7 Months Later
“Okay, baby, I’ll see you at three-thirty,” Conrad tells me with a kiss as he drops me off at school, right out front, in view of the whole world.
We don’t bother trying to hide our relationship anymore, and because of that, the scandal surrounding us has subsided because it’s no longer so gossip-worthy. Though I do notice we still get a few stares every time Conrad drops me off in the morning. The gazes range from scathing to envious, particularly from the female classmates. I climb off his bike, and he turns and pulls me against him. I stand between his legs and grasp at his jacket, reluctant to let go of him.
“Okay. You’ve been so busy lately, I feel like I never see you anymore.”
“I know, and I’m sorry. However, we did spend the night together.”
“Yeah, finally,” I pout.
It’s been nearly two weeks since we had a full night together. Conrad and his band have been insanely busy. Their new management has them doing gigs every weekend and then some. They even recorded a new album that hit pretty high on the charts to everyone’s happy surprise. Conrad wrote several of the songs, and one of them hit number three last week.
To everyone’s dismay, Conrad still refuses to sing any of his songs, leaving it to Harrison. Luckily, Harrison is an excellent singer and did the songs, justice. Next week they will be shooting their first music video in New York. Everything is suddenly moving so fast for them, it’s both exciting and scary at the same time, but I know this is all a part of the package.
“Besides, I could never bail on family night,” Conrad adds.
“My mother would kill you,” I smirk.
“It’s not her I’m worried about. I just finally got into your father’s good books; I wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize that.”
After I was able to explain the entire story about Conrad and me to my parents, even though he was still quite angry, my father slowly began to accept the fact that Conrad and I were for real, and we were going to continue to see each other, no matter what anyone thought about us being together. However, I waited a few more weeks after dad found out, to let the initial shock wear out before bringing Conrad to meet him. When they were finally in a room together, you could cut the tension with a knife. Conrad surprised us all by pointing out the elephant in the room, and he answered every single question my father threw at him then.
Don’t you think it was unethical to date a student?
Is this something you’ve done before?
Aren’t you a little old for her?
What are your intentions with my daughter?
How does she fit into your plans in the future?
That was only a small portion of his questions, but Conrad answered all of them with ease and confidence. At least it appeared that he did because, after that, Conrad told me he was nervous as hell. I could tell my dad was fighting the urge to like Conrad but was failing. He still tries to pretend that he doesn’t entirely approve, but he doesn’t know that I’ve heard him tell my mother otherwise.
It’s nice not to have to hide my relationship from them anymore. However, my dad still doesn’t like it when I spend the night at Conrad’s house. That was a whole other uncomfortable conversation I had to have with my parents. They had given me The Talk a long time ago, but they decided to rehash all the crucial parts. I was mortified, but I listened intently, anything if it made them more comfortable with the situation.
“Dinner isn’t until six, that gives us a few hours to ourselves,” I say suggestively.
Conrad chuckles at me.
“Your mom specifically told us to be there by five,” he points out.
“Okay, so an hour and a half. We could get a lot done in that time.”
“Sydney, you naughty girl, you.”
“Well, who knows when we’ll get to hang out again,” I frown, “You guys leave on Thursday to go to New York for the week, and I’ll be stuck here.”
“Only because you have exams starting on Monday, otherwise you could have come.”
“They are vital exams, Syd. You need to show those Princeton guys why they accepted you.”
“I guess so. I’m just going to miss you, that’s all.”
“I’ll miss you too, but it’s only for a week. You’ll be so busy that you won’t even notice that I’m gone.”
“Trust me, I’ll notice.”
“Come here, you,” Conrad sighs and hugs me tightly. I feel him kiss my hair before he lets me go, “I love you, and I’ll see you later.”
I step away from him and watch as he starts his bike. He waves at me and takes off. I stand there and wait until he’s out of sight before I head into the school.
It was so bizarre to return to school after all of the drama in the fall. I was the subject of so many nasty rumors and gossip for so long. It took every ounce of inner strength I had, not to start homeschooling. Conrad and Desiree talked me off the ledge and convinced me to stick it out. I’m glad that I did. Soon enough, the whispers became nothing more than a dull roar that doesn’t bother me as much anymore. Conrad’s popularity didn’t wane, however. If anything, it somehow increased his fan base, especially the female fan base. I think it’s because it made him seem more accessible, like because he did such an unsavory thing like date a student, he might be up for messing around with other girls too, I don’t know, but that’s my theory.
We had a substitute English teacher take over for a few weeks until they had found a permanent replacement for Conrad. That’s when we got Mrs. Laird, a short woman in her forties with curly, red hair and bright eyes. She came from Texas, has three kids, and loves birds. It was easier to concentrate on my work for the rest of that semester with her up front than when Conrad was teaching. But her teaching style is more traditional than Conrad’s. At least she kept his reading list for us as she thought it was an exciting concept. I found that I liked her well enough, but she’s no Conrad, not even close. At least this semester was easy, with most of my classes being electives.
