I hate leaving Savannah, I hate leaving Jessica, and I hate leaving the sun.
“Chicago’s a great city, kiddo. You’re gonna love it, I promise.” My father says, as he turns the dial down on the radio.
“But, we’re not living in the city, remember?”
“Naperville is a short train ride, it’s no big deal, Kat.” He sighs.
Ugh. No big deal. For him, maybe it isn’t, but for me it feels like I am being punished for my mother’s sudden and brutal departure. I just shrug and give in. The car ride is going to be hard enough to handle, I don’t need any pointers on how to get by. I’ve made it unscathed for six months to the day, he doesn’t need to start now. This is going to be a long fourteen hours. Thank God for iPods. It’s the only thing to keep me occupied, throughout this hell of a car ride that I am thrusted into.
Ever since my mother walked out on us, I had a hard time trusting anyone. The killer part, she just left a note telling us that she needed to move on, rediscover herself, and that she hadn’t been happy in years. A note, that’s it. She was gone when I got home from the beach one day. If you can’t trust your own mother, who the hell can you trust?
I have separated from most of my friends, lost my boyfriend, and I stopped ballet. Something she has forced me to do since I was four, but I secretly love.
As much as I hate her for leaving me, I keep an old photo of her tucked under my pillow. My father removed every trace of her after she left, so there is no constant reminders lingering throughout the house. I can’t help but feel guilty, almost all my features resemble her, except for the eyes. Those are a gift from my father’s side.
As we approach the four bedroom Tudor, I can’t help but think how ridiculous it is to be living in such a big house. I know my father does well in life, but the Range Rover and the huge house is a bit of an overkill.
My room is already done the exact way it was in Savannah. My Dad wants me to feel comfortable, and had it painted the exact shade of purple. I have to admit, it’s a cool room. It’s huge, with an archway toward the back, making it look like two separate rooms. The bathroom is big enough to fit a family of five. The best part, is the small balcony that faces the front yard. Too bad it snows all winter...I'll only be able to use it in the summer months. I hate snow.
It’s the middle of the school year, January, and the ground is covered in a blanket of white fluff; at least seven inches. There is nothing worse than beginning a new school, Midyear. It was hard enough to maintain good friends in Savannah, but going in as a senior will be impossible. You learn by the fourth grade, girls are just plain evil, calculating, and rarely let anyone into their tight circles. After ten years in Savannah, I had made all the friends I needed, and even an ex-boyfriend to boot.
I hate waking when the alarm goes off, the snooze button keeps my eyes closed until I have to force them open.
After a much needed shower, I put on my jeans and T-shirt, and carefully apply my make-up. I run down the stairs to find my Dad, before heading off to a day that I am not looking forward to. He isn’t anywhere to be found, just a note fastened on the fridge with a magnet that reads Sullivan’s on the front. He’s already left for work. Figures.
My Dad throws himself into work, barely making appearances. The only time that I do see him is after nine in the evening, and on Sundays. He explained to me once, right after she left, that it helped him stay focused, to not think of her. I miss him. After a quick bagel, I throw the boots on that I bought online, slip into the Northface parka and head to my new high school. The walk to school is as horrific as I expect. As I trudge through sidewalks not yet shoveled from the snowfall the night before, I’m mad at myself for not tucking in my jeans. The bottoms are soaked, and now I’m cold. God, how I miss flip flops.
As I approach The Naperville North High School, my new home away from home, I can’t help but be completely put off by the cars in the parking lot. I must have counted at least ten BMW’s, two Audi’s, and a ridiculous amount of Volvo’s. Who the hell are these kids? The rich and famous apparently. My dad promised to buy me a car for college, but I never would expect a car like any of those. Besides I’d rather walk.
I made it through the first few periods happily unnoticed. The only person that spoke to me was the heart throb that sat behind me in World History, named Cameron. He seems sincere, but I didn’t plan to make any friends here. I just want to put all of this behind me and head off to college.
Great! Crowded cafeteria, crappy food, and preppy teenagers who think they’re God’s gift to this world. I’m a girl who likes to eat; I enjoy food, but this is gross. I have no other option, but the salad bar. I even have to admit as I look through the glass, it’s a sweet spread.
As I eat my rabbit food, I look across the cafeteria, to see that I haven’t gone completely unnoticed as I had thought. I recognize him from class, Cameron is good looking in an obvious sort of way. Hot in fact, but as soon as I see the Barbie doll falling all over him, he becomes exactly what I think he is. No good, and after the only thing that boys want. After the public display of affection, it seals the deal. I turn my attention back to my chick peas, and ignore everyone.
Thankfully I make it through the day, and am looking forward to the feel of the cold air on my face. As I rummage through my locker, grabbing the hours of homework I need for the night, I can feel the warmth of someone’s breath on the back of my neck. Whoever it is, they are a little uncomfortably close, and I was never shy.
I turn. “Can I help you with something?” I ask.
“How was your first day, Kat?” Cameron asks.
I roll my eyes. “It was good, until now,” I snap.
He frowns. “What the hell’s your problem?”
“You. I’m not interested, so keep walking...try going back to Barbie,” I say, as I slam my locker.
I can tell by the way his jaw drops, I have caught him off guard.
He shrugs. “Fine. It was nice talking to you, too.”
He whirls on his heels, and storms off. I couldn’t help but think about him, he was trying hard to be friends, too hard. When he spoke to me, his green eyes penetrated right through me. I even feel slightly bad for being so rotten to him, but I can’t worry about his feelings right now. I have my own to protect.
I stare over my shoulder as he walks away. I can’t help but notice his body. The way he walks, his knapsack slung over his shoulder, and surprisingly the music sheet hanging out from the back pocket of his Levi’s.
I always sit in the back of the classroom, it makes it much easier to watch the girls. They easily distract me through the fifty minute lectures with their hair tossing, the pencils they swish around inside their mouths. It looks like senior year is going to glide by, half the year has already past, and college is not so far in the distant future.
