I pedaled faster and harder to catch up with Dani. I was a little weary because squirrels and deers liked to run across this trail at random, Dani didn’t seem concerned. I guess I understood why, this trail, although it wasn’t too far from home, it felt ages away from all the problems back there. It was sort of magical, the relief I felt the further I got into the forest.
I finally caught up to her and shouted, “Next fork, turn ri-” I was cut off by the clank of her pedal falling onto the concrete walkway. “Dani, pull over.” I grabbed the pedal and put my bike onto the browning grass. “Shit, how is that even possible?,” I mumbled as I tried to screw it on. Dani took it from me and tried with no luck either.
“Well, I guess we’ll need to walk home,” Dani groaned. I sighed. We were halfway into the trail and that was more than a mile from the house. Not to mention the two hills we need to walk up and the blazing sun coming out.
“Hey, you guys need help?” We both turned towards the voice as a boy, maybe fifteen or sixteen pulled over on his bike to us.
“My pedal broke,” Dani held up her pedal as I gave the guy a once over. He was fairly built, probably six-foot-two. His hair was a light brown, lighter than my dark chocolate hair and his eyes were a shade of green I couldn’t quite describe.
He glanced at me, seeming to look me up and down and then said, “Let me see, maybe I can fix it. You might need pliers, though.” Dani handed him the pliers as another guy pulled up next to us. This one was dark skinned with brown eyes, pretty tall, too.
“Bro, what’s up?” He said.
“Her pedal broke off, I’m seeing if I can fix it,” the guy that was crouched down replied. “I’m Luke by the way,” he turned and smiled at me and Dani.
“I’m Emily and this is my little sister Dani,” I pointed to Dani. I could tell she was a bit starstruck by the guy.
“I’m Jake,” the other guy waved.
“No luck, sorry.” He stood up and handed the pedal back to Dani. “Y’all live far from here?”
“Nah, in Wynfield, about a mile and a half from here, we’ll just walk” I told them.
“No, no, Dani can ride your bike and you can ride mine, I’ll jog with the broken one,” Luke offered.
“No, we’re fi-” I started.
“Sure, thanks,” Dani accepted. I pulled Dani to the side, out of earshot.
“What are you doing? He could be a killer,” I whispered.
“Girl, he’s cute, looks like he’s around your age and we’ll get home faster. Come on, live a little. You’re 15 and don’t have a boyfriend.” She reasoned.
“Ouch,” I rolled my eyes. “Fine,” I whined. We turned towards Luke and Jake, who had been whispering to each other also.
“Okay, you ready?” Luke asked.
“Yep,” I clasped my helmet straps into place. Luke motioned to his bike. He held it while I swung my leg over the seat and sat down. My fingers brushed his as he pulled his hand off the handle. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel a spark or shiver go through me at the contact, Dani gave me a look before going onto my bike.
“I’ll see you later,” Luke waved to his friend as he started jogging in the other direction.
“Nice meeting you,” I nodded at Jake.
“Same, see you around.”
I turned around and saw that Dani and Luke had already made some progress. Dani was riding further in front of Luke, on purpose I’m sure. Luke’s bike was practically the same as mine, just a deep blue instead of a bright yellow.
“So, where do you go to school. Haven’t seen you around,” he started when I caught up to him and kept at his pace.
“Engineering Early College, with UNCC, how ‘bout you?” I looked up to make sure that Dani wasn’t too far ahead that I couldn’t see her.
“Sounds fancy, I go to Hough,” he replied, his breathing picked up from the running.
“Sophomore,” he stated. I bet Dani thought that was perfect.
“Freshman,” I told him. We had already made it to the crosswalk and were waiting to cross. I got off my bike to walk up the hill since Dani didn’t like riding up it. When he gave me a look I explained, “Dani doesn’t like to ride up the hill.”
“Okay,” he nodded. We crossed the street and then started the climb up. “So I take it that you and your sister are close?”
“Mm, kinda. It’s complicated. She’s very close with Evelyn, my niece and we have very different interests so besides biking we don’t hang out much.”
“Gotcha. So what are your interests?” He asked casually.
“Reading, writing, biking. That’s basically it. What about you? By your height I’d say...basketball player?”
He let out a breathy laugh, “Nope, baseball. I bike a lot, too. What do you write?”
I felt my face heat for some reason, “Romance.”
“Ohhh, can I read some of it?” His eyebrows shot up. That’s when I noticed a slit in his eyebrow where the hair was missing.
I hummed, “I don’t really let strangers read my stuff.”
“Then let me introduce myself. I’m Luke Banes, I’m sixteen, I play baseball and I think you’re really cute.” He flashed me a toothy smile.
I blushed and laughed, “I’ll reconsider. Wanna hear my introduction?”
