Boy, I had it bad for Sam. Even if I wasn't an insomniac, I would have stayed awake all night thinking about him. I sat on the window seat sketching away until 4 in the freaking morning. I finally felt tired when I saw dusk light the sky. And then I was woken up at 7am by my stupid alarm clock. I was surviving on three hours of sleep. I could have asked Sam for his iPod but it's like every time I open my mouth around him, we end up having a long conversation and I had, had enough of them for one night. Even Sam didn't come knocking at my door for which I was grateful. Just because I was pretty much incapable of keeping my distance from him doesn't mean I shouldn't try.
I got out of bed and grabbed my towel and clothes and toiletries bag and stumbled out of my room. I was surprised and frankly thankful for the lack of activity in the hallway. I walked to the washroom and placed my hand on the doorknob but then I decided to knock before I entered, just to be sure no one was in there. The last thing I needed this morning was walking in on one of the boys while they were in the shower. When no one answered I opened the door a little and saw that it was dark inside. I reached in and turned on the light before I walked in and closed the door behind me.
I seriously needed to talk to Regina about locks. I couldn't believe something as simple and important as locks have slipped past her. Maybe she just forgot. I stood over the sink and brushed my teeth. My eyes kept drooping and I fought hard to stay awake. I was going to need a lot of coffee just to make it to school. At least back at home I would be able to come home from school and sleep but at Burke's Insane Asylum everyone is extremely loud.
I showered quickly and put on my sweats again before I walked out of the washroom. After much thought I dressed in a pair of ripped black skinny jeans and a red V-neck t-shirt that said, 'When life hands you lemons say, "Lemons? What else have you got?" I pulled on my combat boots and since I hadn't worn it yesterday, I slid my family ring onto my right hand middle finger. I stared down at it for a moment. It felt really heavy on my finger and for a second I thought about taking it off. However, I left it on and decided to wear another ring. This one was shaped like a skull and I slid it onto my left hand ring finger. I have never been one to accessorize but times-a'-changing. I left my wet hair alone. They will dry and become all wavy again in no time.
I could hear voices in the hallway now and I decided to get downstairs before the boys got there. I quickly left my room and went downstairs to the kitchen. I was hoping that I would enjoy some more peace and quiet in the kitchen, if only for a few minutes but Dylan was already standing by the counter, patiently waiting for the coffee to brew. He looked up when I walked in and I blushed under his penetrating gaze. Why does he look at me like that? It makes me very uncomfortable.
"You look like hell," Dylan said, taking me by surprise. He spoke so rarely I was completely caught off guard. His brown hair was wet and hung in his face and he pushed it away irritably.
"The result of having slept only three hours this morning," I said. He turned around to watch the coffee brew.
"You mean last night," Dylan said, looking over his shoulder at me.
"No, I mean this morning; as in four am. I have insomnia, you know difficulties initiating and/or maintaining sleep, or non-restorative sleep, associated with impairments of daytime functioning," I said. I had read enough medical journals on insomnia that I had the definition memorized by now. Dylan turned to look at me with raised eyebrows. There was a small smile playing on his lips, which thoroughly confused me.
"Yes, please," I said, moving over to the stools. I sat down and Dylan poured me a cup of coffee in one of those giant cups. He handed it to me and then poured himself a cup as well. I grabbed the cup with both hands and shivered at the warmth of the cup. Bringing it to my mouth, I took a sip and nearly choked on it.
"This is really strong," I said, clearing my throat. Dylan had his cup to his mouth and he looked at me from over the rim.
"You're not the only one who can't sleep. Although, some of us prefer to read medical journals rather than Wikipedia," Dylan mumbled before he took a sip of his coffee. I raised an eyebrow. Dylan had insomnia. Who would have thunk it?
"Oh, I read plenty of medical journals on everything; addictions, insomnia, the effects of near death experiences, migraines, nightmares and so on and so forth," I said, feeling a little offended that he thought I got my information from Wikipedia. I mean it wasn't even reliable. I had access to a vast library at home and it stocked a vast collection of medical journals even though there was no doctor in the Downing family.
"You're a little bit crazy, aren't you?" Dylan said, looking at me with that way of his. I swear he could see into my soul. His brown eyes were so serious yet full of humor. I was at a total loss here.
"How do you figure?" I asked, taking another sip of my coffee. I've never drank it sans sugar and cream and it was bitter as hell, especially since I had the feeling Dylan had brewed half a can of the thing.
