I had no idea what to do after the kiss. Just stand there? Smile? Break away? What? I guess we just stood there, next to his car, in my driveway, hugging each other for a while. He was warm, and smelt like cologne. Not overpowering any other smells, but more subtle.
I never wanted to let him go. For the first time in years, I felt safe in someone's arms. Dan was someone who could protect me, no matter what.
He broke the silence. "I promise, I'll never let you go. No matter what happens, I'll always be here for you."
"I.." I started, but never finished. I hadn't heard Riley jogging up to my house, or even heard her labored breath.
But I did hear her when she spoke. "Oh."
Oops. I pushed myself away from Dan and cleared my throat, brushing some loose hair out of my face and behind my ear.
I saw Riley biting back a smile. I would get her later. "Uhh... I take it the meeting went well." Changing the subject quickly, she added, "I just thought I'd pay you a visit, but I.."
"..Clearly forgot that he was at my house, right?" I finished her sentence, knowing what she was going to say. It's been a long time since I've gotten mad at Riley, but honestly, I could tell that she was lying. I always could. She just thought that she would drop on by and ruin our special moment. I beckoned at her with my hand.
Turning to Dan, I apologized. "Sorry, stay right there, this'll only take a minute." He smiled back nervously.
Once we went behind my house, and I thought that Riley and I were out of earshot, I raised my hand to punch her, but held back when I saw sincere look on her face, then the shocked look when I was about to punch her.
"Would you? Would you really punch me?" Her eyes were watery.
I sighed and put my hand on my forehead. "Riley, you knew that he was here, I texted you last night. I thought you knew that he would be staying for a couple of hours. Why didn't you just call?"
"I didn't want to disturb you two."
"And running up to my house wouldn't disturb us?" I fought to keep my voice low.
"Well I thought that you guys would be inside like any other normal couple!"
Excuse me? "He was leaving!" I said this a little louder than I intended.
"Well how was I supposed to know that?! I don't know everything, Haylee. I can't tell what you two were doing the whole time."
On any other day I would have laughed at the thought of that. But not today.
Riley didn't let me say a word. "Well I am very sorry for interrupting your 'special moment' and all, excuse me for accidentally busting in on you guys making out! I guess I'll be leaving now, since it is very clear that I'm not welcome at your house anymore." With that, she brushed past me angrily and jogged back to her house.
I heard Dan trying to call her back. "Riley, I'm sorry..."
She ignored him, just like she ignored everybody when she was furious. I stayed behind my house, the back of my head against the wall. A few tears had escaped my eyes when Dan came around the corner. He offered a hug, and I took it in a heartbeat. I tried not to let myself cry into his shoulder, but I couldn't help it. I could feel him combing his fingers through my hair, and cried a little harder. Stop, stop! You're making yourself look like an emotional idiot! But I couldn't stop. Even if I tried, and believe me, I did try. I needed something new, because nothing but time could stop my tears, and we didn't have all day.
Seeming to sense my frustration, Dan whispered, "Clear your mind. Try to just concentrate on me. Tell me what I'm doing."
I was very confused. This is stupid! But I did what he told me anyway. Concentrating, I felt his hand rubbing my back soothingly. "You're... rubbing my back...?" It sounded weird saying it out loud.
He smiled. "I know it's odd, but it's working, isn't it?" I laughed, realizing that only an occasional tear would fall down my cheek, compared to the constant flow of tears that were staining my face before.
I pulled a little ways away from him, just enough I could see his eyes. They were a deep blue now, and full of worry. "Where did you learn to do that?" It might be useful someday, I thought.
Dan grinned and kissed my forehead. "My mom. She would do it all the time to me when I was little. I had promised her that I would try it on someone else one day, just to see if it would work."
"Am I the guinea pig?"
His smile faded, but just a tiny bit. "Yeah. I guess I was never comforting enough for anyone else until now..." He trailed off.
My smile faded a little, too. I wrapped my arms around his small waist. "Is that good or bad?"
Dan brightened. "Well good for you, since it worked, and, well, bad for other people I guess because... Well, you know."
I cocked my head. "Who... Who else have you tried this on?" I wasn't sure if I wanted to know the answer.
He answered quickly. "Only on a few other people who thought they loved me..."
Before I could answer he spoke again. "But they don't matter now. And neither does my hopeless romantic love life." He laughed, but I looked thoughtful. I'll ask him about it later.
I took a deep breath. "Do you think this is real?"
He laughed, seemingly unsure of what to say. "What do you mean?"
