Katerina and Johnny went to Bradford’s Bar & Grill on their first date. Bradford’s was a new business in Lucky Palms—it was built in the location of the old equestrian center.
After enjoying a drink at the bar, they moved to one of the tables to chat and become better acquainted. “Where are you from?” Katerina asked.
“I was born in Bridgeport,” Johnny answered, “but I’ve lived in so many places. What about you? Tell me about yourself.”
“Well, I’ve lived in Lucky Palms all my life,” she told him. “I recently graduated from high school at the top of my class, and I was voted the most likely to become a rock star—which I think is kind of funny because I’m a classical musician. I play the violin.”
“I bet you rock though,” Johnny mused. “Are you planning to have a career in music?”
“I don’t know,” Katerina replied. “I had a chance to go to college on a fine arts scholarship, but I decided to just work and live on my own, which really bothered my family.”
“Oh really? How come?”
“My family is very big on tradition,” she explained, “and one of our traditions is to live under the same roof through many generations. The only exceptions have been when someone moves to a whole new town.”
“So they wanted you to live at home and you busted out on your own?”
“Yeah, pretty much, but I spend a lot of time with my family still. I really love my family—especially my grandmother. She practically raised me and she lived with us until just a few years ago. Now she lives in a retirement home with my grandfather, and I help out at the home every week.”
“So you’re a rockin’ violinist, plus you’re smart, beautiful, and thoughtful—are you totally perfect?”
Katerina laughed and revealed, “Hardly! Everyone says I’m neurotic. I have a thing about double checking the taps and stuff, but I don’t think that’s so bad.”
“Nah, there’s nothing wrong with that,” Johnny agreed. “Hey, they’re playing my favourite song! Do you want to dance?”
Johnny and Katerina danced together and tried to play a game of pool, but the table was occupied. “Let’s get some food and hope they leave by the time we’re finished eating,” Johnny suggested. They ordered food and the cook burned their order, but Johnny ate his meal anyways.
“I can’t believe you’re going to eat that,” Katerina teased him playfully.
“I’ve had worse,” he said between crunchy bites, “and a bit of burnt food wont kill you.”
“That’s not what I heard,” she snickered, but then changed the subject to avoid talking about her great grandmother’s killer cooking. “So what kind of work do you do?” she asked.
“Let me explain it to you like this,” he began. “Have you ever thought about how the highways leading out of town are all blocked off and travel is restricted to just three or four places in the world? That’s what my job has to do with.”
“What, you keep people from moving freely between cities?” Katerina questioned.
“No, no,” he replied with a laugh. “Nothing like that. I work for a multinational company that’s trying to make free travel possible for everyone—so people don’t have to sever all ties with their families just to move to another town.”
“That would be so great!” Katerina exclaimed. “It’s terrible that when someone moves away it’s impossible to keep in touch with them or visit them.”
“Someday it will be possible,” he promised her. Then he noticed the bartender gesturing and said, “This place is about to close! Too bad we never got to play pool.”
They walked outside and talked in the parking lot.
“I had a great time with you,” Johnny said. “Can we get together again and play some pool next time?””
“I’d like that a lot,” Katerina answered. “There’s an arcade where we can play. I’m having dinner with my family tomorrow, but we could get together afterward, if you like?”
“Sounds perfect—it’s a date!” Johnny agreed. He had an intense desire to kiss Katerina, but he resisted and simply said goodnight to her.