I am sitting in my usual spot, waiting for the handful of bombshells to waltz in with their short skirts, and tight little tanks, when she walks in. I have never seen her before, and she takes me by surprise. I sit straight up in my desk, as much as it will allow. My six foot two body isn’t designed for high school desks, my knees touch if I don’t lounge forward.
I study her briefly as she sashays her way toward the back of the room, I can tell that she is definitely different from the average Naperville girl that I have grown accustom to. I have no clue who she is, which is weird because it’s already January and no one mentioned a new girl starting. When she sits down right in front of me, I have a hard time not noticing how pretty she is. She has on jeans, and a matching black T-shirt. She wears too many silver rings, one on almost every finger. When she lifts her hair and pulls it back into a band, I can’t help but notice the tattoo on the back of her neck. It’s small, but it’s the shape of a heart with a crooked line going through it. It reminds me of the necklaces girls wore when they were little; the hearts broken in two, that read best friends forever.
I want to talk to her, I need to know this girls name.
I tap her quickly on the shoulder before I lose my nerve. There is just something so different about her.
“Hey, I’m Cameron. You’re new here, huh?”
She turns. “Um, yeah, how’d ya guess?”
Hmmmm. Not the response I was hoping for.
“I haven’t seen you around before, that’s all.”
I hear the door shut. I don’t look, but can hear Mrs. McLaughlin starting her lecture on the French Revolution. I ignore her.
I wonder still. “And your name is?”
She looks at me like I am either boring her, or bothering her. I can’t tell which, maybe both.
“It’s Kat. Anymore questions or do you think I can learn something today?” She says. She turns her back to me.
“Fine, I was trying to be nice.”
As she turns, I can’t help but notice how great she smells. A cross between cinnamon and vanilla.
Jeez, who the hell is she? She might be cute, but screw her. I’m not gonna let her get to me, there’s plenty of girls dying to get a piece of me. Girls love guys in bands, and my skateboard works with the ladies, too.
It’s a long class, even though she hides her face from me, it’s hard to resist not staring. Her jeans, and black rock T-shirt show off her body nicely. Even though she seems like she’s made of ice, she makes me want a little more. She pretty much runs out of the class as the warning bell rings, before I can even speak to her. I make my way out, still baffled by this new girl, Kat. What kind of name is that? Max, my best friend, and I head down the hallway. Max and I have been friends since the sixth grade, and since we both share the love of music, we’re almost inseparable. He’s an amazing drummer for the age of seventeen, and I add nicely with vocals and the guitar. We formed a small band in the ninth grade, and regularly rehearse in someone’s garage.
“Dude, did you see that new chick?” I ask.
“Yeah, why? Who is she?”
“Her name’s Kat, she’s kinda cute.” I say.
“I didn’t get a good look, I’ll make sure to look next time though.” Max winks and laughs.
“What?” I ask.
“Dude, you have like ten hotties chasing after you as it is, and these chicks are smoking hot, and you think she’s cute?” He emphasizes the word cute.
“Forget I mentioned her, never mind. See you in fifth, I’m starving.”
As we head into the cafeteria two periods later, there has to be at least two hundred people carrying on, but she is there alone, sitting by herself. I can’t help but think how brave that is, I have never, and can’t even imagine what it feels like. She doesn’t seem to mind. She is easy to find, the way she dresses, her black hair stands out amongst the room of fake blondes.
I find myself wanting to go over and sit with her, keep her company while she eats, but I don’t. I watch her from a distance, figuring she’d probably just tell me to leave her alone. As I focus on Kat, Stephanie, my flavor of the month is groping me. I know Stephanie notices me watching Kat, but I don’t care. Stephanie is your typical seventeen year old girl, constantly trying to defy her parents, can’t get enough of me, or a few other guys for that matter. She’s good in bed, but that’s it. There are no lights on upstairs, I was surprised she made it to senior year.
She pulls my face to meet hers. “Why are you looking at the girl?” Her eyes narrow.
“The one over there, with the black hair, that’s who?”
“Just wondering who she is, I haven’t seen her before, that’s all. She’s in World History with me.”
“Why?” She asks again.
I don’t want to answer any more of her pain in the ass questions, I reach over, grab her and kiss her to shut her up. As I pull away from Stephanie, still sitting there with her tongue practically hanging out, I notice Kat watching us. Then she makes a face, what looks like complete disgust, like I had just committed some mortal sin. She makes me more curious by the minute. I want...no, need to find out more.
All I want to do is flop on bed and tackle the two hours of homework I have sitting in my backpack. The note attached to the fridge tells me what I expect, I’m on my own for dinner.
Oh well, looks like a turkey sandwich and chips. That’s fine with me. Homework is easy as usual, every school seems to teach the same exact things. I find it so boring. An hour into biology, my phone startles me, and I am relieved to see who’s calling.
“Hey, Jess,” I say.
“Tell me everything, how is it?” She asks.
“Not yet, we’ll see,” I mumble.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be out for the Fourth of July. Did you know there is a huge rib fest that weekend? It’s supposed to be pretty awesome. I read about it on the internet.”
“How do you know more than I do?” I ask.
The half an hour conversation ends when her favorite show is about to begin.
“Talk to you later.”
“Sure. I’ll call you in a few days with an update.” I promise her.
“All right, hang in there.”
Jess has been my best friend for the last seven years in Savannah, it was hard to leave her. She is the one and only person who understands what I am going through. When my mother left, I stayed at her house for weeks. I couldn’t look at my father. I couldn’t look at the kitchen that we used to cook in together. I couldn’t look at anything that reminded me of her. Jess has been the only consistent person in my life, and no one else.
I really wasn’t looking forward to school the following morning, but I felt happy the day has ended. My homework is finished, when I realize it is already ten, and my father is still not home. He’s always worked late, even when my mom was around, but never this late. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered the lipstick stain on his collar. I figured he was probably dating someone, and not working to all hours of the night.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about that, my Dad dating someone other than my mother, but I guess I can’t blame him for moving on. She certainly did. It has only been six months since she left us, and neither one of us have a clue where she’d gone. It was odd, we lost complete contact with the little family that she has, it’s almost like she doesn’t want to be found. Both my grandparents are dead, and my Uncle Frank, her older brother lives in California. That’s why we moved here. To be close to family on my dad’s side. My Aunt Rachel lives in Naperville. My cousin Lauren, is sixteen and goes to the same school as I do, but she’s a junior, and a cheerleader. I don’t know why it matters so much to him. We haven’t seen them since we got here.