“Sure,” I stopped at the crosswalk that leads to my street. Dani had already crossed it.
“I’ll see you at home! Have fun!” She shouted over her shoulder. I rolled my eyes at her and got off the bike. Now that we were both standing, I was just to his chest.
I looked up, “I’m Emily Moore, I’m fifteen, I write and you’re really tall,” I told him, copying his format.
He laughed, “Thanks, I get that a lot.”
“Well, I should get going, my mom should be home soon,” I said. I pursed my lips as I saw my dad’s car drive by. “There’s my dad, actually. I better get home for my interrogation.”
He chuckled, “Wouldn’t want to keep him waiting...there’s a party on the next street over from here on Saturday, do you wanna come?”
“Sure, just tell me the time and place.”
“Do you have snap? I could snap it to you,” he slyly asked.
I smiled, “That was good, I’ll give you that.Yeah, it’s after_4120.”
“Got it,” he motioned with his phone. A second later I got a notification on mine for a friend request. I added him quickly before looking back up at him.
“Nice meeting you,” I smiled over my shoulder as I ran across the street.
“Watch out!” He shouted. I quickly stopped in between the lanes and saw a car flying down in front of me. Luke let out a heavy breath as I did the same. “Asshole,” he muttered.
“Thanks, I really should get home now,” I laughed while walking across the street.
“Only you would laugh after a near death experience, books.” He tried out the new nickname.
“Books? You couldn’t be more creative?” I laughed.
“I’m not the creative friend, that’s you,” he chuckled.
“Ohhh okay,” I said. “Bye, baseball.”
“Bye, Books,” he got onto his bike and started his ride home.
I walked slowly up the hill, savoring the breeze that blew by. I was also savoring the last few minutes of peace before the questioning and probing that would occur at home. Sure enough Danielle already told dad.
“I heard you met a guy on the trail,” my dad shot up his eyebrows.
“Hey to you, too, dad. How was you’re day? How was work? School was great,” I responded sarcastically.
“Don’t be sarcastic. How old’s this boy?” And so the interrogation begins.
“Sixteen,” I sat down at the granite kitchen counter.
“What do you know about him?” I internally rolled my eyes.
“Luke Banes. He’s tall, plays baseball, goes to Hough, sophomore, lives nearby,” I listed.
“What are his intentions?” He asked, sitting down across from me.
“Oh Lord, dad I met him today. We talked for about twenty minutes, there are no intentions.” I rolled my eyes. “I’m going upstairs to shower, goodnight!” I called from the stairs.
“Goodnight,” my dad called back.
I trudged up the stairs, tired from the long day of school and biking. Dani’s voice flowed out of her room, meaning she was on the phone.
“Yeah, Em and him look so cute. I say give it a month before they start dating.” I heard.
“Stop telling people about that,” I whined. She put herself on mute before turning in her spinning chair to me.
“How’s your boyfriend?” She teased.
“First off, he’s not my boyfriend, we are friends of opposite sex. Second, stop telling people everything or I’ll rat you out for you know what.”
“Fine, fine, fine!” She exclaimed. Then she paused before saying, “Isn’t he cute, though? I think he’s cute.” She even blushed a little.
“I don’t know...he’s decent looking,” I said, pursing my lips.
“Come on, admit it! I won’t tell anyone!” She put her hands together in a begging notion.
I rolled my eyes again before honestly saying, “Yeah, he’s cute.”
She let out an ear shattering squeal, “I knew it!”
“Whatever, I’m going to shower. Let me know if you need anything,” I closed the door and walked into the bathroom. After brushing my teeth in a daze and checking the time, I decided to take a bath. I wanted time to go by faster because it was only six o’clock on a Thursday. I had no homework to do and I didn’t feel like reading, so a bath it was.
I left my hair down, just to get it a little wet and turned on the faucet. The water pulsed hard against my hand until it was a temperature to my liking and I stripped as I turned on some music to play in the background. The water was hot and relaxed any tense muscles I might have had. The bubbles went so high they perfectly covered my body as I leaned my head back and started to daydream about nothing in particular.
“Hey,” Dani greeted as she walked in, causing me to jump.
“Dude, what the heck? You can’t just walk in on me like that!”
“Sorry, I just need to brush my teeth. Mom and dad went out, they won’t be back till much later apparently.”
“Fun,” I closed my eyes again. She left a moment later but I didn’t feel like staying in the bath anymore. I drained the water and wrapped a towel around my body before washing my face and combing through my hair.
Walking back into my bedroom, I realized I had lost my charm bracelet and frowned. Although it got annoying when I was typing or something, I really liked it. My older sister, Anne, gave it to me last year for my birthday. I probably left it on the trail somewhere. Sighing, I changed into some sweats and a tank top and threw my hair up into a messy bun.