"Well, for starters you moved in here and...that's all I got," Dylan said shaking his head, like he couldn't possibly imagine why anyone would want to willingly move in here.
"So you want me to leave," I said, because that was the only conclusion I could draw from what he had said. Dylan gave me a half smile. He was just as beautiful as his brothers and that half smile reminded me of Sam.
"I never said that," he said. I had this sudden realization that Dylan was smart, like really smart. I mean, I never thought that he was dumb. It's just that he has this way about him that he ignores everything like he just doesn't understand it or he just doesn't care about it. Plus, as far as I knew, he never went to college and he was in a garage band for crying out loud. But he read medical journals and books, lots and lots of books. Sam had told me that.
"You're like smart, aren't you?" I asked. I put my arms on the counter and leaned forward. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would be having a conversation with Dylan. He wasn't verbose. He was a bookworm…like me.
"Did you think that I was like an idiot?" Dylan asked with raised eyebrows. I blushed, of course but Dylan was smiling so I guess he hadn't taken it to heart or anything. I didn't mean for it to sound like I thought he was dumb.
"No! Of course not! I just meant that, you know, you never went to college or anything when clearly you could have easily gotten in anywhere, I think," I said. Dylan placed his cup on the counter and turned to face me, placing his hands on the counter.
"You're right, I am like really smart but high school was the lowest point of my existence, I really had no intention of going to college. Besides, I already know things any professor would have taught me and what I don't know, I read to learn," Dylan said. His words rang inside my head and I stared at him in awe. Not because of his speech. But because he was exactly like someone I know. Well not exactly but he's very similar. They could be twins in a very weird way.
"So you decided to join a garage band instead?" I asked.
"My philosophy is that life is made of experiences and the more you experience, the better your life is," Dylan said with a shrug. Okay, I felt like I had woken up in the twilight zone. This was the same guy who was holding my bra in his hand this time yesterday and he couldn't have cared less if his brothers' saw it and now he was telling me his philosophy for life. Maybe he was bipolar.
"And I thought it was the girl," I said.
Dylan gave a short laugh. "Please. I don't trust women."
I raised an eyebrow at him. He didn't trust women? Dylan leaned back against the side of the counter and picked up his coffee again.
"Okay, what about me?" I asked, mostly out of curiosity. Dylan raised an eyebrow and looked at me; his eyes alight with humor and curiosity.
"You? I haven't figured you out yet," he said with a shrug. He was trying to figure me out? What was going on here? Who was this guy? I came to the realization that I liked Dylan. Not the way I liked Sam. I liked Dylan in a brotherly way. He was very interesting to talk to and I knew that this was a rare moment and it won't come back easily. Before I could ask him why he was trying to figure me out Regina walked into the kitchen and she appeared shocked to see me with Dylan. She recovered quickly though.
"Good morning," she said.
"Good morning," Dylan and I said in unison. Regina raised her eyebrows and Dylan smirked at me like we shared a private joke. I smiled back at him. I was happy to know that not all of the guys wanted me out of here. But since Regina was in the kitchen, my chat with Dylan was over. He walked over to the pantry and grabbed a box of cereal, grabbed milk from the fridge and got a bowl before he moved to the table. I took a sip of my coffee but it was cold now so I put it down again.
Regina walked over to me and leaned over the counter like she was about to tell me a secret.
"What have you done to my sons?" she asked in a low voice. I blushed again and shrugged. I wasn't even aware I was doing something to her sons. I was more worried about what her son—one in particular—was doing to me. Regina moved away and started brewing a fresh pot of coffee. I got up and grabbed a bowl and the box of special K which Regina had gotten especially for me. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I didn't have cereal for breakfast. The last thing I wanted was for her to make me breakfast. She already had a lot to do. Since the table was still empty, I went to sit there. I grabbed the morning newspaper after I poured my cereal and sat eating in silence as the remaining six brothers came into the kitchen.
My head was bent over the newspaper and the kitchen was loud with yelling and screaming but even through all of that I still heard the chair being pulled beside me. My whole body went rigid as electricity shot down my spine. I swallowed but I refused to turn my head and look at him because I knew if I did, I would blush fifty shades of red. Instead, I closed the newspaper and grabbed my bowl. I left the table and rinsed my bowl before I went to my room.
I wanted to check my phone for any messages from Carrie. It wasn't like her to stay quiet this long and besides, she didn't even tell me what she thought of Sam. And my suspicions were correct; I didn't have any message from her.
Carrie, what's up? You have never been this quiet before.
I waited for her text and almost instantly, my phone beeped.
