Summary: Without realizing it, though, something had changed that night. Something between Jake and me, I mean. He'd always been a fixture in my life, but something had definitely changed.
It all started with the stupid dream. Well, dreams, plural. I can't remember now, the exact date when I had the first dream, but considering what it and all the subsequent dreams were about, not to mention the trouble they've caused me, it hardly seems important. The circumstances and locations in each dream were all vastly different to one another, but there was one element that remained exactly the same in all of them. Well, I should say one person, really.
He'd always been somewhat of a mystery to the students and teachers of Ryder High School. He didn't really fit into any one social group, he didn't participate in sports or clubs or any school activity. It was almost like he was just drifting through life and was fine with doing so. I guess that was his appeal. He certainly had more than enough admirers who were perfectly happy to swoon over him or follow him around all but drooling in his wake.
...Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating just a tiny bit. But you get the idea.
I'd never spoken to him before. He wasn't in any of my classes. In fact, the only times I ever saw him were before and after school and in between classes if we happened to walk by each other in the hallways. That was the extent of my interaction with one Trevor Johns.
So when I had my first dream about him, I was surprised. I mean, dreams are meant to be your brain's way of processing the day's events, right? So where Trevor fit into my day's events, I had no clue.
I had been sitting on a beach watching the sun set. I was the only one there, but I felt some kind of presence near me. The sun's rays reached out its long arms across the ocean, almost as if it was trying to grab hold of the water so that it could stay just a little bit longer. I was enjoying the last of the sun's warmth when out of the corner of my eye, I saw a bright light moving toward me from my right. It was the brightest light I had ever seen - both in my dreams and when awake - and I was mesmerized by it. I shielded my eyes against the light, but not before I noticed the figure that the light seemed to be engulfing. I stood and took a step toward the light and that's when I recognized the face of Trevor Johns. He was wearing a pair of ratty old jeans and nothing else, and he was neither smiling nor frowning. Actually, he had been completely expressionless. He reached out a hand toward me, and that is when I woke up.
Not with a start, though. I just... woke up. Almost like I had been aware that I was dreaming the whole time and had had enough of the dream. It was the most bizarre thing I had ever felt. Unfortunately for me, things just got even more bizarre.
For the next five days, I had equally similar dreams. In one I was at a baseball game - of all things! - when Trevor floated up toward me from second base. In another I was in a movie theatre with a brightly lit Trevor sitting next to me. And in another I was in a cemetery staring down at a grave while Trevor perched himself on top of the gravestone and stared at me.
Wanting to make sense of it all, I made the mistake of telling my best friends about it. When Quinn, Mia, and Zoe, had heard my tale, they had looked at me like I was slightly crazy, before drilling me for more information. After that, they had themselves a good time laughing at my expense.
Unfortunately for me, they weren't the only ones who happened to be listening to my tale.
"Oh, this is rich," Amy Anderson, bitch extraordinaire, had commented. "Who'd have thought Little Miss Prude, Charli White, would have a thing for Trevor?"
"Oh piss off, Anderson," Quinn had retorted. "Just because Trevor won't touch you with a ten-foot pole because he knows how many guys you've let crawl up that lopsided ass of yours, doesn't give you the right to rag on other people like a spoiled little bitch. Now why don't you run along, mm? I think I see Nick Wilson waiting for you to go down on him like the whore you are."
Amy had gone red in the face and kicked Quinn's chair out from under her before storming away. Quinn had merely laughed it off and straightened the chair before calling out, "Don't forget to spit! You never know where Nick's been!"
If only that had been the end of it.
Unbeknown to me, Amy decided to get revenge against me, despite my not actually having done anything to her, by informing Trevor of my supposed interest in him and encouraging him to ask me out on a date. I hadn't known all this when he'd asked me, of course, so feeling flattered that he seemed to like me, I agreed.
God, what a mistake that was! The date was a disaster from start to finish. He was late picking me up, I had no say in where we ended up eating - a dirty pizza parlor that smelled like rotten meat - and while watching the movie we agreed to see, he seemed more interested in trying to get to the third base.
