I can't see past her.
"You're an idiot."
I closed my eyes in frustration as I watched the soccer ball swing wide of the goal. I looked at my sister, standing behind me and glared at her. I never wanted to hit her, but with that comment I felt my hand twitch. Did she think I didn't know what an idiot I was, that I was a complete douche? It was all that I had been feeling since the disastrous prom night debacle.
"I'm aware of the fact." I shot back at her through clenched teeth.
"I'm just reminding you." She sighed, lounging against the goal post. "When are you going to call her?"
"I don't know." I placed the ball on the ground and got ready to try again. I kicked the ball but the moment it connected with my foot I know it was wrong. The ball skewed hard to the left and shot straight towards Melissa's head.
"Well that will teach me to say anything." Melissa chuckled, gracefully catching the ball as it whizzed past her head.
I knew what Melissa was getting at. It had been about two weeks since Anjali had kissed me, since I had been caught off guard and acted like an idiot. For the first time in our friendship I didn't know what to do. I was stuck, frozen in place by my fear. God I was such a pussy. The girl I had been pining after for years admitted that she felt the same and what did I do? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
"You have to talk to her eventually." Melissa tossed the ball my way. "I know you're worried, but just let her know what you've always told me."
"What's that?" I asked.
"That she's all you ever wanted." She patted my cheek. "That you can't see past her."
In that moment I knew exactly what I needed to do. That it wasn't something I could escape.
I stood outside Anjali's house, the same place I was two weeks ago before everything went to hell. I took a deep breath and knocked on the door.
Instead of Anjali I was greeted by her mother.
"Andrew!" She exclaimed, pulling me in for a hug.
I was enveloped by her perfume, something light and flowery, and warmth. She looked the same as the last time I saw her, but with more laugh lines surrounding her eyes than before. She was different from Anjali, more classically beautiful in her features.
"Anjali didn't tell me you would be joining us." She whisked me inside sending me a smile that was kind and probing at the same time.
This was something else that Anjali and her mother differed in, Anjali was straight forward no bullshit involved, but her mother reminded me of the society women you would see on tv. She would kill you with kindness and then gossip about you with anyone that would listen. She was more manipulative than mean, just enough to keep you on your toes.
"I actually just stopped by to talk to Li. I should have called first, sorry." I rubbed the back of my head trying to figure out how to extricate myself from the situation. "I'll just head home. Could you please let Li know I stopped by?"
"Nonsense dear." She waved her hand. "I'll call Anjali and I insist that you join us for dinner." She walked towards the staircase, ignoring all my protests. "Anjali! Come down, you have a visitor, and we're running late for our reservations."
"I'm coming Ma, jeeze!" Anjali's snappish tone drifted towards us.
She was wearing dress that on anyone else would have looked simple, but on her it managed to look like something special, clinging delicately to her figure. Her usually wild and curly hair had been tamed into straightness, and her extreme features were made less daunting through makeup. She didn't look like the person I knew or used to know, but she still managed to make my heart stop in a way that I wasn't used to.
She didn't notice me at first. Instead she fiddled with the large earrings she was wearing, the ring on her finger, and the thick necklace that seemed to weigh her down like an anchor. She flipped her hair over her shoulder keeping her eyes downcast as she walked towards her mother.
"Who's here?" She asked her eyes flicking forward. She saw me and froze, her lips becoming tight and thin.
It was a look I had seen her give many guys before. She was getting ready to cut me off, push me out of her life. Before she could go through with the final blow her mother intervened.
"Andrew stopped by to talk to you, and I invited him dinner." Ms. Shah spoke up, breaking the tense silence.
Anjali tightened her lips. "I'm sure Drew has be tter things to do than have dinner with us." She sent me a hard glare, daring me to dismiss what she had said.
If this had happened a couple of weeks ago I probably would have but right now I had my only chance to set things right, and I wasn't going to let it go. Screw her intimidation tactics.
"Actually I'm free right now. So I'd love to come to dinner." I smiled, trying to cover up my tension.
"Wonderful!" Ms. Shah clapped her hands. "Just let me go grab my purse and then we'll head out."
