My first day of school ended over an hour ago. In that time, I’d managed to complete my homework. I’m now standing in the back yard in workout clothes with my fists wrapped. Leo bounces in front of me, holding two pads for me to punch.
“Combinations, let’s go.” He instructs and I dive into the work out we’ve done a hundred times already. “You’re sloppy, Greer, pull your head out of the clouds.” He smacks me lightly in the head with one of the pads.
“Sorry,” I say softly and pick up my speed.
Another ten minutes fly by and Leo finally deems me okay to quit. My body aches from the vigorous work out. Leo’s been training me nonstop since the incident. We’ve crammed enough karate and self-defense into the last few months for me to be able to handle myself if I was attacked.
“How was your first day?” He asks as we pack up our gear that’s scattered around the yard.
I shrug, “it was fine.”
“Make any friends?” He asks.
I think about Adam quickly, but I say nothing. Leo knows how I feel about the subject.
“Greer, listen, just because of your unique situation, doesn’t mean you have to stop living your life.” He explains.
I shove the pads I have in my hands in the duffle bag, “but it’s not my life! Don’t you get that?”
He sighs, “it’s your life now. Whether you like it or not. You’re Greer Evans now.”
I’m afraid he’s wrong.
“So, I’ll ask again, have you made any friends?” He’s using his authoritative tone, one he only uses during his tough cases at work.
I clench my jaw tight and almost refuse to answer. I know it won’t do any good though. My uncle is impervious to my attitudes. “Yeah, one. His name is Adam.”
"His?” Leo’s eyebrows raise in question.
“Yes, him.” I counter, crossing my arms over my chest.
“Do you like this guy?” He’s studying me carefully, no doubt using his years of interrogation experience to see if I’m lying or not.
“Seriously, Leo, don’t do this.”
“What?” He says in a sickly-sweet voice.
“I just met him today.”
“So, that’s a no?”
“Knock it off.” I shake my head. “I don’t like him. If I did, I don’t think I’d tell you.”
“Why not?” He sounds offended.
“Because you’d probably run a background check on him or something!” I flail my arms around in frustration.
“Of course, I would! If you haven’t forgotten, you’re in Witness Protection! That means anyone you hang out with has to be checked out!” He defends.
“Believe me, Leo, there’s no way I could forget! Not with you breathing down my neck twenty-four seven!” I yell back.
“I’m doing that to protect you. It’s my job.”
I groan, “Look, I understand it’s your job, but I’m seventeen. I want to actually have a normal life.”
“I hate to break it to you, Greer, but you’ll never have a normal life again.” He looks at me sadly.
I feel too defeated to argue back. He’s right. I don’t have the privilege of a normal life anymore. That dream died along with my parents. I had to get used to it.
I gave Leo a nod and then made my way into the house without a word. I make my way into my room and slam the door closed behind me. Gathering a new set of clothes into my arms, I make my way into the bathroom to take a shower.
Ten minutes later, with my hair wrapped in a towel, I hear my phone ring on my nightstand. I pick it up quickly and see Adam’s name flash across the screen. I answer it. “Hey, what’s up?”
“It’s Wednesday.” He says on the other line.
“Um, yeah, thanks for the information, Adam. Did I forget to wear pink or something?” I say, confused.
He sighs and I can almost picture him rolling his eyes, “No, Wednesday’s are usually the most popular day down at the bowling alley. I wanted to see if you wanted to go.”
“The bowling alley?” I question. Wow, this really was a small town.
He laughs, “I know it sounds lame, but a lot of people from school hang out there tonight. It should be cool.”
I think it over for a moment, “Sure, yeah, sounds fun.”
“Awesome, I’ll pick you up in twenty minutes?”
“Okay, see you then.” I hang up the phone and pad barefoot to my closet. It takes me a minute to find an outfit to wear. I settle on a loose t-shirt and skinny jeans. I shake my out my hair and throw it into a messy bun. Part of being invisible means that I don’t have to bother with how I look, and honestly, it’s a lot easier this way.
True to his word, after texting him my address, Adam shows up at my front door. Like a gentleman he rings the doorbell and shakes hands with my uncle. I want to quickly leave before Leo starts interrogating Adam.
“So, what’s your last name?” Leo asks quickly.
“Cornell, sir,” Adam says, fidgeting nervously.
“What do your parents do for a living?” Leo fires back a second later with another question.
“Alright, that’s enough!” I interject.
I steer Adam out the front door and towards his pickup truck. Leo stands on the front porch watching as we leave. I know that the second we leave, Leo will be on his computer running his background check. If he finds anything remotely suspicious he’ll text me and demand that I come home. For Adam’s sake, I hope he’s clean.
“Sorry about my uncle.” I sigh as we make our way onto the main road.
Adam shrugs, “Don’t worry about it.”
It’s only a few minutes later that we pull into the parking lot of the bowling alley. It’s crowded and it takes us a little bit to find a space to park his truck. Once we do, we stroll into the bowling alley. I’m instantly greeted by loud music and lots of people. Most everyone in this place is teenagers around my age. There’s a couple of them that I think I’ve seen before.
Adam chooses a table in the middle of the building and starts peering at the menu. “Do you like chicken wings?” He asks, his eyes moving off the laminated page to stare up at me.
“Oh, yeah,” I answer with a smile.
“Good, Wednesday’s are half price wing day.” Adam places the menu down and asks me what kind I like. After discussing it, he stands up to go order our food. I offer up some money to him, but he refuses.
I watch him lean across the counter to speak with the girl at the cash register. She’s our age and gives Adam a flirty smile. He doesn’t even seem to notice. A minute later he returns to sit back in front of me. He must notice how I’m staring at him, “What?” He asks, his eyebrows raising in confusion.
“That girl was so hitting on you.” I tease.
“You couldn’t even hear what she was saying.” He shakes his head and takes a drink of his Coke.
“It’s called body language, my blind friend,” I tell him, throwing my empty straw wrapper in his face.
He looks over his shoulder to the girl at the counter once again and then back to me, “You really think she was flirting with me?” A reddish color works its way across his cheeks and I can’t help but notice how cute he looks.
I nod quickly, “Defiantly.”
He smiles and his blush deepens.
“Oh my gosh, you’re so adorable.” I tease.
“Shut up.” He warns with a laugh.
“Go ask for her number.”
His eyes snap to mine, “No way!”
“Come on, Adam! She liked you!”
“I wouldn’t even know how!” He counters.
“Just hurry up and finish your drink and go ask for a refill. That’s a perfect chance to talk her up and then ask for her number.” I explained.
“Easier said than done. I think I’d make a fool out of myself.” He shakes his head, looking sad.
“You never know until you try.” I shrugged. “If you don’t do it, I’ll yell at her from here that you think she’s pretty.”
“You would not!” He gasps.
“I actually would.” I laugh.
He sighs, gulps down the rest of his soda, and then stands to his feet. I watch as he stops in front of her and starts talking. She smiles the whole time, twirling her hair in between her fingers. She totally likes him. A minute later he hands his phone to her. I mentally high five myself.