I had a date tonight. My first date. With Sam Smith who was a sixth year, meaning he was two years older than me and he was cute and cool and I really, really liked him.
As much as I could like any boy who wasn’t Adam.
Not that Adam was a boy any more.
A knock sounded at my bedroom door as I ran a brush through my long hair for the hundredth time. “Come in!” I called, somewhat agitated since I thought it was probably my Mum, who seemed to be at once both more excited than me about the date, and also more concerned.
To my surprise, the head that popped around the door wasn’t Mum’s but Adam’s.
My heart did this little flippy thing in my chest that it did every time I saw him and I smiled brightly at him. “What are you doing here?”
He stepped inside and closed the door, his brows drawing together in consternation as I stood up to greet him. His eyes travelled the length of me and I saw a muscle tick in his jaw.
I was wearing a white sleeveless shift dress. It had a modest neckline and I was wearing a cardigan to cover my arms, and black tights to cover my bare legs, but I was guessing the short hemline still pissed him off. The reminder that he thought of me as a little sister he needed to protect pissed me off. I crossed my arms over my chest, and the movement brought his eyes back up to my face.
“Clark told Braden you had a date tonight. We both wanted to drop by for the momentous occasion. Who is he?”
I rolled my eyes at his overbearing tone. “Just a boy.”
“And how old is this boy?” Adam asked softly as he took a few steps toward me.
“Downstairs. Don’t dodge the question. How old?”
“Sam is seventeen.”
“What?” he inhaled sharply. “And Elodie agreed to this?”
He didn’t mention Clark, since Clark was far more laid-back about these things than Mum.
“She’s excited for me actually.”
“She’s chirping like a nervous chicken downstairs.”
“That’s because Sam will be here any minute.” I avoided his eyes, not liking that stubborn tilt to his chin.
“Where is he taking you?”
“Cinema, then dinner.”
“You’ll be home before eleven?”
I grabbed my purse up off my bed and threw out an exaggerated sigh. “Yes-uh.”
“And you won’t let him touch you.”
It wasn’t a question.
I froze at his command and narrowed my eyes on him as he took the last remaining steps toward me until he was standing right in front of me, so close I had to tilt my head back to meet his gaze. “It’s a date, Adam,” I whispered. “Touching is supposed to be involved.”
“Not when you’re a fifteen year old girl. Not when you’re you.” I flinched back, taking that as an insult and Adam immediately grimaced. “Els, I didn’t mean it like that. I just mean… you’re not just some girl.”
“Look, Braden gave me this speech three hours ago on the phone.”
“Ellie,” Adam gave me a look that clearly said “shut up”. “You’re special. You deserve a boy who understands that, and a boy who understands that won’t try any funny business tonight, okay?”
“Funny business?” I raised my eyebrows at him. “I’m pretty sure Sam won’t try any funny business.”
“Els, you’re a romantic, and you’re young. Boys his age… they’re not romantic. They have one thing on their mind and one thing only. And the little swine isn’t getting it from you.”
Annoyed at his suggestion I was some naïve little girl, I brushed past him. “Don’t you have a comatose date waiting somewhere for you?”
“You cheeky little bugger,” he grumbled behind me as I walked out of my room and started heading down the stairs. “I preferred you when you were wee and cute and didn’t talk back.”
I grunted at that and then inhaled on said grunt, choking, at the sound of the doorbell.
“I’ll get that,” Adam announced determinedly, but I flung out my arms and legs in a star- shape, blocking his passage.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough limbs to stop Clark, who hurried out of the living room wearing a glower the likes I’d never seen before.
So perhaps Clark wasn’t as cool about my whole first date thing after all.
“Dammit,” I breathed, hurrying down the last few steps as Braden came out of the living room with a bottle of beer in hand. Eyes wide at his sudden appearance and the darkening of his expression when he saw my dress, I raced by him and collided against Clark’s back as he finished greeting my date at the door.
“She’s right here,” Clark said as I stumbled around him, giving him a questioning look. He was all glaring and intimidating. It was weird.
“Sam,” I breathed, feeling my butterflies explode into a flurry again at the sight of him.
Sam was as tall as Braden, although lanky and slim, and he had messy light brown hair that seemed to have a life of its own. He was famous at school for that hair. All the girls wanted to be the girl who got to run her fingers through that hair. I was hoping after tonight that girl would be me.
Sam finished eyeing Clark warily and then threw a dimpled smile my way. “Hey, Ellie.
You look great.”
“She does not.” Braden suddenly appeared behind me and Clark, and I closed my eyes in actual pain after watching Adam squeeze in beside him. They were both trying to fry Sam’s arse with the power of their eyeballs. “She looks fifteen. You remember that.”
