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Because Of Him
I, Rikki Barret, am like no other girl. I am five foot seven, with shoulder-length, curly, dirty blond, hair, and, according to my boyfriend, Sean Harrison, and many other guys, I have a killer body. I have everything (the guy, the friends, the beauty, the home, the brain, etc.), and nothing all at the same time. And you know why? Because I am totally bored with my perfect life. I want less perfection and more… well, more. Is that so much to ask for? No, not really. I mean, it’s not like I’m this totally superficial b**ch who doesn’t know how good she has it. I am totally grateful for my “perfect” life, but it’s not the type of life that I’m meant to live.
Helly Richards (Her deranged mother had named her Henrietta Nelly Richards after her two grandmothers, and good old helly had downright refused to be called either one of those names), my best friend for god knows how long, sat on the lounge chair by her pool as I flipped through one of her teen magazines. “Hel, how can you read this junk? It’s just a bunch of anorexic models putting on stupid little fake smiles between rehab sessions,” I sneered in my totally-inapropriate-for-sneering-but-still-totally-drop-dead-gorgeous voice (or so Helly called it.). “Rik, you know full well I only get those magazines for the articles, so why do you keep bringing up those lame models?” She counters. “Because Helly, they are the reason that millions of girls across the country are starving themselves, just to look like this!”
“Man Rikki, you are such a god awful, politically outspoken saint.”
“Henrietta Nelly Richards, you know what?”
“You know me too well. That was me in a nut-shell.” After that, Hel and I burst out laughing, not stopping until there were tears rolling down our cheeks. “Hell?” I said, taking on a more serious tone. “Yeah?” She says, knowing I’m about to say something important. “You’re the best friend a girl could wish for”
The moment I stepped out of the car, I saw it. A moving van parked in front of the
Ex-Newman house ( called thus after its previous owner Mr. Newman, whose ex-girlfriends showed up at his house so often, people figured the house itself would get up and nock on the door of Mr. Newman’s new house.). As far as I can remember, no one had ever come to have a look at the house, let alone bought it. But there it was, plain and clear. I went inside my house, the gorgeous Southern California Mansion that stood in the middle of an otherwise middle-class suburb. This house is the perfect example of a diamond in the semi-rough. The only other house that was even close to as big as mine was, was the Ex-Newman house. I figured I’d get changed and go pay my new neighbors a little visit. I took a quick shower and put on a modest-but-cute ensemble that was sure to sit well with any type of person. I walked over to the house, and rang the doorbell. Whatever I had been expecting the person who answered the door to be like, could not have been more wrong. There he stood. At about six feet tall, he stood just over my own height. His shaggy brown hair fell into his deep blue eyes in an amazingly hot way. Those eyes had secrets, secrets that found myself wanting to find out. “Hi,” he said in a deep, calm, irresistible voice. “Hey,” I say, trying not to sound as blown away as I was. “I’m Rikki, Rikki Barret, I live across the street.”
“Rikki,” he repeats, sounding intrigued. “I’m Nick Ganberg. My dad, my sister lori, and I just moved here from Hawaii.”
“Hawaii! Wow, I can’t imagine why you’d want to move here!”
“Well, we liked it there a lot, but, after what happened…” He trailed off.
“So, where are you going to go to school?” I change the subject, not wanting to pry.
“You don’t want to know what this mysterious happening was?” He asked quizzically.
“Well, kind of, but it’s your business really.”
“You, Rikki, have just proved yourself a one of a kind girl. I’m going to River’s Bend ,”
“Cool, me too. Have you gotten your schedule yet?”
“Yup, just got it.”
“Cool,” I say as he hands me his class list. “Hey, we have every class together! How cool is that?”
“So you’re in 12th grade already?”
“Yeah, me and my friend Helly skipped a grade.”
“Her name is really Henrietta Nelly, but she hates both those names with a passion. Thus, Helly was born. She’s in our classes too. I guess we’ll be seeing a lot of each other then.”
“I’m looking forward to it.”
I am currently sitting on the other side of Sean Harrison, commonly known as the hottest guy at RBH, currently that is (I am thinking, of course about Nick), and my boyfriend, at the movies. So why am I not perfectly content? It’s because of him. It’s all because of Nick Ganberg. “Babe, what’s on your mind?” He asked in his naturally gruff voice. I used to find that voice sexy. Now all I can think of is Nick’s calmingly deep voice. “Nothing worth talking about in the middle of a movie.” I reply, with a little more coldness than I intended.
“Fine then, tell me later.”
But I didn’t. I stayed silent through the movie, and the ride home. “I guess I’ll see you later,” he says, sounding slightly hurt and uncomfortable. Without answering, I turn and walk up the path to my front door. I watch through the window, and see his car pull out of the driveway and drive off into the distance. Once I’m sure that he is gone, I slip back downstairs and back out the door. I walk across the street to Nick’s house, with the purpose of telling him about Sean, so he doesn’t get the wrong idea. When I wring the bell, a girl, who I assume is his sister Lori, answers. My assumption is proven correct, as she introduces herself, “Hey! I’m Lori Ganberg. Rikki, Right? You live across the street?”
“Yup, that’s me.”
“Nick told me about you. Apparently me and my twin brother have all our classes with you and your friend.”
“Cool. Speaking of Nick, could I talk to him real quick?”
“Sorry, but he’s out right now. He should be back in about ten minutes if you want to wait.”
“We can get to know each other a little then,” she says cheerily.
I follow her into the house and look around. The place isn’t much different from when Mr. Newman moved out, except for the few necessities that have been unpacked. “So I see Nick has already found himself a new girlfriend. I can’t say I envy you.”
“Girlfriend! Oh, no, Nick and I are just friends.”
