Chapter Twenty

(Haylee’s Point of View)

I knew that I was being surprisingly forgiving when Dan scared the living daylights out of me, causing me to burn myself. But when he shuffled behind me to fix my hair, I knew that I had to make some kind of move. So when I pulled his arms around my waist, I decided to focus on what kind of person he is, and not the kind of person he was. It put everything in a whole new perspective.

But then, Chris walked in and saw us like this, which completely killed the moment.

“Okay…” Chris started uneasily. I pulled myself away from Dan, who did the same, and he walked into the main room.

“Yeah, we were just…” He started, running out of words to say. Chris just glanced from me to Dan uncertainly. Dan shot me the look of a trapped animal. How on earth will we explain this? I thought sourly.

“I’d love to know what you two were doing while I was gone.” I saw Chris biting back a smile.

I changed the subject. “Well, I think I’m done in here if you want to shower, Dan.” I said, silently begging for him to play along.

“Yeah, I think I’ll hop in the shower so that we can be on our way. The sooner the better.” He said quickly, grabbing his clothes and closing the shower door as I walked out.

I pushed my bangs out of my face, rubbing the back of my arm nervously. Chris raised his eyebrows, his gaze falling upon my burn mark.

“May I ask how that happened?” He said, making a gesture towards my left shoulder.

“Umm… No.” I said, sitting on my couch and pulling out my memories diary. I began to write, while I saw out of my peripheral vision that Chris was trying to peek over my shoulder at what I was scribbling down.

“Hey, hey. No peeking. Go. Stop being nosey. We’ll tell you what we want to tell you when we want to tell you. Leave.”

“Fine.” He said, pretending to hold a grudge.

I’ve been keeping up with my diary, not ever missing a day. I would stay up for hours at night, writing down all that I have remembered from the day.

Soon enough, we were on the road again, with Chris driving, Dan navigating, and me writing. Instead of typing my book, I decided to go over all of my memories with pen, so that they didn’t fade as fast. Once and a while Dan would glance back at me, trying to start a conversation. And, that aroused questions from Chris; he would keep pestering us about what had happened between us while he was gone. Neither of us would budge, but I think that it was because we were both a bit embarrassed at the things we did.

The hours flew by, and after lunch, we switched positions, with Dan driving and me being the navigator. Sadly, we hardly said a word to each other, afraid that a secret might slip. To be honest, I think that we were partially doing it just to drive Chris mad.

Once I had finished tracing everything in pen, I found it hard to stay awake.

“You can go to sleep. I’ll wake you if I need anything.” I heard Dan say quietly.

“Promise?” I yawned.

“I promise.” I hardly heard him, for I was already drifting off.

 

I half-awoke to someone gently tugging on my hair.

“Haylee…” It was Dan. “Haylee..”

I made a noise, suggesting that I’m not ready to get up. I felt him unbuckle my seatbelt, and then nothing. Where did he go? Unconcerned, I untangled the seatbelt from me and leaned against the window, beginning to fall asleep again. Suddenly, the whole door of the car fell away, and I was left leaning on nothing. With a squeak of surprise, I opened my eyes, falling out of the car. I think I was even more surprised when I found myself in Dan’s arms.

“Hey, it worked.” He said, smiling down at me. I smiled back, taking in my surroundings. The car was unhooked from the camper and parked next to it. The water and sewer were already all set up, and the awning to the camper was put out. There was a fresh breeze, and the sun was beginning to sink below the horizon, causing a pulchritudinous mass of colors to light up the sky.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Dan said suddenly, still holding me in his arms.

“Yeah.” I said, looking back at him. Then, my eyes widened when I thought of where we were. “Wait. Are we like… Here? In Arizona?”

Dan glanced at Chris. “Yep.”

I was so excited that I jumped out of Dan’s arms. Everything came back to me. Oh yeah. Because today is Tuesday the twelfth and in four days we get to tour the Grand Canyon. But then… I nearly jumped out of my skin. Dan’s birthday was in two days, and I still had no idea what to get him.

