I was already seated in the lecture hall by the time Emily, Dustin, and Jacob got there. With little more than a hello, I began to reread the letter that was in my hand. The first time I had read it, I had been in denial. Then I noticed the time and printed the email out before dashing off to class. Now, reading it a second time…

"Hey Ash! What's wrong?"

Without saying anything, I handed the paper to Emily who sat next to me and forced myself to take in a deep breath to calm down. Getting upset wasn't going to do me any good, I knew that. But still…

Em handed the letter back to me and gave me a hug.

The guys were quick to notice that something was up. "You okay Ash?" Jacob asked.

I motioned for Emily to tell them. I frankly didn't trust myself to speak just yet.

"Her date for our club's banquet had to cancel. He's got some stuff going on with his family and he has some responsibilities to take care of."

"You're still going though, aren't you?" Dustin asked. "You swore you'd go after missing last year."

I shrugged. "I know I promised, but I can't imagine myself going with anyone but him. We'd set this date ages ago because we haven't seen each other in so long. I've even already paid for the two of us!"

"So you go! You've got to go Ash," Emily tried to persuade me. "It wouldn't be right without you there. So many people would miss you."

I smiled a little. "Thanks Em. Great job trying to guilt trip me. Honestly, I really want to go, but I just don't feel good about going alone. You're going with your boyfriend, Dustin's going with his girlfriend, the rest of the board has dates, and so does everyone else that I know who's in the club."

"So we'll find someone else for you to go with."

"And who would you have in mind? The banquet is the day after tomorrow! Who's going to be available on such short notice?"

"Don't fret. We'll find someone," Emily replied, trying to comfort me as our professor cleared his throat.

I just shook my head and tried to put any thoughts of the banquet from my mind. I knew that as disappointed as I was, this wasn't the place to think about it. Of course, it's different knowing what's best for you and actually doing it.

As I sat through lecture, I couldn't help but picture in my mind everything that I'd done to get ready for the night. Of course, there were the little odd projects that I'd volunteered for in helping get the night ready, working with Em and a few of the other girls with the program and such.

Then there was the dress. I sighed a little to myself, remembering how Emily and I had decided on a whim to go shopping one day. We found ourselves in a random store and saw that they were having a clearance on formal dresses. Who would have thought that we'd find a dress that fit me so well so quickly? From the moment she spotted it on the rack to the moment I tried it on, we both knew that this dress was meant for me, but what was the use of even having it if I wasn't even going to be able to use it? Sure I had bought the tickets but…

Two days later, Emily called me. "Ash! Come over here now! Bring your dress and your stuff. We're getting you ready for tonight."

"What are you talking about Em? Banquet is in a few hours and we've gone over this already. I'm not going without a date. I don't care if I'm being bratty about this but I don't want to be alone."

"You're not going alone. We found someone and you're going."

"And who would this date of mine be?"

"It's a surprise."

"A blind date!? Oh you've got to be kidding me!"

"Quit arguing with me and get over here now."

There was no use in arguing with her over the phone, I knew that, not when she had that tone in her voice. And as much as I felt a little worried about who was going to be there, my curiosity got the better of me as well so it was no surprise that I found myself at her door in no time at all. Emily threw open the door when I knocked. "Good, you brought your stuff. Just leave it here and let's get going. You didn't cancel your hair and make up appointments on me, did you?"

"No. Kinda slipped my mind."

"You? Forget to do something? Let's be thankful it's this one time," she smiled as we headed out again to start getting ready.

Two hours later, we got to the hotel where the dance was going to be held. "All right chica. I'll see you inside," Emily said as her boyfriend appeared at her side and started leading her away.

"What? You can't leave me here alone!"

"I've got to go help finish setting up inside, you know that. Don't worry. Your date will be here soon."

"But-" I tried to protest, but she was already gone. I sighed and looked around for a place to stay until my date came. As the minutes ticked by, I waved hi and chatted a little to the others as they went on past me to the reception hall. Looking down to my watch again after Dustin and his girlfriend left to go in, I noticed that dinner was almost ready. 'If he doesn't make it here soon, I'm just going to go.' No sooner than I had thought that though when I felt someone come up behind me.

"You actually waited."

I spun around. "Jacob?"

"The one and only," he smiled.