If I ever do see my Mom again, I don’t know what I will say or do. Right now, I hate her. My head and stomach ache just thinking about her. I know I have to switch gears if I don’t want to start crying, so I let my thoughts run back to Savannah and Jessica. For some reason, Cameron keeps popping into my thoughts, my brain keeps bouncing back and forth, Jessica, then Cameron, then Jessica, then Cameron.
The old me, would have jumped at the chance to be with him, the new me, not so much. It’s my fault, I’ve become completely untrusting of people since she left, and I am afraid to get close to anyone. Zach, my boyfriend in Georgia, broke it off right after my mom left, because of that very reason. If he went out with his friends, or didn’t call, I accused him of things he probably never did. I can’t blame him for giving up, I even hated being around myself. Jess was the only one, the only one I trusted with everything.
The next morning, is as cold as the day before. Ugh!!! I want so badly to be back in Georgia, to be putting on shorts and flip flops, instead I’m shoving my arms into a thick parka, and my feet into snow boots. I wish I had gotten a car, walking to school isn’t as fun as I thought, but at least I remember to tuck my jeans in this time.
When I walk into World History class, he is sitting in the back like the day before, and as tempting as that is, I grab a seat in the front. The hard part about being a new girl, other than the obvious, is that all the boys feel like they have some right to hit on you. The new meat in town.
I feel a soft tap on my shoulder. As I look next to me, I see a boy sitting to the right, staring.
“How’s it going’? I’m Matt,” he says grinning, biting on the tip of his pencil.
I had felt his stare earlier, but ignored him. As I turn slightly to answer, I can see Cameron sitting wedged tightly in his chair, glaring at us.
“Hey. I’m Kat,” I tell him.
“Well, Kat. It’s nice to meet you, I heard a few people talking about the new girl,” he whispers. “Who do you have next?”
I bite down on my lip, pulling out my schedule. “Calc, ummm I have Pulver.”
Just as he is about to answer, the teacher is pointing in our direction, telling us to be quiet. I turn back before he speaks again.
It isn’t long before I hear a new voice speaking to me, coming from behind me. “Hi, so you’re Kat right? I’m Gabby,” she whispers.
I lean back and look over my shoulder. She seems nice enough, maybe one friend won’t hurt.
“Yeah, hi. Gabby is it?” I ask making sure to get her name right.
“Yeah, if you have any questions, or anything feel free, okay? I’ve lived here forever so I know everything.”
“Thanks,” I mumble, turning back around.
That comment throws me off for a second. Most girls like Gabby, the ones who have lived in the same town their whole lives would never open up their circle of friends to an outsider.
I’m surprised when class is over, Gabby grabs my arm, and walks me out of class. “What are you doing after school?” She asks.
I must have frowned or made a weird face before she spoke again.
“What?” Gabby asks.
“Oh, nothing. Why?”
“Thought maybe you’d want to hang out,” she says, as she pulls her lipgloss out of her bag and touches up her lips.
I shrug. “Maybe, I’ll let you know.”
She smiles. “Okay, meet me out in the parking lot. I gotta run, see ya later.”
As she walks off, I’m hopeful that maybe I was wrong about girls like her, she seems cool enough.
I don’t want to look up. I see her walk in the room, and quickly look back down. I am a little surprised when she doesn’t sit next to me. Instead she takes a seat in the front row, next to Matt of all people. The one guy she has to sit next to, is now staring at her. He has that expression, like he’s thinking of something to say. This is the one time I wish I had moved up, I can’t hear a thing. I can only see her smiling back at him.
Now, I am getting pissed. Why in the world is she talking to him of all people? If she hates someone like me, Matt is much worse. For some reason, I find myself hoping she won’t fall for his trap: hook, line, and sinker. That’s his specialty, lure them in, get them into bed, then dump them and let everyone know what they did. He’s such an asshole about it. I like to have fun with the girls as well, but I was never the kiss and tell type.
I am going crazy the entire time, I can’t focus on Mrs. McLaughlin, I can’t focus on Stephanie waving me down from the hallway as she passes. I keep my attention on her and Matt the whole class. Once in a while, I think she may have noticed me watching, if she did, she doesn’t let on. I don’t even know why I am staring, she acts like I don’t even exist. She isn’t interested, why am I acting like she is something? I need to get this chick out of my head.
As soon as the bell rings, she’s off with Gabby. I know I’ll see her in the cafeteria later, and seriously think of what will happen if I approach her. I decide it’s a bad idea.
She sits alone, nibbling on her salad again, not paying attention to anyone. She doesn’t seem as serious today, very little black on, even her nails are colorless today.
Stephanie is a little aggressive, obviously grasping the fact that the “new girl” is interesting to me. Normally I wouldn’t mind a grab here or there, but I wasn’t interested today.
I push her off. “Christ, Steph. Enough,” I yell louder than I probably should’ve.
“Excuse me?” She mutters.
“I’m trying to eat, leave me alone. Go sit with your girlfriends,” I tell her, pointing my finger in the direction of the cheerleaders.
She storms over to the next table, giving me the finger.
I don’t care. I can’t risk Kat seeing the two of us together. I want to approach her, ask her anything, but find myself feeling like I am ten years old again. I am nervous as hell. I usually don’t go for her type, but for some reason she draws me in. I always date blondes, I never even dated a brunette, let alone a chick with jet black hair. I decide it has to be her huge chocolate colored eyes, with eyelashes that take up her entire face. They are simply beautiful.
“Cam, where the hell are you?” Max asks, waving his hand in front of my face.
“What are you talking about?” I ask.
He glances over at Kat, rolling his eyes. “Dude, are you serious?”
“What? She’s hot,” I admit, keeping my head down.
“Whatever, man,” he laughs.
