I was planning on updating yesterday, but I had a huge English research project to work on, so I didn't get the chance. So here it is now.
To s-pecial-lee me, losingmyfaith, icequeen401, BoredomKills0620, woodstock1969, Pinkamoo, rockMus, Pieces of the sun, yen yang river, and Bella Ride: Thanks so much for the reviews you guys sent :D I really appreciate them!
Okay. Last chapter.
The dining room looked absolutely beautiful. The long table, covered with a brown and orange tablecloth, was set with glass plates. Creatively folded napkins were placed in the middle of each one, and two orange candles were set on either side of the centerpiece; a cornucopia. A simple but pretty glass chandelier hung in the middle of the ceiling, filling the entire room with light.
Since the room was so crowded, it took a while for everyone to find their seats. Even though everyone younger than fifteen was seated at the "kid's table" in the kitchen, there were still about 20 people in the dining room. Travis had an older brother, Zach, who was 23 years old; he had invited his fiancé, Danielle. On his dad's side, Travis had two aunts, two uncles, a grandmother, and a grandfather. Karen's side of the family consisted of her sister, her sister's husband, and her two parents. She also had a sixteen-year-old niece and a 19-year-old nephew who, as Karen had informed me earlier, brought their girlfriend and boyfriend.
In the short time it took to get settled at the table, I was briefly introduced to every relative in the room. Names swarmed around in my head as I tried to match them with faces. Before I had the chance to get them all down, however, Karen had made her last trip from the kitchen to the dining room and set the last item of food on the table.
With Travis seated to my left and his cousin, Mariel, on my right, I glanced around at everyone else who was, slowly but surely, starting to quiet down.
"Whadda ya say we get the kids in here to say Grace, eh?" Travis's Uncle Scott asked. His wife, Lillian, got to her feet and rushed into the kitchen to get the rest of them.
A few minutes later, everyone was crammed into the dining room and huddled around the table. Zach was volunteered to say Grace, so he waited until the room was silent.
Everyone linked hands and bowed their heads, creating a huge circle around the dining room table. Travis grabbed my hand, holding it up between our heads with our elbows on the table. He glanced sideways and smiled at me. The simple action forced butterflies into my stomach.
Zach's speech was short and to the point, but very sincere nonetheless. My mother had never brought me up to be very religious, but I liked the fact that Travis's family was. It made the dinner seem all the more special.
Travis's Uncle Carl, a large, stout man with red cheeks and jet black hair (and probably too much wine in him at the moment), was the first to break the silence. "Well, good gravy, good meat, good God, let's eat!" His booming laughter filled the dining room. I guess everyone's entitled to at least one crazy uncle.
The noise started up again, and the kids, taking their plates back with them, retreated into the kitchen. Everyone brought their heads up and dropped hands, but Travis didn't let go of my hand right away. With our fingers interlaced, our hands laid on the tablecloth between our plates. Only when his Uncle asked him to pass the sweet potatoes did he let go.
The dinner was incredible. We had everything from turkey and corn to cranberry sauce and stuffed mushrooms. Karen really was, as promised by Travis, an amazing cook.
Even twenty minutes after everyone had finished eating, we sat around the table telling stories and jokes and laughing up a storm. The rest of Travis's family had turned out to be just as welcoming as I had hoped. I no longer felt like an outsider around them.
When we finally stood up from the table, it had been over two hours since we first sat down. With about 30 people helping to clear the table, it didn't take very long. However, it made for a very difficult trip to the sink through a crowd that large.
Once the table was empty, I offered to help Karen with the dishes, but she refused. "The dishwasher will do all the washing; I just have to rinse them first," she assured me. "But go downstairs with everyone else, alright? I'll be right down." Karen shooed me out of the kitchen, adding a "Thank you anyway, Riley," on my way down the stairs.
Everyone had gathered in the living room, but surprisingly, it wasn't too loud. I assumed that, like me, they all felt drowsy.
Someone had lit a fire in the fireplace, warming the room. All of the other lights were off except for the glow from the television. Travis's uncles had set it to football.
Some of the kids were quietly playing board games on the floor, but most had just taken blankets from the couch and passed out on the rug. Zach had his acoustic guitar over in the corner. He was strumming quietly while his fiancé sat beside him.
Travis had saved a spot for me on the couch. He waved me over and I slid in next to him.
"You having fun?" he asked.
I nodded and smiled.
"Good." He took the blanket that was on his lap and covered me with it, too. Then, almost cautiously, he slid his arm around me.
The dinner combined with the warmth and dimness of the room was making me sluggish. My eyelids felt heavy, so I lowered my head onto Travis's shoulder and shut my eyes.
There were barely any cars on the road as we drove. I yawned and glanced down at the clock on the stereo. The green glowing numbers read, "2:47"
I'm not sure how long I had been in that light, dreamless state on Travis's shoulder, but someone had eventually turned on the lights. I had woken up and raised my head, squinting in the brightness.
Travis had laughed at my clueless expression, until I murmured for him to "kindly shut it."
I suppose my hair was messed up from the nap, because Travis had reached up and casually brushed a few strands from my eyes. I felt my cheeks start to get hot, but Travis thought nothing of it. He had stood up from the couch and stretched his arms above his head for a second, luckily missing the pink color that had risen to my cheeks.
We had grabbed some dessert, but the two of us didn't stay long since I was just about ready to pass out face first in my apple pie. Unfortunately, the cup of coffee I drank didn't have the affect I was hoping for. Travis had grabbed his keys and, after saying goodbye to his family, we were on the road.
Snow started to fall from the dark gray sky. As far as I knew, it was the first snowfall of the year in New York. The cold weather always seemed to miss the rain in early autumn.
I yawned again, shutting my eyes and letting my head drop backwards against the seat.
