An intimate cup of coffee.

An intimate cup of coffee.

You sip your coffee anxiously, compulsively checking your phone. Laura should be arriving any minute for your coffee meetup at the campus cafe.

Was this a date? Just friends hanging out? You agonize over it, going back and forth. On one hand, Laura had been really flirty on Saturday, complimenting you, posing for those photos, wanting to spend more time together over lunch after the hike. And of course, skinny dipping – that couldn't have just been platonic interest, right?

But then again, maybe you're just imagining it all. Wishful thinking because Laura is so incredibly gorgeous. And also way out of your league. You remember how stunning she looked on the hike, fit and toned but still soft. And now you’re supposed to casually chat over coffee?

You take a deep breath, trying to calm down. But the questions keep swirling – is this a date? Does she actually like you? Or are you headed for awkward disappointment?

Before you can spiral further, you spot Laura entering the cafe. Your mouth goes dry as you take in her outfit – a short pleated white skirt swishing around her toned thighs, a slim white tank top that shows off that divine midriff, and a leather jacket completing the ensemble. She's effortlessly stunning.

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Laura scans the room and her face lights up when she sees you. Your heart leaps as she makes her way over, hair bouncing.

"Hey!" she greets you warmly, going in for a hug. You hesitate briefly, hyperaware of her body suddenly pressed against yours, unsure how intimate to be after skinny dipping together. Laura seems to have the same moment of shyness and pulls back, smiling at you.

"So good to see you," she says, tucking her hair behind her ear self-consciously.

"You too," you reply hoarsely, hoping you don't sound as nervous as you feel.

There’s a brief pause as you work out whether to sit back down, and you try to think about what to say first. Laura saves you from the awkward moment by saying with a smile, “Oh, I guess I need to get some coffee. Be right back.” As she walks away, you can’t help staring at the back of her thighs, remembering the curves above them under that short skirt. The cafe isn’t busy on a Monday morning, and she’s back in just a couple minutes with her coffee. She sits down across from you and crosses her legs, the skirt riding up her thigh slightly. You do your best to keep your eyes focused on hers.

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You clear your throat and ask gently, "So, how were your first classes?"

Laura seems to relax a bit at the neutral topic. "Oh, they were good!" she says. "Still getting my bearings, but the professors seem nice so far. How are your classes?"

“So far, just bland. Econ 101, an intro to computer science class… Oh, and I'm taking Intro to Art History too, for the gen eds,"

Laura's eyes light up. "Really? I'm thinking of majoring in art history."

“Oh yeah? I remember that from your profile! I didn’t ask you about that before, how’d you get into that?”

"I had this incredible high school teacher, Mr. Davies. I don’t know, he just made it super interesting. He always explained how the art was this, like, thing with a story. Every piece had both a history with the techniques that made it, and what the artists were paying attention to, but they were also all political statements, or had some other purpose. He brought art and history to life with such passion. It just got me really into it."

Laura smiles wistfully. "There's so much fascinating art and culture throughout history. I especially want to visit Europe someday. The galleries in Paris, ancient Roman ruins, Gaudí's architecture in Barcelona..."

She trails off, gaze distant as if picturing it. Then laughs softly, almost sadly. "I never went with my family or anything, and I’ve always wanted to."

You watch her carefully. "You really love it, don't you?"

Laura meets your eyes. "I do. Sorry, it's probably lame I'm rambling about high school stuff when we're supposed to be all cool and sophisticated college students now."

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You shake your head adamantly. "No, not at all! I love seeing you light up talking about it. Your excitement makes me want to take more art history classes."

"Really?" Laura asks hopefully. She pauses, then asks almost shyly, "Maybe we could take another art history class together next quarter? I AP tested out of the one you’re in right now. I mean, if you're interested, that is."

"I'd really enjoy that," you reply sincerely.

Laura's eyes light up. "Well, consider me your art history tutor if you need help catching up."

You grin. "Deal."

After exhausting the subject of classes, the conversation hits another awkward lull as you frantically search your mind for another topic. You both turn to your coffees. Laura traces her finger along the edge of her coffee cup, glancing at you like she wants to say something but is hesitant.

"I, um..." she starts shyly, keeping her eyes down. "I can't stop thinking about our hike."

She keeps her eyes down as she continues, "Lying in bed last night, it felt surreal, like it didn't really happen."

You nod, knowing exactly what she means. "I had moments like that too," you admit. "Like, did we really...?"

You trail off, not wanting to spell it out. But the vivid memories of stripping down and plunging into the lake are etched in your mind.

Laura meets your eyes, cheeks pink. "Yeah, I had to really replay it back to believe it."

She pauses, then adds softly, "Not that I was, uh, replaying it too closely or anything."

"Oh no, me neither," you sputter, feeling your face get hot. "Definitely didn't, uh, memorize every detail or anything when I was..." You stop, realizing how suggestive that sounds. "Oh gosh, that came out wrong," you say quickly, mortified.

But Laura just giggles, breaking the tension. You both laugh, the intimacy of the memory shifting into a shared inside joke.

Laura meets your eye. "Going skinny dipping together right off the bat, that's pretty crazy when you think about it," she says.

