My heart swells with eagerness for our date tomorrow night; I am so excited that I have to call Rachel. Pulling out my phone, I take another sniff of the single red rose then carefully place it on my desk next to Mike’s folded hoodie and t-shirt - I dial her number.
“Hello?” Rachel answers.
“Hi, Rachel! How was your day?”
“Ugh, it sucks you’re not here – I have to have Bethany Kraus as my biology partner,” she says with disgust.
I can’t help but sympathize with her. Bethany is rude and obnoxious, though I think she has a bad home life. She picks on just about everyone. I always did everything I could to not get in her way. She was beautiful and popular but really mean to those who didn’t wear designer clothes or not a part of her circle.
“Oh man, that stinks Rach, I’m so sorry. You can’t switch with anybody?” I ask, hopeful.
I can practically hear her eyes roll. “No, I tried, though. I need you to get my mind off it, tell me about you – anything that I’ve missed?”
“Actually, I have some exciting news!” I announce.
She gasps, “Well, spill it already!”
My smile is so wide that my cheeks are hurting. “Mike asked me out,” I squeal.
“Mike, your neighbor motorcycle hunk?” She can hardly believe it, neither can I. I’m still pinching myself.
“That’s the one. It was so cute how he asked me, too.” I am so unbelievably excited.
“How?” Rachel asks hastily.
I tell her that he walked me to my door and asked me with a single rose. I tell her that I could barely hear myself say ‘yes’ because my heart was pounding so loud in my ears. Then, I tell her that he kissed my cheek before walking away.
“Oh my gosh!” she screams. “That is so romantic! So cute! I want a biker boy.” I can’t help my laughter.
After I calm down, she probes, “Where is he taking you?”
I shrug my shoulders even though she can’t see me. “I don’t know.”
“Well, what are you going to wear?” I can’t see him going anyplace fancy, not that high schoolers can afford anything fancy. Plus, there was no restaurant here that was fancier than a Chinese buffet.
I shrug my shoulders. “I don’t know.” I don’t care where we go.
Rachel sighs over the phone. “You don’t know anything.” I giggle at her annoyed reaction.
“Well, you gotta tell me how it goes! You will share with me all the details – right?” she fusses.
This time I roll my eyes. “Yes, Rach, I’ll tell you everything.”
I hear the distress in her voice as she speaks. “Well, I’m only making sure that you will remember to this time, you never did tell me much about what happened on your date with Declan. I’m sorry you had a bad time.”
The only information I gave her about that date was that I didn’t have a good time. Declan and I didn’t have anything in common, and that Mike and I, since then, have gotten closer. I didn’t tell her anything else- no sense in her worrying about me from five states away.
After promising her that I will share my date experience with Mike to her for the fifth time, we hang up. That’s when I notice it. The rose sitting on my desk has a piece of paper tied to it. Picking up the rose, I untie the black silk knot then unfold the white paper from the stem.
Hi beautiful, text me when you wake up in the morning.
Below the handwritten message is his phone number; I have never felt so woozy from a note before, but the knock on my door abruptly breaks the spell.
“Hey, kiddo, how were your finals?” Dad got home early.
I think about that for a moment; Biology isn’t my best subject – I’m pretty sure that one didn’t go so well, but the rest... “Eh, I think I did okay.” He nods in approval.
My dad takes a seat at my desk. “How have things been at school since the...uh incident? Anyone giving you any more trouble?” he asks me this almost daily, but I never really give him much information.
I look into his worried deep brown eyes then assure him, “Not so much anymore, the first week back was the worst, but Mike shut the rumors down pretty quickly.” He seems slightly surprised by that.
“Really?” he asks.
“Yeah,” I say with a smile.
Dad clears his throat. “Sounds like he’s a good friend.”
Hopefully, he’ll be more than that after our date tomorrow. “Yeah, he is.”
He shuffles his feet beneath him. “What about that Declan kid, has he been given you any trouble?” he pries.
Oh, Declan...“No, he’s not giving me any trouble at all,” I mumble.
“Does he know anything about the attack on you? Does he know who did it? Do you remember anything else, Elena?” I groan to myself; his cop voice is starting to emerge.
I still haven’t given my dad a name; I haven’t told Mike either. I haven’t even said the man’s name out loud yet...
It may sound ridiculous, but I feel like if I say the name out loud, then somehow things will go from bad to worse for me. That if word got out, then somehow the man will find me then finish the job. I’m hoping to be able to tell my dad at some point...just not yet...
With sudden disappointment in myself, I answer, “No, Dad. Unfortunately, there’s nothing more – not that I can remember. Declan hasn’t been much help, either.” It isn’t a lie necessarily.
Dad leans forward in the chair; I quickly fold the paper in my hand so he can’t see it as he touches my knee. “I’m sorry, honey, I just... I want justice to be served for what that punk-ass scumbag did to you.” He sighs, “Hopefully I’ll find out sooner rather than later. I’d hate for this boy to get away.” I feel a kiss on my forehead when he asks, “You wanna go see a movie?”
Not having been able to go to the movies with him since we moved, I leap at the opportunity. “Yeah! Of course,” I beam.
“Great. I’ll go take a shower, then we can leave,” he smiles.
With my dad now across the hall, I open the note again. A smile forms as I remember Mike being able to take all the bad memories away by simply being around. He has been my distraction by making me laugh and giving me a shoulder to cry on. He’s even been my Netflix binge-watching partner and has taken me for spontaneous bike rides...
My fingers outline his handwritten words, heat rise to my cheeks as I trace the word ‘beautiful.’ I don’t think I would have been able to get through these past few weeks without him.
Now I have his phone number and a date to look forward to.
I leave my bed, look in the mirror, and brush my hair. It dawns on me that I technically have two dates this weekend: a daddy-daughter date tonight and a date tomorrow night with my tattooed prince. I am a lucky girl.