Crossroads: Book 1

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Chapter 27

Elena


All night my mind wouldn’t shut off. I have been so eager to go on a date with Mike. Honestly, I have no idea what to expect for tonight; I wonder what kind of ideas he has up those tattooed sleeves of his.

I reach over to my nightstand for the note and my phone. Scaling my fingers over his handwritten words again - unable to control my smile - I type in his number then text him. I am not sure what to say, so I type and delete several times before settling on:

Good Morning with a sunshine emoji. It’s short but sweet.

I watch anxiously as dots appear, disappear, and reappear again before I finally get a response back. Good Morning, Kitten, with a cat emoji and a smiley face with sunglasses on. Dress somewhat warm and comfortable tonight. With a single rose emoji, he also sent: Can’t wait.

I beam with joy and jump out of bed, then climb in the shower to wash my hair. While my curling iron is warming up, I take the time to scan over my makeup. I decide on the natural look – the look that he sees every day. Mike always says that I don’t need this stuff, but I want to look nice tonight...maybe I should add some more eyeliner...

After curling my hair, I choose an outfit that consists of a pair of black skinny jeans with a hole in a knee and an off-the-shoulder light pink sweater over a cream-colored camisole. Glancing over at the clock, I see it’s only 11:30 am; he never did tell me what time to expect him, so I decide to get ready early in the day – just in case.

Skipping down the hall, I nearly sing ‘Good Morning’ to my dad. I kiss him on the cheek while he sits at the table with a newspaper and a steaming cup of coffee.

“Morning. You’re awfully chipper today.” He smiles as I reach for a mug to pour myself a cup of hot Colombian coffee. Smells like heaven in a cup.

I shrug a shoulder, remove the phone from my back pocket, then set it on the table in front of me. “Well, I can’t be a gloom bug forever.”

If I keep holding onto that night, life will pass me by - I just can’t let that happen.

I have my bad days, but Mike has been there for me like no one else could have been. My dad has been here for me too, but Mike always knows what to do or to say that will wrangle me back to the present. Now, my ‘present’ is to look forward to spending more one-on-one time with the brooding, attractive, fun, amazing man that is my neighbor.

I’m not sure if I want my dad to know that I’m going on a date with Mike tonight. My last date didn’t go so well-he didn’t know about that one either. Maybe not telling my dad is like an Oman or something...

Contemplating whether I want to tell Dad about the date or not, I bring the cup to my lips to take a sip. When my phone vibrates against the table, the sudden drill sound causes me to jump, and the hot coffee spills onto my sweater, scorching my belly with an instant sting.

"Ahh!” I yelp. Dagflabbit! I really like this sweater.

I rush up from the table and run to the bathroom, pulling my sweater over my head then turn the tap on cold to soak it. With a heavy sigh, I leave it in the sink and head back to my closet. A grunt escapes as I realize my camisole has a coffee stain as well. I close my door to take it off. Now, what do I wear?

A lavender long sleeve thin tunic top finally catches my eye; it will go with my black skinny jeans. It is not what I prefer for my first choice, but it will have to do.

Heading back to the kitchen, I see that dad is leaning against the front door with his legs crossed and a scowl on his face with my phone in his hand.

“Dad, what are you doing?” What gives him the right to look through my phone?

He drops the phone at his side then gives me a look: The Dad Look. The look that says I’m in trouble. “What the hell is this?” He brings the phone back up with the screen facing me.

I speed towards him to see what he’s so upset about and see a text from Mike: I’ll pick you up at 6:30 pm.

Crap. I look back up at my dad.

“Well. Care to explain?” He does ‘The Dad Voice’ well.

“I’m going out with Mike tonight,” I tell him in a deep breath.

“The hell you are!” he shouts.

“Why not? You’ve been pushing me to trust him since we got here!” I yell back on defense, my ears are getting hot. “We’ve been hanging out every day for nearly the past two weeks, you know that. Why is going on a date with him such a bad thing?”

He seems to think about that for a minute.

“To be friends with him is different than dating him, Elena. I trust him as a friend for you, not as a boyfriend,” Dad pauses while I fume. “Boys like him have one thing on their mind, and I have been hoping it would just be friendship between you two - not this. He’ll break your heart, El.”

“Oh, come on!” I shout, throwing my hands in the air. “He’s not like that for one and two, I know for a fact that if I say ‘no,’ he’ll respect it. He’s not a monster; it’s Mike for crying out loud!” I want to point out that he’s had two opportunities to kiss me and has pulled back both times, but I gulp that down.

“Don’t you yell at me, young lady.” He points a finger at me.

“Don’t tell me who I can and cannot date!” I fire back. “I’m eighteen years old. If I want to go on a date with Mike, I can. I will. I was going to tell you... Honestly, I thought you’d be happy about it. You’ve been Team Mike ever since I wanted to go on that date with Declan.”

With my hands resting on my hips and my brow cocked up -he has his jaw clenched. It’s a staring contest now. He knows I’m right; he’s just having a hard time swallowing it.

He hands me my phone then turns for the door - sliding through, he orders, “Stay here.” With the door slammed shut, I’m left irate in this kitchen.

Through the window, I see he’s stomping over to Mike’s place. What the...?

My eyes roll. He’s probably either having ‘the talk’ with Mike – that would be so embarrassing – or he’s trying to get Mike to back out of our date. I’m praying it’s not the latter.

An agonizing fifteen minutes and a biting of a whole pinky nail later, I watch as my dad strolls back up to our door.

As soon as he crosses the threshold, I yell, “What was that? What did you do?” I’m trying to prepare myself for the worst: Having the only guy that I have been so incredibly interested in being torn away from me by the man who insisted I trust and befriend him in the first place.

“Calm down, Elena,” he starts by putting his hand up to silence me. “I just wanted to talk with him.” He takes a breath before continuing... “I’ve set some ground rules, if he’s able to stick to them, then you may go on dates with him.”

I didn’t miss it. He said ‘dates.’ Plural. I jump for my dad and give him a big bear hug. Other than Declan -I’ve never dated -so with it being a new thing, I’ll take what I can get.

“Thank you, Dad,” I say joyfully in his chest. He waves me off and mumbles to himself as he makes his way back to the table for his newspaper.

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