Chapter one: The Birthday Gift.
It has been a lifelong dream of mine to go back packing across Europe. This year is the year that my parents are going to pay for that. That is right a full paid tour of Italy with a tour guide. Well, more like a travel buddy that will accompany me on the tour and make sure I make it to where I am supposed to be and on time.
Yeah, I march to the beat of my own damn drum and there are times when there just is not enough time. Speaking of it is time for the bash of my life and I am fairly sure my boyfriend just showed up so I should get downstairs. He and my parents do not get along to well sometimes.
I give myself one last look in the mirror. Tonight, is going to be a great night. ‘Man, I look good.’ I think to myself as I see my reflection in the mirror. I give myself a wink and smile as I open the door and head out.
This night is going to be fun but maybe a little awkward. My parents have invited my friends and a few of theirs over to celebrate my birthday. It will be the first time I have ever drank with my parents. They know that I drink and that I am responsible when I do it.
Tonight, however I am twenty-one and I have nowhere to be so I can let loose a little more than normal. I walk downstairs and just as suspected Jace has pulled up on his Harley in his leather jacket and is sitting outside waiting on me.
We are going out to dinner. Then we will be back for the party. Mom and dad were upset with him because he wanted to take just me out to dinner. I do not even know why but he insisted that mom and dad should stay home.
We get on his motorcycle and he starts it up. It comes roaring to life. The tires squeal as he speeds out of the driveway at a ridiculous speed. He goes flying around the bend nearly hitting the wall of rocks on our right side. He goes even faster once we are around the bend.
He has always been restless and stupid. Never taking into consideration what other people want. Like the fact that I would just like him to slow down so that he does not wind up killing me. I have asked him more than once to slow down but he just laughed at me and told me to stop being such a baby.
We pull up in front of the stupid fancy restaurant that Jace knows that I hate. He took me there for our first date and it was awful. The food was not good it was way too rich for my taste.
Suddenly fear overtakes me as I sit probably overthinking things. The thoughts jumble together, and I pray that I am not right about what is about to happen. I do not want it and the mere thought of it makes me sick to my stomach.
He climbs off the Harley takes off his helmet and holds out his hand. I hand him my helmet and jump off the bike. He goes to grab my hand and unconsciously I pull it away from him. He looks a little pissed off as he reaches out and grabs my hand once again this time holding tighter than necessary.
He makes a huge deal of opening and holding the door for me. I thank him and walk slowly through the door. We are escorted to the table in the back that he took me to our very first date. The worried feeling grows the further in we walk.
I stop and think back to our first date which was the most terrible date I had been on and pray that this one is better. We get to the table and I go to pull out my chair and he swats my hand away from the chair. He quickly pulls it out and I sit down, and he carefully pushes it back in.
I am slightly taken back because he never does these things for me. I look over the menu ready to order and before I get the chance, he orders for me. “I’ll have the steak medium and a baked potato; she will have the chicken pasta alfredo.” He states. “Then we will both have waters.”
I wait for the waitress to walk away and I let him have it. “You don’t get to order for me.” I say angrily. “Maybe I didn’t want the alfredo.” “Why the hell do you think that was okay?” I sigh
“It’s romantic when the man orders for the woman and besides that is the only thing you ever ate from here.” He says shrugging his shoulders.
“It isn’t romantic, and it pisses me off that you took my rights to order what I wanted away.” I complain
“Yeah, well get used to it because from now on this where and how we will dine.” Jace demands “You are my girlfriend, and this is how it will go. you need to start acting like you are more than just my date when we go out.”
“I have always acted as your girlfriend when we go out.” I sob “You have never done anything like this before and frankly I didn’t really like it. I feel like you are up to something.”
“Well, what pray tell would I be up to?” He asks
“I don’t know but I don’t like being told what I’m eating and drinking, and I damn sure don’t like being told how to act.” I say rudely
“I’m going home, I don’t want to be with you any longer.” I sigh
“Like hell you are.” He seethes. “I worked my ass off to do something special for you for your fucking birthday and you are going to sit right there and at least act like you are enjoying it.” He whisper yells
I pull out my phone and text my dad to please come get me. I tell him to please come in when he gets to the restaurant. Knowing damn well Jace is not going to let me go outside. Also knowing that he will not talk back to my dad for fear my dad will kick his ass.
About fifteen minutes later I hear my dad talking to the hostess. He shows up at the table moments later. I can see Jace’s face become pissed off. He looks scary mad at this moment. “Babe, what the fuck is your dad doing here?” He commands pissed off.