I hate the fact that we only have History and lunch together. I have no idea where she is the rest of the day, and I don’t have many options. I can either leave her alone, or follow her home. I know it’s immature, but I can’t resist. I know she’ll be at her locker, and I follow her out to the parking lot, when I spot her with Gabby. I am pumped she doesn’t get in the car, she walks off toward the town center.
I keep my distance. I am surprised when she grabs a coffee at Starbucks, then turns toward the Riverwalk. I mean shit, it’s cold out. Not to mention I don’t know many kids who drink coffee. She has no idea that I am following her, she always acts tough, and today I can’t help but wonder what is making her cry. It feels wrong to be here, watching her now, like I am invading her privacy, but my feet feel like they are cemented to the ground. I can’t walk away. She startles me, forcing me to move, when she jumps up, brushes off her tears, and heads back down Jefferson.
What surprises me more, is watching her walk into the house, the house I know all too well. My friend, Ben, just moved away, leaving the same home that she just walked into. I know it like the back of my hand, I hung out there for the last ten years of my life.
I know the entire layout of the house, exactly where the bedrooms are located, not sure which would be hers. It’s getting dark outside and I can see the light go on in the front bedroom. I am oblivious to everything around me, just focusing on the passing silhouette in the window.
“Can I help you son?” He asks.
I looked over to the man, driving the black Range Rover.
“No, just thought I saw something, it’s nothing.”
There is a moment of silence.
“So you’re new here right?” I shove my fists into my pockets. “I mean my friend used to live here.”
“Yes, the name’s Harper, Bill Harper.” He holds out his hand for me to shake.
I take it. “Nice to meet you Mr. Harper. My name’s Cameron.”
“Nice to meet you too, son. You should get moving, it’s getting dark.” He says.
I shrug, “Yeah, no problem.”
God, I hope he didn’t see me staring up to Kat’s room. I can’t be positive, but I think he might’ve. I watch him pull into the driveway and enter the garage. I can’t get this girl out of my head, and I don’t know why. At least I know how to find her. There is no question in my mind, I like this girl. I have no clue why, but she peeks an interest in me that no other girl has ever come close to.
School sucks! Chicagoland sucks! I didn’t plan to make any friends, but I figured one was okay. Gabby was quickly becoming a breath of fresh air in my new life. Although it is a life that I can’t wait to change in less than half a year. College is so close I can almost taste it, feel it, and see it. Arizona State is only a few short months away, and the best part, Jess is joining me there.
Arizona is also far enough away from everything. The bonus, I can wear flip flops every day. That thought always put a smile on my face. I have no idea why I’m even going there other than Jess. I need to be with her. I haven’t thought about what I would want to study, or even do for the rest of my life. I’m only seventeen. How can they expect you to know all this crap already?
The upside of History is that it is one of my favorite classes. The downside is Cameron constantly watching me. I admit he stopped speaking to me, like I asked, but he never seems to stop gawking. I usually take my place in front with Gabby and Matt, who is definitely interested, but today I’m choosing the back. I don’t even know why my feet are moving me in his direction, I just keep walking. As I make my way toward the back row of seats, I notice Cameron doodling in his notebook, not looking up at me like usual. I have to admit, he looks good today. The red shirt, played nicely against his olive skin. He doesn’t seem to notice me, and I don’t know why I drop my pencil, but I do. As the pencil hits the floor, I bend over to pick it up, peeking at his face. Of course, dead straight eyes on my ass. What am I doing? I know exactly what I’m doing. I want him to notice me, but why?
“What are you looking at?” I bark.
He chuckles, shaking his head, “Nothing.”
“You just looked at my ass. I saw you,” I snap back.
“You shoved it in my face.” He says, grinning. “It was unavoidable,”
My eyes narrow. “Fine.”
“Fine,” he says smirking.
Ugh! I had asked Gabby about him, and she knew he dated a ton of girls, played the guitar in a band, and skateboards for fun. She’s known him for a long time, but he seems to only date blonde bimbos. He also has a little reputation from being in this so called band of his. She isn’t sure if the rumors are true, but she tells me that they like to party, a lot.
I make it halfway through class, feeling his eyes on me the entire time, which is causing my stomach to do flip flops the entire class. I don’t want to look back in his direction. I give in, the temptation is too great. His face too perfect not to. As I glance over my shoulder, he is smiling that gorgeous smile, like he’s waiting for me to respond. Like he’s waiting for me to make the first move, obviously.
“Why do you keep staring?” I finally ask.
“Sorry, just trying to figure you out,” he tells me.
“You’ll be disappointed, trust me,” I say.
“Why don’t you let me be the judge of that?” He smirks.
“You think you’re so cute, don’t you?”
“I think you’re cute!” he whispers, leaning over his chair into my ear.
I don’t know how to answer that one, so I turn my attention back to the lecture and gnaw away at the tip of my pencil. I can’t stop thinking about his comment the entire class. Talk about bold, he thinks I’m cute. Now what? I can’t get involved, I keep telling myself. College is around the corner, and I just want out of this fucking town.
The cafeteria is a constant bore to me. The upside of lunch is that my one and only friend eats at the same time, fifth period. The only other positive is that Cameron is still keeping his eyes on me, and less on Barbie. I know I’m not supposed to want him, but something inside of me kind of does. I constantly catch him staring in my direction, smiling, yet he hasn’t spoken to me since my first week here. Well, until today. It’s probably better. I’m sure I’d just chase him away. He’s really cute, like Abercrombie model cute and he makes it especially hard not to smile back.
The one other bonus to Gabby, is the fact that she doesn’t run to the bathroom throughout the day and puke up whatever she’s eaten earlier. It seems like every time that I walk into the girls room, the Barbie’s are always in there, throwing up. I don’t know if I should report them to the counselors or hold their hair back for them. What kills me is how they can care less about who knows what they’re doing. I can only picture their day; eat breakfast-puke, eat lunch-puke, grope a guy-puke.
I miss home. I’m not saying there wasn’t the occasional bulimic in Savannah, but I swear all the girls here look at it like it’s just another subject in school.
