Chapter 2

The next morning was Saturday so she slept late. She rolled out of bed and walked sleepily downstairs. "Morning," she grunted at her dad, who was fixing lunch.

"Afternoon," her dad corrected with a smile.

"Whatever." Lexie dismissed with a wave, grabbing half of her dad's sandwich.

"Vanessa called," her dad said after he chewed. "Your mom called too."

Lexie shrugged. Her mother meant close to nothing to her. Her parents had divorced when Lexie was a baby and Lexie saw her periodically, during the summer and some holidays, but even when she was at her mom's house, she still didn't see her mom, who worked most of the time. The only good thing about her mother was that she lived in Hawaii, practicing law there. "What did she want? There aren't any major holidays coming up, it's only the beginning of October." Lexie chewed.

"She wanted to see how you were doing and make sure that you were coming Thanksgiving," her dad replied. "Which I told her that you were."

"No choice." Lexie grumbled.

"Lex, she loves you," her dad said quietly.

"I know. it's just that. even when I'm there with her, she's barely around. I barely know her." Lexie replied. "Some mother-daughter relationship."

"Aww, Lexie-poo," her dad said softly.

"DAD!" Lexie yelled in compliant. "You know I hate that nickname!"

"That doesn't mean that I won't call you it. just not in front of your friends, I know," her dad added as her mouth had opened to tell him the usual when he called her the dreaded nickname. They had been through this conversation before. "You better call Vanessa back, she's probably about to burst with whatever gossip she's got for you."

"Ugh, I don't want to hear about it, it's probably just party talk and sympathy about that whole ordeal last night." Lexie grumbled.

"Ordeal?" her dad asked, grabbing the potato chips out of the pantry and opening them. He offered her some, which she waved away, and took some for himself. "What ordeal?"

"Oh, last night, I was dancing with this guy, next to this really hot guy, when this really nasty, trashy girl tripped me, making me plow into the hot guy." Lexie made a face.

Her dad gave her a look. "One more time so that I can make sure I understand this."

"It was pretty vague, wasn't it?" Lexie asked. He nodded briefly. "Okay, well. I was dancing with this guy named Matt. His best friend and really hot guy Ryan was next to him, dancing with this trashy, annoying girl named Julia. Julia tripped me and I plowed into Ryan." Lexie put her head in her hands.

"Honey, they'll probably forget about it, if not today but soon," her dad consoled. "In the long run, it isn't the small things that matters." Lexie grunted. "I gotta go to the office now, sweetie."

"On a Saturday?" Lexie came out of her self pity long enough to stare incredulously at her dad.

"Hey, someone's gotta provide for this family," her dad kissed the top of her head. "Bye, sweetie," he scooped up the BMW keys and left, briefcase in hand.

Lexie picked up the phone and dialed Vanessa. "Hey, you called?" she asked as soon as Vanessa picked up.

"Hello, dearest pie, I'm fine, thanks." Vanessa shot back. Lexie grunted. "I was just wondering if you wanted to hit up the mall with Annie, Sar, and Denise."

"I don't know if I can handle going out in public." Lexie groaned back.

"Oh come on, Lex, it wasn't THAT bad! Plus, he helped you up." Vanessa pointed out.

"As I died in embarrassment." Lexie shot back.

Vanessa sighed then half teased, "Honestly, you are so over dramatic."

"Thanks, Nessa." Lexie grumbled.

"Always here for a reality check when you need one!" Vanessa shot back cheerfully. Lexie snort-grunted. "So are we gonna hit up the mall or what?" "Sure, why not. when I wallow in self pity, I like to buy stuff." Lexie half-heartedly joked.

"That's my Lexie! All right, meet us at the Macy's entrance at 4:15." Vanessa said cheerfully. "Bye, Lex."

"Bye, Nessa." Lexie sighed, hanging up. Then she muttered under her breath, "Now all I have to do is work up some energy."

She drove to the mall and arrived around 4:25. Her friends were all waiting. "Wear a watch much, Lex?" Vanessa asked sarcastically.

"No, the fun time starts when I show up." Lexie shot back.

"Not short on confidence, are we?" Vanessa asked as they walked into Macy's.