“I’m going home, I don’t want to be with you anymore. Tonight, pushed the last button.” I state
“You have some very warped old-fashioned theories on how shit should go in a relationship and I am way over it.” I say
“Now, I’m going home to enjoy my party.” I smile
“Enjoy your damn meals all alone.” I mutter as I walk toward the door with my dad.
“I will meet you at your place later and we can talk when you are cool off.” Jace calls as I walk off.
“Don’t even bother showing up we are through, done, no more.” I say over my shoulder walking out the door.
My dad puts his arm around my shoulder and kisses my temple as we walk to his car. “I’m proud of you Sammie.” He smiles. “I am so glad you finally stood up to him.”
“Thanks dad.” I sigh “I am pretty sure he was planning on proposing tonight.”
“I know he was, he asked me the other day for my blessings, and I told him there was no way in hell I was giving him my blessing.” Dad laughs
“He told me I was just an old asshole who never gave him a chance and always treated him like shit.” Dad states.
“He also told me he was going to marry you anyway and I told him once you found out that he didn’t have my blessing you wouldn’t, and he said that it didn’t matter if he had my blessing or not you would marry him.” Dad recalls.
“That’s where he is wrong.” I sigh
“Your opinion matters more to me than anyone and there is no way in hell I’m marrying a man that you don’t give your blessing to.” I state.
“I know my sweet girl.” Dad smiles. “You will always be daddy’s girl.”
“thank you, dad, for coming to get me tonight.” I giggle.
“I couldn’t stay there another minute and wait for food that I don’t even eat to come just so I could eat it and get sick later from the pasta my body can’t digest.” I laugh.
“He claimed that was what I buy every time I go there.” I blurt out.
“I wanted to tell him that he was the worst boyfriend ever if he thought that I would order something I am highly allergic to.” I curse
“It was also funny how he said every time because this was only the second time we had been there.” I recall thinking out loud.
“I know kiddo, just promise me no matter what you won’t go back with him.” Dad pleas
“I promise, I’m beginning to think that Macon was right when he told me that Jace was cheating on me again. Seems to me like he got me confused with someone else.” I laugh
“I wouldn’t put it past him but let’s just let it go and go enjoy this night.” Dad says opening my door for me.
“Okay daddy.” I say getting out of the car.
We walk up to the house and most of my friends have already showed up and are waiting for me. I look around and there are people and gifts everywhere. Mom grabs my hand and pulls me to the couch and starts handing me gift after gift. A man that I have never seen before comes to me holding a long thin box.
Mom grabs the box and gives it to me. “This is from your dad and me.” She smiles
I open the small box and when I do there is a charm bracelet with no charms on it. The man that was holding the box walks up to me he gently pulls the bracelet out of the box and puts it on my wrist. Just as he does, I hear a loud obnoxious yell come from the front door.
“Get the hell away from her, she is mine you fucking piece of shit.” Jace yells angrily
“He doesn’t have to move, I told you earlier we are done.” I state.
“We done until I’m damn good and ready for us to be done, now shut the hell up and get over here now.” Jace seethes.
“Over my dead body will she come near you, especially when you are talking to her that way.” Dad says pushing Jace to the door poking his chest with each word.
“This isn’t over.” Jace yells again as he heads out the door slamming it once he is through it.
I try to smile even though tears begin to leak down my face. The man I do not know reaches out and wipes them away with his large muscular hands. He then goes back to work on the bracelet. He fastens it around my wrist.
When he is done, he pulls something small out and attaches it to the bracelet. I look at it and see a small-scale model of “the spiral staircase from the Vatican Museum”. “This is our first destination in Italy.” He says, “we leave tomorrow.”
I smile and jump up and down. It has always been my dream to go to Italy and the Vatican Museum is one of the places on my bucket list to go. Now I get to leave tomorrow. I think to myself for a moment. ‘Who the hell is this guy?’ Then I ask out loud “I’m really sorry sir but who the hell are you?” I chuckle.
“I’m Arian, I’m going to guide you through Italy.” He starts.
“I work with your dad and he had mentioned that they were giving you this trip for your birthday.” Arian says
“I lived there until I was fifteen and so I offered to be your tour guide.” Arian explains.
“I needed to go back there and take care of some things anyway so this way I kill two birds with one stone.” He smiles.
“I get to accompany a very pretty girl there and I get to go back and spend a little time with my momma.” Arian blushes.
“Well thank you for accompanying me on this trip, I have always wanted to go backpacking in Italy been my lifelong dream.” I state.
“Just so you now, I remember you from gym class when we were like fifteen.” I state
“you do?” Arian asks
“I sure do.” I giggle
“I’m glad that I could be a part of making your dream come true.” He smiles.
