Chapter Eighteen

Whoever said teenagers are complicated, well, that is an understatement. Jared kissing me for less than a minute was long enough for Chad to walk in and see it. He's dressed to the nines, his hair jelled and spiked, his dress pants and shirt with tie that is so painfully adorable, I just want to squeeze him. He came all spruced up to see Jared all in my grill. Yes, another time when Chad walks in at the wrong time. His timing is so off.

"Chad, he kissed me and I didn't want him to!" I manage to blurt out, pushing Jared away from me as I stand up from the seat.

Chad shakes his head. It's obvious he doesn't believe me. It's obvious that whatever little tiny bit of respect he maintained for me in the last month just vanished with him witnessing that kiss.

"Why are you explaining things to him? Are you going out or something?" Jared asks confused. I never told him about me and Chad. I just ignore Jared, like I did before and run after Chad, who pushes open the restaurant's private room door and walks away, his head held high and his arms swaying.

"Chad, please listen to me."

"I'm tired of listening to your stupid excuses which never ring true. You want Jared so please take him back. Stop wasting my time in the process."

"No, I'm not wasting your time. He showed up without me knowing. I wanted you to come here, not Jared. Please, just stop and talk to me!" I shout at him as we get outside. He doesn't answer. So I follow him to his car and stand in front of the driver's side door. He can't leave with me leaning against the car door.

"You can't leave without talking to me," I say crossing my arms over my chest. "I have been wanting to talk to you for a month now."

"Then why didn't you call?" Chad asks.

"I wanted you to call first. I thought you were ashamed of me," I say bowing my head down.

Chad sighs. "I was ashamed. I thought I knew you better."

"Well, I thought I knew you better. I didn't ask for your feelings Chad. I didn't ask for you to fall in love with me. We were best friends!" I cry out, glad I'm finally letting the truth spill out.

Chad looks away and then comes closer to me. "Move," He demands.
"No," I persist.

After a couple of seconds of just staring at each other, Chad decides he can't wait any longer and picks me up to place me where he was standing before. He gets in the car before I can get back to my spot to guard the door. He drives away, and I know there's only one thing I can do now.

I run back into the restaurant and grab my purse from the table. I ask Tara to tell my dad that I have to go after Chad. She tells me that Jared was trying to flirt with her right when I left the room. Ha. Some things never change.

I'm low on gas, so I roll my windows down to conserve. I hope my hair doesn't end up looking like a mess. I try to call Chad, but he doesn't answer his phone. I have to imagine where he could possibly be. I have to search for him, until I do find him and I can make this all better; once and for all.

My first instinct is to check out his house. That's the place he would go first, right? Wrong. I sit in my car, listening to love songs on the coast on the radio station 103.5, dedications being sent out to their lovers, hoping to reconcile or to exclaim their undying devotions to them. I debate if I should call in and dedicate a song to Chad. And I know just the one to give him.

At our senior prom, Chad took Abby Sanders. I went with Jared of course. In the middle of the dance, Abby ended up ditching Chad for an hour or so to be with her girlfriends. Jared was outside smoking cigarettes with his buddies. Chad and I were sitting at our chosen table, alone, wondering why our dates left us momentarily. That Usher song "Yeah" came on and the DJ said it was one of the last songs. I gave Chad a silly grin before taking his hand and dragging him to the dance floor. We started doing our best impression of a rap video. I swayed my hips to the music, danced up against him. In retrospect, he probably enjoyed that dance. But then the DJ changed the song to the last slow dance. We stopped our fun joke dancing and stared at one another.

"Do you want to look for Abby?" I asked Chad.

He shook his head no. "They left us. This song is for us, my friend."

"Okay," I agreed.

I wrapped my arms around his neck, closed my eyes and enjoyed "Stolen" by Dashboard Confessional. I looked at the other couples dancing with their dates. I felt more comfortable in Chad's arms than I ever felt in Jared's. His grip was strong on me. It was as if he never wanted to let go of me.

I remember him looking into my eyes, searching almost, as if he looked deep enough he could find the love resting within me, just like the love he had for me. I did love him then, but I didn't know it. I didn't want to believe it. But now I believe it. And I have to call that radio station and dedicate our song to him. I text him, ordering that he turn on his radio and listen carefully. He just might hear a message.

I surprisingly get through to the radio station after awhile and I'm talking to the DJ. She asks me in her smooth voice who I wish to send my love out to tonight.

"Chad. Chad Alden. It's your best friend Leila Hanson. Chad, if you're listening right now, please know that I love you. More than a friend, more than anyone loves anything," I say, quoting him when he professed his love to me that fateful night we made love. "You have stolen my heart Chad."

