"So where to?" He says as I climb into his old, light blue pick-up truck.
"Can we go get something to eat? I'm still kind of hungry…" I say and end it with a little laugh.
"Oh yeah! I know this great place that doesn't serve pancakes at all so don't worry." He smiles when he says this. As we start driving I notice the beautiful white tipped trees, the way the sun struggles to peek through the winter air, and the snowflakes falling randomly outside my window. "I wish I had my camera" I think to myself. But then I happen to glance over at Riley. He is singing along to some song on the radio. He misses a couple words and I laugh as he struggles to catch up. He turns my way and smiles. My heart melts.
"Are you laughing at me?" he jokes.
"A little." I smile.
"Ah here we are; Jack's Place." And that's exactly what it's called. There is a bright yellow sign that says "WELCOME TO JACK'S PLACE!"
We walk inside and seat ourselves in a booth in the corner. A waitress with tight black curls and bright red lipstick greets us with a smile. She hands us our menus and two glasses of water, then leaves us to decide.
"What are you gunna get?" Riley asks.
"The omelet sounds good. How about you?"
"You sold me, I'm having the same." He smiles and I laugh. I really hate small talk.
Then I remember who I am. This isn't me… I'm not this girl. And involuntarily I creep back into my little cave. Great…
We continue the small talk and I can tell he notices my change in personality. He keeps looking up at me with this weird look on his face, like he did something wrong. I would tell him it's not his fault that I shut down, but I just can't. Just as he is about to say something the bells on the door jingle, and a girl with pale skin and straight brown hair walks in. Her face lights up when she see's Riley, then drops when she sees me.
"Oh great…" Riley says as the girl comes up to our table.
"Hi Riley!" The girl spits out.
"Oh, hey Grace." Riley says then looks at me like he is crying out for help
"Skipping school I see, trying the bad boy reputation this year? It would totally work for you."
"Oh Uhm thanks I guess… Grace, this is Sierra." He gestures toward me, "Sierra this is Grace."
"His ex. Ha. Ha." She looks at me like she could kill me. Oh boy.
"Nice to meet you Grace." I smile but look at Riley. He looks at me the same way and I know that's my cue. "Well we better be going, right Riley? We'll see you later Grace." I get up and walk away, hoping he is right behind me, which he is.
"Oh my gosh I'm SO sorry, Sierra." He says frantically as he opens my door for me. Wow, gentlemen do exist. Who knew?
"You dated her? Wow… You have some great taste!"
"It was in eighth grade. And now, she basically stalks me. And I hate to say it, but you're probably on her hit list now." He says this with a smile though.
"Just what I wanted, an enemy before I even start school." Riley laughs a little, and then things get quiet again. I feel so horrible, but I don't know what to do. It's like my words are trapped.
"Are you ok Sierra? I know sometimes I come off really strong and I can be somewhat annoying, And I'm really sorry if I freaked you out…" He keeps going and going and I just feel so awful. Speak up Sierra!, "I can take you home of you want. It's really no big-"
"Riley, please." I say as I turn down the radio so I can talk. "You've been nothing but nice to me even though I haven't known you more than 24 hours. I can't even tell you how much that means to me. In my old town… I only had one friend. And she moved away. So I'm just not good at the whole friendship thing. Hell, I'm not good at the whole person thing. So I should be the one apologizing, not you." I look down at my lap because I can't look at him. Partly because I'm embarrassed for the outburst, but mostly because it took me months before I could share my feeling with Kala. I just don't understand how that happened so quickly. I finally look up and Riley is smiling. And it's not just any smile, it's a confident/triumphant smile.
"What? Why are you smiling like that?"
"Because I'm going to help you. And by the time I'm done with you, you're going to be as crazy as me!"
"Yup. Oh and your incredibly cute when your upset." He looks at me and smiles. I get this weird feeling in my stomach when he says it, too.
"Yeah, well don't get used to it." I start to blush like an idiot and I can tell he notices.
"Well anyway, next stop!... Brad's house!"