I've been thinking and I've come to a conclusion.
You should jump Sam's bones.
*gasp* Kareena Sharma!
I couldn't believe she'd just texted me that. I wasn't going to jump his bones. Even the thought had me turning puce. I shivered just thinking about Sam's touch. I was not going to be able to look at him without blushing now. I sighed, sitting down at the edge of the window seat. Considering the past couple of years, this was the most normal teenage conversation I've had with Carrie. I didn't know whether I should be happy that my life was becoming normal or terrified. My phone rang suddenly, flashing Carrie's name.
I picked it up immediately.
"I'm serious," Carrie said before I could even say hello.
"Carrie," I whined. I heard her sigh on the other side.
"For a minute, just for a minute, imagine that the past few years had never happened. Wouldn't you then have told Sam that you like him a lot?" Carrie asked. I swallowed and closed my eyes. She was right, of course. I would have told him after I had gotten over my shyness.
"But they did happen and try as I might I can't forget it. Carrie...it's just so hard to explain," I said. I pushed back my hair and looked up at the ceiling. Why did this have to be so hard? I felt like I had aged fifty years in the past couple of years.
"You're my best friend; I never wanted any explanations. Liz, you deserve to be happy. You always tell me that you can't run away from your past. Well, I am telling you that you can't run away from happiness. In fact, I am ordering you to not run away from happiness," Carrie said. Her voice was so full of conviction that I gave a strangled laugh.
"Yes, Ma'am," I said. I could hear her smile.
"Good. Enjoy your second day at school and don't punch anyone," Carrie said.
"I'll do my best but you know I don't make promises I can't keep," I said. Carrie laughed and we said our goodbyes. I shoved the phone in my back pocket and took a deep breath. Three hours of sleep did not sit well with serious morning conversations. I shuddered and grabbed my bag. The longer I stayed in here the more likely I was to over think things. I opened my door and ran right into Sam.
"Hi," I breathed, looking up at him. His hair was a total mess and his blue eyes shined like the morning sun. Up close, I could see the green and gold flecks in his eyes.
"Hi," he said. We stood there just staring at each other; drinking each other in.
"It's nice to know that you are not avoiding me," Sam said. I frowned.
"When was I avoiding you?" I asked.
"When I came down for breakfast. You left as soon as I sat down," Sam said and I was surprised to hear the hurt in his voice. Okay, well, running away or fighting whatever Sam and I had was pointless at this point. I mean, I have been here for four days and three out of four days, mostly all my thoughts have revolved around Sam. So I was going to take Carrie's advice and I was going to stop running...I was going to try and stop running.
"I wasn't avoiding you. I just had to text Carrie because she just disappeared after last night," I said. Part of it was true.
Sam nodded thoughtfully. "I think she hates me."
I laughed. "Trust me when I say this, she does not hate you. I know Kareena, she far from hates you."
Sam's eyebrows raised in question.
"So she told you what she thinks of me?"
"Then you must have told her what you think as well."
Actually, I think Carrie's been the one who is telling me what I think. But I blushed at the insinuation that I had been talking about him.
"Um...we're getting late for school," I said, walking past him. I ran down the stairs and out the doors, quickly getting into the back seat of Noel's car. I saw Sam come out of the house with a smile on his face and he got in the front seat. Noel eyed him suspiciously.
"What are you smiling about?" Noel asked, turning the car around.
"Nothing," Sam replied nonchalantly.
"You know crazy people do that," Noel said, shaking his head.
"Isn't everyone a little crazy?" I asked.
"Yes, but some of us do a better job of hiding it than others," Noel replied.
"And some of us just embrace who we are," Sam said. I giggled and covered my mouth. I could say this without restrictions and with total conviction that only Sam Burke had the ability to make me giggle after I spent half the night waiting for sleep to come. I was dead tired; I didn't even have to energy to pay attention to anyone or anything.
As soon as I stepped out of the car in the school parking lot, my phone vibrated in my back pocket. I pulled it out and looked at the screen and then frowned. It was my dad. I answered the call and let Noel and Sam walk away.
"Hey, dad," I said, bringing the phone to my ear.
"Hi, honey, how are you?" Dad asked.
"That is actually a very interesting question. Can we come back to it? I haven't exactly figured out the answer yet," I said. I stared after Sam as he climbed the steps to the school and before he pushed open the doors, he turned around and looked at me. I gave him a small wave and turned slightly to focus my attention on my father. Dad chuckled.
"How are you adjusting in at the Burke's?" Dad asked. I started walking towards the back of the school and the soccer field.