Travis smiled, glancing at me out of the corner of his eye. "Tired, huh?"
With my eyes still closed, I smirked at him. "Where'd you get an idea like that?"
He pulled into the deserted parking lot of the strip-mall. My white station wagon was, thankfully, right where I had left it.
Travis left his car running and got out, walking with me across two empty parking spaces until we reached mine.
The usually-busy main road was completely clear because of the late hour. With the snow falling gently on the carless gravel, it was both eerie and peaceful at the same time.
I fished around in my bag for my keys while Travis stood with his hands in his pockets. He glanced around as if something was on his mind, but he didn't say anything. The snowflakes were starting to collect in his dark hair.
I found my keys and fiddled with them, taking a nervous step towards him. "Thank you… very much. For, you know… Inviting me and stuff. I had a lot of fun."
"No problem. I'm glad you came," Travis replied. He avoided my gaze, looking to the side instead.
"So am I."
There were a few seconds of silence. I nodded and cleared my throat, turning towards my car. "Well, I guess I'll see you around… Thanks again." I unlocked my car door and opened it, but Travis put his hand on my wrist before I could get in.
As I turned around to look at him, he caught my lips with his.
My eyes went wide, but they shut slowly as his arms wrapped around my waist. He delicately pulled me closer and my hands instinctively went up to rest on his shoulders.
The kiss broke and Travis, looking shocked at his sudden choice of actions, took a step back. He awkwardly rubbed the back of his neck with his hand. "Wow… Uh. that was kinda…" he stuttered. "Holy crap."
With a blank expression on his face, Travis turned and walked back to his truck. While in a daze, I watched him get in and let his head drop against the steering wheel.
I turned my back to him and got into my own car. The sound of the door shutting against complete silence echoed in my mind for a few seconds. I stared vacantly at the dashboard, wondering what had just happened.
Then I put the keys in the ignition, turned on the windshield-wipers, backed out of the parking lot and drove away.
Despite the fact that I got to sleep around 3 AM the previous night, I still found myself staring at the ceiling, bright and early the next morning. By that time, I was wide-awake; there was no chance of falling back asleep.
I was still confused about everything that had happened between Travis and me, but my mind seemed clearer now. The details of the night before were less foggy now that I had at least gotten a few hours of sleep.
I felt like I needed to talk to someone, but Meg was still upstate at her cousins' house. I decided not to bother her. My mother had called around 9 AM, letting me know that she would be home sometime that evening. Until then, I was stuck in the house alone.
Determined to divert my mind, I spent my morning jumping from activity to activity. I tried to read a book that I had been meaning to finish, but the words on the page wouldn't register in my brain. I searched through my collection of movies, but none of them interested me. I even made an attempt at doing the huge pile of homework I had been assigned over break, but I couldn't stay focused for more than two minutes at a time.
The morning dragged by slowly, and by the time noon finally rolled around, I decided to do something about the thoughts that were circling over and over again in my head.
I jumped in the shower, threw on a pair of jeans and a clean t-shirt, and tossed my damp hair up into a ponytail. After grabbing my cell phone and keys, I was out the door.
The car ride to the bakery took about 10 minutes from my house. I tried to think of what I would say to him when I got there, but I was running strictly on impulse now. I didn't even know if Travis was working today, but as nervous as I was, I couldn't just sit home and wonder what the hell was going through his mind. I needed to know where we stood with each other.
The snowfall hadn't brought any more than a light dusting on the trees, roofs, and lawns. It glittered in the sunlight. The sky was cloudless, but the air was still freezing.
I pulled into the familiar parking lot. Almost mechanically, I stepped out of the car and onto the curb. The bell on the bakery door rang as I walked in, and soon enough I was standing at the counter.
An employee walked over to me. A quick glance at him told me two things. 1: he wasn't Travis. And 2: he looked like he was in his mid twenties; the rocker-type, with a goatee and a few piercing. He looked out of place in the green bakery apron. Unlike Travis, who looked incredible in it. Then again, Travis looked incredible in anything he wore…
Once again, my mind had returned to him. I shook my head free of the thoughts. I had to stop doing that.
"Hey," the employee said cheerfully. "What can I get ya?"
"Actually, it's not so much of a 'what' as it is a 'who.' Do you know if Travis is here?" I asked. My words sounded calm and relaxed; the exact opposite of what I felt. Butterflies were starting to rise up in my stomach.
I was both disappointed and relieved when he shook his head.
"Nah, sorry… You just missed him," he told me. "Trav worked the morning shift today; he was out of here by 12."
I nodded and dropped my gaze to the tiles under my feet. "Oh… Alright. Thanks anyway."
Turning to leave, I caught a glimpse of the employee staring at me with a pensive look. "Wait a sec… You're Riley, aren't you?"
I raised an eyebrow and faced him again. "…Yes?" My voice sounded cautious and skeptical.
He laughed and held up his pointer finger, indicating for me to wait one minute. He disappeared into the back room while I stood there, confused as hell, thinking I had somehow missed the joke.
A white box was slid towards me across the counter. "Travis told me to give this to you if you happened to show up. Said it's already paid for." Before I had a chance to ask any questions, he walked away to help another customer that had just walked in.
I suspiciously opened the top of the box, folding it back and peering inside. There was a nicely-decorated vanilla icecream cake inside, much like the one I had bought for Meg a few weeks ago.
In neat, cursive writing, the words "Go out with me?" were written with blue frosting gel.
Below that, in smaller print, another message was surrounded with parenthesis.
(Not All Boys Suck. I Promise.)
So I had a lot of fun writing this one, even if it was kind of short. Maybe I'll write another one like this soon. I think I've got a few ideas that I've been working on.
Thanks to everyone who read and reviewed, and Tetris and Dotz who read over and edited this one for me.