An hour before Shia was to pick her up, Grace decided to skip Jewel's party that night. After a tense phone call with her boyfriend and feigning a headache, she hung up feeling relieved that she did not have to socialize with fifty people that night. However, she was left with absolutely no plans for the weekend. She knew Shia was going to join the rest of their friends at Jewel's house for yet another party and while she convinced him that it would be okay if he attended without her, she was still slightly annoyed that he did not offer to visit her. She then reasoned with herself that it would be okay if she sought out entertainment herself. Without having to give it much thought, Grace left her house then. Before she knew it, she found herself parked in the Baxter's driveway. She realized then that he was her only friend from high school who wasn't part of their clique. Not to mention, the only friend who would not be at Jewel's party that night.

Grace started to question herself as she slowly approached the front door. There were many things she should have considered before driving to Christian's house. She did not know if he was still upset about their encounter that morning. She did not know if Christian was even home. And if he was home, he would surely ask her why she decided to unexpectedly drop by on a Friday night. She wouldn't know how to answer. All she knew was that she was glad that she was able to skip out on Jewel's party and she would be gladder if she could see Christian that night, especially after he abruptly left her that afternoon. Grace wanted to help him and she wanted to be his friend, but most of all, she just wanted to see him. These feelings were confusing but she tried to push those thoughts away.

Christian Baxter is just my friend, she kept repeating to herself as she approached the door.

Before Grace could cowardly change her mind, she knocked on the heavy wooden door and held her breath.

It took a minute before she heard shuffling behind the door. Finally, a muffled response broke the silence.

"Who is it?" the voice behind the door asked gruffly.

Grace tried to ignore the fact that her heartbeat sped up slightly at the sound of Christian's voice.

"Umm… it's me," she replied. "Grace."

The door immediately opened and Grace was greeted with Christian's confused expression. His head popped out from behind the door and he raised his eyebrows in suspicion.

As predicted, he asked her the question she did not know how to answer.

"Hey. What are you doing here?"

If she was being truthful, she would tell him that she was there simply because she wanted to see him that night. But it would a confusing answer and she did not want to dwell on it at that moment. And so, in response, she just shrugged.

"You want to hang out?" she asked, hopeful.

Christian did not question it. He opened the door wider for her and actually smiled. It was a close-lipped smile, which looked more like a smirk, but it was a positive expression nonetheless.

"Sure," he replied, taking a step to the side.

Grace tentatively entered the house. She noticed that the living room was dim, the only light source coming from a small lamp in the far corner of the room. All other appliances were off but she could hear the faint murmuring of a television behind Christian's closed bedroom door. They were clearly alone in the house.

"So, isn't there a party going on tonight?" he asked casually as they entered the living room. "Why aren't you there?"

"Wow, Christian. You actually know what's going on at Stony Creek?" she asked playfully, but also genuinely surprised that he knew about the party.

Christian pushed his hand through his hair and smiled awkwardly.

"Uhh… You know Vivian George? She actually me if I wanted to go with her," he explained, shifting his weight on his right crutch. "It's kind of weird."

Grace raised an eyebrow and felt a wave of curiosity and protectiveness pass through her. Ever since the accident, Christian was becoming more and more popular at their school. She knew her classmates only started to notice him because of his infamous car crash; however, it was clear that more of the female population at their school was beginning to look at him differently as well. She didn't like it but she knew that she needed to play it off.

Grace shook his head. "No, that's not weird at all. I heard a couple of sophomores talk about you the other day."

Christian actually stared at her in disbelief. His cheeks turned a slight pink and Grace could tell that he really had no clue. Grace was surprised to see that kind of reaction from Christian and she knew he was trying his best to act cool.

"Oh, don't be so humble, Baxter," she teased. "So, are you interested?"

Christian narrowed his eyes at her question. "In who? The sophomores? Are you kidding me, Grace?"

"Well, what about Vivian?" Grace asked, wanting to know.

"Not interested," Christian answered immediately with a shake of his head.

Grace smiled slightly despite herself. Happy with his response and feeling brave, she asked, "Are you interested in anyone at all?"

Christian did not answer right away. Instead, he studied her and Grace could feel her own cheeks starting to warm. When he finally broke his gaze, he answered.


"Oh," Grace said softly, wondering who caught his eye and for the second time that night, jealousy reared its ugly head. Her stomach churned and while she did not like the thought that she could lose Christian to another girl, she wanted to know who it was.

Grace tried to sound casual as she asked, "Anyone I know?"

