When I got home, I ran inside, down to my basement bedroom, locking my door, and then flopped on to my bed.
This had to be the worst and best day of my life. Ever. I had no clue how Delilah had been able to hold it together the way she did, all day, as words were whispered around her, when I had been biting back tears back in Mr. Ferraro’s office.
This whole thing was total bull shit.
But the hug, before it got twisted and pulled in to some thing completely unrecognizable, was amazing. Watching her and her strength in the office was, too. As was the hug after that stupid nerve wracking chat with Mr. Ferraro, and her reaction to me giving her my number and calling her LiLi…
I didn’t know what to think.
Luckily, I didn’t have to for long.
I got up and grabbed my iPod and phone from my book bag and took off my shirt and shoes. I figured Mom wouldn’t be home for a while longer, and the little ones were being watched by Lena, so I would actually have a chance to relax and still get chores done before Mom got home so I wouldn’t get yelled at.
I laid back down in my bed, plugging the ear buds connected to my iPod in to my ears. Unlike my older sister or any of my friends, I didn’t listen to music at a completely deafening volume. Instead, I had it just loud enough to drown things out but not to the point where it would hurt my ears. Bryan called me a choice word every time I told him to turn down his music.
I flipped on to my side and pressed “Play.”
“She’s a good girl, loves her momma, loves Jesus, and America too. She’s a good girl, crazy ‘bout Elvis, loves horses, and her boy friend to, yeah.”
Just as the tension started to flow out of my body, my phone vibrated. I froze and my headache started to return, because I figured that it would more than likely be my mother calling me, yelling at me to do some thing or another.
“Hey. Just wanted to check to see if I read the number you gave me right. You know, just in case I need that favor… <3 Delilah”
Just testing? For some reason, I doubted that. I quickly texted her back a reply.
“Well, you have the right number :) so how’re you doing? Worried about you ‘cause of all of the crap at school…”
I hit “Send” before I could chicken out, and waited not so patiently until she replied a couple of minutes later.
“Heheh. Aww that’s sweet, James. I am sooo fine, tho. I think I’m more fine with all of this than Vi and Callie combined… lol.”
I rolled my eyes, because she had no clue how true that was. I passed by Violet’s house walking home, and I saw both her and Callie in her back yard flipping out. Well, that could have probably been considered more of a heard them flipping out, considering I didn’t see them until I had actually passed Vi’s house.
I smirked as I replied. “You have no idea. I can hear them all the way down at my house, and that’s like more than four blocks away from Vi’s!”
I stared at my ceiling and tapped my foot absentmindedly on the foot board in time with the song, though I didn’t even realize what song was playing then.
I felt my face break in to a wide smile when the phone vibrated in my hand, yet again.
“Really? I honestly have no clue where either of you live. Coolio. So… What ya up to? :)”
“You should come over and hang out some time. Like, if you have a problem with math or some thing. I’m just laying in my bed listening to music.”
I idiotically hit “Send” with out rereading the wording of my text.
Oh my god. That one was face palm worthy. Insert foot in mouth here. Not only the math comment, which was bad as it was, but also the whole in my bed thing. That just read… Suggestively to me, and I was ninety nine percent sure that she would take it that way and not text me back.
To my surprise, she did. And, by some miracle, she wasn’t offended in the slightest.
“lol I’ll keep that in mind if I need a math tutor :P funnily enough, I’m doing the same thing. What are you listening to?”
I glanced at the screen of my iPod and took note of what was playing. “Uh…I haven’t really been paying attention, but according to the iPod, I’m listening to Secondhand Serenade.”
I started paying attention to the music, because it was one of my favorite songs. It was weird that I didn’t even recognize it when I’ve had to have heard it at least a thousand times. By the time she finally texted back, I was quietly singing along to the song.
“That’s… border line creepy, because guess what I’M listening to?”
This had to be a sign. I don’t put much stock in to all of the sign crap, but… This had to be a sign.
“Let me guess… Fall For You, Secondhand Serenade? That IS border line creepy... Are you psychic or something? :P” I teased her, just like I would have if we were actually talking on the phone or in person. I hoped my playfulness would translate in my words.
“Maybe just a little :P who knows? I could be! What’s it to ya? Lol”
“Just adds to your charm :)”
It took Delilah a while to reply to that one. I got impatient waiting, skipping songs I typically love and beating my head against the wall behind my bed. I was starting to kick my self for my not so subtle flirting.
“My, my. What is this? James Baker, are you flirting with me, darling? ;)” She replied, just as playful.
“Maybe… Do you want me to be?” I said. I didn’t know where I got this courage from all of a sudden, and I wasn’t sure I liked it, but it was too late to be unsure, now.
Again, there was a longer period between my text and her reply. Not as long as the last one, but it still seemed like forever.
Just that one word answer floored me, though they typically annoyed me to no end. I don’t think it would be possible for her to send me that one single, three letter word.
A couple of days after my texting conversation with Delilah and a few lingering classes at school, I went to spend the night at Bryan’s to distract my self and to help him with his stupid home work.
“I don’t know if I should tell you that you win or that you fail, James. What ever it was, some time in the past seventy two hours, you grew a pair. I’m proud of you, son.” Bryan slapped me on the shoulder, faux sentimentality in his voice.
