“It was the most embarrassing thing, Rachel,” I groan into the phone.
“Okay, tell me exactly what happened. I’m sure it’s not as bad as you think,” she soothes.
I take a breath. “Okay, three days ago, Mike’s mood completely flipped a one-eighty. He was sweet and funny. He coaxed me into going mud bogging with him...” I trail off to explain mud bogging and about our little adventure. “Then I was straddled on top of him, and time just slowed down.”
“You were sitting on top of him?” Rachel gasps.
Sheepishly, I nod my head even though she can’t see me. “Yeah,” I drag out. “That’s when things got crazy...” I tell her all about how I got embarrassed about how we almost kissed, then how it all ended with me feeling like a total idiot. I left out the crying in the shower part, though. Yeah, I wasn’t about to tell her that because if she does come to visit, she’ll want to punch Mike for making me cry.
It was a stupid thing to cry about anyways... I roll my eyes at how emotional I can get sometimes.
“I’m with you, I think he was mad about something, but Elena, I don’t think you did anything wrong. He’s just got to man-up and tell you what’s going on in that head of his,” she pauses. “Men. They can be so incredibly complicated. Can’t live with them, and we don’t necessarily want to live without them.”
We both laugh. She’s always able to cheer me up.
“I haven’t seen him since. He’s been completely M.I.A,” I inform her.
My sights dart at the house next door. “Yup. I asked my dad about it, wondering if he knew anything, and he said that Mike skips school sometimes to work at an auto shop. Apparently, there’s a shop not far from Ashley Lane where our house is. So, maybe he’s been there the entire time... but I haven’t seen him around his house either...” I trail off in thought.
“Maybe he’s staying with a friend or something,” she offers.
“Hey! I’m sorry I wasn’t able to call on your birthday. Did you get my texts, though?” Rachel asks.
“Yeah, I did! Thank you! It’s okay, I knew I’d be able to talk with you today, so it’s all good.”
“Well, how was your birthday?”
I happily go into detail about how Dad made me cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and when he came home in the evening, he brought pizza with him; we watched a few episodes of the Big Bang Theory. I love Sheldon; he always makes me laugh. For a gift, he gave me a pair of new black heels with satin straps that I’ve been asking for. “The one with the tiny silver bows.” We squeal in unison then laugh at ourselves. “Overall, it was a nice birthday. I miss you, though.”
“I miss you too! Oh crap, I gotta go. I told the neighbor, Miss Jenkins, that I’d let her dog out,” Rachel says in a hurry.
“Okay! Look at you, all neighborly.”
She chuckles as we both hang up.
Pushing the covers off, I steal a glance at the house next door and frown. It’s Saturday... three whole days without him around. It’s odd how he seemed to have been everywhere and then just vanishes.
The corner of my eye catches his clean sweatshirt folded neatly on my desk. I have to give that back to him. My phone buzzes on the nightstand, I reach out for it, hoping it’s Rachel, but it’s not.
It’s a text from Declan: Hey, are you excited for tonight?
The party. I am a bit excited, but since I haven’t seen Mike around, I’m not sure if he’s changed his mind about going. He probably won’t go now that things are weird between us. Though I appreciate Declan and the patience he has with me in trying to grow a relationship out of thin air, I’m just not attracted to him the way I am to Mike. It’s like I’ve gravitated towards Mike in some cosmic way, and I can’t shake the feelings I have for him. My belly flops, knowing the feelings are not reciprocated... I roll my eyes. I hardly know the guy; I can’t have feelings for someone I hardly know. Every time we touched, it woke up every fiber in me with an electric current, and I never felt so alive.
My lips gather to the side. Maybe that’s because no other guy has touched me like that before... which is why I should go to this party. I need to see if maybe I can have that feeling with Declan or perhaps someone else. Mike is nothing but a troubled mess; I have to move on from him.
In answering Declan, I reply with, Yes, I am! Should I meet you there?
I don’t have a ride, and I don’t want to ask my dad for one. He’s working tonight, and I know he wouldn’t let me go. I’m hoping Declan will offer to take me - it is supposed to be a date after all.
I watch the bubbles appear on my screen, waiting patiently for words to take their place when there’s a knock on my door. Setting my phone down, I say, “Come in,” as my dad opens my door.
