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Erin nervously smoothed her hair. She had been standing in front of the bathroom mirror for close to an hour, and even though she looked nearly perfect, she was still fiddling with one piece of her hair. She had carefully brushed the rest of her golden brown hair so that it was shiny and soft. It was so long that it nearly touched the pocket of her jeans. And it was perfectly straight except for the one little curl on the left side of her forehead that she was messing with. She thought she had gotten it under control, when suddenly, she was startled by the ringing of the phone. She ran to check the caller ID and saw that it was Julie, her ride to the mall. When Erin picked up the phone, Julie told her that she and her boyfriend Billy would be over to pick her up soon. Erin drew in a sharp breath and Julie chuckled and told her not to worry, everything was going to be fine, after all, what was Derek but a big bad scary internet guy. Erin smiled and told Julie she would see her soon.

As she hung up the phone, she thought about what was soon going to happen. She was going to meet Derek. It seemed like she had known him forever, but it had barely been months. As much as she hated to admit it, they had met on the internet. It had to be the most dangerous place to meet a guy, but for some bizarre reason she trusted him. They talked online or on the phone for hours a day. And today was the first day they would see each other. Erin was both nervous and excited at the same time, the anxiety was almost too much to bear. She absent-mindedly glanced at her watch and discovered it read 2:15. She was supposed to meet him in half an hour. Upon hearing the honking of Billy’s car horn, Erin grabbed her purse and rushed out to the car. As Billy backed out of the driveway, Julie turned around and grinned at her. Erin smiled weakly and Julie giggled. She said, “Erin, how many times have I told you that you would get yours? Now you’re finally getting him, and you don’t want it!” Erin was quick to correct her, “It’s not that I don’t want him, it’s just that I am nervous about meeting him. I mean, what will I do if he thinks I am ugly, what if he hates me, what if......” This time she was interrupted by Billy, “ERIN! he has already told you he loves you, so I can guarantee he won’t hate you, and he is not going to think you are ugly, besides, he is probably a lot more nervous than you are.” Erin just said “Okay, whatever....” and allowed her thoughts to drift.

She found herself again thinkihat could happen? He could decide you aren’t meant to be, and then life goes on right?’ Smiling, she stepped out of the car. She glanced over at Billy and he winked at her and said, “Chill Erin, I promise everything will be fine!” Still she trudged slightly behind Julie and Billy. Looking at the two of them walking closely with their fingers entwined, she realized that was exactly what she wanted. And, that was what she had come to the mall to find right? She walked though the big glass doors and into the food court. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and thought to herself, ‘Okay Erin, you’re here, you are going to meet him, be your charming self, act just like you do any other time you talk to him, and sweep him off his feet.’

When she opened her eyes, she realized she needed to quicken her pace in order to catch up with Julie and Billy. They were silent as they walked to the meeting place. It was 2:40. Julie said they would keep an eye on Erin and if it looked like she had it under control they would keep their distance. They had already decided that the two couples would meet at 5:00 for a movie. Erin hugged Julie and thanked them. Billy told her to calm down and they walked off. Erin sat down on a bench. She put her face in her hands and tried to calm down. Her heart was beating faster than she could ever recall. She began to think about what she was supposed to look for. ‘A guy who was about 5’10, brown hair, green shirt, brown eyes.....’ Then she felt someone sit down next to her. She raised her head and her hazel eyes met the most gorgeous pair of brown ones she had ever seen. She realized he was staring back at her and she dropped her gaze to his shirt. It was green. When she finally found her voice, she mumbled, “Do I know you?” and the owner of the brown eyes grinned. A familiar voice replied, “Yes I think so Erin.” She was speechless. She just sat staring at her hands. He slid closer to her, then leaned down to whisper in her ear. He said seven words, “Are you as nervous as I am?” All she could manage to do was look up at him and nod. He took one of her hands and toyed with her fingers. Then he leaned over and spoke again, “You are more beautiful than I ever imagined.” He didn’t wait for a response this time, he just cupped her chin in his other hand and leaned over and kissed her. It was better than Erin ever dreamed. As he pulled away from her she felt her cheeks get hot as she blushed deeply. Derek pretended not to notice and stood up. He put his hand out to help her up and said “Let’s walk.” She put her hand in his and after he helped her to her feet, he didn’t release it. Instead he slipped his fingers in between hers and squeezed gently.