“You say that now.”
“Okay, I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean. Change of subject. You’ve got to meet my friend Helly. We’ve known each other forever.”
“As I told your brother, her name is really Henrietta Nelly, but she hates both those names with a passion. Thus, Helly was born.”
“That sounds pretty darn rehearsed.”
“Trust me it is”
By the time Nick arrives, Lori and I have gotten settled in and are watching, ok, making fun of, old soap opera reruns. “I see you two have hit it off,” he says, sounding amused.
“Yup, your sister’s a riot. She’s great!” I say enthusiastically “Aw! Thanks Rik!” she squeals. “Didn’t you come over to talk to my brother?”
“Oh yeah! Well, uhm,” I stutter, flustered. “Oh don’t mind me! I’m sure you two have oodles to talk about!” Lori remarks. “Come on Rikki, we can talk in my room,” says an embarrassed Nick. Nick’s room is a shocking change from the rest of the currently
un-personalized house. He has, by the looks of it, already finished unpacking. “So you wanted to talk?” He reminds me. “Right. Well, look… the thing is… it’s kind of hard to explain… I sort of have a boyfriend.”
“Ok, shocking. Why are you telling me this?”
“Well, because, uhm, well, I didn’t want you to get the wrong idea.”
“Rikki, we just met, I like you and all, but as a friend.”
“Oh thank the lord! But what about what Lori said about me not being just your friend?”
“Don’t believe her, it’s all lies. She just seems to think the fact that most of my female friends turn into my girlfriends has given me somewhat of a reputation.”
“Well that’s a relief.”
“I’m touched, really”
“No, it’s not that I don’t like you it’s just…”
“You have a boyfriend. So this Boyfriend,” He says leaning in closer and closer, “Is it serious?”
And then he’s kissing me like no one has ever kissed me before, and I’m kissing him back. All my worries are just about melting away, until… I think of Sean. I pull away and, worried, Nick asks, “Is something wrong?”
“No, I mean yes I mean… I have a boyfriend.” I say, uttering the words of death.
“I’m sorry, you told me and I still…”
“No. Don’t apologize. I kissed you back, it’s not your fault.”
“I really am sorry, it’s just that… I want you.”
“Me too. But I have to talk to Sean before I can start anything with you.”
“You don’t have to, you know. We could just forget this, and be friends. We could go back to how it was when we met, and you can stay with your boyfriend.”
“I don’t want to go back”
But why. These are the words coming out of Sean’s mouth. I have never seen my boyfriend even come close to crying, and, having seen him through many broken bones and bruises, this is a large feat. Yet here he is, practically begging at my feet, and crying. “That’s what I need to know Rikki. Why? Is it me, did I do something wrong?” He pleads.
“Then what? Is it another guy?”
“You don’t even deny it! Come on Rik! We can get through this! You made a mistake, and I forgive you!”
“That’s just it. I don’t want to be forgiven,” and with those words, I walked away.
Nick answered the door almost immediately after I rung it. Without a word he pulled me into his arms and kissed me. Over his shoulder I can just make out Lori. “I told you so,” she mouths at me. Nick leads me up to his room again, but this time, I don’t feel nervous or awkward, I just want to keep kissing Nick. He laid down on his bed, and pulled me down on top of him. We kissed for what seemed like days (although, thanks to Lori timing us, I later found out it was exactly two hours and fifty-eight minutes). Quite possibly the happiest two hours and fifty-eight minutes of my life.
Shock. There is no other word for the expression On Helly’s face. “You did what!” She rages. “I broke up with Sean Helly.” I reply blatantly.
“You sound just like him.”
“You didn’t answer my question.”
“I kissed Nick.”
“The hot new guy across the street from you?”
“But, the question still stands, why? You guys probably could have worked it out.”
“Now you really sound just like him.”
“The question of life still stands: Why?”
“I didn’t want to work it out.”
“You’re exact words in the actual break-up?”
“No, I believe that went something like, ‘That’s just it. I don’t want to be forgiven.’”
“Ouch, you know how to hurt a guy.”
“Thanks a lot.”
“So what about you and Hot-Neighbor Dude?”
“His name is Nick, and I guess we are sort of together. I mean, we’ve never had a real date, but I mean, we spent like three hours kissing last night.”
“Wow! Soar tongue?”
“Like you wouldn’t believe!” I laugh.
Secrets. That is what the Ganbergs have. I saw it the first time I looked into Nicks eyes. And now, I want to know them even more. “Hey!” I greet Lori. “Is Nick here?”
“He sure is! He’s up in his room.”
As I walk up the stairwell, I repeat to myself what I had been practicing in the mirror for hours last night.
“Listen. I know you have secrets. And, well, I want to know them.”
“Ok, what do you want to know” His voice hard and serious.
“What made you leave Hawaii?”
“Rik, it’s complicated.”
“I’ve got time. You can trust me.”
“I’ll trade you. Secret for a secret.”
“Alright. Brace yourself. There are more than two Ganberg kids.”
“Meaning my father cheated on my mom, and the other woman got pregnant.”
“That’s not too bad; at least, I don’t care.”
“It gets worse. My mom found out, and, well, she freaked. She did something unforgivable.”
“She went after the kids. She held them captive. My sister found out, and she told me, then we told our dad. He called the police, and they took my mom to a psychiatric hospital. I was six. Then, three months ago, she was released. She wanted me and Lori, but Dad wouldn’t let her. He sold our hose, changed our last name, and moved us here.”
“Oh my god! Nick, I’m so sorry, I had no idea”
“Don’t be sorry. You are the first girl since then who I’ve felt completely at ease around. I’ve had other girlfriends, but none quite like you. Rikki, I love you.”
“I love you too.”