SUNSET AT THE OASIS
“Oh my gosh, this is so amazing,” Whitney squealed from the ledge of the circular deck that surrounded their lodgings for the evening.
Adam had to admit that the view was riveting with shades of gold and green coloring a view of rolling hills leading to mountain peaks. Nature was incredible.
Happily, Whitney felt the same way about enjoying sunsets as he did. He could feel it in the way her hand gripped his as she leaned into his arm as she took in the view. Her casual affection felt strange and Adam's first instinct had been to retreat from it.
It was new. And new was uncertain, which often felt the same as wrong. Both formed a nearly identical twist in Adam's stomach that he had yet to figure out how to differentiate. All he knew was that his stomach felt weird a lot around Whitney.
Spending time with Whitney took some getting used to but Adam liked to think he was adjusting quickly.
“Oh my gosh, look at that cute little walking trail down there,” she said, pointing to a path at the bottom of the hill below their accommodations.
The narrow path led along the tree line of the property before looping around and leading toward the dome, and Adam couldn’t tell if she really thought the trail was cute, was hinting she was in the mood for a walk, or wanted to lure him to check out the dome before it closed down for the night.
Without asking, his guess was all three and he promised himself that he'd, at least, escort her to the dome after the sun dipped below the horizon. He might not be able to stay long himself, but he could at least connect her with the other so she wasn't alone.
Because Whitney did not like being alone in public. They were opposites in that way and he could respect that.
“I wonder why they call this the Birdhouse,” she wondered, looking around at the meticulous deck space and flowering plants. “I don’t see any birds.”
Adam had the same question until he saw the view—because they definitely had a bird’s view of the world at the moment. It was the view people lived in penthouses for. Not a single eyesore in view.
“Whatever,” Whitney continued. “It’s beautiful and we can basically go anywhere tonight, right? The nearest boundary is, like, a mile away, right?”
“Further,” Adam agreed. “It’s basically the opposite of last night. We can pretty much go anywhere we want because Dr. Gia has friends everywhere here and they’ll all have their eyes on us anytime we’re not where we’re supposed to be.”
“Which means,” she said, snuggling in. “No one is watching us now. Because we're right where we're supposed to be.”
Adam grew tense as he processed the coyness in her tone. She sounded like someone who wanted to be kissed and he wasn’t sure what to do about it.
It felt way too soon to kiss Whitney. Plus, they would miss the sunset if they made out, which would kind of defeat the point.
Not knowing what to do, Adam simply kept holding Whitney’s hand while keeping his eyes trained on the horizon.
For a moment, it felt like Whitney might press him to make this the moment of their first kiss, but he wasn’t there yet. Sitting was enough. Holding hands had his head buzzing and the way she was leaning against him had Adam waiting for some adult to burst out of nowhere and break things up.
Yet he could feel she wanted more. So Adam offered her the only olive branch he could think of.
“Hey, do you want to check out the shops in the dome after this?”
“Are you serious?” she said, bolting upright with enthusiasm before dropping a quick peck on Adam’s cheek and cuddling in again. “Totally! Tonight is going to be so fun!”
He was glad she thought so because entering the dome would be a gauntlet of anxieties to him. But maybe Whitney would make it easier.
Maybe she should show him how it was fun.
In the meantime, he held her hand and watched the play of colors across the landscape as the sun went down.