Pain shot up my spine as I rose from the lumpy air mattress. The aroma of burnt food spread throughout the house causing me to let out a cough of disgust. A couple of steps down the stairs I could hear something grunt, Bruce. My father stood in front of the stove with a frustrated look then dumped the remains of a pancake into the trashcan. I giggled and pulled out one can from the pantry and another from the fridge one was Pam and the other was pancake mix in a can.
“Well I think the directions were wrong on the container. Thanks.” He took the cans from my possession then sprayed the Pam on a clean pan while I scrubbed the other pan’s leftover burnt pancake.
Dad sighed, “So you ready for school tomorrow? I don’t need to get you any binders’ right?”
I rubbed my stiff shoulder, “No but could we go shopping for a bed today? I don’t think I can take another night on that air mattress dad.”
His eyes lit up for a moment, “Actually they are having a sale on mattresses this week it started yesterday morning. You could get one of those tempurpedic mattresses you’ve been wanting.” I nodded even though he couldn’t see.
While my father made breakfast I placed the forks on the table along with a glass of orange juice and milk. I’ve never liked milk nor will I ever but my dad says that my mom was the same way… I hate being just like her.
We sat down eating the pancakes along with some strawberries on the side. My father read the paper as he chewed on a piece of toast making noises of agreement or outrage. I played with my food, “Anything good in there?” He snapped out of his trance, “Huh? Oh no, nothing at all really… So do you have any other plans after we get the remains of your bed?”
I looked up, “Nothing at all I mean it’s a school night dad…”
“That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have plans a lot of girls your age have curfews.” He sat his paper down, now engaged in the conversation.
“Well I’m not most teenage girls’ dad. I don’t even know any one and I wouldn’t know where to go.” I explained in a matter-of-fact tone.
“Well for the sake of argument what if you did have plans what time would you be back?” He asked.
“Are we debating my curfew? You know this isn’t what parents do right? Most parents would think you’re completely unhinged,” I said trying to keep a straight face.
“I trust you and I think you deserve to decide.”
I bit on my lip, “Well is 8:30 okay?”
He chuckled, “Come on Em, I was thinking at least 10 on a school night and midnight on the weekends.”
I sighed, “That sounds great dad. Hey I’m going to shower so that we can go get my bed.”
Before he could debate about my freedom anymore I skipped up stairs to my room and into my bathroom. I tossed my clothes into the hamper and let the warm water clean my skin. Once I was completely clean and my fingers turned into prunes I wrapped a towel around myself and walked into my room.
My room looked so incomplete without a bed… Today I needed to get my clothes on hangers and or into my drawers. Searching through my boxes I pulled out a long sleeve white shirt along with some denim skinny jeans.
Judging on the rain outside it was safe to leave my hair to air dry it would have pointless. Downstairs my father was enjoying his new flat screen that he probably didn’t need since he is hardly home. He looked up at me, “Ready?” I pulled his arm trying to get him up from the couch, “Yes! Now can we please go?”
In the car my father had a hard time finding the store considering he hadn’t really explored the place yet. After a half an hour or so we finally found the place, and it should have only taken five minutes after we figured out where we were.
Inside the warm store a woman greeted us, “Hello welcome to Sleep in Style. I don’t believe I’ve seen you two around town.” That’s because you haven’t…
“We’re new in town and my daughter needs a mattress, along with some other things.” My father said smoothly.
The woman looked him up and down with a smile, “Well I’ll see what I can do for you. Were you looking for something in particular?”
My father cleared his throat, “Yeah a tempurpedic mattress, King Size, thanks.”
She looked astonished, “A King?”
“Dad are you sure that isn’t you know too…expensive? I mean I know my room is big but is it going to fit?” I said feeling a little spoiled.
“Yeah I already measured the room kiddo.” My father wrapped his arm around me.
The woman spoke into a microphone, “King Size Tempurpedic in the front.” Then she looked back at us, “Anything else?”
My father looked around, “We are just going to look around.” Then he grabbed a cart and guided me to the back of the store where they kept the bedspreads and sheets.
