Chapter 6: The Girl Next Door, Maria (Part 3)
The plan worked far better than I ever could have imagined. We talked for hours and texted even longer than that. I had no idea it would end up being so easy. From the way Clarissa talked about her I was expecting my opinion of her to change once I finally met her face to face. I’m glad I was wrong. She was so easy to talk to once she finally spoke. We already had so much in common and I loved every minute of it.
I can never see her again though.
I’m already in love with her after a few days and that’s a problem. I’m not good with girls. I suck at being a boyfriend and I suck at being a best-friend. I end up losing them anyway. I’d rather get it out of the way now instead of just waiting for it to happen. I rather not think about her every second of the day and still not be able to protect her. I rather not have to put myself through the same horrible feeling of losing her.
I didn’t expect this kind of outcome at all.
To get my mind off of it all I decided to go mow the lawn outback. Not long after I could hear the barking. I tried to ignore it even though every part of me was wanting to play with them. A relationship with the pups means getting closer to her. I can’t get close to either of them. I can’t play with the pups. I don’t need them to get attached to me and force the two of us to hang out even if it’s only momentarily.
About two hours later I was exhausted and probably cut the grass too low, but I had achieved what I was trying to do. The dogs were still barking and it amazed me that she could sleep through it. I shrugged it off before going to shower. Even while in the shower I could hear the faint barking of them and my phone ringing nonstop. I needed to get away already.
All I wanted to do was get to know Maria and be for her, which would surprise even me; yet it didn’t seem like she wanted the same. It’s been a few days and she waves when we pass by each other and let the dogs come say hi but that’s about it. Clarissa on the other hand has been nonstop. She randomly brings up Maria and says she hopes I’m not ruining myself by hanging out with her.
She makes me sick. There’s no need to bring her up at all. Something about Maria makes Clarissa tick and although it isn’t obvious to most people for whatever reason, clearly Clarissa is jealous of her.
Okay, the shower wasn’t helping at all. Maybe putting some distance between us would help. I needed to get her as far from my mind as much as possible. I still had no idea how I was going to do that, but hopefully physically putting distance between us would help. I grabbed a pair of sky blue boxers, my black jeans, a black wife beater and a sky blue button. Just as I was sliding my underwear on, my phone rang. For the first time in days her name popped up on the screen. It wasn’t a text. It was a phone call. Just like that I was forgetting everything I said before.
“Hello.” I answered after realizing that it had probably been ringing for too long while also trying not to sound too eager.
“Hey, did I wake you?” she sounded concerned. Such a sweetheart. How could anyone not like her?
“No actually. I guess I’m just a little tired from mowing the lawn.” Not a complete lie, but entirely the truth either. A safe bet.
“Oh. Can you raise up your window? Um… the pups want to say good morning.” I snickered to myself. I would’ve taken that kind of out myself if I’d been able to. No one would question dogs barking wildly in the background. Still, I had to tease her. I had to be as casual as possible so she wouldn’t notice how obsessed with her I am.
“They do or you do?” I teased.
“Them. Can’t you hear them in the background.” I definitely could. “Now I know why. They seen you out the window.” Well she was right about that and now I felt bad. They’d gotten so rowdy because I’d tried to ignore them. I felt guilty.
“Oh, I’m sorry then. I’m at the window now.”
“Okay, give me a second.” I can hear her moving and I held my breath anticipating the moment I would see her. Would her beauty still be evident? Or would she look like a completely different person? Either way, I knew I would still be obsessed with her. I watched her window waiting for the chance to see her. How different would she really look? As soon as her window was up, I didn’t even notice her. Was too scared one of the dogs was going to try to jump into mine. “Caterpillar, Butterfly and Cocoon you know better! Inside voices!” she yelled at them. It was visible just how bad she felt for yelling at them. I couldn’t help it. I laughed. I was in complete disbelief. This girl was nothing from what I expected. She was so sweet and gentle.
