The rest of the school day passed in a blur, all that I could think about was that kiss. Now that I thought of it, the accusations I said earlier to him seemed so silly and idiotic. I shook my head to dislodge the memory. It was finally eighth period, I stopped by my locker to put my calculus book back. It was useless to carry it around if I didn't really need it. As I put in my combination, I heard a very familiar voice, Alec's sister. She came closer to me and then stopped. Her golden blonde hair was in beautiful curls that seemed to bounce with every step. She turned her head in my direction, I didn't meet her hostile gaze, she turned her entire torso in my direction then and I knew she wasn’t walking toward me to say hello." You better keep your grubby little sausages of Derrick. He is not single, and if I see you even look in his direction, I will make your life a living hell, understand?" I ground my teeth together "you already do make my life a living hell, so why would I care." I muttered under my breath. She heard my acidic tone, and her eyes went from an olive green to a black that could put someone on fire with just one look. “Excuse me? Who the hell do you think you are talking to? When I ask you something you better listen! I will hurt you so bad; you will be in the hospital for the rest of your miserable little life!" I saw her hand reach up, her palm open. I knew what was next, and it was going to leave a welt on my face. “Keep your hands off of her Maria!” I heard his voice. It had the tone of an authority figure, mixed with anger. I looked up and saw Maria frozen where she stood hand in the air, and her small face was full of shock and guilt. She turned her head to look at the person holding her thin arm. "Let go of me Derrick! Why are you protecting this nobody anyway?!We are meant to be...." She closed her mouth then. I bent my body to the side to see his face to make sure this was really real. “Don’t even say we were meant to be together. Maybe once a long time ago, but you are not the same girl that I used to love. Kaylee is with me now, Tell your brother that too. Nobody is to lay a hand on her from now on, got it?" She turned her head to look at me her eyes became dark again; I winced at the grim look she gave me. I was their target now; I wrapped my arms around my chest as a form of armor. Derrick walked toward me then, his eyes were soft and soothing. He put his arm around my waist while the other hand lifted my face up to his. "Are you ok?"
"I- I'm fine, just a little nauseous is all." I whispered weakly. He lightly chuckled. Before I could catch my breath we were moving, only I felt numb from the waist down. He took me to my last class and sat next to me. Everyone stared, but I didn't care. I never really noticed that Derrick was in my eighth period study hall, I guess I didn't pay attention to the life that went on around me. For a long time I sat there on the cold hard chair trying to get a hold on my racing thoughts. Derrick watched me with anxious eyes; his expression reminded me of the way my father used to look at me when I did something stupid. It was like he wanted to rip some one’s head right off their shoulders. I didn't meet his gaze; I knew that would only make things even worse. "I'm sorry about all of this; I just can't stand by and watch someone lay a hand on you. I just don't know what's wrong with me. I'm usually not this eager to be close to somebody. I swear, you have some kind of pheromone that drives me crazy." I looked at him at that moment I squinted my eyes “pheromone? Seriously? What am I a dog or something?" He grimaced looking down at his shoes. Which were very nice, a little too nice for a football player. “No, what I'm trying to say is that you are so...So amazingly attractive that I just cannot stop myself from wanting to wrap my arm around you and kiss you for hours on end. My eyes bulged; I folded my hands together to stop them from grabbing his face and kissing him. How could I resist? He was incredibly gorgeous and just like his description he had a pheromone that made me crazy. “Have you looked in the mirror lately? How can any girl resist you? I know I can't stop myself from tackling you to the ground just to be close to you!" He looked down trying to hide his oversized smile; I could hear his low chuckle that escaped from his hand that covered his mouth.