Dad pulled out a plastic square that was lavender with some black vines with silver small roses. He smiled to himself, “What do you think? I saw this one online and thought it was perfect.”
I nodded with a smile, “Wow it’s beautiful dad great pick.”
He looked over at the sheets, “I thought the Black Egyptian Cotton sheets would be comfy and look good.”
“You really thought of everything didn’t you? I love them!” He tossed them into the cart and walked over to the bedposts.
“Look at that black one!” I smiled. The head of the bed was a black wood with a gorgeous design on it. I started to envision it in my room.
“Is that the one you want?” My dad asked scribbling the number down on a paper.
“Yes sir!” I chuckled.
We walked up to the register and put the sheets and bedspread on the belt. My father handed the woman the paper with the item number and she called someone to bring it to the front. My dad gave me the keys, “Why don’t you put these in the back of the car okay?”
As I walked out the car I saw some guys on skateboards. I opened the back of the black Lexus, and put the bags in the back gently as if they were cartons of eggs. Slowly, I walked to put the basket away and one of the skaters called, “Emily right?” I glared trying to get a better look as he skated up to me.
“It’s Derek…” He flashed his smile.
“Right… Sorry, I couldn’t tell.” I said embarrassed.
“So shopping for a bed I see.” He commented.
I turned to see my father put a long box in the back of the car, which was the bedpost. The mattress was probably going to be delivered as we speak.
“Yep and you’re skating I see…” I said trying to get him to leave.
“Did you have any plans tonight? I know it’s a school night but-” I cut him off.
“Yeah uh my dad and I were going to put my bed together.” I lied.
He smiled, “What about after? You’re going to have to know your way around campus I could make you a map or something.”
I shrugged, “Don’t they give them to you in the office?” I lips began to tingle. I wasn’t sure if it was the chill from outside or his stare.
“We could always think of something else to do Emily.” He smirked.
Please, don’t do that to me. My traitor eyes studied his immaculate jaw line.
“Is that a yes?”
“Uh, sure. Your place or mine?” I wondered what my father would think. He was the one who insisted on me having a life.
He grabbed his board, “Your house will be fine. See you later Emily.” He then threw it back to the ground and skated off.
I caught my breath trying to regulate it for the car ride. My father chuckled, “I was wondering when I would get my keys back.”
Tossing him the keys I rolled my eyes, “Why didn’t you just yell my name or something…”
“Well that Mason boy was talking to you and I didn’t want to embarrass you. So you do have plans tonight then?” He asked curiously.
I turned to him, “Are you trying to kick me out of the house tonight?”
“Are you trying to change the subject? Is it that Mason boy?” He chuckled.
I placed my face in the palms of my hands. It was so awkward discussing the topic of the Mason’s with my father. It just gave me this weird feeling that sends my body into a cringe.
We pulled into the driveway where we saw a moving truck that had my mattress in it. My father helped the man lug it up the stairs and into my room.
Once my room was pieced together I decided to go over to the Mason house. I figured calling him would be too weird. I knocked at that door looking around at the porch. I hadn’t noticed the small doormat and plants last night. The doorknob twisted and Sarah Mason’s eyes met mine.
“Can I help you?” She almost glared.
I pulled a strand of hair behind my ear, “Is Derek here?”
She seemed uneasy. “Come in.”
I wiped my feet on the doormat trying not to get water on their carpet. The house looked so open with the overcast light bouncing off the walls.
Derek came skipping down the stairs dressed to go. He was wearing a snug blue thermal that hugged his muscles and a pair of black pants. His simple attire still made me feel underdressed.
“Hey Emily.” He smiled.
I bit my lip quickly feeling nervous, “Hey…”
He pulled a watch and keys from a bowl near the door. “Ready?”
He led me outside. I looked up at him; “You aren’t driving me anywhere are you?”
He chuckled, “How else are we going to get anywhere Emily?”
“Isn’t it illegal though?” I frowned.
He pressed a button on his keys, “Not when your father has friends in high places.”
His car was beautiful I suppose it only makes sense he had an amazing car. The hot guy always has the beautiful car. He held open my door as I slid into the passenger seat.
