Part Two. Enjoy...
I walked outside wincing as the bright sunlight met my eyes. I could tell that I looked like I had been crying – I most likely had mascara running down my cheeks and my face felt sticky like when ocean water dries on it – but it didn't matter much to me. I glanced around and noticed Nikki was talking to one of Mrs. H.'s nieces, and my parents were both mingling with the other adults around the patio area.
But there was no way I was going back in that house. Not after what had just happened with Harrison...
So, my options were pretty limited. I settled for playing with the group of preschool-aged kids who seemed to find it amusing to throw pretzels at each other. After about fifteen minutes of trying to explain that you're supposed to eat your food and not play with it (a concept that was considered blasphemy by these little kids) I'd had about all I could take of the little "darlings." Someone was going to get a pretzel where the sun don't shine – that's right...shoved up their nose...
Forget Sex Ed – if you want teenagers to be abstinent, just give them a group of three-year-olds to hang out with for a while.
Thankfully, I was saved from anymore flying pretzel by Mrs. H.'s loud call of, "Come 'n' get it!"
I didn't have much of an appetite though. All I took to eat was was some pasta salad and a few strawberries. I ended up taking my plate to the table at the far end of the yard and sitting down with my back to the rest of party. I violently stabbed a strawberry with my fork before glaring at it disdainfully.
Mr. H. appeared in the chair beside me, seemingly out of nowhere. I looked up at him momentarily before returning to my staring contest with my fruit. We sat in there in silence for a minute, before he laid a hand on my shoulder.
"Abby, you know he didn't mean to hurt you," he told me. It wasn't as though he was was trying to convince me, but more that he was stating my thoughts aloud. "And I know you didn't mean to hurt him, either. The boy really likes you...maybe too much. I'm sorry if me and Caroline hurt you, too. We jus' love ya'll and you gotta deal with it if we try to make you happy. 'Kay?"
I nodded once, never taking my eyes off the strawberry that I held a few inches off my plate. Mr. H. seemed to accept that this was the only response he was going to get out of me, and began to eat his meal. I soon followed his lead, both of us eating in silence.
"You OK, hon?" Mom asked. I'd been sitting on the swing that hung off a thick branch on Mrs. H.'s oak tree for the past hour. She was the first person to bother me since I'd sat down here.
I gave her a half-smile. "Yeah. Headache." I got migraines all the time; she would accept this excuse no questions asked. Besides, it wasn't a lie – my head was throbbing. Just not for the typically reasons.
"I'm sure Caroline has Tylenol. I'll go ask if you want."
"No, I'm good."
She nodded and made her retreat back to the house. I watched her over my shoulder, letting the smile slip from my face with each step she took away from me.
Why did I have to be so stupid? Couldn't I just allow myself to be happy for once? I should have just let Harrison continue to kiss me, should have ignored the little voice in my head that was intent on being a pessimist. Maybe then I wouldn't be sitting here while trying to fight back tears.
I could go apologize to Harrison. Or I could just walk up to him and kiss him again – a real kiss this time, not "a chicken pecking at the ground." But I doubted that he would forgive me. He was right; I was a bitch.
I turned around again so I had my back to the rest of the group. This party sucked.
I didn't look up, despite the urge I had just to glance at him. Just for a second.
"Oh, come on, Abby, after what happened before the least you can do is look at me."
I still didn't turn.
"Look, I brought you ice cream." A cone appeared in front of my face – strawberry ice cream dripping down the sides. I finally looked up to face Harrison. He had a small smile playing on his lips, and I suddenly had the urge to kiss him again. I looked back to the ice cream instead. "If you don't want it, I'll take it back. I just thought-"
"No, I'll eat it. Thanks." I took the cone from his hand, smiling a real smile for the first time that day. It's amazing how ice cream can make everything suddenly seem OK.
"Do you forgive me then?"
"For what? I'm the one that should be asking you to forgive me. I was a complete bitch to you, Harrison. Sorry."