You nod, rubbing your neck awkwardly. "Not exactly normal first date behavior, huh?" you reply. Then immediately want to kick yourself - did you just call that a date?

But Laura just smiles softly. "Well, we did things a little backward, didn't we? This second date is much more tame."

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You freeze as Laura's words sink in. Second date. She called this a second date!

Your mind races as you try to play it cool on the outside. Don't make a big deal, just act natural, you tell yourself.

But on the inside, you're doing backflips, barely able to contain your excitement. This beautiful girl thinks you're dating! After all your agonizing over whether she was actually interested, she just casually drops the phrase "second date."

You resist the urge to pump your fist in victory under the table. Keep it casual, keep it smooth, you think. But inside, the voice in your head is screaming YES!

You try to remember how normal people act on dates as Laura smiles at you from across the table. Don't say anything stupid! What comes next on a second date anyway? You rack your brain, simultaneously ecstatic but also completely overwhelmed.

Stay calm, just enjoy her company, you tell yourself. You attempt an easy grin in response.

Laura’s eyebrows knit in concern.

"Is everything okay?" she asks. "You seem a"

You blink, caught off guard. "Huh? Oh, yeah, everything's great!"

Laura bites her lip. "It's just, if you're not feeling this, or I'm coming on too strong, just let me know."

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You realize with horror that your easy grin was more “paralyzed, bizarre grimace”. She thinks your weird expression means you're not into her!

"No, no, not at all!" you rush to assure her. How can you explain that the reason for your odd grin is that you're actually over the moon thrilled she called this a date? Definitely can't admit that.

"Sorry, I guess I'm just distracted thinking about finishing my move-in," you lie.

Laura visibly relaxes, looking relieved. "Oh good, I was worried I was being too forward or something."

"Not at all, date. Yes, this is a date, and I like that!" you say lamely. If only she knew the truth - that your paralyzed smile comes from the joy of spending time with her. But you let her misinterpretation stand, just glad the moment passed without incident.

Laura smiles again, warmth returning to her eyes. You vow to yourself to act normal for the rest of the date, no matter how euphoric you feel inside. As long as Laura keeps looking at you like that, you're determined not to let your inner elation sabotage things again.

Too soon, Laura glances at her phone and sighs. "I should get going actually. My dorm is having a little girls' mixer event thing for lunch, and I really want to make a good impression and get to know the girls on the floor."

"Oh, of course," you say, trying not to sound too disappointed.

You both stand awkwardly, not wanting the date to end but unsure how to prolong it.

"But maybe we could..." you start just as Laura says "We should..."

You both laugh nervously.

"You go first," Laura says.

"I was just going to say, maybe we could check out the campus gym tomorrow?" you suggest tentatively. "Since you're obviously into fitness."

You gesture awkwardly at her toned legs, then immediately feel embarrassed pointing it out.

But Laura just laughs. "Getting a workout in before class does sound fun! And I really want to see the gym!"

Then she adds with a playful gleam in her eye, "And you’ve been looking at my legs, have you?"

Before you can react, she bites her lip and adds more softly, "I mean, I did make you photograph me in the woods in just a sports bra. So I guess I forfeited the right to get embarrassed about you...noticing things."

You laugh, hoping to put her at ease. "Hey, you asked for those photos! I was just the impartial photographer trying to get good angles."

Laura smiles, seeming relieved you took her comments lightly. "Very professional of you," she teases.

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You grin back, thrilled to see her confident side emerging again. The faint blush still on Laura's cheeks makes you want to gently reassure her, but you sense she needs a minute to regain her boldness.

You make a mental note for future reference – while Laura projects an adventurous spirit, she also has vulnerable moments. You feel privileged to get glimpses of both sides of this captivating girl.

Laura glances at you shyly. "I had a really nice time this morning."

"Me too," you reply.

You both stand there awkwardly for a moment, unsure how to say goodbye. And then Laura steps toward you, reaching out.

As you open your arms, she fits herself into your embrace. At first, there's an edge of stiffness, an echo of unfamiliarity. But then she relaxes, her arms winding around your neck.

Her jacket is cool against your hands, the texture a little rough. The white miniskirt she wears does nothing to hide the firm, athletic build of her lower body, and you feel her leg move up against your pants, and you shiver, knowing there’s just a single layer of fabric between your body and hers.

You feel her torso press against yours, the defined muscles of her abdomen firm against you. The heat from her body is palpable, a comforting warmth. Her hair tickles your face, a soft and aromatic sensation that fills your senses.

Slowly, your hand drifts lower until it rests on her bare midriff. Her skin is warm to the touch, and you can feel the sides of her toned abs under your fingers, and you want nothing more than to continue exploring with that hand.

You barely detect a faint intake of breath from her at the light contact, but she doesn't pull away. Instead, she nestles closer into your embrace, arching her back to align her body with yours. The sensation of her pressed against you, her breath warm against your neck, is electrifying.

All too soon, she pulls back. But the sincere affection in her eyes mirrors your own.

"See you tomorrow?" Laura asks with a spark of anticipation.

"Can't wait," you reply sincerely.

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As you head your separate ways, you replay the hug in your mind. The way she felt in your arms, the floral scent of her hair… you can still feel the imprint of her body against yours.

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The story continues in Chapter 5...
More reasons to sweat.
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