My eyes opened with ease I finally slept in and I felt rejuvenated. I sat up in bed and stretched. When I scanned my room but there was no sign of Derek.
I rose from my bed and pulled a thermal over my outfit along with a pair of sweats. I brushed my teeth and skipped down stairs. My father would have a heart attack if he saw my pajamas. “Morning, Dad.”
He yawned. “Morning, Emmie. How was the dance?”
“Nice. We went to the diner after with some friends.” I poured some orange juice.
“How was Matt?” He grunted.
I smiled. “The perfect gentleman Dad. He’s just a friend.”
“That’s not what I saw. Emmie I saw the way he looked at you.” My father started to get angry.
“He’s not used to seeing me all dolled up.” I reassured him.
He rolled his eyes. “So who did the Mason boy take to the dance?”
“A cheerleader. It was a fundraiser. You bring cash for the school and you get put in a raffle. If you are one of the chosen ones you go to the office and pick a number and if it matches their jersey you get to be their date.” I grew disgusted.
He nodded. “That’s a good way to bring in the money for the school.”
“Yeah, if you’re okay with selling yourself.” I rolled my eyes.
He chuckled. “What are your plans today sunshine?”
I shrugged. “I’ll probably hit up a bank and then chill with the homies.”
“Sounds good to me. Make sure to bring me home some dough.” He flipped his page in the newspaper.
I went up to my room to look for Derek. Where was he? I leaned on the rail of my balcony looking at his room. There was some movement in the curtains but it was the wind.
“Were you looking for me?” There was a voice behind me.
I screamed but he put his hand over my mouth.
“God Derek you scared me.” I was breathless.
He chuckled. “Sorry, Emily. I came in when you went downstairs.”
“When did you leave?” I studied his features. His shirt hugged his muscles perfectly. I wanted to run my fingers through his hair like he did to mine. How did he get all of this power and not me?
“Around three.” He toyed with my hair.
Maybe I just needed to take control for once. If I showed him how I felt he would finally tell me what we were. I didn’t have that kind of confidence though. It was worth a shot right?
I stood on my tippy toes and pulled his face to mine pressing my lips against his. He wrapped his arms around my waist pressing me against his chest. My fingers tugged on his hair it was full and soft. He backed into the lounge chair on my balcony scooping me into his arms. I ran my palms down his arms clutching his muscles and feeling his chest.
I pulled away placing my palms on both sides of his jawline. “Hi.”
He chuckled. “Hi.”
“What do you want to do?”
“We can go for a walk. Grab some coffee?” He brushed a strand of hair out of my face.
“If you pick me up properly. My father will probably be suspicious.” I smiled.
He chuckled. “I know I’ll see you in a few.”
My hair looked still looked great I just needed to adjust the back. I pulled on a crewneck, a pair of denim jeans, and my Chuck Taylors. I went to sit on the couch nonchalantly as if I wasn’t planning on going out.
There was a knock at the door. My father rose from the couch to get it.
“Mr. Miller how are you?” Derek said with a charming tone.
“Please call me Bruce. I’m fine would you like me to get Emily? Come on in.” My father seemed upbeat. Derek walked through the threshold shaking my father’s hand what looked to be firm.
“Hey, Emily. I was wondering if you wanted to go for a walk or something.” Derek smiled my favorite smile.
I knew I was blushing. “Sure.”
“Bruce you don’t mind do you.” Derek turned to him.
My father shook his head. “No go for it. I’ll see you later Emmie. I don’t know if I’ll be called in tonight.”
I kissed him on the cheek. “See you later Dad.”
We walked down the driveway with his arm around me. I immediately stopped in my tracks. Matt. He could see. “Maybe we should drive and then walk?”
Derek nodded. “Your wish is my command.”
He grabbed his keys from his pocket and unlocked the door for me. He opened the door and helped me in. When we road off I turned my head as we drove by Matt’s house. I would have to talk to him soon.
There was a special place on the beach Derek said he liked to go. He found it once when he was wandering around too far north. A rock in the form of a seat was five hundred paces from where the trees started. Other rocks surrounded the special seat. There was no danger near the rocks all of them were spaced apart and there was no way of them falling over.
We sat there watching the waves crush against the shore. There were many birds but no people. It was as if we were on our own island. Just the two of us left to survive.
