The night before we were to depart for Arielle’s father’s wedding, I threw the remaining pile of clothes into my suitcase, along with some drawing supplies and the other necessary items.
Arielle had finally seemed to warm up to the idea of seeing her father, and I was truly happy for her. She was lucky to still have parents, even if they weren’t the greatest.
In spite of myself, I’d been playing over my last real conversation with Cordelia nonstop the past few days. They were nagging at the back of my mind, blotting out all other thought. As usual, Cordelia was right.
I had to tell Arielle that I loved her. That I couldn’t fathom spending another moment without her. Every time I saw her, it was like I was brought to life all over. She was my sole purpose for existence, and she needed to know that this wasn’t just your typical teenage crush. This was the real thing. This was what I wanted- needed- forever.
I zipped closed my suitcase with a broad smile. I’d never thought in terms of forever before. But at the moment, forever sounded perfect.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to drive you to the airport?” my mom asked for the billionth time. And for the billionth time, I shook my head no.
“I’ll be fine,” I assured her, tasting the bitterness of the lies in my mouth. One of these days, all these lies were going to come crashing down around me.
In spite of myself I did feel a little bad. Apparently she had left work early just to see me off, and here I was wishing she hadn’t. I’d promised Cordelia that I’d meet them at the mansion by five, and it was already four-twenty. I’d have to pay the cabbie to drive faster.
“I’ll be okay,” I promised, leaning in and hugging her tightly. As much as my mom got on my nerves, no matter what hard feelings I had, I really did love her, and I felt terrible for lying to her. But if she’d have known that Griffin- or any boy- was involved in any way, shape, or form, she’d never have let me go.
“I really do love you, Arielle, irregardless of what you think,” she replied, kissing my forehead. “Call me when you get to your father’s.”
I nodded, bent down to pick up my bag, and shut the door extra-tight on my way out.
Just over six hours later, I stumbled off the plane and into the crowded airport. Griffin chuckled quietly to himself, slipping an arm around my waist to steady me.
“I take it you don’t like flying,” he spoke softly. I would’ve turned my head to glare at him, except that I felt like any movement would cause me to throw up.
Cordelia came up beside us, placing one of her worn and wrinkled hands on my shoulder.
“I’ll get some information on where the hotel is, and get a cab,” she said. “Griffin, go and get the luggage.”
Griffin nodded, and together we set off towards the baggage claim.
Even in November, the salty sea air of Oceanside, California was in the mid-sixties. I definitely missed the weather out here.
The nausea had subsided, but it had been replaced with heat sickness instead. Still, I refused to loosen my death grip on Griffin. Since it had been so cool when’d we’d left New York, I’d been wearing a long skirt and long-sleeves. Now I longed for the tee-shirt that was awaiting me in my bag. Though of course the long skirt couldn’t be avoided. It was the defining factor of my own personal style.
“You have such a beautiful smile,” Griffin said suddenly as we took our place in the waiting line. “If only you would show it.”
I blushed a little as I turned into his body and leaned my head into his chest. “I think my dad will like you,” I stated. The words came out muffled since my face was buried in his shoulder.
I couldn’t see but I was sure that Griffin was smiling.
Cordelia was waiting for us just outside the airport, standing on the curb beside a bright yellow cab, looking as dignified as ever.
“Really, Griffin, what took you so long?” She asked sternly, but when they both cracked a smile, I knew she was only joking.
The cabbie loaded the bags into the trunk, and Cordelia gave him the address of the hotel. Before I knew it, we were on the road, going at a nice steady speed of forty-five. This cabbie was nothing like the ones in New York, who were always speeding, irregardless of how fast or slow the passenger, wanted to be going.
“I booked us a three-bedroom suite,” Cordelia informed us. “That way we can all have our own rooms.” She gazed expectantly at Griffin, who only nodded, his poker face returning.
As the silence returned, I pulled my legs up onto the seat and laid my head against the glass of the car-door window.
Griffin placed a hand lightly on my knee.
“Go to sleep, go to sleep,” he hummed quietly; I giggled. I hadn’t heard that song since my mom used to sing me to sleep with it.
Listening to the slightly off-key singing of the one person I was sure I loved with my entire heart, I fell into deep unconsciousness.
“Arielle,” I whispered, nudging her shoulder. The cab had pulled up at the front of the hotel, and Cordelia was instructing the driver to take our bags up to the room.
Arielle stirred a little, then sat up fully and pushed her thin black hair behind her ears.
“Are we there?” she asked me, her voice filled with sleep. I reached out and ran my thumb down her jaw bone.
“Yes,” I murmured, leaning in and kissing her gently. She moved her lips against mine eagerly.
A sudden tap on the glass caused me to jump, pushing myself back from her. Cordelia stood outside, giving me a very pointed look. I held her gaze with ease.
Taking Arielle by the hand I pulled her from the cab and towards the hotel entrance. It was one of those over-the-top ones. Cordelia was always so dramatic.
Like now. And I could tell by her glare this was going to be a very interesting weekend indeed