My eyes flutter open.
I turn my head toward the window overlooking the glittering ocean. Morning.
I close my eyes, and re-play last night in my mind.
I was walking… then arrived at Tessa's house… then came into Will's room…
Will. He comforted me last night. He was so nice… and understanding… and
And I'm still here?!
"OH SHIT," I swear aloud. My parents are going to kill me. I never went back home. I never called. I never told them where I was going.
Where's Will? I imagine he would have taken me off his bed and sleep in it himself. Instead, he left me to sleep in his bed… and he's somewhere else.
How gentlemanly of him.
I throw back the covers and swing my feet to the side of the bed. My eyes travel around the light green walls of Will's room, which are bare except for a few black and white photographs. As I walk towards one to get a better look, my foot hits a soft lump and I hear a groan.
My attention changes and I look down. "Will?"
The lump grunts and shifts under the blankets. "My stomach…"
"Oh, sorry!" I apologize and immediately step off him. I cringe- next time, look at where you're stepping!
"Man, my back kills…" Will groans. "Never sleep on the floor without some kind of cushioning." He twists his body and attempts to crack his back.
I smile at his cute bed-hair. He has tufts of dark brown hair sticking up all over his head.
I bite my lower lip. "Um, listen… thanks for letting me stay the night. It means a lot to me, Will."
He looks at me groggily. "No problem," he says simply.
That's it? No "I told you to stay away from him"? No "You had this coming" No lecture last night, but what about now?
I stare into his eyes. They are an intense shade of blue-green this morning, like the color of the ocean outside the window.
"So… I guess I'll be leaving now," I say awkwardly. What is wrong with me? Why do I always have to be awkward? How come I never know what to do or say?
I swiftly walk towards the bedroom door until-
"Wait," Will says abruptly.
I turn around. Are those butterflies in my stomach?
"Yes?" I say.
"Um. Don't you want to have some breakfast?"
"Sure," I say before thinking. "But-"
He cut me off and reassures me. "Don't worry about Tessa. She's not here. She's at a sleepover at Leah's and usually she doesn't come back 'til the afternoon."
I nodded. Right. The Friday-night-get-togethers… the ones I used to be invited to.
I sigh. Everything is going to be okay. That's what Will said to me last night and I believed it.
Not so much when I'm wide awake now.
"I'll go dress and then make breakfast," Will says as he begins to pick some clothes from his closet. "What would you like?"
I grin. "Surprise me."
"All right. But if you don't like it, it's not my fault."
I laugh. "It's okay. I love all breakfast foods."
"How about you take a shower first? No offense, but you look terrible," Will says and points me to the mirror. I look at my reflection and stare at my tangled hair and the mascara smudged around my eyes. And though my face is no longer tear-stained, my eyes look slightly bloodshot and my cheeks are sunken.
Instead of gasping at my deathly appearance, I chuckle. "You're right. I look awful."
Will smiles. "My parents are in the Bahamas for their anniversary, so you can be as loud as you want. You won't wake anyone up. You can go to Tessa's room and borrow some clothes from her closet. She'll never know."
I nod. "Thanks."
As I turn to walk out the door, I turn around again to say another thank- you. Because I honestly believe his attitude has changed towards me, for the better. "I appreciate everything you've done lately. Really Will, you've been an amazing friend to me."
He stares at me for a moment, his eyes glancing at me curiously, but then breaks out into a laugh and jokes, "Well, what can I say? I'm an amazing person. People love me."
A shower and a change of my wardrobe later, I feel much better. Not to mention I look a lot better.
Borrowing Tessa's make-up, I re-apply the mascara onto my lashes. Then I brush out my hair and using the elastic on my wrist, I pull my chestnut hair into a simple ponytail.
I bound the stairs and smell the delicious scent of breakfast.
"Mmm…." I say as I walk into the kitchen. I take a seat at the table as Will serves me a plate of home-made waffles, a few sausage links, and a side of strawberries with whipped cream. Perfect.
I pour syrup over my waffles and begin to eat. "Wow," I say impressed, chewing the chunk of waffle I had just bitten. "This is really good."
Will sits down next to me, eating his waffles as well. "Thanks. My mom taught me."
"Honestly, I have never eaten a waffle this good."
Will smiles. "Well, there's more where that came from. If you want more waffles I can make you some more."
I smile. How come I had never seen this side of Will before? It's strange to think that when we first met, he was hostile to me, whereas now, he is serving me delicious home made waffles.
"So, what's the plan now?" Will asks after taking a gulp of his orange juice.
"I have no idea. I mean, no one is talking to me. My friends think I'm a liar and a betrayer and the rest of the school view me as the loser who got publicly dumped by Scott Brown."
"You know, when you say it like that, it sounds a lot worse."
"Maybe because it IS."
He smirks. "Emily. This is not disastrous. Your social status is not ruined simply because you got dumped by a guy."
I scowl. "Easy for you to say…"
Will shrugs. "I got dumped, too. On the first day of school. Big deal. It's not like my reputation is down the drain."
I look at him darkly.
"It isn't!" He insists.
I roll my eyes. "I know, I know… it's just… my situation is different. It was in front of the entire school. I mean, haven't you heard of girls having to SWITCH SCHOOLS or TRANSFER to another state because they've been publicly humiliated?"
Will laughs so hard at this that he is practically snorting his orange juice. I attempt to stuff a napkin up his nose in case the orange juice flows out, but my hand shakes from laughing so hard and the napkin ends up jabbing his eye.
"Ow," he says in mid-laugh as he rubs his eyes.
