Authors: Rachel Ryan
I wake to the sound of the vacuum cleaner outside my bedroom door. My Mum is a total clean freak and the first thing she does on Saturday mornings is a thorough clean up. Rubbing my tired eyes, my mind replays the events of yesterday afternoon. It had been so hard laying so close to Jake throughout the whole movie and not reaching out to him, to hold his hand or curve my body around his. I was so scared of the thoughts I was having about what I could do with him on my bed. I am seriously going crazy. I had caught him giving me strange looks all through the movie; I think I must have made him feel uncomfortable with my weirdness. When the movie was finished I walked him downstairs to the front door and he really looked like he wanted to say something to me, but I didn’t want it to get all weird between us, so I just acted like nothing had happened and said a quick goodbye before shutting the door in his face.
I pull on some yoga pants and a singlet and make my way downstairs for breakfast. Mum has finished the vacuuming and is now mopping the kitchen floor. I grab a banana from the fruit bowl and sit down at the breakfast bar. I don’t know how, but it’s like my Mum can sense that something’s wrong. She stands the mop up against the wall and leans over the bench directly in front of me, resting her elbows on the dark granite.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
My eyes snap to hers.
“Talk about what?” As I try to muster an innocent look, she smiles and gently shakes her head.
“You know what. Jake.”
“What about Jake?”
She stands up straight, a knowing smile on her face.
“Sweetheart, I wasn’t born yesterday. I can see there’s something more developing between you two.”
I almost choke on my banana.
“What are you talking about, Mum?”
“Abbi, I’ve seen the way you’ve been looking at him lately, and I know that boy is in love with you.”
What the hell is she talking about?
“Jake isn’t in love with me Mum. He has a girlfriend.”
“That’s only temporary, I promise you. Abbi, that boy has been in love with you for years, and I think you’re finally starting to catch up.” She goes back to her mop and starts pushing it around the floor. “I’m always here if you want to talk about anything, okay.”
I walk over to the bin and throw my banana peel in before grabbing a bottle of water from the fridge and heading back upstairs. I need to call Lacie and get some advice.
Finding a vacant space in the underground parking area, I switch off the engine and open my door. When I called Lacie and told her about what happened yesterday afternoon and the strange conversation with my Mum, she suggested that a little retail therapy was needed. So, I threw on a pair of jeans and drove straight to her place to pick her up.
We lock the car and head toward the entry of the large shopping mall. As we stroll around searching for a bargain, Lacie brings up the topic that I have kind of been avoiding since I picked her up. I want to talk to her about it, but I’m also a little embarrassed about my new feelings, especially as I think my Mum is wrong and Jake doesn’t feel the same about me.
“So, I think your Mum is right.”
“What!” It comes out a little louder than I planned and a little more high pitched than my usual voice, but I am kind of shocked. “What do you mean you think she’s right? Are you crazy? He’s with Vanessa. Why would he even look twice at me?”
“Abbi, you are so blind. Vanessa is boobs and arse, but that’s it. There is no substance to her. She’s totally one dimensional. I think your Mum is right and I think Jake is in love with you.”
I look up to see Jake and Corey standing in front of us. Oh my God! I hope they didn’t hear what Lacie had said. But, when my eyes drift to Jake’s face, I can see his dimples, so I know he must have heard her. He’s also standing only a metre away from us, so I think it’s pretty safe to say he heard everything.
As his eyes search mine, I can feel my face heating. I glance at Lacie to see her looking back and forth at us with a massive smile on her face.
“Hey, guys. Fancy seeing you here! We were just about to head over to the food court for a milkshake, care to join us?”
Corey starts to say something. “Sorry…” But Jake cuts him off.
“Of course we’d like to join you.” He grins at me and I quickly start walking toward the little coffee house at the end of the food court.
Jake falls into step beside me, but I don’t look at him. I can’t. Are my Mum and Lacie right? Could I be in love with Jake? Now I feel even more nervous around him. I feel that if I look at him now, he will see straight through me, right into my soul. Instead, I glance back to see Lacie and Corey walking side by side, Lacie gazing longingly at him as he talks about some football game. Suddenly, I feel Jake’s hand on my shoulder, and I immediately feel tingles down my arm.
“Are you okay, Shorty?”
Shrugging, I paste a smile on my face before quickly glancing at him.
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
Just as he starts to speak again, we reach the coffee house and I turn and ask Lacie and Corey what they want to drink, rudely cutting off Jake. I’m starting to feel like a bitch, but for some reason, I can’t act normal around him anymore. I’m far too aware of him and how my body reacts to him when he’s near. He follows me to the counter and after we put in our order, I stand awkwardly, still trying to avoid looking in his eyes.
“Look at me. Please.” I can’t ignore the desperation and sadness in his voice, so I turn and slowly raise my eyes, until they meet his chocolate ones; beautiful, chocolate brown, puppy dog eyes. The worried look on his face tugs at my heart strings, making me feel horrible.
“Jake, I’m okay.”
He doesn’t buy it for a second.
“Why does it feel like you’re trying to avoid me?”
“I’m not avoiding you, Jake. I’m just…I don’t know. I’m just not feeling well, I’ve got a headache.”
The young girl that served us places our drinks on the counter and I quickly grab two of them and make my way to the table where Corey and Lacie are deep in conversation. Jake follows close behind me, I can almost feel the heat from his body as I place the drinks on the table and slide onto the booth seat. Corey and Lacie are occupying one side, so Jake slides in next to me, his elbow bumping mine and giving me goosebumps all over. Leaning away from him, I glance over and see him watching me again, with his thinking face on. I strike up a conversation with the others and try to avoid looking at Jake again.
