Had I really nodded off, drool dripping out of the side of my mouth? Kill me, yes, I do. I quickly looked around to see if anyone noticed. Mr. Chapman, my Calculus teacher, looked like he was dozing off himself. His hand propped his head up. He’d allowed us the last half of class to study for our next exam. I could hear Nicole snickering while she kicked the back of my chair. I turned and glanced at her over my shoulder, frowning. Looking at the clock, I was relieved to see we only had fifteen minutes to go.
Nicole kept tapping at the back of my seat and she whispered, loudly. “Late night?” She giggled. “How was the Skype sex?”
Without turning around, I waved my hand at her, hoping she’d shut up. My eyes darted in every direction, hoping no one heard her. Geez. What the hell? Nicole Hamilton and I had been best friends since practically Kindergarten, and now we were finally seniors. I would be eighteen in six weeks and I had big plans. BIG plans.
I’d kept these secrets from everyone in my life, except Nadine. She was now attending Cal State Long Beach. Nadine Lewis was my rock, my confidant in every single way, much more so than Nicole. Nicole and I had never fully recovered our friendship to the level prior to my Jake meltdown. It was totally catastrophic, like movie shit, like put-me-in-the-loony-bin crazy, for real. People would pay to watch the shit that went down with Jake and I.
It was hard for me to believe Nicole’s sincerity, since she’d chosen sides (in a number of ways), and had decided not to hang out with me while I was chilling with my other dear (and gay) friend Marshall. Nicole had thought it would damage her rep if she hung out with him, since he was different. Even after apologies and tears, for two years we were distantly cordial to each other.
The bell rang, shaking me from my memories. I bolted out of my seat, shoving past everyone. I was desperate to get home before my mother. I’d absentmindedly left the envelope that held the passport application documents, laying on the coffee table, along with the scribbled notes of where Jake was staying in London. I wasn’t ready for her or my dad to know about Jake being back in my life, and it would be immediately obvious what I was planning if she got a hold of that envelope.
“Aly! Wait up,” Nicole hollered. “Dude, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you.”
I smiled. Nothing could upset me these days. “No worries. I just have to get home. I left something out in plain view I don’t want my mom seeing, yet.”
“Dish! What?” Nicole shuffled alongside me and nudged my shoulder.
I slung my backpack over to the other side. “That passport application I told you about.”
“Why would you care if she saw that? She has no idea what you’ve been up to. Just tell her you’re thinking ahead or something. Like we’re planning a graduation trip to Mexico.”
“She wouldn’t care, really, but I stupidly wrote Jake’s address in London, and like an idiot, scribbled little hearts and his name over and over again all over the envelope.”
Nicole laughed. “Aww, how cute.” She breathed in heavily, shaking her head. “I still can’t believe you guys are getting back together. I thought he had a girlfriend, that girl in all those pictures with him. What’s her name? Sophia something.”
My heart lurched. I hated hearing her name. We strode through the parking lot to my car. “For the record, I don’t know if we’re getting back together. I have so many mixed emotions. Like, are we really right for each other? But I want to see him. I want to see how I feel when I’m with him. We’ve been talking for so long and so much has built up. You know, we kinda owe it to each other. And as far as this girlfriend, he says she’s more like a companion, and he told her that he couldn’t make any serious commitments.” I shrugged, trying to convince myself. “Who knows if he’s telling me the truth, but he’s never lied to me before.”
Nicole tapped the window for me to unlock the passenger door. I slid into the driver’s seat. She huffed as she slammed the door shut. “Didn’t he lie to you about seeing that Eva chick, who he went on tour with?”
“No, he didn’t lie,” I sneered. “He just failed to mention it. That was a long time ago. I was a baby back then. Now I understand why he didn’t tell me.”
“You’re so lucky,” she murmured under her breath, almost like the thought slipped out by accident.
“What?” Here we go. These were the types of comments that made me hold back confiding in her. Nicole always thought of things as a competition. I don’t think she’d ever realize how lucky and fortunate she was.
