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The Best Year - 30. Chapter 30

Waking up the next morning, I was actually surprised to see that the bed beside me was empty. Luke had come over so late at night. Looking over, I saw that my alarm had been turned off. Scratching my head, I looked out the window to see a blanket of white on my window and more flakes hitting it and melting. Rolling out of bed I walked across the hall and used the bathroom before returning to slide into a pair of shorts. It was rare for this time of year for us to get enough snow to call off school.

Walking downstairs I was surprised again to see that both Mom and Dad were in the living room talking. Mom had a glass of water, which was also rare for her this time of morning. She was more of a coffee person. Dad was sipping on a cup of coffee looking exhausted and I knew he probably had just walked through the door not long ago.

“Good morning,” Mom said, offering me a smile.

“Yeah,” I groaned as I stumbled down the last few stairs. “Mornin.”

“They called off school and I saw that you and Luke,” Mom said, but trailed off offering me another smile. “Were…”

“Sleeping,” I quickly added, my face getting hot. “Just sleeping.”

“Okay,” she said then her smile faded. “That was very reckless regardless.”

“I know,” I said as I walked around the back of the couch to sit with them. The television was on, turned to the morning news, but the volume was turned way down low. It was all about the weather and road conditions anyway.

“I sent him straight home this morning,” she continued, “but you can’t hide the tracks he left behind in the snow.”

“It wasn’t my idea, he scared the hell out of me,” I countered slinging myself down on the opposite side of the couch. Looking over, I saw that the jostling of the couch caused Mom to stiffen slightly and bring her hand up to her mouth.

“Well anyway,” Mom said letting her hand fall back to her lap after a short pause. “What do you want for breakfast?”

“Are you up to it, dear?” Dad asked and I watched as Mom and Dad had a silent staring contest.

“Yes,” she answered, turning to smile at me.

“You two are acting weird,” I said waving my finger lazily between them. “Are you sick or something, Mom?”

“No, not really,” she answered, “just a little stomach trouble. It’ll pass.”

“I’ll pop something in the microwave if I get hungry,” I said, feeling more like going back to bed than eating. “I should probably just go practice; I need to be in good shape for the championship meets and stuff.”

“The roads aren’t all that clear,” Dad offered, looking like a dead man sitting in his favorite chair.

“I’ll drive slow,” I said shrugging. “Districts start soon, I want to qualify for all four of my swims this year, I need the practice.”

“Alright, he said standing. “I’ll take you. I don’t want you driving.”

“I don’t want you driving,” I countered, shaking my head. “You look like you’re about to pass out.”

“I had a rough night,” he answered, and I perked up. Dad hardly ever complained about how his nights went at the hospital. He always seemed to like his job, growing up I thought he liked it more than he liked being at home. I knew now though that he was just in high demand in this shit hole town. He was the only real doctor that has stayed long enough to form some sort of trust within the community.

“Oh?” Mom said in her prompting voice for him to continue a story she already heard.

“Cindy brought Charlotte in around midnight,” he explained then shot a sideways glance at me before returning to his chair. “Something you already know from what your mother tells me.”

“Still just sleeping,” I grunted looking down at my hands. “God I wouldn’t, we wouldn’t, not with you all just down the hall.”

“Well anyway, while Charlotte was busy faking a heart attack,” he began and I chewed on my bottom lip when he rolled his bloodshot, tired eyes, “Cindy told me something very interesting about your school.”

“And?” I asked, my heart kick-starting in my chest. The whole day before and Ally’s warning came back to me. I knew I had made a mistake as soon as I opened my big mouth, but Luke had calmed my nerves last night.

“She is subbing in for the rest of the semester for the freshman English teacher,” he said reaching down to grab up his mug of coffee. He took a few sips before placing it back onto the coaster. “She’ll be at your school.”

“Oh,” I said grimacing. “That sucks.”

“Well that means you and Luke will just have to be more careful,” Mom said as she reached and patted me on the shoulder. “She already knows you two are friends, maybe put a bit of distance between you.”

“Yeah I get it,” I said sighing.

“And don’t get into trouble,” she added cocking an eyebrow. “You need to be on your best behavior, don’t give her a reason to yank Luke back out of school.”

“I think Luke would flunk himself into summer school if she did that,” I countered smirking as I remembered his retelling of his winter break. All the yelling Cindy did behind his closed door and Henry trying to shush her in a way that wouldn’t send her storming after him.

“Well I think Cindy wouldn’t mind that,” Mom said, cocking an eyebrow. “She has changed a bit, keep that in mind.”

“Okay,” I said, still looking between the two of them. I felt like there was more to what they were talking about before I arrived in the living room than they were letting on. Or maybe I was just paying more attention to them lately. Typically, I would just shout that I was leaving and run out the door before either of them could ask too many questions.

