"Wow," he gasped. He then repeated himself several times before giving her a chance to speak again.

"Yeah," she was slightly hesitant. She wasn't really sure why she was calling. "Long time no see, huh Rock?"

A small smile crept across his face as he walked towards the door. He couldn't help but laugh as he stepped outside, though there was nothing particularly funny about this phone call.

"I called," she said importantly. "The other day, but your friend answered and said you weren't around. Well, actually, he told me you were there. He said that you were really far away and he didn't feel like running back to give you the phone." She stopped, suddenly aware that she was talking way too much. "Well I reckon the point is I called."

"Wow," he said again. He was beginning to think that was all that was going to come out when he found the words to continue. "Oh, yeah I think I remember him tellin' me someone called me. I think I was at the fair that night."

After a simple sound of understanding from her they fell into an odd silence, both unsure of what to say next. He felt like he needed to keep up the conversation so he called out to her, "So Nikki! How have you been lately?"

She seemed to wake up from whatever reverie she was in when he called her name. "Nothing, really. The number changed, you know. That's why you haven't been able to call. I mean, if you were calling."

"Oh is that what happened? Man I've been calling that number like every two days like crazy trying to talk to you! Why didn't you just call me?"

"Rock, I have about eight different numbers for you in my phone and I had no idea which one to call. I wasn't about to sit here and try them all. I guess I just got right lucky this time."

She sounded just the way he'd remembered, and by then they were both laughing at themselves and each other, and the conversation seemed to be much more comfortable.

"Hey you know what?" Rock asked her. "I haven't spoken to Tiffany in at least 5 months. We ain't even cool like that anymore." He sounded almost triumphant at these last words, as if the deletion of their friend's name from his vocabulary was a victory.

"Oh, is that so?" Nikki laughed. "Well we just started talking again. Funny how that happens."


My name is Nicole Liana Raye, but I reckon only my mother calls me by the whole thing. I'm Nikki. I'm seventeen years old, and a junior at J. West High. Sounds like I'm just your average teenager, right? Wrong. I've been through drama to the end of the world and back with this guy named Rock. Well, ok, his name is Jeremy. But he's a rapper and he goes by Rock. I know what you're thinking: if he's a rapper he must be a gang-banging thug going nowhere with life. That's what everyone thinks at first, but he's just not like that. He's right smart. He's extremely smart, actually. Sometimes I think he may even be smarter than me, and that's a feat in itself, you can be sure. We're really alike, the two of us. We just have so much more in common than most people—weird things. Like how we both love white music even though our friends make fun of us for it, or how we both love anime shows like Inuyasha and Bleach, which our friends also make fun of us for. We've been on and off for a long time now. Well it's really only been two years, but it feels like it's been forever. I'm not sure when exactly I decided to acknowledge it, but I realized at some point that I've been in love with him since the first time I ever met him.


I'm Rock, but the government calls me Jeremy James. I just turned nineteen this year, but I stopped going to school two years ago. I'm from Brooklyn, but I moved down here a few years ago to Montgomery, Alabama. I hate the south. It's so boring, and there's nothing to do. Only thing I can even stand about this place is my friends. We've started up a music group since we've been here. My dude the prez moved down here from Philly a couple years ago. His name's Andre but we call him Trick, and he's a northerner just like me. She is too. Well, naw, she's from out west, but she sure acts like a northerner. She's an inner-city girl—from Compton, and she hates the south just as much as Andre and me do. Pretty sad though, in the past few years the girl's managed to catch a mean ass accent, but I just like to call it a piece of southern belle charm. Her name is Nicole. I swear it must be the most beautiful name in the world already, but Nikki Raye is what we call her. She's a real proper kinda girl, like her mama raised her right—not like these other dumb hoes out here. The thing is…she really gets me. She sees past the surface, the music, and the games. She's always seen me for who I am, even when I wanted to hide it. I damn sure won't ready to love nobody when I met her, but her eyes did me in.

On the phone, Nikki and Rock were back in the normal flow of conversation.

"Remember how we met?" he asked her. He always asked, and she didn't know why. She thought it was because he was trying to decide whether the first time they met counted or not.

"Well I guess that depends," she started, totally aware of what he was trying to figure out. "I don't think that time at the pool counts. 'Cause I didn't meet you again until, what, four months later? I didn't even remember the time at the pool."

She laughed as she spoke, and though he wasn't quite sure what she was laughing at, he was at peace with the warmth of the sound. He'd always loved her voice. He couldn't remember if he'd ever told her, but as he heard his brother's footsteps coming toward his room, he decided this wasn't the time.

"Nikki," he said. "I need to go. I'll call you back, I promise."

"Ugh. Sure."

"Nikki do you still love me?"

"Of course, Rock."

"Ok and I still love you too so I'll call you back."

Just like that he was gone. Nikki just kept still on the bed and wondered why she'd called him in the first place. She wasn't sure what she was expecting, but she was pretty sure that wasn't it. Or maybe it was; she didn't know. It was something she'd wanted to do for a long time. She thought about it every night for months. For a while, all she could think about was Jeremy "Rock" James.

Nikki put her head down on her pillow and closed her eyes. She thought back to that fateful night in October.