The tension seemed to crackle between us as soon as she left. Anjali made a point of not looking at me, her mouth scrunched and her eyebrows furrowed. I knew her well enough to know that she wasn't really mad but more hurt than anything, and maybe even a little embarrassed. I couldn't think of the last time a guy had reacted to her the way I had, or the last guy whose reaction she actually cared about.
"Li" I started, stepping towards her. "I'm really . . ."
"Are you two ready?" Ms. Shah asked, reentering the room. The look on her face told me that she knew something was up.
"Yep" Anjali sprang to life, brushing past her mother to grab the car keys. "I'll drive."
I wordlessly followed both of them out of the house and towards Ms. Shah's car. Anjali slid effortlessly into the driver's side, started the car and proceeded to look straight ahead. I reached for the backseat door only to be stopped by Mrs. Shah.
"Why don't you sit in the front dear, your legs are much longer than mine." She sent me a brilliant smile before lightly pushing me towards the front seat.
Shit! I thought she's been setting me up the whole time.
Anjali ignored me as I buckled up my seatbelt. I was struck once again how uncomfortable this all was. All I wanted was to be friends again. Who was I kidding? I wanted more. I wanted to be the guy that she held onto for more than a month. The one that she actually liked.
I had to try and say something. She made the first move and I had dropped the ball. It was time to rectify the situation.
"So, I missed you at practice. What have you been up to?" I knew it was lame, but it was the only way I could think of to get started.
For a second I thought she wasn't going to reply and I felt the tips of my ears begin to burn.
"I've been working out at the gym." She looked straight ahead. "Trying to get my stamina up before school starts."
I could clearly read her unspoken message. I've been avoiding you dumbass. I took it to heart and clamp my mouth shut.
When we pulled up to the restaurant Ms. Shah jumped out of the car, claiming that she was going to go make sure the table is set up and to come meet her in five. Both of us know that this is a bunch of bullshit but can't say anything without actually admitting that there's a problem between us. I wish that time would go by faster as Anjali parks the car. I have no idea about what I should be saying to her.
"Listen Li, I'm sorry about prom. I didn't mean to be such an ass. It's just that you caught me off guard." It comes out in a rush and unfortunately it doesn't seem like my mouth is about to stop anytime soon. "I've really missed you and I know I didn't say it then but I'll say it now." I took a deep breath. "I like you. I really like you and I'm an idiot for not telling you earlier. Honestly you're all I think about and I know you thought I liked Sasha but it's you Li, it's always been you."
She looked at me her eyes widening. For a second I thought she was going to smile, that everything would go back to normal, but then I saw her eyes harden.
"Oh that's nice." She said sending me a smile that would freeze over hell. "I'll meet you inside."
The door slamming jolted me back into reality. Is this how Anjali felt? Like her insides were revolting against her? I understood why she couldn't forgive me. No one wanted to feel this bad.
The car ride home after dinner was a tense and awkward one. I wanted nothing more than to just jump out of the car and make a run for it. As soon as we pull into the Shah's driveway I get out and give Mrs. Shah some stupid excuse about having an early practice and wanting to get some rest.
I jam my hands in my pocket and start to walk back home. I just want this night to end.
It's four in the morning when I wake up. My cellphone is ringing, before I can reach it it stops and then a second later it starts again. I look at the caller through blurry eyes and pick up.
"Can you meet me at the field?" She asks. "I need to see you."
"I'll be there." I pull on a shirt and am out the door before I can even think about it.
She looks more frail than usual in the moonlight, but somehow still formidable. I walk up to her and for once don't over think I just do what I've been wanting to do all summer, all of last year for matter of fact.
Kissing her is exactly how I remember. It felt just right like all the buildup and hurt feelings never mattered that this was what we had been waiting for.
"Are we doing this?" She asks when we pull away from each other.
"Yes, we are." I crush her mouth into mine and let her presence overwhelm me. And all I can think of in the moment is that this is exactly what we should have been doing all along.
AN: So, this update is way overdue, and for that I apologize. I also what to thank all the fantastic readers out there! You guys have been absolutely awesome with the reviews, private messages, and adding me to your alerts. I can't promise when I'll finish this, but I promise that it will be finished!