I wake up with the most horrible headache and my alarm clock isn’t helping. I hit the snooze button and try to get up but the pain makes me lay my head back down. I stare at the ceiling for what feels like hours when Gram comes into my room to make me go join her at breakfast.
“Why aren’t you up yet?” She asks impatiently.
I try to make my voice as audible as possible without making my head hurt more. “I have a horrible headache, gram. Do we have any aspirin?”
I hear Gram’s voice faintly saying yes. She must have gone to get the medicine as soon as I told her. I smile. Gram is always so caring.
She comes back in no time at all. She’s carrying a red bottle and a glass of water. “Sit up slowly,” I do and she places the bottle and glass on my bedside table. “Here, let me put a pillow behind you.” She says doing so. “Drink this.”
I do and lay back down when I’m done. “Where did you get that bottle?” I ask Gram, who’s massaging my head. “I’ve never seen it before.”
There’s a pause before she answers. “That’s because it’s really strong medicine. I only save it for emergencies.”
“How did you know my headache was an emergency?” I ask softly. Gram has magic fingers. My eyes are starting to close from their calming effect.
I snap awake when she answers. “You couldn’t get out of bed, sweetie. I think a headache like that is an emergency.” I nod as little as I can. “Rest, I’ll wake you up in a little while so you can get some food in your system.”
She doesn’t have to say it twice. By then time she say’s the last word, I’m drifting off.
When I open my eyes and check the clock, it’s already ten o’clock. Beside me, is a sandwich. I sit up and take a bite. Yum.
I get the feeling I’m being watched and my eyes sweep across the room. They land on Riley, who’s sitting on the rocking chair at the corner of the room. He’s smiling softly as I regard him. “Good morning.”
I cover myself up with my blanket. Although I’m not naked or anything, it still feels unsettling to have my boyfriend watch me when I sleep. “Creeper.” I tease, throwing a pillow at him. He catches it and places it on his lap. I pout that I didn’t get to hit him.
Riley laughs and approaches me. The pillow falls to the ground. He tugs the blanket away from me and gets into bed with me. Already the closed space is filling with his warmth and I sigh contently. I curl up against him and he laughs again. “I like this set-up.”
“Don’t get any ideas, mister. Gram is downstairs.” I say moving away from him.
Riley pulls me back. “Actually, Gram is out shopping. I ran into her just as she was heading out. She told me I would find you here.” He winds a lock of my hair between two of his fingers. “Why are you still in bed?”
“I had a really painful headache.”
“Does it still hurt?” He’s gone into protective boyfriend mode.
I shake my head, something I do when I try to determine if I have headaches, and relax. The pain is gone. Gram’s pills are magic. “Gone.”
Riley smiles and lies down. Since he’s holding on to me, I lay down with him and soon we’re spooning. “That’s good.” His breath tickles my ear. “I have a wonderful day planned.”
I giggle and face him. I don’t care if I’m biased; he’s truly the handsomest guy on earth, especially when his gray eyes are locked on mine. He moves in to kiss me but I pull away. I cover my mouth. “Nope. I still have morning breath.” I get out of bed and gather some clothes. “You can kiss me after I take a shower.”
“I’ll stay here then and wait for your return.” He says getting comfy on my bed.
I exit my room but return to give him a warning glare. “Don’t touch anything or it’ll be on your head.” He salutes lazily to me and I head for the bathroom.
When I come back from the shower, all dressed up and ready to go, Riley jumps up and meets me at the door. “We’ll have to get moving because the day’s a-wastin’.” He says taking my hand and leading me down the stairs.
I stop at the middle step. “Riles, I have to get my purse.” I say, already turning to go back up the steps. “I’ll try to be quick.” I say dashing up the stairs before he could protest.
I hurry to get shoes on my feet. Smiling that Riley didn’t notice I was barefoot. I grab the nearest pair of shoes I have: the black flats I was wearing yesterday and make my way to the other side of the room, all the while fitting my feet into the shoes, to get my purse.
I’m not really good at shopping. One day, when Julie and I went to a bazaar, I found a stall that sold clutches and other bags. I looked around and grabbed the cutest one I saw and bought it. Since then, it has been my purse ever since. I only use it when going on dates with Riley because it’s my favorite.
Actually, the real story involved me staring at two purses in deep concentration as I tried to decide to choose which one to buy and me losing track of Julie but that's for another time.
My purse contains the essentials: some change, my spare house key, and my phone which I pluck from my bedside table.
Riley is already in his car with the engine running. I frown as I sit beside him. “Think about the environment.” I remind him.
He looks at me and leans forward to peck me on the lips. Like all his kisses, an electric current zings through me and I wonder if he can feel my heart beating faster.
I wonder if I would ever get over this.
I hope not.