“You’re going out with the hottest musician-rock star…in like…ages. I just can’t believe it’s Jake, of all freaking people. This is like the stuff you watch on E! True Hollywood Story.” She laughed. “And that you two are getting back together.”
“Dude, we’re not getting back together.”
“Uh, dude, yes you are. I can feel it in my bones.”
Pulling up to my house, thankful that my mom wasn’t home from her volunteer job yet. I rushed through the door into the family room, and could see the manila envelope with the blazing red heart doodles practically beating. Picking it up, I looked over my shoulder like my mother would be standing there or something. On my eighteenth birthday, I would be first in line at the Federal Building on Wilshire Boulevard to turn in my passport application. My heart raced as I thought of Jake and how surprised he’d be when I told him he was what I wanted for my birthday.
I sank down into the sofa thinking of what it would be like to touch his skin again and to feel his lips on mine. If it weren’t for our several nights a week Skype sessions, I wouldn’t believe it was real. He still wanted me after all these years. It bothered me that I couldn’t talk freely with Nicole about my feelings for Jake. Instead, I chose to stay on the surface with information. Maybe it was because if I admitted to too many people how I truly felt about Jake, they’d think I was losing my mind again.
I looked up at the clock and it was three-thirty. I needed to talk to Nadine. I had to figure out how to tell my parents that I was going to see Jake. They had no idea that we’d been carrying on, since they’d thought it ended. Guilt rushed through my veins as I thought of how disappointed my dad would be. Ugh. Would he really be? I mean it’s not like Jake was some loser; he actually did make something of himself with his music and has stayed drug free. My dad should really be proud of Jake.
I sent a text to Nadine, asking her to come over as soon as possible.
“So you’re gonna do it? For reals?” Nadine chomped hard on her gum like her life depended on it. She dropped her keys and purse on the floor next to the coffee table. “I’m thirsty. You’re giving me cotton mouth, making me all nervous for you.”
My hands tingled thinking about it. “Yeah. I need to plant the seed, you know.” I sighed, covering my eyes. I could feel the blood pumping behind them. “How do you think I should do it? How do I go about telling them that Jake and I have been talking?”
“Aly, you can’t really sugar-coat it. Just tell ’em how it is. You’re practically an adult. You’re going away to college soon. Speaking of, have you decided where? How many colleges did you apply to?”
“Twenty, but two have already offered me a full ride. I have to make a choice, soon.”
“Wow.” She said shaking her head. “You’re so fucking lucky.”
Maybe I really was. I smiled at Nadine. The way she said it, she was really happy for me, unlike Nicole’s edgy tone. “I worked hard at it, you know.”
“I know you did.” She said and went into the kitchen and grabbed a drink from the fridge. She cracked the top of the Gatorade bottle and looked around. “Where’s your sister?”
“She’s working at HBO now. She got her marketing dream job and decided to take the last year of college classes at night. I have to say I didn’t think she could do it, but she’s doing it.”
Nadine nodded her head and concern dashed onto her face. “I don’t know what I wanna do with my life.”
I cracked a week smile. “It’s ok. I still don’t know what I wanna do either. I’m going to play volleyball and hope to figure it out along the way. I’m going to major in Communications. My dad was hoping I’d be a lawyer like him, ain’t happening.”
She opened the cupboard and grabbed a bag of chips. “Can I open these? I’m feelin’ snacky.”
“Help yourself.” I waved her off, my mind elsewhere and reached for my phone. It was five o’clock and the middle of the night in London. Jake would usually hit me up right around this time, with one simple text – ‘How’s my beautiful Alycat?’ I was anxious for his message. It was like a daily drug dose, my fix. I tingled all over thinking about him. I swallowed. “I’m thinking about moving to New York and going to NYU.”
Nadine eyes sprung wide open as she lifted the lid of the trashcan, spitting her gum into it. “Ummmm. NYU is not on the volleyball school list. Do they even have a team? This is totally all about Jake.” She smiled mischievously at me, opening the bag of chips.