"Well, you were talking about others who you thought you loved, and they thought that they loved you. Do... Do you think that this'll end up that way? Is there any different feelings or emotions that are different with me that you didn't have when you were with them? Or is it just the same?" I was being very repetitive, but I had to know the answer.
Dan hesitated. He was scaring me. "Haylee, I can't tell the future. I'm not quite sure of my feelings right now, either. In fact, I'm not quite sure of anything, for that matter." He laughed. "I guess that we'll just have to ride it out, see what happens."
I wasn't so sure. "Yeah."
That was the end of that conversation. We said our goodbyes again and exchanged numbers. Right before he got into his car, we hugged, with his hands around my waist and mine around his shoulders. Is this what loving someone feels like?
Before I could answer my question, Dan whispered in my ear. "We'll have to do this again soon. Do you have any idea..."
I couldn't stop myself from cutting him off and breaking away from him. "No, Dan. Our work comes first, which means that we'll have to work really hard for the next couple of days trying to make it up."
"I thought you said that-"
"Yes, I know I said that I was ahead, but that was just an excuse." I added more gently, "I wanted to see what you were like.”
For a heartbeat, we just looked at each other, my eyes serious and Dan’s eyes showing that he was slightly hurt. No, I’m sorry.
“Dan, I’m sorry for exploding on you, it’s just-”
“No, no. It’s okay. It must be very pressuring writing a book while everyone is trying to hurry up the process. I can understand.”
I smiled, and hugged him again, this time for only a few seconds.
“Well, I guess I better let you go. Chris is probably waiting.”
“Nah, he doesn’t have any kids to teach at the moment, since school’s out. But anyway, it was nice seeing you, and hopefully we could do it again sometime.” He added cautiously.
I nodded, while we finally parted and Dan went home. I should probably work on my book. I thought with a sigh. Instead, I texted Riley to see if she was still mad. Seeing that she wasn’t responding, I shook off the feeling that she might never get over this and tried to type. I was on a role for an hour or so, until I got to the part where the main character loses all of her loved ones in a shipwreck, and she is the only one to survive. That’s where I lost my emotions. Thinking about Riley, and what might happen between Dan and I. Just then, I got a text. Riley? I thought with a ray of hope. But when I pulled out my phone, it said that it was Dan who texted me. I’m not saying that I was disappointed or anything, don’t get me wrong.
Hey, love. I have a question. The text read. What sort of question? I thought.
And I have an answer.
You seemed to get very upset when I mentioned meeting you again. It wasn’t just because of work, was it?
It wasn’t natural for a guy to notice that. I texted him back:
I’m not about to spill out my whole life story to you. Not over text. I will however, tell you next time we meet.
I added a smiley face, just for effect.
Okay, angel. Just let me know when you have a date set. I’ll be there.
I texted him back Sure, and left it at that. Would he ever use my actual name? It’s not like he didn’t know it or anything. I didn’t mind though; it was sweet. Trying to clear my head, I ate dinner and went back to work in my office. By ten o'clock, I was in bed, but couldn’t sleep, like most nights. There’s always something on my mind, whether it be the book, or in this case, Dan and Riley. I wasn’t too concerned about Dan and I, if he wasn’t the right guy, then he wasn’t the right guy. End of story. I’ve had too many other boyfriends to go sobbing after them, begging for their mercy.
But on the other hand, Riley was a different story. She’s been the only true friend that I’ve had since we’ve met, sure we’ve had our bumps along the road, but they haven’t been as serious as this one. She’d always bounce back in a couple of days, or sleep it off, but I had a sinking feeling that this would take a bit longer, if we ever became friends again. I shuddered under my blankets as the thought crossed my mind. Me and Riley not friends anymore? It was scarier than I expected it to be. Maybe this would teach me a lesson. I was probably taking her for granted anyway. Not that I didn’t care for her anymore, it’s just that I was trying desperately to see a bright side to this dilemma.
I must’ve drifted off, because I realized that I woke up in a dream. Sometimes I can tell it’s a dream, but sometimes I can’t. I guess I got lucky this time. I was following someone, and when I got a little closer, I noticed that it was Dan, and he was holding another girl’s hand. They stopped and kissed each other, like they did it every day, and they were completely comfortable with it. For some odd reason, I felt raging jealousy inside me, like an unquenchable fire. Just as I was about to do something about it and show myself, I heard a piercing beeping noise, and then I woke up.
