I’m such an idiot.
“Okay. I think we’ll use the lowest part as the dance floor, right babe?” Lora looks over her shoulder.
“So, you two. Right here.” Lora points to a spot in the middle of the floor.
We weave around a few tables to get there, and I look longingly over at Paul, who’s finishing his mountain of macaroni and cheese. My favorite.
“Face one another for a sec.” Lora backs up, but I don’t know where to look.
I can smell him. It’s so good. So good. All the parts of the kiss come back to me. The feeling that I’d never get enough. His mouth on mine. His h*ps (and other things) pressed against me, and his hands across my back.
My phone buzzes in my pocket. I jump, thankful for the distraction. My eyes catch Dylan’s, and he’s staring again.
He shouldn’t be staring. He’s turning me into a wreck.
ALYSSA: HOW’S IT GOING?
ALYSSA: U CAN USE ME AS EMER IF U WANT
“I gotta run.” I shove the phone back in my pocket.
“What?” Lora and Dylan ask at almost the same time.
“Alyssa’s got some kind of emergency, and we’re just back on speaking terms. And I…” I’m really trying to look desperate.
“You should go then.” Dylan looks more like himself than he has since before the kiss.
“Fine.” Lora sighs. “I’m crashing at Derrick’s anyway, so you can take the car.”
“See you, Paul.” I give him a wave and wish Alyssa’s fake emergency wasn’t so urgent, because I really want some food.
Now that the locations are settled on, Lora and I are at the flower shop putting together the final order. We’ve gone over the paper a million times for how many tables and bridesmaids and groomsmen and the large arrangements and center pieces and and and…
My eyes hurt. I’m about done.
“This is an insane amount of money to spend on flowers. You realize this, right?” The total on the bottom of the page is enough to buy a car.
Lora sighs. “I get that you don’t approve of how extravagant everything is.”
“I don’t get it.” I set my pen down and look at her.
“When he asked me, and I said yes, he said, ‘We’re going to have the biggest, most kickass wedding ever.’ So it’s not just me. Derrick wants a big thing, you know? He keeps saying, ‘We’re only doing this once, baby, let’s make it good.’ And that’s what I’m trying to do. I admit it’s a little thrilling to have such a big budget, but with it comes pressure.”
“I get that.” And for the first time, I do. I get it. And it makes me like Derrick a little more that he’s into this, too.
She sits on the corner. “Okay. What’s going on with you and Dylan?”
I stare at the page. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Yes, you do. And it’s not just you. Dylan was a big pile of mope all weekend.”
I scoff but am a bit pleased. “Well, if he’s moping, it’s his own damn fault.”
“Spill.” Lora kicks off her shoes and slides onto the bed.
I know she’s not going anywhere, so I tell her everything, about how I knew I should’ve stayed away, but I couldn’t help how I felt. I tell her about the kiss and the friend thing, and how I know it’s the smart choice. And that I like him more than I should. I have to blink back tears, probably because it’s all too soon after James.
“You’re not going to school tomorrow. We’re going to do a girl day.” Her smug face is on, and her arms are folded in front of her.
“What about the wedding?” I ask.
“Derrick can take care of it. He just needs to give the invites place a final signature on everything.” She leans back with a smile, knowing she’s going to get her way.
“I don’t do girl days.” I scowl.
“You do now.”
And I know Lora well enough to know it’s final
~ Dylan ~
It’s been more than a week since I kissed Ziah, and I haven’t heard jack from her the whole time. Oh, wait. Unless you count hanging out at her mom’s restaurant where she ignored me and flirted with Paul. Which I don’t care about. Seriously. I don’t.
Why the hell she would want to flirt with Paul anyway is beyond me. I mean, he’s my best friend and all, but he’s not her type. He would drive her crazy, and she’s definitely not the kind of girl he usually goes for. Although she looked damn hot. Was she showing off her shoulder on purpose, knowing I’ve thought about kissing her collarbone more than once?
Okay, so maybe I care a little, but that’s just because it’s not cool. Kiss me, flirt with Paul—even if he was the one doing most of the flirting.
Does she not know how hard it was for me to pull the plug on what we were doing? How much I wanted to touch her everywhere? How kissing her felt different than kissing any other girl, but I put a stop to things because I know it’s not what’s best for her. Or me.
I’m thinking I deserve a medal or something. I would have rather got run over by Mary than step away, but I did. Because I knew it was the smart thing.
Which means it’s definitely a good thing I stopped. I enjoyed it way too much. I started to like her, and that freaks me out. Not a manly thing to admit, I know, but I can’t imagine being broken the way Dad was. The way he is.
