They arrived back at MPC Station and walked to his car. He started it, he smiled at her, and he spoke.
Patrick: I had a really great time, I'd hate for the night to end early.
Nina: Yeah, it would be kinda a shame. I'm sure I could call my friends and we could all go dancing.
Patrick: *hinting at something* Well, I was actually gonna see if you wanted to come back to my house tonight.
Nina: Um, well... I'm not sure I'm ready for that...
She looked at her hands in her lap. He sighed and gripped the wheel and pulled the car out into traffic.
Patrick: You know, if you're not interested in being with me, you really need to just tell me now.
Nina: What? Of course I'm interested in being with you, we have fun together. Well, more fun that not, I suppose...
Patrick: It's just that you give off mixed signals. Sometimes you're ready, sometimes you're not, sometimes you wanna take the next step, sometimes you take a step backwards.
Nina: Well, I can't be Miss Perfect, you know. I think this is my sign. I cannot be with a guy who's this pushy. There's just no way. None. I need to get out of this car.
Patrick: Is that your answer? Are you getting out of this?
Nina: I'm sorry, Patrick. I'm just not ready for that kind of thing. I-
Patrick: You what? You're willing to use me to get nice dinners and wonderful gifts and are completely unwilling to give anything in return? That's messed up, Nina.
Nina: I don't care about expensive dinners and gifts! You could take me to McDonald's if you were nice and charming and we could have a great time and I'd like you just as much, but you have just been acting weirder and weirder as time goes on. I'm not sure this is something I want to put up with.
Patrick: That's your decision then? You just wanna end things?
Nina: Pull over, Patrick. Let me out.
She was shocked when he didn't, but instead jammed on the accelerator and sped off through the streets. He ran a stop sign and she felt her heart balloon in her chest.
Nina: STOP IT, PATRICK! STOP IT! This isn't funny, it's not proving anything!
He looked at her and bared his teeth as they came up on a red light at a speed approaching 90 miles per hour. Horror froze her face and her body tensed in the seat and she closed her eyes and winced and she felt the impact from last summer...
But he applied the brakes with a great deal of force and the car screeched to a halt. She looked at him in disbelief, opening her mouth to say something, but no sound emerged from her throat and she knew this was her only chance. She unsnapped the buckle, grabbed her purse, and hurriedly got out of the car, leaving the door open as she staggered to the curb. She put her hand to her chest and felt her heart beat at a million miles per hour, walked on wobbly knees to a bench near a grassy area and sat down on it and looked down at her hands, unaware that the Firebird had disappeared into the night.
Nina: They won't stop shaking they won't stop shaking what was he trying to do oh my god oh my god...
Kellen: *shyly* Um, Nina?
She looked up and saw Kellen approaching her carefully.
Kellen: I'm really sorry to come up to you, I know you wanted to be left alone... but...
She watched him as he took one step closer and another and then he was standing five feet away, bending at the waist to look into her eyes. He could see the horror in her eyes, he could see her trembling hands and knew instinctively that she needed to tell someone.
Kellen: Nina, I'm not gonna be your boyfriend, but I really wanna talk to you...
Nina: Please sit. This is unbelievable. Of all the people to run into...
Kellen: What happened? Who was in that blue car?
Nina: That was- *swallows, tries to regain her composure* That was Patrick.
Kellen: Oh, is he your boyfriend?
Nina: Boyfriend... Hah! No, no he isn't.
Kellen: Who was he?
Nina: He was no one, Kellen...
Kellen: I'm sorry about bothering you earlier. I've done more reading and uh, and I think I know why you hated me before...
Nina: Oh Kellen, I didn't hate you.
Nina: Really. It was just like, you kept showing up wherever I was, I thought, hahaha.
She laughed at how ridiculous she sounded.
Kellen: Thought what?
Nina: I thought you were stalking me.
She sighed, and then laughed again, and he joined her laugh.
Kellen: Hahaha, that's funny Nina. You're real pretty, but I wasn't stalking you. I work at the bookstore at the MPC Station Shopping Center, I just started last summer, so it's convenient for me to walk around there, or, well, here. In fact I just got off work.
Nina: Oh my god, really?
Kellen: *sadly* Really. I guess thinking about it, you didn't really see me, so you didn't notice the nametag I wore...