“Okay this is partly my fault. How about we meet up in your backyard in about...say ten minutes? We can go for a walk or something. Just my little way of apologizing for making them so rowdy.”
“Um...sure.” she yawned and I could feel a smile taking over my features. She was adorable right now. I don’t know what compelled me too, but I had to acknowledge it outloud.
“By the way, you are gorgeous with bedhead.” and then I quickly hung up all giddy. I had no idea what this girl was doing to me, but as she tried to cover her hair with panic stricken eyes I couldn’t help but notice the little things. She seemed so carefree in the moment of slight teasing that I knew it was pointless. It would be impossible to stay away from her and we both knew it.
… … … … … …
I don’t know how long I stood back there waiting, but I didn’t care. I was playing with the dogs with both my shirts sitting on her porch swing so they wouldn’t get dirty.
“Dave, do you ever wear shirts?” she asked, scaring me. I hadn’t heard her come out the door.
“Of course I do it’s on your porch swing. Didn’t want to get it dirty while playing with the dogs.“I laughed winking at her.
“Well put it back on so we can take them for a walk.” She said holding up their leashes. It took everything I had not to just stand there and stare at her. I had to remind myself to be casual. We could only be friends and nothing more.
“So where are we walking too?” I asked after putting my shirts back on. She seemed dazed and for a moment I allowed myself to believe that she was into me like that, but I knew it wasn’t possible. She couldn’t love a monster like me, I wouldn’t let her.
“Nowhere in particular.” She said before handing him a pop-tart. I took it gratefully before placing it between my teeth and continuing to fix my shirt. I was schoolgirl giddy over the fact that we were already at food sharing. Things were moving fast. “I just thought that I could show you around. Pick a leash.”
I did as told and ended up with Butterfly’s leash. I tried not to show that she was my favorite, but I’m pretty sure it was obvious. After hooking them all up we began to walk. I noticed it was the same route that she took to the dog park that day. Had I been paying attention, I would’ve noticed it all, but I was absorbed in her.
“Hey, I think we think alike.” I spoke as she looked at me with confusion. “We’re dressed alike. I like it.” I clarified. She blushed as we went back to silently walking. I didn’t mind. It gave me a chance to really admire how stunning she looked in sky blue and black.
“So what was life like back in your old town?” she asked instantly, making me sick to my stomach as memories flashed in my mind. If she knew the truth, the peace I had found in her would be gone.
“Boring. Everyone knew everyone and everything. After a while it gets irritating not having any privacy. Know what I mean.” Perfect. Just vague enough to not raise more questions, but held enough information to answer the question.
“Not really. I’m an only child. My parents got me the dogs so that I wouldn’t bother them.” she tried to joke, but something about the tone behind it made me wonder about her even more. She didn’t know that I knew something about her and she wanted it to stay that way. I’d respect that.
“You’re one of a kind Maria, truly one of a kind.”
“Um..did you play any sports at your old school?” Was she nervous? Did I just make her nervous? I meant it as a compliment.
“Um...yeah. I played football and basketball. I probably won’t be able to play this year though because of the move. It really sucks too cause it’s my last year of high school.” Not entirely a lie. I still hadn’t been cleared to do so.
“Maybe if you explain that to the school administrators they’ll understand that you need to be an exception to the rule so that you can be scouted by college scouts.” I couldn’t help smiling. She understood what most girls didn’t bother to try to comprehend. She would just rip my heart out and eat it right in front me and it would still be completely hers.
“How do you know so much about scouting?”
“I’m a cheerleader. I could have been a competitive one, but I broke my ankle and decided that doing it for fun and school spirit was better.” That didn’t seem like a lie, but there was definitely more to it than she was letting on.
“In other words it was rough and that bone fracture scared you enough to the point where you almost quit entirely.”
“Exactly.” We both laughed before she abruptly stopped and started pouting. I got confused before following her line of vision. The ice-cream shop. Did she know? There was no way she knew. It just happened and Clarissa didn’t seem like the type that would talk for no reason.