I can’t stop thinking about how bad he lost it, and as cool as Lora is, there’s a part of me who thinks she’ll do the same thing to Derrick. What if he wakes up one day, and she’s gone, leaving him feeling just as abandoned as Dad did—as I do.
No, thank you. I don’t get why people set themselves up to risk that kind of disappointment.
The couch shifts when Paul bounces one cushion away from me. I’d totally forgot he was coming over. “You know I don’t really like your girl, right? I’m just giving you shit.”
My head whips around so I’m looking at him. “Ziah’s not my girl.”
Paul shakes his head, suddenly all mature and all knowing. “You’ve been weird. You okay?”
The thing is, I’m not okay, but nothing happened either. Actually, that’s a lie. For the first time in my life, I kissed a girl I liked then made myself stop. Now I’m all screwed up about it. You know… just something tiny like that.
Paul’s sitting next to me more serious than he usually is. He’s waiting and quiet, which are two things he’s usually not.
I lean back into the couch. I can’t believe I’m going to do this, but I think I am. I have to talk to someone, and it’s not like I can go to Derrick. He’ll just warn me away from her, which is what I’m supposed to want.
“Have you ever been with a girl, and it was… different than it usually is?”
Paul’s eyebrows rise. “We both know who you’re talking about, man. Why don’t we just say Ziah? And what do you mean, different?”
I ignore his comment about her name.
“I don’t know. Just… different.” As in I like her. This sucks. Like hugely. “And then it ended, and even though I’m the one who put the stop to it, I was mad it was over.”
I can’t even remember if I told him what it was.
“Okay, let me get this straight. You kissed Ziah—because I know you did that night. Freaked out and hit the breaks, but you really didn’t want to. You’re even more freaked out because you like her and don’t know what to do about it? I guess it pissed you off that I flirted with her, too, which I did on purpose, by the way, because I could tell something was up. Now you’re trippin’ out because you realize how much you really like her, and you don’t want to?”
Okay. Talk about different. “Yeah… I guess you can say that.” Because he obviously said it better than I could.
“Alright, D,” Paul stands up. “It’s obvious you’re into her, and that’s not a bad thing, ya know? But before you do anything, you need to make sure you’re serious. The last thing you want to do is hurt that girl. She’s cool, and your brother’s marrying into her family. Personally, I think it’s cool. You should go for it, but I know you trip out because of your mom.”
He’s right. I like her. I like that she’s grumpy half the time, and that she doesn’t take my crap. I like that she’s funny and smart. That she’s freakin’ gorgeous and likes good music. It’s cool that we can talk, that we like the same movies. But that’s friend stuff, right? Except for the gorgeous part. I also like that she’s an amazing kisser. Like the way she nibbled my lip—that’s definitely not friend stuff.
And then, I don’t know why, but it makes me think of Mom. “Remember that one time when my mom brought us to the park for like five hours? She let us play as long as we wanted. Bought us ice cream. Wasn’t all hovering like all the other moms were. We got to do whatever we wanted. She was always cool like that.”
Paul squints at me as though he’s trying to figure me out. How can he not remember this?
“Is that all you remember about that day?” he asks.
Now it’s me who can’t figure him out. “Well, yeah. That’s what happened.”
He stalls a minute before replying. “Yeah… yeah, I remember that day, but—”
“Holy shit. Thank God you guys are here.” Derrick steps into the room. “I just got a phone call, and we’ve got a job to do.”
Derrick’s all stressed out on the way to the invitation place, and I’m not sure why. Or maybe he said why, but I didn’t hear it because I can’t stop thinking about my conversation with Paul, trying to remember that day at the park and wondering if there is something missing I don’t remember.
How could there be? It’s not like Paul could know my mom better than I do. I know she was awesome. She was an incredible mom until she was just gone.
“We’re here to pick up the invitations for the Gibson wedding,” Derrick tells the girl behind the counter when we get inside the shop. She’s young—probably in her twenties and she’s eying us all up and down, but I can’t make myself get into it.
“Wonderful… Which of you is the lucky groom?” She starts to walk to a table, and we follow her.
Paul and I quickly point to Derrick as he sits in one of the chairs. “That’s me.”
“My name is Aubra. I was expecting your fiancé. I must say, this is the first time I’ve seen the groom pick out the invitations on his own.”
This catches my attention. Derrick has that deer in the headlights look, so I speak for him. “What do you mean, pick them out? Aren’t we picking them up?”
“No. Lora made the appointment today to have them made up. We’re putting a rush on it since the wedding isn’t too far out. I understand you had some trouble with a venue?”