Chapter 49: Escape Route - Paramore
I video chatted Sami as soon as I got off the phone with Adam.
“You beautiful little life saver.” Sami answered shortly after I rang her.
I immediately noticed that her hair was cut to her shoulders and she replaced her side swept bangs with ones that went across her forehead. The color was an icy combination of pale blue and purple; it bordered on silver.
“Things with June aren’t going so hot?” I pushed up my glasses.
“Nana begged me to go to the salon and spend MY money to have my hair changed to a ‘normal’ color because Juno’s stupid boyfriend came home with her.”
“And that’s what you settled on?” I cracked a smile.
“It represents my soul.” She shook her hair. “It’s crazy soft. I keep petting myself.” She ran her fingers through it.
“It looks it, very luxurious.”
“Nana flipped her lid, as did Juno, but I am sick of them trying to mute me to make me more acceptable to their friends. This is who I am. I’d never try to change Juno’s appearance, even though she wears a disgusting amount of Stepford Wives outfits.”
“With the pearls?”
“With pearls AND heels, Dude. Her new boyfriend’s name is Biff. I keep waiting for a camera crew to pop out and tell me I am on a hidden camera reality show. My hair is all I have.” She resumed running her fingers through her hair.
“Your parents aren’t coming home?”
“Nope. There was an earthquake somewhere. They are lending helping hands.”
“I’m sorry, Sam.” I frowned.
“It is what it is. I am happy my other mom has gotten me out of baking cookies.”
“But you are into baking now.”
“Not with them. It feels sexist. They were basically ordered in there by pop pop and Biff. I told them a friend from school needed me and it would be rude if I did not come to her aid.” She grinned.
I giggled. “I do actually need a favor.”
“Ooo, a rare treat, an opportunity to repay you for all the wonderful things you do for me. Fire away.” She rested her head on her hand.
“Can you ask Finn to include Adam in his senior project? I just found out that his mom died a few years ago. I want him to know he has a place in our family.”
“That’s heavy, Man.” She looked down, still uncomfortable with displaying emotions. “Finn already added him, actually. The kid made me a functional net launcher and didn’t bat an eyelash when I used it in public. We like having him around. He’s earned his place.” She returned her eyes to mine after a little while.
She nodded. “We’re the Naughty Nine now, which I’m really digging because it’s like the Suicide Squad. Most of us have dark sides, but we’re the good guys now.”
“What’s his name and power?”
“It’s Congeneer. It’s a combination of congeniality and engineer. He can build anything out of thin air. He’s still being rendered, but the preliminary sketches look good.”
“That’s so him. Finn is really nailing it. What he did with you is beautiful.”
“Can I say something?”
I returned my eyes to the screen when she said that. “Yes, but since when do you ask before making comments?”
She rubbed her neck. “It’s kinda gross.”
“And you have to promise not to tell anyone.”
“I can do that.”
She took a deep breath. “I told Watson I love him.”
“Whoa, that is a HUGE step.” I widened my eyes in shock.
“Don’t remind me. It made it so real. We’re not just palling around anymore, you know? Like I actually love the guy.”
“What does it feel like?”
“It’s like being hurled off of a cliff and realizing at the last minute that you are wearing a bungee cord. It’s both terrifying and exhilarating.” She looked off to the side. “The exhilaration didn’t kick in until he said it back.”
“Finn actually used the term love?” My mouth fell agape.
She nodded. “Only once, I did too.”
“Where and when did this happen?”
“A few weeks ago over webchat. He didn’t say it back right away and I bolted out of his room. I couldn’t handle the rejection. He hacked into my laptop and made it up to me.”
I smiled; it grew larger as thought of how far she had come. “You fell in love before I did. Wow.”
Her cheeks turned pink and she tried to mask it by scrunching up her face and looking off to the side. “Shut up.”
“I am really happy for you for the record. You deserve to know that you are loveable.”
She sighed and looked down at her lap. “Do you think they miss me?”
“They are very selfish when it comes to their children, but yes. How couldn’t they? You are incredible – super according to Finn.”
Her cheeks shifted to bright red. “You guys really are my family.” She pursed her lips together and tilted her head to the side as she played with her fingers.
“You’re mine too. You’re blossoming into such a fine young lady.” I lightened the mood.
