How long was I supposed to wait?
A day? Two? Longer?
Maybe it would be weird if I ran into her at school without calling at all. Or maybe that's how it was supposed to play out. Then again, I didn't want her to think me desperate or needy. And I certainly wasn't either. Bianca and I had gone out the day before and I was starting to drive myself half-crazy trying to figure out how long to wait until I gave her a phone call. At least, I thought that's what you were supposed to do.
Fan-fuckin-tastic. The first girl that's interested in me in months, and there's a lofty chance I'll undoubtedly screw it up. Yup. I was certainly on the fast track to failure.
Grandpa Joe had sat me down and given me an earful on the dating game when I was 12. Though, at the time, I couldn't care less about trying to properly please the opposite sex. Even now, at 17, I was just as clueless. As much as I appreciated his personal advice and countless words of encouragement, I feared the man didn't know what he was talking about. The generational gaps certainly put a strain and blurred the level of expectations and standards that stood between us. My dad was obviously a far cry from a shining example, so I could easily overlook any positive imagery he might have set or left behind. I literally had nothing to rely on beside my own (hopefully) reasonable judgment.
The phone rang twice before she picked up. "Hello?"
"Hi Bianca. It's me, Levi."
She giggled. "I know it's you. We've talked enough for me to recognize your voice by now."
"Right." Nice one, dumbass. "Well, how are you?"
"I'm fine," she replied chipperly. "Even bettter now that you called."
"Good to know."
"So, yesterday was fun. I can't remember the last time a date took me to a restaurant without expecting me to fork over cash to cover half of the bill."
"I'd rather pull a dine and dash with you than ask for your money."
"Maybe we could do that next time," she added slyly.
"That depends," I said.
"How fast can you run in heels?"
Her laugh was full. "Oh, shush! I love wearing heels. They're super cute. That's why I wore them on our date. But there is like no way I'm going to wear heels if I know I'll be running. Besides, in case you've already forgotten, I'm on the girls' varsity soccer team."
"Only when it suits me. And gloating isn't the same as relaying a fact."
"Fair enough," I said.
The remainder of the conversation went over more smoothly than any previous talk we'd ever had over the phone. The awkwardness wasn't nearly dominant as it had been once before. Plus, there was hardly any tension left to deal with. Most of which came from her side – patiently waiting for me to make a move. Looking back, I now realize how oblivious I was to the little things.
Bianca was a big flirt. Even now, I could see it in our playful banter. She had been responsive before I even knew she was interested in me. But now that all the cards were on the table, she had become even more forward and bold. On our date Bianca had been as warm and friendly as ever. It wasn't something I was accustomed to, at least not romantically. I was fortunate enough to ease into the atmosphere she had set by the middle of our night together.
Of course I had to deal with the infamous To Kiss or Not to Kiss dilemma that goes along with first date jitters.
Damn nerves to hell.
I was so out of practice that I had decided – before the night was even close to being over – I wouldn't make a move. Maybe I would manage to muster up some courage if we happened to go out a second time. Naturally, I walked Bianca to her front door. She sent me a strange look when I offered to walk the long pathway with her. When we reached her front door I decided to ask about it.
"What's that about?" I said.
"What's what about?"
"This." And I mimicked the odd expression she had given me in the car.
"Oh," she let out a breathy laugh. "It's just that you've been surprising me all night."
I tucked my hands into my jacket pockets. "All right..."
"But, in a good way," she quickly explained.
"I don't know how I managed to do that for you. But I'm glad I did."
"Me too," she smiled.
The unavoidable silence and palpable tension fell over us. I'd never coped well with this type of pressure, so I decided it was time for me to hit the road. "Well, I should get going."
"Okay," she said.
At that graceless moment, I wanted nothing more than to clear out of there and get away from the awkwardness. But her demeanor shot the idea to hell. Bianca wasn't a subtle creature and it was obvious she was expecting a kiss. I had the incredible urge to laugh after examining the sizeable vulnerability etched across her expectant features. Before I had the chance to change my mind, I decided to just go for it. The worst that would happen is that she'd laugh at me.
With my hands still in their pockets, I leaned toward her. Bianca raised her face upward to close the distance between us. Either I was never really out of practice, or she was just that good of a kisser.