“Gabby, did you want to come over this weekend, do something?” I ask.
We can hear at least three stalls being used, how wonderful? Simultaneous puking. Fabulous! We fix our hair, throw some lip gloss on and run to Spanish.
My locker isn’t behaving at the end of the day. I am so not in the mood for a broken locker. I am fussing with the combination when a hand slams down on the top of my locker, popping it open. I turn quickly, his arm is still leaning up on to the top of it. Cameron is standing in front of me, his hand resting over my shoulder pressed onto the locker.
“Umm, thanks,” I mumble.
“Oh, so you do have manners?” He jokes, while he stares into my eyes.
“Sometimes,” I sass back.
I realize I’m staring, not able to look away. God, he looks good. I turn my back just in time. Stephanie, (aka Barbie) comes flying around the corner, smacking Cameron’s backside. A gesture clearly meant for my eyes.
She tosses her hair, “Hey, Cam. My parents are gone for the night. How about coming over...keeping me company?” She asks.
I can’t watch, I don’t want to watch, but I do.
“Can’t, heading to Max’s for practice.”
I slam my locker shut and walk out the steel doors toward my usual.
Grabbing my cinnamon latte at Starbucks, I head toward home. As I make my way closer to my house, I see a white BMW sitting in my driveway, and am shocked to see who’s getting out of it. Cameron steps out quickly, as I approach.
I am stunned, frozen in time. I feel like I can’t move. How the hell does he know where I live?
“What are you doing here?” I ask.
“I wanted to ask you something earlier, but you took off.” He says, as he walks closer to me.
I snicker under my breath, waiting for his question. I think I know what’s coming, and I have no idea how I’ll answer. I’m having a hard time breathing as he steps even closer.
Only it’s not a question, his fingers run down my arm to find my hand, I shiver feeling it. It’s not what I expect, I expect a cold rebuff on my part, but instead, I let him wrap his fingers in mine. When he pulls me in, and our stomachs are pressing up against one another, I gasp, looking down.
“What are you doing?”
“The unexpected,” he says, as he lifts my chin.
His lips press against mine, they move in perfect sync with one another, my heart races the entire moment the kiss lasts. I can’t believe I’m doing this. It’s only been three weeks and I’m breaking my own rule. I pull away, while raising my right hand and am surprised that I actually slap him across his face. That was the rebuff that crosses my mind, but I never thought I’d do it.
“What the hell’s wrong with you? Why would you do that?” I ask frantically, as my hand connects with his face.
“I’m sorry. I don’t know what that was. I guess...I don’t know what I guessed,” he says, tilting his head slightly to one side. Obviously trying to get a read on me.
His face and stance both relax, his smile still smugly sitting on his face. “Kat, you really need to loosen up,” He says, as he tucks the loose strands of my hair behind my ear.
“No, I don’t,” I mumble.
He laughs. “You liked it, I can tell.” He says, as he leans in closer.
I shove my fist into his chest, to stop him. “Did my hand hitting you tell you something that I don’t know?”
“You’re not like any other girl here. I just want to get to know you better.”
“And that’s your way of getting to know somebody? Besides, you don’t want to get to know me, trust me.” I tell him as I’m secretly reliving the feel of his lips on mine.
“Let me be the judge of that.”
He pulls me in closer as his finger tugs at my jeans, his arms wrap around my waist. “Now, where were we?”
“Cameron, I can’t do this and I don’t want to do this. You need to leave...NOW.”
He doesn’t move an inch, he just stands in front of me, grinning from ear to ear. He leaves me no choice. I turn, leaving him speechless on the sidewalk. That was not what I expected or even imagined. I run into my house and right up into my room. I look out my window, he is sitting in his car, not leaving, just sitting. He is right about one thing, I do need to loosen up, I can’t let my mother ruin everything.
I liked the kiss, almost too much, and was afraid of what Gabby had told me. He had plenty of girlfriends in the past, a real lady killer, all the girls want him. She also warned me about Barbie, and that her and her cheerleading friends can make the next few months a living hell for me. My cousin, who is on the cheerleading team, can’t even help me if she wanted to, or her life would be hell too. She is only a junior, she has a full year left, and we have nothing in common.
I am definitely looking forward to History class today. I’ve somehow managed to watch Kat from a distance without her knowing, but in History there is no avoiding it. I am surprised when she hesitates in the front of the classroom. I can tell she is contemplating where to sit. I keep my focus off of her as much as I can and try to focus on my notebook.
I can sense that she wants to sit by me today just as much as I want her to walk to the back and join me. I manage to pretend not to notice or care about that very fact, but when she bends over to pick up her pencil, I can’t help but look. I don’t care. I swear no one ever looked better in a pair of jeans than her. It’s hard to concentrate on anything else, but her. I wasn’t sure if she deliberately dropped her pencil, or if it was by pure luck on my part. Either way, I made out on the deal, the view was brief, but amazing. I didn’t even care about her noticing that I was looking.
Even though I did my best to avoid her for most of January, I can’t resist her anymore. I know I have to make a move, any move, and soon. Guys are starting to notice her, and I mean really notice her. I know that if I don’t act now, I’ll have to get in line, and I’m not sure if I will win.
Her locker is in a completely different wing than mine, so I have to high tail it over after class if I want to catch her. I stop when I see her fumbling to get into it. She looks so small, so helpless for a complete second. I fly over, opening it for her, and in that brief moment when she smiles back. I know I have a chance.
Then it happens, just as I am about to make my move, Stephanie comes up from behind. I can only assume this is merely her way to grab Kat’s attention. I am pissed. Kat walks away, and Stephanie isn’t getting the picture. I’ve avoided her like the plague for the last few weeks, can’t she take a hint? I’m getting tired of coming up with excuses, I need to end it, and end it today.
