She took his hand until she was on the pavement and then slowly pulled it back. It was more contact than he’d ever gotten before so he had hopes that this situation was getting better. AJ told her all about the history of the drive in they were headed to and about the movie he wanted to see during the drive.
They pulled into the parking lot and AJ drove into one of the stalls after purchasing the tickets; he told Max to close her eyes and wait in the truck for a minute. After a few moments had passed, he opened the door and took her hands, reminding her to keep her eyes shut. Once they reached the back tailgate, he told her to open them.
“Oh my God.” she quietly exclaimed. “How did you do all this?”
The back of the truck was covered in blankets and throws with several large pillows to rest on. There was a cooler of food, just like the picnic on the beach, and some bottles of water laid out next to it. On top of all the food in the cooler, AJ had purchased every movie theater kind of candy and had it stacked in a heap in the middle of the truck. She turned to look at him and he was smirking from ear to ear.
She smiled; he looked like such a little kid standing there with his hands in the pockets of his jeans just grinning at her.
“Good. I didn’t know what kind of candy you liked so I kind of picked one of everything.”
“I see that. You took care of every dentist’s nightmare.”
AJ chuckled. “Glad I covered all my bases.”
Max slipped off her sandals and he helped her climb into the bed of the truck. He pulled himself up afterwards and starting digging through the cooler to find their dinner. Marjorie had packed them some sandwiches and potato salad as well as some chips and pickles. The movie wasn’t starting for a little while so they had some time to talk before settling down.
“Must have been nice having the day off today.” he remarked.
“I like to keep busy; you think too much when you’re not busy.”
“Don’t like to think?”
“Even about me?” he asked with a wink.
“Even about you.” she said with a smile.
“Wow, you know how to hurt a guy.”
Max grinned and took a bite of her sandwich.
“You’re pretty honest aren’t you?”
Her grin faded. “Yes.”
“Any reason why?”
“It took me a long time to find ways to be honest and I guess it kind of stuck.”
“Hey, I’m not gonna push. I did before and it didn’t get me very far. I’m open to talking about stuff but I want you to be comfortable with me first. I promise not to make that mistake twice.”
“People break promises.” she muttered.
“I don’t.” he replied. “When I make a promise, I keep it come hell or high water. You can trust me Max.”
The announcement came on that the movie was starting and Max was grateful to be saved by the bell. They packed up the remains of their dinner and AJ put everything back in the cab of his truck so they’d have more room. He stretched his arm across the pillows and started to make himself comfortable. Unfortunately, she didn’t take him up on his silent offer and instead curled up on one of the other pillows; he slowly brought his arm back and tucked it under his head.
Max watched him as the movie started; she felt badly about the way she had treated him and the fact that she was still keeping him at a distance. She felt that if she got too close, she’d get wrapped up in him and wouldn’t be able to make an exit when she planned on it. He was a terrific guy and still tried to be her friend no matter how many times she pushed him away; she really wanted to trust him but didn’t want to open up enough where she’d get hurt.
She looked back at the screen, sighed quietly and then curled tightly into herself. Not realizing how tired she was, she fell asleep halfway into the first movie. AJ looked over when he heard the quiet snoring and thought about the road that led them to this point. He wasn’t about to give up no matter how hard, or far, she pushed him. Assuming she’d wake up before they left, he finished watching the first movies.
He snuck a peek at her while the credits rolled on the second movie. She hadn’t moved and he felt awful about waking her up. As he shook her gently, her eyes snapped open and she scooted further into the truck. Her eyes were searching everything around her and he reached out a hand.
“It’s just me Max.”
“Was I sleeping?”
“You were out like a light by the time the first one was done.” he replied with a chuckle.
“I’m so sorry AJ, I didn’t mean for that to happen.”
“No need to apologize for being tired.”
“I know but you spent all this time on tonight and I ruined it.”
“No you didn’t. I still got to see the movie even if it was hard to hear with all the snoring!”
Max blushed and he laughed.
“I really am sorry.”
“Stop apologizing. I get that you were tired. However, you will need to make it up to me with another night out.”
Max thought about it for a few minutes before she agreed.
“Good. I just have to figure out what we can do where you can’t fall asleep on me!”
She punched him in the arm and slipped of the bed of the truck. They finished packing everything up and climbed into the cab to head home. The ride was pretty quiet and before he knew it, she had fallen asleep again in the passenger side. By the time they hit her apartment, she was snoring and he decided against waking her up this time.
He grabbed her keys from his dashboard and opened the front and apartment doors. Gently picking her up from the front seat, he carried her into her living room and laid her down on the couch. He covered her with a quilt that was folded up on one of her chairs and left her keys on the coffee table. Being as quiet as he could, he slipped out, making sure the door locked behind him.