Carla burst through the front door of Sam’s house, slightly out of breath from her short run and the feel of the music’s bass already seeping into her tired bones. No one paid her any mind and continued dancing, chatting or drinking. She cast a wide scan over the crowd looking for a particularly dark set of curls and finally found them over by the non alcoholic beverages.
Before she could move her feet in their direction a small hand closed around her upper arm halting her. She turned to meet a pair of light hazel eyes; it was a happy Sam. She looked good dressed in paint splattered black skinnies that ended slightly above her ankles. A red halter top with Ramones scrawled in black ink on it hung loosely off her thin frame sliding down on shoulder.
“Where are you off to in such a hurry?” She asked eyes slightly dilated from what Carla guessed was a few drinks already ingested.
“I need to find Peter,” Carla answered distractedly her eyes locking back on the mess of dark curls to make sure they didn’t move. Sam’s grip loosened on her hand and she turned back to see a surprised look on her face.
“Oh,” Sam said. “I thought..” She stopped when Carla shook her head signaling it wasn’t what she was thinking. Sam’s eyes widened more and darkened slightly as she got a tad more sober. “Oh, I thought correct.” Carla frowned at the disappointed tone in her voice.
“Did you not want me to be with Ridian?” Carla asked facing Sam full on now. Sam’s eyes returned to normal size and all seriousness that’d been there before disappeared as if it’d never come. Instead she smiled and pushed a red cup into Carla’s hand. It looked like punch but she knew better.
“Well if that’s the conversation you’re having you might as well have the decency to bring the man a drink.” Then with a slight smile and a small wave Sam turned heel and disappeared into the party. Carla stood there confused for a moment longer before putting the drink down on a clear banister and turning back to the mop of curls that was still where she’d last seen it.
She pushed past the crowd not bothering to say excuse me and even elbowing some stomachs as she made her way over to Peter. She needed to talk to him before she even saw Ridian and she needed to do it now. Finally she made her way through the sea of people to his side and tapped his shoulder a little aggressively, successfully pulling his attention away from his conversation.
At first he turned around with an annoyed look on his face at whoever was interrupting him and then it turned to one of pure joy at the sight of Carla. It kind of made her sick, especially because of what she was about to do. When he saw the frown she knew was clearly plastered on her face, the sides of his mouth drooped as well.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, raising his voice slightly higher than usual to be heard over the pounding music.
“I need to talk to you!” Carla yelled back. Peter shook his head signaling he hadn’t heard her and she sighed, grabbing his hand and leading him out to the back part of Sam’s wrap around porch. Having been to this house many times before, some willingly and others not so much, she knew her way around. They were there in minutes.
“So what’s the matter?” Peter asked going to stroke Carla’s face and she shied back from his touch looking at the ground. He dropped his hand, hurt immediately flashing on his face but he masked it with a cool expression. Carla sighed dropping into the cushioned love seat and he followed, making sure not to touch her. Carla noticed this and it slightly hurt her as well but she knew it was coming.
“I need to talk to you,” she started off slowly but before she could get any farther Peter raised his hand.
“It’s him isn’t it?” he asked staring at her. His hazel eyes were filled with sadness but also understanding and acceptance. Carla bit her lip before nodding. Peter sighed and ran a hand through his hair. It had been slightly coiffed upward in the front which was a different look than usual but it really brought out his strong jawline and high cheek bones.
“I’m really sorr-” Carla tried to apologize but Peter held up a hand to silence her again. She clamped her mouth shut and fiddled with her fingers, staring at her shoes. Finally she looked back up at him and tried a different approach. “Are you mad?“. Peter responded with a dry laugh.
“Hurt? Yes. Disappointed? Even more so. Surprised? Sadly not at all. But mad?” he sighed deeply again. “No. Not mad.” His response made Carla feel even more guilty. She almost wanted him to throw a fit or punch something if it would relieve some of the emotions he was feeling just then. She had no idea he’d cared for her this much.
“I really like you Peter, I do. I’m not lying when I say that you made me feel something and you certainly made me happy. It’s just...” Carla trailed off not knowing how to phrase her words. Peter looked at her, a sad smile around his full lips.
“He made you feel more?” he asked softly. Carla simply nodded. Peter shook his head in understanding. Then without warning he grabbed Carla and pulled her into a hug. It surprised her but she quickly returned it with as much force and love as she could.
“Do you hate me now?” Carla murmured into his sweatshirt. She felt the vibrations of laughter run through him and then he shook his head slightly.
“I could never hate you Carla. I love you too much. And I could never blame you for not feeling the same way.” Carla smiled at his words and he nuzzled into her hair before quickly placing a goodbye kiss atop her head. Then they pulled apart.
“Friends?” Carla asked shyly. Peter nodded once with a half hearted smile of his own.
“Always.” Then his smile turned into a mischievous smirk. “But if Ridian ever breaks your heart, not only will I break his bones, I’ll swoop in and heal your wounds with a little,” He waggled his eyebrows. “Loving care.” Carla laughed at his silliness, glad she had not ruined the party for him and that the Peter she knew was back.
“I’ll keep that in mind, Romeo.” She responded with a wink. He grinned wider at the sound of his nickname.
“And don’t you forget it Juliet.” Carla rose to her feet, smoothing and straightening out her skirt as she did. She opened the porch door, the sounds of techno music immediately wafting out and filling the night air with sound.
“Are you coming in?” She asked looking back at Peter who still remained seated on the cushioned love seat. He shook his head once.
“I think I’ll stay out here for a bit. Breathe a little fresh air before I jump back into the swing of things.” Carla nodded her head in understanding.