Then Harrison did something that totally shocked me. He laughed. He laughed, and he kept laughing until he had to sit down to the ground to keep from falling over. I just stared at him like he was insane. But soon I was giggling myself. That giggle turned it a laugh and before I knew it, I tumbled backward off the swing and smacked Harrison in the face with my ice cream cone as it flew from my hand. And we laughed harder. We laughed until we couldn't breathe from it all. Finally, we got control of ourselves, still smiling at the absurdity of...well, of everything.
"Hey, you got a little something..." I pointed to the now-melted ice cream dripping off of his nose.
He dipped his finger in to the mess that was my fallen cone, before smearing the goo across my face. "Yeah, so do you."
This set us off again, both of us falling back on the grass and shaking with our uncontrollable chuckles.
After calming down for the second time, we just lay on the the ground next to each other. The sky was beginning to turn a vibrant orange due to the oncoming sunset; purple and pink clouds floated on the horizon. I closed my eyes and sighed in contentment. This is how summer was supposed to be, warm and peaceful without tears or yelling.
"Well, I'm glad to see you two made up."
I opened my eyes to see Mrs. H. standing above us, a smirk spread across her face. I couldn't help but smile in return. I was far too happy to give her one of my usual snarky comments. The sky was now ablaze behind her as the sun slid behind the hills in the distance. The bright orange sphere sent it's light across the rooftops of the surrounding houses, and the leaves of the trees seemed to glow and shimmer as if on fire. A trick of the light I knew but beautiful none the less.
"We're going to light the fire pit in a little bit. Are you going to come over with us?" Mrs. H. questioned. "Of course we understand if you would rather be alone..."
Harrison laughed, clearly as exuberant as I was. "We'll be over in a minute, Grandma."
Mrs. H. nodded and then walked back to join the rest of her guest on the patio. I closed my eyes again, my head falling back to the grass.
"Abby," Harrison whispered. I cracked an eye open to look at him; his face was a mere inch from mine. "Can I..."
I nodded, unable to form a coherent response. He pressed his lips to mine in a sweet kiss that lasted only a second but set butterflies soaring in my stomach nonetheless. He pulled back – I'm guessing to gauge my reaction – and smiled.
"Come on, we should probably go over with them before my grandma comes back to make sure we're behaving ourselves," Harrison said as he rose to his feet. He extended a hand to me. I took it, and he hoisted me to my feet as well. He wrapped an arm around my shoulders and pulled me closer to him. I relaxed against his side and slid my arm around his waist.
"Hey, Harrison," a deep voice called across the yard, "get your ass over here. I want to meet your girlfriend."
"She's not my girlfriend, Dad," Harrison replied and then mumbled something under his breath that sounded vaguely like "yet."
As we made our way over to the group on the patio, everyone looked up at our arrival. Some had looks of shock on their faces (namely my parents) while some simply looked smug. There was only one chair still open so Harrison sat in it and pulled me into his lap. His boldness in front of my parents and his family surprised me. My dad was known for his over-protectiveness; I watched as his hands clenched into fists in an attempt to restrain his anger.
"I'm Mike," Harrison's dad said, extending his hand to me. I shook it and replied, "Abby."
My mother offered her hand to Harrison. "I'm Lisa, and this is my husband, Andy."
Harrison shook Mom's hand and ignored Daddy's death glare. Smart boy.
We sat there in a moment of uncomfortable silence. Trying to ignore the fact that all eyes were on me, I snuggled into Harrison's chest while he traced patterns on my arm, raising goosebumps as he went. He leaned in to sarcastically whisper, "This is going well."
As soon as the words left his mouth, a marshmallow smacked Harrison in the side of the face, seemingly out of thin air. He looked around confused as the one remaining pretzel-throwing three-year-old giggled. Apparently, she liked to throw marshmallows, too.
"Leslie, don't throw your food!" someone scolded. The little girl just giggled again in response.
"You want to go in the house and watch a movie or something?" Harrison asked. When I nodded, he announced our plans to the group of adults and lead me into the house. I did my best to pretend I didn't notice the suspicious looks everyone was giving us – it would seem as though they didn't believe we were just going to watch a movie.