I ventured my way down the stairs so I could make myself a quick lunch. Holly and Georgie's laughter reached my ears, and I detected their activity coming from the kitchen. After rounding the corner, I found them inside the spacious kitchen, chatting with Michael. Normally, I was put off by the simple idea of the guy, but I decided on a whim to join them.
"Where's Mom?" I said.
"Hello to you too, stud," Holly said. "You got in pretty late last night. How was your little date?"
Michael smiled, clearly interested. "You had a date yesterday?"
Holly persisted. "How was it?"
"Would you mind sparing us the details for now?" Georgie said. "I already know Bianca is going to be gushing about it to all the girls tomorrow during practice."
"This girl is a friend of yours, Georgie?" Michael said.
I immediately locked eyes with my twin. We shared an uncomfortable look before she spoke.
"I guess," she shrugged. "She plays on the school soccer team with me."
"Where's Mom?" I asked once more.
Michael spoke up. "Your mother is on her way home from work. She and I are going to visit Long Beach for the day."
Right on cue, Mom walked through the front door looking a little disheveled, but smiling nonetheless. "Hi guys."
Michael stood from his seat at the table and kissed her on the cheek.
"Aw," Holly cooed.
Georgie looked away, as uncomfortable as ever with displays of affection. And all I did was try my very best to refrain from shoving him into the wall. I could easily do it too, considering my height advantage over the man. Hmm.
Mom pulled away from him before I was able to do anything. She held up a finger. "Give me a few minutes, Michael. I need to change out of these smutty work clothes."
"It's fine," he said. "Take your time."
Holly faced the man with her arms crossed and a teasing smile. "So, why aren't you taken yet?"
Georgie sidled up beside me as the two of us watched in amusement.
"What do you mean?" he said.
"You're nice, cute, and funny. Why haven't you been snatched up by some other woman yet?"
"I have been married before."
"How many times?" I asked.
Georgie burst into laughter and covered her mouth even though it was too late.
The man answered the question anyway. "I've only been married once."
"So, what happened?" Holly said.
Georgie had already sobered. "C'mon, Hol. That isn't any of our business."
"It's fine, Georgie," he said. "It really has to do a lot with my job. In the beginning of my career, it required me to move around a lot. After a few years, my wife got fed up with constantly changing locations, so we split."
"Does your job still require you to change locations from time to time?" I said.
"It does," he said. "But after so many promotions, it's a rarity for me."
"But it does happen," I persisted.
I crossed my arms and leaned back. "Hmm."
Just then, Mom breezed back into the room. "Okay, I'm ready." She briefly glanced in my direction before facing Michael. She touched his arm. "Would you mind waiting in the car? I'll be there in a minute but I need to make a quick phone call."
"It's fine," he kissed her cheek again. "Don't be too long."
He waved from the front door. "I'll see the rest of you soon."
"Yippee," I muttered. I should've seen it coming: Georgie pinching the hell out of my neck. Her reflexes were speedy, and she jumped back before I could shove her hand away.
Mom sent my sisters a meaningful gaze. "Would you girls mind? I need to speak to your brother alone."
Ever obedient, Georgie left the room with no objections.
Holly on the other hand laughed. "Go easy on him, mom. He's a little dense at times."
"Holly," Mom warned.
"I'm leaving, I'm leaving."
I tried tripping Holly on her way out of the kitchen, but all that earned me was a solid punch in the arm. I tried to go after her, but Mom's penetrating eyes kept me rooted to my spot. I stood there, silent. Was I in trouble?
She examined me for what felt like a good 30 seconds. Finally, she smiled reluctantly and shook her head. "Sometimes you act just like you're his clone."
That was random. "Uh, what?"
"I'm talking about your father. You look exactly like him when you brute around Michael."
"Thanks," I replied dryly. "That's more than enough reason for me to stop. I hate the guy," I said, referring to my dad.
Her voice was even. "I know. But I'm glad you're nothing like him. Well, the majority of the time, anyway." She smoothed down my dirty blond hair which had just recently started to grow out. "But at least you got his good looks. That's a good thing," she winked.
"Is that what you wanted to talk to me about?"
"I wanted to talk to you about Michael. I know you have your reasons for being wary, and I think it's sweet that you care so much about your ol' mom. But I'm asking you to give the man a chance. I like him, and he sincerely wants to get to know you kids. He can't do that, Levi, if you don't let him. Anyway," she spared the clock a look. "I don't want to keep him waiting. I'll be back later tonight. Try not to strangle your sisters while I'm gone."