“What are you pouting for?” I asked all playfulness was gone from my voice. I couldn’t have this ripped away from me so soon over a night that I couldn’t even remember clearly.
“That parlor has the best tasting ice-cream ever. I really want some, but no dogs are allowed. Oh well maybe next time.” I breathed a sigh of relief. She had no clue about anything. Including the fact that I knew she was banned from there. Which made me feel even more relieved because she didn’t know I had stalker like tendencies.
“Or you can hold on to Butterfly for a minute.” I was freaking out. Barely here for a few weeks and already having girl drama. Doing this sober was far harder than being intoxicated all the time. I wasn’t a rude person and couldn’t just walk off like I did when under the influence. The minute the bells chimed she was glaring at me.
“Hello.” I smiled trying to charm my way out of this.
“What are you doing with her?” she spat almost accusingly.
“Why the hostility?” I challenged.
“How dare you be seen at a party with me and then a few days later show up with the slut from hell? You may be new, but you aren’t stupid. I know you heard the whispers. Do you know what people will think of me if they see the two of you together?” I stared at her honestly confused before my temper got the best of me.
“You right I am new and my neighbor decided she wanted to show me around. You don’t own me because of one mistake that I made. Now you don’t mind. I’d like two vanilla cones and that’s it. Keep your opinions and judgement to yourself.” I could tell that she wanted to say something else, but her mother came from out the back.
“That’ll be five fifty sir.” she gritted out before I handed her a ten. “Your change will be four fifty. Thank you for coming to Clarissa’s Parlor. Have a wonderful day and come again.” I smiled as I took the change from her before she turned to fix the cones and handed those to me. “This isn’t over.” she whispered.
“I think it is.” I whispered back before clenching my jaw shut and heading back out the door. The minute I saw her patiently waiting for me all my irritation seemed to melt away. She was blushing after she realized I’d bought cones for us. For a minute she just stared between me and the cones.
“You even cuter when you’re red.” I said before handing her a cone and grabbing Butterfly’s leash from her.
“Thank you.” She whispered quietly.
“No problem.” I whispered back before laughing. We continued walking until we were back at our houses. I didn’t want to leave her. There was still so much more that I wanted to know, but I had no choice. I had to put my phone on silent after Clarissa saw us together.
“Today was great. Thanks for walking with me.” she whispered shyly.
“My pleasure. Maybe later on tomorrow you and the dogs can come over and take a swim. We’re having it cleaned today.”
“Sure, if this isn’t just an excuse to see me in a bikini.” She teased.
“Well at first it wasn’t, but now that you’ve put the thought in my head...” I joked.
“Goodbye Dave. Talk to you later.”
I laughed before hugging her and walking across the path back to my house. I knew that this was the beginning to the end. Every part of me wanted to hug her again and not let go. Before I could make it to my door, I heard someone trying to get my attention. I turned to see a woman that looked like an older version of Maria. She had to be her mom. This had to be when she would be ripped away from me.
“Hey you!” she yelled. I pointed to myself and she nodded. “Come here.” I did as told, wondering why she kept looking over her shoulder. Did she not want Maria to see us talking? “Did you just drop my daughter off?” she asked. Why in the hell did she say it like that? She had this crazed look in her eyes.
“Um...yes ma’am. She showed me the neighborhood and we went the dog park for-”
“I don’t need a play by play. I’m here to make you an offer.” she interrupted speaking quickly like she just wanted to get this over with.
“I’m willing to give you six thousand seven hundred and fifty dollars. All I ask is that no matter what you stick by her side. You protect her and above all else you become a genuine friend.”
“Why the money?” I questioned confused.
“I noticed you didn’t have a car. I would rather my daughter be safe in a car with you than to have her walking where anything can happen.” I understood that well. I wanted that too.
“You know if she ever finds out, it’ll be taken wrong right?”
“Then she can never find out.” she seemed desperate and I was looking for an excuse to keep seeing her anyways. It took almost no thought at all. Besides, what could possibly go wrong?