Wordlessly he starts driving and a comfortable silence lapses around us. I stare out the window and watch as the scenery passes by. “Where are we going?”
“It’s a secret.” He says and I fear for a second that he’d drop dead. He doesn't. Riley was just avoiding the question.
“Will you give me a hint?”
“Not even a little one? I’m really good at guessing. You don’t even have to nod if I get it right.” I promise him.
“I would love to give you a hint and listen to you try to guess but I don’t want you to be boyfriendless two days before your birthday.”
I let that sink in and keep my mouth shut. Oh. If Riley gives me a hint, he’d be lying about not giving me a hint and would therefore die.
There are really some days that I hate diel.
“That’s just how it is, Paige.” He tells me. I must have spoken aloud. “I hate it too sometimes.”
I wonder what the couples were like before everyone found out about diel.
“I think that a lot of cheating would happen. You’d never know for sure if you’re being cheated on if your girlfriend can lie to you without dying. ” He gives me sidelong glance and smiles.”I know you wouldn't ever do that to me." I smile a little at that and we talk no more until we reach our destination.
I can’t believe I’m stumbling around with a blind fold covering my eyes.
After the talk and at the next stoplight, Riley produced a blindfold and told me to turn around so he could tie it around my eyes. At first, I was against the idea but then he kissed me on the lips and I forgot what I was yelling about.
And he won’t tell me where we’re going no matter how many times I demand.
“You won’t make me crack, babe.” Riley says when I decide to give him the silent treatment. “Your eyes are covered. I’m safe.” He says referring to the death glare I perfectly mastered.
“I can try though.” I say trying to focus through the dark fabric. “Can you feel my penetrating gaze? If looks could kill, you’d be safe because of this blindfold covering my eyes.”
Riley laughs and he tightens his grip on my hand. “We’re almost there, Paige; just a dozen more steps. Count them if you want.”
I do and when I reach twelve, we come to a full stop. Riley adjusts my position to his liking and then takes off the blindfold.
We’re at the place we had our first date. It’s an abandoned field with wild flowers growing all over the place. We were supposed to go to the park in the next city to feed the ducks there when he took a wrong turn and we got lost. We would’ve gotten to the park anyway but while Riley was looking at the map for directions, I set out the blanket we were supposed to use and asked him to come and sit with me.
I turn around and Riley is beaming happily at me. “You wouldn’t believe what I had to go through to find this place again. I couldn’t remember where we went. ” I raise my eyebrows and he smiles sheepishly. “Oh, you know you love the idiot within me.”
“I do. It makes me look smarter.” I say punching his shoulder
Riley lies down on the grass and stares at me. “You’ve never relaxed since last week. Has party planning really taken its toll on you?”
I get food out from the basket beside us. “Especially now. Grandma just sprung on me that my mother’s best friend is coming to help.”
“You don’t want her to come?” Riley says as he chews a sandwich. Some crumbs spill out of his mouth.
“Don’t talk while your mouth is chewing.” I remind him.
He swallows. “Sorry. Answer the question.”
“It’s not that I don’t want her to come. I mean, Charlotte is my mom’s best friend. I’m excited to hear stories about my parents. But I’m also nervous. What if she doesn’t like me?”
“What? Are you stupid, Paige? No one could ever not like you.” He says pulling me close to him. “You’re precious.”
“Ha. You’re just saying that because you’re my boyfriend. You’re supposed to say that.”
“No, you’re really likeable. Do you know how much trouble I have to go to look scary and threatening? It’s so hard to keep some guys at bay.” He hugs me very tightly. “Good thing I work out.”
I poke his stomach. He has been working out. I take out another sandwich. “I think she’ll be here tonight. Grandma is going to pick her up. Can you please meet her with me?”
“Sure. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.” And that was that. Riley and I stopped talking about Charlotte and just enjoyed each other’s company. We sat in that field for hours just talking and occasionally making out. The food that Riley brought was eaten at noon and then we set out for the next destination. It was the amusement park that had already been here for three days. We rode the roller coaster and the Ferris wheel. Riley won me a teddy bear and I got us some popcorn. By four, my cheeks were hurting from smiling so much.
“Enough! My stomach hurts too much now.” I say as I try to gasp for air.
Riley’s watching me from the driver’s seat. “I’m glad you enjoyed yourself.” He’s beaming so wide. “I must say, I am very proud of myself for organizing all of this.” He pats me on my leg. “Now, let’s go home!”
“Actually, go to the airport. Grandma’s there with Charlotte waiting for us. I just got a text from her. There’s enough room at the back for them and in the trunk for Charlotte’s luggage, right?”
“I’m sure there is.” Riley says looking behind us. “Charlotte’s just staying here for a few days right?” I nod. “Then off we go!” The engine revs to life and we enter the highway.