The Date That Tried to Kill Me (Three Times)

You have to wonder what God with thinking when He created Sam. No female of any age – my baby sister and mother included – could see, smell, or stand near him without committing one of the seven deadly sins. Sam was that kind of gorgeous.

For weeks I engineered opportunities for us to meet – bumping into him on campus, walking past his apartment. Finally my efforts paid off.

Whatcha doing tomorrow night?” He asked, a sinfully delicious grin dimpling his cheek.

I pretended to think, one hand on my hip, head cocked coyly to the side. “Nothing all that exciting, why?”

“I’m going up the canyon for a bonfire. Come with me.”

“Sure.” I shrugged, acting like I was doing him a favor.

He hugged me goodbye, and I got a faceful of his well-muscled chest and a noseful of his Aqua di Gio cologne. Yum. On both counts.

Suppressing the urge to skip and squeal, I hurried home to tell my sister. Liz isn’t a joyfully shriek-y kind of girl, but she gave a happy little squeak at my news. We spent the rest of the evening picking out the perfect bonfire-ensemble.

There was no question on pants. I was going to wear the jeans – the ones that displayed my assets flawlessly.

With a bright pink v-neck and camel-colored jacket, I looked appropriately outdoorsy. The only question was shoes. After a big debate between the comfort of my tennis shoes and the style of my three-inch platform boots, I decided on the boots. I mean, they are outdoor wear, right?

Sam arrived wearing a tight Abercrombie and Fitch T-shirt and dark denim. His sepia-tone eyes sparkled with mischief as he checked me out. “You look great.”

I grinned and let him lead me to the car, his warm hand pressed against my lower back.

The drive up the canyon was lovely. Conversation was easy, and our interlocked fingers rested comfortably on the console between us. I couldn’t have imagined a more dreamy way to start the evening.

We were the last couple to arrive. A small fire was already going and half-a-dozen kids sat on logs roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. Sam and I ate, then the fun started.

“Want to go on a horseback ride?”

Even though I grew up in a small town, my experience with horses was extremely limited. But I was game, and Sam hauled me up behind him on roan mare.

We trotted for a while; my head was nestled between Sam’s shoulder blades. He knew the area well. It was a friend’s private property, and he’s spent the summer acting as a lumberjack. He’d cleared away a lot of dead wood and some overgrown trees – all of which we intended to burn later that night.

Content with our quiet conversation, we watched as the sun began to set behind the Rocky Mountains. Beautiful, peaceful, calm…until something exploded nearby and the horse bucked wildly.

Sam maintained his seat masterfully, while I hung sideways off the animal’s back with one handful of T-shirt keeping me from smashing into the ground.

It didn’t take long for Sam to calm the horse, and pull me upright.

“You okay?”

“Yeah,” I said, a tad breathlessly.

“I didn’t think the guys would start the fireworks till after dark.” He peered over his shoulder at my face, trying to gauge my level of fright. “Want to head back?”

I nodded.

Sam gave the other boys an earful when we returned to the fireside. It was totally cute.

Then he asked me to go four-wheeling.

With a giggle I asked, “It’s not going to get startled by fireworks. Is it?”

He assured me it would be perfectly safe…and it was until an embankment crumbled beneath us.

Even though I was pressed against Sam’s back, my perch on the ATV wasn’t secure. I fell off the instant the ground gave way, and by some miracle Sam managed to maneuver the machine so it didn’t crush us as it tumbled.

We sat side-by-side in the dirt for a few moments, taking stock of our bumps and bruises. I’m not sure which one of us started laughing first, but our hysterical howls drew the other kids’ attention.

The guys worked together to upright the vehicle and we took a very slow ride back to the fire.

Sam poured some kerosene on the ten-foot tall stack of lumber and flicked a match. The timber was dry and went up quickly.

He spread an old quilt on the ground and arranged a log for a backrest. I sat between his legs, my back against his chest.

We snuggled, talked, and laughed. One of the guys had a guitar and passed it around to those who could play.

Sure, there had been some disasters along the way, but it was a nice night.

“Can’t get in much trouble just sitting here.” Sam said, as he tightened his grip around my waist.

Leaning back, I kissed the underside of his jaw. It was a chaste little peck…and all I could reach from that angle.

The fire burned down. Smoke and exhaustion made my eyes feel heavy. I must have dozed off because Sam’s shout startled me.

“Don’t throw that in the fire! It might explode!”

It was a case of Mt. Dew and a few cans of hairspray. My arm was nearly yanked out of socket as Sam dragged me to my feet. He started sprinting across the uneven ground to get some distance from the now-explosive bonfire.

In tennis shoes, I could have kept up with him. In three-inch platforms…not so much.

We’d only made it a few steps when my poor choice in footwear caught up with me. Rolling an ankle, I went down in a heap and tugged Sam down with me.

The cans ignited. Small bits of burning wood showered us, singeing our clothes and hair. Luckily, that was the worst of it.

At that point, I thought it would come to blows between Sam and the pyro who turned the fire into an IED. Cooler – and probably less scorched – heads prevailed and Sam and I chose to leave.

The drive down the canyon was quick and quiet. Even though Sam held my hand, it was certainly out of obligation.

He escorted me politely to the door, and gave me the kiss of death: a mere brush of his lips against my forehead.

It was no surprise that Sam never asked me out again. Who would? It truly was the date from hell…exactly what I deserved for all those covetous thoughts I had when we first met.

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