Letting In and Second Chances
I got back home around three pm and knowing all too well that I had only three hours to get ready, I jumped in the shower. An hour later, I rush out, cursing myself for taking so long in the bathroom and immediately start with blow drying my golden hair.
When my eyes involuntarily go to the alarm clock kept on my bedside table, I slightly panic. It’s still 4:16 pm and Sean won’t be here until seven as he had said but still, just the thought of being around at home when he comes makes me feel uneasy. I don’t want to see him, let alone be in a close proximity with him.
What was I even thinking when Sean approached me this morning? That’s right, I wasn’t thinking anything except that pathetic need for Ronnie to feel the same pain as me. I should have pushed him away, slapped him in front of everyone and left. I should not have let him get to me, manipulate my thoughts and make me do something I regret so much.
I can call him and tell him I won’t go through with his plan but I won’t. One, because calling him will take all of my courage and energy and second, if he is really serious about this and is still thinking with anger towards Ronnie fueling his mind, he’ll be here before I can escape with Axel and succeed in making me agree to whatever he says like always.
Guilt and anger directed at my own self for what I did and for my patheticness of still being so affected and controlled with that Cooper boy drowns my head and I feel that it’s getting harder to breath. I walk up to my window and open the curtains as well as the window and sit on the sill, taking in deep breaths to calm myself down.
“Leah?” A sudden voice speaks, startling me and I look around to find Kevin giving me a confused frown. “You’re not at Maggie’s yet? I thought you guys were getting ready together?”
I shake my head. “Tracy’s Mom wanted to click pictures of you and her so the plans changed. Trace didn’t tell you?”
He frowns and takes out his phone from the pocket of his jeans, scrolling through it and then nods, still looking at the screen. “She called and texted me an hour ago, I must have been in the shower.”
I give him a small smile. “Yeah.”
He then looks at me and tilts his head as if scrutinizing a problem. “Are you okay?” He asks. The feelings inside me are making my head go haywire and I’m too tired to deny so I shake my head. “Want me to come there?” He asks.
I smile softly. “It’s okay, Kevin. You should get ready. Mrs. Jones is not gonna let you leave without at least four album full of pictures.”
He laughs softly just to entertain my joke. “I think I can manage slipping into a suit and getting there under half an hour. I’m coming over.”
I sigh and don’t say anything because I need someone’s presence around me to keep in touch with reality and to distract me from my thoughts. I walk back to my dresser, leaving my window open and curl my hair into soft, free flowing waves. Being the popular girl kinda made me good at makeup too and I used to enjoy it quite a lot sometime ago. Now, not so much. Still, I get on with it just for the sake of it.
It’s when I’m applying the eye liner that Kevin strolls inside. “Wow, here you’re dolling up and I was thinking you’d be opening up the door for me. Thank God I know where you keep the extra key.” He says plopping down on my bed.
I scoff. “You didn’t really think that I’d bother going downstairs to open the door when you insisted on coming here, did you?”
He grins cheekily. “Actually, no, I didn’t.” I roll my eyes and go back to the eyeliner when he speaks. “So, wanna tell me something?” He says, looking around the room he has been in one too many times.
“What are you talking about?” I feign innocence. He gives me a flat look and I sigh. There’s no use in lying to him or hiding anything since I myself am gonna tell him sooner or later. So I tell him everything that has happened since Sean approached me in the morning to me asking Axel to be my date and our plans for tonight.
Kevin listens to me with changing expressions from shock, cringe, awe and that sly smirk Emilia always gives me these days. When I’m done, he breaths out, leaning back on his hand. “Woah.”
I smile sadly. “I know, right?”
“You know what? I think we should make a movie out of the drama in your life.” He jokes.
I narrow my eyes at him. “Glad to know that my misery brings you amusement.”
He grins but it soon fades away. “So you’re really going to ignore him? You know that you’ll see him at school, right?”
“I was forcing myself to not think about it.” I wince in distaste.
He shakes his head. “I don’t know what to tell you about it so I’ll just skip this part. Now, tell me what is going on with you and that coffee boy, Axel?”
Suddenly aware of my slightly warming cheeks, I turn away from him and face the mirror. “What do you mean?”
He narrows his eyes at me. “Really?”
