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Authors: Melody Carlson

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BOOK: Premiere
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Chapter 5

"What happened to you?" Mollie’s jaw is
literally hanging as she stares at me, then makes me turn around. “You look stunning, Erin!”

“Thanks. I’m Paige’s newest makeover project.”

“Man, do you think she’d do me?”

I shrug, feeling encouraged. “You can ask her if you want.”

“You look awesome, Erin.” She keeps staring at me as we go out to my Jeep. The sky is clouding up and I hope it doesn’t rain, because I really do like how my hair turned out and the idea of getting all wet doesn’t appeal to me.

“Did you do this because of Blake?” Mollie asks quietly as I drive toward the church.

“Not exactly. I
was
feeling bummed after you told me about Blake and Sonya maybe coming to fellowship group. Then Paige popped in and I’m sure she felt sorry for me. But what you said made sense, Mollie. I guess I had let myself go…and I’m sure it was because I was unhappy about Blake and other things. The weird thing is that I don’t even feel that bad about him now. But it’s not just because of this makeover.
It’s more like something in me just clicked into place earlier today—like I suddenly believed that God has something better for me. I know I say that a lot, but today as I was coming to pick you up, I really
felt
it.”

“That’s so cool.”

Thanks to Mom’s photos and Paige’s last-minute purse exchange, Mollie and I arrive “fashionably” late. Although the worship time hasn’t begun, most of our friends are already here, grazing on munchies and chatting. I can’t help but notice that some heads turn as we enter the room. I do my best to act oblivious, but I’ve barely stepped inside when I notice Blake standing with Tony. Sonya is right next to him, but she seems uncomfortable—in an attractive sort of way, of course. I always find it ironic that Sonya has a similar look to my sister—tall, blonde, stylish, and pretty. Maybe this is God’s way of making me deal with any envy issues.

But instead of obsessing, I silently pray that God will help me to handle this awkward situation in a mature and civilized manner. And because it’s only natural that we go talk to Tony, since he is Mollie’s boyfriend and she plans on riding home with him afterward, I go ahead and lead the way toward the trio. “It’s cool,” I say quietly to Mollie. I can tell she’s worried for my sake.

“Hey, Blake,” I say in a normal tone. “Good to see you. Hi, Sonya.” I smile at her as if we’re old friends. “How’re you doing?”

“Good.” She nods. “How about you?”

“Really good.” I smile and wish I could think of something else to say.

“Did you guys hear the news about Erin and Paige?” Mollie says suddenly.

“Huh?” I glance curiously at Mollie.

“The TV show.”

“Oh, you mean the spot on Channel Five News,” Sonya says. “I saw that. Paige was hilarious.”

“No, that’s not what I’m talking about,” Mollie continues. “It’s even bigger.”

“What?” Sonya looks really interested now.

I’m stunned silent that Mollie is bringing this up.

“Paige and Erin might get their own TV show,” Mollie tells them.

“Well, we don’t know that for sure yet,” I point out, finally able to speak. Although I have to admit I like the look I’m getting from Blake and Sonya. Kind of a mixture of shock and respect. “There’s still the screen test next week. And Paige is really the one that—”

“And Erin gets to help on the camera crew as well as be in the show,” Mollie rattles on. “And they’ll travel all over the world covering fashion shows and doing interviews with models and designers and things. It’s called
On the Runway.
” Mollie beams at them and I have to keep from laughing at how my best friend sounds like she knows more about this gig than I do.

“Seriously?” Sonya looks truly wowed.

I nod. “Yeah. Helen Hudson is the producer. She’s done a lot of—”

“I know who she is,” Sonya says eagerly, rattling off some of the reality shows that Helen is involved in. “Wow, that’s really cool. When will you know for sure?”

“Probably pretty soon,” I tell her. I know it’s kind of premature to talk about this, but I’m getting a little rush from Sonya’s reaction. “Helen seems eager to get things going.”

Then the music begins to get louder, and that’s the signal that it’s time to find seats. Still feeling Blake’s eyes on me, I just smile and say, “See ya later,” then head over to where Mollie and I usually sit.

“That was perfect,” Mollie says quietly as we sit down.

“Thanks,” I say.