For now, I can only think of Kat, and what she is thinking, to let her know that Stephanie and I are through, she holds no interest to me anymore, not that she ever really did. I don’t really think about how or what, I just do. I jump in my car and head for Jefferson Avenue. I have Kat’s routine down; Starbucks, sometimes she’ll walk on the Riverwalk, but usually she just heads home. I’d meet her there, catch her of guard. I wait for half-an-hour, before I finally catch a glimpse of her. I would have waited all night if necessary. I can tell by her apprehension to keep moving, I startled her. The need to reach her, to look into her big brown eyes, makes me move at lightning speed. I jump out of my car, meeting her steps. I have every intention of asking her to hang out with me this weekend, but her pouty red lips take me by surprise.
Was it a ballsy move...hell yeah!
I don’t even know why I do it, I lean over and kiss her, tasting the cinnamon that still lingers on her lips from her coffee. I wanted to see how they felt, how she tasted, and even though it was brief, it was the best kiss I have ever had. I’ve kissed plenty of girls in the last few years, but I feel something different the moment I feel them, my head is in a daze, and I just want more of her.
I’m a little surprised when she slaps me across the face, but it was so worth it. The only thing that wasn’t worth it, was her running inside and leaving me alone. She always plays the tough chick role, but somewhere inside of her I know it’s just a front. Anything would have been better than her turning away, and slamming the door. Anything!
The only thing I had hope for now, is that she enjoyed me kissing her, as much as I enjoyed doing it. I guess I’d find out soon enough.
I sit in my car, not sure if I should go ring the doorbell and pull her back outside, or to leave and head to practice. Shit, practice! I had almost forgotten Max was coming over to practice a new song, I know he’ll be there waiting to pounce. I hate leaving, pulling out of her driveway, but I know I have tomorrow, and I plan to make the most of it.
I’m right, Max is already rocking it out in my garage, looking pissed off as I approach.
“Hey, man,” I say.
“Dude, where’ve ya been?” he asks.
I shrug. “I just had something to take care of.” I hesitate trying to change the subject. “What do you got for me?”
He looks me up and down, trying to figure out whatever or wherever I have been. Max knows me very well, and insists I wear my feelings on my shirt sleeve. The downfall of a singer and sometimes half decent song writer. Not that we play any of those songs. We only play other groups music.
“You were with that chick, weren’t you?” he asks.
I sigh, rubbing my hair through my fingers.
“You really don’t think she’s got something?” I ask, hopeful.
“No. I don’t,” he barks.
He turns his attention back to the drums, so I pick up my guitar trying to avoid further bashing of my feelings for Kat.
Max’s opinion has always meant a lot to me, but for some reason he doesn’t like Kat, which surprises me. Max likes almost any good looking girl, and there is no question, Kat is good looking. I know from all the chatter at school, I’m not the only one who thinks so.
The two hours fly by, without another word of Kat, and I am relieved, I don’t like discussing her with him. I can’t get her or the feel of those red lips out of my head, and I can’t wait for History class tomorrow.
I FEEL LOST!
My mother’s sudden departure is eating me up inside. Sometimes I don’t even feel like a teenager anymore. I feel like the weight of the world is sitting uncomfortably on my shoulders weighing me down, a little more as each day passes.
I can’t help but think of Cameron and his kiss, I liked it and was definitely interested in more, but what did I do? I hit him and then ran away like a coward. I can’t even imagine him wanting to look at me anymore. I blame my mother for that one too. I feel like there is a huge hole in my heart, that is only going to be filled again by her. The only problem is, she doesn’t care about my heart anymore, she only cares about her own.
I have at least fifty letters that I have written to her, neatly bundled in a rubber band, hiding in a box that I placed high up in my closet. They were all written to her, with no address placed on the front, envelopes filled with hate. It is the only way I can tell her how I feel, yell it out on paper. Paper I may never have a forwarding address for. I keep them hidden, my dad has no idea. He assumes I’m fine, and over it, but I’m not. He thinks two months of counseling was all it would take to make me forget. I really don’t know how he could judge me and my emotions, he’s never home to see them. I feel like an adult half the time, running a million dollar home. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc...I might as well be.
My stomach’s loud grumbling pulls me from my thoughts, and as I look down at the clock, I know I’m on my own again. We have been here almost a month, and I could count on one hand, the amount of times we ate together. I started keeping track so I had some ammunition to use for a later date, if necessary.
I am getting tired of Ramen noodles and sandwiches, and since the weather isn’t too bad for once, I head down toward the center of town.
I don’t know why everyone boasts about the pizza here. I don’t get it, stuffed pizza isn’t for me. Although I can’t complain, I’m the one who picked Lou Malnati’s to eat in. It was surprisingly busy for a Thursday night.
I recognize a few kids from school, although none were friends. I don’t really want to get too attached to anyone, I was leaving in under six months, and hopeful never to return.
After a short time, I see Barbie and her friends come bouncing in like they own the place. She is the one girl I completely avoid, I hate everything about her. Her fake blond hair, the clothes she wears, the make-up plastered on so thick I could scrape it off with a knife. I know I’m not going to go unnoticed since I am sitting up front, and dining alone. Thanks again, Dad. I can almost hear the comments as they come into her bleached blond head. They walk toward me, smirking, with pure evil in their eyes.
She places her hands on her hips.
“What no friends? You’re so lame,” Stephanie mutters.
“Leave me alone, Barbie,” I growl taking the last bite of my pizza.
“What did you just call me?” she snorts.
I stand up, wanting to get far away as possible. She doesn’t scare me, but I don’t want any trouble from her, not tonight. As I turn to walk away, she picks up my soda and throws it in my face. I can kill her in that moment, I want to.
“Leave Cameron alone. Got it!” she yells.
I don’t really know what comes over me, I don’t think, I react. I ball my hand into a fist, and hit her as hard as I can in her face. As she drops to the ground I turn on my heels, toss the ten dollar bill from my pocket on the table and storm off. The last thing I see is her lying on the ground, clutching her cheek with absolute hatred in her eyes. I think of running home, but I don’t want to give her the satisfaction. I slow my pace and walk.
Great, Chicago is getting better and better by the day. The worst part is the comment about Cameron. I wasn’t after him, not really. She could have him. I don’t need a relationship or anything else for that matter. I was a little nervous thinking about school, I didn’t want any trouble, and that girl is trouble with a capital T.