“You should have fun tonight; you will have plenty of time to sleep on the plane.” He states.
“Oh yeah, how long is the flight?” I ask
“Almost eleven hours.” He sighs
“I bet your excited to see your mom.” I smile
“Most definitely, it sucked having to come here without her but that is the way it worked out.” He says
“I’m so sorry, I couldn’t imagine living without my momma.” I sigh
“It’s been tough, I get to go back at Christmas and one week a summer to visit her since.” He sighs
“This year I get to go back for two weeks, Travel with you by day and see her for a couple of hours at night.” He smiles a delicious smile.
“Aww, that’s perfect, thank you so much for going with me.” I giggle.
I look at my watch and realize that it is getting pretty late and me and this hunk of a man have been chatting for well over an hour like we are the only ones in the room. Mom pulls me over to the large table where a huge cake sits and lights twenty-one single candles.
Man, that’s going to take a lot of hot air to blow out.’ I think to myself. I make my wish and then blow out every last cotton pickin candle on the cake. Mom cuts the cake and hands everyone a piece. I take the first bite because everyone knows that is how it works. Everyone digs in. I finish my cake and get ready to retire upstairs.
“Before, you go may I have this dance?” Arian asks me holding his hand out for me to take.
“It would be my pleasure.” I answer placing my small hand in large one.
We stand there as the songs begin to change and just then “I swear” comes on and we dance slowly together holding each other tight while he sings his very own words to the song.
“I swear by the moon and the stars once we get there, I’ll show you it all, I will show you around all through town and I’ll hold your hand in the scary parts. I will show you everything that Italy has to offer and more. I will show the secrets and the places that one else know. Ohhhh I swear.” He sings to me
I giggle at the way he howls out the words but being there in his arms I feel safe and warm. I remember the way I felt when he walked in the door to the gym. I know we have not been together all this time but, it sure feels like we have.
I look up at him and smile. He smiles back down at me and gently places his lips to mine give me a small, sweet kiss on the lips. I pull away smile plastered on my face. Dad sees it happen and rushes over to our sides breaking us apart.
“Sammie, I think it’s time you head to bed.” Dad sighs
I laugh at dad’s urgency to put some space between us. He looks taken back. I walk away and head up the stairs. I am halfway up when I slow down hearing dad start talking to Arian. I stop and listen to them as they continue to chat after they think I am upstairs.
***Arian’s point of view***
“Do I have to worry about my daughter being with you on this trip?” dad asks
“No sir, I’m sorry I don’t know what came over me.” I stutter.
“I just got lost in her, she is amazing.” I state
“You like my daughter?” dad asks
“Yes sir, I like her a lot. I only just realized we have known each other since high school, even then I had a huge crush on her.” I admit
“When I saw her today those feelings all came back to me.” I explain
“I see.” Dad ponders
“Do you promise not to hurt her and treat her like the princess she is?” dad questions
“Yes sir.” I say
“Then ask her out. Take care of her and don’t break her heart.” Dad demands
“If anyone is going to break someone’s heart it’s going to be her.” I spit out sweetly
***Sammie’s point of view***
With that I smile. I hear someone coming my way and I make a run for it. I run quickly up the rest of the stairs. I run down the hall to the bathroom and start to get undressed. I hear a small knock at the door, and I open it a crack and peek my head out, since my shirt is off.
“Hi.” Arian says shyly.
“Hi.” I say back.
“I was wondering if you would like to go to Italy with your friend or your boyfriend?” Arian asks
“I don’t have a boyfriend anymore.” I state
“You could have if you want one.” He smiles.
“Who?” I ask
“Me.” He chuckles
“would you like that?” I ask
“More than anything.” Arian admits.
“then I guess I’m going with my boyfriend.” I smile.
“You know I have liked you since I met you when I was a scrawny fifteen-year-old with a bad haircut, braces, and terrible acne. “Arian chuckles
“I might have had a small crush on you too.” I smile.
“really, you had a crush on me back then?” Arian asks.
“Yep, I must say though you definitely changed.” I wink
“That I have.” Arian chuckles
“Trust me I noticed.” I giggle checking out his body.
My eyes travel his body from his eyes down to his toes. Boy he was right he had changed a lot from that scrawny fifteen-year-old shy boy. He had grown out his hair. His teeth now perfectly straight thanks to the braces. Skin as smooth as a babies bottom.
