The next morning I wake and find an envelope shoved underneath my door. In black dreadful print spells out a letter from my school: My schedule. I take it over to my bed and open it carefully, unready to see the contents that will determine my actions for the remaining school year.
First Hour: Chemistry, with Ms. Drinch. Blah.
Second Hour: Art III, with Mr. Paisley. Woop!
Third Hour: Study Hall, with the infamous Mr. Birch. Kill me now. . .
I throw it over my shoulder, no longer interested, and fall backwards onto the mattress. I hold my head and squeeze. Three more days. Just three more days I have all to myself. Summer always goes by too fast. In another month I'll be wishing I was up North camping by the nearest lake, like we used to. But regrettably I have a feeling my camping trips are over.
Last night Dad gave me his credit card to get school stuff. I told him I'd go today but I have no willpower to get myself back up off the bed. Unfortunately I have to or I'll never get this over with. I quickly sit up, effectively using the band-aid maneuver. The longer I lay there, the harder I'll fight with myself and come up with excuses not to leave this room, in the end it's always best to do it quickly.
Two and a half hours later, I'm at the Underhill Mall. It's somewhat big compared to the others I've seen in the area, holding the title of third largest mall in a 30-45 mile proximity. I park outside of JC Penny, everywhere else is overly crowded. As I walk inside, I automatically set my gaze and head towards the teen section. They may not have a lot of clothes, but at least they're somewhat cheap, not that I care how expensive clothes are, I have Dad's card after all, but I'll go easy on the old man. A bunch of oversized shirts come into view and too skinny jeans. I walk past them with a deep frown on my face. What happened to a regular t-shirt! I walk out of JC Penny and set my sights towards Hot Topic.
I may not wear heavy raccoon eye liner or dye my hair every week, or even have unimaginable amounts of piercings, but I like going there. The look of it draws me in, not only because of the fact that it's drastically different from the rest of the stores, but because it's more my speed. I like different. I also like Post-Hardcore bands, but no one knows that, they'd never guess.
I step one foot into the store and see the cashier swing his heavy eyeliner- ed eyes to me and does a double take. He sports a five inch high mohawk on top of his otherwise bald head, with gauges I could easily fit my fist through, and tight glossy black pants. He stares back distastefully, taking in my non-dyed hair, and somewhat preppy attire. I can see through his heavy gaze that he's judging me, I've seen the look before, grown rather used to it at school. It no longer affects me. I stare back giving a "yeah I know what store this is, buddy," kind of smirk. He huffs and goes back to counting new in-stock shirts, like a good Goth boy.
The things I've noticed about Hot Topic stores is that they are generally small and don't leave a lot of walk way space. Because of this well known fact, I do my best not to knock into anything as I work my way to the back where the CDs are. MyChildren MyBride, Yashin (We Created a Monster), and A Bullet For Pretty Boy (Symbiosis). I grab them all and turn around.
WHAM! I smack into what feels to be a wall, but a at a closer inspection realize it's just some guy.
"Holy crap!" I groan, clutching the forming goose egg on my forehead, while I bend down with one hand to gather the CDs, hoping I didn't crack them. I feel the cashier's scrutinizing gaze on me through the isle, with his scrawny hands crossed over his stomach. Sorry I mouth, even though I'm anything but. I'm not the one who doesn't know how to make room for customers. He shakes his head and goes back to work. What a jerk.
When I get the CDs stacked and in my hand, I notice the unlucky subjects shoes. Gray Converse. As I stand my eyes roam up his body casually. Black fitted jeans, tight muscled abs painfully obvious under a snug, plain white V-neck shirt. Then I look at his face. My valet attendant.
I take a deep gulp and mentally slap my hand over my eyes. Someone kill me!
"Clumsy thing aren't you?" he laughs deep in his throat hypnotically.
I refuse to be the girl I was yesterday night. I have a voice and I will use it! But one look into his eyes and I'm back to staring dumbly at him again. There's something about those eyes. Every time I look into them I'm frozen. I can't think straight or talk. Only when he blinks am I able to breathe again, and I'm no longer frozen by his spell.
Air rushing into my lungs, I gasp in a whisper, "What are you doing here?"
He gives me an incredulous, goody look. "Shopping," he says gesturing all around.
"Okay Red, calm down," he smiles, waving his hands at me willing me to relax and runs a hand through his deep chestnut hair cooly, taking his time as if thinking about what to say. "I was sitting down outside the store, on the bench, and saw you come in here. Well at least I thought it was you I only got a look at your back. Guess I was right."
"And. . . ?" It's hard to believe that he's came in here for me and me alone. And even harder t believe that he knows what my backside looks like. But then again, maybe he's lonely like me and made up a story. I don't have any friends, well not any real ones. I had friends in middle school but once we got into high school things changed and they got new friends, too busy trying to be a somebody to care about the little people. Me being the somewhat shy type never got close to anyone after that. It's a sad existence, but I never have any drama. And you know what they say, a life without drama is a life worth living. Alright, so that's just me talking, but it's true.
"And that's it," he says smiling, ending the debate. It's unbelievable. I wonder how long he can keep it up until his mouth gets sore.