Now it’s nearly the end of May. It’s crazy how fast it all went. I’m happy that I’m almost done, but it’s bittersweet knowing that at the end of next month, Conrad and the rest of Un-Classic Heroes will be gone, and I’ll be off to college in the fall. Princeton had sent me a late acceptance letter, claiming that it was due to a last-minute spot opening up for me. My family and I were ecstatic, but I worry about tuition and living costs, which comes close to fifty- five thousand dollars per year. Between my college fund and financial aid, I’ll still need to get a job to scrape by, but it’s worth it to be able to go to my dream school. Desiree is going to NYU so she won’t be very far away, thank God!
As for Dane, well, I don’t talk to him anymore. He arranged to switch Biology partners, so he didn’t have to sit by me, and that was that. He didn’t speak to me after the blow out we had in front of my parents about Conrad. I tried a couple of times to extend an olive branch but to no avail. I suppose it’s best that way anyway. As much as I would have liked to salvage our friendship, the damage was done, and there was no going back.
Conrad was sorry I lost a friend but pleased by the outcome. He didn’t trust Dane at all and didn’t want me around him anyway. I sometimes wonder what would have happened, or if anything would have happened between Dane and I if I had never met Conrad. Despite everything, I still know that deep down, Dane is a good person, but he just lost his way a little bit, and I feel guilty knowing it was partly because of me.
Desiree and Harrison are still hot and heavy, which has surprised us all. Conrad told me that Harrison claims to love her but has yet to tell her so. Apparently, he’s afraid to do it just before they leave because Harrison doesn’t want to make any promises he can’t keep. On that same token, Desiree told me that she’s in love with Harrison, but like him, she’s afraid to tell him before he leaves. I sometimes wonder if they should tell each other, but then I wonder if they are possibly doing the right thing in not telling each other.
I know Desiree, and I’m not so sure she’d be able to wait for Harrison and vice-versa for an entire year. She’s a free spirit who loves new adventures, and with her heading off to New York for college, I think there will be too many distractions and new experiences there for her to be held down. And from what I’ve learned of Harrison over the months, is that he’s headed for stardom. His natural charisma, flirtatiousness and all-around magnetism, means that there will be no shortage of people, mainly women, vying for his attention. I think this whole mix is a recipe for heartbreak. I’ve discussed as much with Desiree, and she agrees with me, which is why she remains stoic about not telling him how she feels and has decided that she’d rather wait and see how everything plays out.
This coming summer and onwards holds so much promise and uncertainty at the same time. I’m so proud of Conrad and the band for all that they’ve accomplished. I genuinely believe that huge things are coming their way, and it makes me wonder where I’ll fit into the whole thing. With me being at college, it’ll probably feel like every other long-distance relationship, not that I would know anything about those. I really try, but sometimes it feels like I’ll always be just a bit apprehensive that Conrad and I will be able to hold on.
I always hear ‘relationships shouldn’t be so hard’ and ‘long-distance relationships never work out’, but I have to hold out hope that we are the exception to the rule. I don’t think our relationship is hard per se; it’s just that we always seem to have an obstacle. Maybe that means when everything is cleared away, it’ll be smooth sailing ahead, that’s what Conrad says anyway. He’s always a lot more sure about things than I am, and maybe that’s because he’s older and therefore wiser and more experienced than I am. I have no point of reference for all of this relationship stuff; I’m a newbie who is just figuring it all out as I go along.
Just as he promised, Conrad is waiting for me outside after school. I step through the main doors and see him standing there, leaning against his bike, staring off into the distance. He’s wearing dark jeans and a snug, plain white t-shirt, and a pair of black wayfarer sunglasses, looking too yummy. He runs a hand through his hair just as he catches me staring at him. He smiles and gives me a small wave. I walk a bit faster in order to reach him sooner. Once I approach him, he wraps his arms around me, and then plants a long kiss on my lips before handing me my helmet.
“How was your day?” he asks as he fastens the strap under my chin.
“Sort of boring, and way too long,” I tell him, and he frowns.
“What?” I ask.
“You used to be a lot more enthusiastic about school,” he muses, and I shrug.
“Hey, I can have an off day every once in a while,” I say.
“You’ve been having more and more of those lately.”
“I guess it’s because I know school will be over soon, and then everything will be different. This is the first time that I’ve ever not looked forward to the summer because it means you’ll be gone.”
Conrad gives me a meaningful look but doesn’t say anything, and instead he just nods. I sigh as he climbs onto the bike, and I climb on behind him and wrap my arms around his waist tightly. He starts the bike, and we take off.