"Yes…" he answered slowly. "But it's not going to happen."

Christian paused before adding, "Where's your boyfriend tonight?"

He clearly wanted to change the subject but his question stung her. At that moment, she felt so confused and conflicted that she was starting to regret her visit. She felt guilty at the fact that she lied to her boyfriend that night to see Christian. She hadn't planned to ditch her boyfriend to see another guy, but it happened. On top of that, she was actually feeling protective of a guy who was free to date whomever he chooses to. The jealousy she was feeling confirmed that perhaps she liked Christian more than she originally thought and led herself to believe. But surprisingly, what bothered her most was not knowing who Christian was interested in. She decided not to push it though.

"Shia's at that party," she simply stated, sticking to the current conversation subject.

Christian raised a suspicious eyebrow. "Without you?"

Grace nodded.

"Jerk," he replied.

"Yeah, well…" she murmured with a shrug.

Christian watched Grace as she absentmindedly began to fiddle with an old snow globe that she found on the coffee table. With the mention of her boyfriend, their conversation simply died and he awkwardly shifted his weight between his crutches as he tried to figure out his childhood friend. He found it strange that Grace was in his living room on a Friday night, wanting to hang out. He didn't know what to make of it but he knew better than to scare her away by demanding a specific reason. He was still feeling a little uncomfortable with their meeting that afternoon knowing that Grace was aware of his current situation at school. And while his father and Grace were making it to be a bigger problem than it is, he really wasn't too worried about it. He knew he wasn't dumb, he just lacked the motivation to write essays. He knew that he just needed to find the right motivation.

After a while of awkward silence, Christian cleared his throat a little too loudly to pry Grace's attention away from the snow globe. She looked up at him expectantly, visibly hoping he could better the situation.

"So… do you want to go to my room?" he asked.

Grace raised an eyebrow and suspiciously eyed his closed bedroom door. Clearly, he did not better the situation. In fact, the embarrassed look on Grace's face made it evident that he had made their situation even more awkward.

Christian laughed uncomfortably as he tried to better explain himself.

"I swear to you, that wasn't a line," he began. "I was just about to pop in a movie when you arrived. And I recently set up the DVD player in my room and I don't really want to set it back up in the living room…"

Grace cut him off then. "I bet you say that to all the girls," she said with a teasing smirk.

Christian shook his head at her sharp tongue and followed Grace as she strode towards his bedroom. He suddenly wished he had listened to his dad when he yelled at him to clean his bedroom that morning. Christian's response to his dad was his new favorite excuse: "I'm in crutches!" That usually left him alone but it wasn't going to help him when Grace steps foot into his room.

"Yeah, I wasn't expecting company so don't mind the mess…" he explained to his friend.

Grace stood in the middle of the room, unsure of where to sit. His room was small, with just enough space to fit a dresser, which he left half open, a cluttered study table and computer chair that he never uses because he usually skips out on the studying, a television he had left on and an unmade twin size bed. While he had a hamper, he evidently was not a fan of using it as he left several pieces of clothing haphazardly thrown on the floor. Noticing the mess with fresh eyes, he grabbed his dirty clothes and threw them in the hamper as quickly as a person could in crutches.

"So… sit anywhere," he said after finishing up his quick clean-up.

Grace chose the computer chair and he hoped he masked his disappointment. Not that he was expecting anything to happen, but he noted the distance between the two of them as he plopped himself down on his bed.

"What're we watching?" Grace asked as he turned on his DVD player.

"Alfred Hitchcock's 'Psycho,'" he answered with a grin.

Grace's face immediate fell and Christian knew why. He suddenly remembered that ever since they were kids, his friend was not a fan of horror movies.

"Christian…" she whined. "You know how much horror movies freak me out."

He knew but he was really looking forward to his movie night. He had meant it when he declined Vivian's invite and told her that he had plans. He just didn't tell her that his plans involved watching a classic horror movie that was delivered by mail to his house just that afternoon.

"Aww but Grace, this is a classic!" he said, trying to reason with her. "I know you don't like gory movies but I promise you, this isn't gory."

Grace pouted and Christian tried his best not to focus on her mouth for too long.

"Yeah but still… You're asking a lot of me, Baxter."

"I know," he started. "Let's make a deal then. You watch 'Psycho' with me tonight and on the next movie night, I'll watch whatever chick flick you want to watch. I know how much you love chick flicks."

Grace raised an eyebrow, intrigued. She was quiet for a moment before biting her lip and again, he tried not to stare.