We backed out of his driveway and road off into the unknown. I had no idea where I was but I was feeling uneasy again. I studied where our limbs were and how close they were to touching. The possibility of us touching was little to none.
The car came to a stop in front of the ocean. We were at a fifties looking diner. Neon lights flashed in the front windows advertising it was open. There was a slight crowd inside mostly consisting of teenagers.
Derek waved to a group by the window. He turned to me, “Sorry they will probably end up dragging us to their booth. I do want to get to know you Emily so don’t think you got off so easy.”
I looked at him wide eyed, “Got off easy?”
“Yes, you will be alone with me and I plan on giving you the full inquisition.” He grinned and grasped my palm.
My whole left arm when numb. I wouldn’t have even known my arm was there if I didn’t have eyes. We walked into the diner directly to the corner booth with his friends. The diner had a hum of conversations going on.
The people at the table were studying me carefully my outfit, my hair, and what ever else they could pick apart. The guys greeted Derek and made room for us to sit.
“Guys, this is Emily. Emily these are some of the guys from the team.” Derek looked at all of the guys waiting for them to give me the proper hello.
Everyone said their hellos and asked the inevitable question, “So what are you two going out?”
My cheeks turned scarlet red when the girls at the table directed their eyes at me for an answer. Luckily Derek was swifter than me. “No we were just hanging out tonight. She’s my new neighbor and I ran into her at the furniture store this morning.”
The girls carried on with their conversation, clearly leaving me out of it, not that I minded. The waitress came over to the booth and asked everyone for his or her orders. Some of the girls ordered salads and others actual food. I ordered what ever Derek got. I didn’t have the stomach for food at a time like this all I could think about was the slightest movement in my leg would move mine away from his.
I stared aimlessly at the waves crashing against the shore. The conversation wasn’t stimulating in the slightest. I decided to go to the restroom and wet my face. On my way to the restroom I bumped into a guy.
He fixed his apron and smiled down at me. “Sorry about that I should watch where I’m going.”
“No, that was my fault I was the one looking down.” I half smiled.
“Do you go to Oceanside? I don’t think I’ve seen your face around.” He studied my face.
I tugged at a strand of hair, “No, well yes, now I do. I just moved here. I’m Emily.”
He nodded, “That makes sense. I’m Matt. I hope you like it Oceanside can be a little dull. Where are you from?”
“California.” I smiled.
His eyes grew wide, “Nice! I bet you surf then.”
I giggled, “No I don’t but a lot of my friends did. I’m not the best with balance.”
He smiled a genuine smile, “You have a cute laugh, Emily.”
I could feel my cheeks immediately get warm, “Thank you. I better get back now. It was nice meeting you Matt.” I turned on my heel and walked back to the booth.
“Where have you been?” Derek asked.
I looked down, “Oh I started talking to one of the workers here.”
He nodded and carried on his conversation about new plays for the season. After a few minutes Matt came by the table with his apron over his shoulder.
“Bye, Emily.” He smiled.
I smiled, “I’ll see you later, Matt.”
“Did you need a ride home?” He seemed like such a nice guy a truly nice one.
I shook my head, “No I think I’m set. Thank you though. I’ll look around for you tomorrow.”
He nodded and walked out the door. When I turned back around Derek had a smug look on his face. I sighed and continued to watch the waves. I had felt so much more confortable with Matt. I felt like I could be me around him, but I guess I haven’t really gave Derek an opportunity.
When we finished up at the diner Derek walked me to his car. “I hope tonight wasn’t a total wash for you. I know we hardly got to talk.”
I shrugged, “Don’t worry about it I met a new friend out of it.”
“Matt?” Derek had a frown on his face.
I tried to not make eye contact, “Yeah, he was really nice.”
“Do you want to go back to my place? We can watch a movie or something.” He replaced his frown with a smile.
“Sure.” His smile was too captivating.
Back at his house he went upstairs to put away his jacket. Sarah was sitting in the den so I went to meet her.
“Hey, Sarah.” I smiled.