I frown at him. “It’s not fair. You’re making me spill everything. What happened to being curious about mysteries?”
“Romance mystery has never appealed to me, dearest neighbor.” He says dramatically.
“Pfft.” I huff. “What romance? There’s nothing like this between Axel and me. We’re friends.”
“Sure.” He drawls. “Now if you’re done with deluding us both, do me a favor and accept the reality. But seriously though, I never expected for anything to happen between you guys. That day when we all slept over, you guys seemed to be repelling each other.”
I go back to that night and think how true it is. It had been only five days since I had met Emmy and Axel when I had called them over. Well, not exactly them, only Emilia but he tagged along. And now here we are, two months later on a road of friendship that seems to be taking different turns towards roads that seem oh so dangerous to me now.
“Whatever.” I shrug, applying a coat of mascara over my lashes. “I’m not ready for the anything you’re thinking about. I’m still trying to get over somethings that are tying me down.”
Kevin sighs and nods. “I’m not gonna tell you what to do or what to feel. Just know that it’s okay to feel different again, Leah. Everyone deserves a second chance, specially you.” Is all he says before walking away, leaving me alone to think about the weight of the words he left behind.
Sighing, I get up and notice it’s already a few minutes past five. Now done with my make-up and hair, I walk up to my closet and take out the dress I bought at the beginning of October on one of my shopping expeditions with Mom and bring it out, laying it in front on my bed.
I remember falling in love with the dress at first sight and even though Mom wanted me to wear a dress she made specially for me, she reluctantly agreed to have it my way and bought it for me. I was so excited to wear it to the Homecoming Dance with my then boyfriend Sean Cooper as my date. But everything was ruined a week ago on my inauspicious birthday.
I was going to wear this dress for and with Sean. Today, it’s still the same - Sean is supposed to take me to the dance as his date - it’s just that he is not my boyfriend anymore. And looking at this dress now only brings back the painful memories that I wish I could forget. I realize that I can’t wear this - not now.
That’s right. Anything relating or binding me even slightly to Sean has to be pushed away in order for my sanity to stay intact. And Axel doesn’t deserve that I wear something that’s kind of a memoir of my ex.
Nodding to myself, I walk back into the closet and fish out the garment bag containing the dress my mother designed and got made for me. I smile and walk back into my room, pushing away the black dress I was supposed to wear and safely take out the other dress, laying it softly on my bed.
I nod to myself. Yes, this is just right and perfect. Immediately fishing out my phone, I sent him a text.
To Mr. Scowls :
Change of plans.
My dress isn’t black.
I’m wearing a wine red gown.
I’m about to strip from my bathing gown and don the dress when my phone pings, indicating a new message.
From Mr. Scowls :
I’m sure that color will look gorgeous ’cause of you.
Black is mediocre for you anyway.
And Henry has a tie of that color so I might borrow it for tonight.
I’ll be there soon :)
I smile at his texts and start getting dressed. The way the smooth fabric feels and fits against my skin just makes the tingles in my stomach grow. I walk to the full length mirror and grin when I see see my reflection. I look good, Axel will like it.
I slap my forehead when my thoughts go the wrong way and take out the three inch black stiletto heels from my shoe compartment and don them. Checking my full reflection once again and applying another coat of the red lipstick that smells and taste like berries as well as my perfume that has an exotic name and even exotic smell, I grab my phone and walk downstairs.
Since it’s still a few minutes since Axel arrives, I click a full length picture of me and send it to Mom along with a thank you that I never got to say. The doorbell rings at 6:17 sharp and even though I was a little disappointed that he was late, my mind running thoughts like what if he ditched me, I still run to open the door.
There he is, the gorgeous boy that took my breath away as soon as I opened the door. He is in a midnight blue suit with the jacket buttons open and a tie matching my dress tied loosely around his neck. His hair was gelled and combed to perfection making him look older and more mature.
He smiles sheepishly at me when he sees me, raking his eyes all over my body and checking me out just like I was doing to him. “Wow.” He breaths. “You - you look gorgeous, Leah. Like breathtakingly gorgeous.”
I blush and look down at my shoes shyly tucking my hair behind my ears. “I was gonna use the same adjective for you.” I say meeting my eyes.