He had grown a good ten inches. Put on about thirty pounds. By the looks of it those thirty pounds were pure muscle. He had changed so much since then. He had even come out of his shell quite a bit. Way less shy then he used to be. H-O-T HOT is the only word for him now.
“You were so shy but, I said hi to you every day anyway, hoping one day you might notice me and ask me out.” I recall
“Yep, that was me, I was way too shy for my own damn good.” He laughs
“Just so you know, I noticed you right away.” Arian smiles.
“Just couldn’t bring myself to ask you out for fear you would reject me.” He states.
“I never would have rejected you.” I state.
“While everyone else chose to pick at the small things I looked into that big brown eyes of yours and crushed bad.” I explain.
“Why didn’t you ever say anything? Arian asks
“Because I too was afraid of rejection especially after all the girls started flocking to you the following year when you started playing football.” I smile.
“Did you ever watch me play football?” Arian asks.
“Maybe.” I say shyly
Arian chuckles and kisses my cheek and then walks away. “See you tomorrow girlfriend.” He calls over his shoulder as he descends down the hallway to the stairs.
I close the door and lean on the back of it smiling like an idiot. I get changed and wash my face and brush my teeth. Then I head out of the bathroom to my bedroom still grinning like an idiot.
Just I get to my room my phones buzzes with a text. The number is unknown. I check out the text.
*** Text messages***
Unknown: “you should know that your boyfriend is with me right now.”
Sammie: “Oh is he now…funny he just left my house.”
Unknown: “Would you like proof?”
Sammie: “Nope, I don’t need it.”
Unknow: (Picture of Jace)
Sammie: “I broke it off with him earlier. You can keep him.”
Unknown: “How fucking dare you? You stupid bitch it isn’t over until I say it’s over.”
Sammie: “It is over and has been since earlier, have a nice life with whoever owns this phone.”
Sammie: “I hope she doesn’t see this and break up with you too.”
Unknown: “Yeah well I know all about him being with you and guess what sweetheart…he has been with me almost the entire time.”
Sammie: “Then you cheating bastards deserve each other have a nice life and beware once a cheater always a cheater.”
Sammie: Bye now.
I block the number and climb on my bed and look through my social media. I take down the few pictures I have of me and Jace and change my status to in a relationship with Arian.
Then lay down my phone. A few minutes later it beeps with a notification. I pick it up and go to the notification and see that Arion updated his status to in a relationship with me. I click accept.
Just as I am about to get into bed my best friend calls me. She had just seen the status update and was beyond thrilled that I was no longer with Jace. She always hated him. She and everyone else told me he was no good from the start.
She sat on the phone and questioned me about who he was. She asked how we had met. I explained to her that it was the scrawny guy who everyone made fun of when we were teenagers.
She knew I had a crush on him back then and she always secretly hoped that we would get together someday. She continued on with her verbal diarrhea for a few more minutes before she got to the point of the call.
She sighed deeply like something was wrong. My mind took off and started wondering to the worst-case scenarios. She had a lot of things going on and I just hoped that none of them had gotten worse.
Then all of a sudden, she squeals getting all giddy.
“What the hell?” I ask
“I won the trip.” She shouts excitedly
“The one to Italy?” I ask
“Yep, the one that the radio station was giving away, I won the damn thing.” She screams.
“Oh my gosh when is it?” I holler
“It starts next Monday, and I come back Friday.” She exclaims.
“Man, that sucks mom and dad are giving me a two-week back packing trip to Italy that starts tomorrow.” I sigh.
“Oh man we could have gone together if it’s started this week.” She whines.
“Let me talk to my daddy and see what I can do. Maybe there is a way we can still go together.” I say
I walk downstairs and tell dad the situation. He checks the rules of the trip to Italy and sees that it is a trip for two and that Emmie does not have to use it she can pass it on to someone else of her choosing.
Dad then looks up and smiles. “well girls I think I have the perfect idea.” Dad says.
“You see mom and I have been married twenty-five years next Tuesday and we have never been to Italy.” Dad explains.
“I will buy the trip off of you Emmie and with that money you can go with Sammie.” He states.
“Are you serious pop (She thinks of him as a dad)?” Emmie asks.
“I sure am.” Dad says
We squeal and are extremely happy with what dad has just told us. I call Arian and add Emmie to the call. We let him know that she will go with us. He then says that his brother Avi is going as well.
We get on the internet and book a flight for her and his brother. Luckily, we find her a seat right beside me and Arian and his brother sit right behind us. We all say goodnight and hang up.
The night drags on and I am unable to fall asleep. I lay there staring at the ceiling fan hoping that the fan will lull me to sleep. Finally, it does a mere two hours before I have to get up.