“Wow, um... that's a new one. I have never heard anyone say that to me before, but I just don't know what to expect from you." Well at least he was honest about it. “Honestly though, you are the most amazing, funny, smart, and beautiful I have ever seen. I just wish I could have done this a year ago." I shook my head in complete and utter shock, a year? Well I guess we have more in common than I would have ever dreamed possible. The loud voice over the speaker made me jump. Finally school was over; it looks like I'm safe; for now. I stood up slowly making every move was careful. Derrick stood up with me grabbing my hand as we walked out of the classroom and into the crowded hall filled with turning heads and spiteful glares. I kept my head down trying to not meet the gaze of the miffed gossipers. I dragged myself to my locker, Derrick followed without losing pace. I put in my combination saying it silently "45- 23-12" Derrick leaned on the locker next to mine, his gaze made me feel a little uneasy. Opening the locker made Derricks eyes bulge, and his brows furrowed. I could hear the snickers and giggles coming from the passer-by. On the inside of my locker in red letters was the word “TRAMP." I clenched my jaw shut, and my open hands formed into fists. "Maria" I hissed through my clenched teeth. Derrick looked the same way I felt; Furious, with a twinge of feeling homicidal. Why is she so obsessed with Derrick? Was she jealous of me? I felt the stabbing pain in the pit of my stomach, the tears followed, blurring my vision. I grabbed my keys and my hoodie and slammed the locker door shut. I was practically running, but Derrick kept up with me. Oh; yeah, football player, right, forgot about that. I finally got to my car. I climbed in and a slight tap came from the passenger side. “May I come in, please?" I unlocked the door, and then he was beside me. I started the car, it purred to life. The sound of the engine soothed my hate for the Varner clan. “I really don't feel like I want to go home right now. Could we go to your house?" I asked him in a whisper. I turned to look at him; his face was smooth, and composed. “Sure, we can do that. I think my mom would love to meet you." I sensed the excitement in his voice, I couldn't help but smile. We turned on to the main road then Derrick reached into his back pocket and pulled out his phone, he typed quickly. "Who are you texting?" I asked while eyeing the road. "My mom, she would flip if someone was coming over and the house wasn't clean." I nodded my head silently. I have never been to someone's house before, especially a guy's house. My heart began to race again, and the giant butterflies returned. “Turn here on to Burner Avenue." He said lightly. Burner Avenue was a street that was filled with elegant houses, each one more astonishing than the last. Most of the houses where cobble stone or a bleach white vinyl, which I envied with the greatest magnitude. "That is my house right there. He pointed to a magnificent house at the end of the road. The yard was a flawless sea of dark green with diagonal patterns embedded in it. The house was surrounded by a beautiful pallet of colorful flowers from blush pink, sunlight yellow, and light purple. The house on the other hand was impeccably more astonishing than its colorful foreground. The front was covered with a beige vinyl; the door was an oak color with beautiful crystal covering the upper half of the door. I parked my car in the driveway. All of my worry and self-consciousness washed over me, freezing my body. “What if they don't like me? They might think we are going a little too quickly for dating since we just started talking today. I looked over and Derrick was smiling, but it wasn't his usual smile. This smile had a little tweak of embarrassment and realization. "I know that they will love you, and now that you mention it, I have been going a little overboard haven't I?" I grimaced slightly. “Maybe just a little, the kiss and the hand holding should probably be reserved for after our first date.” Derrick frowned as he shook his head in silent approval." Let’s just work on homework together." I offered. Homework was a sign of friendship when it comes down to the parents. Derrick paused; he pondered that thought for a split second, then nodded." Ok then, let’s go." I said happily. I grabbed my bag from the back seat and slid out of the car. We walked together towards the door; Derrick went in front of me to unlock the door. He held it open, signaling me to come in. As I walked through the door, the sweet smell of apples and cinnamon blew past my face. I could not help but close my eyes and inhale the intoxicating aroma.
When I opened my eyes and looked around, I felt my jaw drop. The inside of his house was so beautiful and open. To my left was the living room, the room was filled with a white couch, and matching recliners and love seat the glass coffee table and matching side tables were placed idly by the seats. In the corner of the room was a flat screen TV, I was breathless how amazingly clean their white furniture was! "Wow, this place is beautiful." I said in a low whisper. "Why thank you! I try my best to make our home presentable." I heard an angelic voice say. I spun around slowly to see a very beautiful woman striding into the living room. She was very pretty; her chocolate eyes were soft, as her sandy brown hair. Her face was in the shape of an oval, but like Derrick, her features were much sculpted, her cheek bones were settled a little lower from her eyes covered with flawless honey colored skin. “Kaylee this is my mother Annalise. Mom, this is Kaylee we were just going to go into the kitchen and study." Derrick's mother held out her tiny hand with a very warm smile on her face. “Oh! This is the famous Kaylee that Derrick is always writing about. I thought that painting in your room looked like someone I met before. I'm very glad to meet you!" I took her hand and shook it softly. "It's very nice to meet you too Mrs.Kinderson. Thank you for letting me come over on such short notice." "Oh please call me Ann; I don't think we are in the stage of using proper names." She chuckled as she spoke. "Oh, alright." Was all I could say. Derrick ground his teeth as he tugged on my arm urgently; he wanted to be alone in the kitchen with me. Ann stepped back giving me a goodbye smile. We walked into the kitchen in an awkward silence, I had nothing to say. My mind was completely full of loud thoughts that started to give me a headache. "Sorry 'bout my mom, she tends to get a little overwhelmed when I bring someone home." he said with a sheepish grin. I thought that his mother couldn't have been more welcoming, but that was just my opinion. For some reason, the kitchen looked oddly familiar. I remember the black Ceramic tiles on the floor that matched the smooth black stone counter top. The cupboards were recognizable too; the wooden fibers swirled around in its oak canvas. It was very beautiful here, and it felt like home. We sat at the Hitchcock table and got out our books. I hesitated; my eyes were looking at a photograph of two young children, a boy and a girl. They stood side by side arms around each other’s shoulders. The boy had dark brown hair and baby blue eyes; he was wearing a striped t-shirt and cut off jean shorts with no shoes. I assumed the little boy was Derrick, but I wasn't sure. I looked at the little girl; she had the same hair color as me, a brownish blonde. Her face was slender but held to its childish roundness. She looked happy, and peaceful; she reminded me of myself before everything in my life fell apart even though I have forgotten those memories for a reason. "What are you looking at?" Derrick said in a whisper. I hesitated for a moment, "who are these kids?" I asked shyly.