"Nope." Lexie shot back, picking up a turquoise shoe.

"Ugh, what would you wear with this?" Vanessa slapped down the shoe in disgust.

"Apparently that." Lexie gestured across the aisle to an equally hideous turquoise top. They cracked up laughing and walked quickly out since the saleswomen were giving them dirty looks.

On Monday morning, Lexie parked the Jetta in a whirl of tires at school. She was running late, thanks some traffic. She piled out of the Jetta, clicking the open trunk button as she did and locking the car, and glanced around the parking lot. She noticed Ryan climbing out of his black Mustang. He noticed her looking at him and smiled. She looked quickly down and accidentally dropped her keys. She swore under her breath and stooped down to get them.

"Hey, Lexie," she smelled him before she saw him (oh but he smelled SO good!). Her eyes traveled up his tan pants as she stood slowly, taking in his blue t-shirt then finally ended up in his light blue, shirt-enhanced, PERFECT eyes. He was sooo hot!

"Hi," she finally remembered her speech powers. She also remembered the episode on Friday night and flushed, grabbing her backpack, and slammed the trunk shut. He didn't say anything as she paused so she began walking.

He caught up with her easily. "What's your first class?" he asked.

"Chem." Lexie replied, not looking at him.

"Ouch," she saw him half smile out of the corner of her eye. "I have History." Lexie shrugged her shoulders, not too sure about what to say. "History's all right," she didn't meet his eyes.

"Running late?" he asked.

"Yeah. Traffic was heavy this morning." Lexie replied, face on fire with a blush.

"Lexie." Ryan said quietly as he grabbed her arm, stopping her. He didn't continue until she looked up into his concerned eyes. "Are you okay? I mean. you bailed pretty fast on Friday night."

"I was just embarrassed." Lexie ducked her head and stared at his Vans. She silently added, "Like I am now."

"Oh." Ryan said softly.

Lexie made a big production of looking at her watch. "Look, I'm gonna be late for class-"

"I'll walk you." Ryan jumped in. Lexie looked up at him, surprised, and he quickly covered, saying, "I'm heading that direction anyway."

"Oh. okay." Lexie shrugged. They began walking again. "Did you have a good time at the party?"

"Yeah." Ryan replied.

Lexie waited for him to say more but he didn't. "You and Julia looked like you were having a good time," that was neutral, wasn't it? It was, given the fact that Lexie wanted to heave at the mention of Julia.

"Yeah, she's pretty cool." Ryan replied with a shrug, digging his hands into his pockets.

Lexie wanted to shoot back, "No she's not, she's a skank," but chose not to comment. "Matt's pretty cool too."

"Yeah." Ryan kicked at the pavement slightly.

"Something wrong?" Lexie asked finally. "I mean, a few seconds ago, you were asking me the questions and I was giving the one word answers."

Ryan looked up, slightly surprised. "No, no. I'm just thinking."

"Okay." Lexie glanced away. This was the most awkward conversation she'd had in a while, especially with a guy that she liked. Usually she flirted and joked around with the guy that she liked.

But with Ryan. she was drawing a blank. So she just waited for him to speak.

"Nice day," he finally said after a few beats of uncomfortable silence (and what a great awkward silence breaker he was).

"Yeah, I know," that was three words, wasn't it? This was the best monosyllabic conversation Lexie had ever had, one for the record books, considering the fact that she was counting her words.

"So do you hang out with Julia?" Ryan asked.

Lexie struggled not to make a face. "We aren't really friends." Ha, that was an understatement of the CENTURY!

"She's a good dancer." Ryan said softly.

"Matt's pretty good too." Lexie replied. She couldn't help saying that; he was just so into stupid Julia that she didn't know what else to say.

He held the door open for her as she walked into school. She nodded her thanks and they continued down the empty hall. "I think the bell rang." Ryan said softly.

"Me too." Lexie sighed.

"I'm sorry if I made you late." Ryan said earnestly.

"It's okay." Lexie shrugged.

"I'll see you around?" Ryan asked. Their eyes met and she noticed a hopeful look crossing his features.

It was so adorable; the awkwardness drained away as Lexie smiled back. "Yeah, I'll see you around," she smiled one last small smile before running to Chemistry.