Okay, I probably shouldn’t have punched her like that, and part of me feels bad, but the other part of me can’t believe how good it felt to punch something...anything. And who the hell does she think she is throwing my soda at me? Screw her.
I was absorbed thinking about Stephanie, and thinking about Cameron’s kiss. He is obviously interested in me, and she is clearly jealous. It feels good to have the upper hand on that one. A girl can understand, he is beyond handsome for a seventeen year old senior in high school. Who wouldn’t want him all for themselves?
I lay in my bed imagining his arms, his lips, how they felt when they touched me, and for a brief second, I want him to be mine and no one else’s. The sound of the garage opening yanks me away from my thoughts and pulls me back to reality. I pull myself together and start making my way downstairs. It’s already nine o’clock and this is the first time I am seeing my father today.
My body freezes as my feet hit the last step. I become a statue quickly when I realize he isn’t alone.
“Hey, Kitty Kat. Come down here, there’s someone I want you to meet,” He says coolly.
Ugh! I hate when he calls me that.
I somehow manage to peel my feet away from the bottom stair and walk forward. My father’s arm is tightly wrapped around a woman, that not only had I never seen before, but looks no more than thirty years old.
She smiles at me, looking nervous.
My dad speaks first. “Kat, this is Rebecca. Rebecca this is my Kat,” he says, still holding onto her.
What the hell is this?
Is he serious?
I reach my hand out to be polite, then pull it back as she takes it.
“Hi,” I say.
My eyes are frozen on my dad’s hands as they graze her backside, his eyes glaze over as he stares at her. I’m sure he doesn’t think I notice, but I do.
“I have homework. I gotta go. It was nice to meet you.” I bolt. As I reach the second step I hear her yell out. “You too, Kat.”
How could he do that to me? Just bring her home, and expect me to welcome her with open arms. I knew eventually he most likely would, but seven months later. Well, shit it had me thinking, and I don’t like what I thought. I lock my door, turn off the lights and cry myself to sleep, as I wonder how all this happened.
I can’t bring myself to go to school today. I’m not one for ditching, but my father’s sudden new girlfriend threw me for a loop. I wasn’t really expecting that so soon, although I should have. I now know what he’s doing every night after work, leaving me to frozen dinners and punching girls in local pizza joints. What an asshole!
Having less than a good night sleep, it makes my decision to ditch even easier. I can’t find the energy to get out of bed. I’m sure the news of my punching the plastic Barbie will be all over the school this morning, but I don’t care. I don’t care what anyone thinks of me or my absence. Maybe they’ll think that I’m afraid to show up and finish what she started, like I said...I just didn’t give a shit.
I have bigger problems, and her name is Rebecca. On one hand I completely understood my Dad moving on. On the other, how could he do this to me? I wasn’t ready for this. The bigger question is, will I ever be?
After several hours of contemplating what would happen if my mother made a surprise reentrance into our lives. I wondered what he would do? Would he take her back? Would I? I want her to come back, I’m tired of fending for myself. I am tired of being responsible for the laundry, the dishes, preparing my own meals. I have my grown up years to do all that crap, it’s not fair that I have to take care of myself this early in life. I know eighteen is right around the corner, but really how many of these snotty Naperville kids have to fend for themselves? I should have at least four years of college to think about this, being officially on my own. Right?
As I push back the curtains, I can’t help but close my eyes and let the sun hit my face. Wow, look at that...sun and no snow on the ground. Maybe today won’t be so bad after all. This calls for a latte, a good book and my tree in the park.
When I look up, I can’t believe he is standing there, looking down at me. Cameron of all people is here with me, in my secret getaway place from life and everything else. I quickly check my watch to see the time, school is still going, why the hell is he here? And, how did he find me?
Oh, great now he’s here defending innocent barbie and all the bullshit that goes with her. As I sit up, I’m not expecting the words that come out of his mouth, is he that stupid?
I mean, I know he doesn’t know me from a hole in the wall, but really. After I tell him my version, he surprises me, something he’s done before. He leans in and kisses me. Oh. My. God. Not again.
His lips, his face, the kiss it is overwhelming, and I can’t think of what to say. Before I know it, we’re agreeing to be friends, more than friends I think. Friends no one will find out about, least of all Stephanie.
What was I thinking? This is not my plan, I wasn’t supposed to make friends, let alone get attached to a guy, I’m leaving in a less than six months. First, Gabby, now Cameron, my master plan is not working the way it’s meant to.
I can’t help myself, something about him makes me feel all gooey inside when he looks at me, it’s something I never felt before. Butterflies were bouncing in my stomach the entire drive back to my house, and I never really experienced my stomach flip flopping like that over a boy before. Zach never made me feel like this, ever. Thank God I never slept with him.
I hate seeing him drive off, I wanted more time with him. Shit, what was I thinking? More time. No Kat, let this one go I keep telling myself, I’ll only get hurt come August. He’s gonna dump me when he goes off to college, or maybe even before, when he realizes what a train wreck I am over my mother.
When I get back inside I can only think of one person to call and tell, I quickly grab my cell and dial.
“I’ve got an update, Jess.” I say.
“Tell me everything, and I mean everything.” She says.
I tell her everything about Cameron, and what a fool I am, thinking of letting this go any further. She tells me to go for it, but I don’t really want that advice, I want her to tell me to run, run fast away and wait until Arizona. But, she doesn’t.
I drum my fingers impatiently on my desk, staring at the door. I have looked for her all morning with no success. I know her schedule now, and hoped to grab her before first period, but she wasn’t where she was supposed to be. I had a plan, and if I can’t find her, well, it won’t work.
Mrs. McLaughlin already starts her lecture, and still no sign of Kat. My stomach turns, and not in a good way. I start feeling nauseous from the rumors swirling around the hallways. I don’t get the story first hand from Stephanie, because I already told her to leave me alone, and I really don’t care what happens to her.
Rumor has it, Kat punched Stephanie in the face for no apparent reason, just attacked her last night. I don’t know Kat real well, but I know Steph and suspect the rumor might not be completely true. There has to be more to the story than that.