She looked up, “Hey there. Look if you like my brother you don’t have to become my friend to make a good impression.”
My eyes grew wide, “No, he’s just my friend. We are like two different people. Believe me once I get the wallflower label at school he won’t want to hang out any more.”
She shrugged, “You do seem normal. I don’t see why any normal person would like him anyhow. If you want a ride tomorrow you’re more than welcome.”
I nodded, “Thank you. I think my dad wanted to drive me though.”
“Any other day would be cool too.” She noted.
Derek came skipping down the stairs and walked into the den. He grinned, “So what did you want to watch-Sarah go upstairs or something.”
She rolled her eyes, “She doesn’t even like you Derek. Can’t you tell? She’s normal.” Sarah stomped off.
He looked at me with puppy eyes. I felt some nerves in my stomach tie in knots. “You don’t like me? Well, as a matter of fact I know you will be falling for me by the end of the night.” He traced my bottom lip and clasped my palm guiding me to the couch.
“What did you want to watch? Something on the movie channels?” He began to scan through the movies cable had to offer. He settled for some new release I hadn’t heard of.
I looked at how perfect he was. Every part of me was conscious of where every limp of his was. Halfway through the film he put his arm behind me sending tingles up my spine.
His scent was a breathtaking honey almost but at the same time a freshening aroma. I heard a door open somewhere in the house. I was unsure as to whether it was Sarah, his parents, or a maid.
The sound of keys hitting wood bounced off the high walls. “Hello? I’m home.” The voice called. Derek didn’t shift in the slightest. “In the den.” He answered in a nonchalant tone. Footsteps advanced closer to us and his father sat in an armchair.
“What are we watching?” He kicked off his shoes and loosened his tie.
Derek tapped the ‘info’ button letting his father know the synopsis of the film. I felt a buzz against my side, my phone.
I drew my phone out of my pocket. “Hello?”
“Hey, Em. I just got called into the office to file some paper work for my first day tomorrow. I just wanted to let you know in case you got home and I wasn’t there. I left a key under that mat.” My father’s husky voice seemed worn out.
I gave a nod even though he couldn’t see. “Okay. I will see you later. Love you.”
I shrugged when I hung up the phone, “Sorry.”
Derek shook his head, “No worries.” Everything about him was so flawless.
His father didn’t have same appeal I wonder where it was he got it from. My phone read eight o’clock, which seemed like a good time to head home and get ready for school tomorrow.
“I think I should be heading home it’s getting late.” I began to shift in the embrace.
Derek stood straightening out his thermal. “I’ll walk you out.”
“Goodnight, Mr. Miller.” I flashed a polite smile and proceeded out.
Calling from behind Mr. Miller said, “Goodnight, Emily.”
There was a light wind picking up outside pulling the clouds over head. Derek clasped my hand leading me to my house. “I hope you had a pleasant time tonight. I know we didn’t get to talk much over dinner.”
I shook my head. “Please, don’t worry about it. It was a nice welcoming to the neighborhood. I’ve never had such caring neighbors.”
I searched for the key under the mat and unlocked the door. “I would invite you in but my dad isn’t home so…”
He chuckled, “Why? Are you that afraid of being alone with me Emily?”
I began to blush. “No, I just…he wouldn’t like it that’s all.”
He reached for my hand and kissed my knuckles. “Until next time, Emily.”
“Until next time.” I murmured in response. He strolled down my drive way and back to his. Before he opened his door, he turned back for a last glance and disappeared inside.
I let out a deep exhale. My house felt so sad and alone. It was an awfully big house for two people. I made my way up to the bathroom to take a much-needed shower. The heat ran down my back relaxing all of my tense muscles. The image of Derek’s perfect face surfaced in my mind. The nerves in my body grew hyper active again. There was no remedy to subdue the fluttering in my stomach.
My room felt freezing when I swiftly made my way to it from the hall. I searched for a pair of sweats and thermal quickly trying to keep warm. In the back of my mind I knew I was still afraid to go to school. High school is hard enough who wants to be the new girl?
My only wish was that friends came easily and approachable teachers filled the school.