“What do you think?” Derek smiled.
I looked around. “This place is amazing. This rock is stunning too. I wonder how it formed like this.” The rock was smooth. It started off as flat but slowly curved up. It was a little rough but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle.
“I come here a lot when I need to think or just to be alone.” He traced circles in my palms.
I nodded. “I can see why. Have you ever told anyone about this place?”
“No. I didn’t want word to spread. Then I’d loose my favorite place in the world.” He grinned to himself.
I looked out at the ocean. “Do you think about the future a lot?”
“I think about what I want. As far as college all I’ve ever known was football. I’ve never thought of what I was good at.” He shrugged.
I smiled. “Well what do you like?”
“I like everything. History, Literature, Science, Math… I like learning about everything. I feel like all of those things connect.” He smiled.
I nodded. “I wish I was like that. I’m more of the Literature type. I loose myself in the arts.”
“I want to go to this football institute but I was waitlisted. The chances of ever being admitted are slim. Who knows if I’d even like it there? Football twenty-four seven would be a nightmare.” He traced my knee.
I shrugged. “I’ve never heard of a football institute. I couldn’t give you any advice.”
“Not many people have. When the scouts come out there is a special guy that reports back to them. The institute is pretty secluded in its own little town. No distractions and no life outside of that place. It would be a one way ticket to the big leagues if you’re good.”
I couldn’t find any words. What could I say? Harass the people so you can leave this place? No. I didn’t want that.
“If you don’t mind me asking…where is your mom?” He stared intently at my eyes.
I shrugged. “I haven’t seen her since she walked out on my father and I over ten years ago. She never really explained to my Dad why. I used to search her on the Internet but I knew it was a lost cause.”
I wanted to change the subject. My mother was never something I wanted to talk about. I stopped looking for her a long time ago.
“I wanted to get something straight with you Emily.” Derek looked at me with his hypnotizing smile.
“Yes?” I looked up at him.
He toyed with my hair. “What do you want?”
“What?” I bit my lip.
“What do you want?” He was serious.
“I…I haven’t been so sure lately. The original plan was to find who I wanted to be, but the second I met you I had my mind on everything but that. Growing up I build these walls for my father and I so that we wouldn’t be hurt again. It took years to establish those boundaries but in a matter of five seconds you managed to dismiss them.” I shook my head.
“I’m plain, there’s nothing special to me at all. I wanted to believe that it was just the teenage hormones acting up on me. There was no other logical explanation for what I was feeling. You have this strange power over me that I can’t shake. When I started to see what was really going on I tried to find perspective.” I inhaled lightly trying to steady my breathing. He started intently into my eyes. The silence in the air was making me grow embarrassed.
Despite his impenetrable expression I continued. “So, my goal became to make friends, hence Izzy and Matt. This was when things grew complicated. Matt developed feelings for me…and that’s when I decided I had to stop thinking about you. I wasn’t sure of how I felt about him, so I felt like I owed it to him to give it a chance.” I still wasn’t sure about Matt. I hadn’t made much progress in defining our relationship. All I knew was that I wanted him around.
“It was becoming a habit to think about you every second of the day. Even when I was in a conversation I would begin to tune everyone out. Whenever you came within five feet of me I’d become hypnotized. I still do…” I inhaled lightly though I needed more air than I had allowed myself.
Derek remained placid. “I’m yours Derek. Whether you’re aware or not I’m yours. I’m the one that wants you Night and Day so this really isn’t about what I want. This is about what you want. I never know what you’re thinking.” I started to feel relieved.
He pressed his lips into a fine line. “Weren’t you listening to my last night? I do want you Emily. I want you all to myself. I refuse to share you.” I knew what he was addressing. Matt was his problem too. He didn’t want to step on any toes. Or in other words he will step on toes he’s just giving me a fair warning.
Derek pursed his lips. “You’re mine, Emily. I want to get to know you. I want to be the one who knows you more than you do. I want to be the thing you see when you wake up and be the last thing you see when you go to bed.” His lips against mine felt exhilarating.
I pulled away. “You have to give me time to tell Matt. So nothing too public.”
He gave a nod and kissed my forehead. “I understand.”
