As Riley walked towards her first class in the morning she saw Cheryl waiting for her. Riley smiled as she approached her best friend.
“So, what happened? You left without saying goodbye. I didn’t hear from you the rest of the weekend and here you show up practically glowing,” Cheryl said and then her eyes widened when she realized, “No! Don’t tell me! Did you finally do it?”
Riley blushed, “Shh not so loud!”
Cheryl gasped, “You did?”
“Not that it’s any of your business, but yes,” Riley replied.
“Was it everything I’ve dreamed of? Come on, you have to tell me!” Cheryl said badgering her.
“What are you talking about? And no, I don’t have to tell you,” Riley replied, “Who says you’re allowed to dream about having sex with Evan? You have your own man to dream about!”
“Oh, I won’t tell Aaron, please. Evan’s so hot though! How can you not dream about him?” Cheryl replied. Riley laughed and they made their way to some seats in the class.
After school she made her way to the grocery store before heading home. As she pulled up to the house she was surprised to see someone waiting in the driveway next to a fancy black car. He had short spiky red hair that looked like he just woke up, dark sunglasses, and was smoking a cigarette. She had to get inside with the milk in the back so Riley opened the garage and pulled in. Syd watched her curiously as she got out of the car. Even clad in blue jeans, a button down black shirt, and a black leather jacket Syd looked like a model. There should be laws against people who look good without even trying, Riley thought.
“Princess Rose! What are you doing here?” Syd asked dropping the cigarette, walking up to her and hugging her.
“Syd, how are you?” Riley asked hugging him back, “I’m working for Ev.”
“I’m okay… so you work for Evan now? Funny he never told me he hired anyone to work at his house,” Syd said, “Especially, not that it was you. I for sure would have remembered that!”
“Well it did happen suddenly,” Riley replied with a shrug and went back to the car to pull out the groceries. Syd grabbed a couple of bags and helped her carry them into the house.
“So, are you stressed or something?” Riley asked as she put the milk in the fridge.
“Why do you ask?” Syd replied sitting on a stool in the kitchen. He took off his leather jacket and threw it on the stool next to him.
“I recall a night where you seemed stressed and were puffing away on one of those. I figure it is something you do when you’re worried or stressed because you don’t smoke all the time,” Riley replied.
“You noticed, huh?” Syd said, “Yeah I am stressed and tempted to go back out and have another one.”
“So what happened?” Riley asked, “I thought you were getting engaged or something.”
“Evan told you?” Syd asked, “He tell you about Rex and your sister, too?”
“Of course I had to catch up on all the gossip after running into him again,” Riley said with a laugh, “Mostly because I was secretly hoping Chris was hit by lightning or something. You know hoping karma got to him.”
Syd laughed, “I know how you feel. Sometimes I wish he would just get over himself. He wasn’t always like that. Anyway, enough about him, my sweet Val wasn’t so sweet. She found out I wanted to have a prenuptial agreement and left with the diamond. It blew me away that all she wanted was money. I didn’t see her as the type to be a gold-digger. I spent the last few days with Rex wishing Val would get hit by lightning or a cheap car or something, too.”
“Syd, I’m so sorry,” Riley replied pulling him into a hug and squeezing him tight. Syd wrapped his arms around her and kissed her cheek.
“I thought that was your car,” Evan said walking in, “Rex called me and said you were headed over here.”
“I didn’t know you were keeping secrets Evan,” Syd replied still holding onto Riley, “Hogging the Princess all to yourself?”
“She’s my Princess now. I found her first,” Evan replied laughing and pulling Riley away. He gently kissed her lips and then helped her put the groceries away.
“Evan! I’m shocked! Surprised the hell out of me, I thought the nice guys were supposed to finish last, but boy was I wrong,” Syd said shaking his head.
“Yeah, I guess I’m not so nice. I found out the hard way that Chris lied about a few things,” Evan said.
“I could have told you that. Chris will say anything to save face. I know we talk shit about him all the time but are still his friends. I think he knows we are all still kind of pissed at him for ruining that summer. The fish was horrible by the way, Princess. I think that means you owe me a nice home-made dinner,” Syd said.
“Yeah, I owe you for giving me a break,” Riley replied giving him a hug.
