Read Miss Me Not Online

Authors: Tiffany King

Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #Social Issues, #Suicide

Miss Me Not (22 page)

BOOK: Miss Me Not
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"You want me to do it again?"

"Yes, please," I answered eagerly.

I lost track of how many times Dean swung me back and forth. Eventually, he let the swing come to a halt and we sat facing each other. The excitement of the ride dissipated inside me as something new took hold. I knew without a shadow of a doubt he was going to kiss me. I was ready for it now. Somewhere along the way, he had earned my trust. I knew he wouldn't hurt me.

Whether he saw the eagerness in my eyes, or was feeling the same pull, he moved his hands up to cup my face, holding me gently in place. My eyes held his as he gently brushed his thumb across my lower lip making it tremble in response.

"I'm not going to hurt you," he whispered, leaning in close.

"I know," I said with a slight shake in my voice.

"You are so beautiful," he said, placing his lips lightly on my cheek. Leaving a trail of light kisses along my cheek and chin, he slowly approached my lips. Everything inside me seemed to quiver.

"Do you want me to kiss you?" he asked, placing his lips softly at the corner of my mouth.

I nodded.

"I need you to say the words, babe. I want you to want this as much as me," he said, pulling back slightly.

I knew what he wanted. He needed me to confirm that I wouldn't freak out again. He wouldn't force himself on me. Knowing this set me free in a way no words ever could. He
wasn't going to hurt me like I was hurt before. He was waiting for me to make the next move.

"Dean, will you please kiss me?" I whispered, my voice no longer shaking. I was ready.

"Yes, I will," Dean answered, pulling me close and capturing my lips with his. The feel of his lips on mine was filled with sweet ecstasy as he gently discovered my mouth. After a moment, he gently probed my lips open and the tips of our tongues met, turning the sweetness into a smoldering hot, spine-tingling inferno. He pulled me even closer so our bodies pressed against each other. His hands kept my face anchored in place as the kiss went on. I sighed against his lips, never wanting them to leave mine. There was no darkness around me, only light that was spreading through me like wildfire. He broke away after a moment and looked down at me, smiling slightly. Maneuvering his legs through the hole in the tire until they touched the ground, he slowly backed the swing up until he was almost standing with me cradled against his chest.

"Ready?" he asked.

Nodding mutely, my eyes never left his as he claimed my lips once again just as he lifted his feet, letting gravity swing us back the other way.

Chapter eighteen

 

 

Dean and I were inseparable through the rest of Thanksgiving break. On Friday, we spent the day fighting the
Black Friday
shoppers as we went from one store to the next, looking for Christmas gifts. It was my first experience really shopping for presents on my own, and I embraced it head-on, buying the twins multiple gifts until Dean finally reigned me in. He laughed when I stuck out my tongue at him before placing the dolls that I was convinced they needed back on the shelf. Shopping for the girls had turned around my distaste for the pink Barbie aisle as I fought the temptation to buy them more.

Picking out perfect gifts for his parents was harder since I wanted to get them something special. Finally, after dragging him into several stores, I found exactly what I was looking for at
Things Remembered
. With the help of Dean, I filled in the details on the order form for the engraving.

Pleased with my success, I set my sights on helping Dean with his own shopping.

"Are we done?" I asked as we left a bath store with a bag filled with goodies.

"Not yet," Dean said with a smile as he dragged me to the center of the mall where a line of kids waited impatiently.

"What are we doing?" I asked confused, taking in the children around me, decked out in fancy Christmas outfits.

"Seeing Santa, of course," he said, grinning at me.

"Come on," I said, peering at the kids in line, all anxiously waiting for their turn to sit on Santa's lap. I was touched that Dean remembered me mentioning the fact that I had never visited Santa.

"Won't I look silly?" I asked, gnawing slightly on my lip.

"Who cares," Dean said, wrapping his arms around me from behind and resting his chin on my shoulder. "Will it make you happy?"

I nodded my head.

"Then it's settled, we're seeing Santa," he said as the line slowly inched along.

I kept my eyes peeled on the jolly guy in front of us. Obviously, I didn't believe in Santa, but this guy definitely looked the part. I couldn't help the excitement that raced through me as we moved closer and closer. Even the workers, or should I say, Santa's elves, treated us no different than the younger children in line. Finally, after about twenty minutes, it was our turn.

"You go first and talk to him, and then we'll get our picture done," Dean said, nudging me slightly.

I felt silly as I walked toward the mall Santa who looked pretty legit. I mean, the gold stitching matched the gold buttons on his coat, and he wore real boots, not the fake covers with the straps that barely covered the actor's sneakers underneath that you typically saw on a mall Santa.

"And how are you today, young lady?" he said with a twinkle in his eye as he patted his knee for me to perch on.

Not wanting to crush him, I perched on the edge of his knee, keeping the majority of my weight on my legs. "Good. I've never done this before," I answered, feeling dumb.

"I know, but that doesn't mean I haven't been watching to see if you've been bad or good," he said, staying in character.

I knew it was ridiculous, but my heart raced at his words. I couldn't help wondering what the statute of limitations was for being bad.

"Your beard looks real," I said, studying him closely and reminding myself he was just an actor.

"It's a good thing, because it is real," he said, smiling broadly at me. "Now, why don't you tell me what you want for Christmas," he said kindly, as if he already knew what I wanted.

"Can it be anything?" I asked, not sure what the rules were.

"Absolutely."

The whole idea of asking him for anything was childish, but I couldn't help gnawing on my lip.

"Why don't you whisper your wish," he said gently, understanding me better than he should.

I leaned over and self-consciously whispered into his ear. His eyes widened with compassion, and he patted me on the back.

