Me And My Shadow

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Chapter 19

After Layla called me yesterday with the news about car shopping, I instantly became jealous. I knew that it was an exciting day for her, and I had to be the best friend that I am to her, but still.

My mom was never rich. She was somewhere around middle class. We had just enough money to get by, but still had a little extra in case of emergencies, should any come about.

I knew that we would never have enough money to get myself a car, but I was still happy that I got my license.

I almost said no to Layla, but I knew that she would not let me get away with not going with her to pick out a car.

After all, I was her best friend, so I had to comply.

Layla told me we would be going today and to be ready to leave by noon. It’s eleven now and I just got out of the shower. It’s Sunday, so it’ll be a nice way to end the weekend.

Eric texted me a few times last night, but I was reluctant to answer right away. I still didn’t understand why he rejected me so harshly. I felt like an idiot for throwing myself at him so suddenly.

I pushed Eric and our issues to the back of my mind, so that I could be mentally present during my day with Layla. I had to help her find the perfect car, as I would hope she would do the same for me if I ever got the chance.

Pure annoyance grew within me as I walked out of the front door and saw who was casually sitting in the passenger seat, scrolling through his phone.

I noticed the pleading look Layla was giving me, and I knew I couldn’t turn around and go back inside, despite the urge being present.

I deeply sighed and slowly approached the car, opening the back door and slamming it after I sat inside.

“Grouch.” I heard Eric mutter.

“Excuse me?” I asked, my anger starting to boil.

“Nothing!” He said with a smirk as he continued playing Angry Birds on his phone.

I rolled my eyes as I saw Layla discreetly smack Eric’s arm.

“Um, Layla?”

“Yes?” She replied with a hopeful smile.

“What is that doing here?” I asked, moving my eyes toward Eric and then back at her through the rear-view mirror.

Eric chuckled and turned around to face me. “I’m right here ya know... You can ask me yourself.”

“Fine. What are you doing here?” I asked in the same bored tone that I used before.

“Layla invited me car shopping with you guys.” He replied in a ‘duh’ tone.

I glared at Layla through the rear-view mirror, and she shot me an innocent smile before putting her eyes back on the road.

“Anyway... we just got back from the DMV and obviously, I passed!” Layla began to say.

I decided to turn off my anger and be a better best friend.

“I knew you would!” I gushed, “There wasn’t a doubt in my mind!” I smiled.

“Thanks! Now I just hope I can find the car of my dreams!” She squealed, as she turned the right blinker on.

I rolled my eyes, clearly amused. “Layla, this car isn’t going to be the only car you have in your life, don’t set too high of standards.”

“I have to love it though! If I don’t absolutely love it when I see it, then I’ll end up eventually hating it. Then, I’ll be stuck with it!” She whined.

All I did was laugh while shaking my head lightly at her ridiculous argument.

“Girls...” Eric sighed.

“Remind me again why you brought him?” I asked, pointing towards Eric.

Layla grinned and I immediately knew why she brought him. She turned towards Eric and came up with another excuse, knowing that I knew it was all a lie.

“My brother here is great with cars, I know he’ll help me find the right deals.” She said, patting Eric on the shoulder before making a turn.

“Actually, dad helped me find my car. I have no clue when it comes to deals or money, I just know about the cars.” He said in a bored tone, not glancing up from his phone. Man, he is addicted to that game.

Layla looked annoyed at her brother for a split second, and then caught herself.

“Anyway, I figured he could help us out.” She said while looking at me briefly.

“Yippee.” I muttered to myself.

Eric heard me and I saw his lips twitch up into a smirk.

I’ve missed his smile.

Cecilia, shut up. He was a jerk. Do not cave yet, I repeat, do not cave yet.

The whole ‘not caving’ thing, didn’t last long. Before I knew it, all three of us were walking around a huge car lot, and I found my hand permanently attached to Eric’s.

I don’t remember when he grabbed my hand, but between the butterflies invading my insides and the smile that he wore, I couldn’t pull away.

I knew we still had to talk about the other day, but I decided to let it go as of right now. I didn’t want to ruin Layla’s big day.

Layla kept snickering to me whenever Eric would go look at a car.

“So, not mad anymore?” She teased.

“Will you shut up? I’m still furious... but...” I looked away, the redness coming into view on my cheeks.

“But you love him!” She cooed with a smile.

“Shut up! He will hear you and I do not want to be rejected for a second time.” I muttered.