“And that is why we are still friends, even though you apparently care about some more than others. Evan… Man I didn’t see that coming,” Syd said shaking his head, “Does Rex know?”
“No, I wasn’t sure about telling you guys that I found her. I’m mostly worried about Chris finding out,” Evan replied sitting next to Syd, “You’ll keep it secret for Riley’s sake, right?”
Syd nodded and looked over at Riley who was pulling out things to make dinner with.
“Rex told me about Val,” Evan said putting his hand on Syd’s shoulder, “How are you doing?”
“Smoking a pack a day, but other than that I’m…,” Syd sighed and shrugged, “I’m the fiery one. I’m not allowed to show weakness. Sometimes I wish I could be more open, like you Evan.”
“No one’s stopping you,” Evan said.
“Yeah, I know. It’s just the way I was brought up, I guess. You were hugged when you fell and cried. I was told to stop acting like a baby,” Syd said with a shrug. Evan laughed at that.
“Yeah but your brother was a lot older than you. Mine is only three years so I got picked on a lot more than you did,” Evan replied, “Want a beer?”
“Does a fish know how to swim?” Syd replied.
“I take that as a yes,” Riley said pulling out a couple of bottles and handing it to them.
“Princess you are a mind reader! We’ll have to change your name to goddess and praise you,” Syd said popping the top off.
“I might have to cut you off,” Riley replied, “How many have you had?”
Syd and Evan laughed.
“Do you drink beer?” Syd asked.
“No, she’s a lightweight, give her one shot and she’s all over you,” Evan said smiling at Riley.
“Oh, I’ve heard that before… from liars!” Riley replied taking a beer from the fridge. Evan looked shocked.
“I would never lie. I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Evan said.
“Yeah I learned my lesson, never take you along when trying to pick up guys,” Riley said putting some stuff into a mixing bowl.
“Yeah, they weren’t looking at you in a nice way anyway, princess,” Evan replied trying to look innocent.
“And there’s the halo,” Syd chimed in.
“Oh there is no halo there. He just wanted to keep me for himself,” Riley said taking the top off a beer.
“I thought you said you weren’t much of a drinker,” Evan said crossing his arms over his chest.
“I’m not,” Riley replied pouring the beer into the bowl.
“No! Don’t let a good beer go to waste!” Syd complained.
“I hate to drink beer but I love beer bread,” Riley said with a laugh. She mixed everything together and then put it in the oven.
“Evan, I don’t like your girlfriend. Poor, poor beer,” Syd said shaking his head. Riley laughed.
“Good, you just keep saying that and I might let you stay,” Evan said pointing at Syd.
“Do you mind if I stay for a few days?” Syd asked.
“Syd, you’re always welcome here. Oh but Riley is my maid and not yours so pick up after yourself,” Evan said, “There is one very serious rule that you must follow at all costs.”
“And what is that rule? No wasting beer?” Syd asked glaring at Riley.
“No, the rule is written in stone, or uhm.. napkin. What was it again, no referring to the princess as a slave or something like that?” Evan asked.
“That would be it,” Riley said with a laugh and Syd joined in.
“That was Chris’ thing. I would never refer to you as a lower status,” Syd said looking offended. Riley smiled at him.
She finished making their dinner and they sat at the table. She watched as Evan and Syd chatted about things. Evan easily got Syd to smile and laugh, but Riley could see such sadness in his blue-green eyes. He really took a hit from Val. She remembered how in love he was with her when they were in New York, and it made her sad to know she was just after his money. Syd was the type to say it like it is and take it like a man, but even with all that Riley could see he had a softer side that he rarely showed.
“Alright princess, now I think you really owe me for the fish. I ate fish when I could have had this?” Syd asked taking another bite and pulling her from her thoughts.
“You think it’s that good? I mean I’m no Mrs. White,” Riley said smiling shyly.
“No, you are no Mrs. White but you are way better than chewy fish that’s barely seasoned,” Syd replied.
“Yeah, I have to admit it was pretty bad,” Evan replied.
“I guess I should let you know that even though you wasted a beer, this bread is awesome!” Syd said grabbing another piece. Riley laughed and shook her head. She loved the way Syd easily accepted her back as his friend as though the incident never happened. She was still waiting for him to say ‘I told you so’.