My mind must have still been flustered, because I turned to Dan, saying, “Oh! Your b-” I was able to stop myself before I finished my sentence.

Chris and Dan exchanged glances. “What was that?” Dan asked.

“Oh, nothing.” I said, banishing the excitement from my eyes. Dan just raised one eyebrow questioningly.

“Anyways,” I began again. “Are we going straight to bed, or are we going to explore some?”

“What do you want to do?” Dan answered.

“Oh it doesn’t matter to me.”

“Well, in that case,” he turned to Chris. “What do you want to do?”

“Doesn’t matter to me either.” He replied.

“Well, in that case,” I said, “Let’s go exploring.” I felt like a child wanting to see the world for herself.

“Alright. Lead the way.” Dan said with a grin.

I didn’t expect this. “Well, why don’t we just all walk? There doesn’t have to be a leader…”

Dan shrugged. “Okay. Then let’s be on our way.” We set off on our minnie journey, with Chris on my left and Dan on my right. We started a conversation, and talked and walked for a while. We were about halfway around the campsite when Chris leaned over to whisper something in Dan’s ear. I tried to catch some of it, but he was talking too quietly. Whatever he had said, it made Dan smile.

He turned to me. “Chris forgot something back at the camper. He told us to just keep walking.” I was suspicious, but decided to let it go.

“So how’s that burn of yours?”

“It’s getting better.” I said, rolling my left shoulder. We talked until we came close to our camper, and looked at the setting sun for a while. Everybody, we had guessed, must have all been in their own campers by now. The sun was halfway below the horizon, setting everything aflame.

We just sat and watched for a while, until Dan spoke.

“Haylee, I’ve been meaning to tell you something for a while.”

“And what would that be?” I said, although I wasn't sure that I wanted to know the answer.

He hesitated. “We’ve spent the last four days with each other, either cramped up in the car or that camper. And I have no idea how you dealt with me this whole time.”

I laughed a little, trying to loosen up. “Neither do I.”

He took a breath. “I’ll always be here for you, no matter what. You know that, don't you?”

Oh dear. “Of course. That’s what friends are for, right?”

“Well, I was hoping that we could be something more than that.” His voice grew quiet, and  I could feel him lean closer to kiss me. Am I ready for this? I thought, trying to make a decision.

Just as our lips were about to touch, I made up my mind. “Not yet.” I whispered, and pulled myself from his arms, walking briskly back to the camper.

“Hey, Haylee.” Chris greeted me. “Where you been?” He was stifling a smile. He saw the whole thing! I thought angrily.

“You know exactly where I’ve been. But I could ask you the same question.” I fought to keep my rage down.

“I was..” He stuttered. “I was just trying to help you guys out. Give you some alone time.” Chris hesitated. “Did he mess up again?”

I narrowed my eyes. “I guess you could put it like that. But why should I tell you? You saw us both anyway.”

“Did not!”

“Yeah, you did. You’re not a very good liar.” I pointed out.

Before he could react, I snatched his phone from his hands and went through his most recent pictures. I didn’t delete any, but saw the photo of me and Dan sleeping together, but then saw a new one. It was of two people standing in front of a setting sun, on the verge of a kiss. Their shapes were completely black, rimmed with gold from the sun. I dropped his phone, my eyes turning huge. That was us. He had taken a picture of me and Dan nearly kissing. It looked like something a professional would take, or something that someone would use as a desktop. I wasn’t sure if I was mad or surprised. Probably both.

“Did you delete it?” Chris asked nervously.

“No, I didn’t.” Just then, Dan stumbled in, glancing at me uncertainly.

“Haylee..” He began, but I didn’t let him finish.

“I think I’m going to bed.” I cut him off, shooing Chris off of the couch.

I guess Dan was in a tenacious mood this evening. “No, Haylee, I need to talk to you.” He said, walking over and sitting on the couch.

I took a breath, trying to hold in my anger. “Dan, you have exactly three seconds to move.”