Suddenly, something seemed to have knocked on my window, causing me to jump. I furrowed my brows, that’s odd. Nothing usually hit my window because it was sort of tucked away on the side.
“What was that?” Dani poked her head in.
“Ничего (nothing),” I replied in Russian. “Probably a bird or something.” Dani nodded her head and left. The knock came again and I got curious. I leaned over the night stand and peered through the curtains.
My eyes went wide as I noticed Luke, perched on the mini roof below my window. I debated for a minute whether to let him in or not. I’ve only known him for a day, not even. But, he didn’t seem like a rapist or anything. Even if he was, why would it matter? My depression spoke for me. Deciding to let him in because I trusted him, rather than for the pessimistic side, I put my pointer finger up, mouthing for him to wait before padding to my door to lock it. “I’ll be watching some Netflix, don’t get scared if you hear any voices!” I shouted to Dani. She didn’t respond meaning she was either asleep or in headphones.
I struggled a bit to get the old window without a screen to open and Luke helped pull it from the outside while staying balanced on the roof, which I couldn’t believe because I could barely sit still on that roof without almost falling off.
“What fuck are you doing here, crazy?” I whispered, glancing at my door before stepping back so he could climb over the messy night stand.
“Nice to see you, too, Books. Love the glasses, by the way.” He greeted me. I blushed as I realized I had forgotten about the blue light blocking glasses I got myself because I spent too much time writing.
“Hi, why are you in my room?” I retorted.
He held up my bracelet. “I found this on my way back and remembered you wearing it so I decided to drop it off.”
“Thanks, I was looking for that,” I took it from him, sliding it onto my wrist. “How’d you find my house? You couldn’t wait until Saturday?” I questioned.
“I saw you walk up this driveway. I could’ve, but where’s the fun in that?” He smiled.
I feigned a gasp, “Shit you are a rapist or something. I knew it.”
“Yeah, definitely.” He laughed, taking a step closer into my room, glancing around. It wasn’t very big. I had gotten my parent’s old queen sized bed, which took up most of my room. I had a small desk in one corner near my closet for schoolwork and writing and next to the door was a bookshelf that went from ceiling to the carpeted floor. I chose to paint the walls a turquoise color. “Nice room.” He took a seat on the bed, where I had been sitting.
“Excuse me?” I laughed, “You come in through my window at night and sit on my side of the bed. I thought you were different, Baseball.” I shook my head in a disapproving gesture.
He laughed and scooted to the right side of the bed. “To return a bracelet that I assume you like very much, my bad.” I hesitated before laying on the bed, staring at the fan.
“September 30th,” Luke started. I quickly turned in his direction where he was sitting with my iPad in his hand. I lunged at him, causing us to topple over onto the floor. Unlike some romantic novel, he didn’t break my fall and I landed hard on my arm as he landed on top of me. I hissed at the pain.
“Em, are you okay?” Dani asked as she tried opening the door.
I rolled off my side as Luke stood up, reaching a hand to help me. “Um, yeah, I just dropped a book, it’s fine,” I lied.
“Why is your door locked?” She tried pulling it again.
“Um...I don’t know, I’m going to bed in a bit,” I told her. “Goodnight.”
“Night,” she shut her door. Luke and I were silent for a minute before he burst out laughing. I went to bring my hand up to his mouth to shut him up but winced at the pain before lowering it again. He stopped laughing and looked down at me.
“Shit, are you okay?” He reaches for my hand, inspecting it.
“I think you sprained it, dipshit.” He tried moving my wrist around and I hissed in pain again.
“You lunged at me,” he said.
“You were reading my stuff,” I told him. I took my hand out of his, sitting on the bed as I still felt his warm hand on mine.
“It’s sprained a little, you should wrap it.” He informed me.
I rolled my eyes, “I figured,” I said as I walked to my night stand to get a bandage. I dug through the drawer and found it with my injured arm at my side. I threw it at Luke. “Help me wrap it.” I ordered as I sat down.
“Demanding,” he simply stated. I punched his shoulder with my good arm. “I didn’t mean it like that! Perv.” He shook his head as he wrapped the bandage around my arm tenderly.
“Thanks,” I said.
“No problem, I should probably get going, don’t want my mom freaking out.” He stood up and opened the window carefully.
“Thanks again for the bracelet,” I told him.
“You’re welcome. See you tomorrow?” He asked, if I read him correctly there was a bit of hopefulness.
“We’ll see, night, Baseball.” I told him when he had crawled out.
“Night, Books,” he smirked, which made me bite my lip. I watched as he climbed down the roof and stepped onto the railing of the back porch, then jumped about five feet down onto the ground. I gasped and I know he heard because of his chuckle. I shut the window and sighed.