They began to walk slowly along and They both pretty much forgot the nervousness they had felt earlier. They stopped at the coffee shop to buy cappochinos. Sitting on a bench, drinking their drinks, they were remembering some of the conversations that they had had. It felt good to Erin to be next to him, and hear him laugh, and be able to see him smile. She smiled as she realized all those times she had said ‘I love you’ to him, she had meant it with all her heart. Derek lightly touched her knee and asked, “what are you smiling about?” She replied, “I was just thinking.” He got a worried look on his face and said, “about what?” she said, “you!” Then, with a small smile forming on his lips, he asked, “what about me?” As hard as it was for her, she kept a straight face, and answered him as he always answered her when she asked that question of him, “Oh.....I don’t me....together.” He chuckled and said, “we are together silly.” she replied in a whisper, “I know, and I love it.” He leaned over to her, and hugger her close, and said, “I love you” with his face buried in her hair. She whispered “I love you too.” He held her for a moment longer, his hands lovingly caressing her back, then he pulled away.

Erin looked at her watch and realized it was nearly time to meet Julie and Billy again. When she looked up to meet Derek’s eyes, she caught him staring at her. It relieved her when he looked away, and she shyly said, “Are you up for a movie?” He caught her eye, and said, “As long as I am with you, I’m up for anything.” She blushed in response, then went on with the plans, “We are supposed to meet Julie and Billy at go to a movie, unless you have a better idea.....” He shot her an ornery smile and said, “Well I was hoping to get you alone, but a movie sounds good to me.” He winked at her then stood up. He reached out to help her again, but she got up on her own then slipped her hand into his. They made their way to the other end of the mall, where they had planned to meet. Derek was silent as they walked along, and when Erin questioned him, he told her he was nervous about meeting Julie and Billy. She laughed and said, “Derek, those two will be so engrossed in each other, they won’t be too critical of you.” He still looked worried, so she added, “Julie is one of my best friends, and besides, she has always complimented me on my brilliant taste in guys.” That seemed to put him at ease and when Erin looked up she saw Julie and Billy ahead of them, staring at one another as they always did. As Erin and Derek got to where they were standing, Julie turned to look at them. Erin made some quick introductions, and then the two couples decided they should get to the movie theater.

Julie was a bit reluctant to allow Erin to go in the car with Derek. After all, she had just met him, and although she claimed she knew him, he could change at any moment. But Julie’s fears were calmed as they exited the mall. As it turns out, Derek was parked very near to where Billy was, so as they drive to the nearby movie theater, Julie could keep a watchful eye on Erin and if she saw any trouble, she could help her out. As they got into the car, Billy turned toward Julie and asked, “Well what do you think of him?” She shrugged and said, “He seems all right.....” then he asked, “Well, then.....why do you look so worried?” She paused for a moment then replied, “ and I both know that Erin is very innocent and naive. I just worry......” Billy nodded thoughtfully and simply said “Yeah.......” Julie glanced in the rearview mirror and her eyes widened fearfully. She whispered, “Billy?!?!?!? LOOK!” Billy jerked his head to see what the problem was then started chuckling, “Good God Julie, what is your problems? he is letting her drive his car...big deal.” Billy’s chuckling quit after he heard her next comment. “Erin doesn’t know how to drive stick shift though.” After a few seconds, Billy simply stated, “Well, she’s a quick learner, quit worrying.”

By the time they pulled into the parking lot of the movie theater, Julie had regained her calmness. After the four of them made their ticket purchases, Julie and Erin went to the bathroom together. Julie was gearing up to give Erin the *mommy* talk about how she couldn’t really be sure if she could trust Derek yet. but Julie changed her mind as turned to face her, for Erin’s smile was so wide and her eyes so bright that Julie completely forgot what she had been going to say. Erin started talking, her voice full of joy, “Oh Julie, he is so wonderful. He’s just like I imagined him to be, he’s so sweet and loving and he always says the right things and I love how it feels to hold his hand.....” She seemed to go on for a good two minutes before even pausing to take a breath. When she finally quieted down, all Julie said was, “I’m happy for you, just be careful ok?” Although Erin was tempted to ask what she should be careful of, she kept the question inside and said “Ok, I will.” With that they walked back out to meet the guys. As it turns out, the guys had found they liked each others company. As the girls walked out to where they were standing, the found them talking and laughing like old friends. Erin caught Billy’s eye an said “Are you trying to steal my man?” Billy laughed and said, “No, I think Julie is hard enough to handle, I don’t need any more of a challenge!” Erin grinned and then Julie suggested getting some popcorn. Erin made a face, but went to the counter with the other three anyway. Derek offered to get her something else, but she refused. So, he ended up getting a small popcorn and a large Dr. Pepper for the two of them to share. After everyone had gotten their things, the two couples made their way to the theater. They found four seats near the back and settled in. Erin looked around and noticed the theater was pretty much vacant, except for a few isolated people towards the front row. She shivered, and Derek rubbed her arm and said, “Are you cold baby?” She shook her head and he leaned over to whisper in her ear, “Are you sure, we don’t’ have to stay in here if you don’t want to sweetheart.” She glanced over at Julie and Billy then made up her mind. “We can stay, I’ll be fine.” Derek nodded then put his arm around her and she laid her head on his shoulder.

this is what I have so far, I am open to any and all suggestions.

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