Avery slid off the bike and grabbed his keys. "Alright, anything you want. My treat." He said, pulling her inside.
Natalie led them to a table near the back and sat down. She felt a twinge of guilt. Avery couldn't even afford college, and yet here he was, buying her dinner.
Avery sighed. "I know that look Nat, don't give me that." He sat across from her and patted her hand. "This doesn't bother me, it's just dinner. I can pay for it."
Natalie pouted. "If I let you buy mine, can I buy yours?" she suggested. "Just you being here is enough, you don't have to pay for everything too."
Avery shook his head. "Nope, eating with me doesn't work that way." He smiled. "I've got it, it's fine."
Natalie didn't like it, but she let it go. "What have you been up to?" she asked, changing the subject.
"Lots of work..." Avery murmured. "You?"
"Thinking about the future," she replied glumly.
Avery sighed. "Oh... What about the future?"
"There's a college I want to go to but it's so far away from here," she explained. "There are people I'd miss too much to bear to be that far away from them." Namely you, she thought.
Avery shrugged. "If you want to go, go. Don't let that stop you..." He would be lonely though. But this wasn't about him.
"I'd miss you most of all," Natalie said softly. "Who would I have to cheer me up?"
Avery sighed. "You'd make new friends. you need to do what'll make you happy..."
Natalie sighed. "You know I'd never be able to meet anyone as great as you."
Avery shrugged. "I'm not that great....."
"What are you talking about? Anyone else who found me sobbing over the hundredth guy who's treated me like dirt would tell me to grow up or that it was my fault. You just hugged me, took me out for dinner and made me feel special. You're not just great. You're the greatest."
Avery smiled. "Well, when you put it like that..." He took her hands. "Nat, you're my best friend, I could never leave you..."
Natalie squeezed his hands. "That's why I can't go," she said. "But I can do an online course, so that will be nearly as good. As long as you promise to stick around too."
Avery smiled. "Trust me, I'm not going to college anytime soon..." He patted her cheek gently and kissed her forehead like an older brother would to his little sister.
Natalie's forehead tingled as she felt Avery's lips. "Enough about me. Anyone special in your life?"