He stood up from the table and walked toward the fridge. He took the picture from the magnet that held it in place. "These two? Well the little boy is me and the little girl-- well, she was my neighbor until her dad died, and she was my best friend. I just wish I could remember her name. She actually looks like--" before he could finish he looked at me, and saw my shocked look. “Like me." I said in a shocked but quiet voice. I would have never put those clues together. When my dad died, I put up a shield to forget the memories of that house and my dad. I Felt a lump form in my throat, my eyes began to fill with tears, All the walls I had put up were knocked down in one single swipe. “I’m so sorry Kaylee, I didn't mean to make you cry, I should have known it was you. Damn it, I hate seeing you upset. "I could feel the waves of guilt coming off of him and into me."No, don't blame yourself about why I'm crying, it's just because after my dad died, I sort of blocked those memories from my memories so I would forget about what happened. I guess it worked a little too well. "I said half-heartedly. He walked to me and kneeled down by my side." Kaylee,I know it's painful, but don't you think our past has something to do with why we are so attracted to each other? I mean, when you moved away, it took me a long time to talk to someone again. I was heartbroken, you and I did everything together, and I haven't been able to find a friend like that since you left.” I remembered how Derrick and I would go out into the woods and play hide and seek, or tell ghost stories after a long day in the hot summer sun, I looked into his eyes then and I saw the little boy that I once knew; only now he was the boy that I was starting to fall for.
I wanted to kick myself for not recognizing him earlier. I had to turn away and wiping away the forming tears before he could see. "You know I can tell when you are trying to hide something from me. It comes from summers and summers of practice." He said in a soft mocking tone, I couldn't help but let out a giggle. He was right though, he knew me better than I knew myself. Even after all these years. We sat at that table for hours on end talking about our past. I was having so much fun that I didn't even notice the time. "Oh, I better get home my mom likes to be in bed before 9:30 on nights she knows she has to be at work early." Derrick frowned, as did I. I didn't want to leave, When I am with Derrick, everything is perfect, but I couldn't let my mom stay up all night waiting for me. I grabbed the untouched worksheets and placed them in the front of my text book and placed it in my bag. We both stood up then, I began to walk to the door, and Derrick followed right behind me. I stopped by the door. "Thank you for letting me come over Ann, I really appreciate it." I said with a smile. She turned her eyes from the television and smiled, "Come over any time you want! I'm glad that you two caught up with each other." I tuned to look at Derrick; he shrugged with a sarcastic grin on his face.
Derrick walked with me to my car; I unlocked it and put my bag in the front seat. "So I will see you tomorrow, right?" he said anxiously. "Yeah, only because I want to know how your mother remembered me and you didn't." I poked his chest lightly; he laughed then gave me a gentle hug. I said goodbye to him as I pulled out of his driveway, while driving home my butterflies began to flutter around in my stomach. Thankfully, they made the ride feel much quicker than usual. I was finally home when I saw a car in the driveway that was not my moms. It was a light silver Ford explorer. I killed the engine and climbed out, walking in the doorway made me feel nauseous when I saw who it was sitting next to my mom on our couch. "Hey, mom sorry I'm late, I went over a friend’s house." It was her new boyfriend Kevin. Kevin was not the type of person I would want around my family; he was nice in public, but a drunken jerk at home. As usual, he had a beer in one hand, and a cigarette in the other. I hated everything about Kevin; even seeing him breathe made my teeth grind together. My mom just silently shook her head, all her attention was directed toward the television. “We went out to eat; you can just find something out of the fridge and make yourself some dinner. I wasn't surprised that Kevin managed to make my own mother forget my own existence, ever since he came back into the picture I have been camouflaged into the back ground. “Whatever, I'm not hungry, I'm going to bed." The tone in my voice made Kevin turn his head in my direction. “Don’t talk to your mother like that; you should be lucky she offered you anything to eat." He barked. That last sentence made me lose control of my strong hatred for his very existence. “You are not my father. You know come to think of it, I have been wanting to say this for a while, you should be lucky I don't lock you out of the house! My father would kick your ass if he knew what was happening here!" I knew I was going to get it now. Kevin had a very short temper when he was drunk. I only put gasoline onto the fire that was started when I came through the door. He put his cigarette out in the over filled ash-tray and stood up. He walked toward me and stopped. For a moment I thought he was going to pass out, instead he back handed me right across the face. "Who the hell do you think you are talking to?! Your father is dead, and he is lucky for that too! If he saw what you have become he would disown you completely!