The only thing that makes me believe that something did go down, was Stephanie’s swollen cheek, and Kat’s absence. Kat not showing up for school surprises me. I didn’t take her for a coward, and am a little shocked when she doesn’t show.
I spot Stephanie earlier in the morning, covering her face as much as she can, never once looking in my direction. I want desperately to ask her what happened? Is the story true? I don’t. I have Max find everything out he that he possibly can.
“Dude, just stay away from her, she slugged Steph for no reason. The girl’s got issues,” he adds.
I just stare, not fully understanding why he hated Kat so much.
“Says who....Stephanie and her cronies?” I challenge.
“Why do you like her so much?” he asks.
“Why don’t you?” I retort through clenched teeth.
He doesn’t answer, he just shakes his head, tsking me.
After my conversation with Max and my stomach now full, I feel the need, no a pull, to go find her. I only have three classes left, so the decision to ditch the rest of the day is easy. The school is huge and it’s always easy to escape out the gymnasium doors. Coach McGee never pays any attention, so when he walks away from his desk; I bolt.
When I get to my car, I tightly wrap my hands around the steering wheel, not sure that what I am about to do is the right thing. I hesitate before I place my keys into the ignition, but feel a jolt in my hand as I twist the key and fire it up. I am actually sweating, as I pull onto Jefferson, the beads of sweat are falling into my eyes, my hands are slippery on the wheel. I can’t believe how I am feeling over her, I barely know this girl. Here I am hunting her down like some lunatic.
I have no way of knowing if she’s home unless I get the courage to go up to the door, and my ass feels like it’s cemented to the seat. I rest my head on the back of the seat breathing in, not understanding why I am feeling so scared to approach her. Maybe it was the fact that she’ll reject me again, I mean how many times can I take it? I wasn’t sure if I even had a limit when it came to her, she excited me, and I think I would probably try till I succeed.
I ring the doorbell four times, each time I press the gold button, I pray she will suddenly appear. She doesn’t. I sit back in my car, contemplating the different possibilities of where she could be. I park my car downtown, never once thinking about the time of day. I just have one thing on my mind, and I want to hear it from Kat.
My first stop is Starbucks, I know she hangs out there, but she is nowhere to be found. It’s small, I don’t see her. As I stand back outside, I head west toward the Riverwalk, hopeful she’ll be under the tree she frequents.
She is. I stop as I approach seeing her lying on the blanket, all bundled up, reading. She looks perfect. Cold, but perfect. I feel like I am watching a movie.
I can’t even get it together to figure out what to say to her, my tongue feels like it has been tied in a knot. I know that if I go over to her, she’ll know that I am looking for her, and part of me is afraid she will get up and run away again. I say a quick prayer in my head, to a God I’m not sure I even believe in, and push myself forward.
I stand over her for thirty-seconds before she looks up from her book. She sits up, eyes me for a second, and glances down at her watch before she speaks.
“Cameron, what are you doing here?” She asks completely surprised, her brown eyes appear bigger than before.
I kneel down beside her, looking into her eyes. I realize that they look tired and puffy. I focus on her mouth, her lips.
“Cameron, I’m waiting.” she says again.
“I was looking for you, actually. It’s freezing out here, what are you doing?”
Her mouth turns up slightly to what looks like a small grin.
“Why aren’t you at school?” She asks.
“I could ask you the same question, y’know,” I remind her.
She laughs, tossing her hair. “Didn’t feel like going today is all, and you?”
“I did go, but I left early to find you. Y’know there’s a rumor going around school,” I pause as her face drops. “What happened between you and Stephanie?” I decide it’s better to ask, rather than accuse.
She looks almost sad when she looks back at me, but then her expression changes to disgust. She still looks cute as hell, with her face practically covered with the hat on her head.
“It wasn’t my fault, Barbie threw a soda in my face for no reason, and then, well, I guess I just lost it,” she shrugs.
“What? Why in the hell would she do that?” I yell louder than I probably should have.
“You haven’t figured that one out yet, Cameron?”
I shake my head, trying to decode what she’s implying. Apparently I needed a little help.
“Let’s just say it was a warning,” she adds.
“A warning?” I ask.
She rolls her eyes.“Yeah, to stay away from you.”
When she says it, it all makes sense. God, I could literally kill Stephanie for this one. Here she is spreading rumors about Kat, and it had been her the whole time. I was so glad to see that brief relationship over, if she ever had a chance, she doesn’t now.
“I’m sorry. I don’t know what to say,” I frown.
“Well, you could make my life easier by staying away y’know,” she reminds me. “I mean I know you guys are a couple. I get it,” she adds, fumbling with her book.
I laugh, shaking my head. “Umm, no Kat. We are far from a couple, we never really were.”
“You might want to tell her that,” she mumbles under her breath.
“I did. That’s the problem.”
“Oh, great! Something else to look forward to,” she says.
“Can I ask you something Kat?”
“Sure, why not.”
“Why are you so cold to me? Well, to everyone, except Gabby?” She shrugs, again. “What’s the point in making friends? I’m out of here after the summer. It’s just easier this way.”
“Is that the only reason?” I wonder.
I can see her thinking, not sure how to answer.
“Cameron, what do you want from me exactly?” She asks, cautious.
“I’d love to kiss you again, that’s if you’ll let me. I did hear that you have a mean right hook, though,” I joke.
She giggles softly, and then she pushes me on my chest, playfully shoving me away. I have no other option, but to pull her down with me. Two can play the teasing game.
Half of her body is pressing against mine, and I’m glad I ditched school. I don’t even feel the cold air anymore. I pull my head up to kiss her, but she pulls back, pushing herself off of me and back onto the blanket.
“Cameron, I really don’t think this is a good idea. Barbie already has it in for me.”
“You let me handle Steph, besides no one has to know.”
“Secret friends?” She asks.
“If that makes it easier for you, sure,” I tell her.
Secret friends? What the hell does that mean?
She looks down at her latte, takes a sip from it, then looks back at me, and smiles.