Lexi Grace dramatically gasped as she all but fell out of the classroom entrance, with Jessi and Aleson directly tagging along behind her. I had been patiently waiting for them; I was the only one out of our group of friends who didn't have chemistry at the same time.
“What, Lexi?” I chuckled. “Was chemistry that interesting?”
Jessi hastily threw her head back and gave a high-pitched laugh as we started down the crowded hallway towards our lockers.
“No! Andre asked me to the dance!” she exclaimed.
Aleson casually flipped her long golden hair over her shoulder. "I still don't have a date, but I think Tyler's going to ask me."
I glanced at her, quickly admiring her flawless features. Aleson was beautiful. Her complexion was a light chocolate, as caramel drifting over high cheek bones and gorgeous, shimmering, ice blue eyes. They held a chill of uncertainty.
I could easily arrive at the conclusion that everyone's focus was mostly on Lexi Grace.
“But Jason already asked me. He asked me yesterday!" Jessi said, impatient for someone to be happy for her also.
They all turned towards me. I could already predict what they were going to ask; I quickly explained my reasoning.
“I would have a date if Waylon went to this school. He's been out of school for a long time." Giving an exasperated sigh, I threw them an ignorant look.
Lexi Grace sympathetically placed her hand on my right shoulder, as if she understood. "I don't blame the guy one bit. I wouldn't come back either!" she laughed.
I forced a half-smile as the dial on the locker turned nervously. I jerked up the handle with all my force and opened it swiftly. I shoved my books in my backpack, took it out and quietly shut the locker. I spun on my high heels and saw the neon lettering of Jessi’s shirt through the window, running out the door with everyone else in the herd. Sighing, I ran up and almost caught up with her as I climbed on the bus.
As I ran up the steps of the bus, Loreli, our bus driver, glared at me. I grinned at her and made my way to the back with Jessi
"Hey!" She smiled at me as I sat down.
"Hey," I said. I stared out the window, bored, as she unsuccessfully attempted to start a conversation.
"I'm, uh, sorry about earlier," she apologized quietly.
"What do you mean?" I inferred in monotone, still gazing out the window. I already had an idea of what she was going to apologize about and I was utterly uninterested in it.
"We should have understood that Waylon can't take you to the dances. I guess we could have been more understanding. I'm sorry, and I say that for the rest of us, Renee'. It's harder than it looks to be so far away from someone that you love so much. “
That's when I started smiling. I turned around and embraced her in a hug. "I know. You guys just forget sometimes. I mean, he would if he could! That is, if he wasn't so busy working on his case right now."
She drew her eyebrows in and frowned, perplexed. "What case?"
"He's an agent, Jess. He works on cases."
“No, I mean which case this time?”
Grinning, I said, "Confidential.”
She returned my smile as the bus hit a hole in the road. You could hear the entire chorus of passengers grunt as it came back down.
"I love that bump!" she exclaimed, and we started laughing.
About ten minutes later, I climbed off the bus and waved goodbye to Jessi as I got off in front of our apartment. Yes, our apartment. Rusha came to live with my mom and I, because somehow, (Lord only knows how) we persuaded Rusha to allow us to adopt her. It didn’t take much convincing to make her realize that her dad wasn’t planning on returning from his prison stay. She wasn't too happy about it, but once she saw the new apartment it didn’t take long for her to begin to perk up.
Twisting the doorknob, I trampled in and yelled, "I'm home!" I dropped my backpack on the couch and met my mom in the kitchen
Mmhh!" I exclaimed, inhaling deeply. Something smelled amazing. Rusha spun around in her chair and grinned at me. "Mom's making lasagna, that's what smells so good."
Mom looked over her shoulder. "Aren't you glad it's not that meat loaf?" she laughed.
Rusha and I shuddered at the very thought. That meat loaf was not edible. I'm utterly surprised the garbage disposal didn't spit it back out at us. I snorted. "Um...Yes. Very glad. She frowned and went back to the dishes; Rusha continued to eye me
I picked up an apple out of the dish on the counter, examined it and took a large bite. "So, what are your plans for tomorrow, birthday girl?" Mom asked me
Sighing, I told her, "Mom, I'm only turning eighteen. I just don't want everyone to make a big deal out of this."
She twisted her head around and looked at me over her shoulder. "Honey, only eighteen? Eighteen is a big age. You could legally live on your own; which you're not going to do, right?"
Rusha was clearly upset after Mom brought up that. "Yeah! I don't want you to leave so soon! We've only been sisters for four years, and that's not really long!" she exclaimed.
I just grinned. "Of course not. I wouldn't move! Not ‘til I'm out of school, anyway. And Rusha, even if I do move away we'll still be sisters. Don't you ever forget that!" She bobbed her head up and down and went back to her drawing on the table. "My birthday is tomorrow, but I wish everyone would just act like nothing is different. It's a Saturday, and I just want a quiet day at home. No big party. I'm not turning sixteen."
"Aren't you at least going to see Waylon tomorrow?" she asked. I shrugged my shoulders.
"I guess, if he's not busy."
"Are you guys okay? Is there any problems?"
"No, we're fine. We've been dating for almost four years now; we've come to understand each other's schedule. I know he's a cop, and I've come to live with the fact that he's going to be busy a lot. Sometimes he might not have time for me, but I don't care. We love each other and that's all that matters." I grabbed my backpack and headed towards my room. I shouldn't have had to explain myself to her.
As I plopped down on my bed, I tossed the apple core into the little trash can I had in the corner of my room. Un-zipping my bag, I grabbed my math book out of it and laid it down beside me. I shoved the backpack on the floor, making an enormous noise as it hit the ground. Flipping the page open to seventy-two, I gazed at the words for a few minutes. My head cocked sideways; I got confused reading it, let alone doing it. I sighed, and laid my head on the page. It was going to be a long night.
When my homework finally got finished, it was about nine-thirty. I got up off my bed, and started walking towards Mom's room. As I passed the dimly-lit living room, I saw Rusha, exhausted and asleep on the couch. I just smiled and crept past her.
I found mom sprawled out on her bed, talking on her cell phone. "Who ya' talkin' to?" I whispered.
"She put the phone to her shoulder, covering up the speaker. “Business call," she replied.
"Oh, okay. Just wanted to say goodnight."
Mom smiled. "Night, honey," she said, as I walked out of the room. But I didn't hear her say, "Yeah Waylon, I'm still here."