Date Night, A Loving Riley Excerpt

I saw this video on my Facebook feed and was reminded of how well it fits the events behind a chapter in Loving Riley when Riley presents Ashe with one of his favorite things. Surely she didn’t restore it herself, right? But those details don’t necessarily belong in the book. But they’re perfect for my blog.

The moment Ashe walked into her apartment that evening, he saw it. His brow furrowed quizzically at a new addition to her decor. She had a small apartment, already cramped as it was, and she’d had no place to tuck her surprise anywhere but in front of the built-in shelves facing the couch. It was a stand-alone jukebox that played 45’s, and it was stocked with colored vinyl records.

“If you like it, we can have it moved into your condo,” she said softly, watching him.

“Like it? I love it, petal.” He loved it so much he could barely speak.

“Why don’t you check it out while I set the table,” she murmured. “I know you’re dying to.”

She was right. He was dying to switch the bloody thing on and play all the records for the rest of the evening if he could. Ashe let go of her and hurried toward the jukebox, taking his time to study it. It was a German-made NSM ES160 II from the early 80’s. The top portion featured the titles of the 80 records arranged behind the glass, some of them multi-colored and, as Ashe could only guess, rare editions. He switched it on and browsed through the selection of songs. He couldn’t help but feel like a child on Christmas morning, all his worries forgotten.

Minutes later, he felt Riley standing behind him. She wrapped her arms around his waist and leaned her head against his back. “So you like it?”

“I love it, petal.” Pulling her to stand beside him, he read the titles out loud, wondering how she’d managed to find the jukebox in such perfect condition. He chose a song and pressed a button, and they both watched as the carriage mechanism moved from the right of the illuminated glass front to the center where a red vinyl record was deposited between two curved bars.

The Four Seasons’ Let’s Hang On began to play from the original speakers and for a few moments, Ashe was still, his brow furrowing as if deep in thought. Then he turned to face Riley dramatically and began lip-syncing the words, something about hanging on to what they got. With an Elvis song set next in the queue, he didn’t care if he’d let his secret Elvis impersonator-self slip through; for her, he’d act silly. She laughed and took his hand as he pulled him to her and they began to dance, Ashe still lip-syncing.

They danced to two more songs until the timer on the crockpot beeped, a reminder that dinner was ready and that Ashe should stop thinking about the jukebox and where it would fit in his condo. He’d worry about it next week. It was date night, the one night he looked forward to each week and as an added bonus, there were enough records behind the glass partition to last them the night.

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