Right there in the theatre, in front of all those people! Talk about charming.
After slapping his hands away for the sixth time, I finally stood and walked out on him. He caught up with me in the parking lot, though, and demanded to know what my problem was. My problem! Can you believe it? It was then he informed me that he only asked me out because Amy told him I was interested.
And it was then he uttered the words I didn't want to hear: "She told me about the dreams you've been having of me."
I nearly died right there on the spot. Uttering a response of some kind, I pushed past him and headed for a pay phone. I punched in the number for my house praying that my brother was at home and could come pick me up. It had been a Friday night, so for all I knew, he was at some party getting wasted to high heaven. The ringing seemed to go on and on, and I had almost given up hope when a familiar voice said in my ear, "Yo, White residence."
"Jake?" I asked, double-checking it was in fact Jake Parker, my brother's best friend.
"Oh hey Charli, what's up? You looking for Cooper?"
"Is he there?"
"Nope, sorry. He said he's going to be late getting home from work."
"Then why are you there?"
"Cooper casa es su casa."
Rolling my eyes at his incorrect Spanish, I said quickly, "Listen, Jake, could you come pick me up? I'm at the movies and I need a ride home."
"Sure thing. I'll be there in five minutes."
Hanging up the phone, I made my way back to the front of the theatre and sat down on the curb. I didn't know where Trevor had wandered off to, and I didn't care. I started imagining the many different ways in which I could get Amy Anderson back for telling Trevor about my dreams. That got me worrying that come Monday morning, the details of my dreams and my failure of a date would be spreading like wild flowers around the school. I groaned and hung my head, feeling sorry for myself. At least I had my friends to back me up if I needed it. I knew Quinn was going to lose it when she heard of Amy's involvement. I could picture her reaction: she'd start off by asking me if I was serious about a dozen times, then she'd start ranting about what a bitch Amy was and how she deserves to have the shit kicked out of her, and then she'd fall into Plotting Mode, and together, we'd come up with a few good ways of seeking our own revenge.
Someone was honking their horn at me. I looked up and found Jake waving at me from the driver's seat. Standing, I hurried over to his car and slipped in, buckling my seatbelt.
Jake took one look at me and frowned. "Bad date?"
"I don't want to talk about it," I mumbled, looking away.
"The guy didn't... hurt you or anything did he?" Jake asked quietly.
I turned my head sharply to stare at him. "What? No. It was just... bad." I sighed and rubbed my eyes. "Look, can we please go? I just want to go home."
He started the car and pulled out into the street. The drive home had been a silent one, for which I was grateful. When he finally pulled into my driveway and killed the engine, I shot out of the car. I left the front door opened for him and made my way into the kitchen. I needed some comfort food. Hunting around, I finally found a block of chocolate hiding behind some canned tuna that my mother obviously put there hoping I wouldn't find it. I stood in the kitchen and broke off a piece, shoving it all in my mouth.
"Alright, seriously. What happened?" I hadn't even heard Jake close the front door. He dropped into one of the barstools and folded his arms across his chest. "Come on, Charli. Better out than in."
I scrunched up my nose. "Gross. That only applies to food."
"Not to me, it doesn't. Now come on. Spill."
And so I did. I told him everything. I told him about the stupid dreams, I told him about the incident with Amy Anderson, and I told him about the Date from Hell. The entire time, he simply listened. He frowned every now and then, his eyes seemed to darken when I mentioned Trevor trying to get to third base in the movie theatre, and he laughed loudly when I told him what Quinn had said to Amy, but he didn't say anything until I had finished.
He eyed me closely for a little while before calmly stating in a matter-of-fact tone of voice, "I can kill him for you if you want."
We had a good laugh at that and spent the next twenty minutes coming with different ways we could get away with both Trevor's and Amy's murders. By the time we'd finished, I'd come to one conclusion: Jake sure had a good imagination.