“Hey, I made some breakfast. Would you like some?”
“Sure, yeah, I’ll be out in a sec.” My tummy rumbles in agreement.
As he walks out, I recheck my phone. I can pick you up if you want. Just text me your address.
As I stretch out of bed, I send him my address. He texts for me to be ready by 6 pm. I glance at the clock - it’s only 9:30 am. I’m suddenly thankful that my dad is working the night shift tonight so I can attend this party.
I pad my way to the table and realize that I don’t have a decent outfit for tonight. I don’t have a car yet, other than the school bus, Mike, or my dad – I don’t have any other means of transportation. As I take my seat, I ask, “Dad, what time do you have to leave for work?”
“Not until 2:30. Why?” He places flimsy bacon on his plate. I look down at mine; they are hard and crispy. Where do I get this from, if anyone at all?
I shake the question out of my thoughts. “Well, I was wondering if you can take me to the mall or a clothing store?” I take a forkful of eggs to my mouth.
As he butters his toast, he asks, “Why?”
“Well, I would like to get a few new things. I just realized that I have a few shirts that don’t seem to fit anymore.” I try to be convincing. I’m sure I have some shirts that don’t fit, so it’s not technically a lie...right?
He hesitates. “Sure, should we leave around 10:30?” he asks as he takes a seat next to me at the table. I smile and nod at him as I take another forkful of eggs, pleased with myself for getting him to agree with me.
I text Rachel that I may need her assistance pretty soon.
“Okay, what about this one?” I’m so glad that I’m able to facetime with Rachel. I don’t know much about clothing styles or dressing for my body type. Thankfully, Dad is running some of his own errands while I try to find an outfit for tonight.
“Mmm...I don’t know. Try that blue one on over there behind you,” Rachel answers. Setting the phone down so the camera can only see the bench, I strip out of the clingy, shimmery gold dress that is way too tight. I slip into the royal blue dress then look in the mirror. I hardly recognize myself. It has spaghetti straps and a slight v-line that lies just above my cleavage. It’s slim around my bust and waist, but then flares out just a little bit at the hips and hangs just above my knees. It will look perfect with the new heels Dad got for me. Reaching for the phone, I hold it up so Rachel can see my reflection in the mirror.
“Yes! That’s the one! Oh, El, you look so pretty,” she exclaims, smiling ear to ear.
“You really think I can pull this off?” I start to doubt my confidence.
There is no hesitation on her part. “Yes! Get that one! Declan and Mike will have to search for their eyeballs rolling around on the floor. You own that dress, babe.”
After thanking her for the advice, I promised that I would call her tomorrow after the party to let her know what happens. She suggests that I curl my hair and wear light blue eyeshadow, but I’m not sure I want to wear eyeshadow – that’s a little too much makeup for me.
Meeting my dad at the food court, we grab some Chinese food for lunch. I catch him eyeing the dress in the bag that I have hanging over the chair next to me.
He asks, “Did you find any new shirts?”
I shrug my shoulder and decide to be honest with him. “No, but I found a dress that I really like.” A girl can buy a dress just because she feels like it, right? She doesn’t need a special occasion.
“Oh?” he seems a little surprised. “Is it a dress that I would approve of?” His brow cocks, and I let out a laugh.
“Yes, Dad.” I’m not sure why he would ask me that; it’s not like I have ever dressed provocatively.
He puts his hands up in mock surrender, “Okay, okay, sorry – just you know, being a father.” I love him all the more for it.
When we get back to the house, it’s almost 2:30 pm. After hugging my dad goodbye, I decide on taking a little nap before getting ready for tonight. Hopefully, I can rest for a little bit; given the nervous butterflies in my belly, I’m not sure if that’s possible.
I hang my dress up behind the bathroom door. In anticipation of taking a shower later, the steam will most likely rid some of the wrinkles from being in a bag for the last hour.
As I pull the covers back on my bed, I hear a truck engine. Leaning over the bed to look out the window, I see his truck. Now he decides to make an appearance? I roll my eyes and climb into bed, then set my alarm for 4 pm.
I close my eyes in hopes of getting a couple of extra hours of beauty sleep and try not to think about the brooding boy next door.