She smiled and returned her eyes to her screen. “Now you really need to shut up.”
“Oh, Sam.” I shook my head at her.
“Have you told your parents about Japan yet?”
“Nope. I’ve sorta got to do it soon. I made it through to the second round of the admittance process, but I need to interview in Japan in the spring. I have enough money for the plane ticket, but I can’t exactly leave the country without them knowing.”
“I mean you could...”
“I think you should go to your mom first. She’s always encouraging to keep in touch with that side of the family.”
“You’re not wrong.”
“If you’re too scared to walk up and have that conversation, force her to make the first move by putting your first round acceptance letter somewhere where she’ll see it.”
“Beneath her pillow would be good.”
“Right on. Do it tomorrow morning. You’ll feel better afterwards.”
“I guess you’re right.”
I talked to Sami until I got tired. I went to bed, hoping I’d wake up with the strength to defend my pursuits. I put the letter under her bed the first thing in the morning. I left the house to babysit and spent most of the day away home. I was called into the den shortly after I walked through the door. Both of my parents were seated on the couch. I sat on the one across from them, my hands clasped in my lap.
“Your mother found your letter.” My father held it up as evidence.
“Why didn’t you come to us directly?” She asked.
“London was shot down immediately. I don’t think I can handle another rejection. I really want this one.” I looked between the two of them, clasping my hands tighter.
“I fully respect your decision to study Japan. In fact, I encourage it.” My mom placed her hand on her chest. “You could really excel there. ”
“I, however, am not. Like I said before, you are too fragile to move out of the country.”
I swallowed hard in hopes of curing the dryness in my mouth. “I am stronger than you think I am.”
“She is.” Mom vouched for me.
“What about the language barrier?”
“I can speak Japanese.” I was quick to remind him.
“I cannot. It will be difficult when I come to visit you.”
“I have been telling you to learn it for years. It is a part of both our children and me. We should not have to deny our heritage to make you more comfortable.”
“I am not seeking to white-wash you. I believe your differences make you beautiful.” He touched his hand to her leg.
“Then accept that she wants to live in her grandparents’ birthplace. It will not harm you to let her experience her culture long term.” She flung her arm in my direction.
“Just to add something, I need to visit the school in March to interview. If I hate it, we will not have this problem.” I raised my hand.
“Do you expect to go by yourself?” He turned to me.
“Yes, to prove that I can navigate it myself.” I sat up straighter.
“Okay, I will feel better if we have a short term experiment to see if you are truly ready.”
“It’s temporarily settled. She will go Kyoto to see if it is for her. “
“Wait. What is your backup plan, Kiddo?” He halted her.
“Are you sure, Sweetheart? I do not want you to feel pressured.” She studied me for the truth.
I nodded. “It is not a bad school.”
“I am on board with this plan.”
“Yeah?” I beamed.
They both nodded. “We do not want to hold you back, we just want what is best for you.” My dad stood up with his arms outstretched.
My mom soon did the same. I joined them on their side of the room. I accepted their joint hug.
50:American Money - Børns
Izzie smiling brightly as she hugged Dante served as the wallpaper on my phone. My eyes alternated between her face, the time, and the limousine window. My heart raced. I jiggled my foot in hopes of easing an uncomfortable combination of eagerness and anxiety.
The car was parked near plane tarmac. The windows were raised to protect my hearing when the plane touched down. I vacated my seat the moment it skid to a stop on the runway. I stood outside the car with my hands in the pockets of my trench coat. Stairs were secured at the base of the door before it was opened. My breathing ceased and my heart stopped when she appeared on the landing. I silently gravitated towards her, unable to wait until she made her way to me.
The light jacket she was wearing was left open. The red dress she was wearing beneath it nipped in at her trim waist and the flirty hem swished as she moved. Exposure was evaded by a matching slip. The hair framing her face was left out, but the rest of it was pulled to the right side and braided into a ponytail. High-heeled brown leather boots gave her a confident swing in her step. I was grinning unbearably hard when she dropped the bag on her arm at my feet and threw her arms around my neck. I hugged her and spun her around. She giggled, tightening her hold on me and bending one of her legs. The emotion changed as I lowered her back onto the ground. Our eyes meeting for a millisecond confirmed the vibes we were telecommunicating. Her lips were on mine and my hand was on the side of her face. I was not able to remain immersed in our dream for long; a faint shuttering sound brought me back to reality.