"I have another proposal…" she began. "I'll watch 'Psycho' with you even though you know how much I hate horror movies… and you'll finish all of your writing assignments for the next week."

Christian stared at Grace, impressed with her ability to manipulate him to do what he hated to do: schoolwork. He crossed his arms and contemplated her proposal. It didn't take long for him to agree to her terms and upon agreement, came the realization that he had found the motivation he needed to do complete his assignments. His dad would be relieved.

"Alright," he said with a nod.

A triumphant smile appeared on Grace's face but it disappeared quickly once Christian started the movie. Christian glanced at Grace, who, five minutes into the movie, already looked extremely edgy.

"Hey, are you okay?" he asked.

Grace laughed nervously and nodded. "I'm okay."

Christian returned his attention back to the movie when Grace spoke up again.

"Hey, would it be okay if I sit with you?"

Christian scooted over and patted the empty space next to him. "Yeah, come here."

Grace immediately plopped herself down. However, seeing how edgy she really was made him feel bad.

"We can watch something else, Grace."

Grace shook her head. "No, I'll be fine. Just make sure you get an A on next week's assignment or else you will star in your own horror movie."

Christian chuckled and settled in. In his twin sized bed, it was difficult to have any personal space but he really didn't mind. He didn't complain either when Grace grabbed a hold of his arm during several tense moments in the movie but he made sure to keep his hands to himself. He realized then that he has never been more motivated to get an A for his assignments because it was the best way to spend more time with Grace. Before he knew it, an hour and a half passed and the movie was over. He turned to Grace who was still holding on to his arm.

"See? That wasn't bad, right?" he asked.

Grace turned to him, eyes wide. "I don't think I'm going to sleep tonight. And on top of that, I'm never taking a shower every again. I'm going to be sleep deprived and I'm going to stink. You've ruined me, Baxter."

Christian laughed with his hands in the air in defeat. "But I promise you I'll get an A next week."

Grace punched him lightly on the arm in response. "You better."

"So, I'm thinking that next week's movie should be – "

Suddenly, Grace's cell phone rang loudly, cutting Christian off midsentence. A playful ringtone continued as Grace fumbled to get her phone out of her purse. Upon seeing the caller's ID, Grace smiled apologetically and stood up to take the phone call.

"Hey Shia," Grace murmured on her phone.

Christian looked away and picked up a nearby magazine, feigning interest. Grace had lowered her voice but he was still within earshot of the one-sided conversation.

"How's the party? Oh, really? What? I can't really hear you because of the music… Uh huh. Yeah. No, I'm feeling better. Yeah… don't worry about it. Ok. Well, be safe. Can I call you back later? All right. You too. Bye."

Grace turned around and gave Christian another apologetic smile. "That was Shia," she said as she stuffed her phone back into her purse.

"I figured," Christian said as he pushed the magazine to the side.

He wanted to ask about her what she meant when she told Shia she was feeling better but he didn't want her to know that he was listening to their conversation. So, he kept quiet and for the second time that night, an awkward silence filled the space between the two of them. She sat back down on the bed but she balanced herself on the edge, expanding the distance.

"Well, I guess I should get going…" Grace said after another couple of minutes of silence.

"All right," he said, even though he didn't mean it. "I'll walk you out."

They said their goodbyes quickly; the two of them feeling uncomfortable after Shia's phone call brought them back to reality. With Grace gone, Christian returned to his empty bedroom, already regretting her abrupt exit.

It was 11:00 pm when Grace got home and she felt drained. She climbed into bed but found that while her body was tired, her mind was busy with conflicting thoughts. She tried to push all thoughts of Christian and Shia away but when she did that, she thought about the horror movie she had just watched and that did not help her sleep. By 11:30 pm, she was still wide awake and staring at her darkened bedroom ceiling. Suddenly, her phone chimed, signaling a text message.

11:33 pm
From: Christian B.
Hey. I hope you're not struggling to sleep because of the movie.

Grace smiled. It was nice to know he was thinking of her, even though it was probably because he was feeling guilty. She immediately texted a reply back.

11:34 pm
To: Christian B.
You've ruined me, Baxter.

Grace had expected a text back, but to her surprise, her cell rang a minute later, signaling a phone call. She answered after the second ring, her smile breaking into a full grin.

"Hey Christian," she greeted.

"Hi, I'm sorry," Christian said, voice husky.

"Let me count the ways you can make it up to me…" she began, creating a list and continuing their break from reality with a phone call that lasted until Grace was able to fall asleep peacefully.