“Well, breakfast,” Mom said, but as she stood she placed the back of her hand back to her mouth.

“I’ll grab something from the road,” I said sliding off the couch. “If you’re catching some kind of stomach thing, I need to get out of here.”

“Be careful, drive slow,” she said, shaking her head.

Walking around the couch I made my way up the stairs taking one last glance at Mom. She hadn’t moved other than dropping her hand down from her mouth to rest on her stomach. It was almost a caressing, protective sort of action, something I only really saw women do in movies if they were...

I nearly fell up the last few steps before turning back around and storming back down the stairs.

“Mom,” I said, and she turned to face me, but even that seemed to upset her stomach slightly as she grimaced.

“Yes?” She asked, letting her hand drop to her side.

“Are you two not telling me something?” I asked, looking between the two of them.

“No,” Mom answered after sending a pointed glance towards Dad. He adjusted his glasses and seemed to find something more interesting than what was currently going on here, to squint outside the front porch window.

“Well,” I said, my face getting hot. Now that I was back down here, thinking what I was thinking, I didn’t know what to say. “Well you’re probably too old, right?”

“Excuse me?” She asked, stepping around the couch. “Too old for what?”

“You are both too old, you know that” I said “right?”

“What in the world is this about?” Mom demanded crossing her arms over her chest.

“I saw you,” I said, taking my hand and mimicking her on my own stomach. Looking at her stomach again, I saw that she had an unmistakable swelling there that I knew wasn’t there a couple of weeks ago. “Tell me what that’s all about.”

“No,” Mom said, shaking her head. “If you think I am too old, there is nothing to worry about.”

“Mom,” I groaned my heart racing. “Dad.”

“Fine,” she sighed, letting her hands fall back to her sides. “It is still early and quite the surprise, so I didn’t want to tell anyone, not yet. And really, all the experts said that I wouldn’t be able to conceive a child naturally, so really we just never thought.”

“Oh god,” I said shoving my hand back to my own side when I realized I was still mimicking her. “You’re too old.”

“You keep saying that and I’ll clock you one in the back of the head young man,” Mom warned pointing her finger at me. “I am not too old, that much is obvious.”

“But I’m eighteen, you’re starting over, do you really want two of me?” I asked my stomach so tense I felt my ab muscles begin to burn. I had to force myself to take deep and even breaths.

“You were our practice child, we’ll do better with this one,” Dad answered, smirking when I turned to look at him. “People our age are having children all the time.”

“You could have gotten a dog,” I said, feeling my face smile despite the state of tension the rest of my body was in.

“We didn’t plan this,” Mom said smiling. “Why do I sound like I’m the teenager, I am perfectly allowed to be pregnant right now.”

“Fine,” I mumbled chewing on my bottom lip not really knowing how I felt, “can I hug you?”

“Of course,” she said, “I’m not made of glass.”

After that bombshell was dropped in my lap, all thoughts of swimming and driving in the snow flew out of my mind. Instead I did something that I hadn’t done since I was a little boy and that was sit with both my parents, watching movies. Dad didn’t make it through the opening credits of the first one, reclining his chair he was snoring softly with his glasses hanging precariously on his face. Mom and I both knew he wouldn’t last, but he had insisted on staying down here with us.

I hadn’t paid any attention, usually looking the other way feigning disgust when my parents showed any sign of affection, but when the first movie ended, Mom stood and walked over to Dad and gently slid his glasses off his face. She laid them on the coffee table on top of the folded up newspaper that he still insists on buying despite having a phone that could give him the same news without the annoyance of trying to fold the damn thing back correctly. Now I couldn’t help watching. How easy it all seemed to be for them. I didn’t think it could be that way for me, not here in this town.

“It stopped snowing finally,” Mom said and I turned away from the window having not even realized that I was staring out it.

“Yeah,” I said blinking. We had wasted the day away as the sun had already begun to set.

“Do you want some dinner?” Mom asked as she balled up a bag of popcorn, something she got up and made between movies.

“I’ll fix myself something,” I answered jumping as the phone buzzed on the coffee table. Glancing down at it I saw a new text, my phone had been quiet today, which was also nice after the past couple of weeks. Toby wasn’t texting apologies, Derek wasn’t threatening to kill Toby for asking him to ask me if I was really pissed or not. Then checking it for any texts from Ally, even though I knew my phone hadn’t given any new text alerts. Now that we were all getting back to being okay, I half expected to get invited out to some party or something. It would have gone unanswered, but when I glanced down and saw that the message was from Luke I quickly punched in my passcode.

“Sneak out around seven,” I read aloud glancing towards Mom who was now busy trying to wake Dad up, hopefully before he got a crick in his neck.

“Luke,” she said, sighing. “I’m beginning to think you’re a bad influence on him.”