Harrison lounged on the couch as I dug through the collection of DVDs that Mr. and Mrs. H. kept under the television.
"What do you want to watch?" I asked him.
"Uh, I like horror movies," He told me. "You pick, though."
"80s horror movies, or modern?"
"Well, the ones from the 80s are more entertaining, but the modern ones have better special effects..."
"That doesn't answer my question."
"I said you get to pick what we watch."
"Fine. Is Friday the Thirteenth alright or are you going to get scared?" I teased.
"Will you protect me from Jason?" he asked, mock fear coloring his tone.
"Then I guess we can watch it."
I started the movie and turned the lights off before walking over to the couch. Harrison grabbed me around the waist and tugged me down so I was lying next to him. He pulled me against his chest and wrapped an arm around my middle, prior grabbing the thin blanket off the back of the couch to drape over us.
"Abby," he whispered as the opening credits began. His warm breath tickled my neck, sending a tremor through my body. I turned in his arms to look at him and stopped breathing. His face was mere inches away from mine, and his eyes sparkled in the dim light. "Kiss me."
Carefully, I leaned in and brushed my lips across his, attempting to do what he did to me earlier that day. His lips matched the movement of mine perfectly. Slowly, I pulled back and bit my lip as I tried to gauge his reaction. I only got an inch away before the hand on my waist slid up my back and came to rest at the nape of neck. His other hand knotted itself in my hair.
"Where do you think you're going?"
Harrison's lips pressed against mine again. I wrapped my arms around his neck, securing him to me. This kiss was soft at first but slowly grew deeper each time our lips touched. Slowly, Harrison rolled us so that he was hovering above of me. His tongue grazed my lower lip, and a shiver of pleasure slid down my spine. I felt him smile at the effect he had on me. His tongue skimmed across my lips again, and they parted on their own accord. When his tongue danced into my mouth, I couldn't stop the small moan that escaped me when it connected with mine.
"Hey, Harrison – oh, shit, never mind," Mike's voice drifted to us from the general area of the doorway.
"Dammit," Harrison murmured, pulling away from me. We looked up to see Mike still standing in the doorway, an amused smirk on his face. "What do you want, Dad?"
"I was just going to let you know we're taking Abby home tonight. Her parents are leaving but I figured you would want a little more time together with everything that happened today. Andy's pretty pissed about it, but my dad told him that we would keep an eye on you two. You're lucky I came here and not him, though..."
Harrison sighed, "And I needed to know that why?"
Mike smirked again. "You didn't. Sorry to interrupt. As you were." With that, he left us alone again.
"Right. Now where were we?" Harrison leaned in and pressed his lips to mine again. I reluctantly pulled back.
My dad's voice answered that question for me. "Abby, we're leaving. Mike's going to bring you home. Be good." Luckily, he didn't come into the room; considering the position Harrison and I were in at the moment, we would have been royally screwed if he did.
"'Kay, Dad. Love you," I called back to him. Then I turned my attention back to Harrison. "OK, that should be all the interruptions for now."
"Finally," Harrison whispered. He leaned down and kissed my nose. Then he moved to my cheeks and finally my lips.
A shrill scream cut through the air, courtesy of the television.
"Damned horror movie," I mumbled before hitting the mute button on the remote.
"Well, it looks like someone had fun tonight," Mike said as he appraised our swollen lips and messed up hair. "I hope you two used protection."
Harrison playfully punched his dad's shoulder while I blushed crimson at his implications. "All we did was kiss, Dad. That's it."
Mike laughed, "Yeah, that's what I told my dad, too."
I rolled my eyes and climbed into the back of Mike's SUV. After shutting the door behind me, I shut my eyes and leaned my head against the cool window. The chilly temperature of the glass helped me to unscramble my jumbled thoughts. In one day I had received my first kiss, fought with a boy I could very well love, and made-up and made-out with said boy. All things considered, it was a good day.