"What'd you think I want?" He asks curiously, as he whips his head to the right making his hair swoop out of his eyes, gaze roaming over my face.
"Well I don't know, I don't get a lot of stalkers," I say cooly.
"Stalking is a strong word, Red," he says devishly, showing off some gorgeous, heart-wrenching dimples.
A stray hair falls into my face, irritating me. I try and to brush it away with my free hand that's not holding the CDs, but it falls back into my face defiantly. Gah, I hate bangs. I wish they'd grow faster. He reaches a hand out towards my face and brushes the strand efficiently back behind my ear, but realizes too late what he just did. He snaps his hand back like it'd just been burned and shoves them in his pants pockets.
I never thought such a simple action was capable of hurting me, but I was proved wrong. It was like he'd slapped me. I push it aside and cover it up. He probably didn't mean it to hurt me and I didn't mean it to affect me.
His scent lingers, coming off him in pleasurable waves. He smells like tea tree oil, the same as the other night. The thought is pleasant and turns me to jelly almost instantly. He looks at me with those bright blue eyes and it's all I can do to keep from touching him. Yeah, it's that hard.
"What's your name?" I ask. I may not know his name, but something about him makes me trust him completely. If he tried to kill me I'd probably cooperate. The thought scares me, but I can't help it, he's got the sort of face that's easy to like.
"Zarik," he says proudly, going back to being his regular witty self. "I was named after a distant great grandfather I never knew, but somehow I'm told the name suits me." He shrugs his shoulders and looks at the stack of CDs in my left hand. "What ya got there?"
Before I can move my hand away to stop him, he grabs them and speculates the pile, the look on his face creating a brow of lines. "You listen to this stuff?" he asks unbelievably.
I nod and shrug my shoulders. He whistles and hands them back to me. "Never took you as a hardcore chick," he comments, wiggling his eyebrows playfully.
"No, just Post-Harcdore."
He responds with a laugh, making me laugh too.
My attention wanders as I hear a girl say Zarik's name in the background. In a way I expected it, but I still can't help but feel disappointed. Of course he has a girlfriend, look at him. He's just so perfect. He has every desirable quality I've dreamed about in a guy, all wrapped up into one, lean, muscular, sexy, gorgeous man. It's more then a little dubious. What's the catch?
I see the girl just inside the entrance, scanning out the place. She looks around and finally spots him beside me and walks over. She's a few inches taller then me, with long slim legs, covered by blue skinny jeans, holes in both knees. When she gets closer all I can look at is her bright curly red hair that I somehow, unbelievably managed to overlook. It's not the natural red, but dyed like most Punk kids'. She's got on a Paramore T, slightly covered by a shredded jacket over top. As she gets closer I instantly lower my gaze to the CDs in my hand, trying to look interested in them and not her boyfriend. I don't need a confrontation.
"Hello! You told me you'd wait for me outside of Wet Seal," she says dramatically, huffing as she whips her hands on her hips and looks at him with a hard stare.
He waves her off dismisably and looks at me. "Adeline, this is Kaylee."
She turns her stank eyes from him and totally changes her expression, catching me off guard as she smiles brightly with rosy cheeks and a big green eyes, grabbing my hand and further catching me off guard, as she says, "Hey, I'm the idiots sister."
His sister? I look at them side-by-side. Sure enough, they share the same overall jaw structure and inverted triangular shaped face, although Zarik's is a little more defined, whereas Adeline's is more rounded. Maybe I have a shot with Zarik after all, I think mischievously, rubbing my hands together like an evil scientist on the verge of a master plan. Oh, yes, I want him.
She laughs as recognition shows in my eyes. "No, God no, I'm definitely not his girlfriend." She makes a show of shaking her body like she's shivering, disgusted of the idea. I can't help but laugh along with her.
"I'm sorry I just assumed. . ." I say giggling.
While she's laughing, I shyly look at Zarik and see that he too finds this sudden predicament humorous. It's all I can do to keep from blushing like a lobster again.
"Well it was nice meeting you Adeline," I say turning back to her, averting my gaze back to the CDs in my hand, deciding it's time to go. I've had enough embarrassment to last me another week. Plus I've got a lot of things to do today. I make two unsteady steps past Zarik, when Adeline grabs my hand, jerking me back to face them, nearly knocking over a cart of demonic looking dolls. I look at her questionably, shocked.
"We were just about to have lunch if you'd like to join us." She smiles at me and blinks innocently. Zarik snaps his head towards her, like he wasn't expecting the words. I wasn't either, but jeesh if he wants me to decline all he has to do is ask. Why else would he react like that?
"Oh, uh. . . " I look at Zarik, and see him smile lazily, unaffected by her words after all. Odd "Alright, but hold on I have to go pay for these first."
Outside of Hot Topic Adeline immediately loops her arm through mine not caring that strangers openly gawk at us. I laugh to myself and decide we're going to be great friends.
As we walk, Zarik keeps in step to my right. Being a head and a half taller then me, and taking longer strides, he has to force himself to walk slower to keep to me and Adeline's stubby strides, but he doesn't seem to mind.
