We began to walk in some random direction.
"Do you know your way around here?" I asked.
"Yes; I've lived here for twenty years." Jay answered. "My family moved here when I was eight. I'd better know my way around Napa, thank you very much."
"So you're twenty-eight?" I asked.
Jay laughed. "If it's any of your business how old I am, yes, I'm twenty-eight."
We walked along in silence. Finally, I said, "I just moved here. I lived in Texas before we came here."
"That must have been hard for you," Jay commented. I was surprised. I had expected him to start praising Napa, saying how beautiful it was or something.
I sighed. "Yeah," I admitted. "But it is really pretty out here."
"Yes, it's very lovely in Napa. Despite that, though, it's very hard to move away from friends, isn't it? Did you like living in Texas a lot?" Jay inquired.
"Yes; I loved living there." I said wistfully. "I had a lot of really good friends. I never wanted to move. I kept telling Mom and Dad that I really didn't want to move. But they didn't listen. It's not the beginning or the end of a school year. I thought it would be really hard for me to come here; to make new friends and all, and catch up in school work. But Mom and Dad said it was bad for me to stay in one place my whole life." I was surprised at myself. Here I was, telling the whole story to a stranger I hadn't know for 20 minutes. But Jay was the kind of person that brought everything out of me without a warning. Like an automatic response to something. Jay just watched me speak, without saying a word. Just nodding. "I guess I'm kind of glad we moved here, though." I said. I wondered if Jay was even listening at all. It was just nice to tell someone. But he seemed to be listening; listening wordlessly. Not trying to give me a solution. Just listening to what I wanted to admit. "I mean, I've met Austin and want to help him. And I think that might be good for me, to put effort into helping someone. I like to be cheerful and happy and stuff, but I also want everyone else to be happy. I don't like being the only one that's happy about life, you know? It hurts to see other people not being happy. I've also met April, a girl at my school, and she's my friend. She seems really nice. So maybe Mom and Dad were right."
Jay nodded. "Yes, it's good to move sometimes, I think. You do new things, see new places, meet new people. Like meeting me," he added, with a glint in his eye.
There was a moment of awkward silence. Just then, Jay and I came around a corner to a street lined with shops. I spotted an ice cream shop and suddenly realized that I was kind of hungry.
Jay studied me in a careless kind of way. He hardly seemed like a stranger anymore, even though I'd just met him. And I'd also admitted a lot to him. "You want some ice cream?" he asked.
I hadn't expected that. "I don't have any money," I said, disappointed.
"I'll buy you something. Anything you want," he said, propelling me toward the ice cream shop. "Who cares about ruining your appetite anyway? You don't have to tell your mom that you got ice cream." Why was it that he always said what I wanted to hear?
Jay pushed me into the ice cream shop, me still recovering from surprise, and approached the counter. "What do you want?" he asked me.
"Um..." I surveyed the various assortment of ice creams, ranging from chocolate flavored to toffee. "Coffee?" I said.
Jay grinned. "I like that kind, too. Two small coffee ice cream cones, please," he said to the lady behind the counter. Jay dug out his money as the lady scooped out ice cream from the tub labeled Coffee.
"That'll be $4.25, please," she said. Jay handed her the money and took the two cones. He gave one to me and began to lick the other. "To go?" he asked me, "Or do you want to eat it here?"
"To go," I replied. "I'd better be getting home."
"In that case," said Jay, giving me the charming corner-gaze again, "I'll walk you home."