I removed my face from hers. “Cameras.” My hand was still on the side of her face.
“Where—?“ She kept her voice down and her forehead against mine.
“The woods. They’re not in on the joke. What would you like to add next?”
“Pick up my purse and walk to the car holding hands.”
“I need to make a modification.” I somehow found the strength to step away from her.
She tucked her hair behind her ear and calmly waited for my actions to speak for themselves.
I lifted her bag by its handle and offered it to her. “I would never force you to stoop down in a dress.”
“You are trying to trick people into thinking you are a gentleman.” She pulled the straps onto her forearm. “I know better.”
“I may have transformed into one in our time apart.” I brought the back of her left hand to my lips and kissed it.
“I hope you haven’t downgraded. Super prince charming men are hard to find.”
I chuckled and removed my hand from hers, putting my arm around her waist instead. I kissed the top of her head.
“You’ve changed everything.” She contradicted her fake pouting by putting her arm around me.
“You like it when I take charge. You have stated it on several occasions.” I smirked down at her.
“I recall no such thing.” She kept her eyes straight ahead.
The driver was there to aid both of us into in the car. She shrugged out of her outerwear after he shut the door. I assisted her by stripping the sleeves off of her arms and pulling her coat out from behind her.
“You were comfortable seated in a dress and heels for fourteen hours?” I folded it in my lap.
“I changed and freshened up before our descent. I learned my lesson last time.” She pulled her dress sleeves down to their proper locations. “It paid off. I made less of a fool of myself.”
“Only less?” I clicked on my waist belt.
“This arrival’s PDA was more extensive than the last.” She secured herself into her seat as well. “But it was worth it.”
“What makes you say that?”
“Being with you isn’t the same as seeing or hearing from you.” She took my hand and held it over her heart. Its beat was fast pace and forceful, as though she had just finished running a marathon. “This is stronger than butterflies.”
“A little.” I shifted my hand to the side of her face and connected our lips.
I pressed my chest to hers, allowing her to feel that my heart was beating the same way as hers.
We French kissed hard and fast, desperate to be together.
Our interruption came in the form of her cellphone roaring.
“Audrey.” She spared a final kiss.
I wiped my mouth with my fingers as she fished her phone out of her purse.
I put my arm around her and continued to hold her close as she talked to her sister.
She called her mom after ending her first conversation. I was more than content simply holding her in my arms. There was plenty to keep me occupied, taking in her familiar aroma, and occasionally kissing the top of her head.
The level of comfort gave me the impression that she was made for me, that all of her pieces, even the chipped ones interlocked and aligned with mine.
“They wanted to make sure I was here safe and sound.” She yawned, covering her mouth with her hand.
“You can rest before dinner.”
“I want to spend time with you.”
“We can cuddle. You didn’t sleep on the plane. You need rest to be nice to me.” I smiled down at her.
She made herself more comfortable, resting her head on my shoulder. “Our baby will want to play.”
“He can pick up on situational cues a lot better now. He will snuggle up to you if you lie down. He will insist on playing the moment you appear energetic.”
“If you are sure.” Her arm was draped across my torso.
“I am. I want you to feel your best.” I rubbed her arm and kissed the top of her head.
“How did you know there were cameras?”
“I can’t see so my hearing is exceptional. I heard lenses shuttering.”
“Do you think we will get into trouble?”
“The media is infatuated with us as a couple. They will report on it with excessive detail, but they will likely refrain from criticism.”
“I am glad we are on the same page in terms of privacy. I want to limit the number of people that know what level of intimacy we are on.”
“Making love or…?”
“What we talked about the day I started filming. My motives are already questioned. I know I want to be with you. I fear they are not ready to understand.”
“May I know? You said perhaps I could know someday a fortnight ago.”
“You are the ketchup to my fries.”
“The ketchup to your fries.” I thought aloud, amused by the analogy.
“I am perfectly fine on my own. I am loved and comfortable with whom I am, but I also know that you push me to be the best version of myself. You give me that extra edge.”
“I like that.”
“I thought you would.” She angled her face up to mine.
We resumed kissing. We went slow that time, the conversation preluding called for such.