My face crinkled in confusion. "What are you doing here? I thought you had plans with your friends this weekend."

"You remembered?" A look of shock appeared on his face.

"You're surprised about that? You should be surprised that I was even paying attention to you when you were talking about your weekend plans," I smiled.

He smiled back. "You are just full of surprises sometimes Ashley."

"It's my job."

"I thought stressing out was your job."

"Hobby," I grinned.

"Well then, would you do me a favor and forget about your strange hobby for tonight? There's a banquet I'd like to take you to."

"You're my date?"

"Hello? I'm wearing a suit here! What do you think?"

I shook my head. "That's not what I meant. You're asking to go with me?"

"Hey, I figured free food since you paid already, so why not?"

"But your friends!" I said even as we started walking towards the door.

"It's all right. We can hang out another time. This is banquet. It only happens once a year."

"Jacob, I don't know what to say." I turned to look at him and it was as if I was looking at him in a new light. "You didn't have to do this."

"Yes, I did."

"No, you didn't."

"Yes Ash, I had to. I couldn't stand to see you looking so down and upset. Knowing that you were unhappy… It got to me."

"Oh please. You're lying."

He just smiled as we approached the table where Emily and Dustin had saved us seats. "Glad you made Jacob! You guys are just in time for dinner!"

The rest of the night flew by so quickly after that. Towards the end of dinner, there was the awards ceremony for the graduating seniors. We also officially inducted the new board members. And then there was the dancing. As Jacob and I found ourselves swaying to a ballad later that night, I couldn't help but smile.

"What," he asked.

"Nothing. Just thinking that I'm really having a good time tonight, and it's all thanks to you."

"Hey, no problem. I knew that this was a big deal for you, especially after seeing how down you were with the thought of not going. And while I know I'm not a substitute for your friend, I'm just glad you're enjoying yourself."

"What about you though? Are you enjoying yourself?"

"Of course I am. What made you ask that?"

"I don't know. I just had to make sure. You put off your plans with your friends, and this isn't exactly your scene I bet."

"Well, you're right about the cultural aspect of it, but that's about the only difference I see here," he said, looking around at everyone else. "As for my friends, I told you that it's all right. We were just going to go to the city and probably go clubbing anyway."

"But – "

"Stop arguing Ash, or I may just have to take drastic measures."

"Oh really? I thought you liked arguing with me," I teased.

"Do we have to do it tonight? I was having such a good time talking to you normally though," he smiled.

"And if I wanted to keep arguing with you? What would you do to stop me?" I asked, testing him.

He shook his head. "Don't tempt me Ash."

"Oh come on! You've got me curious now."

"Let me ask you something then."

I raised an eyebrow at him. "What's that?"

"Do you remember the first night you called me and we were talking about how your feelings were usually right?"

"Yeah, except for when I'm referring to guys. Why are you bringing that up now?"

He smiled. "Because by the end of tonight, I swear you will come to realize that you've been lying to yourself again."

"What are you talking about now?" I asked, but the next moment, I found myself kissing him. Without my realizing it, he'd drawn his arms closer around me and had just been waiting for the right moment. At first, I didn't get it. I was still lost with the way the conversation was going. Then it dawned on me what we were doing… And I couldn't bring it in me to break away. Something felt strangely familiar, strangely comforting… Something about this kiss felt so right…

When we broke apart, we found ourselves staring into each other's eyes. His eyes looked deep into mine with a look of boyish happiness that I never knew him to have before. I couldn't help but kissing him again, surprising both of him and myself.

He chuckled. "I knew I was right," he said when we broke apart again.

I rolled my eyes. "When aren't you right?" I asked, but I was smiling when I asked.

"Plenty of times, I swear, but come on! You think I would have asked you if I didn't think I'd be right?"

"I thought you came for the free food."

He shook his head. "Only an added bonus. I told you I liked you."

"And this is the part where you tell me I should listen to you more, huh?"

"Seems like you already do your part of listening. It's the believing I was actually trying to get at."

I smiled. "I'll work on it if…"

"If what?"

"Kiss me again?"

He smiled. "Gladly."

And he did just that.

A/N: Sorry for such a short, bad story. I lost my inspiration and interest in this piece. =( Oh well. Look out for something new soon! I promise it'll be better! Thanks!