We stayed in his special spot for what only felt like thirty minutes but in all actuality it was three hours. All we did was lie there and study each other’s eyes talking about life before we met.
“Are you hungry?” He brushed his fingers against my chin.
I nodded. “I’m starving actually.”
“We could see what my mom is making tonight if you’d like. If we don’t like it we can always go get something.” He played with my palm.
It was starting to sprinkle around us. We rose from the special rock and raced to the car before it started to poor. The radio station had a static sound so he switched over to his IPod and selected a playlist. The Smiths waned into the background.
“I love The Smiths.” I smiled looking out the window.
He chuckled. “And here I thought I’d need Sarah’s IPod to impress you.”
I shook my head and turned to him. “Good God no. I think my father influences me too much that’s probably the problem with my taste in music.”
The lights were on in his house along with mine. Swiftly we made out way up the steps and into his home. He clasped my hand and led me to the kitchen. “Mom are you home?” Derek hollered.
“I’m in the kitchen with Ellie, dear.” She answered in a musical tone.
The smells from the kitchen was fishy. That worried me I hated fish. On the counter lied a lifeless fish. I couldn’t tell you the type only it had red streaks and dark eyes full of perish.
“Do you like fish Emily?” Ellie looked up at me as she cut up a lemon.
I looked at Derek for help but he didn’t know how much I hated fish. “I uh don’t exactly eat fish. It makes me nauseous…the smell I mean.”
Derek placed his palm at the small of my back. “We were going to get a bite to eat anyway.”
“Before you go dear, will you tell your sister to do her chores?” His mother turned placed something in the refrigerator.
Derek gave a nod even though she could not see him. He disappeared for a moment when his father came in from the den. “Is Derek home?” He glanced at me with a grin. “He must be if Ms. Miller is in here.”
Like clockwork Derek came descended from the stairs. “Hey, Dad. I didn’t realize you’d be home so early.”
“You have company I see.” His father gestured to me with his hand.
Derek smiled. “Yes you’re going to be seeing Emily more often Dad. She’s my girl friend.”
I heard Judie squeal from the kitchen. “Dear why didn’t you tell us?”
“I just did mother.” He chuckled.
Judie still looked shocked. “Does Sarah know, dear?” Why did Sarah need to know? Did Sarah tell her that she didn’t want us together? That was the only logical reason she could have asked. Sarah had been MIA for the past week I wasn’t sure she would care if we were an item.
“Does Sarah know what?” The voice came from the stairs. The familiar high-pitched tone made me cringe. How could this play out? Would she make a scene in front of the family?
Derek pulled me closer to his side. The impression of his palm against my shirt reassured me. He would protect me from some kind of family catastrophe. “Emily is my girlfriend.”
The idea of belonging to someone other than my father was bewildering. I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to feel about it. In the back of my mind I thought of what a feminist view would be… I pushed the idea away. Belonging to Derek Mason put my senses in a restless state. Every part of me wanted to hold on to him. Being with him today felt like we were in our own little forever. The conversations were passionate. Derek made me feel like we were apart of something bigger than life.
Her eyes grew wide. “Surprise surprise Derek and Emily had something for each other. No one saw this one coming…” She paused studying the looks on her parent’s faces. “What’s for dinner?” The dismissal of the subject was a relief. I know deep down she wasn’t okay with it but at least she didn’t express it in front of everyone.
Honestly, I wanted to be home eating dinner with my Dad. Bruce had hardly seen me this week and we never caught each other during the evening to have dinner. “Derek…if you don’t mind I would like to go home and eat with my father tonight. I hardly see him these days.”
He gestured his hand towards the door. “I’ll walk you home.”
I turned as he ushered me out the threshold. “Goodnight, everyone.”
They all looked at me with their lips curled up slightly. Their eyes studied me with the look of judgment. I looked down at what I was wearing and compared my attire with Derek. He came off as casual but the way he held himself was flawless. However, I was not as graceful it was clearly apparent that I was dressed for comfort. I straightened my posture as we walked up my driveway. My poise only lasted ten seconds due to the pains that were arising.
The embrace Derek and I maintained the whole walk waned. “Goodnight, Derek. Thank you for showing me your favorite place in the world today.” I gazed intently into his eyes he always appeared so impassive. If I could read his eyes and know he was lucid I could breathe easier. Never knowing what he was thinking made me all the more curious.