Without realizing it, though, something had changed that night. Something between Jake and me, I mean. He'd always been a fixture in my life. My brother, Cooper, and I got on like a house on fire. Whatever that's supposed to mean. We were friends and rarely fought, so I'd come to consider Jake a friend, too. There had never been any romantic feelings for him on my part and from what I had often heard about his reputation with the girls, there had never been any romantic feelings for me on his part.
But something had definitely changed.
From that night on, whenever he came over, we talked and talked until Cooper had to remind us that Jake was his best friend, not mine. Whenever I needed a lift somewhere, Jake would always be the first to offer. He helped me re-paint my room. He listened to me complain about the fact that the details of my dreams and date with Trevor were still circling the school even though it had been four months already. He gave me a birthday present and I gave him a 'Thanks for being my friend' present.
It was only when my friends brought it to my attention that I realized I liked Jake a lot more than just as a friend.
"No, I don't," I'd argued.
"Yes, you do," Mia repeated, while Quinn and Zoe nodded their heads in agreement. "He's all you ever seem to talk about these days."
"He's just a friend. You guys know that. He's like a brother."
Quinn snorted. "For crying out loud, Charli, you gave the guy a present simply for being your friend. Who does that with someone they don't have a thing for?"
They persisted and eventually, I finally admitted - both to them and to myself - that I did have feelings for him. I didn't know how it had happened or when it had happened. Just that it had.
So, of course, now that I was aware of my feelings, every time I saw Jake I got so nervous my hands started shaking and I couldn't look him in the eyes. He never mentioned my weird behaviour, though. Just carried on as if everything was fine.
But then one night, while he was waiting for Cooper to get dressed, something awful happened. We had been sitting on the couch playing a round of Buzz! on the Playstation, when I turned to stare at him. I don't know what possessed me to do it - overactive hormones, probably - but when he turned to look at me, with that half-grin of his that always made my knees weak, I leaned forward to kiss him. I saw his eyes dart to my mouth and then he leaned forward too...
...Only to lean back and look away in the next second.
"I, uh..." he stumbled.
I could feel my face going red. "It's fine," I said, moving away from him. "Just forget it."
"No, really, Jake. It was stupid. Just forget it."
You could have cut the tension between us with a knife. We carried on playing silently until Cooper came downstairs and announced he was ready to leave. Jake stood, told me he had had fun, and then followed Cooper out the door. Afterward, I sat staring at the television screen for ages. I replayed the almost-kiss in my head over and over again until I got too embarrassed to even think about it anymore, and then went and buried my head under my pillow.
Since then, it's been two weeks. Two weeks since the almost-kiss and two weeks since I'd started being Avoidance Girl. I've been too embarrassed to be anywhere near Jake, which explains why I'm currently hiding out in the dilapidated tree house my dad built for Cooper and me when we were kids. You see, Jake's inside with Cooper. I heard him arrive, and decided to hot-foot it to the tree house so I wouldn't have to see him. Pathetic of me, I know. I just don't want to deal with the nice guy I know Jake will be. He'll want to try and explain what happened and then he'll tell me that he really likes me as a friend, and blah blah blah. I just don't want to deal with it.
I scream. It isn't a nice scream, either. It's high-pitched and completely unflattering.
"Jake! You scared the crap out of me," I breathe, clutching a hand to my chest. When did he get to be so sneaky?
"I'm sorry, what was that? You'll have to speak up. I've gone completely deaf because of all the screaming."
I laugh nervously and watch as he hoists himself up into the tree house. He sits cross-legged across from me and grins.
"Not really big enough for the two of us, huh?"
"It's fine." It's really not because all my senses are honed onto Jake's every move, and I can feel my body getting tense from being so close to him.
Jake nods and looks around. "I haven't been in here in years." He smiles and runs his hand across some of the drawings he and Cooper had stuck up on the walls when they were kids. "I remember when Coop and I went through the pirate phase."
"Yeah," I smile fondly at the memory, "you both said 'Aye aye!' instead of 'Yes' for about seven months."
"God, how annoying!" Jake laughs. He has the best laugh I've ever heard. We sit in silence for a little while before Jake asks how I've been.
"Fine. Busy, but fine." It's a complete lie and we both know it. Jake's too nice to call me out on it, though.
