Pieces of Me (A Pieces Novel)

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Chapter 32 - Danica

Amber has invited me to go shopping. And I only accepted because I can’t stand to be around Charlie’s teasing anymore. I think Amber knew that when she invited me. We’re going to meet up with Amethyst, and Danny is spending the day with my brother. Danny has been prepping to propose for the last couple of weeks and is finally going to go through with it. That’s the main purpose for me coming all the way up here.

“This teal is totally your color,” Amber says, holding the halter-dress out for me to see.

“I like it, but . . .” I grimace, motioning to my shoulders. “My shoulders stick out like sore thumbs.”

“With the right hairstyle and accessories, they won’t bother you. If you wear this when your man comes . . . he’ll want to get you alone.”

Amber’s suggestive tone makes me gasp and flush from embarrassment. I gently slap her shoulder before crossing my arms over my chest.

“He’s not like that!” I say defensively. “If Aldrich were like that, he would’ve tried something while I slept in the same room as him.”

“Honey,” Amber says, laughing as she throws her arm around my shoulders. “The man is going to fly more than halfway around the world to see you. I highly doubt he plans to be prude minded, if you wear this dress.”

I bite my lip, knowing she’s probably right. I know I’ve had the thought since coming home. I nod and take the dress from her, hooking the hanger in my elbow.

“Danica, Amber!” We turn and see Amethyst coming towards us, grinning.

“You’ll never guess who I just ran into!” she exclaims, squeaking as she dancing in place.

“Charlie Chaplin,” Amber says, flashing a grin.

“Shut up, Ambie,” Amethyst rolls her eyes, but the smile never leaves her face. “Seriously, I’m gonna lose my mind over this! Amber, you might remember that girl who walked by Robert Downey Jr. in Due Date . . .”

“Oh!” I say, my mouth hanging open. “The Viner? What’s she doing up here?”

“No idea, but she’s so sweet! I love her videos!”

We chat about the topic a little while longer before turning our attention back to dress shopping.

“Ame, doesn’t this dress suit Danica?” Amber asks, holding up my arm to show off the dress.

Amethyst’s eyes light up and she nods vigorously. The twins start jabbering away about how great I’ll look when Aldrich arrives. Not that I don’t agree, but I can’t help feeling like I’d be asking for the wrong advances. Yes, Aldrich is my boyfriend. Yes, I want to look nice when he comes. But going all out when he has seen me at my worst and he didn’t care? It’s a bit out-of-the-box for my character.

The twins keeps showing me cute clothes and shoes they think will catch more of Aldrich’s attention. I humor them, but I am not going to let them take it too far. I really like the relationship Aldrich and I have the way it is. The way it began, utterly innocent and void of vulgar conversation. Really. If Aldrich truly wanted to go that far, he would have done so already. He’s not like most guys. Aldrich is a gentleman. My knight in shining armor. I love him the way he is.

The yard is lit by the porch lights, but otherwise dark from the evening that is rapidly coming on us. The anticipation is killing my patience. Amethyst is supposed to walk out here any second now and I’m stuck with a very nervous Danny. He’s pacing back and forth in the backyard, tossing the ring box up in the air the way he would a baseball. Every time it goes into the air, I wince. I’ve seen the ring. It’s a friggin’ big rock. I’m scared it’s going to break before ever making contact with Amethyst’s finger!

“Stop pacing, Montoya!” I say, trying to keep my tone light. “She’s gonna say yes, trust me.”

“It’s too soon, pumpkin,” Danny stops pacing and stares at me. “We’ve only been dating a few months. My mother would tell me to wait at least a year before even thinking about marriage. What am I doing, Danica?!”

“You’re securing your happiness!” I shout back, grinning. “You told me yourself: She’s the one. I’ve never seen you smile the way you do when you’re smile at her. Don’t go getting nervous over this. You love her, right?”

He blushes and nods, “Yeah, more than anything in my life.”

“Hopefully more than you loved me?” I can’t help throwing in the joke one last time.

“Never,” Danny winks and pulls me into a hug. Then he whispers, “Don’t tell Ame.”

“Secret is safe with me, pumpkin,” I whisper back, laughing.

