Bailey had a big mouth on her, a really big mouth. By the time we returned to school the following week everyone knew of my date with Finn. I was pestered with question after question.
'How did you meet?'
'What's he like?'
Apparently Bailey's description had him painted as some kind of heartthrob movie star. All the attention was flattering, but I still felt odd about it all.But why should I? I had known Finn for years... hadn't I?
You see that was what was strange, my head was telling me one thing, my heart another. I remember us playing together as children, swimming in the lake in the summer, talking to him at parties. But then why deep in my gut did I see him as a stranger, a stranger that was dangerous.
This was all so confusing.
By Tuesday morning I had decided I wasn't going. I'd been avoiding telling Reidar about Finn, it was always awkward talking to him about guys. I'd been up half the night talking to him when he brought the subject of the dance up.
"So what are your plans for your birthday then now that your not going to the dance?"
"Mmm... well..." stuttering over my words. "I kind of am going."
"Really? I thought you refused to go alone? Don't tell mr you've gotten back together with that boy James."
"No I haven't got back together with him. He's not even talking to me at the moment actually." Ever since Bailey started flapping her mouth James had avoided me, telling people that I must have been cheating on him having found a new date so soon. "I'm going with someone else."
"Just this guy."
"You don't really sound that happy about it. What's the matter, do you not like him?"
Do I like him?
"I think I do."
"Think? Phoenix, if you only think you may like him then your obviously not in to him that way. You shouldn't have to wonder how you feel, you should just feel. It's like I've always told you, the right person is out there, and when you find him you'll know."
And that was the problem, the one I wanted, knew a hundred percent that I wanted more than anything in the world, was the one person out of my reach. If in fact you could class Reidar as a person. But he was right, if I had to think about it then it obviously wasn't right to go with Finn.
I'd keep the dress, there was no way I was giving that up, but the night of the dance I'd just stay home, not show up. It wasn't as if he knew where I lived or anything.
Walking down the street towards the bus stop I spotted Anita on the corner, her back to me as she spoke to someone just out of sight. Making my way towards her. "Anita!"
Turning towards me, a strange lazy smile on her face, her eyes glazed over. "Phoenix, look who's here."
Moving closer, glimpsing around the corner and I swear my heart shot into my throat. It was him, stood there glaring at me with those intense eyes. Did he know where I lived after all or was it just coincidence that he was just down the road from my house?
"Hey...mmm... about the dance." Better to get it out of the way straight away, let him know I had changed my mind.
His eyes really were beautiful, mesmerising. "I can't wait." The words leaving my mouth without me even thinking them. What the hell? But I was looking forward to it, wasn't I? I mean why wouldn't I, it would be fun.
Casting his eyes back to Anita. "Give us a moment." Without uttering a word she took off across the road, my eyes following her in disbelief, she never normally left me alone with strangers. But he wasn't a stranger, I needed to remember that.
A hand suddenly stroked the side of my face, sending an icy chill down to the bone. He was stood so much closer now. I could feel the cold radiating from his body.
Hold on, cold? That couldn't be right, I must be imaging it. I needed to get more sleep at night.
"You have a beautiful face, Phoenix. I'm looking forward to getting to know the rest of your beauty soon."
As before I couldn't look away from eyes. They pulled me in, capturing me. "I...I...Me too." The dance couldn't come soon enough.
"Good, I'll see you there," he whispered leaning down to plant a kiss on my cheek, his lips possibly colder than the rest of him, a shiver racking my body.
"Bye," I breathed.
One more day. One more day and I would be 17, going to the dance with the hottest guy on the planet. I don't even know why I had been so worried before. I was crazy to want to back out.
Over the past few days on the way to school Finn had been waiting for me, and each time he would look deep into my eyes as he ran his hand over my cheek and tell me how beautiful I was and how much he was looking forward to the dance. Well not actuality the dance, but as he called it getting to know me better. I think he wanted to have sex. Still not sure if I'm ready for that, but when I was with him it was hard not to agree with him.
"Phoenix?" Reidar's voice coming from below.
I'd escaped to my room as soon as I had gotten in. My parents hold the neighbourhood watch meeting at our house once a month and tonight was the night. I so didn't want to be down there listening to all the local gossip, because that's all it was really, a group of nosy neighbours swapping stories. They called themselves a neighbourhood watch, and watch they did, with big ass binoculars out of bedroom windows.
"You've been very quiet lately, you feeling ok?"
Apart from a bit of a headache, due to Bailey's constant phone calls asking about Finn and if I thought she should make Henry wear a pink tie to match her dress. "Fine, why?"
"No reason, just wondering. Seventeen is a big milestone, a lot can change at that age."
"Not really. I'll finally be able to learn to drive I guess, if my mum and dad let me of course, but that's it. It's not until I turn eighteen that things will really change." Then I can get out of here, head to Uni with Anita and finally have some freedom, no one looking at me strangely when I spend most of my time in my room. That was the birthday I was looking forward too.
"You'll be surprised how much the world can change at seventeen. You decided what your wish will be this year?"
Crap, the wish. How could I have forgotten about that? What was it I wanted again? I'd thought about it before, decided what I wanted. Now for some reason I couldn't remember what it was I wanted. "Sorry, had a lot on my mind." Yeah, Finn.
"That's ok, just let me know when decide. May I ask what has been troubling you? Is itt that guy? You never did tell me how it went when you told him you wasn't going to go."
"I am going, changed my mind."
"Oh, ok then," he said thoughtfully.
What was he thinking? It was times like these when I hated the fact I couldn't see him, facial expressions helped a long way to knowing what someone was thinking. "He's great Reidar. I can't wait for the dance, it's gonna be so much fun."
"Well just take care of yourself Phoenix, and stay safe."
"I'll be fine," I yawned. I'd not slept well these past few nights. Looks like the lack of sleep was finally catching up with me. "Don't think I can keep my eyes open much longer."
"Then get some sleep, rest."
Rolling on to my side, pulling the covers up to my chin and wiggling down into the beds warmth.
"What's his name? The boy taking you to the dance."
"Finn," my voice mumbled by the pillow I was snuggling into.I can't be sure, but as my eyes closed, my mind shutting down for the night, I swear I heard him curse.