“What are you doing, conjuring up a date for the dance?”
Beverly looked up from her spot in the science lab. Lance stood in the doorway, his arms crossed in front of him. He was dressed in a suit, as if going to an interview, or a formal dance. She shook her head.
“I’m working on the chemistry project that’s due.”
Lance grew worried and walked closer. “Due? When is it due? I thought we had time?”
She blushed the tiniest bit. “It’s due at the end of the month, but I like working ahead.”
He raised an eyebrow. “It’s the tenth. You have plenty of time. You should be at the dance, having some fun.”
“Lance, February is a short month. There isn’t as much time as you think. And I’m not that big on dances, especially Valentine’s Day dances.”
Beverly opened her mouth to answer, then shrugged instead.
“Don’t tell me you’re one of those people who don’t like Valentine’s Day because of the commercial aspect? Chocolates are yummy, and flowers are pretty. I like getting flowers.”
Beverly sighed. “I like chocolate, but I’m allergic to most flowers. Actually, most plants.”
Lance was on the other side of her work bench and seemed to lean in a bit more. “So if a guy wanted to get you something, he should not get you flowers.”
She gave him a strange look. “No, he shouldn’t.”
Beverly reached for a flask on the desk and added a little bit of chemical to another flask. “Shouldn’t you be going to the dance now?”
“Am I bothering you?” His voice was pleasant, as if he truly wanted to know.
“No, but I don’t know. Don’t you have someone waiting?”
“Not dating anyone.”
“I thought you were.”
“We broke up after Christmas break.”
She looked up from her work to find him moving around the end of her workbench, moving closer. “I thought you were talking about going to Florida with her for Spring Break?”
“We were, but during Christmas Break, she found out an old fling was no longer married or something. She wants to be with him.”
“Don’t give me that look, Bev. I’m ok.” He stopped a few steps from her and leaned his side against the sturdy workbench. “So, why don’t you like dances?”
“Changing the subject?”
She nodded. “Ok. I don’t like dances because I don’t know how to dance, I don’t like crowds and I don’t usually like the music they play.”
“What about just going with friends to hang out?”
“Can’t talk at a dance. I like conversations.”
“I know. I’ve picked up on a few things while you’ve been tutoring me.”
Beverly smiled but didn’t say anything as she continued mix a few chemicals together.
“It is possible to talk at a dance. You have to find the right places.”
Bev stopped stirring and turned to Lance. “Lance, what are you doing here? I wanted to finish this up and maybe go to Larse Café for a late night coffee. I’m not going to the dance. You obviously are. So go.”
He moved a little closer. “No.”
“I like talking to you, Bev. I wanted to hang out with you. Did it ever occur to you that I came here to find you?”
“What? No. What?” She looked confused.
He moved closer and looked into her eyes. “Yeah. I did. When I didn’t see you at the dance, I went to your dorm. Your roommate said you were here, so I came here.”
She blushed and moved away a bit. “Why are you looking for me?”
He sighed and his bravado left him. He gave her a shy smile. “How long have you been tutoring me, Bev?”
She shrugged. “Since Freshman year.”
“So three years. And you never once figured out I was flirting with you.”
She crossed her arms. “Stop it. That’s not funny.”
“This is serious, Bev. I like being around you. You’ve never treated me like an idiot. You’re nice and you’re smart. Do you know that I’ve been taking harder classes because you make me feel like I can?”
“This happened to me once before and there were people waiting outside. It was unpleasant.” Her voice was strained.
Lance stepped closer and held his hand out. “I’m not kidding, Bev. I don’t kid about things like this. I wanted to take you to the dance, but if you’re not comfortable at dances, then let’s go to Larse Café. We can talk.”
She turned back to the workbench and started to move flasks around. “I’m in the middle of homework.”
He moved a little closer, but made sure to keep enough room between him and Bev. She was playing with chemicals and he didn’t recognize most of them. They probably weren’t dangerous, as she wasn’t wearing protective gear, but still.
“Bev, homework is due at the end of the month. Can I please buy you a cup of coffee? We can come in tomorrow and I’ll help you with this. Or you can help me, really, because I’ll probably need the help.”
She stopped and turned to him. “If this ends up being a lie, I will kick your ass.”
She was his height and was rather athletic. He knew it wasn’t an empty threat. “I know. Doesn’t stop me from wanting to be with you.”
Bev moved closer. “I’m going to up all this stuff away. Then we’ll go to the Café.”
The smile he gave her was endearing.
Bev shook her head, a little smile on her lips. He helped her put everything away quickly, trying to remember what everything was. Once all was cleaned up, they grabbed their things and headed out the door.
As they were moving into the hallway, they saw Professor Gables coming toward them.
“Hello, Beverly. I thought you were going to be working for a while longer.”
“I decided to change my mind. We cleaned everything up.”
“All right. See you in class, Monday.” As he reached for the doorknob, he stopped and turned. “What is it you were working on, Beverly?”
Before she could answer, Lance piped up. “She was conjuring up a date.”
Beverly giggled. “You’re terrible, Lance.” She turned to Professor Gables. “I was trying to get a jump on the end of the month project.”
“Ah. Well, good night.”
“Goodnight, professor!” They said in unison as they walked away.