I stared at my reflection, trying to make out the details of my look for tonight. I didn’t want things to be over done. But I didn’t want them to be under done either.
I wore an off white dress up to my knees. It clung to my frame, ennobling my curves in a decent manner. I tried all my best with my hairs. If they were blonde then I hadn’t had to put so much effort in styling them look good. But there was nothing distinctive about them. They were ordinary shade of caramel brown which I had clutched in a loosed bun for tonight with curled up locks spilling on either side of my face.
The second most thing I wished I had after blonde shade of hair was a little tan on my pasty skin. I was pale, straight out of those vampire fictions. Even though, I had applied some make up to add some glow over my skin, it didn’t help. One thing I was thankful about my hairs was that they weren’t red. Or with a pale skin and red hairs, I would’ve been easily mistaken for a clown.
I looked in my eyes through the mirror. They were solid golden, a beautiful shade of amber that most of people had complimented me about. So they were the only feature about my appearance I loved.
I wasn’t looking half as bad as I thought. So taking a deep breath, I loped outside my room.
“Looking quite a beauty!” A playful voice from side remarked.
I glanced at Janice who was sitting on the couch with her goofy grin and gave her a small smile.
She scooted of the couch and walked over to me. “No wonder you are asked on dates this often.”
Well, it wasn’t like she had no dates to her at all. Her fiery red hairs and slightly tanned skin were a beautiful compliment to her oceanic blue eyes which were a rare combination to natural red hairs.
“Don’t jinx me now,” I nonchalantly replied, picking up my car keys from the shelf by the door.
“I’m more like your lucky charm, silly,” she playfully jabbed at my arm.
I rolled my eyes. “Ya, sure. I wonder what happened to you being my lucky charm when Jared ditched me on my first date during our sophomore year.”
She smirked in confidence. “My powers are much stronger than before.”
I just shook my head at her eccentricity.
As I walked up to the door, she slid herself in front of me, blocking my way with her hands on her hips. And I readied myself for some obvious thing she always said in this stance.
“We might be best friends since preschool,” She had no need to remind me that. What was I thinking, when I sat beside her? “But still you’re curfew is elven. You can’t drink your guts out as you have to drive. Am I making my rules clear, missy?” she added, pretending a firm voice.
My eyes narrowed as I glared the daggers at her. How she had an audacity to say all these things to me when she never for once followed her own rules.
She came past three in the morning. She would be puking her guts out in the toilet while I had to hold her hairs back. And sometimes, her dates had to carry her to her bedroom all the way from the venue they would decide.
She was quite lucky nineteen years old according to her bizarre taste in boys that they were surprisingly decent enough to not get in her pants in her vulnerable state.
She didn’t budge even after glaring her down. So I sighed in defeat. There was no winning when it comes to her. “The place we decided to meet is a cafe near my parents place. And it’s weekend, so I’ll be staying there.”
“Oh! So I don’t have to wait,” as if she would be waiting. “Okay, now, hurry and get out!” she pulled the door open, and literally pushed me out of my own apartment.
“Janice!” I groaned, annoyed.
She just gave me a naughty wink. “Got my own company tonight.” And just like that the door was slammed shut on my face.
I sighed turning on my heels.
Her highly idiosyncratic personality sometime got on my nerves. Yet, here we were, best friends throughout our whole life. And now the roommates as well, sadly.
A smile grazed my lips, shaking my head.
Whatever I would say, she was the best person in my life just like Rayon was. We had a trio of us always sticking together through every adventure we had gone through.
I reached to my car, parked in a shady corner of a parking area. As I was about to get inside, I saw someone through the corner of my eye.
I turned for a glance, but it turned into a stared as disbelief coursed through me.
Three years. Emotions surfaced in my heart. Why now?
“Joshua,” I whispered.
Those mocha eyes settled on me as he walked my way. His copper hairs tousled by the wind. His sharp jawline was clenched as if he was pissed.
I held my breath and tried not to fidget under his astute scrutiny.
“Ansley,” my name slipping off his tongue in a soft hum.
“You here?” I asked, trying to sound unaffected by his presence. It had been years. He didn’t matter to me now. Well, that was what I was assuring myself with.
“Visiting a friend.” He told, a usual note of confidence echoing in his tone, not a hint of struggle was there like the one I had speaking to him.
I wondered which friend of him lived in this building where I stayed, but then he was a jock. And quiet popular during our high school days. So it made sense that he had friends scattered in the whole Fresno.
“It seems you’re going for a date.” his blunt remark left me at loss of words. I couldn’t miss that taunting edge his voice had.
I let in a breath as I felt anger bubbling inside me, my teeth clenched. But I didn’t let anger to take over me. I just gave him a wide, bogus smile. “Yeah, going on a date.”
Something flickered in his eyes, but he concealed it with his own artificial smile. “I hope you have a nice time.”
I didn’t know why, but his words educed the wave of anger through me. “Oh, you bet,” I said as bluntly as his previous words, flashing him a jesting look.
Something flared in his eyes, but the moment it appeared, it was gone. Though he showed no effort in hiding the dark look casted over his face. He stepped back. Without a word, he turned on his heels and left from their.