He took my hand and kissed my knuckles. “Goodnight, Emily. I’ll see you soon.” Without waiting for me to respond he sauntered down the driveway. My heart sank as he left without one last touch. My body ached for his attention, for his lips, for his hands, and for his arms.
Inside the house I heard bustling in the kitchen. The sound of pots and pans clanging against each other from being pulled off of the ceiling rack, above the island, echoed throughout the house. “Dad are you home?” I poked my head through the threshold.
My father threw a dishtowel over his shoulder. “Hey, Emmie. Are you eating here tonight?”
I took at seat at the island. “You bet. What are you making?” I looked at the contents on the counter. He had tomatoes, meat, and spices.
He walked over to the pantry and pulled out a blue box. “I figured I’d make spaghetti and bread. Is that okay with you?”
I licked my lips. “That sounds great!”
“Where’s Derek? I thought you two would have dinner.” My father began to boil water on the stove.
I shrugged. “I just wanted to eat a home cooked meal tonight. Plus, the Masons were serving some kind of fish.”
He chuckled. “So Derek found out how picky you are.”
I rested my head on my fist. “I am not picky. The smell just makes me feel sick.” He always understood me. Back home I used to hear about kids hating their parents because they weren’t understood or caring of their feelings. My Dad has always been there for me and he always knew what was on my mind.
“Hey, Emmie will you go change the channel to the local news? Some psycho has been running around making it busy at work. I’ve been getting all of these patients that have been assaulted by this guy. I think they’ve finally caught him.” He wiped his hands on the towel over his shoulder and continued to stir the noodles in the pot.
I rose from my seat and switched the channel over. “How do you know it was this guy?”
“All of these men have come in beaten badly or worse with gunshot wounds. They are all business officials or scum off of the street.” My father shook his head in disgust.
I looked up. “Scum off of the street? So this guy is doing a service?”
My father grumbled. “No he’s making deals with these people and if they aren’t cutting it he terminates them.”
“What, like a mobster or something?” I tucked a strand of hair behind my ear.
He prepared the meat and poured tomato sauce in a pan. “It’s something shady.”
The news was covering the new establishments near the beach, but there was nothing about the shady business deals. I wondered what I was going to tell Matt or how I would break it to him. I wanted the benefits of being able to see his genuine smile everyday. It wouldn’t be fair I knew this much.
“It’s ready, Emmie. I think I’ve finally got this new stove down.” I heard him set the plates on the island.
We sat down and started to dig in. Here there was no need to aim for flawlessness. I could chew two bites and skip whipping my mouth. Eating in front of Derek was a challenge. He made it look like an art like everything else he did. There was never any sign that he ate anything.
“So this Mason boy…you two go on walks now?” My father bit off a piece of bread.
I shrugged slurping a noodle. “He likes me.” I tried to come off as nonchalant but he saw right through me.
He chuckled. “I don’t think he’s the only one, Emmie.”
I eyed him for a second and took a sip of water. “What?” I knew what he meant.
“Aside from the Mason kid there was your Homecoming date Mark.” He paused to take another mouthful of spaghetti.
I corrected him. “His name is Matt, Dad. And, he’s just a friend.”
He raised his hand gesturing me to stop. “I could see it in his eyes Emmie. Then the other boy you’ve never brought up.” He bit off another piece of bread.
“What other boy?” I bit off a piece of toast.
“The one who dropped you off in his monster of a car.” He took a sip of water to clear his throat.
I thought for a moment. Who had a monster of a car? “Ooh…Oliver you mean! He just gave me a ride home because Matt had to get his car back to his mother. How did you see him anyhow? You were reading the newspaper.”
He chuckled. “Emmie we still have windows, and you forget I have the eyes of a surgeon. He made sure you opened the door before he pulled away.”
Oliver didn’t like me he was so smitten with himself. “Oliver isn’t like that he is too good for petty things like girlfriends. He’s a waiter at the diner that’s how I know him.” I chewed some of my salad. “What do you think about the Masons?”
He put his fork down. “They’re nice enough neighbors but there is always talk about his father. The other guys at work talk about how he’s messed this town up.”
