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chapter ten

     A short time later, Trevor and Cindy were again walking hand in hand, continuing their journey down the mall's long corridor. Their ultimate destination, the Ali Baba's Palace arcade, was in the cross corridor at the other end of the mall from the ice cream shop.
     They made two stops on their way to the arcade. One was at a clothing store, where Cindy looked over some of the back-to-school fashions that were on display.
     "Oh, look at this top!" Cindy said to Trevor at one point, as she pulled a multicolored blouse from one of the racks. She held it up against herself. "What do you think?" she asked. "Does this look good on me?"
     "Looks great to me," replied Trevor. "Of course, you're so pretty that you'd still look good if you were wearing a big gunny sack with head and arm holes. But yeah, that one really does look good on you. You want it?"
     "I'd love it!" she said with a big smile. Then the smile faded. "Oh, wait," she continued. "You're not saying you want to buy it for me, are you?"
     "I will if you want me to," answered Trevor.
     "Oh, no, you don't have to do that!" said Cindy. "It's really sweet of you to offer, but either my Mom or Toby is going to bring me out here next week to do my back-to-school shopping with me. They'll get me this and some other stuff. But thanks for being willing. It makes me feel good that you offered like that."
     "All right, I'll accept that," said Trevor. "But let me assure you, you're going to get presents from me on a regular basis. Things your family WOULDN'T buy you. I'll insist on it."
     "Well, I don't want you to get real extravagant," replied Cindy, "but I won't resist that general concept a whole lot. As long as you don't mind if I use some of my baby-sitting money to buy you presents sometimes."
     "Well, you don't have to do that," said Trevor. "But I'd cherish anything you gave me, that's for sure!"
     "That goes for me, too," said Cindy.
     The other stop they made was at a sports apparel shop that carried a wide selection of licensed uniform jerseys and hats from pro and college sports teams. Here Trevor looked at a Green Bay Packer replica jersey that he wished he could add to his shirt collection. The price, however, was too high.
     "Maybe I can get it as a Christmas present," he speculated to Cindy.
     "If you don't mind waiting until the season's almost over," Cindy replied.
     "Well, at least I'd have it in time for the playoffs," said Trevor. "Assuming they MAKE the playoffs, of course."
     At last they arrived at the cross corridor, and turned south toward the arcade.
     "You been to the arcade here before?" Trevor asked as they walked down the corridor.
     "Just once," Cindy answered. "A couple of weeks after we moved in, two girls I met at school brought me here to the mall. Sort of a Girls' Day Out thing, you know? We spent almost an hour at the arcade, playing some of the games and checking out the boys."
     "I better not catch you doing that THIS time!" said Trevor in mock seriousness.
     "Oh, don't worry," Cindy assured him. "That would be like...like window shopping for little fake diamonds when I'm already wearing a ten carat real one."
     "Wow!" chuckled Trevor. "Now YOU'RE embarrassing ME!"
     "It's about time!" replied Cindy.
     Trevor didn't say anything for a few seconds, taking the time to just savor the wonder of the whole experience, the combined glory of everything that had happened since the previous evening.
     Then his analytical side abruptly kicked back in, and something occurred to him: she had mentioned school, and he suddenly realized that he didn't yet know what school she went to. Based on where she lived, however...
     "I just thought of something," he said to Cindy. "Where do you go to school?"
     "Jefferson High," she responded.
     "That's what I was just thinking," replied Trevor excitedly. "We both live in that district, except...well, I didn't remember ever seeing you there, so I thought maybe you went to a private or religious school or something. But you DO go to Jefferson! Cool!"
     "Well, I didn't know you went there either," said Cindy in obvious delight. "I'm really glad to find out you do! It means we can be together almost every day during the school year. I hope we have some classes together this year, and the same lunch hour. We must not have last year, 'cause I don't remember seeing you there either. Of course, I just started there in mid-April, so there was less than two months for us to notice each other."
     "Man, this is so perfect!" said Trevor, as they approached the entrance to the arcade. "We go to the same school, hopefully we'll be going to the same Church, we live within easy biking distance of each other."
     "Yeah," agreed Cindy. "It's great! We can spend so much time together we'll probably get sick of each other."
     Instinctively, Trevor squeezed Cindy's hand tighter, then stopped and turned to face her. He suddenly found himself in a state of near panic.
     "Please don't say that," he implored. "Don't even think it!"
     "Hey! I was just kidding!" said Cindy. "And stop squeezing my hand so hard! That hurts!"
     "Oh, gosh, I'm sorry!" replied Trevor, instantly releasing her hand and pulling his away. "I didn't even know I was doing that! I wouldn't hurt you on purpose for anything! It's just that...no, I don't even want to say it."
     "Say what?" asked Cindy. "It's all right, I'm not mad at you or anything. But I need to know what I did that made you lose it like that."
     "No, please," said Trevor, trying to act calmer. "Look, I'm sorry I reacted like that. It was stupid. Let's just forget about it, OK?"
     "No, Trevor," said Cindy, in a gentle but resolute manner. "I don't want that kind of relationship with you. After our talk by the fountain I would have thought you'd understand that about me. I want us to always feel free to tell each other what we think and feel. No keeping things bottled up, especially things about each other. It can only hurt us in the long run to do that. OK?"
     "Yeah," sighed Trevor. "You're right, of course. I SHOULD know better, after what I've put myself through over Cory. I do want us to have an honest relationship. But it really was just a stupid reaction. I guess I just thought...well, I guess I'm just afraid that sooner or later you're gonna realize that I'm not good enough for you, that's all. That's why I freaked a bit when you talked about getting sick of me."
     "Trevor, Trevor, Trevor," said Cindy with a loving smile. "Even when you're trying to be serious, you can still be so silly. If anyone should worry about that, it's ME. All right, we can forget about it. As long as we both feel that way, neither of us needs to worry about getting dumped any time soon."
     "Very well, my lady," said Trevor, who was almost, but not quite, over the brief trauma. "Let us enter yon electronic recreational establishment, and leaveth our worries behind."
     At least I'll try to, thought Trevor.

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