That hit me hard; my father was a good man that I loved so very much. His life was ended when he was coming home from work; he was hit by a drunk driver. That is why I hate Kevin; he is just one drink away from stealing another little girl's father from her. I held my face with one hand, it began to get hot from where he had hit me, it felt wet too. I looked at my hand and saw the crimson blood settling inside the crevasse of my hand. "Look at what you did Kevin! How is she supposed to go to school with that on her face?" Wow she doesn't care if he gets me, but when I bleed it’s a tragedy! Some mother, anyone can slap her child, but they just can't make her bleed. I clenched my teeth to stop myself from screaming what I thought out loud. She walked into the kitchen and came back with a damp washcloth in the same amount of time it took her to get it. "I can do it; I think you have helped me enough tonight.” I snatched the cold rag from her dainty fingers and placed it on my face, the cold water soothed the fire that burned from under my skin. I looked at my mother’s pitiful grimace, she felt sorry; but the damage was done. Kevin grunted and mumbled as he walked back to the couch, it sounded like he said "she deserved what she got." I ignored his comment, even though it was very hard to walk away from it.
"Don't worry mom, I will just say I tripped or something, no big deal. I gave her a fake smile. It seemed to work, she whispered ok and walked back to the couch. As I walked down the stairs, I could feel a lump in my throat and tears blurred my vision. I plopped onto my bed and let the sobs and sniffling take every ounce of energy I had left until I was completely unconscious. That night I had the weirdest dream, I was at school and instead of feeling anxious, I felt calm, content. Nothing made me jump or break into a sweat. I turned my head and saw Derrick at my side, holding my hand. My alarm woke me up then, but I didn't want to wake up. The dream was too perfect, but maybe that dream was telling me what my life will be like if I stay with Derrick. After I got up and into the shower, my cell phone began to convulse. I knew who it was; I rushed myself, getting soap into my eyes a few times while doing it. I got out of the shower and picked up my phone. It was a text message from Derrick, I opened the message and my heart began to pound out of my chest. I read the message in my mind. “Hey, do you want to ride with me today? Maybe after school we can go to the mall or something." I wrote him back with a "yeah" with a smiley face. I chuckled to myself quietly. I wiped the mirror with my towel and then grimaced. The scratch that Kevin gave me was red around the edges, and very, very, sore. I opened the medicine cabinet and put a Band-Aid on the gash. I flinched with every small glide of my finger against the wound. "Stupid Kevin" I mumbled under my breath. I finally had everything ready, teeth cleaned, hair brushed, and clothes on. "I'm going to wait for Derrick outside, I love you, mom." I yelled from the front door. "Whoa! Who is this Derrick guy and why haven't I heard of him until now?" I ground my teeth together until it hurt. "Derrick is a friend, and you were too busy watching your boyfriend smack the crap outta me. Goodbye mom." I closed the door before another word could be spoken. I walked by the oak tree that was planted in the middle of the yard and sat down. I wish I didn't have to hurt my mom's feelings like this, but what else can I do? She doesn't listen to me when he is around, and we barely talk anymore. Suddenly the sound of a horn interrupted my reverie. I jumped as I popped my head up, it was Derrick. He sat in the driver’s seat of a brand new Ford explorer, he looked anxious and a little worried too, but I think that only has something to do with the Band-Aid on my cheek. I scrambled to my feet and grabbing my bag as I went, I shuffled over to the shiny SUV and hopped in. "What happened to you?" He asked as we pulled away from the curb. "Oh, um, I got scratched. It's fine." I stammered a little, I thought he had caught my bluff when he looked at me again with a curious look. "Ok, if that's the story you want to go with." He said in a higher pitched voice. He caught me, but I tried to play dumb anyway.