“How? What does he even do for a living?” I cleared the last of the noodles on my plate.
He shrugged. “They say he does a bit of everything but mostly stocks. They say he used to be a doctor there, but he grew tired of having to work the long hours. Now he invests in different areas like pharmaceuticals, businesses, and even the hospital. A whole wing is dedicated to his more than generous donation.”
“What does his wife do?” My plate was clean but I still wanted to talk.
He finished the last of his water. “She told me she is a bookkeeper for a dentist in Oregon. She has quite a drive it’s about an hour commute. She says it pays well though. I can’t imagine why she would need the money.”
“Do you like Derek?” I was afraid for his answer. I wanted him to be okay with him.
He tilted his head. “He seems like a polite boy. When I met him his eyes were harder to read. When I met that Mark kid I could see right through him.” I decided not to correct him on Matt’s name. I wanted him to talk about Derek. “I suppose because I couldn’t read him it made me more cautious. I don’t like suspicious guys Emmie. He just seems like there is another side to him when he’s talking to me. I’m sure there is another side because when I was your age…I never was the same guy when I talked to a girl’s parents.”
As far as I was concerned I could tell this wasn’t the stamp of approval I was looking for. In my Dad’s eyes he was a force not to be reckoned with. He had a shady father and a mother who disappeared for a job she really didn’t need. I went against my greater judgment and decided I wouldn’t tell him about Derek.
I took the plates over to the sink and rinsed them off before I placed them in the dishwasher. My stomach was in knots thinking about what his father was truly like.
“I’m going to take a shower. Thanks for dinner, Dad.” I kissed him on the cheek and made my way up to the bathroom.
There was something about a steaming hot shower that made me think about everything that was going on in my life. I think my Dad had it all wrong. He pegged everyone wrong. Oliver a gentleman, Matt someone he didn’t like, and Derek a miscreant. How could any of that be plausible? Being with Derek would be breaking the rules now. He didn’t like him and when my Dad doesn’t agree with someone it’s an automatic hint to stay away.
I shut the water off and wrapped up in a towel. My hair was still dripping so I rang out the water as much as possible. Sitting in the armchair was Derek in a trance. He snapped out of it once I shut the door.
“Hey.” He rose with a smile.
My eyes grew wide. “You can’t be here!”
He chuckled. “Why? Because you’re in a towel or because your Dad is here?”
I locked the door. “Both! You have to leave. He thinks you’re trouble and if he finds that you didn’t use the front door he’ll murder me.”
There was a knock at the door. I shoved him to hide in my closet. “Yeah, Dad?”
I unlocked the door and steadied my breathing. “What’s up?”
“I was down the hall I thought I heard you holler.” He glanced in my room.
I shook my head. “You probably heard me singing in the shower. You know ‘Twist and shout…’” I tried my best to mimic John Lennon but I wasn’t cutting it.
“Twist and shout… huh. I wanted to take a look at your bathroom sink since I’m here. I’ll close the door so you can change.” He walked into the restroom and shut the door.
Change! If I change Derek can see me and if I don’t my Dad will be curious. I slid on pear of underwear while still wearing my towel. Where were my other silk pajamas? I had bought a few pairs when they were on sale back in California. My old girlfriends felt every girl should own sleepwear from Victoria Secrets. Bingo! They were in the back of my pajama dresser drawer. I faced the opposite direction of the closet and pulled them on quickly.
The doorknob began to turn. “Hold on Dad!” I searched for my robe. It was in the bathroom…crap what do I do…
“Done yet, Emmie?” The door muffled his voice.
I dove into my bed and pulled the covers over me. “Yeah it’s all good.” I reached for the remote and turned the TV on.
“Have you been having trouble getting hot water in your sink?” He asked.
I nodded. “Yeah, but I normally don’t use it any way.”
He started to walk out of my room. “I’ll have to call a plumber and see why it’s not heating up over there. It works just fine in the shower. I’ll leave you alone kiddo.”
Once he shut the door the crack in my closet door opened wider until I could see all of Derek. “Nice back. I think this is the best situation I’ve ever been in.”
“You watched!” I rolled my eyes covering up with my blankets.
He smirked. “What guy wouldn’t? Don’t think your little outfit is fooling me, Emily. You clearly want me to see what is mine.”