I watched his retreating back, guilt of my words washing over me. I bit my lip.
Why did I do that?
Feeling disheartened, I pulled the car door open and scooted inside it.
It had been three years, three years since we broke up. It wasn’t on the good terms. I couldn’t hold that to him. After that, he moved to the florida. So why was he back now?
It was like my heart was split open again, the one I sewed through missing him every day. Until he was faded into bittersweet memory that I kept buried in the bottom of my heart.
Looking at him was like going through it again, through the pulsing ache in my chest that kept clawing its way back inside. No matter how many times I tried to suppress it.
Tears welled in my eyes. But I didn’t let them fall. I wouldn’t cry over my past. Josh was just a part of my unpleasant past.
My hand wrapped around the steering as I started the ignition.
I had to go now or I would be late.
As I was about the hit the gas, my phone vibrated. I picked it up to find a message by an anonymous number. I opened it.
(What’s your favorite game? Mine’s called following you without you knowing.)
The text sent a wave of repulsion through me mingled with small dread I felt.
I was sure it was a prank. And quite a creepy one on that note. It was nothing. I had a list of few people that would send this to me.
I flopped my phone to the seat beside me, starting the car and driving off to my location.
My fingers drummed against the wooden table while my patience ran thin.
It had been nearly an hour, I was waiting for that jerk whom I was now believing had stood me up.
I skimmed my eyes around. To ensure through the crowd that he wasn’t around, waiting at some other table. And he wasn’t. He couldn’t be that dumb to not find me around.
I had called him thrice. And it seemed the rings were falling on some deaf ears.
He stood me up!
My agitation aggravated, and I pushed my seat back to stand. But a waiter came, putting a trencher on my table. It contained appetizing spheres of choco truffle crunch.
“I’m sorry, but I didn’t order them.” I said, addled.
“Um... It’s from the” he shifted his gaze over the side at the corner. I met his line of vision to see no one. He frowned. “He was there... But now isn’t, it seems. He ordered it for you.”
I was confused but wasn’t in the mood to inquire. And maybe he was Derek? Or maybe not. “Oh, okay.” It was all I said.
He nodded and walked away from there.
I looked at the chocolates in front of me. They were worth drooling. I could feel my stomach twisting in hunger. As I was scrutinizing them, I noticed a white slip around one of the chocolate ball.
I picked it out of curiosity and removed the slip around it. Some words were printed on it.
It read, my eyes narrowed.
The chocolates that were tempting me before were now wrenching my stomach in disgust.
If it was Derek then I was going to give him a really hard time. It better be not a prank. Or I would strangle him with my bare hands.
While I was engrossed in fuming over this, I felt a hand placed on my shoulder. And I jumped in surprise.
“Relax, dear. It’s me.” The person came around, and I let it in a relieved breath.
“You don’t have to sneak up on me, dad.” I placed my hand on my racing heart, trying to soothe it down.
He shrugged with a sheepish smile. “Like always, I was excited to see you.”
I just shook my head at him.
“So what’re you doing here all by yourself?” he asked.
A guy stood me up.
“Nothing, was just here to enjoy these.” I signaled toward the creepy chocolate before me.
He nodded while incredulity was all over his face. “Okay, let’s pretend, I bought it.”
He always saw right through me, so I expected to get caught.
“What’re you doing here?” I tried to change the subject.
“I was here to buy your mother’s favorite.”
“Blueberry cheese cake?”
My eyes narrowed. “What you did?”
“Hey! Couldn’t a loving husband once in a while pamper her beautiful wife?” he feigned offense. But I knew better about this loving husband crap.
“Dad?” I gave him a probing look.
He sighed in relent. “It was your mom’s expensive china dish that slipped through my hand while doing dishes.”
“What about always be honest no matter what?” A smug smile making its way on my face.
He frowned. “I’m too old for this crap.”
I chuckled, a smile making its way on his lips.“So are you gonna sit here alone or gonna come home?”
“Coming home,” I said, standing up from here. “Let’s go home.”
We walked out of the cafe, making our way to my car.
“So who’s the guy you were waiting for?” he finally asked. I knew he wasn’t gonna let go of his sharp observance for once.
“Dad!” I groaned.
“Ann!” he mimicked.
I flopped to my bed. Confined in the solace of my room.
My mind wandering over unlucky elements of my today’s day. I was stood up and I saw Josh today. The list wasn’t long. But it was far most the worst day after splitting up with... I sighed heavily, my heart spasmed.
It wasn’t his fault nor mine or anyone else, but still suffering was there. Maybe we weren’t meant to be together. Or someone better waited for me. That was what mom said. But it helped a little.
Argh! I should stop it. Stop reminiscing over the past. But why couldn’t I?
Stop it, Ansley! Stop it!
My phone vibrated, cutting through disturbing thoughts. I looked over the nightstand, picking it up.
It was a call by an anonymous number. As I stared at the number longer, a deep apprehension started to settle in my chest.
I picked it up. And before I could’ve even uttered a usual hello, the voice at the other end started speaking.
My heart dropped to my stomach, a panic hitting at me as my phone slipped through my hand.