The song plays and I smile to myself, not giving up hope. Yet, he is still nowhere in sight, so I try to think of another location he may end up. How can I be so absentminded? He has to be at the beach. The beach we used to sip hot chocolate on while hanging out by this large group of rocks.

I drive like a maniac to get there. I have to stop to get gas just as I reach the beach. I walk down to "the three musketeer's" favorite spot. I recall Jodi threatening to push Chad in the water if he kept talking about this girl he was dating at the time. When we were young, not in this particular area, we would use our little fishing poles, trying to catch fish.

I take my shoes off and stroll toward the rocks. The waves make their peaceful sound, creating a less stressed me. I brush the hair away from my eyes as I look around for Chad. He isn't here. I don't know why I thought he would be. The last time we came here was months ago. I walk back to the sidewalk and put my heels back on.

The next possible place I think of him being is our old elementary school. We used to walk there sometimes in middle school. Even before we could drive, we'd hang out there at late hours of the night and sneak vodka in water bottles, walking around the field, reminiscing about the horrid days we had of P.E. when Mrs. Barker would play the same old annoying song every time we warmed up and stretched. I would always catch Chad altering the lyrics to curse words, but under his breath so the teacher couldn't hear. This makes me laugh as I think about it. But just as I get to the school, the parking lot is empty in the gloomy night. It's eerie seeing a school after-hours, when there aren't any children running around or playing.

I yawn. The clock says it's after nine. I call his house just to see if he has returned home. His mother tells me he hasn't been home since he left. This only makes my quest to find Chad even more difficult. I apologize for disturbing her before I hang up.

I can't believe how stupid I am. I should have known better. He has to be at the park! The same park we had our heated confrontation. I shake my head at myself and drive away from the old school, pushing my foot down on the pedal, hoping for the best outcome. I speed as fast as I can, without being completely erratic or gaining a ticket.

I halt my car, turning the ignition off and locking the doors as I run to our old tire swing. I find myself out of breath, panting and hovering over my body. I haven't exercised in ages. I hold onto my knees, trying not to have a total meltdown.

I perch myself onto the tire swing and kick wood chips up angrily as I sit here. Where the hell could he have gone? Did he resort to calling Abby Sanders and taking her back in spite? I doubt it. He never really liked her. Feeling pathetic, I feel silent tears rolling down my warm cheeks. I wipe the tears away as I go back to my car, failing miserably at trying to resolve my rift with Chad. My friend, my love. I wish I figured it out that day in Las Vegas, when he was holding me tight, telling me we had to make up for lost time. Now I want to make up for lost time from these past weeks.

I get into my Mazda and start the car up slowly. I pull up to my house and see Chad's car in the driveway. I look at my phone and notice that my father called while I was in the park. I listen to the message telling me that he and Anna went to her place for a couple of hours and he will be home later. I smile smugly, knowing that Chad is in my house right now, just waiting for me.

I open the front door, and search for his presence. But I don't see him downstairs. He's in my room, I can tell. The light is on in there as I walk up the stairs and I can hear something playing softly. It's "Stolen" by Dashboard Confessional. I bite my lip and jog the rest of the stairs so I can finally kiss him once more, and turn this night into a better one.

I walk in and see Chad sitting on my desk chair. He spins around in the chair so he's facing me. "I heard your dedication on the radio," He grins mischievously.

I saunter toward him, but stop midway. I have to tell him what I've been feeling over the last month or so.

"Chad?" I say.

His eyebrows perch up. "Yes Leila?" He stays put in the seat. I notice there is something he's playing with in his left hand. I squint my eyes and find the little red hot wheels, clutched in his grasp.

I feel my cheeks blush with happiness. "That's my red car," I insist with a giggle.

"I think it should be our car Leila," He emphasizes the word our.

"Well, you know how they say absence makes the heart grow fonder?" I ask him seriously.

Chad nods his head for me to proceed.

So I do. "Well it's true. And you, Chad Alden, I am very fond of," I tell him with my hands shaking from all the nervousness that built up on the way.

Chad stands up and takes me in his arms. "Oh Leila. I'm so sorry I was saying such cruel things."

"I'm sorry I couldn't understand how much I loved you until it was almost too late. I never wanted to sleep with Jared. I did it to get back at you. But all it did was make me feel worse!" I cry out.

Chad holds me even tighter. "Shh. Don't cry honey. It's all over now. It's a new day. Or new night I should say. We'll start over."

"How can we start over when I know every secret you've ever had in your life?" I tease him, offering a small smile, leaning back to see his face.

"There's that smile. That smile can brighten a rainy day."

"Chad, that's so cheesy," I tell him and start cracking up.

"But it's true."

