Authors: Krystal Wade
For you Abigail Nicole, because you are my joy, my sunlight, my inspiration. Without you, this story wouldn’t have come to life. Without you, my life wouldn’t be as exciting.
erick and I were at The Griffin—a little bookstore in downtown Fredericksburg. He was reading his worn out copy of
, and for the life of me, I can’t remember what piece of literature I held in my hands. I was too busy staring over my book at him.
Burning tinder popped and sizzled in the fireplace next to us. He sat across from me, on a chocolate, micro-fiber sofa. I loved the way the warm, earthy hues of the furniture made his sky-blue eyes stand out against everything else in our favorite spot in the world.
He caught my eyes in their eternal lock on him, smiled—a nervous smile, but a smile nonetheless—then patted the spot next to him.
My heart fluttered. I closed my book—I wasn’t really reading it—took a few trembling steps, then sat as close as possible without touching.
Derick cast a sideways glance, and the corner of his mouth curved up just a little when he said, “Since when do you think I bite, Abigail Nichols?”
My insides twisted into knots, and somehow I guessed he knew.
He put his arm around my shoulders, pulled me closer, and for the first time in our long friendship, he spoke words we’d never dared bring up: “Are you ever going to let me kiss you?”
The question made my heart jump up and down in my chest, performing an insanely happy dance. I wiped the wide grin off my face and replaced the ridiculous look with a more respectable one. “I’m not sure why you felt you had to ask.”
The close proximity of his face to mine, the firelight dancing in his eyes, the smell of coffee and chocolate and musty books—these are the things I will always remember. He approached slowly, closed his eyes, then he drew in a deep breath. Our lips met, and I knew he was what I always wanted, what I always needed.
We sat on the lovely little sofa, in the lovely little bookstore, with our fingers laced together, our mouths moving together, and our hearts full of happiness—at least
He dropped me off at home a couple hours later and promised to drive me to school the next morning. He never showed up, never called, never—
arth to Abby!” Mark Snellings waved his hand in front of my face.
Snapping out of my sorrow-filled daydream about my first—and
—kiss with Derick, I looked at my date sitting across from me in the fanciest restaurant in Fredericksburg. His eyes were narrowed, which meant he’d probably called my name a few times already, and his cheeks were flushed bright red.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t get much sleep last night.”
A boyish, expectant look appeared on Mark’s face, replacing the frustration with something more like longing. Something I wasn’t ready to think about. “You were nervous about finally coming on a date with me, weren’t you? Tell the truth!”
I should’ve told him I was thinking about Derick. That truth would have at least gotten me out of an attempted kiss at the end of the night, which I’m sure Mark had been planning since I’d agreed to go out with him. And a kiss would have made my best friend Megan happy for me. Or something like happy.
“I’ve known you since what, we were wearing diapers and enrolled at Minnieland? I don’t get nervous around you.”
His expression fell, and he glanced around the dimly lit restaurant until he found our server.
I didn’t mean to hurt his feelings, but I always seemed to.
He shot his hand in the air like an eager student ready to blurt the answer to a question the teacher just asked, then snapped his fingers. Smooth and subtle were not specialties of Mark’s, not like Derick. If he were with us, all he would have done is tip his head in the direction of the server and ten would have come running.
Every thought came back to him and the fact he wasn’t here.
I’m going crazy
. If I could’ve smacked myself without drawing attention, I would have.
Mark paid the bill and left a less-than-stellar tip, muttering something about our server and his wandering eyes. A dig against the guy for smiling politely at me while taking our order.
Mark’s not a bad guy
. I had to remind myself of this since, as it turned out, a certain someone I kept pining after
a bad guy.
“You ready to go home?” he asked.
A solid lump of guilt formed in my throat. I never should have agreed to go out with him. I should have said no, but after three months of the silent treatment from Derick, I’d had enough. Getting out of my house, away from my ex-favorite neighbor Derick, and out with an old friend was supposed to get my mind off the hole in my chest. Instead, the damned thing seemed to grow larger, just like the three acres between our houses. “I’ve ruined your night, haven’t I?”
Mark offered his hand, helping me from the booth. “I don’t know what Derick did to you, Abby, but you deserve more than him.”
. Not better than how Derick treated me, but better than Derick as a whole. Maybe Mark was right, but the insult felt more like the normal banter the two always exchanged. Still… “Thanks.”
“I’ve waited a long time for you to agree to go out with me. Waiting a little while longer for you to get over him won’t be a big deal.”
I smiled. I couldn’t think of a nicer way to respond with tears threatening to spill over my lashes. He was one of the few guys who still showed an interest in me, even after years of being ignored while I focused on Derick. Looking away from Mark, I stepped onto the brick-lined path outside the restaurant and took in the gleeful holiday lights strung along the buildings. Unfortunately, the cheer wasn’t infectious.
Mark grabbed my arm and turned me toward him. “Hey, don’t cry. Not about Derick, never about that assh… I’ll take you home.”
I refused to meet his eyes; the lights were much easier to face than he was. “You don’t have to take me home. I’m sorry.”