I just had no clue where to go from here.
Even after all we had gone through today, Harrison hadn't asked me to be his girlfriend or even for my number. Did he want me to make the next move? Or was this a one time thing – a hookup to make a pathetic family party a little less boring? Maybe he had something else up his sleeve... At this point, nothing would really surprise me.
"Mind if I sit back here with you? It's either me or my drunk Aunt Tammy," Harrison said as he slid into the backseat with me.
"Hmm, I think I pick your aunt. Sorry," I teased in reply, moving closer to him so I could lean against his shoulder.
"Alright," he said while wrapping an arm around my waist. "I just don't want any complaining when she falls asleep on your shoulder."
"I think I can deal," I laughed before reaching up to gently kiss him.
"Mikey!" Tammy yelled – unnecessarily seeing as her brother was standing right next to her, saying his good-byes to his parents. "Mikey, yous son's makin' out wit' some girl in yous car!"
"I know, Tammy. It's OK," Mike tried to soothe her, but Tammy continued to overreact.
"Har'son, stop that right now! That's how babies is made!" she slurred drunkenly while beating her palms on the window. Harrison and I laughed at her expense. I hadn't seen anyone that smashed in a while; no wonder Mike had offered to take his baby sister home.
"OK, time to get in the car and go home, Tammy." Mike placed a hand on her back to guide her to the passenger seat. Tammy turned around and swung a fist at him, missing by nearly six inches. She then patted him on the shoulder, proclaiming what an amazing brother he was for taking such good care of her when she lost her pet elephant. Um, oh-kay.
Mrs. H. looked worried. "Maybe she should just sleep here tonight."
"No, I got her," Mike reassured his mother.
Finally – fifteen more minutes and a promise of a new rubber ducky later – Tammy was securely buckled into the front seat, fiddling with the radio controls. She settled on a station that played only 80s music. Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" blared through the sound system, and Tammy took it upon herself to give us some entertainment.
"Just a small town girl, livin' in a lonely world!" she sang along – extremely off key, may I add – while Harrison and I shook our heads. "C'mon, party poopers, sing wit' me!"
"See, I would, Aunt Tammy, but I'm not feeling very well. My throat kind of hurts and I don't want to make it any worse," Harrison lied smoothly.
His aunt looked at him a moment before shaking her head. "If yous throat hurted so bad, why was you playing tonsil hockey wit' yous girlfriend not so very all that long ago? Huh?" When Harrison didn't reply, she continued, "That's what I thought...party pooper."
Maybe Tammy wasn't as hammered as I thought.
"Ouch, I think you just got burned by a drunk lady," I whispered to Harrison. He tried to silence me with his lips, but I turned my head. The poor boy got nothing but cheek. "Now Harrison, you don't want your girlfriend to get sick do you? I think we should hold off on the kissing till your throat feels better."
He just growled at me in response before nuzzling my neck.
Mike finally climbed into the driver's seat. He glanced at Harrison and me in the rearview mirror before shaking his head."Not in my car, you two."
Harrison flipped his dad the bird before returning to his assault on my neck. I was mildly shocked that he got away with that kind of behavior with his father – I would have never heard the end of it if that was me – but Mike was more friend that parent. Besides, the feeling of Harrison's lips on my throat was making concentrating on something so silly nearly impossible.
"Oh, oh, Har'son, did yous daddy ever tell you bout the time I found him, uh, well, you know, when we was younger? Boy, he was pisseded. Didn't talk to me for a long, long, long...uh, time." Tammy giggled and swayed slightly in her seat. Thanks to her drunken stupor, she didn't realize the embarrassment she was setting Mike up for.
"No," Harrison said, glancing suspiciously at his father. I was sure he was going to taunt Mike with this little bit of information later. "But thank you for letting me know about it, Aunt Tammy."
"No prob, sweet stuff. No..." And just like that Tammy was out cold, her head lolling back against the seat. She was snoring slightly. I doubted even a nuclear explosion would wake her up.
Ten minutes of silence later, we were parked in front of a small apartment building.
