8:00 pm – continued
Gently, as Abigail parted from her friends, Grant took her hand so he wouldn’t lose her in the crowd. Together, they wound through and out of the crowded stadium. Grant still wondered where the food was, but he knew he had something better planned up on the hill. The noise quieted the further away from the field they went and they could actually hear themselves think. But, even after they had left the stadium and had started climbing up the hill, Grant still kept hold of Abigail’s hand.
Abigail laughed as they started the ascent. “Hey, Grant, can we slow down? I don’t think my heels like the hill so much.”
Grant glanced back at her where she was struggling to stay upright behind him and gave her an apologetic smile, slowing his pace. “Sorry about that. I just got excited about showing you the hill and the view. This place is great. My dad used to bring me up here when there were games and we would watch all the little people running around down on the field. We usually tossed a ball around and just talked about life. I loved talking with my dad about everything. He was the wisest man I knew. He died a couple years ago and I still miss him.”
Abigail smiled at the wistfulness in his voice and squeezed his hand, her heart full of sympathy. It was apparent that he missed his dad and all the good times they’d shared. She felt special knowing he had brought her to this special place that he had shared with his father and was now sharing with her.
“Here we are,” Grant said as they approached a tree at the top of the hill.
A red and white checkered blanket was already spread out under the expansive tree branches laden with emerald leaves and deep red flowers. A small picnic basket and a silver bucket filled with ice and a wine bottle waited in the middle of the blanket, condensation lining the bucket and bottle in the cooling heat of late spring.
Abigail smiled as he squeezed her hand, feeling electrical excitement coursing from his hand to hers. They settled down under the tree facing the stadium, stretching their legs out and enjoying the heady floral scent the flowers were emitting. From this distance, they could see Perkins Stadium was packed and everyone was writhing around, but it was nearly impossible to pick out individual people. She realized that the longer she looked at the mass of people, the more it looked like a pit of snakes with everyone dancing, moving, and threading their way through the crowd.
Sighing heavily, she momentarily pulled her attention from the people and to her throbbing toes. Yanking off her heels, she wriggled her toes and tucked her feet beneath her thighs, sitting with her legs crossed, drinking in the sight before her. The stadium was lit up not only with the stadium’s lighting, but also with the golden sunset as the last of the sun was slipping below the horizon now. The huge stage in the middle of the field was filled with the DJs and their equipment, three DJs blasting to one side of the stadium one set of music and the other two servicing the other side with a different set of songs. From this far away, they could still hear the pounding cacophonous, usually discordant, music, but could barely make out human sounds other than the periodic whoops and whistles.
Grant settled himself beside her, drawing the silver bucket and basket closer as she studied the tableau laid out before them at the base of the hill. He pulled out two wine glasses, shined to perfection, and handed one to her with a smile, the edges catching the remaining golden sunlight. Smiling back, she took it before turning her gaze back to the stadium and their last sunset. Quietly, he filled her glass and then rummaged around in the basket to retrieve some chocolate covered strawberries.
Abigail turned her head to him and smiled with a raised eyebrow as she caught the smell of chocolate and strawberries adding to the fruity scent of the wine. “If I didn’t know better, Grant, I’d think you were trying to romance me.”
He gave her a slight smile and took a sip of his wine. “Maybe I am. Besides, after midnight, who knows if we’ll ever see each other again? I only get this one shot with you. I may as well go all in. You know, cram everything into a few short hours, see if we could have made this work.”
Abigail nibbled on the strawberry he offered her and considered him for a few moments. Then she reached out and placed a hand over his. “I can’t say for sure, Grant, but I think we would have at least worked out for a while.”
His hand curled around hers. “That’s all I needed to know.”
Tentatively, he leaned towards her. She knew what he was after and tilted her head slightly so his lips would meet hers, the taste of chocolate and sweet strawberries still on her lips.