I sighed. “Why can’t I have it all? Why can’t I have Jake and volleyball and get my degree?”
“There’s no beach volleyball in New York City, Aly. Do you hear yourself?” She stuffed a few potato chips into her mouth. “I’m all for love and shit like that. Jake with his hot ass and lifestyle, fucking pick me! You’d be living the dream, that’s for sure, but be real, Aly.” She slumped into the chair across from me, filling her mouth with more chips. I watched her chew and talk with her mouth full. “You have a real chance at playing beach volleyball and traveling around the world. Like gold medal shit, you’re that good. You need to be where you can train.”
I narrowed my eyes at her and my stomach flipped. She was right, but I didn’t want to hear it. I wanted her to back me up. “Look at you being all mom-ish. You don’t think it’s a good idea? Really? I can play indoor. I kinda don’t care if the team is division 3 if Jake means what he’s saying. I can get the degree that I want.”
She sighed loudly and put her feet up on the coffee table. “It sounds perfect. I mean, I guess you can play anywhere, but what’s your coach gonna say? You’ve been playing and winning these beach tournaments, Aly. Pepperdine and USC are offering you something that people would sell their souls for.”
“I applied to NYU, and I’ve been talking to the girls volleyball coach there.” I blurted out and paused when Nadine’s voice cracked with a hack. “You’re the only one who knows.”
Nadine coughed more and sat up, grabbing her Gatorade. She took a huge swig and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. “Wow. Does Jake know?”
“It was his idea.” My hands trembled with nerves from hearing myself admit to what had been churning below the surface.
My parents were going to shit a ton of bricks.
I sat in front of my laptop with my wet hair wrapped in a towel. Jake finally sent me a text a few hours later than he normally did. He’d been in rehearsal most of the day with the band, for an upcoming tour through Spain and France. We had a Skype chat set up. It was just about seven in the morning for him. I pulled the towel from my hair and checked my image on computer screen. My heart raced from the excitement streaming through me. I couldn’t wait to talk to him. You’d think after all these years and all that we’d been through that I wouldn’t be reacting this way. Every time I heard his voice or thought about what it would be like to touch him again, my insides fluttered.
I leaned back into my pillows and pulled my comforter over me. It was cold, the first of December, and Christmas was just around the corner. My big February birthday was just on the horizon. Jake kept asking me what I wanted for my birthday. He was beyond thoughtful. I didn’t want anything from him. Last year he’d surprised me with a Hermés watch. I totally had to lie to my parents, saying it was a knockoff I’d gotten in Venice Beach. I took in a deep breath, trying to calm my nerves. I only wanted him, and tonight I was going to tell him just that. I would inform him of my plans to visit him in London during our Ski Week winter break. My hands became damp just thinking about it, wondering how he would react.
The familiar ping of Skype rang out, sending my heart into my throat. I took one last look at my reflection in my closet mirror and answered the call.
“Hey Alycat.” Jake’s voice streamed through my computer. His eyes sparkled so blue, I was desperate to touch his unshaven face. He looked beyond hot, sitting there shirtless. I wanted to kiss every inch of him.
“Hey you.” I giggled. “You better go put a shirt on. You’re killing me.”
“Mmm. I think you need to take yours off.”
“How was practice?” I giggled, brushing off his pervy come-on.
“Long and sweaty.” He smirked. He was trying to egg me on, and normally I would have bitten, but I was so anxious to share my surprise.
I clasped my hands under my chin. Here it goes. “So I have something to tell you. I know what I want for my birthday.”
“Ok, let’s hear it…and don’t tell me ‘nothing’, and leave me to my own devices like you did last year.”
“Shush.” I teased, placing my index finger over my lips. “I want you for my birthday.”
A sly, sexy grin spread across his face. “You already have me, Alycat.”