Oh God. Kill me. Kill me now.
“If you touch her, I’ll make sure you lose all sense of feeling. Permanently,” Adam warned darkly.
“What he said,” Braden growled.
When I dared to open my eyes, my heart in my throat, it was to find Sam’s face was ashen as he stared at Braden and Adam as though they were Viking marauders come to cut off his head.
“What is all this?” Mum’s voice sent a rush of relief through me. “Get away from the door.” Adam and Braden were jerked backwards, followed by Clark, until my mum, Elodie Nichols, was left standing alone. Tall and willowy, my mum was still gorgeous, and right now she was an angel.
“Thank you,” I breathed gratefully.
She took one look at my expression and threw a dirty look over her shoulder at the retreating men. It appeased me somewhat to know that when I left on my date with Sam, the three of them would get a verbal tongue-lashing that would make their threats to Sam seem like child’s play.
When she turned back she held a hand out to my date. “Elodie Nichols, it’s lovely to meet you, Sam.”
“You too, Mrs. Nichols,” Sam replied quietly, clearly not recovered.
“Well, I’ll let you two get on.” Her eyes glistened as she tucked my hair behind my ear and leaned in to press a kiss to my cheek. “Have a great time, darling. Be back before eleven.”
“You’ve got your phone?”
I nodded and quickly stepped out onto the front stoop, gently pressing Sam toward the street. He didn’t say a word as we walked away, heading for the bus stop.
“Just ignore them,” I finally advised. “They’re just messing with you.”
He gave me a weak smile and then checked his watch. “Film’s starting soon. We better hurry.”
*** I slammed the door shut behind me, trying to mentally decimate the angry tears that were determined to spring to my eyes.
“Is that you, darling?” Mum called from the living room.
Miserable and needing a mum-hug, I moped down the hall and entered the room only to draw to a surprised halt.
It was ten-thirty and Braden and Adam were still here.
Mum and Clark were in their armchairs, Braden and Adam on the couch, and all four of them were no longer looking at the television but at me.
I took one look at them and knew why they were here and angry tears began to fill my eyes.
“How did your date go?” Mum asked, her question faltering as she took in my expression.
“Awful,” I bit out and returned my glare to Braden and Adam. “He’s not asking me out again because of these two idiots.”
“Good,” Braden responded flatly. “You’re too young to be dating.”
Mum sighed. “She’s not too young.”
“She’s too young,” Adam agreed. “And look at what she’s wearing.”
“There’s nothing wrong with what she’s wearing. She’s got tights on.”
“She’s fifteen,” Braden argued. “She’s got plenty of time to go on dates. She should concentrate on school.”
“Oh you sound like an old fart, Braden.”
“I can’t believe your attitude, Elodie,” Adam sighed. “I thought you’d be more careful about this stuff.”
“Careful,” Mum spluttered. “It was a date.”
As they squabbled on, my anger had time to grow and seethe, and the humiliation to fester.
The nicest, cutest, coolest guy at our school had asked me out on a date and my brother and his best friend had ruined it for me. “I liked him,” I suddenly informed them, quietly but with an edge that halted their conversation. They all looked at me and a tear slipped down my cheek as I said, “I really liked him. You both ruined it and you don’t even care.” Chest aching with the pressure of my hurt, I whirled and raced for the stairs, ignoring Braden calling my name.
“I’ll get her,” Adam told him which made my legs move faster up the stairs. I banged my bedroom door shut behind me and threw myself on my bed, hiding my face in my pillow as I cried into it.
I heard the knock over the sound of my muffled sniffling and lifted my head just enough to growl, “Go away.”
I tucked my head back into the pillow and waited.
Since I knew how tenacious Adam was it didn’t surprise me when he ignored my command. I heard my door open and the creaks of the floor as he walked over to the bed. The bed dipped on my right side and I heard Adam sigh.
“I’m sorry,” he apologized, his voice deep with sincerity. “Sweetheart, I’m sorry.”
I didn’t say anything, my throat burning even deeper when it occurred to me this was the first time Adam had ever hurt me.
I turned my face on the pillow so I could see him. I ignored the worried look on his young, gorgeous face and told him stonily, “Just go away, Adam.”
He ran a hand through his hair, turning more fully toward me. “Look, I feel like shit, Els. I didn’t mean to ruin your night. Neither did Braden.”
“Oh I’m sure when you threatened sensory deprivation you had no intention of ruining my chances with Sam.”
“Jesus,” Adam huffed. “You are too smart for your age. It’s like arguing with a grown woman.”
“How would you know what it’s like to argue with a grown woman? You never stick around long enough to do something to piss them off.”
His mouth twitched at my response and he shook his head. “Jesus,” he repeated.