“I do believe that is what we call an epic win fail sucession. And what is that supposed to mean coming from you, Mr. Whipped?” I play punched him in the stomach, grinning.
“It means that before you never would have been that straight forward with a girl. So, you either grew a pair of balls or some body slipped you some liquid courage at lunch and it only hit once you got home. And I am not whipped!” He pulled me in to a head lock, glaring at me.
I imitated cracking a whip and he tightened his grip around my neck. “Meee-ow.” I said, knowing it would piss him off.
“I. Am. Not. Pussy. Whipped. And if you even want a chance with Delilah you better stop now, or you will never see the day where that will happen.”
“Damn you.” I said and stopped trying to put up a fight against him. Now he knew my weakness. Fuck.
“You should ask her to Homecoming, bro. Violet may have alluded to the fact Delilah would ask you if you didn’t ask her first…”
“Wait, what? She would make the first move?”
“I hate to say it, man, but she has more balls than you do. She was the one who asked me out. Because I was admittedly a coward and she scared the crap out of me.”
“You? Scared of Delilah?! Sweet little beautiful Delilah?” I fell off of the couch I was sitting on, I was laughing so hard.
“Dude. I mean, James. Delilah is freaking feisty. And violent as hell. You do some thing stupid and you get slapped on the back of the head. I swear, I have a permanent head ache because of that girl. Violent.” He repeated himself.
“I still don’t get why you were scared of her. She isn’t intimidating or any thing. She talks to every one.”
“Says the man who is evading the subject of why he hasn’t asked her out since he met her in sixth grade… That’s what makes her intimidating, man. I know you see it, too. Her unintimidatingness makes her intimidating. She has total confidence, and it’s kind of sexy.”
“Says the man who broke up with her. Twice. You have a girl friend, man. Delilah is mine. And yes, I do know what you mean.” I admitted.
“If she’s yours, then why haven’t you asked her out yet? I’m serious, man, Homecoming would be perfect. It’s not like she’s going to say no. Like I said, she told Vi that if you didn’t she would.” Bryan was working for the other side, I could tell. Any thing I said to him right now was going to eventually make it to Delilah, I was sure of it. Violet was probably pressuring him to get information for her.
“I… I don’t know, Bryan. She is kind of intimidating… But that might be kind of because of, well, you know…”
“Might be because of what? Your total inexperience? It’s not like she’s any better in that area, James.” He looked at me sternly. I hated that big brother glare.
“And how would you know that, Bryan? I thought you didn’t know her any better than I did! That’s what you said the other day!” Of course, in response I just had to act like the kid brother. Even though he was only a couple of weeks older than me.
“That was like a month ago! And she’s been telling Violet more, who has been telling me more. So I might know a little more about her now.”
“Well, now you’ve made me curious. Just how inexperienced is she, Bryan? Do tell. Enlighten me.”
“Take a chill on the sarcasm or I won’t tell you.” He threatened. I shut up and stared at him expectantly. He rolled his eyes at me and sighed. “She still has never been kissed, and she’s dated two guys, only one officially. Which would have been me. The other… Well, he more than broke her heart. He just broke her in general. Which is why she’s more fucked up than she used to be.”
“You never kissed her? Are you freaking kidding me?” I said in disbelief.
“Hey, now. I never said I didn’t have any regrets. I almost wish I would have. I also wish other things, but those are not things that need to leave my head and are definitely not things Vi needs to know.”
“Back off, man. Remember, you’re taken. And disgusting. How many times do I have to tell you she’s not a piece of meat? What happened with that other guy?”
“I don’t really know, James. All Vi would tell me was that when it went south, it went down in a nose dive. All at once. One single week last year, every thing went wrong. And then she cracked.”
“Cracked as in what, Bryan?” I asked, alarmed.
“Screamed at the guy, then went in to total social isolation. And maybe the tiniest bit suicidal…” Bryan mumbled the last part, averting his eyes and rubbing the back of his neck.
“Please tell me you didn’t just say…” I trailed off, not even able to think about how to finish that sentence. The depression hit me yet again like a train going full speed with no chance of ever stopping.
“James…” Bryan said. Trying to be soothing wasn’t exactly his forte, but he was okay at it, I guess.
“She was suicidal?” I whispered, not able to get my vocal chords to actually work.
“James…” His voice was almost reprimanding now, but then he controlled it. “Yes, she was. Her mom had her go to a grief therapist, thinking it was because of her grand father’s death. But apparently the therapist was able to help. I mean, obviously, she’s still here. But it did actually help her with what was going on.”
“That’s… Good.” I managed to get out with out my voice trembling.
“James, that was a long time ago. I’m sorry and I don’t mean to offend you, but I think it may be time for you to start getting over… that. Delilah would be one of the last people I’d expect to actually go through with it. She pays too much attention to the people around her and how they feel to actually go through with it. Especially with her mom…”
“Now I really don’t know…”
“James, listen to me. I’m aware of the fact I have pretty much no right to say this, but I’m going to any way. She’s a great girl, and, while she and I might not have been compatible in a couple, she’s a damn amazing girl friend. I know that that makes this hard for you, but believe me, she’ll be worth it in the end for you, man.”
“Did you just go sentimental on me, Bryan?” I said, trying to make a joke.
“Ask her!” He snapped, rolling his eyes at my pitiful attempt.
“I think I will.”