"You're the most special person to me in this whole world," I sob out. He bends down to my eye level and searches my eyes like he has done in the past. I rest my forehead against his and savor the moment. He wipes the tears away and makes everything all better, like he has so many times for me. He kisses my forehead and I beg him to kiss me.

"Now," I order.

Chad chuckles and tenderly presses his mouth to mine. I feel the passion as our lips mingle. I feel the electricity sparking between our bodies.

"We have the house all to ourselves for a few hours. Let's make up for lost time," I say to him, mimicking what he told me in the early hours of our Vegas morning in bed.

Chad lets out his amazing laugh, giving me one last big bear hug before he does as I ordered.

Tara punches me playfully in the arm as we're about to walk down the aisle in the backyard. I'm the one to go first and I feel timid as people watch me carry my bouquet of roses and I awkwardly smile at them in return. I catch the eye of my date, sitting handsome in the front row of my father's side of guests, a smirk plastered on his impeccable face, just waiting to tease me for my slow walk that looks even more awkward than my smile.

The vows are said and I clap once they are done, or, try to clap with the roses in my hand. I look over at Chad who can't take his eyes off of me. I haven't seen him today before now, so I'm hoping he thinks I look as good as I know he looks.

After we walk back down the aisle, I am in the guesthouse, dabbing at my eyes as I give my father a hug and congratulate him. He seems happier than ever, and I have Anna to thank for that. I give her a hug and welcome her to our family. She seems pleased with my words and gives me one more hug.

"Go kiss that date of yours," Tara slaps my elbow.

I laugh at her and walk away, not wanting to waste another minute. I find him waiting for me outside of the guesthouse in our backyard, his hands in his pockets, grinning at me like he always does.

"That was a great wedding. You look beautiful."

"Yes, it was. And you are beautiful," I say.

"The best part was seeing you so nervous!" He jokes.

"Stop it," I walk away, pretending to be mad, but he grabs my arm and turns me to face him, planting his soft lips on mine.

"So. Chad. My best friend. My now boyfriend. What do you say you owe me a dance on the dance floor? It's all set up and ready for use. And I already requested our song to the DJ."
"Did we agree that that was our song?" Chad argues.

"Fate decided it for us. Just like fate decided I meet you in kindergarten."

Hours later, after the food is eaten, the cake is served and my father and stepmother danced to their song, I grab my boyfriend and dance seductively on him, the way we did at prom.

Jodi shakes her head at us. "Disgusting! Get a room!" She teases. I know she's teasing because she was almost happier than I was when we reunited.

"Oh, we just might," I quip.

"Austin is on his way! He said he'll be here in a few minutes!" Jodi says enthusiastically.

Chad and I look at each other, amused. "I can't believe he flew out here just to attend this wedding with you," I say to her.

"He's also looking at apartments," Jodi claims, dancing with herself.

"Come on Jodi! Let's make a Chad sandwich!" I say with a laugh, hardly containing my joy the entire day. We all dance together wildly, enjoying our fun, as day turns into night, and the air cools down and Chad's and my song comes on.

He pulls me close to his body and I hug him, reminding myself that I should always remember this moment. This moment when I know everything will work out. We won't break up. We won't fall apart. I will always have my best friend. I won't lose him.

Chad reconfirms this as he whispers into my ear, "One day we will dance our first dance to this song at our wedding."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa there man. What happened to taking things slow?" I ask, not able to hide my smile.

"Does that scare you that I said that? I'm sorry, I take it back."

"Oh no, don't you dare," I say, pulling him for another kiss before the song ends.

THE END. I know it wasn't as long as my other stories, ending at under 55,000 words, but I felt I ended it at the right time. I will try to update my other story ASAP. I might even add another new story. I'm still deciding on what to do next. Thanks for reading.

I have to do a few shout outs to the constant reviewers!

Katie Saychiadu- Thanks for always reading and reviewing. Your stories rock and it's pretty awesome we share the same name. No, I am not over that. :-) Readers, check out her stuff.

Crescent Moon Vampire- Your private messages always make me smile. I can't believe you want to translate my stories to Spanish, but I still think it's cool! I hope your Quince rocked.

RobynBird- Gosh. Thanks for sticking with all of my stories! So cool.

WriterGurl123- Love how you read my other story The Two Sams and you've been a persistent reviewer. VERY cool. The same as above. Always reading and reviewing! You're great!

More shoutouts to other reviewers that have stuck by my story. You guys are amazing:




Alice without a wonderland







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Angel-Leigh Jones




Menace in training


Etched into my heart


And the other readers who had this on their alerts and/or favorites! THANK YOU SO MUCH! SORRY IF I FORGOT ANYONE!!