He laid on the bed. “You should dry your hair I don’t want you to get sick.”
I complied and scurried to the bathroom. How could I be so dull? This outfit was more than suggestive. Once my hair was silky smooth from the heat I went back to my bed.
“It’s Sunday night you know. We have school tomorrow so you can’t stay.” I shrugged into a comfy spot in my bed. I gave up the idea of looking flawless my desire for comfort won.
He frowned. “Why can’t I stay over?”
I looked up at his perfect face. “My Dad he…”
“Is going to go to work soon isn’t he?” He found a solution for my flaw.
If he stayed I wouldn’t want to sleep. I would be too tempted to ask him about his parents. What could his father possibly into? I pushed these thoughts away. I studied his lips thinking about how much I craved them since he left me at my porch.
“Why didn’t you kiss me? You do realize that’s how regular teenage boys tell regular teenage girls goodnight after they spend the day together.” I sat up in bed.
He smiled. “You do realize you’re not a regular teenage girl and I’m not a regular teenage boy.” He was trying to mock me. I could play with him too.
I kissed his chin. “I know.” My lips grazed the right side of his jawline.
“What are you doing Emily?” He inhaled softly.
I continued to graze my lips down his neck and stopped at his collarbone. “Saying goodnight.” I murmured against the base of his neck.
I was beginning to grow nervous but I had to beat him at is own game of toying with me. His eyes studied me intently trying to anticipate what I would do next. I straddled him running my fingertips over his chest and in his hair.
He slid his hands up my back, and placed his palms at the back of my shoulders letting his fingers rest on top of them. “Tell me how am I supposed to wish you a goodnight?”
I traced his abs with my fingertips. “You’re creative.”
He pulled me closer to him eliminating most of the space between us. I pulled his face to mine and out lips began to move in sync. My body felt awake and electrified. I thought my legs would turn into jelly and I would completely collapse onto him.
His hand was tangled in my hair while he let his other roam the back of my thigh. The thought of my father being able to walk in at any moment worried me. I had never done anything so risky.
“Are you sure I can’t stay?” He grinned up at me.
I nodded slightly breathless. “Positive.”
He kissed my neck. “Well so far we’ve broken a few rules I don’t see the problem in disobeying at least one more…”
I placed my finger over his lips. “No, I think the rules I set should remain unbroken.” He released me and let me lie down next to him.
He turned on his side toying with my hair. “I want you to know that it’s taking all of the strength I have to not rip your clothes off. I am following that solitary rule… the least you could do is allow me to stay with you tonight.” He stared at me with my favorite smile.
“If I say no, you’ll do it anyway won’t you?” I sighed.
He chuckled. “I can pretend to leave if you’d like.”
I rolled my eyes. “That won’t be necessary.”
In seconds the TV was off and so were the lights. He wrapped one arm around me as I rested my head against his chest. I felt his shirt. “Won’t you be uncomfortable in these clothes?”
“I can take them off if you’d like…but I think you might be tempted to take yours off too.” His voice was so absorbing. He kissed me head and rubbed circles into my arm with his fingertip.
“Seriously, though.” I giggled.
He sighed. “Could listen to you laugh all day… I’ll probably take off at some point.”
I wanted to ask him about his father but I didn’t want to set him off. How could he not know? He had to know. I wish I could forget what my father had said. Derek couldn’t be a bad guy. He had the charm of a bad boy but he was good to me.
“Goodnight, Derek.” I kissed his shirt.
He kissed my head. “Sweet dreams, Em.”
His scent was intoxicating I didn’t want to breathe in anything else ever again. He smelled the same all the time like honey but at the same time a fresh scent. I was glad to belong to him I felt safe and cared for.
The way my father described him was bugging me. I admit he is difficult to understand but he was spontaneous. I wasn’t sure what his father was, but there was no way of knowing if he would be just like his father. Some how I would find out what his dad was up to and if Derek was as dangerous as my dad claimed he was.
Looking up, I saw that Derek was resting. He looked serene with his eyes closed. His eyes were my problem they were all knowing and impenetrable. I had always been honest with him, yet when he provided me with answers they hadn’t been the full story.
All I was sure of with Derek was that I was his and that he was going to watch over me. Who was going to watch over him?