"I think that can be done, my dear," he answered, beckoning Dean over to join us so they could snap our picture.

"Did you tell him what you want for Christmas,
Mads
?" Dean asked, having no problem perching on Santa's other knee while a girl dressed like an elf snapped our picture.

"Yep," I said, feeling lighthearted as I smiled for the camera.

The elf snapped our picture and beckoned for the next kid in line to replace my spot.

I held out my hand in front of me before we left. "Thank you," I said as Santa's gloved hand enveloped mine.

"It was my pleasure, Madison," he said with serious eyes. "Your wish is in your heart, you just have to release it," he added, giving my hand a slight squeeze before releasing me.

"How do you think he knew my name?" I asked Dean as he paid for our picture package.

"Santa knows everything," he replied, stowing his wallet in his back pocket.

"Very funny," I said, looking back at the jolly man, who caught my eye once again, giving me a wink.

"Probably because I called you '
Mads
.' He probably took a shot in the dark, even though I'd like to believe my first answer. So what did you wish for?"

"If I tell you, it won't come true," I answered, adjusting the shopping bags in my hand. It was too embarrassing to tell him the secret that only Santa and I shared. All I wanted for Christmas was the one gift that would set me free, and allow me to finally move on—forgiveness.

The rest of the weekend was spent at Dean's house with his family as we decorated their house for Christmas. Dean and his father dragged countless tubs from the attic, all filled with decorations. Trish, Sarah and I sat in the middle of the living room floor, sorting through everything. The sheer mass of it was overwhelming. I couldn't help lingering over each decoration as Sarah and Trish regaled me with stories about each one. One in particular made my entire heart move to my throat. It was a rack that held four
ceramic plates with each of the kids' handprints in the center. Each plate had been made when all of them had been the same exact age.

"How did you find the same plates for the twins that you used for Dean and Trish?" I asked, intrigued at the matching series.

"Tim," Sarah said, looking up from her own tub that she was emptying. "He searched high and low on the Internet until he found two with the original pattern. I was hormonal at the time, so I wound up bursting into tears. Poor Tim, he thought I hated them," she added laughing.

"They're cool," I said, running my finger over the tiny handprints. Did Donna have stuff stored away with my handprints? I doubted it. Clutter wasn't her thing. We had some decorations from years ago, but neither of us had dragged them out over the last four years. For all I knew, they could be in some trash pile somewhere.

Digging more through the tubs, I was intrigued when I stumbled across a Christmas village that was completely miniaturized.
Unwrapping
each house, I placed them on the floor around me. Each house was individualized with different types of structures and painting setting them apart from one another. Once all the houses, fifty in all, were unpacked and sitting on the floor around me, Sarah had Tim drag in a large plywood board from the garage to set up the village on. The board had been painstakingly painted with small roads and ponds that looked frozen. Multiple holes had been drilled through the board in sporadic locations to run the cords through. Sarah put the twins and me in charge of setting up the village, which we took to heart. We spent hours setting the houses and trees up so they resembled the perfect Christmas village. Once all the houses were in place, we used the fake snow Sarah had bought to add a whimsical touch to the entire thing.

"It woks good," Ashley said, clapping her hands with delight.

"What do you think, Dora?" I asked as she studied the board critically.

She smiled broadly. "It's bootiful," she said, clapping her hands too.

The twins grabbed the rest of the family so they could come see our handiwork. I stood up, working the kinks out of my neck from sitting hunched over on the floor so long.

"It looks great," Dean said, coming up behind me.

"It does, doesn't it?" I said, admiring the lit-up village in front of me. "It's beautiful," I added.

"Almost as beautiful as you," Dean said huskily, placing a quick kiss on my neck before his family joined us.

"You're insane," I whispered, stepping out of his embrace as the girls pointed out each of the houses we had set up.

Sarah and Tim insisted I eat dinner with the family that night. They wound up ordering pizzas that we ate on the living room floor while we watched Christmas cartoons with the girls.

"I had a lot of fun this weekend," I told Dean when he drove me home Sunday evening.

"I did too," Dean said pulling into my driveway. "My family really likes you."

"I feel the same about them," I said truthfully as we got out of the jeep. I didn't try to argue with him as he did his normal walk-through of my house, making sure it was safe.

"No boogeyman hiding?" I asked when he finally joined me in the living room.

"No boogeyman, though I still hate dropping you off at night like this."

"Donna should be home soon," I said, glancing at the old grandfather clock on the far side of the room.

"Well, in that case, I better head out," he said, pulling me close for a kiss. He kept the kiss simple with his hands in the safe zone. "I'm picking you up tomorrow morning," he said, breaking the kiss to look at me sternly."

"What if I want to walk?" I said, not sure I was ready to flaunt our relationship in front of everyone.

"Then I'll drive over and walk to school with you," he said, placing a finger on my lips as I started to argue. "I like you, Madison, a lot, and I want everyone to know it. I know you have some preconceived notion about how everyone will react, but you have to trust me when I say, I won't allow it. They either accept you for who you are, or they're no friend of mine."

"Isn't it supposed to be 'dudes before boobs' or something like that?" I asked. "Is it fair to throw away years of friendships over some girl you've just started dating?" I added, making it clear that I didn't expect him to choose me.

He laughed. "I'm not sure if that's exactly how the saying goes, but it doesn't apply to me anyway. I won't have to choose," he said, placing his lips back on mine.

I sighed slightly as he parted my lips with his tongue. My own tongue tentatively touched his before I became bolder. A key being inserted into the front door interrupted us, and I froze. Dean stepped away from me just as Donna opened the door.

BOOK: Miss Me Not
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