Half an hour later, Lacie declares that we need to get back to our shopping. Jake stands up and holds his hand out to me. I hesitate slightly before placing my hand in his and sliding out of the booth, the heat from his touch making my knees weak as I stand in front of him. He watches me closely for a few seconds before speaking.
“I’ll see you later tonight.”
“Yeah, tonight. The party.”
“Uh, yeah. See you later.”
It’s only then I realise that I am still holding his hand, and I don’t want to let it go. I just want to wrap my arms around his waist and stay there forever. He gives my hand a little squeeze and then lets it go before backing up to let me past.
As Lacie and I walk away, she giggles and whispers.
“Oh my God. You could cut the sexual tension with a knife.”
I elbow her playfully in the ribs, but she is right. The air between us was sizzling and I was so close to making a fool of myself by doing something totally stupid, like throwing myself at my best friend. I need to pull myself together and stop acting like a lovesick puppy.
That night I take my time getting ready. After a nice relaxing bubble bath, I pick out a short black skirt and a silver halter top. I straighten my long, chocolate brown, wavy hair and sweep it up into a ponytail and apply some mascara on my long lashes, making my blue eyes stand out. I normally don’t wear makeup but when I do I try to keep it natural. I squirt on some of my favourite perfume and make my way downstairs to wait for Jake. I’ve decided that tonight I’m going to try my hardest to act normal around him. I think I’m just going through a phase, and if I act like my usual self, my obsession with my best friend might go away and let us return to our friendship without any kind of weirdness between us.
Our friendship has always confused a lot of people, especially our parents. I guess they are all surprised that our relationship hasn’t turned into more by now. I mean, I love Jake, I always have. I love him like the brother I never had. At least, that’s how it has been up until recently. What kind of girl imagines kissing her brother? Or, running her hands over his muscular arms and chest? I guess that’s why I have been feeling awkward about my developing feelings, because a lot of people see us like siblings. But I guess deep down, I’m also a little bit worried that my feelings for Jake aren’t mutual. As long as I can remember he has always had a girlfriend. Surely if he felt the same way about me, he wouldn’t be with all of these other girls.
Apart from my first and only kiss with Randy Jacobs behind the local Arcade, I haven’t really captured the interest of many boys. The kiss with Randy when I was fifteen was the only kiss I shared with him, because the next day at school he had told all of his friends that he had felt me up and made me look like a complete tart. Jake had been really pissed off when he heard Randy spreading rumours about me and had given Randy a black eye. Ever since then, I have been very selective with who I spend my time with.
My parents are in the kitchen washing the dinner dishes when I walk in and perch on top of a stool at the breakfast bar. My thirteen year old sister, Cameron is sitting at the table doing her homework and doesn’t really pay any attention to me.
Mum compliments my outfit, but my Dad has a deep crease along his brow.
“Is that what you’re wearing? Where’s the rest of your skirt?”
Rolling my eyes I laugh light heartedly. It wouldn’t matter what I was wearing, my Dad would still find something to pick at. He is quite protective of his ‘little girl’; Even though his little girl will be turning eighteen in a few months.
My Mum walks over and gives me a hug.
“I think you look beautiful, sweetie. Is Jake picking you up?”
“Yeah, he should be here soon.”
My Father shakes his head. “You make sure that boy doesn’t drink and drive.
Rolling my eyes, I nod my head. “Yes, Dad.”
Hearing the doorbell, I give my parents a quick kiss and make my way to the front door. Pulling it open my heart stammers as I take in the sight before me. Jake is standing there in a pair of dark jeans, a black, firm fitting Metallica shirt and his brown hair, which is slightly longer on the top, is messy and sexy.
OMG! Did I just refer to my best friend as sexy?
Jakes dark eyes sweep over my outfit, lingering on my legs, making me feel a little self-conscious.
“What’s wrong? Is this outfit okay?”
He shakes his head slightly before his dark eyes meet mine and he says in a soft, deep voice.
“It’s perfect, shorty.”
“I wish you’d stop calling me that.”
He’s always been a lot taller than my 5’4 frame, hence, the nickname. I tell him that I don’t like it but secretly, I love it.
“You know you love it, Shorty.” He bumps me with his hip as we walk toward his car.
Ignoring his comment I ask.
“Can you drive by Lacie’s place and pick her up? Her parents caved and told her she can come as long as she’s home by midnight.”
His brows draw together and he kind of looks a little pissed, probably because Lacie’s house is on the other side of town. But being the great friend that he is he doesn’t complain and heads toward Lacie’s neighbourhood.
Our hometown of Coffs Harbour isn’t huge but it takes a while to get to the other side of town.
We pull into Lacie’s driveway fifteen minutes later and Jake beeps the horn. While we wait for her to make an appearance, we chat about school and the latest gossip; who’s dating who and who’s cheating on whom. It feels a little awkward sitting alone with him, which is kind of upsetting as it’s never been awkward between us. After a minute, Lacie appears in the tightest, shortest, little black dress I have ever seen. She’s wearing six inch black pumps that put my platform Mary Janes to shame. With some effort she climbs up into the backseat and shuts the door.
Turning in my seat I look her up and down.
“Lacie, what are you wearing? You look so hot.” Her blonde hair is pulled into a sleek straight ponytail and her makeup is flawless. She is normally a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl like me, so I have never seen her dressed up like this.
“I thought I’d put a bit of effort into my look tonight. You never know, I might finally attract someone’s attention.”
Jake is watching her in the rear view mirror and grins as he shakes his head. He knows all about Lacie’s crush on Corey.