"I'll be seeing you..." I stared miserably at my shoes as I sat on the park bench the next day. I'd come home the day before, miserable. Thankfully, it was a Friday night and both Olivia and the twins had left for a benefit and had only shouted orders at me to do some last-minute ironing before they left. I'd had the whole day to contemplate my fight with Aaron, and it seemed like neither of us was going to back down. I'd planned on IMing him, but realized he must have blocked me when he didn't come online once. There wasn't really anywhere to go, but Olivia and the twins had kept me busy preparing brunch for them-Olivia had friends coming over and of course Lil and Liss were there. She'd apparently told them I was the maid-"She doesn't look Hispanic," one of Olivia's friends had hissed-which wasn't too flattering.
Now it was near six and I'd been perched on the park bench for half an hour, listening to music on my headphones and trying not to think about how depressing my life was at that moment. I turned off my headphones and sighed. I could still hear some faint music, even though I was sure I'd turned my headphones off. I mentally kicked myself (it does actually hurt when you imagine my feet kicking) and checked them again. I was right-I had turned them off. Great, so now I was hallucinating too. But it sounded so real...
I took a cautious step towards where I thought the sound was coming from. As I walked towards the music, Barry Manilow's voice grew louder and louder.
I looked down moodily at my shoes, just following the music. What was wrong with me? Why couldn't I just turn around and leave?
The sound of the trumpets grew louder and louder until I realized with a start that I was surrounded by people, mostly sitting on picnic blankets and listening to a live band.
"What is this?" I realized I had spoken the words aloud when everyone turned to stare at me as the band slowly faded out.
"Alexandra?" Mrs. Cummings looked up at me. Great. Mrs. Cummings had caught me at my worst, wandering into a concert in the park. God knows what she was planning this time. A police interrogation of why I was in the park, maybe?
"Um, Mrs. Cummings, um, I'm sorry, I'll just leave-" I began before she could call out her secret troops to arrest me.
"It's no trouble really," An old woman with a severe grey bun assured me. Everyone there seemed to be around Mrs. Cummings' age, which couldn't have made them too young if you know what I mean. "Sit down."
I must have looked like I was about to turn around and leave when she explained. "There are live concerts in the park on Saturday nights, and you've just stumbled into one." I opened my mouth to say sorry, but she cut me off. "It's lucky you found us-we've been looking to attract a younger audience. I mean, we're all pretty much over pension age here."
"Hey!" A voice protested somewhere. I knew that voice. I-
"Well, all of us except for Tyler, that is." The woman finished. "I'm Jennifer Thomas, and this is..."
I didn't hear any more of the woman's words, feeling instead like I was dreaming. Tyler? Ty was here?
"Anyway, why don't you just sit next to someone your age for now? Tyler, make some space for the girl." Mrs. Thomas commanded regally, and I sat down next to him, trying not to stare but doing it anyway.
"So," Tyler stared back at me. "Care to explain why you weren't there yesterday?"
A million different lies rushed through my head, but I couldn't bring myself to say any of them. He'd been honest with me; I owed that at least to him. But the truth itself was too embarrassing. "I...can't." I said somewhat sheepishly.
He let his breath out in a slow whistle.
"It wasn't you," I protested. "Something came up..."
"What?" He questioned me. "Why can't you tell me?"
"Well, for one thing, I barely know you!" It came out angrier than I'd intended. His eyes widened.
"Maybe we should go somewhere a little quieter?" He suggested
I'd dreamed about this moment so much-that some guy would say that to me. But while it was happening, I didn't even notice. It was only later, when I was contemplating it for the thousandth time that I came to the conclusion that everything I'd wanted had been right there.
But right then, all I wanted was to run away.
"Look," He said as he sat on a swing. "I'm sorry if I sounded harsh, but I waited there and..."
I sat on the swing next to Tyler's. "I'm sorry."
He kicked the sand with his sneakers. "Forget it. It's over."
"No, really, I mean-" I continued, but he held up a hand.
"Do you feel like dancing?" Tyler asked me.
"Dancing? I-no." This was something I was going to regret, I realized. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I wished I hadn't said them.
"I do." He said. "And you're dancing with me." And with that, he pulled me off the swing, leaving no time for regrets. I let him bring me back to the concert. The dance floor was crowded with couples. I let out a sigh of relief when I realized that the band had switched to a fast song-there was no way I was ready for a slow dance yet.
And right then, my phone rang.
"I thought Barry Manilow was dead." Lil remarked, throwing herself on her bed.
"No, babe, that's Barry White." Liss crinkled up her nose. "What kind of a name is that? Like, Barry Blue?" She laughed loudly and Lil joined in.
Needless to say, Olivia hadn't believed my story about the jazz music in the park, and had sentenced me to doing the laundry right then, as opposed to after school.
"I want to see all of it back in the closet by tomorrow." She'd remarked. "And maybe then you'll learn not to lie."
The twins had decided to torture me more and put clothes that weren't even dirty down the laundry chute, and they'd forced me to come upstairs to collect their socks that they thought were 'too dirty to, like, touch'.
"So, like, what happened to Vampire Boy?" Liss yawned and stretched her hands above her head.
I realized she was talking to me. I looked up. "Vampire Boy?"
Lil looked alarmed. "Ohmigod. Like a werewolf? Like Ginger Snaps?
"No, babe, like in Van Helsing." Liss smoothed out her hair.
Now Lil looked ready to grab a stake. "Oh my god!"
"He's not really a vampire." I assured her.
Lil looked petrified. "Are you sure?"
"Positive." I nodded.
"Thanks, babe." Had Lil just called me babe?
I felt like doing a victory dance. Instead, I continued picking up the socks.
"So, are you, like dating him?" Liss twisted a strand of hair around her finger. I really wished she wouldn't keep on finger-combing it. It was kind of gross.
"Hell no!" I threw the last of the socks into the chute, not really sure why I was trusting in Liss.
"You guys had a fight, huh?" Lil nodded understandingly. "So why don't you sit at our table at lunch, babe?"
I stared at her. "Me?"
"Yeah, of course, you, Ellie!" Liss smiled and studied a strand of hair. It didn't even annoy me this time.
"Except...we have to be sure that you've ditched Dracula, once and for all." Lil smiled a satisfied smile. "You in?"
"I'm in." I smiled back.
Maybe doing the laundry has some upsides after all.
A/N: Boring chapter, I know, but the fun's just about to start! Hint: Aaron will feature prominently in the next chapter...