Louise was once taught in class that nobody ever opened a sentence with “Dammit”.

Within life’s many dramas, that expression had to be earned by whatever form of consequence occured to warrant it.

She was hanging upside down on the swing when she spotted the cause of potential problems headed her way, and she felt like now was one of those instances where the exclamation was deserving.

“Hey Louise” said Rudy.

“Oh hey there Rudy. Keeping things regular?” Louise asked, refusing to change her posistion, even if the blood was steadily rushing all the way to her face. She’d hoped he’d spot the red in her face and assume she was in a prickly mood and walk away.

He did’nt budge.

“Nothing out of the ordinary. Seems that sums up all of the last year” he said sollemly.

“Oh I’m sure it’ll pick up soon” Louise replied.

“I heard you had a belter of a valentine’s night out. Everyone’s talking about what Tina and your driver did to Jimmy Junior. You’d had a make-up job too, like you’d exorcised the demon right out from under the nose of the Balor club” Rudy continuecd.

Louise twiddled her fingers mischevously and let out a cackle.

“The sisterhood were quite bewitching that night” she said with some pride in her voice, this seemed to cheer Rudy up.

Louise could feel her tension dissapating, which caused her slight concern as well as relief. She realized her next question would dictate the mood of the conversation. She was fearful it would lead to ackwardness and tension, but she felt compelled to ask anyway.

“How was your valentine?” she said.

“Oh” Rudy replied, looking up at the sky, curious to see if it’d start raining once he began to vent.

“No luck on the kissing or dating front this year” he said.

Louise sighed and straightened herself up on the swing. She urged Rudy to come sit beside her on the opposite swing.

“C’mere you” she said.

Rudy sat down and looked quite down. Louise wanted to slap herself for noticing how sad he was, but she knew the time had come to talk.

It’d been a year since the kiss.

“How far away are you?” she asked.

“Glad you noticed how distant I’ve been lately. I’m not out of reach, I’m just out of options”

“Don’t say that, you’re closer than you think” Louise replied.

“In what way?” Rudy asked.

“Look, I told my Mom a big fat lie about our school play, how it was a western, and that you were the Sheriff and me your partner, and I built you up as a real brave character, someone I’d take a bullet for”

“You’ve been thinking about me in commendable ways? I thought the only way I mattered after our kiss was with my head on a MOST WANTED list”

“Oh you make that list alright, just in a different way” Louise joked.

“I can taste it you know, that raw slap you gave me. It was like Iron” Rudy replied.

“I bruise easy don’t I?” Louise continued.

Rudy looked at her sternly.

“Other people, yes” he continued

“Well you backed me into a corner that day…I did’nt want to just reveal how I felt, in case you…you know…”

“Became insistent? Don’t worry Louise, I respect how you are about the mushy stuff. You have no time for it” said Rudy in a defeatist tone.

Louise clutched his hand tightly.

“You never know…we all get a little older, and a little crazier, with each passing year. You’re right, I don’t have the time, but you can give me a little more time y’know?”

“There’s always valentines next year I guess” Rudy said.

“Just make sure you keep one thing in mind, while not every guy happens to be Jimmy Junior, you know what happens to those who are, so you be on your best behavior” Lousie replied, giving Rudy a fierce elbow.

“Wow, you do bruise easily” said Rudy, rubbing his right shoulder tensely.

“I know how to bruise, but you sure know how to kiss” said Louise.

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