Nina: Kellen, if either one of us should be sorry, it's me. My life is a disaster. I had a very fast relationship with Marv last year, and we even managed to find time to have a massive fight and break up before prom when we got toget-
Kellen: Yeah, everyone in school knew about that. That girl Marley Rider really hates you, she was pretty happy about that.
Nina: You know Marley?
Kellen: Well, I sit next to her in a couple of my classes. Did last year too. Marv was a nice guy, he always said hello to me if we had the same class, even though he was kinda an in-crowd kid.
Nina: Well, I'll say hello to you now.
Kellen: You know, I hate to ask, but why did you let Tory... Why did he act that way on the first day?
Nina: *sighs* Tory is a mystery to me.... I don't even get it. He's dating Marley, they both don't like me. You had to have heard about him and his buddy pushing me and Kari out of a moving car for not giving them... Um... 'special' favors.
Kellen: Yeah, that was all over school last fall.
Nina: Yeah, it was like, traumatic or whatever. It seems stupid to me now, especially because the accident was a REAL traumatic experience.
Kellen: I read about that, too. Traumatic experiences, that is. *nervous laugh*
Nina: You read a lot, huh?
Kellen: My best friends are books. I like my friends at school and all, but they're kinda opinionated and pushy, so I read more than I hang out with them.
Nina: You're a nice guy, Kellen.
He blushed when he looked at her and they made eye contact and laughed in the night.
Nina: I'm still not gonna go on dates with you though.
Kellen: Well, if you smile at me like that, it doesn't really matter.
Nina: Wow, that's a great line. If I was a different girl, or it was a different night, that might work. I'll let him know. Kellen, I think you have to work on your social skills. Like what you just said to me right now? That's the kind of line that can capture a girl's heart. Hehehe, not me, not tonight, I'm damaged goods, after all.
Kellen: *wide smile* Nah, I don't think you're as damaged as other people think. Everyone's got drama in their lives, but it's always more fun to watch another person who you think has more of it.
Nina: Haha, well, okay. But anyways... I'm really sorry about before, you know?
Kellen: Don't worry about it.
Nina: Your friends were like, pretty upset about it.
Kellen: Yeah, they're like that. Don't worry about them.
There was a moment of silence as they stared at the ground in front of the bench.
Nina: That guy, Patrick. He was a real piece of work...
Nina: Yeah. Do you mind if I talk to you about it? I know we don't know each other very well, and I'll understand if you don't really care to hear all that much...
Kellen: No, no, please go ahead.
Nina: That guy, he was so charming, I thought. He said a lot of the right things, he was generous (or, well, I THOUGHT he was generous), but in the end, it looked like he was getting ready to control my life, like, make some kinda power play and he couldn't handle it when I decided not to play by his rules.
Kellen: That sounds awful.
Nina: It wasn't all bad. I'll return his gifts. I don't want them anymore.
Kellen: So are you scared he'll try something crazy to get you back?
Nina: I hadn't really thought that far ahead yet. It only just happened. You had to have seen that blue car, and me get out of it right in traffic.
Kellen: Yeah, that's why I think he'll try something crazy.
Nina: Haha, you sound so certain.
Kellen: Heh, well, I thought about some crazy grand gesture. But I'm not completely crazy, just, um, not, um... Not social.
Nina: Don't sell yourself short. You are doing remarkably well right now. Maybe you just need some confidence.
Kellen: Yeah... That's hard...
Nina: You're young. My dad's always telling me that a lot of the people at the top of the in-crowd in high school won't stay there much longer than graduation. Like, this is it for them. Everything changes in college and we all become like, adults. Things are supposed to get a lot more even or whatever, in college and afterwards. Like, different things become important, or something like that. He says he was a huge dork in high school and that it wasn't until he met my mom that he was really like, well, like, a man I guess.
Kellen: *doubtfully* Yeah, I guess there's some hope for the future.
Nina: There is, there really is. Come on, I'll let you walk me home for practice.
Nina stood and reached her hand out to help Kellen to his feet. He smiled back at her and they walked down the street towards her subdivision (which turned out to be next to his). They said their good byes and Nina walked into her house around 10pm and called Erisa to talk about her night...