The set up: Gio arrives at Felix’s cabin in Big Bear before Felix and meets Felix’s stunning girlfriend Bianca. To Gio’s surprise she’s someone from his past. A girl whose innocent doe eyes did things to him even back in high school. With Felix’s plane being delayed, Gio is forced to spend the day with her reminding him why he had such a thing for her…back in the days.
They enjoyed their hot chocolate for a few silent moments. Normally boxing would not only be a safe subject but one Gio happily could go on and on about, but it wasn’t one he wanted to get into now. So he was grateful when she asked him about the rest of the gang. “Do you still hang around with Noah, Abel and his brother? I forget his name.”
Gio nodded stirring his “cocoa” with the fancy chocolate stir stick Bianca had provided. “Yeah we all work at 5th Street now. Abel’s brother, Hector, is still part-time but the rest of us actually help Jack, the owner, run it now.”
A sudden squeak from Bianca made him glance up and seeing her turn red then giggle obviously embarrassed, had him smiling like an idiot. It was the cutest damn thing. As much of a struggle as it was, he managed to turn back to his chocolate chuckling and asked, “What’s that about?”
He glanced up when she didn’t respond. She held her hand against her mouth, eyes closed trying to stifle her laughter. She put her mug down on the fireplace shaking her head and proceeded to go into a laughing fit. When she gained a little composure she explained, “That just reminded how back in middle school, this group of cool girls wore the 5th Street t-shirts they sell down at the gym.” She shook her head continuing to wipe the corner of her eyes. “Me and my friend Anna wanted to be cool too but our moms were not about to shell out the twenty-five bucks for a simple t-shirt.” She started laughing again. “So we decided to make our own.” Just seeing how hard it was for her to even speak now had him laughing, too. “You should’ve seen the mess we made of our dads white t-shirts with our sharpie pens. We both got in trouble for ruining so many of them and we never did get to wear them.” Then she squeaked again and it was all over they were both laughing uncontrollably now. “Stop!’ She begged between laughing. “I hate that stupid squeak!”
Gio caught his breath. He hadn’t laughed that hard in a while so the words flew out without thought. “I think it’s cute. I’ve always thought you were cute.”
That doe-eyed expression was abruptly back as what he’d just blurted out sunk in. Her laughing slowly subsided and she stared at him. Thinking fast he added, “My sister does this hiccup thing when she laughs.” He had nothing else. The mood had switched so quickly with his stupid admission he was grasping here.
“Huh?” His thoughts were still scrambling trying to think of something else to say, he wasn’t even sure what she was asking. Then she smiled a smile so sweet he had to suck in a fleeting breath.
“Even in high school you thought I was cute?” She tilted her head sideways. “I always felt invisible to you back then.”
No way was he telling her she’d been anything but invisible and that just like now, there’d been too many times he’d gotten lost in those eyes of hers. Gio sat up straight taking a sip of his chocolate. Sonofabitch if he couldn’t think of a proper way to respond to that.