We were never really friends until that day.
He was in a few of my classes, but I didn't even know his name.
All I knew was that he had bright green eyes and long brown hair similar to Jake Gyllenhaal in Prince of Persia.
I didn't really care about him though. And, he didn't even know who I was.
I'm not ugly. I'm not beautiful. I'm not quiet. I'm not loud. I fit in somewhere between every extreme. There's nothing particularly remarkable about me. I don't understand why anyone would notice me. It would have had to take something very drastic . . . Which it did.
It was a rainy Tuesday in May. The weather was unusually cold for that time of year. I had worn a soft, red sweater that day. I remember it so well. It was a very weird day.
I was sitting by the window of my history class, blankly watching the weather. The teacher was droning on and on, and while I usually loved history, I couldn't wait to get out so I could meet my friends for lunch at some fast food joint. It didn't matter which one we chose; it was just nice to be together.
He ended class early for once. I slipped my ear buds on as I left, not looking forward to the long walk to the parking garage in pouring rain. I didn't hear the footsteps behind me.
I walked faster, wanting to get out of the rain. It was soaking through my clothes. I'd have to change before I could meet my friends. I paused, digging in my purse for my keys.
I didn't hear.
"Hey!!" He called slightly louder. I heard him this time. I removed an ear bud and turned around.
"There's a spider on your shirt."
I cursed. Spiders were my worst fear, and still are. They terrify me. Even the smallest of those monsters can give me nightmares. I freaked. "GetitoffgetitoffgetitOFF!!!"
"Hold still!" the boy behind me insisted. I froze for a second, then continued my oh-so-coordinated twitching.
I felt him trying to swipe the spider off of my back with no avail. The beast and I were moving too quickly.
"How b- How big is it?" Fear sometimes made me stutter.
"Counting his legs, he's about half-dollar size. Stop moving!"
I pictured a dollar bill ripped in half. Oh dear God!
He reached out and took a firm hold on my shoulders until I stopped my wild flailing. In one swift, fluid movement, his hand took the creature off of me. He must have dropped it without killing it, because I saw it scurry away. I shuddered. That thing was at least the size of the palm of my hand. I wish he had killed it.
To my surprise, he pulled me into a hug. I suppose it was meant to be a gesture of kindness, but I was still shaking so badly, it kind of failed.
"Thank you." I said, seeing his face for the first time. I didn't know his name. He was just green-eyes-with-Jake-Gyllenhaal hair to me. "I'm Chloe."
"I know." he replied with a half smile. "You're in a few of my classes."
I nodded, unwilling to admit I still didn't remember his name.
"Jayden." he supplied.
"I know." I lied.
"You'll remember that, now that I saved your life." he said.
"Ha! You so did not save my life." I crossed my arms defiantly.
"You seemed pretty helpless with that great big scary spider on your back." His tone was borderline condescending.
I rolled my eyes. "Yeah, ok."
"I suppose the right thing to do would be to take me to lunch. Since you just agreed you were helpless, I'll let you pick the place. But, since I'm a gentleman, I'll buy."
This boy was so cocky. "I'm not taking you to lunch."
He raised his eyebrows. "Then I'll take you. Longo's Pizza, one o'clock." He turned and left before I could say no.
I called my friends and told them I couldn't make lunch but I'd see them later for the movie at Sheryl's.
I changed into dry clothes, but didn't bother looking too nice.
Alright, I didn't want to look bad. Let's face it, that arrogant man was a little cute. His eyes were like green fire. And, he did save me from that awful little critter.
If he wanted to take me to lunch that badly, I might as well let him. It was a free meal if nothing else. Pizza was my favorite thing, too. Maybe he knew that.
Jayden was waiting for me at a little table for two by the side window of the restaurant.
He ordered me a lemonade. I was surprised when the waitress brought it. "That's . . . how did you know?"
He gave me a flirty grin. "Lucky guess."
"Yeah right." But I smiled.
"What kind of pizza do you want?"
"Plain cheese is fine."
He leaned toward me. Unwillingly, my heart fluttered a little. I was slightly insulted by my heart's readiness to flutter. But dang, he was cute when that shock of hair fell over his eyes. "Come on, Chloe. What's your favorite pizza? Don't think about the cost."
I looked away, then back at Jayden. "Chicken parmesan."
"Then that's what we're having." He leaned back into his chair, sipping his Coke but not taking his eyes off of me.
That's strange. No guy has looked at me like that since my ex, Peter, and he only dated me because he thought I would let him bang me. I dumped him when I figured that out, and nowadays he has a little less dignity.
But his look wasn't quite the same as Peter's. It was soft, not threatening, and there was no hint of manipulation. His eyes were full of light, not dark. And, his face was coming closer. I didn't know it at the time, but mine was gravitating towards him as well.
His lips were mere inches from mine.
I closed my eyes.
"Are you ready to order?"
My eyes snapped open as I flew backwards. "Uh, yeah."
"We'll have a medium chicken parm pizza, thanks." Jayden ordered, acting as if nothing had happened. I couldn't meet the waiter's eyes, embarrassed to have been caught almost-kissing in public.
Almost kissing the bright green eyed Jake Gyllenhaal guy.
My toes curled in my shoes as I realized what I had almost done.
But, I liked it.
I let him hold my hand as he walked me to my car. I let him hold the umbrella, too. He was quite chivalrous when he got the chance to be.
We were comfortably silent. We had gotten to know each other pretty well over lunch, and I was internally debating whether or not I should ask him to come with me to Sheryl's.
"I had a great time with you." Jayden squeezed my hand.
We had reached my car. I jammed the key in the door. It opened easily. I tossed my purse into the passenger's seat, deciding yes, I'll ask him to come with me. The other girls knew him. Sort of.
Before I could answer, my mouth was stolen from me. He covered my lips with his. They were warm, and soft, moving against mine like they belonged there. Jayden lingered there for a minute, kissing me again and again with soft, sweet kisses. He didn't deepen the kiss, not coming in past my lips. He pulled me in closer to his body, as if protecting me from the raindrops. He held me, pulled back, and kissed me one more time. "Now, uh, what was it you wanted to say?"
I was feeling very cliché-ish-ly weak in the knees. "Come with me to my friends?"
He nodded, still smiling from our kiss. "Sure. I'll follow you there. Hey, Chlo, would you- wanna have dinner tomorrow?"
"Yes." I smiled as I climbed into my car. "I'd like that."
I was beginning to think that maybe, just maybe, having that spider on my shirt was the best thing that had ever happened to me.