He stands up and faces my house. He looks at it for a long time without saying anything. He always thinks a lot and it makes me wonder what he’s always thinking about. He stops looking at the house and looks back down at me. “Don’t worry,” he says, trying to smile for me. “He won’t live forever.” He turns around and walks back to his house, so I close my eyes and lay my head on my arms again.
I don’t know why he would say that. I don’t want my Daddy to die…I just want him to stop calling me Princess.
Monday, September 3rd, 2012 7:20 a.m.
I don’t pull it out very often, but for some reason I want to look at it today. I guess talking about the past with Holder Saturday has left me feeling a little nostalgic. I know I told Holder I’d never look for my father, but sometimes I’m still curious. I can’t help but wonder how a parent can raise a child for several years, then just give them away. I’ll never understand it, and maybe I don’t need to. That’s why I never push it. I never ask Karen questions. I never try to separate the memories from the dreams and I don’t like bringing it up…because I just don’t need to.
I take the bracelet out of the box and slide it onto my wrist. I don’t know who gave it to me, and I don’t even really care. I’m sure with two years in foster care, I received lots of things from friends. What’s different about this gift, though, is that it’s attached to the only memory I have of that life. The bracelet validates that my memory is a real one. And knowing that the memory is real somehow validates that I was someone else before I was me. A girl I don’t remember. A girl that cried a lot. A girl that isn’t anything like who I am today.
Someday I’ll throw the bracelet away because I need to. But today, I just feel like wearing it.
Holder and I decided to take a breather from each other yesterday. And I say breather, because after Saturday night, we went quite a while on my bed without breathing at all. Besides, Karen was coming home and the last thing I wanted to do was re-introduce her to my new…whatever he is. We never got far enough to label what’s going on between us. It feels like I haven’t known him near long enough to refer to him as my boyfriend, considering we haven’t even kissed yet. But dammit if it doesn’t piss me off to think of his lips being on anyone else. So whether or not we’re dating, I’m declaring us exclusive. Can you even be exclusive without actually kissing first? Are exclusive and dating mutually exclusive?
I make myself laugh out loud. Or lol.
When I woke up yesterday morning, I had two texts. I’m really getting into this whole texting thing. I get really giddy when I have one and I can’t imagine how addictive email and Facebook and everything else technology-related must be. One of the texts was from Six, going on and on about my impeccable baking abilities, followed up with strict instructions to call her Sunday night from her house phone to catch her up on everything. I did. We talked for an hour and she’s just as floored as I am that Holder isn’t at all how we expected him to be. I asked her about Lorenzo and she didn’t even know who I was referring to, so I laughed and dropped it. I miss her and hate that she’s gone, but she’s loving it and that makes me happy.
The second text I had was from Holder. All it said was, “I’m dreading seeing you at school on Monday. So bad.”
Running used to be the highlight of my day, but now it’s receiving insulting texts from Holder. And speaking of running and Holder, we aren’t doing that anymore. Together, anyway. After texting back and forth yesterday, we decided it was probably best if we didn’t run together on a daily basis because that might be too much, too soon. I told him I didn’t want things to get weird between us. Besides, I’m really self-conscious when I’m sweaty and snotty and wheezing and smelly and I would just rather run alone.
Now I’m staring into my locker in a daze, sort of stalling because I really don’t want to go to class. It’s first period and the only class I have with Holder, so I’m really nervous about how it’ll play out. I take Breckin’s book out of my backpack and the other two books I brought him, then put the rest of my things in my locker. I walk into the classroom and to my seat, but Breckin isn’t here yet, and neither is Holder. I sit down and stare at the door, not really sure why I’m so nervous. It’s just different, seeing him here rather than on home turf. Public school is just way too…public.
The door opens and Holder walks in, followed closely by Breckin. They both start toward the back of the room. Holder smiles at me, walking down one aisle. Breckin smiles at me, walking down the other aisle, holding two cups of coffee. Holder reaches the seat next to me and starts to lay his backpack on it at the same time Breckin reaches it and begins to set the coffee cups down. They look up at each other, then they both look back at me.
I do the only thing I know how to do in awkward situations—infuse with sarcasm.
“Looks like we have quite the predicament here, boys.” I smile at both of them, then eye the coffee in Breckin’s hands. “I see the Mormon brought the queen her offering of coffee. Very impressive.” I look at Holder and cock my eyebrow. “Do you wish to reveal your offering, hopeless boy, so that I may decide who shall accompany me at the classroom throne today?”
Breckin looks at me like I’ve lost my mind. Holder laughs and picks his backpack up off the desk. “Looks like someone’s in need of an ego-shattering text today.” He moves his backpack to the empty seat in front of Breckin and claims his spot.
