Chapter o1: Winter Dance

Chad is the kind of guy any girl would like. He's got the looks, but he doesn't know how to use it. He's smart but he's not a know-it-all. He's kind-hearted and optimistic but realistic and fair. The only thing wrong is that he's too closed up, too guarded, unwilling to let anyone in deep.

He is one grade higher than me. So why am I telling you about Chad? Well, I like him, like-like him. I didn't think I'd have a chance because I was not in his orbit, but one day he let me in.

I am stressed out with the SATs and college applications. Yes, I am that type of student. I wanted to get into the best school so I had to have various extra-curricular activities. I volunteer every weekend at Little Siblings, but that may not be enough so I decided to join a school club. Not a sports team, because one, I don't play with balls, and two tryout were done every summer. As usual I spent my summer with Callie, my best friend.

I decided to join the VolCorps, a club that volunteers to help out in the society, a.k.a plant trees, build homes. Little did I know, Chad was part of that club and was top bill to become the president. Fast forward and he was elected the President, and I was the Secretary-Treasurer.

Chad and Erin, Pres and ST. He worked closely with me than the Vice-president. He worked closely with me everyday.

Chad, the guy every girl in his grade wanted to hangout with, hung out every day with me. He gave me a ride home everyday after our meetings, just me not the other officer, even though I was ten-minute detour from where he lives. We had to sign papers for the bank together. We started to talk about personal stuff. He told me what his day was like, everyday. We were seen by everyone always together. To the point that every girl who liked Chad would give me the stink eye because I acted too much like his girlfriend when I'm not.

I pretend to be his girlfriend in my mind and try not to get to clingy in actuality. My close friends ask about us, but I cannot say I'm his girlfriend because I am not. I cannot be jealous when he talks to some other girl by his locker because I am not. All I can do is be supportive of him, cheer him up when he's down, which no one ever saw but me, make him smile, discuss our favorite show, and work with him.

Everyone told me to just tell him, but I can't right? Not if I want to stay this way. Not if I want to be his pseudo-girlfriend, his default, his go-to girl.

But I want more. I want him to be officially my boyfriend, my default, my go-to guy. If I don't say anything now, We'll never be.

It's the snowflake ball. The last dance before winter break. It's the perfect opportunity to tell Chad. So I started writing everything down in a letter. "Erin, babe!" Callie called out from my bathroom. We were getting ready to go to the dance. "We need to put on our make up."

"I don't know how to put on make up." I told her. "Besides, I'm still finishing this letter."

She stepped out of my bathroom and walked slowly over to my study table. "Erin, everyone from a mile away know how you feel about him."

"Shut up." I rolled my eyes. She was right. Everyone knows I like Chad, but Chad.

"He likes you, too. I can feel it." She said excitedly.

I put the letter in the envelop and addressed it using green glitter pen. His favorite color. "Please don't get my hopes up."

"Come on, do my hair and I'll put on your make up. Oliver will pick us up soon." I made a guttural sound. Oliver is Callie's brother. "I know you think he hates you, but he doesn't. Okay."

"Callie, I've seen your brother naked." I walked in on him shaving during one of our sleep overs.

"I don't need visualizations Erin Lae!" She yelled, as I was gathering her long blonde locks into a princess bun. "Besides our humongous dresses, Patrick is coming with Oliver, which gives me chance to…" She playfully raised her eyebrows.

"Yes, I know, you have a love life. Even if it's still a secret." She was dating Patrick but Oliver doesn't know yet because they are both afraid of how he's going to react.

"You could just tell Oliver, I bet he'd be cool with it." I told her. "If he's cool with me seeing him naked, he'd be cool with Catrick. Besides, you'd be cool if I dated Oliver, right?"

"OH MY GOD!" she raised her voice and added "I knew it, ever since the whole naked-shower thing, you like him. I mean objectively, my brother is cute and yeah I am okay with you dating him and…"

"Callie, wrong idea." I yanked on her gathered hair to stop her from talking. "I'm just saying, if you could be okay with him dating your best friend, then he should be okay with you dating his best friend. I did not say that I want to date him."

After a few more minutes of girl talk, Oliver honked his white Escalade. "Jeez, like we live half an hour away." Callie said as we were heading downstairs. Callie lived next door.

I was surprised to see mom and dad welcoming Patrick and Oliver when mom said "I want pictures" and brandished her camera. Facepalm moment.

Mom thought they were our dates, she and Mrs. Peters are rooting for me and Oliver so we just usually go along with it, but this was embarrassing. "Mom!" I said, and gave her a stern look. Callie whispered "do it for me and Patrick."

Oliver smiled at me and took my hand, I smiled back and the four of us had our picture taken.

I rode shotgun as arranged by Callie. Oliver was the first to speak. "So, how are things with Bendari?" Chad Bendari.

"I'm not his girlfriend." I said, a little too defensively.

"Calm it, Erin." He laughed. "I never said you were. Just something to talk about."

"I'm sorry." and I was.

"Wait, so, you're not his girl friend?" Oliver said. "But you're always together."

"That might change tonight." Callie piped in. "Erin is confessing tonight."

"Oooh, ballsy!" Patrick joined in. "He might like you too."

"Don't get her hopes up."

"Don't get my hopes up." Oliver and I said together.

"Why not?" Callie asked. "If you knew all the stories, you'll piece it together."

Oliver didn't answer right away, maybe thinking of the proper way to say what he has to. "No offense to you, Lae." Only Oliver calls me by my middle name whenever he is serious. "but Erin likes this guy, so of course the story she tells would all be positive and all be pointing to small little details that she thinks may hint at Chad liking her back."

I've had this on my mind for so long, I just never said it out loud because I liked to think this thought does not exist. "None taken." I said weakly.

"Oliver Scott Peters." Callie said sternly. "You're making her lose her confidence."

"Erin, just do it. Or you'll never know." Patrick said. "Besides, at least this way he could think about it before school starts next year."

That was the plan. I just think that it's better to put myself out there, tell him and get a straight yes or no, that way I'll know what steps to take next. Oliver parked the car near the entrance to the gymnasium where the dance was.

We got out of the car and Callie walked beside me whispering a pep talk. I immediately spotted Chad, because I have a Chad radar, I can sense him whenever we are in the same room.

His dark brown hair was fixed. He was wearing a black suit, with a skinny tie colored the same as my dress, yellow. We didn't talk about it, so I took this as a go signal. Callie gave me a little push and I went over to him talking to some other officers in our club. "Chad." I greeted him.

"Erin," He smiled at me.

"Now here is the part where Chad should say 'You look good, Erin.'" Jeremy, the vice-president, said and laughed with Lana his date.

"You really should say that." I told Chad and he just smiled. Is it really hard to ask that of him? Come on, Erin, you are not his girlfriend. "Come on, let's get our picture taken." I grabbed his arm and we walked over to the photo booth.

"Do you want to dance?" Chad asked me. The song was slow, a tune of a good love song. I gave him my hand and we headed over to the dance floor. We danced, after the fifth song, I finally got the courage.

I opened my clutch and fished out a small envelop and said "Please give this some thought." I said and again he just smiled.

"Hey, Bendari!" Patrick said "mind if I dance with your girlfriend."

"Sure!" He said, as I was shaking my head so I felt compelled to say "Of course we can dance Patrick, but just so you know, I am not Chad's girlfriend."

Chad looked at me quizzically and left the dance floor.