I squirmed, shifting my legs into a new position. “Not physically, I don’t.” My heart thrashed in my chest, forcing the words to come out. “I want to feel your body next to mine and I don’t want to wait until summer. I’m planning on visiting you about a week after my birthday.” Holy shit, I said it! I’m not sure if it was surprise on his face or what.
Jake leaned in closer to his screen. “Do you know how badly I want to kiss you? Do you know how you make me wanna do bad things to you, bad good things?”
I felt the heat rise through my body and an ache penetrated every inch of me. It literally made me wet hearing him say those things to me. “You take my breath away,” I whispered, smiling at the screen. I reached out to touch the image of his face that smiled back at me. I wanted to melt into the screen. “Soooo, to continue,” I said quietly, trying to keep my composure, “I bought a plane ticket already. I haven’t told anyone of my plans, other than Nadine, and I’m gonna spring this on my parents as soon as I grow some balls.”
He gave me a hearty laugh. “I prefer you without balls, but ok.” He winked at me and shook his head. “Aly I want nothing more than to have you with me, but I don’t know about this. Your parents already hate me…”
“They don’t hate you,” I interrupted. At least my mom doesn’t.
“I know they don’t think too highly of me.”
“They’re actually proud of you, Jake.” My mom was, but my dad had no idea what Jake was up to. Jake’s eyes softened and his mouth clamped shut. “I bring you up every now and then, you know. They’re very aware of all your accomplishments.”
He sighed, running his hands through his hair. His image became pixelated to match his mood. “I’d love to be a fly on the wall when you tell them what your plans are.”
I laughed nervously. “I know, right?”
“So when do you think you’ll do it?”
“I don’t know, but the longer I stare at you, the braver I get. Sooooo?” I hummed and propped my chin in my hand. I leaned in closer to the computer. My question lingered, and he just stared back at me, dreamy and perfect.
“So, the so is I want to touch you so bad.”
“Ditto,” I purred.
“I want to kiss you all over.”
His words made the butterflies swarm. “Mhmm. What else?”
“I wanna make you…”
“Alyssa?” I heard my mom’s voice squeeze through my door, and it nearly launched me to the ceiling. My heart thundered like I’d been shocked by a defibrillator and little white dots floated in my vision. My immediate reaction was to slam my laptop lid shut. Oh my god! Did she hear us? Fuck. The doorknob rattled. “Are you alone?”
I was beyond agitated. What was she still doing up? It was midnight. “Yes, Mom!” I hopped off the bed and grabbed the doorknob, unlocking it. I stalked away getting back in my bed, pulling the laptop back on my lap.
She stalled, blinking twice. “Are you okay?”
“Yes, Mom,” I growled. “I was watching YouTube. What is it? Shouldn’t you be sleeping?”
She gave me a stern look to quit it with my attitude.
“Mom, I’m sorry. I was just starting to nod off and you scared me. You’re usually asleep by now.”
“I forgot to tell you that the doctor called and rescheduled your physical therapy appointment to five-thirty tomorrow. I’m leaving early in the morning and didn’t want to forget.”
I sighed, leaning back into my pillows. “Ok. Thanks.” She eyeballed me a little longer, like she was about to call me out or something. Then she shut the door without another word. I opened my laptop and began to write Jake an email. I was too fearful that my mom was lingering at my door to try for another Skype session.
OMG! I am soooo sorry. My mom came knocking at my door and I freaked out. I thought she heard us, but she didn’t. Thank God. I would have died. Ugh… you have no idea how bad I want February to be here. I think about you every moment of every day. I dream about what it’ll be like to feel you again. I can’t wait to kiss you. I can’t wait to feel your body against mine.
Love you madly, Aly.
I hit send and stared at my screen. I kept hitting the refresh button, hoping that he’d answer back right away. He finally did…fifteen minutes later.
Hey Alycat – Oh man... I needed to cool off anyway ;) You have no idea how bad I want you. You really don’t. I don’t think words or songs or anything can truly describe my feelings for you. I have to show you, touch you...send me your flight info so I can pin it to my wall or somethin’.
You’re my everything. J