Shaking my head, I shut off my alarm and thought about the dream. All I could think was What? I hadn’t ever had a dream like that before, nor did I hardly ever remember my dreams. Hence, I wrote the dream down quickly before getting in the shower and all ready for the day. Just as I was about to sit down to continue my book, of course, I had to get a writer’s block. Why did these things have to happen to me? Sitting back in my chair, I felt my phone buzz, and checked to see who it was. Again, Dan’s name was in the place of where I hoped Riley’s to be. Reading the text, I got a little annoyed, but decided to let it go.
I checked my calendar, and I’m free next Saturday.
He sent another right after that.
If that’s okay with you..
I pushed my head back against the chair, looking up to the ceiling. Couldn’t he see that we couldn’t rush this, he had to be patient. Despite my ill temper, I checked my calendar anyway. Nothing was on that Saturday that I could see.
Texting Dan back, I said, I’m free, too. Let’s just wait and see if anything pops up.
Okay was all of a reply I got, along with a smiley face. As much as I hated the feeling, I knew that I had something to look forward to. You just barely met the guy. You can’t be in love. It just doesn’t happen like that. Realizing that my thoughts were turning negative, I stopped thinking and started typing.
The rest of the week was like this, along with the following week as well. Almost, but not quite. I needed to go shopping, for my fridge was beginning to look a bit bare, so I took off to the store around one o’clock on Thursday. Finishing, but not quite done yet, I saw someone very familiar that had black, crazy hair and looked rather lanky. I’m not sure if my face turned red or white. Probably both. Should I avoid him? It was too late for that; he already spotted me and began to walk towards me. I smiled as naturally as possible, for I didn’t remember meeting him being quite this awkward.
“Hi, lo-” He seemed to stop himself before he finished, smiling again in embarrassment. Love. I wasn’t sure if I was relieved or disappointed.
“You look vaguely familiar, have I met you before?” He joked, “No, but I’m glad to see you.”
I wasn’t sure what to say.
Luckily, he continued, “Hey, I’ve been thinking. Since I showed you my awful song, shouldn’t I get to read some of your book?”
I just rolled my eyes at him. “First of all, I actually think that that was a pretty good song. But about my book, I don’t think you want to read it.”
Before Dan had time to interject, I gestured with my hand for him to stop, then gave a slight smile.
“It’s a cursed book, you know. All who open it will never be able to put it down, for the book seems to draw in the reader’s attention, glueing their eyes to the words that are written.” My slight smile turned into a grin, and his did the same.
“Well, now I have to read it.” Dan stated, shifting a little closer to me. No. Stay away. I thought guiltily. Why didn’t I want him any nearer? I had trouble answering the question myself.
Dan brought me out of my thoughts. “So… Do you think that I could come over real quick? Just to read the book, that’ll be all. It just sounds really wicked. I just didn’t want to waste our time on Saturday… Wait that sounds bad. Uhh…”
Once again, I let him struggle to find words, letting a small smile creep on to my face. I let him rub the back of his neck nervously for a while, then finally broke the silence, giving him a playful shove.
“Of course I’ll let you come over, silly! I’ve gotten ahead again, and this time I mean it. Even though you probably don’t and shouldn’t believe me.” Now I was feeling a bit nervous.
“I’ll always believe you.” He said quietly, brushing a stray hair away from my face. I saw out of the corner of my eye a person that had turned into the aisle we were in. Clearing my throat, I pushed the emotional sappy stuff out of the way for later, but made sure not to forget it.
“I’ll text you when I’m done, and then we’ll meet at the exit. Yes?” I questioned, giving him a thumbs up. He returned the thumbs up, and we finished our shopping separately. I texted him when I was done, and we met at the exit, just as planned. When we were walking to our cars, which were, ironically, not far apart, I could see that he was fighting the urge to brush against me; he seemed very twitchy. Me being my cruel, mean, and hateful self, I let him twitch all he wanted, while I fought back a smile. We eventually hopped into our own cars and Dan followed me to my house, where I unloaded the groceries, and he helped as well, despite my protests.
“Do you need anything kept cold?” I asked, not looking up from my task.
“Nah. I don’t think.”
After I was done, I beckoned for him to follow me upstairs, where he could read my book. But, strangely enough, he stopped me.
“Your ‘whole life story’. You said that you would tell me?” Dan looked at me expectantly, his eyes honest.
I narrowed my eyes. “Why do you want to know so bad?”
“If you think that I plan on telling anyone, I won’t, even if you allow me to. I take it no one else knows about it, yes?”
I nodded, feeling my face turn pale.
Seeing this, Dan said, “You don’t have to tell me if you really don’t want to. I just thought that it would be best, since we plan on being together for a while…” He trailed off.
