It was one of those gloomy days on which you can see the clouds are filled up with rain; near bursting. There were three of us who still decided to go out and walk to lunch when seventh period came around.
We left the high school prepared to brave the forces of nature; well, only my best friend, James, was prepared. He was carrying one of those portable umbrellas that extend and open when you push a button.
I, however, was highly unprepared. I was wearing a gauzylight pinktee and jeans that were tight, yet way too long for my short legs. I hadn't bothered straightening my curly mane that morning since I knew the moist air would just un-straighten it and leave me with a mass of frizz on my head.
The third person who was walking to Eddie D's Pizzeria for lunch with us was one of our mutual friends, Charlie. He walked ridiculously slow and stayed a good twenty feet behind us.
We had walked for about two blocks when the clouds exploded and the rain came falling down in buckets. James fumbled with the umbrella, trying to get it open, for the button seemed to be stuck, but it was useless. We were soaked almost instantly. My hair fell in limp, wet waves down my back and my newcherub pink IPEX demi-bra was visible through my now translucent tee.
James's dark hair was now plastered to his head. He raked a hand through it, causing it to stand up in cute little spikes. Charlie took the umbrella and finally got it to open; handing it back to James. I raced ahead in my white and pink sneakers; spinning around carelessly and dancing in the rain.
A couple of sleazy twenty-something men on the other side of the road caught my attention. One let out a cat call and another shouted "nice bra, honey." They men stared at me from across the street and I could feel their gazes searing through my top to my rather ample bosom. Yes, ample. That bra I mentioned before. It's a size 36D.
Before I knew it, James was at my side. He wrapped me up in his jacket, threw an arm around my shoulders, and pulled me into his side tightly so I was under the umbrella with him. James was considerably taller than the men and his muscular frame seemed to intimidate them. They turned away and resumed the conversation they were having before setting their eyes on my bra and me.
"Wow, overprotective much, J?" Charlie asked from behind us. James had not released his hold on me. In fact, at hearing Charlie, he'd pulled me closer.
"Fuck off, Charlie. They were fucking perverts, staring at my Emma like that."
"If I'm not mistaken, you gave Emma quite the look, too, when she was spinning around like a lunatic. And since when is she your Emma?" Charlie asked. I found it rather interesting how they were talking about me as if I wasn't even present. But, I was wondering the same thing as Charlie.
"She's not my Emma, per se. But, she's my best friend and I don't want anyone but me to look at her like that."
"That's a little selfish, James. You wanna keep her all to yourself? How the hell's she ever gonna be able to find her soulmate if you're there chasing them all away from her?"
"I…she…well…ugh! Just shut up, Charlie!" James stammered; his face flushing an adorable shade of red. He was kind of cute when he was flustered and on the defensive like this.
James let go of me; to my dismay, I will admit. I looked at Charlie to find him grinning rather cheekily. Damn, he's got something up his sleeve.
"She…she…Emma, if you want to find your soulmate, don't let me hold you back." James muttered. "Really, feel free to date whoever you want. I have no desire to keep you all to myself."
At that, Charlie sauntered over to me and wrapped an arm around my waist casually.
"Thanks for the go ahead, J. Now, Em, I've been meaning to ask you something. Would you like to, perhaps, go out with me, as a date, sometime?" Charlie asked as we reached the pizzeria.
"Hmm…sounds good to me. So, yeah, sure, Charlie. I would love to go out with you sometime." I smiled at Charlie; going along with his obvious little plan to get James jealous. But when we looked around, James was already seated at a table by himself. It was two tables away from our usual booth in the back corner of the pizzeria. His head was bowed and his gaze was cast downward onto the shiny red table. But, despite his attempt to hide it, I could see his face was red and his eyes were filled with something I had never seen in his eyes before. It was something unfamiliar, something I couldn't quite put my finger on.
I tapped Charlie and gestured towards the sulking James. Charlie gave me a nudge and whispered softly in my ear, "go."
So, I did. I walked cautiously over to James and sat across from him. He didn't look up.
"James? You okay?" I asked. He remained silent. I got up and went to James's side of the booth. I nudged him over and slid onto the seat beside him.
"James? Talk to me. What's wrong? What did I do?"
"Nothing's wrong. You did nothing." He said in a voice that was barely above a whisper.
"Bullshit, J. I'm not retarded. What's up?"
"Why Charlie? You can go out with anyone and you pick Charlie!?" James cried.
"Hey, Charlie's good. You're friends with Charlie. You should be more supportive." I lifted his chin and turned his face towards me; forcing him to look at me. He looked sad and disappointed. "But, I'm not going out with Charlie. We weren't being serious, J. Charlie's just a friend. I don't like him in that way, that more-than-just-friends way."
"Oh." James breathed softly.
"But you were jealous, weren't you?"
"No." He blushed.
"Yes, you were. You wouldn't be blushing if I was wrong."
"I'm not blushing!" He protested.
"You so are."
"Well, so what if I was jealous!? How could I not be!? How I could I not want such a smart, sweet, beautiful girl for myself, Em? I…never mind." James cried in frustration.
"You think I'm beautiful?" I asked softly; tracing his strong jaw with my right index finger.
"No. I know you're beautiful." He said. "You're beautiful when you laugh, when you cry, when you smile, when you frown. You're beautiful when you sleep and when you blush. You're the most beautiful girl in the whole world, Emma Leigh Talbot." My heart melted at this and my stomach flipped over inside me.
On impulse, I ran my finger over James's lips and I felt him tremble at my touch.
"James, you are the best best friend a girl could have."
"Don't say that, Em. Nobody wants to be the best friend. They want to be the love of your life or the dream guy or boyfriend or whatever. Can't you see I'm in love with you, Emma? I don't want to deal with being just your best friend anymore. I love you too damn much and it hurts to be just your best friend."
"James, I…I love you, too. I didn't say you were just my best friend. You are my best friend and my soulmate. You're my everything, James Carter Harris."
And then his lips were on mine and right in the middle of Eddie D's pizzeria, I found my soulmate. He's perfect and he loves me and he is my world. And at that moment, while James's perfect lips were on mine and his arms were wrapped around me, I knew that James and I would be together forever.
"I love you, Emma. Always have, always will."
"I love you, too."
"Get a room, losers."
"Shut up, Charlie!"