"Are you calling me a liar?" I asked a little miffed. He turned to me so I could see his face when he talked." Oh come on! There is no way a scratch would get swollen like that. Who hit you?" I hesitated for a moment before I could answer." It was my mother’s stupid drunk boyfriend Kevin. I talked back and he got pissed, so he slapped me." I said in a defeated tone. "That is no excuse for a man to lay his hands on you! You should have called me, I would have---" he paused in mid-sentence to clench his teeth together .I watched him wrap his hands around the steering wheel until his knuckles were red. "I have never seen Derrick like that before in my entire life, he gave me a look that made me flinch a little. His features weren't his, they were contorted into what reminded me of a cold blooded killer. " Relax Derrick, it’s ok just relaxed"" How can I relax when I know that someone hurt you?!It makes me sick that someone can be such a coward. I'll kill him, I swear I will. This made me feel uneasy, just the thought of seeing him hurt someone else seemed like a nightmare. It was quiet the rest of the way to school, I felt uneasy and I didn’t like it. We finally got to school, but we were about 20 minutes early. I sat there in silence for what seemed like an eternity. I turned to look at Derrick every few seconds, but he didn’t look back, he kept his eyes forward, and his hands still clenched to the wheel. He was motionless, like an inanimate object, like a statue. I just gave up and stared out the passenger side window. “I’m sorry, but you don’t understand just how much this pisses me off. I am not letting you go back there if this is what is going to happen.” The thought of running away with him actually seemed like a good idea. Just to be away from that house, this town; that would be a dream come true. “Well, as intriguing as that idea sounds, I can’t. I have to stay here for my mom, to make sure that Kevin doesn’t hurt her too.” I couldn’t let that lunatic hurt my mother, she is all I have left. Derrick heaved a heavy sigh. “ so you are just going to let her boyfriend use you as his personal punching bag?” His tone seemed angry and frustrated. I couldn’t speak, my throat felt like it was closed up; I just shrugged as a response. “If that’s what it takes to protect my mom, then, yes.” I turned to look at him, he had his eyes clenched shut and one of his hands held his head and the other pinched the upper part of his nose. “Let’s just talk about something else before I punch someone.” I looked out the window again; people were heading into the school. “We better go in before we are late for first period.” I said with a heaving sigh, Derrick just looked down and shook his head quietly. “C’mon we need to go, if I’m late for Mr.sertz class, I’m dead.”
“You’re not going in there looking like that!” He then put the keys in the ignition and the truck roared to life. My heart began to race; I have never missed a day of school in my life! This was not going to turn out good. Where were we going to go without somebody we knew telling our parents? I took out my cell phone and saw my reflection, he was right I looked terrible. My eyes had blue rings around them from the lack of sleep, my eyes were red and puffy too; but nothing compared to my cheek. I looked at it for a very long time, examining every detail from the sore open gash, to the redness that surrounded it. “I told you. I wasn’t about to let you go in there looking like you got mugged last night. That wouldn’t be good.” “Then where are we going? There is nowhere in this small town that is safe. Somebody will see us and we will get in trouble.” I looked at him as I spoke, I was about to jump out of the car if he didn’t tell me where we were going. “I honestly don’t know where we are going, but I do know we are getting out of here.
”Great, now he’s skipping town with me, what else can go wrong? I didn’t say a word the rest of the ride; I fell asleep about five minutes after he last spoke. When I woke up we were in the woods, I was still in the car but Derrick was nowhere to be found. I was getting a little worried now, so many theories ran through my head like he was kidnapped or he is playing a trick on me. I got out of the truck then, I wobbled through the worn out path that was now just a dirt trail, the trail led me to a lake, a big and beautiful lake that was so open, and peaceful. My mouth flew open; I was amazed by just how beautiful this place really was. The water was a dark blue but it was so clear. I looked around, I felt a cool breeze swirl my hair around my face. It felt good, I watched the wind move the pine trees, and they danced in unison, like ballet dancers. Graceful and majestic as they moved, I couldn’t help but dance with them. It sounds silly, but I didn’t care; nobody was around to see me and I wouldn’t care if there was a crowd, I loved nature. I just can’t control the urge to dance when it calls me to do so. “Nice moves, mind if I join?” I screamed a little. I didn’t like to get scared, I looked at him; he put his hand over his mouth to hide his ecstatic grin. I back handed him on the chest; I was completely speechless from fright. “Don’t do that! I hate it when people sneak up on me and scare me.” “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to. It’s just that I didn’t want you to stop dancing when you saw me, I like the way you dance. It’s so beautiful.” I could feel the blood rushing to my cheeks, I just had to turn away.