then it hit him. Hallie didn’t grow up in Newcrest. “Sorry. I’m a tool.”
“Hey, that’s my best friend you’re insulting!” Hallie told him off playfully.
Larobb stirred the conversation another way: “So if you’ve never been here before, I guess you wouldn’t have seen the giant cow plant skeleton!”
“Woah, you weren’t kidding!” The girl seemed excited.
“Nope. Scared the plumbob out of me when I was little.” Larobb admitted with a grin.
“Hey, that’s your best friend you’re insulting!”
“Well obviously I can do that…”
“I’ve got to say, this is pretty neat though,” Hallie studied the creepy looking thing. “I kind of want to steal it.”
“You probably could,” Larobb shrugged. “I mean, technically, it belongs to your family. It was the founder of Newcrest who left it here, so… Grey area.”
“It would make for an awesome conversation piece…” Hallie joked.
“Or a clothes rack,” Larobb joined in. They laughed. Who needed the rest others when they could hide away and joke about a dead cowplant?
As the night went on, Hallie decided she was the luckiest girl in the world. She’d found her soulmate. He understood her, knew what to say no matter if she was sad, happy, or angry.
He made her laugh harder than anyone else…
“So Larobb, why are you wearing glasses tonight, anyway? I thought you had perfect vision…”
“Well, the invitation said smart clothing, sooo…”
But most importantly, he understood that there was no need for that nonsense the others seemed to go through all the time. No need to ruin a perfectly good relationship with jealousy and drama. No need to do things Hallie felt uncomfortable just thinking about…
They could just be them, and that was enough.
In the past, Hallie thought there must be something wrong with her when she watched Vito, Sera and even Carly form all sorts of romantic bonds while she had no desire to do so. But now she realised they were the unlucky ones. They all had to deal with so much plum on a daily basis.
But not her. She didn’t need a boyfriend or a girlfriend to complete her. What she had with Larobb was pure love.