Breckin is still standing, holding both coffees with an incredibly confused look on his face. I reach out and grab one of the cups. “Congratulations, squire. You are the queen’s chosen one today. Sit. It’s been quite the weekend.”
Breckin slowly takes his seat and sets his coffee on his desk, then pulls his backpack off his shoulder, eyeing me suspiciously the whole time. Holder is seated sideways in his desk, staring at me. I gesture my hand toward Holder. “Breckin, this is Holder. Holder is not my boyfriend, but if I catch him trying to break the record for best first kiss with another girl, then he’ll soon be my not breathing non-boyfriend.”
Holder arches an eyebrow at me and a hint of a smile plays in the corner of his mouth. “Likewise.” His dimples are taunting me and I have to force myself to look directly into his eyes or I might be compelled to do something that would be grounds for suspension.
I gesture a hand toward Breckin. “Holder, this is Breckin. Breckin is my new very bestest friend ever in the whole wide world.”
Breckin eyes Holder and Holder smiles at him, then reaches out to shake his hand. Breckin tentatively shakes Holder’s hand in return, then pulls it back and turns to me, narrowing his eyes. “Does not-your-boyfriend realize I’m Mormon?”
I nod. “It turns out, Holder doesn’t have an issue with Mormons at all. He just has an issue with assholes.”
Breckin laughs and turns back to Holder. “Well, in that case, welcome to the alliance.”
Holder gives him a half smile, but he’s staring at the coffee cup on Breckin’s desk. “I thought Mormon’s weren’t allowed to have caffeine.”
Breckin shrugs. “I decided to break that rule the morning I woke up gay.”
Holder laughs and Breckin smiles and everything is right with the world. Or at least in the world of first period. I lean back in my chair and smile. This won’t be hard at all. In fact, I think I just started loving public school.
Holder follows me to my locker after class. We don’t speak. I switch my books while he rips more insults off my locker. There were only two sticky notes after class today, which makes me a little sad. They’re giving up so easily and it’s only the second week of school.
He wads the notes up and flicks them on the floor and I shut my locker, then turn toward him. We’re both leaning against the lockers, facing each other.
“You trimmed your hair,” I say, noticing it for the first time.
He runs his hand through it and grins. “Yeah. This chick I know couldn’t stop whining about it. It was really annoying.”
“I like it.”
He smiles. “Good.”
I purse my lips together and rock back and forth on my heels. He’s grinning at me and he looks adorable. If we weren’t in a hallway right now full of people, I’d grab his shirt and pull him to me so I could show him just how adorable I think he looks. Instead, I push the images away and smile back at him. “I guess we should get to class.”
He nods slowly. “Yep,” he says, without walking away.
We stand there for another thirty seconds or so before I laugh and kick off the locker, then start to walk away. He grabs my arm and pulls me back so quickly, I gasp. Before I know it, my back is against the locker and he’s standing in front of me, blocking me in with his arms. He shoots me a devilish grin, then tilts my face up to his. He brings his right hand to my cheek and slides it under my jaw, cupping my face. He delicately strokes both of my lips with his thumb and I have to remind myself again that we’re in public and I can’t act on my impulses right now. I press myself against the lockers behind me, trying to use the sturdiness of them to make up for the support my knees are no longer providing.
“I wish I would have kissed you Saturday night,” he says. He drops his eyes to my lips where his thumb is still stroking them. “I can’t stop imagining what you taste like.” He presses his thumb firmly against the center of my lips, then very briefly connects his mouth to mine without moving his thumb out of the way. His lips are gone and his thumb is gone and it happens so fast, I don’t even realize he’s gone until the hallway stops spinning and I’m able to stand up straight.
I don’t know how much longer I can take this. I’m reminded of my nervous rant on Saturday night, when I wanted him to just get it over with and kiss me in the kitchen. I had absolutely no idea what I would be in for.
It’s just one word, but as soon as I lay my tray down across from Breckin, I know exactly what all that word encompasses. I laugh and decide to spill all the details before Holder shows up at our table. If he shows up at our table. Not only have we not discussed relationship labels, we also haven’t discussed lunchroom seating arrangements.
“He showed up at my house on Friday and after quite a few misunderstandings, we finally came to an understanding that we just misunderstood each other. Then we baked, I read him some smut and he went home. He came back over Saturday night and cooked for me. Then we went to my room and…”
I stop talking when Holder takes a seat beside me.
“Keep going,” Holder says. “I’d love to hear what we did next.”
I roll my eyes and turn back to Breckin. “Then we broke the record for best first kiss in the history of first kisses without even kissing.”
Breckin nods carefully, still looking at me with eyes full of scepticism. Or curiosity. “Impressive.”
“It was an excruciatingly boring weekend,” Holder says to Breckin.