He looked skeptical, but sat up, showing that he was ready to listen, if reluctantly.
“I came here to talk to you because I know what it’s like to be stuck between a Cory personality and a Shawn personality.” She held out her hands, waving them up and down like a weight balance. “Sweet, stubbornly idealistic and a romantic through and through, versus a cynical rebel who is just a bit battered and bruised, enough to make you want to heal them, but not actually broken.” She clarified. “If it were just about the physical, Shawn would’ve won. We were both confident, insanely competitive people as teens, and we enjoyed flirting and poking at each other. There were sparks. Not enough to actually go beyond a first kiss, but the attraction was there. Cory took a long time to come into himself, physically anyway. Emotionally, he was a 40 year old man in a 14 year old’s body. Cynical and sarcastic, but occasionally he did or said something so sweet it just took your breath away.”
That surprised a laugh out of him, but he quickly sobered.
“So what made you chose him over Shawn?”
“Shawn wanted me. Cory needed me.” She answered quietly. “He looked–still looks–at me with stars in his eyes. The same way that my daughter looks at you. And you look at her.”
That caught his attention, and he looked at her, startled.
“It’s an incredible honor and a heavy responsibility, being the source and focus of such absolute trust and love.” She said gently.
Lucas had a history–Cory had told her briefly of his decisions and actions that had gotten him suspended from his old school in Texas. But since his transfer to New York–and meeting Riley–he had completely turned things around. Honor roll, student athlete, class president for two years running. The problem was, to Riley, he was literally a Prince Charming come to life–white horse and all. And he had never had anyone look at him with stars in her eyes like she did–and like Cory still did with Topanga. It was a heady feeling, knowing someone thought you hung the moon and stars, but it was also a heavy responsibility. And when their image of you became tarnished and illusions shattered, those stars dimmed.
Lucas was realizing for the first time that he didn’t want to see the light go out. Riley hadn’t yet realized that she was the source of that light in his eyes, only that there was cold where there was once warmth.
“That being said, here’s some advice from both the woman and the mom. Lucas, I already gave you my blessing, but please don’t discount yourself in all of this. Relationships are a give and take, which means often putting your partner’s feelings and needs in front of your own. Riley needs to learn that doesn’t apply only to Maya. Speaking as a mother and a woman, I don’t think she’s ready for you yet.”
He was startled by her bluntness, but once he got past the shock, her words actually sunk in.
“My advice is to develop and strengthen your friendship. Get to know each other’s minds first. Spend time one on one. And also, date other people.”
He sputtered, nearly choking again on his now cold tea.