She looked at me with sad eyes and sighed. “Cecil... he’s not going to reject you.”

“How do you know that? He did it just fine before.” I deadpanned.

“I sort of talked to him earlier before we went to take my driving test...” She began.

“WHAT? And you didn’t tell me?” I whisper-yelled.

“I’m sorry! I didn’t exactly have the time with my driving test, and then we came straight to your house after.” She said with an apologetic smile.

“Ugh. Well, I hope he explains everything to me, since he supposedly did to you.” I said more so to myself than to Layla.

Layla looked away, and for a split second, I felt as though she was keeping something big from me. I quickly let the thought fade as Eric came back into view from the other side of the car lot.

“Layla, how much do you love your older brother?” He cooed with a smirk.

“What did you find?” She asked excitedly as she bounced up and down.

“C’mon!” He urged.

Layla and I exchanged glances and then we sprinted towards Eric, following him to the other side of the car lot.

Dorks, we know.

We stopped next to Eric, and Layla’s jaw instantly dropped. My eyes went wide as well.

“SHUT. UP!” Layla screamed, jumping into her brothers arms.

“Isn’t she beautiful?” Eric asked.

“She’s perfect!” Layla squealed, “Cecilia, isn’t she perfect?” Layla asked, pulling me into a hug.

I giggled at her amusement. “Yes, she’s perfect!” I squealed back.

The black, 1970 Dodge Charger RT, was in pristine condition. The price almost made me pee my pants, but I figured Eric’s dad had plenty of money to spend, and then some.

The paint job looked fresh as it shined in the sun. The new tires held the car up perfectly. After a few moments, the owner of the car lot came into view holding the keys.

“Would you like to hear her purr?” The owner asked.

I have to say, that was somewhat creepy.

“Duh!” She yelled, grabbing the keys, “Cecilia, come on!”

I rushed over to the passenger door and yanked it open, jumping inside. I gently closed the door after I sat down, and then I took in the beauty. Everything looked renewed and sparkling clean. The inside was all black interior, leather, to be exact.

The windows were freshly tinted and the radio looked completely restored.

It was perfect.

“I am SO jealous of you right now.” I gushed, running my hands over the leather seats.

“Hey, you don’t need to be too jealous.” She smirked.

“Why?” I asked, furrowing my eyebrows.

“Well... let’s just say, you won’t be leaving here empty handed either.” She teased.

I felt like my heart was going to explode inside of my chest.

“Layla... what do you mean?” I demanded.

“Well, I told my dad that your birthday was coming up... and I told him how you were sad because you couldn’t afford a car of your own, so...” She trailed off.

“So, what?” I demanded again, my breathing becoming irregular.

“So... we are car shopping for you as well!” She cheered, the smile on her face growing.

“We’re... we’re what?” I asked in disbelief.

“We’re car shopping for you too! Think of it as an early birthday present from all of us!” She said, leaning in to give me a side hug.

I couldn’t believe this. I’ve only known Layla and her family for a couple months now, and they’re buying me a car? That isn’t something you take lightly. I mean, it’s a freaking car!

“You really don’t have to...” I began, but Layla held up her hand instantly cutting me off.

“No. None of that. We are and you’re going to love it!” She urged, starting the ignition to her new Charger. I only say new, because there was no way in hell she was leaving this car lot with anything else.

I felt my chest getting tighter and I began to feel funny. Maybe all of this was just too much?

“Cecilia, are you okay? Do you need your meds?” She asked, concern now on her face.

She immediately turned the car off and jumped out, running to my side of the car. She pulled the door open for me and I slowly got out, balancing myself against the side of the car.

“Eric!” Layla shouted. Due to the urgency in her voice, Eric was by my side in a minute with my bag that I left in his car.

He quickly grabbed a pill from my medication bottle and opened up a water bottle he had in his car.

Why did he randomly have a water bottle in his car? Was it specifically for moments like this?

I immediately downed the pill and took some extra sips of water. I waited a few minutes and then took my weight from off the side of the car. Eric instantly grabbed my hand and I gave him a small smile.

“I’m fine.”

“Are you sure?” He asked, concern written all over his face.

“Yes, promise.” I said, taking another sip of water before placing the cap back onto the bottle.

Relief washed over both of their faces, and the owner of the car lot just stood by, looking a tad uneasy.

I gave him a small smile and he gave me one back.