"No promises," I said.
After hustling up the lunch my stomach had craved over an hour ago, I ate feeling more satisfied than I had in a long time. I called Donyelle afterward asking if I could come over to hang out. She said it would be fine as long as I didn't mind dealing with her father. I groaned at the thought but decided to go anyway, despite my better judgment.
Her father answered the door. Knowing her, she had probably conveniently placed herself further away from the front door just so I'd be forced to interact with her dad. He was one of the handful of men that had an inch or two on me. His dark features made him that much more intimidating. The man gave me a scrutinizing once over. "Hello Levi."
"Hi, Mr. Vasquez. I came to see Donyelle."
He stepped aside, and waved me in. "She's in her room."
I forced out a polite smile. "Thank you, sir."
His stern voice stopped me before I could begin my ascent on the staircase. "Leave the door open."
My spine stiffened. "Of course." I almost bumped into her after turning down the hallway that lead to her bedroom.
Donyelle was leaning against the wall with a satisfied smile. "He's warming up to you."
"Yeah," I said. "It's only taken 14 years of me being in your life. Maybe I could talk to him about sports once I've hit the 20 year mark."
She patted my cheek and laughed. "That's if I decide to keep you around that long."
I followed her into her bedroom and sprawled out across the carpet.
"You got in late last night," she said from her desk.
I raised myself up on my elbows. "How do you know?"
"Malachi and I were outside when he noticed your car drive past."
"Oh, how is he?"
"He's been home a lot more lately, so I've been hanging out with him more often. He told me that he drove up to Berkeley to visit Audrey. Said she can't wait to come home for the summer."
"Huh," I settled back down on the floor. "She didn't tell me about that."
"So, how did your date go?"
This was new. I constantly pinned her with this question but she never once tagged me with it. Granted, it had been awhile for me. Even so, she had never asked me how a date went. Not once.
"It was fine. Why do you ask?"
I smiled. "Why?"
"My best friend goes on a date, and I can't ask how it was?"
"I didn't say that. I'm just surprised your want to know."
"Fine. You're surprised," she rolled her eyes. "How was it? Are you going out again?"
I sat up once more. "I just told you, it was fine. And yeah, we're going out again. I called her earlier today. We're going out next Thursday."
"Okay. That's cool."
"What's with you?"
She didn't say anything.
She looked up from her desk. "What?"
"I just asked what's with you."
"What?" she snapped. "I'm fine."
I stood up. "What are you getting mad at me for? I didn't do anything."
Her hazel eyes narrowed before she shook her head. "Nothing, it's nothing." She rubbed her temple and let out a nervous laugh. "It isn't anything. Forget it." She crossed her legs and leaned back in her chair. "What do you wanna do?"
"Oh, no you don't," I kneeled down in front of her. "What's going on?"
She crossed her arms. "Who said anything was goin' on?"
"I did. Now spill it."
"Levi, there's nothing to get worked up over. I'm being stupid. It'll probably pass. I'm fine. All right? Can we just drop this?"
I was about to persist until she gave me a pleading look that begged me to back off.
I sighed. "Fine. But you'll tell me eventually, won't you?"
She bit her lip and looked away.
"No, no. You have to promise." I held up one of my pinkies, waiting for her to hold up her own.
She rolled her eyes. "What is this, 1st grade?"
"This is a sacred gesture," I replied deathly serious.
"Whatever." She offered her much shorter pinky and I locked my finger around hers before we shook them together. I smiled reassuringly while she chuckled. "This is so stupid," she said.
"So?" I shrugged.
Donyelle sent me one of her brightest smiles. She stared at me afterward, and her smile transitioned into something unrecognizable. Before I could thoroughly read her face, she looked to the side and pulled her hand away from mine. She pushed her chair back and stood. "We should get out of here. My dad doesn't like the idea of you being in here."
"Yeah, I sorta noticed that."
She stuffed a few things into her purse before facing me. "Let's go."
To ConfusedYellowStallion: I really am sorry that I didn't get this posted in the time frame I had promised. Things came up, but I'm still alive so it's all good. Thanks for the words. =]
To everyone else (including all you lurkers)...
Thanks for taking the time to read this wacky crackpot of a story. Take it easy.
- AKA Todd
- AKA Alexis Bledels recent stalker
Story edited 11/26/11