"I think I am adjusting better than I expected, sort of," I said. I climbed up the bleachers and sat down. I rested my arms on my knees and leaned forward.
"Well, that's good. I was expecting there to be trouble, what with them being all boys," Dad said. Oh, there was trouble; the kind he was referring to and the one he didn't know about. Max wasn't any closer to liking me than he was before and Sam… I'm not even going to go there.
"Yeah, it is. No trouble here," I said and crossed my fingers.
"Honey, I'll talk to you tonight. Have fun at school," Dad said. I hung up the phone and looked out across the soccer field. It had been such a liberating feeling, running around the field and playing the game. God, I can't remember where I went wrong. Why did I screw it all up? I got up and walked to the school building. As much as I wanted to sit in one place and just close my eyes, I had school to attend and I couldn't skip out on the second day. I entered the school through the back door and walked to my locker.
When the bell rang for lunch, a girl I recognized from my English class asked me what we had studied in class. I stared at her for a second, trying to remember her name and then trying to remember what we had studied in class, keeping in mind that I had just stepped out of the same class. In the end, I just shrugged my shoulders, apologized and then walked away to my locker. I stepped out of the class five minutes ago and already it was a distant memory.
"So, what do you want for lunch? I am assuming you don't want to nibble at cafeteria food again."
I looked up to see Sam leaning against the locker next to mine. Him, I remembered perfectly. I put all my books in my locker and closed it. Then I turned to face him, leaning against the locker and crossing my arms. I licked my lips slowly and took a deep breath.
"I feel a little out of it," I said. Sam laughed and I pouted. He was laughing at my misery. I nodded.
"Yeah, stay here and laugh at my misery. I'm leaving," I said. I turned around and started walking down the hallway. I turned back and saw that Sam was following after me, his expression serious. I turned around and climbed down the stairs to the first floor and then out the front doors of the school. I realized that I had no idea where I was going and turned to look at Sam.
"Where are we going?" I asked.
"Well, I thought you knew," Sam said. I rolled my eyes.
"You couldn't find another day to be annoying?" I asked, crossing my arms. Sam's blue eyes sparkled with amusement.
"I wasn't aware that I was being annoying," Sam said with a smile. I rolled my eyes again and put my arm through his.
"Stop talking and lead the way," I said. Sam chuckled and started walking. We climbed down the front steps and out to the sidewalk where we turned right. I was starting to regret putting my arm through his. What if he got the wrong impression? I mean, I wanted nothing more than to be with him but at the same time I wasn't ready for it to happen yet. I needed time and lots of it.
I peeked up at Sam and he was looking straight ahead. There was nothing strange about his expression, except that he was frowning. I wondered what he was thinking. Was it about me? Maybe I was just over reacting. Carrie's right. I shouldn't be afraid of being happy. Sam is just so wonderful and perfect. How can I stay away from him? Do I want to stay away from him? Do I want to tell him about everything?
"So what do you want?" Sam asked. I blinked up at him. We were standing at the end of the sidewalk, waiting to cross over. Sam looked down at me.
"What?" I asked.
"To eat," Sam clarified. Oh. I thought he could somehow hear my inner monologue. That would not be good.
"I'm open to options," I said. I wasn't really picky when it came to food, unless it was cafeteria food. I had a bad experience with cafeteria food. I ate it once and then spent a week throwing up afterwards. It's hard to eat it again after you've seen it in reverse. I shuddered.
"Well there's a very nice restaurant right down the street," Sam said.
"Well that's nice but I don't think we can eat an entire restaurant," I said. Sam laughed.
"The food is very nice as well," Sam said.
"Oh good," I said. We smiled at each other. We were just two idiots standing on the sidewalk, completely in—. My phone rang loudly and I pulled my arm out of Sam's to rummage around in my bag for my phone. When I finally found it, a quick glance at the caller id told me that it was Carrie.
"Hey, what's up?" I asked. I glanced at my watch and saw that right now, Carrie should be in English class. Carrie mumbled something into the phone that I couldn't hear.
"What? Carrie, I can't hear anything," I said. I looked at Sam who raised his eyebrows in a questioning way. I shrugged at him. I knew Carrie was freaking out, I just didn't know why she was freaking out. On the other side, I could hear Carrie taking a deep breath.
"My neighbor asked me out," Carrie said clearly. My mouth dropped open.