I flick a piece of my waffle at him to get his attention. "What's so funny? Besides the orange juice leaking from your nose?"
"Now that's just gross Em," he says, but he laughs anyway. Then he takes all the whipped cream off his plate and flings it at my hair.
"Ew! I like EATING the cream not being covered in it!" I shriek as it sinks in to my freshly washed hair.
He smirks. "Well, you started it."
I take the syrup as my weapon. "You wanna go?"
The smirk is wiped off his face. "Back away from the syrup, Emily. Just put it down." he says warningly, knowing the danger maple syrup can create when squeezed out by a teenage girl whose hair has just been ruined.
"Hmm…. I don't think so," I say, walking over to his side of the table and aiming for his head.
Instantly, the sticky syrup glues to his hair and slowly slides down his face. His hand moves to the top of his head, causing his hair to become an even bigger mess. His hand is also covered in sticky syrup.
"Okay now you're going to get it," he says threateningly as he takes his plate and dumps its contents on my head.
Sausage links and his syrup-covered waffles topple on my head, adding to the grossness of my hair. Before I have time to recuperate, Will grabs the ketchup off the table and squirts it all over my shirt.
"Eww!" I squeal, laughing and running over to the kitchen island to take cover. Because I'm also next to the refrigerator I quickly open it and take out the box of eggs.
"That's cheating!" Will yells over to me.
I smirk. "There are no rules to this." And fire an egg.
Direct hit. The egg collides with Will's chest, the yellow yolk streaming smoothly down his torso.
I begin to throw more eggs, at random and with poor aim. Some splatter on the window while others crack on the floor.
He uses his plate as a shield. "Alright, I'm coming over."
I pop my head up from behind the kitchen island. "Hey, you can't do that! You're crossing the boundaries. You cannot go past that egg," I state while throwing another egg on the floor to mark the border.
Will laughs. "Well, you're the one who said there are no rules." He comes over to me with the can of whipped cream and squirts the whipped cream on me.
I scramble away with the carton of eggs, trying to avoid the whipped cream attack but fail. Jeans covered in cream, I stand up, last few eggs in hand, and run.
"You can't get me now!" I say mischievously, running around the kitchen as I throw eggs at him.
Will snickers. "You're not the gingerbread man, Emily," and chases after me.
Unfortunately he catches up to me and tackles me to the ground. Both unable to stop laughing, he picks me up, his strong arms around my legs, placing me on top of the kitchen table.
I tilt my head and smile, swinging my legs over the table. His hands are on either side of me. He hasn't moved since he sat me down on the table.
My eyes are finally level with his. His eyes are a warm brown now, with a tinge of blue-green. Maple syrup is stuck to his eyelashes.
"You have syrup on your eyelashes," I whisper lightheartedly.
"Thanks to you," he says, a smile tugged at his lips.
His face is so close to mine.
My eyes flutter.
He leans closer.
The butterflies are going crazy in my stomach.
What is happening?
"Will," I murmur.
"Yeah?" he says, in a daze, still looking at me.
"I think we should clean up."
He immediately snaps out of his dreamy look. "Oh-uh yeah, right. Sorry," he stutters as he lifts his palms from the table and backs away from me. "You're right, we should clean up. This place is a mess. My mom's going to kill me. And Alfred is going to have a say in this if he comes back early."
Will walks to the other side of the room and opens the door to the basement. "I'll be right back, I'm just going to get some cleaning supplies."
Way to ruin the moment, the voice in my head goes.
Uh, what moment?
Don't try to deny it. You totally felt something back there.
I did NOT.
Uh huh. Sure.
I don't like Will! At all! Those butterflies… were just…!
Denial is the first step to accepting your love for that boy.
Love?! LOVE! When did we start talking about –
"Emily?" Will says.
"Yes?" I answer, snapping back in to reality.
"Want to help clean?" He asks, holding out a mop.
I take the mop from him and begin wiping up the mess I created with the eggs. We both clean quietly for a few minutes. Only the sound of Will scrubbing the dry syrup out of his hair could be heard.
"So what were you laughing about before?" I ask, breaking the silence.
Will pauses scrubbing. "Oh. Just that it's stupid to have to transfer schools merely because of your drop in social status. It really isn't the end of the world… or even close to it."
"But some people have really embarrassing situations that happen to them," I say.
"They got themselves in the situation. They should have considered the consequences."
"Well…" I retort, not knowing what to say.
"Besides. People eventually forget about these things. They move on to the new gossip of the week. They just like to soak up the juicy rumors of the day and once something even more scandalous or embarrassing happens, the stuff before is forgotten." Will runs his hand through his hair with soap, attempting to scrub off the last of the stickiness from the syrup. His voice softens. "And sometimes not everyone dislikes or thinks badly of the person who made the mistake. Sometimes that person still has a friend to talk to."
"Yeah, I guess," I say, continuing to clean.
"Listen, don't worry about Tessa. She'll get over it."
I don't know about that. "Maybe."
"I'll talk to her okay?"
"Yeah, okay. Thanks," I say.
I walk by the microwave and see my reflection. "We look pretty funny."
"More you than me," Will teases.
I chuckle. "Nah, I think the syrup in your hair definitely names you #1 on the funny-looking list."
I stare at the reflection of red streaked across my borrowed shirt and the buttery cream smudged all around the legs of my jeans. A bit of syrup and pieces of waffle stick to my hair.
"I think I'm going to take another shower," I announce.
Will laughs and picks up the empty egg carton off the ground. "Yeah. And after you do that, you owe me a carton of eggs."
I laugh. "And I'm going to have to buy Tessa a new shirt."