Chris broke in. “Dan, just leave her be.”

He sighed.  “Alright.” The expression on his face was all I needed to know that he was really crushed by this. I didn't even need the part where he walked away without saying another word, his back slumped, looking very defeated. In fact, it hurt me so much that I almost called him back, but decided not to talk about our little argument.

“Hey Dan.” He looked up, his eyes full of hope. “How was that book?”

A little bit of disappointment crept into his eyes. “Oh, I haven’t had time to finish it yet, but I’m almost done. Actually, I think I’ll finish it tonight.” I was a bit surprised that he hadn’t read the whole thing yet. Chris must have seen this, because he spoke.

“Take no offense to it. Dan’s naturally a slow reader.”

“Oh, it’s fine.” With that, we all crawled into our own beds. I didn’t sleep though, but instead, I got on my laptop and looked up some things that I might want to get Dan for his birthday. It was too late to order something, since it would take over two days to get here. What else can I get him? I knew that he like to sing, but I couldn’t think of anything that I could make that would involve that kind of stuff. I laid there for a while, thinking of another activity that I could pull off. A movie! I suddenly thought, nearly jumping out of bed. My fingers flying, I asked Google what movies were playing on July fourteenth. A multitude of movies were playing, but one stuck out to me most: Pacific Rim. I had always wanted to see that movie, and I had heard Dan talking about it, too. He said that the previews looked pretty wicked, and I believed him, since I hardly ever watch TV.

Quietly crawling out of bed, I snuck into Dan and Chris’s room.

“Dan,” I called in a hushed voice, seeing if he was still up.

I heard Chris’s voice in the darkness. “Dan’s asleep. He just finished your book. You need anything?”

I hesitated. “You’re sure he’s sleeping?”

“Trust me, if he heard you calling his name after the little argument you two had, he would have jumped out of bed and hit the ceiling. He’s asleep.”

“Okay. Then you’ll do. We need to talk.” I then heard him sneak out of bed, careful not to disturb Dan, and appear in front of me. I sat on the couch, him following.

“You okay?” Chris asked nervously.

“Yeah, I’m fine. This is about Dan’s birthday.” I said, feeling him loosen his muscles beside me. “Oh, sorry I missed yours. I had no idea when it was.”

“That’s fine. I had a great time with Dan. Anyway, what were you thinking about his birthday?”

“Well, I heard that he really wanted to see Pacific Rim, and that’s playing on the fourteenth. I don’t think I can buy anything for him, though, because I have no idea what he would want.”

“I’ve got that all taken care of. We could even set up some decorations the night before his birthday, since I brought some with me. And don’t worry about the present, I got him one. Besides, taking him to the movies will be plenty enough for him.” He hesitated before adding, “You two should go alone. I know that you’re kind of angry at him right now, but give him a break. You’re probably the first woman he’s ever had a serious relationship with.”

I took a breath. “I’m not sure. He’s just trying to rush things, and that’s the last thing I really need right now.”

“Well, he’s not sure when you’ll be ready, but he’s usually relatively patient. I can talk to him and tell him to back off or whatever. But that means that you’ll have to do or say something when you are ready.”

“Yeah, I got that.”

“Speaking of which, what was up with you two just earlier?”

“You’re not going to stop pestering us until we tell, are you?”

“Nope.”

“Look, we had a moment, that’s all.”

“Well, you can’t just have a ‘moment’ and then turn Dan off like that.”

“Maybe I’m just not ready to kiss him yet.”

“Maybe not, but you can’t be mad at him. Anybody would assume that you like him when you do something like that, and that’s why he tried to kiss you.”

I sighed. “Alright, fine. I’m over it. Now do we have Dan’s birthday all set?”

“Yeah, I think so. I’ll text you if we need to discuss anything else, just so that Dan can’t overhear us talking or whatever. But I don’t think I have your number.”

“Yep.” We exchanged numbers, and finally went to sleep.

The End

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