"The hot musician guy?" I asked in astonishment. Sam eyebrows hit his hairline. What? I was allowed to think that a guy was hot. I mean, I wouldn't admit it to him, but Sam was totally hot. All the girls at school were crazy about Noel but Sam was the hottest. Actually, on second thought, I liked that the girls weren't paying attention to him. This way, it would take him longer to realize how crazy I was and move on.
"No, the weird guy who recites Star Trek quotes. Of course it's the hot musician guy, I don't even know the other one," Carrie said. She sounded miserable, which made me laugh. I held up a finger for Sam and walking away from him a little, I turned around.
"So, what did you say?" I asked. I just assumed she would have said no because of CBFS; even though I wanted her to say yes.
"I told him I'll think about it," Carrie whispered. My mouth dropped open, again.
Carrie whimpered on the other line.
"Kareena, did you agree to go out on a date with a musician? Where are you? Don't you have English right now?" I asked.
"No, I said I'll think about it. I'm hiding out in the washroom because he's in my English class and I can't face him. And to think that my biggest problem this morning was getting you to hook up with Sam," Carrie said. I groaned and rolled my eyes.
"Oh, good god, again with the Sam thing?" I asked. Why won't she let it go? I said I will do it; not jump his bones, but be happy. However, I wasn't going to do it right now. I had to sort through a lot of mess before we got to that.
I covered my mouth with my hand. Oh good god. Sam wasn't out of hearing shot so he probably heard that. I turned around to face him and practically felt the heat creeping up my face. He was standing there with his arms crossed across his chest and one eyebrow raised in question.
"Yes, again with the Sam thing. You've known him for four days. You should do something before someone else comes along and snaps him up. That boy is gorgeous," Carrie said in my ear. I swallowed hard and blushed a deeper shade of red. Oh god, let the Earth open up and swallow me whole. I was stuck between a crazy best friend and an incredibly gorgeous guy. I didn't know where to go.
Sam walked towards me and took the phone out of my hand and put it to his ear.
"Hey, Carrie. What Sam thing?" Sam asked. Why couldn't I move? I've been through worse situations than this one. Yet all I was capable of doing was mentally tell Carrie not to tell him anything; which wasn't really going to help me.
"Of course I know she's your best friend. But I want to know what thing," Sam said. He listened to Carrie, occasionally opening his mouth to say something but talking to Carrie wasn't that easy. Once she started talking, she didn't stop until she was done.
"Fine, I suppose I'll find out eventually," Sam said. He handed me the phone and I took it from, putting it to my ear.
"Yeah," I said. Sam was staring into my eyes and standing so close that I could smell him. He smelled like a dessert before the rain or like a lighting storm, something earthy.
"I didn't tell him anything," Carrie said. I knew that but with Carrie, it was hard to tell. She could have told Sam just so he would make the first move.
"Okay. Let me know how it goes with the hot musician guy," I said. Carrie groaned and hung up the phone. I slid into my back pocket, without taking my eyes off Sam. He stepped closer to me and since there was nowhere to go, he was pressed up against me. I thought of taking a step back, but suddenly I forgot how to move, or the fact that we were standing on a street corner. Sam's heat encompassed me.
"So, the musician is hot, huh?" Sam asked.
"Ye-Yes," I said, mentally cursing myself for stuttering.
"Elle, won't you tell me what thing?" Sam asked. He lowered his voice so it was barely a whisper and ran his finger along my jaw. Damn him. He was doing this on purpose, knowing the effect he had on me. Well, two could play that game. I grabbed the front of his shirt and pulled him down so he was only an inch away from me, which put his lips really close to mine. All I had to do was move my head and they would be touching. I resisted the urge though.
"Well, the thing is... I really, really want to tell you but I don't think I will. Now I don't know about you but I'm starving," I said. And for good measure I kissed the side of his mouth, oh so close to his lips and then pushed him away. Sam stumbled and looked at me with wide eyes. Yup, I just did that.
The light had turned green and I crossed the street. Eventually, Sam got over his shock and followed after me. Everyone once in a while he would look at me when he thought I wasn't looking. We had a nice, easy conversation while we ate, even though both of us were thinking about the same thing and I sunk into despair. I had to talk to him before things got out of hand. I couldn't let that happen. He needed to know what he was dealing with here.
He needed to know that we couldn't be what both us wanted to be. He and I can't be us.
AN: Okay, so here's the next chapter. Sorry, it took forever to update but I bet you guys are used to it now. I update and then disappear for a few weeks and then come back again. I don't know why I do it, I just do. So let me know how you guys liked this chapter, it's not as long as the others. XOXO