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Excerpt from "Love is Forgiving"
I pulled up to Aryk's house. It was a medium sized place with light brown siding and green shutters. I parked across the street from the driveway, and checked my hair in the rear-view mirror. Everything looked perfect; this would be the best night of my life. I locked the doors on my nineteen-ninety-five Toyota Camry as I stepped out and slammed the door. Though the rehearsal wasn't technically over for twenty minutes, Jordan and I had our daily five minutes of jeering; plus, we usually liked to talk for a while. I had a lot to tell him tonight.
As I began to totter down the steep slope towards the band's "rehearsal room", I heard a car honk. I hoped I wouldn't fall in front of whoever it was; they would think I was such an idiot to walk down such a steep incline in such high heels. I was regretting letting Jillian put me in these adorable boots, when I turned and saw the friendly face of none other than Jordan, also arriving early to pick up his younger brother. He jogged across the street, over to me; he wore perfectly-fitting denim jeans, a maroon V-neck polo shirt, and black Vans tennis shoes.
When he reached me he placed one hand on the small of my back, and rested the other on my forearm. A familiar wave of dizziness crashed over me when he began to speak. "Pretty fancy for picking up your brother," he said, then looked into my clear blue eyes. His were dark brown, like mocha. "Wow, you look beautiful."
"That's what I need to talk to you about," I said. We sat down on the swinging bench in front of the fire pit. Mr. and Mrs. Barnes had been at work; a fire was burning, and there was a tray with chocolate, graham crackers, and marshmallows resting on a table nearby. Jordan draped his arms across the back of the swing--his strong, tan, muscular arms. I hoped I wouldn't miss his strong embrace too much.
"So, what's up?" he asked casually. His smooth fingers twirled my hair, and it hurt to push them away; I felt myself cringe. I hoped he didn't see, and I prayed I'd made the right decision. This would be the hardest thing I'd ever have to do.
"Jordan, I have a date with Aryk tonight." I squeezed my eyes shut, and faced my lap after speaking. Tears burned behind my eyelids, and I tried to blink them back; I was thankful I'd worn waterproof mascara.
"Oh," he stuttered a bit. "Tha-that's cool." He cleared his throat, and scratched the little area between his nose and his mouth. He'd already removed his arms from the swing back, and they sat unwavering in his lap. "I hope you guys have a great time."
"Yeah, Casey's probably telling him all of my deepest, darkest secrets right about now." I paused, searching his face for any emotion; he looked crushed, like a semi-truck had driven straight through his heart. "Little brothers are so annoying sometimes."
He recovered quickly--like I'd expected--and replied, "Yeah, especially when they're only a year younger and smarter than you." We both cracked a smile.
We broke into laughter when I said, "Or when they're two years younger and taller than you."
We looked up, into each other's eyes; I thought we had an understanding. I thought that Jordan was okay with this, or at least wasn't angry or having a breakdown--not that I was expecting that. That was just the worst scenario I could think of.
The next thing I knew, we were leaning closer to each other; our eyes were locked. Then our lips met. I couldn't remember that it was going to be my first date with my all-time crush, I couldn't remember that's why I was wearing so much make-up or these high shoes, I couldn't even remember I was in my date's backyard; I didn't try to stop him. His lips caressed mine, and his hand rested on my jaw. We parted for a moment; he scoped my eyes for a signal to stop, but I just smiled and giggled sheepishly. His hands held my cheeks, and his lips left mine and continued on my jaw line: I felt reckless.
Then I heard a door slam open. Jordan moved one hand onto my back, and pressed my head into the crook of his neck. He hugged me like old times and rubbed my back. "Pretend to cry, it might save your butt," he whispered in my ear. I felt ashamed of what I'd done, and my face turned a delicate shade of pink.
"Don't pretend like you weren't just making out!" Aryk's familiar voice boomed, then quivered. Suddenly, I didn't need to pretend to cry as tears cascaded down my cheeks, onto Jordan's maroon polo. I removed my head from Jordan's shoulder and looked up at Aryk; his face had tear stains stretching to his jaw, and his eyes looked swollen and red. I'd never seen Aryk cry before, and now I wished I never had.
Jordan's clenched his hands into fists on my back, trying to hold on to me; it was no use. I tore myself away and stood up abruptly, running over to Aryk. So much for my first date, I thought to myself.
"Aryk, please listen," I gasped for air. I wanted him to embrace me, and turn off the water works. Tears were streaming down my face as I placed a hand on his shoulder, and released a heaving sob; he shrugged it off and turned away. He began striding towards the door to the "rehearsal room." Forgetting I was in high heels, I sprinted after him. My heel got caught on a crack in the sidewalk, and I fell over. Blood oozed from the wound on my elbow, and I could feel that my ankle was twisted. "Aryk, please!" I called out to him, and he froze with one hand on the doorknob. His chest was heaving to the same time that my wounds were throbbing.
He turned around, and started to step towards me, curled up on the sidewalk. He reached out a hand. I grabbed it and held on, knowing that I would never hold his hand again. He pulled me up and into his arms. I wrapped mine around his waist and cried into his chest. For minutes I stood there sobbing, with his knowing hands on my shoulders. He lifted his head off of mine, and stared into my eyes.
Then I made a gutsy move; the gutsiest thing I'd ever done in my life: I placed my hands on his cheeks, and kissed him. Right there, with tears streaming down my face; with Jordan standing fifteen feet away. I felt my whole world crumble down to below sea level.