“You’re a Star Wars geek too.”
“You know it,” he says proudly. “You want to play some more?”
I nod vigorously and then spend the next hour knocking out several more songs and even making it through my very first guitar battle, where I own the guitarist from Rage Against the Machine after two tries. By the time we turn off the game, I’m feeling pretty energized, and I also don’t want this time with him to end.
I draw on my newfound mantra: put yourself out there.
It’s not a date I’m about to suggest.
But even so, I go for it with gusto. “Do you want to grab a bite to eat? There’s a great taco shop around here. I don’t know if the quesadillas are orgasmic, but some might say they’re swoon-worthy.”
He grins, and it lights up his face. “Let’s go get some swoon-worthy quesadillas.”
I take him to a hole-in-the-wall taqueria with orange Formica booths and countertops and a menu that’s half-English, half-Spanish. We order chicken quesadillas to share, and he asks if I want a Diet Coke.
My eyes widen. “It’s like you’re speaking my secret language.”
He taps his temple. “I listen, woman. I definitely listen.”
He turns back to the woman at the counter and orders two sodas.
“I can’t let you caffeinate alone,” Chris says to me.
“How gallant of you to join me in the caffeination quest.”
The woman gives us the cans and glasses, and we carry them to the table.
After we sit, he slides one can toward me. Then the second one. His eyes twinkle with mischief. “Would you like to open both cans?”
I squeal inside with delight. “You, sir, are a gallant knight indeed.” I sigh forlornly. “But I can’t. I want you to enjoy the fun too.”
He lifts a brow. “Let’s do it together.”
And like the dorks that we are, we crack open our cans at the same time, chuckling as we take our first sip, then pour them into glasses.
“So, have you always been a knight in shining armor?” I ask, keeping up with our little routine.
“Sir Galahad McCormick—that’s what they called me in high school.”
“Speaking of, where’d you grow up? You have to be a California native. You’ve mastered the whole dark-blond-and-beautiful look.”
There’s that smile again. Magnetic and adorable. “Beautiful?”
“Oh please. I’ve already complimented you fifty ways to Friday since the day we met. You’re hot. There. Full stop.”
He tilts his head, staring at me as if he’s drinking me in. “You’re beautiful. Full stop.”
My heart trampolines in my chest, and a smile threatens to take over my whole face. Before I start tap-dancing and singing in the rain, he picks up the thread.
“I’m from Brooklyn, of all places, but I hate the cold, so I got the hell out of town for college.”
“Where was that? When you double-majored,” I add, so he knows I definitely listen too.
“I went to Stanford.”
“Stanford?” My jaw drops. “You went to Stanford?”
He laughs. “What? Just because I’m not wearing a pocket protector or a business suit?”
“I didn’t mean it like that. I was just surprised. I guess because you’re so laid back. You’re the video game guy; you’re hip. You don’t seem like a Stanford guy. You’re more Berkeley.”
“Despite them being our rivals, I’ll take it as a compliment. But it’s all true—I studied software design and business.”
“What’d you do after graduation?”
“I landed a job designing video games,” he says as the waitress brings us the quesadillas. Chris thanks her, and she leaves. “I did that for a few years and then decided I wanted to do my own thing. I started consulting, doing business strategy and whatnot for companies in the gaming space. I was asked to speak at conferences, then started video blogging, then the video blog turned into a TV show. And here we are now.”
I kick my foot back and forth under the table, enjoying his story. “And here we are now indeed.”
“And you, McKenna Bell?”
I tell him my story, that I grew up in Sherman Oaks, went to college at UCLA, spent a few years at the fashion brand Sandy Summers, then launched The Fashion Hound with Andy’s help. “Now I’m here, somehow giving dating advice on your show. Life is weird. And it’s all because a cat broke my hard drive.”
“I owe that cat a drink,” he says then takes a bite of quesadilla.
“I’ll let him know you’re game for a boys’ night out.” I take a bite of my own.
He smiles, then his face turns serious. “So, how did your second date go? Did the dude break down and cry, curl up in a fetal position, or ask you to change his diaper?”
“Eww!” I cringe, shrinking away. “That’s horrible.”
“If you think that’s horrible, consider yourself lucky. I’ve heard some hair-curling stories from the single mom who lives down the hall from me.”
“There was no diaper changing. That’s a hard pass,” I say, then fill him in on Dan Duran and his notion of a woman’s role in the home.