I can feel myself holding my head higher than usual. And I think Paige would be proud of me. Then, as I sit there and participate in the worship time, I thank God for helping me to move a little beyond my old heartache. And, sure, I suppose the makeover didn’t hurt either. There’s still a part of me that wants to crane my neck to peer at Blake and to see what he’s doing. But I resist that urge.

Instead, I watch Lionel, playing the drums with the worship team like he usually does. It feels like he’s watching me back, and I wonder if it’s because of my makeover. I know he considers me to be more of a casual, earthy kind of girl, not the kind who’s a slave to fashion. And I know he appreciates this since he’s pretty laid back too. Lionel and I are kind of alike in a lot of ways. We even ended up taking some of the same classes last term. Mollie doesn’t get why we don’t date, but I just think we’re too much alike—more like brother and sister than boyfriend and girlfriend. Although I could be wrong.

Anyway, I’ll have to assure Lionel that besides my little makeover I haven’t really changed. I know that without Paige’s intervention I couldn’t have pulled this off. And no way will I look like this on a regular basis. Really, I’m still a blue jeans kind of girl at heart.

After the worship and teaching is free time, so I head straight for Lionel. “Hey,” I say to him. “I thought you might’ve
been gone by now. Aren’t you still going to Tahoe for winter break?”

He nods, sticking his drumsticks in his back pocket. “Yeah. But I promised Travis I’d play tonight. I’ll head out tomorrow.” He then makes a funny smile. “What have you done to yourself, Erin?”

I just laugh. “Paige wanted to play makeover today and I complied.”

“You look different.”

“I know. I’ll go back to my old scruffy self again.”

“Why?”

Now that surprises me. “Why not?”

“Because you look good…in an uptown sort of way, that is.”

“Oh, well…thanks…I guess.”

Now Sonya, with Blake trailing her reluctantly, comes alongside me. She wants to hear more about the TV show.

“TV show?” Lionel looks surprised, so I fill him in. I try to play it down as they all listen, but as I’m talking I can feel Blake’s eyes on me. And after a few minutes, I feel like I’m in over my head and I want to escape. I mean, it’s one thing to realize I’ve made a huge step in getting over my broken heart. It’s another thing to be forced to socialize with Blake so suddenly like this.

“Hey, Lionel.” I grab his arm. “I’ve got to show you something.”

Thankfully, he acts like this is the most natural thing in the world as I drag him out in the hallway. “Sorry,” I say quickly. “But I just had to get away.”

He smiles. “That’s okay. I figured you were getting stressed.”

“Did it show?”

“Not at all. But I know you used to go out with Blake…you never talk about it, but I kind of guessed that the breakup wasn’t pretty.”

Lionel is a year older than me, so he was out of school when Blake and I broke up. He’s never asked me much about it, and I’ve never told him much. Still, I’ve always felt he understood. He has a strong sense of empathy.

“Yeah,” I admit. “And I haven’t really spoken to him since then. It’s a little awkward.”

“So that whole TV show thing? That’s for real?”

“Like I said, nothing is written in stone. But Paige is really hoping for it.”

“How about you?”

I shrug. “I’m not really sure how I feel. At first I was totally opposed. But it would be a chance for me to be on a real camera crew. That would be cool.”

“You might even be able to get credit for it at school.”

“That’d be great.”

“Are you still planning to go to the desert to shoot some photos?”

“I want to.” I frown. “I wish you could come.”

“Me too…Maybe I can cut the time in Tahoe short without offending my family too badly. Do you think you could wait until after Christmas if I can get away?”

I think about it for a second. “Sure, why not.”

“Hey, Lionel,” interrupts Travis, the leader of the worship team, “you got a minute to come down to my office and pick up the music for next year?”

“No problem.”

Travis grins at me. “Looking good, Erin. New hairstyle?”

I nod. “Thanks.”

“I’ll be back in a few,” Lionel promises.

So I go around by the stairs and take a nice long drink from the drinking fountain, trying to gather my wits before I head back into the room where everyone is still hanging out. But when I turn around I run smack into Blake and nearly jump out of my sister’s boots.

“Sorry,” he says quickly. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“Oh.” I blink and catch my breath. “Well, you did.”

“Sorry.”

“It’s okay.” I force a tolerant smile.

“Can I talk to you?”

“Talk?” I peer curiously at him.

“Yeah.”

“Right now?” I glance around, wishing that Mollie would pop in. Or that Lionel would come back.

“Do you mind?”

