Christmas approached more quickly than I had ever remembered. Thanks to Sophie and her position on student council, we were having a dress-up Christmas dance. So what if it was in the gym? We would still look prettier than we would if we were wearing Levis and a logo t-shirt.
I, of course, was going with Patrick. Sophie was going stag because she claimed not to like any of the boys in our class.
“Don’t just look around for eighth grade guys,” I told her. “There’s a pretty hot selection in the seventh grade.”
In a friendly way, she rolled her eyes. I knew she only partially respected my love for Patrick, but she’d learn to accept it.
When the dance arrived, I felt smashing. My dress was a scorching, sexy red decked in sparkles and my shoes were smooth, shiny and a matching shade of red.
Sophie did go stag, but she looked just as fabulous as I felt. Her dress was as blue as a whirlwind of snow crystals and her shoes were pointy and the brightest white I’d ever seen.
“And, do you look amazing or what?” I complimented her, spinning her around on my index finger as “Christmas Eve on Woodward Avenue” blasted through the speakers. “I bet you’re going to get at least fifty invitations to dance tonight!”
“Yeah, but I’m jealous of you,” Sophie remarked. “You’ll only be asked once by the perfect guy for you.”
Patrick smiled crookedly at me. “Believe me, Soph,” he chuckled. “A girl like you will find her perfect match soon.”
“That’s right,” I backed him up. “If I were you, I’d take Patrick’s word for it. He seems to be better a predicting the future at most people.”
We laughed at his near-death experience, but my heart stopped when I remembered what he said only a few weeks before. I’ll always love Riley, even though he was dead. Maybe all my romantic feelings for him had vanished, but even when he tried to kill Patrick and me, there was still some platonic affection for him. Everyone needs it, and I knew Riley never got enough. I had to be the one to give it to him.
“You’ll be fine,” Patrick assured me, grabbing my free hand, the one I wasn’t twirling Sophie in.
I soothingly smiled. “Eventually.”
Not long after that, the DJ’s voice came over a microphone. It was so startling; Sophie shrieked and nearly knocked me down on the floor.
“Soph!” I shouted.
“Sorry!” she apologized hastily. “That was scary!”
I giggled and helped her up from her unsteady position.
“I’m planning on playing a slow song,” the DJ announced. “But who wants to dance with their boyfriend or girlfriend to a Christmas song? Besides, how many romantic, slow Christmas songs are there?”
“BOO!” everyone cried.
“Real music!” a voice from the back of the gym boomed.
“Yeah!” a few others piped in agreement.
“Real music! Real music! Real music!”
Sophie, Patrick and I laughed at the scene our peers were making. None of us cared what was playing over the speakers as long as we were together.
“All right, if that’s what you ask for,” the DJ snickered. “This one’s by Aslyn.”
Like only Sophie and I expected, “That’s When I Love You” came on. Sophie left Patrick and me alone so we could dance. He grabbed my waist and I flung my arms around his neck. We began to sway.
“Did you really take the whole love for Riley thing that seriously?” Patrick whispered to me.
“Of course I did,” I told him. “You’re right. Hell, you’re always right.”
He chortled. “With you, I tend to be right. Other than that, I’m always, always wrong.”
“Stop making yourself seem like a bad person,” I scolded him. “You’re absolutely wonderful.”
“Marla, you’re giving me too much credit. If anything, I should be giving you all the credit. You had it the worse out of anyone.”
“The fight wasn’t even over me. It was over you, because I wanted you alive and Riley wanted you dead. But I couldn’t let that happen.”
Patrick beamed. “Sometimes I think I was crazy, falling in love with you.”
I looked down at my shoes, ashamed of myself just a bit. What was wrong with me?
“But then I realize that I’m only crazy for you because you’re who you are.”
Everything was perfect now. We held each other tightly, and it was almost like we were the only two people in the room. I looked around to see what other couples were doing. Surprisingly, they looked standoffish and odd.
“Patrick,” I giggled, “did you notice that we’re much closer than the other couples?”
He took after me and glanced around the room. Nodding, he replied, “None of the other couples are in love.”
Now he pressed his nose against mine, and, predictable as it was, we leaned in and kissed each other full on the mouth, but it felt different than our previous kisses. No, this one was special. After all, Patrick Arnett was one in a million. And I loved him.
I can’t believe it; you’re one in a million.
is all you need!