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A Tangle in the Heart [Part 4]

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"Thank you so much for dinner, sweetheart," my mother gleams at Tarah. She takes hold of her hand and is so happy to see my father and I get along again.

"No problem Mrs. Austin," Tarah returns. "Don't worry about the dishes either."

"Oh no," she argues. "We can't let you wash them after this delicious meal."

"Maybe you should stay here longer than a week," my father jokes. It was the first time I've seen him genuinely happy to speak in the house. Usually, he never jokes or plays around. It was so weird, but I felt like a little kid again.

"Thank you," Tarah laughs. "It was my mother's recipe."

"I'll wash them," I say. They turn to me, and my mother hugs Tarah before going upstairs. Tarah is smiling at me, and I feel my organs ramming the rims of my body. I turn before I say something I'll regret and wash the dishes. I rub the sponge against each dish and looked for Tarah in the corner of my eye.

"Need help?" she offers, coming beside me in front of the sink.

"I got this," I counter, even though I'd let her stand next to me any day.

She scoffs and laughs at my new found independence. "You're doing it all wrong!" she points out matter-of-factly. She grabs the water spray and picks it up. "It goes a little like this..." she clicks the button and water shoots right into my face. My mouth drops open and I grab the spray back and get a little revenge. She places her hands in front of her as if it would help. We go at it back and forth for five minutes until we're all soaked. She looks like how she did when she first came here. I'm lying on my back on the floor, and each of her knees are beside my waist as she raises the spray above my face. "Do you surrender?" she says in a flirty voice.

"Never!" I yell. She screams like a little girl as I tickle her until she lets go of the spray. "Now, do you surrender?"

"Yes, yes," she says, laughing as I'm tickling her, "I surrender! You win this one!" I stop tickling her and grab the camera that laid on the counter. I point it at her, and she tries to hide her face. "All my makeup washed off."

"You don't need makeup," I assure her. "You're gorgeous without it." She smiles at me as I look through the lens and click a picture for her. When the Polaroid prints, I hand it to her, and she lets me know that she's going to keep it. We're on the floor, all dripping from sink water, and just smiling at each other. Tarah seems like a girl I'd love to actually hang out with, which surprises me along with the other things I've felt today. I look up at her and finally break the silence. "So what's with this Nick guy?"

"That's an odd question," she observes. "Nick is...he's my everything. When I'm with him, everything feels right, you know?" She's looking up, and I can tell she misses him especially if she came all the way here just to see him. "Remember how I was made fun of because of my hair?"

"How can I forget?" I laugh. She throws a towel forcefully at me and laughs.

"Well, even after all the teasing," she began, "it still hurt. Sure, the pain was there while I was teased, but it stayed there for weeks, months even. Then Nick comes in, and he makes me forget all the years of teasing, like it never happened."

"Look, I didn't know it hurt that much," I truthfully reply. "It was stupid to do, and I'm sorry."

She laughs and looks at me in the eye. She crawls closer, and I think she's ready to kiss me after all the waiting. She leans close to my face and her hand raises to my head. "You have some soap right here," she laughs, wiping it away from my cheek. The way she touches my cheek makes me want to touch her the exact way. I pace my thumb on her cheek, and look her in the eyes. Even though I apologized, I feel like I need to prove to her that I take back everything I said and did. I pull her face closer to me and meet her lips with an anticipating passion. I let out a groan, and she doesn't let go at all. The kiss started small, but her lips were so enticing. I keep kissing her until I can't feel my lips anymore. When she separates, we are heavily breathing on top of each other. How long had she been waiting for this?

She flips her bangs back and rises from the floor. "What did I just do?" she ponders. She paces the kitchen and suddenly, her phone rings. She jumps and looks at the name. She quickly shoves the phone into a drawer to ignore the caller. I think I may have ruined her and Nick's relationship.

"Was it Nick?" I ask. She pulls her hair in a ponytail and ties it with a rubber band.

"Um...no," she shakes her head. "It was my parents."

She walks around the kitchen, reminding herself that what she did was just a mistake. First, she says she's in love with Nick. Next, we're on the floor kissing like lovers who can't get their hands off each other. Then, her parents are calling her like crazy. Tarah had problems of her own. Did she really need me to add to the madness?

"Look, Tarah," I reason with her. "It was a mistake, and I shouldn't have--"

Suddenly, the house phone rings. Tarah stops and stares at the phone for a while. She looks at the caller ID and backs away. She turns to me, and it looks like she's petrified.

"They know I'm here," she says.




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