"Listen," he starts.
"Please don't," I all but beg him. "I know what you're going to say, and I just... I'd rather not hear it. It was a mistake, I know."
"Well, no, you don't know what I'm going to say," he replies gently. "I wanted to kiss you back."
Okay, so clearly I didn't know what he was going to say.
"Then why didn't you?"
"Because for a fraction of a second, I remembered that you were Cooper's little sister and it freaked me out."
I frown, not all pleased with what I'm hearing. "Okay..." I draw the the word out to give me time to think."So, what does that mean exactly?"
Jake smiles. "It means I was an idiot. I freaked out because I thought Cooper would kill me if he caught us kissing or if he found out we had kissed. But I talked to him and-"
"You told him?!" I exclaim. "When?"
"The other night. In the car on our way to the footy match."
"What did he say?"
"He was cool with it, actually." He sounds surprised and I don't blame him. This is my brother we're talking about. The guy who freaks out over the smallest of things. Like when my mum bought a different kind of cereal. He completely refused to eat it. "Of course he did his brotherly duty and told me that if I hurt you, he'll kick the living shit out of me."
Yep, that sounds like my dear older brother. "If you hurt me," I repeat, slowly. "So does that mean-?"
"Yeah, if you want it to."
I feel my cheeks going red, and duck my head. "I do."
"Me, too." I can practically hear his smile. "Sorry it took me so long to get around to it," he adds. "I kept talking myself out of telling him for fear of getting the living shit kicked out of me."
"It's fine. I mean, I've been avoiding you for two weeks now." I gesture to the tree house as if to say 'Why else would I be hiding out in here?' and he laughs. "If anyone should apologize, it's me. I was just-"
"Embarrassed, I know, and I'm sorry for that, too. I didn't mean to embarrass you."
I shrug and shake my head, silently telling him it's in the past. He gets the message. We stare at each other, neither of us saying anything. Then, Jake slides his hands up my thighs to settle them on my hips. The action sends shivers down my spine. He grips my hips firmly and pulls me toward him. To keep my balance, I place my hands on his arms until I feel my knees knock against his. With one hand, he frames my face and runs his thumb back and forth across my cheekbone. I get swept up in the feeling, closing my eyes and sighing. I can feel him smile at my reaction and I can feel his breath on my face as he hovers in front of me. He moves his thumb down to my mouth, pressing down gently on my bottom lip until my mouth pops open ever so slightly. I feel his lips caress the corner of my mouth and my heart skips a beat. I've waited for this moment, and it's so much more than I had hoped for. When his lips finally settle on mine, I'm completely lost in the feeling. He's kissing me gently and sweetly when all I want to do is tangle my hands in his hair and deepen the kiss until I can't breathe.
Somehow, I manage to resist the urge.
His hand wanders back to my hip, while the tip of his tongue wanders into my mouth for the briefest of moments. I've been kissed before, but never quite like this. He moves his mouth from mine and spreads kisses along my jaw and cheeks. His hands have slipped under my t-shirt and are warm and rough against my skin. He pulls away from me and rests his forehead against mine. I open my eyes and find him staring at me with his goofy half-grin that I've come to love.
"Wow," I whisper.
"You can say that again."
He laughs and buries his face in the crook of my neck. I hear him breathe me in. It's one of the most erotic things I've ever heard.
"I'm glad you didn't kiss me back two weeks ago," I say in his ear. "I would have hated having Cooper interrupt that."
I feel his smile against my skin. He pulls back and brushes the hair out of my eyes. "You think that was good? Wait 'til you see what I have planned for round two." And with a mischievous glint in his eye, he pulls my face towards his and proceeds to show me just what round two entails.
Okay, so maybe having those dreams wasn't the most terrible thing to have ever happened to me. I'm willing to admit when I'm wrong, and wrong, I most definitely am.
Author's note: I've had this idea in my head for ages now, and after a few failed attempts, finally got it written down. Something still seems off to me, but I like it enough to post. Feedback is always appreciated. Thanks for reading :)