Nick’s mom was standing at the end of the hallway when we round the corner from Grant’s room. Her arms are folded, a furious scowl on her face.
“Mom, what’s wrong?” Nick asks leading me back into the kitchen. He grabs the pop off the counter and tosses it to me.
I pop the lid open and look just in time to see Nick’s mom spin on her heel “What were you doing in Grant’s room?” she ask moving towards Nick.
Nick stutters “Nothing, Harper just wanted to look.” Jumping up on the counter top
“I told you to stay out of his room.” She says through clenched teeth.
Nick plays with the tab on the pop can before looking up “Mom, we have to go through Grant’s room sometime. It’s been a year since the…”
“Nick, stop it! If it wasn’t for you trying to sneak him out of the house, maybe Grant would still be here! It’s your fault he’s gone!” she screams slamming her fist down on the counter. When she sees the look on Nick’s face she knows she has gone too far. There’s an awkward silence that hangs in the air and I feel like an intruder on a private family matter.
“Nick, I didn’t …” she starts to cry as she moves towards him.
“Yes you did.” He says sliding of the counter walking past her towards his room. I stare down the hallway after him until I hear the door slam shut. I look back at Ms. Hall wondering how she could say something that cruel to her now only son.
“Harper, I’m sorry you had to see that.” Ms. Hall says now walking my way. I tense every muscle in my body afraid of what she will do now.
“How could you do something like that to him?” I mumble ripping off the tab of the pop can. I stand up from the table “You know he has had a hard enough time with the accident he doesn’t need you to add to it. Nick will have to live with the fact that his little brother died in the car accident, for the rest of this life. So I think you can cut him a little slack.” I say pulling the black pocket book that Nick had given me earlier out of my bag, waiting for Ms. Hall to say something, but she never does.
The further I walk down the hallway the louder Nick’s head banging music gets.
“Nick open up, it’s Harper.” I yell knocking on the door.
The music softens and I hear the click of the locked door before Nick stands in the doorway.
“Hey.” I whisper
“Hey” he says back pulling me into his room. His room has changed so much, the slime green and red paint splatters are now hidden beneath the coats of coffee brown paint. The walls are now overtaken by black and white pictures Nick must have taken after graduation. His Xbox and games have been replaced with piles of thick college books, clothes hang off the bars of his lofted bed. And a old pizza, and musty towel smell hangs about the room.
“Sorry the place is such a mess.” Nick says cramming clothes into the closet.
“It’s okay, life of the college student right?” I say hosting myself up onto his bed.
“Yea unfortunately.” He says cranking the window to his room open. The fresh burst of air into the room is relieving. Nick turns the music off completely and searches through the mess to find himself a chair. He looks up at me “Go ahead open it up.” He says leaning forward. I’ve forgotten about the little black pocket book that is clutched in my hands. I carefully open the worn cover not knowing what to expect. Neatly written on the inside of the cover was
Property of Nicholas Tate Hall
In hopes that one day I can show this
To the girl whom I have secretly loved from the
Shadows in which I have watched her with
Un-daunting eyes, waiting to love
Her the way she deserves to be loved
“Nick, what is this?’ I ask starting to flip through page upon page that is filled with the same neat hand writing.
“Go to October 14th.” He says not looking up.
I flip through the old wrinkled pages until I find October 14th
October 14th, 2008
If only she would see how wrong he is for her.
When I look into those eyes all I see is hurt
And sadness staring back at me. I’ve seen what
He’s done to her, but I never show how much I care.
No matter what changes I will be standing in the
Shadows loving her just the same.
My heart skips a few beats as the realization that the girl Nick is talking about is me. I slide off the bed, whether it was under my own will or the stock that numbs my body I don’t know. I slowly walk towards the window and stick my head out trying to suck in air through shallow rattling breaths. “It‘s me, the girl you are talking about.” I say out loud feeling the black pocket book slip out of my hands.
Nick slowly stands up from the chair moving towards me “Yes.” Is all he can seem to sputter out . I quickly run through the only two options I have in my head. Option one: I can just walk past Nick right out of this house and never say another word to him. Option two: I hold his hand and tell him everything will be okay, that I will leave Ben and coming running to him. It’s a no win scenario, if I just walk away from all of this right now I leave behind nineteen years of friendship, and that’s something I’m not willing to do. But I can’t leave Ben, I know what he does isn’t right, but somewhere deep down I’d like to think there is some good in him.
When the wisps of fog that has settled around me releases their grasp on me Nick is standing only inches away from me. He is staring at me with those caramel colored eyes that catch me of guard every time. Through the musty towel smell and the fresh air that clashes together I can smell the sweet peppermint gum on his breath.
“Nick….why didn’t you tell me.” I say pushing his hands away from my waist.
“I know I’m sorry.” He says throwing my arms up around his neck.
“Nick, stop.” I say sliding my arms off of his neck
“You know if you were with me I would treat you like you deserve to be treated. I would never hurt you the way he has hurt you over the years. I can love you in ways Ben never can.” He says pushing me into him. But there’s nothing threatening or malicious behind it. So I take a deep breath and relax as I let the world fade away until there is nothing left besides the two of us .
“Nick...” I whisper, but am interrupted when gives up talking to me and pulls me up in his strong arms for a kiss. Naturally I throw my arms around his neck and intertwine my fingers in his raven black hair. The room beginnings to spin, but I won’t be the first to pull away because the fire that is between us is nothing I have ever felt. For these few moments everything that has weighed on my mind just disappears and I have a feeling of weightlessness. Eventually Nick pulls away, leaving both of us gasping for air.
I fall into Nick’s strong arms, through his shirt I can hear his heart pounding against the chest. At least I’m not the only one who had a heart that was about to burst.
“Well that’s one way to get me to shut up.” I say playing with the sleeve of his T-shirt.
“Yea it was the only thing I could come up with.” He says resting his chin on the top of my head.
“Next time let’s not rush into it.” I say stretching up on my tiptoes pulling his face down to mine for another kiss.
“Sounds good to me.” He says in-between a few more kisses.
Nick slowly pulls away “We should get going to Rack’s, Jessica and Scott will be wondering where we are.” He says gently putting his hand against my face.