“Okay, now that you’re done scaring us... let’s get back to car shopping!” Layla cheered. I rolled my eyes and giggled, walking over to another row of cars with her.

Eric smiled at me and began walking around the car lot himself.

After ten minutes of walking up and down row after row of cars, we heard Eric yell for us again.

Layla and I glanced at each other, smirks plastered on both of our faces, as we interlocked hands again and ran off towards Eric once more.

As we reached Eric, I suddenly stopped. The car before me was absolutely breathtaking and I couldn’t stop staring.

Layla looked at the vehicle in awe as well and tugged me towards it.

“Eric... how did you...” I tried to ask.

“These cars speak to me Cecil, and this one told me where to find him.” He said with an amused smile on his face.

I rolled my eyes at him with a smile of my own, before jumping into his arms. I forgot how good it felt to have his arms locked around me.

I quickly breathed him in before letting go and jumping at Layla.

I gave her a long hug, and then I turned towards the car. The owner came running out with the keys and handed them to me with a smile. I happily took them and jumped into the front driver’s seat.

I turned the key and heard the engine roar to life. This was it. This was my car.

The black leather seats were soft and had that new car smell. The radio looked newly restored and the tint on the windows looked fresh. The blue paint job was flawless as it glistened in the sun.

It was a 1968, Ford Mustang GT390. My heartbeat was regular now, since the medication had helped calm my nerves, otherwise I would’ve probably passed out by now.

I got out of the car and gently closed the door, squealing the entire time. Eric and Layla gave me smiles and Layla jumped into my arms again.

We jumped around for probably five minutes.

“Cecilia! We have cars!”

“I know! And they’re hot!”

Eric rolled his eyes, amused, and then followed the owner of the car lot inside his office to handle some last minute paper work.

“I can’t believe you guys are doing this for me! When I see your parents, they’re getting a huge hug!” I cheered.

“They wouldn’t expect anything less.” She teased.

Once Eric was finished with the lot owner, Layla and I excitedly took our new car keys. After the temporary tags were placed on our cars, we each drove out onto the road.

All three of us flew down the road with smiles on our faces. Eric already had his car, but he was still glad that Layla and I were happy about ours.

I told them I would follow them to their house, so I could properly thank Larry and Rachel. This was an enormous gift, and I felt like I owed them my life. I had no idea how I was going to tell my mom.

I almost felt bad for a second. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. I didn’t want her to feel bad that she couldn’t afford to buy me my first car. That’s something that every parent wants to be able to do.

I second-guessed even taking the car home with me, but I knew that in the end my mom would just be happy that I was happy. My mom was very humble. Plus, she would be happy that she didn’t have to be my personal chauffeur anymore.

I think every parent can relate to that.

We pulled into the driveway and Layla’s parents were already out on the sidewalk waiting for our arrival.

We each parked and got out of our cars. Layla and I both did gestured to our cars with big smirks on our faces as Eric laughed.

“Holy crap!” Larry said, “You weren’t kidding Eric. These are amazing!” He then began to be the typical dad, and started lifting the hoods of our cars, inspecting everything inside including the engine.

“Girls, I’m in love with both of them!” Rachel gushed.

“They both look great! I’m proud of all three of you.” Larry said as he closed the hood of my car.

Larry walked back over to Rachel and put his arm around her.

I took this as my opportunity and I quickly rushed towards both of them, engulfing them into a huge hug.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” I squealed, “You have no idea how much this means to me. I can’t believe you would do something this big for me!”

They both laughed and hugged me back, “It’s really no problem at all!” Larry said.

“Of course, anything for Layla’s best friend.” Rachel smiled.

I knew she heard about the fight between Eric and me. I think that’s why she said Layla’s best friend, instead of Eric’s girlfriend.

“You guys are amazing!” I said, finally releasing them from my grip.

Almost instantly Layla ran up to her parents and bear-hugged them as well. “Thank you!” She cheered.

Rachel and Larry started for the door and Layla gave me a smirking glance, following her parents inside of the house.

“So...” Eric said, walking towards me.

“So...” I said back, quietly.

“I suppose we should talk now.” Eric said, his eyes finally meeting mine.

I wanted nothing more than to attack him with my lips, but I knew that would be inappropriate.

We had to talk through what happened with us and we needed to do it before we tried to pretend like nothing happened at all.

I was nervous as hell, but I knew this was something I couldn’t shy away from.

Taking in a deep breath, I finally replied.

“I suppose we should.”

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