I shrug. “Guess not.”

Blake then leads me around a corner to where some chairs are situated in an informal waiting area. “Want to sit?”

Well, I really don’t. But I go ahead and sit, thinking it might help to get this over with sooner. I fold my arms across my front and just wait for him to speak.

“I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately, Erin.”

“Oh?”

“I even wanted to call you, but I figured you’d probably hang up on me.”

“Do you think I’m that rude?”

“No…not really. I guess I just think I deserve it.”

I sort of nod. “Maybe…”

“Anyway, I just want to apologize to you. I know it’s kind
of late. But I just wanted to tell you how sorry I am for being such a jerk. I’ve felt bad about it for a long time now.”

For some reason this makes me feel better. “Well, I forgive you.”

“Thanks.” He brightens. “And I want you to know I’ve been getting ready to break up with Sonya.”

I frown at him now, wondering why he’s telling me this.

“I already told her I didn’t think we were right for each other…and that I wanted to start going back to church again. I’ve missed that…and a lot of things.”

“Really?” I can’t help but notice that my heart is beating just a little faster.

He nods somberly. “There’s so much I miss and regret.”

I don’t say anything. Really, I’m not positive I know what he’s trying to say…where he’s going with all this. But if it’s where I think it might be, I don’t want to go there.

“So when I told Sonya that, she said she wanted to come to church too.”

“Really?” Okay, I realize I’m repeating myself, but this is an awkward situation.

“So I didn’t want to just dump her without ever taking her to church. Because I got to thinking maybe that’s what this was all about.”

“What
what
was all about?” I’m confused.

“You and me breaking up.”

“Huh?”

“Maybe it was so that I could bring Sonya to church. Maybe God wanted to use me to reach her. And then maybe…well, maybe she’ll be okay without me.”

“So you bring her to church and then you break up?”

“I know…it sounds lame.”

“Ya think?” I frown at him. “If you ask me, you’re developing a nasty little habit, Blake. How do you think God feels about you stringing girls along then breaking their hearts?”

He looks down at his feet. “I know, Erin…and you’re right. I’m just not sure how to deal with this stuff. Sometimes if feels easier to simply get it over with quickly. But maybe that’s wrong. I know I handled it wrong with you.”

Okay, now I am stunned. How am I supposed to react to all this? It’s particularly aggravating considering how I finally felt like I’d started to let Blake go. It’s like I’m being emotionally punked right now.

Then Blake actually reaches for my hand, and just feeling him touch me sends those same old tingles down my spine, and my head starts to feel light. “Erin, I want us to get back together. I don’t mean today. But after I straighten things out with Sonya.”

“You mean
after
you break up with her.”

“Yes. But this time I’ll do it right.”

I pull my hand away from his and stand up. “Do you think it’s right to be talking to me like this while you and Sonya are still together?”

His brow creases. “I don’t know.”

“Well, I do—I know how it feels to be in Sonya’s shoes.” I step away from him. “I’ve got to go.”

“Erin,” he calls after me, but I just keep going. This time I head for the women’s restroom. He can’t follow me in there. I go into a stall and close the door, then close my eyes and just breathe deeply. I’m trying to process what just happened, but it feels like my head is spinning. Why is he doing this? And why is he doing this just when I finally seem to have made some progress? What is going on?

I’m not sure how long I stay in the bathroom, but by the time I come out, it looks like Mollie and Tony have taken off. Thankfully, Blake and Sonya are gone too. I look around for Lionel, but I don’t see him, so I decide to call it a night too. Okay, it was a very weird night. I’m glad that it’s over.

I try not to think about Blake as I drive home. I honestly don’t know what kind of game he’s playing, or to what degree he expects me to be involved, but I suddenly feel the need to keep that boy at a safe distance. For my own heart’s sake as much as anything else. Sure, I was kind of pulled in there for a moment…and I felt those old feelings rising to the surface again. But at the same time I felt a little scared too. I don’t really want to be hurt again, and I don’t want to be part of hurting anyone else either. Strangely enough, I was almost starting to like Sonya tonight. Her interest in the TV show seemed genuine and she was actually being nice. And if Blake dumps her like he dumped me, well, I don’t know what I’ll do. But, one thing’s for sure; I won’t go running back to him. At least I hope I won’t.

BOOK: Premiere
8.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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