"You guys hang out here. I'm going to take Tammy in and put her to bed," Mike told us. I watched as he carried his sister into the building.
"So..." I began once Mike was finally out of the SUV.
"So..." Harrison repeated.
"Where does today leave us? Our relationship, I mean."
Harrison pressed his lips to the hollow at the base of my throat. "Does that answer your question?"
"No, not really."
"What about this?" He kissed my jaw.
He kissed the corner of my mouth.
"Harrison, please, don't try to distract me."
"I'm not trying to distract you. I'm trying to show you how I feel about you." I gave him a blank look. He sighed. "Abby, I really like you. Maybe too much. And I want you to be my girlfriend..."
"You're killing me here, Abby."
"Yes," I said.
"Yes, Harrison, I'll be your girlfriend." I couldn't help but smile as I said the words.
"Abby, babe, wake up. You're home."
"Ugh. Five more minutes, please." I cracked open an eye and saw Harrison trying not to laugh at me.
"No can do. Do you want your dad to come murder me?"
"Can I sleep more if he does?" I mumbled.
Harrison chuckled at me. "Why don't you go inside first? You'll be more comfortable."
"Fine. But you gotta walk me to the door."
"Sounds like a fair deal." With that he scooped me up in his arms and carried me to porch before finally placing me on my own two feet.
"You know, I could of walked by myself."
"Yeah, but I would much rather hold you in my arms."
"Good night, Harrison," I whispered with a smile and turned to unlock the door. His arms wrapped around my waist, not allowing me to go anywhere.
Harrison leaned down and pressed his lips to mine for the final time that night. "Good night, Abby."
He released me and walked back to the SUV. Mike backed down the driveway with a wave, and I watched the car disappear down the road.
Finally, I turned my key in the deadbolt and walked into my house. The light in the kitchen was still on; I heard the sound of fingers as they tapped anxiously on our granite countertop. I glanced at the clock in the entry way. It read half past one.
"I'm home," I called.
"In here," Mom's voice called from the kitchen. "Keep it down. Your dad's asleep."
I dropped my hoodie on the stairs and timidly walked into the kitchen, running my hand through my hair in an futile attempt to smooth it out. "What's up?"
"Did you have fun tonight?"
"Yeah," I told her. I hoped she couldn't tell I was on cloud nine at the moment. "Why?"
"Well, you were upset earlier today. I thought it might have been that Harrison's fault. But then you wanted to stay with him. I just wanted to make sure everything was OK."
"Everything's fine," I told her with a smile. Great, actually. Amazing, incredible, fantastic, I added in my head.
"OK," she said, returning my smile. "Your dad's not to happy about tonight. You'll probably hear it tomorrow. But that's something to deal with at a later time. I'm going to bed. 'Night."
She walked upstairs. I soon followed after her, but I knew there was no way I was going to fall asleep now.
I decided to make myself content with lying on my bed staring at my ceiling. My phone was balanced on my forehead out of boredom, set on vibrate so that it wouldn't wake everyone in the house up if someone called me at this ungodly hour of the morning. I had just closed my eyes, hoping for sleep, when the phone moved from my forehead to my nose. Harrison's name was flashing across the display screen.
"Hello?" I answered.
"Hey, I didn't wake you up, did I?"
"No, I was staring at the ceiling," I told him honestly.
"Exciting," he commented.
We were silent for a moment before Harrison spoke again. "I just wanted to make sure you got in alright," he said, "and to tell you sweet dreams."
I smiled. "Thanks. Sweet dreams to you, too."
"Bye, Harrison." I hung up and soon after fell asleep with a smile on my face for the first time that summer.
Ok, I know it was completely cliche but sometimes, cliche is just what you need. It sure was what I needed when I wrote this... Personally, I liked it a lot. What did you all think? Review and let me know!
Oh, just fyi, I'll probably be doing a lot more of these oneshot/short story type things...I have a bunch that are half finished as of the moment. Add me to your alert if you wanna see more. :)