“Oh, by the way . . .,” Danny trails off as he pulls away. “I need your help this weekend. I’ve got this guy coming in to help with the kids and I need the atmosphere to be . . . friendly. With you there, it will keep things light. He’s the extreme serious type.”

“You got it dude!” We laugh and put distance between us when we hear a shrill whistle. “That would be Charlie’s signal. Go get her, tiger.”

Danny grins bashfully and marches towards the other side of the yard. I back away and hide next to the side of the house next to the outlets and light switches. The moment I see Amethyst enter the yard, I flick off the lights and plug in the string fairy-lights, which light up a path straight to Danny. Amethyst glances around, as if trying to see if there is anyone else in the yard. I remain hidden, trying my hardest not to laugh at what Danny is about to do. When Amethyst’s gaze falls on Danny, I see her smile light up her face.

“Hey handsome,” she calls out as she starts following the path to Danny. “What’s all this? My birthday was last week, remember? We already did this.”

“But tonight is different, Ame,” Danny replies as he flings a bowler hat in the air and catches it on his head. “Tonight . . .” he slowly steps closer, “tonight, we celebrate the beginning of a new era.”

I snicker, covering my mouth as Amber and Charlie come to stand next to me. Danny has the cheesiest speech prepared. Charlie narrows his eyes at me, covering my mouth with one hand, while pinning me in a headlock with the other. Seriously, what has gotten into my brother since I’ve been here?

“Amethyst,” Danny goes on as he gathers her into his arms. “I’ve come to the conclusion that I simply cannot live without a particular precious gem . . . Not only is it . . . I wouldn’t say too rare, but a rather rarity to come by nonetheless.”

“What’s your point, Danny,” Amethyst says, and I can hear her light mood slipping away. Amethyst is easily annoyed when Danny tries to be poetic. She enjoys his goofy side, but right now he is taking it overboard, and on purpose.

“Forgive me, m’lady,” Danny replies, clearing his throat. “I simply wondered . . . Where do you see yourself a year from now?”

“A year from now . . .,” Amethyst pauses to think for a moment, “I’m hoping I’ll still be with you, if that is what you want to hear.”

“Do you really want that?” he asks, a hint of teasing in his voice.

I tap on Charlie’s arm, needing him to release me before I pass out from lack of oxygen. My brother releases his hold on my neck, giving Amber a chance to smack him. He flinches, grinning as he rubs the spot where she hit him. I chuckle softly and crane my neck to look around the side of the house to Danny and Amethyst.

“Of course I want that,” Amethyst says in a soft voice that is so full of affection that some people would get sick. “I’ve never wanted anything more . . . just ask Amber. I’m always pouring myself out about how scared I am of . . . of losing you. I told you about my past relationship. It was . . . It nearly killed who I am and you . . . you brought me back.”

Okay, this just got a bit too sappy, even for me. Queen of sappy romance. But that is all Danny needs to hear. He tosses the hat away and slowly starts to bend on his knee as he reaches into his jacket pocket. Amethyst’s covers her mouth with her hand. I sigh and start to walk away. I know how this ends, and I don’t need to see it. If only they knew how much this is actually hurting. I head towards the front of the house quietly. A pair of shuffling feet follows me, but I don’t turn around.

“Sis,” Charlie says as he meets my pace. “I thought you were over that.”

“I-It’s not that,” I whisper in reply, shaking my head. “I’m happy for him, really. I just . . .” I just what?

“I know. Danny was yours to flirt with for a long time, even though neither of you allowed it to go further. And I saw that little exchange before Amethyst arrived . . .”

I groan and stop at the front porch of the house. I kick at a pebble, making it hit the steps.

“Aldrich wouldn’t want me sulking over something, or someone, that never belonged to me,” I say softly, looking at the ground. “Not when he’s the one holding my heart.”

“Exactly,” Charlie says, hugging my shoulders. “You have someone who can love you better than Danny ever could. Trust your big brother. I saw it with my own eyes.”

I nod, letting him hold me a while longer. I close my eyes and imagine Aldrich as the one holding me. I imagine the times he held me while I slept in his bed. The memory comforts me and reminds me that I will be seeing Aldrich soon. He hasn’t told me when, but I’m sure it will be soon.

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