“See you later then,” she said. He waggled his fingers in response and Carla stepped back into the party, ignoring the glimpse of Peter’s shoulders sagging and his head bowing to his chest she’d caught in her peripheral before she went to find Ridian.
Carla headed straight for Ridian’s room which was on the third floor of the mansion. It was much quieter on that level. The music barely reached that high and the hallway wasn’t littered with teenage bodies wrapped around in each other in a sensual embrace. It was the last door on the right at the end of the hall, directly across from a bathroom. She knocked on the door first and was met with a “One minute!“.
She waited patiently for far more than a minute and she was about to knock again when the door burst open with a very angry looking Sam and a very frazzled looking Ridian.
“I told you we shouldn’t have bought so many kegs!” Sam screeched and Ridian flinched before nodding tiredly in agreement. Then he seemed to notice Carla standing there and his whole demeanor seemed to get refreshed upon her presence. He smiled warmly at her pushing a disgruntled Sam to the side so he could approach her.
“Hey. Glad you could make it,” he said. Carla smirked.
“Didn’t really have much of a choice,” she said. He laughed too before nodding in agreement. By this time Sam had marched off murmuring something about useless love sick puppies who can’t even count and Carla and Ridian were alone in the hallway.
“So did you have something you wanted to talk to me about? Or do you just want to keep checking me out?” Ridian asked after a few moments of silence. Carla had been so busy checking him out she’d forgotten her original purpose for coming. He had on a loose grey striped muscle tee that showed off his ridiculously toned arms and some maroon colored skinnies that actually worked with his skin tone.
His dark brown hair had that straight out of bed look and Carla was already itching to run her fingers through it. Embarrassed at being caught she cleared her throat trying to hide the blush she felt creeping up her neck while Ridian smirked at her reaction.
“I mean if you like what you see cupcake all you have to do is ask and-” Ridian was cut off by a barrage of tiny fists smacking him in the chest as Carla attempted to punch him, annoyance clear on her face. He laughed at her immediately grabbing her hands and enclosing them in his own, holding them in the middle of his chest. Carla huffed and snatched them back.
“I have quite a few things to talk to you about Ridian,” Carla said. He smiled down at her.
“Is that so?” he asked casually leaning against his doorframe.
“Well we can start with why you never told me who you were.” Carla stared directly into Ridian’s eyes. “I remember.” His eyes grew wide in shock and he seemed utterly speechless. Then he seemed to compose himself and stood up straight wiping a hand over his face as if that would erase the contents of the last couple minutes.
“Let’s talk in my father’s office.” He gave Carla no room for argument and discussion as he gently but firmly grabbed her hand and led her to the second floor. The music was slightly louder and there were a few people milling about in conversation but once they entered his fathers office it was completely silent.
“Soundproof walls,” Ridian said almost like an afterthought at Carla’s surprised face at the quietness of the room. The took a seat in the two leather bound chairs across from the oakwood desk but instead of facing the desk, turned them so they faced each other.
Carla studied him, her large green eyes now slightly narrowed and calculating. He simply stared back at her, his almond shaped grey eyes looked tired and resigned. But there was a glimmer of something else but Carla couldn’t place it.
“So,” Carla began her quiet voice deafening loud in the silent space. “Would you care to explain to me Ridian why you didn’t tell me you were not only my best friend since basically birth but why I didn’t remember you till today when I found my old pictures?” Carla’s voice has steadily increased as she was speaking and now her throat was slightly hoarse.
Ridian took a breath leaning forward a little and then he began.
“Do you remember the promise in fourth grade? The one I made to always protect you?” Carla nodded eagerly. “Well less than two weeks after that my parents split and my mother got me and my brother in the child custody battle and decided to move us to Colorado of all places for a new start. I was devastated about leaving you and tried to fight back but I had no say. You probably don’t remember me leaving because that was the same week you went on a family camping trip and slammed your head on a rock.”
Carla vaguely remembered being rushed to a hospital and getting stitches. She didn’t remember not seeing Ridian though. In fact after that she didn’t remember ever thinking about him. It suddenly dawned on her.
“Did I?” She asked tentatively. Ridian understood what she meant.
“Yes you got amnesia. My mom told me in the beginning you only remembered your name and your parents but soon the rest came back. I suppose since I wasn’t there to jog your memory you forgot me as well. ” Carla nodded in understanding. Then she frowned.
“This still doesn’t explain why you didn’t just tell me earlier.” She pointed out. Ridian nodded sitting back and ran a hand through his already messy hair.
“When I heard your dad died I could never forgive myself for not being here for you. A part of me knew it was out of my control but another thought I should have fought harder to stay. I thought you would hate me for leaving you if you knew the truth so I wanted you to remember on your own and make your own decision. Stupid reason I know but,” Ridian shrugged almost helplessly.
Carla say back as all her thoughts fell into place. Everything he said made sense and it was pure coincidence his mother finally let him spend high school with his dad who remarried to Sam’s mom. When he heard they lived in California he must have known it was possible he would see her again. He had been alone for all this time. And suffered still when she didn’t remember him. She fought the urge to punch him and hug him as she was itching to do both. Instead she gave him an answer to a question he’d yet to ask.
“I’m not mad. I wish you would’ve told me earlier who you were. I mean I would’ve liked to remember my first love and current love you know.” Ridian nodded in understanding the full meaning of her words hit him and he sprang up pulling her with him into a half embrace as they were still stating at each other, his hands wrapped around her waist and her arms around his neck.
“You mean?” He began his eyes filled with joy and hope and what Carla finally realized was love . She bit her lip fake debating for a moment then broke into a grin and nodded.
“I choose you.”