A few girls walk by giggling and stare dreamily at Zarik. He doesn't seem to notice, but I do. I instantly want to claw their eyes out. Seemingly unmoved that every girl in radius has their eyes glued to him now, he just keeps looking straight ahead. Of course he must get that a lot, but I thought he'd be the kind of guy to revel in it. But nope. He just keeps getting better and better.
The whole time we walk he never says a word, only looks about curiously, surveying the arrangement of shops, while I glare at every girl that passes. He may not be my boyfriend, but I called dibs first!
Adeline talks constantly filling in our silence. It's not an awkward silence so I take it she must be the usual chatter box. That's fine with me, she talks enough for all three of us. I do my best to stay focused on what she says, but I'm too busy secretly admiring Zarik. I think she knows the cause of my distraction, but she never once tries to get my attention, she doesn't mind.
An easy thousand accumulated people or more are gathered at the food court, half of them still wait in line. Taco Bell, Subway, MagicWok, KFC, Dairy Queen. . . the list goes on and on.
"Where do you want to eat?" I ask squinting from food shop to food shop.
I look from Adeline to Zarik when neither says a word, only shrug.
"Well that was incredibly helpful guys," I laugh.
Zarik's stomach growls suddenly, and very loudly, making Adeline and I snap our attention to his abdomen and giggle. He shoots us a apologetic look and smiles crookedly,and a little nervous, rubbing his stomach in a circular motion and "shh's" it out loud. Making us giggle even louder.
"I'm not really hungry, but I'll have ice cream," I suggest, in between my fit of giggles.
Adeline straightens, getting excited. "Oooh, me too!"
"Have fun with that, I'm gonna get some chicken." Zarik looks at me, smiles and rubs his stomach some more.
I raise my eyebrows in question as he points to his growling stomach. "Hey, this guy's hungry, I'm gonna need something more manly and filling than ice-cream. I mean look at you two toothpicks, these muscles-" he flexes his arm muscles for emphasis, grinning boyishly, catching my breath, "they don't grow on ice-cream ladies, I'll meet you at a table."
I watch him leave. It's incredible how at ease he is surrounded by strangers. I could never do that. He walks with slow seductive strides his gaze set on his chicken.
Within fifteen minutes we're seated at a four person table located between KFC and Dairy Queen. Zarik sits down across form Adeline and I, wasting no time. He's on the chicken in seconds. Poor chicken never had a chance, well a second chance anyways. He scarfs down chicken breast after chicken breast barely taking his eyes off it long enough to get a sip of Pepsi. Adeline and I stare, shaking our heads. He looks up, sensing us staring and growls playfully low in his throat, yanking his chicken firmly closer to his mouth and takes one last bite. When he's finished, he falls back into his chair and sighs, just like a baby after gulping down a bottle of milk.
Adeline breaks the silence. "Um one word, nast-ay!"
She chuckles when she sees my mock-horrified face staring blatantly at Zarik, and informs me, "If your wondering if he does that at every meal, you're correct, it never ceases to astound me."
"Sad I know, but I am a man after all." He replies, shrugging his shoulders indifferent.
"So I've noticed," I say a little too cheerfully.
Adeline coughs awkwardly, while Zarik's grin only grows wider, but shatters when his cell phone rings.
He gets up, and walks over to the water fountain in the middle of the food court, sitting on the closest bench. I watch his mouth move, unable to make out any clear words. The whole time his face grows from worried, to confused, to worried again. Finally he snaps it shut and walks back over to say, "Sorry to end the fun, but Adeline and I have to go."
Adeline frowns and locks gazes with Zarik, look him intently in the eyes. Their faces make expressions like they're talking to one another inside their heads. Creepy. I feel like I should definitely not be watching this.
Adeline frowns further and shakes her head, nodding in a silent agreement. Zarik, without looking at me, walks away leaving Adeline to catch up.
"See you around Kaylee." She tries to smile but falters.
Will I ever see them again? God, I hope so.
Zarik turns around after walking ten feet and facing us, waiting patiently for his sister. His eyes roll over Adeline to focus on me. I can't help but think I'll never see him again. The thought saddens me. I'm tired of being alone. He smiles apologetically, looking at me one last time, before him and Adeline walk away, heading back the direction we came. Ah hell, I didn't even ask where they were from or where they'd be going to school! I can't believe it, I finally make friends, no matter how unexpected and don't even remember to undust my social skills. But then again, my social skills aren't the best, so it was bound to happen. For the first time in a while, I felt so at ease and comfortable. I wish it would have lasted longer.
I push in my chair and grab my purse off the back. My half eaten brownie batter blizzard still sits where I left it. No longer interested I throw it away.
"Get what you needed?" Dad asks when I walk past him in the kitchen, heading to my room.
"Yeah," I say just above a whisper.
He can tell I'm having one of those "I feel like I'm lost" moods. He steps closer and gives me a hug, surprising me. I haven't gotten a hug from him since. . .
He releases his bear-hug grip on me and looks at me deeply. "I love you, Kaylee." he said.
His voice nearly breaks my heart. There's an undeniable sadness hiding under those four words, it's hard to miss.
"Love you too, Dad." I hand him back his credit card, grab my things and go to my room.