He gives out a hearty laugh, throwing his head back and I find myself looking at him in awe, trying to grasp each and every feature of his that I ever missed. When he sobers up from laughing, he steps forward and engulfs me in a hug. “You’re something else, God.”
I pull back and smile. “A good something else, right?”
He grins. “Of course.” He then steps back and smiles guiltily. “I’m sorry for being late. I had to drive to Henry’s to get this tie.”
I shake my head. “It’s okay. I already told you the tie is not important. For a while there, you made me think that you ditched me.”
“Never.” He looks at me directly in the eye when he says that and the intensity in those tranquil gray orbs make my breath hitch. He shakes his head slightly, mumbling something to himself before forwarding a small paper bag towards me. “Here, this is for you.”
I raise both my eyebrows. “For me? What is it?” I ask taking the bag.
He shrugs, putting his hands in the pockets of his trousers. “Look for yourself.”
I eye him curiously but open the bag to peep inside. The shining silver heap inside confuses me and I take it out only to gasp at the beauty. It’s an antique looking corsage bracelet with a blue rose in the middle surrounded by small diamonds. “Oh Lord, Axel, this is beautiful.” I gasp out, catching his gaze. “You didn’t have to.”
He rolls his eyes. “For the last time, Leah, I bought this because I wanted to. Stop worrying, okay?” I can only nod. “So....” He starts, clearing his throat and looks, dare I say, nervous. “Do you like it?”
I smile softly. “I love it, absolutely love it.” I say truthfully.
He doesn’t seem to believe me so I forward my left wrist towards him. “Here, help me.”
He takes the bracelet from my hand and ties it securely on my wrist, smiling down at it. “It fits perfectly.”
“It does.” I say, pulling my hand away to admire it.
“I would have bought flowers but I didn’t see any florist on the way but I did see one antique jewelry store down the road.” He tells me.
I let out a laugh. “It’s a good thing you didn’t. I’m not a fan of flowers if they’re cut out of trees.”
“I hope so.” He says. “Is nobody home?” He asks, changing the topic swiftly.
I shake my head. “Mom and Dad are on a trip and Grant has plans I’m not aware of and I’d rather not know unless they’re pg 13.”
Axel chuckles. “Let’s go then. We’re already late.”
I look at the time on my phone and my eyes widen when I realize it’s just fifteen minutes to seven, meaning Sean could be here anytime. “Uh, yeah. Let’s go.” I say stepping out and locking the door securely. He nods and puts his hand on the small of my back, guiding me outside the gates. “You could have parked in here, you know.” I say and he simply shrugs.
“Oh wow.” A familiar voice says from the left and I look the way to see Kevin just leaving the house. “You look amazing, Lee.” He sends me a smile. Axel pulls me closer as I thank him. “Just a wait a minute.” He says and jumps over the wall that separates our front gardens and walks up to us.
“Hey man.” He greets Axel who nods and then turns to me. “You were not thinking that I’d let you go so easily, were you? Grant will kill me if he knows that I didn’t take at least one photo.”
I groan and he grins cheekily, taking out his phone. “Okay now, young birds, pose for me.”
Axel gives him an amused look but grins for the camera nonetheless while I’m left staring at him. During the next picture, he gives me one of his rare, cute smiles, my favorite ones. A couple more photos later, Kevin allows us to go while he jumps back to his yard.
Axel and I walk outside the gates and I frown when I don’t see his truck but a silver sedan. He guides us towards it and I look up at him with questioning eyes.
“Hana let me borrow it when she learnt I was taking my truck. She said that you’d be wearing a gown and it’d be uncomfortable.” He explains.
“Thank her for me for stuffing some sense into your stupid brain, would you?” I joke and he rolls his eyes, opening the car door for me. He runs towards the driver’s side and soon backs out.
As we turn into another street, I see a black car pulling up in front of my house in the rear view mirror and let out a sigh of relief for not encountering him when we were there. When my phone starts buzzing with text messages, I put it on silent mode and ignore everything except the boy sitting beside me and the way I’m giving myself a second chance without actually wanting or trying.
As soon as the realization hits me, panic sets in. I’m not ready for a second chance, it seems scary even though I kind of like it. My fast heartbeat returns to normal when Axel entwines our hands together and it doesn’t feel out of place at all.