There’s no going back now. I made a promise; I have to keep it. Beckoning again with my hand, I went upstairs, Dan following. I lead him to my room, where we both sat down and I began my story, before I had time to back down.
“I few years ago, I met this guy on the internet. We talked and all that, but then he wanted to meet me. So of course I said yes, and I gave him my address and he came over. Typical love story, we fell in love and yeah, you get the point. He was basically living here, since he had nothing better to do I guess. Well suddenly he had to go on this business trip, and it was all the way across the country. We had our sappy goodbyes, and he left. We texted and Skyped and all, until one day it just stopped. Everything. I had no communication with him whatsoever. A week passed, and I started to get worried. Well, out of the blue, he Skyped me, and another girl was there with him. Turns out, he was cheating on me the whole time. So, that was the end of us, but I think that I still had feelings for him. Another week passed, and I believe that it was on a Tuesday morning that I was reading the paper. I looked over the obituaries, and found his name there, Tyler Emick.” I laughed a little before continuing. “I nearly choked on my banana. Reading on, apparently, he was drunk driving with his new girlfriend in the car. They both didn’t make it.” I made a face, and tried to read Dan’s reaction. He looked thoughtful.
Finally he spoke. “So why did you get so fussy when I mentioned meeting you again?”
I shrugged helplessly. “I didn’t want to get too close to someone again. So I made a stupid excuse for you to not come over.”
Hesitating, I added, “I’m sorry. I really am. I just-”
“Shhh.” Dan quieted me, putting a gentle hand on my face. “It’s okay, honestly. I’d be wary if that happened to me, too.”
Sitting a moment in silence, I could sense that things could get awkward real fast.
“So, how about that book?” I said, distracting my thoughts.
Walking towards the office, I warned him. “Are you absolutely positive? This book is dangerous, I’m telling you.”
Dan laughed. That was another thing that I love about him; he had an amazing laugh. “I think I’m willing to take the risk.”
I shrugged again. “Okay. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” Pulling up the digital copy of my writing, I invited him to sit down.
“I’ll be doing some chores around the house while you’re reading.” He nodded.
Chores around the house? I thought grimly to myself. I just cleaned a few weeks ago! And with no pets, it honestly doesn’t get that dirty. So what was I supposed to do? Sleep? I couldn’t watch Dan read, that would pressure him to hurry, and that was the last thing I wanted him to do. It should take him an hour or two, since I wasn’t completely finished. Surely I had something to work on? Then, I thought about my memories journal that I had tucked away in my room. Quietly, I skittered upstairs and pulled it out, then slipped back into the living room. I didn’t let myself be pulled into the other memories that I had written down before, for I would never get anything new written. This was probably the only thing that I handwrite; nearly everything was done electronically nowadays. I opened to the first clean page, and began my story with Dan, from deciding to go to the party up until now, making sure to include everything about Riley as well. By the time I was done writing, by hand was cramped up and smudged with pencil lead. A bump lay where my pencil had been resting.
“Hey Haylee..” Dan suddenly called.
“Yes, love?” I said without thinking, covering up my mouth. It was a good thing Dan couldn’t see my red face. I could tell that he was smiling, even though he was upstairs.
“I think I found a typo.” I went up to the office and saw that he was at the last paragraph of my unfinished book. He had highlighted the sentence containing the supposed typo. Sure enough, there was a spelling mistake that I had missed while proofreading.
“Oh there is a spelling error, isn’t there?” I fixed it, smiling to myself.
“So there weren’t any other mistakes you might have found?” I continued, glancing at Dan. I realized that he was looking at me funny. Not a funny face, but strangely.
“Nope, I only found one.” His eyes were bright blue, rimmed with a dark navy. Strange, I thought. Neverminding his eyes, we went once again in my room, but didn’t sit down.
“Haylee, love…” He tried to catch my eye, but I was distracted, still trying to think of the last time I saw his eyes like that. Dan stepped closer to me, and I let him this time. Just the two of us. No one else.
He continued, “That book must have been the best book I’ve ever read. And I’m not saying that just because I’m your boy-” I’m glad he stopped himself before he said boyfriend. I’m not sure how I would have responded to that.
He smiled slightly to himself, “-just because we’re together. I’ve read a lot of books, but none quite like that. It was…” Dan searched for the right words. “...deep. I don’t know how to describe it.” He blushed, realizing that he sounded like an idiot.
As he shifted, I noticed that he was so close that we were touching. Then, my brain made the connection. The last time I saw his eyes like that was when we kissed. Before I had any more time to think, he went for my lips.