“Thanks,” I said, trying not to smile.

“And at seven, Cindy won’t even be asleep, I mean we used to watch,” she said trailing off as Dad finally opened his eyes. He seemed suddenly awake when he realized that it was Mom waking him up.

“What is it Grace?” He asked, reaching for his shirt pocket looking for his glasses.

“Nothing,” she answered smiling, “go to bed.”

“The movie over?” He asked as Mom handed him his glasses.

“Yes, and the other two we watched are too,” Mom answered and I laughed when Dad looked down at his wrist watch, another thing he didn’t really need.

Mom and Dad left me alone for the rest of the evening. After taking a shower I paced in my room for a while thinking about the seven o’clock sneaking around I was about to do. Another new thing was that Mom knew exactly what I’d be doing when the clock struck seven. The only two people that probably didn’t know were just across the small copse of trees next door. I couldn’t really imagine Luke being able to sneak out on Cindy, let alone at the approaching hour he selected. The thought sent a rush of cold to my fingertips as I grabbed another shirt too spring for winter and shoved it back into the closet. It would be better if I knew what we were doing, but I didn’t text Luke back like an idiot. As soon as I had read it, I felt like it would be dangerous for us to go into details, like this was some sort of secret operation. Maybe some of it had to do with the feeling that this was more than just a sneaking out sort of thing. That it was more than the hidden kisses under trees or the clumsy make outs in pools or locker rooms when no one else was around. Whatever this was, Luke had put effort into and he was willing to risk everything to do. So it had me thinking and fuck, I hated having to think.

At seven I was hovering around the front door, having dressed and getting ready early. I kept glancing out the front windows for any sign of him, but when he didn’t come to the door I finally decided to open mine and step through it. The wind, cold against my face sent goosebumps over my skin. A polo and a pair of jeans won out over all the other things now piled on my bed, thinking that these would be the most appropriate for any number of things Luke may have up his sleeve. I didn’t know if anything would be open this time of night during this kind of storm either, but I was interested to see what he had planned.

When I stepped outside, my shadow stretched across the soft powdery snow all the way to the street. It disappeared when I closed the door behind me leaving me in complete darkness. I didn’t want to turn on the front porch light, looking across the yard I could just see the lights on at Luke’s house next door through the dormant forest. There really wasn’t much separating the two houses now, something that looked a lot thicker in Spring when everything budded and flowered, and when the wild roses grew.

“Hey,” came a quiet voice from the darkness beyond the front porch. Nearly jumping completely off the ground, I whirled around hearing snickering, but not seeing anyone standing there.

“Why are you in the damn dark?” I asked squinting, but still not seeing him. It unnerved me that I never even heard his approach.

“Come on,” he said, and I heard his footfalls in the snow coming around the corner of the railing into the light given off by the living room window. He was dressed in a thick black coat and he had what looked like a second one draped over his arm and a pair of mittens that looked like something a grandma would make. I was already freezing in my coat and the snow looked like it was more than a couple inches deep, up over the toes of his snow boots at least.

“Where are we headed?” I asked carefully, stepping off the porch and down the steps.

“For a walk,” he said his breath swirling around him.

“A walk?” I groaned feeling instantly colder when my feet buried in the snow after stepping off the bottom step.

“Yeah, a walk,” he answered as I closed the distance between us. “This way, I am not lying to my parents.”

“Who the hell walks in this weather at this time of night,” I said as he held out the coat still draped on his arm.

“Take this and shut up,” he said a smile playing on his lips.

After putting the larger coat on over my other one, I pulled the sleeves over my fingers and we stood there awkwardly for a moment or two before he nodded his head and started walking back around the porch towards the side of the house. Reluctantly, I followed stumbling over the uneven ground. It wasn’t exactly dark, as the side windows from the upstairs bedrooms did cast a little light, but Luke led me quickly through to the back yard. The backyard of both our houses were small and ended abruptly at more forest. Growing up I think Toby, Derek, and I explored the place once or twice climbing trees, but other than that it was a foreign place and to be honest in this light it looked pretty damn scary.

We walked in relative silence, only breathing, and I couldn’t hear much of anything with my body shaking and my teeth chattering. Clenching my jaw, I squinted, trying to keep up with him, but falling behind. It was like he had some sort of night vision that I just didn’t have.

“Is this where you take me out and kill me?” I ask watching my breath disappear not long after leaving my lips.

“Yeah,” he answered, turning to glance over his shoulder. “Stop being a baby.”

“It’s cold as fuck out here,” I groaned. “When you said you were sneaking out, I didn’t have this in mind.”

“What did you have in mind?” He asked as he entered the tree line. There wasn’t really a distinguishable trail, but in the fresh snow I doubted I would notice one if there was. “I mean we could be trying to plow through the snow in a car right now, but I thought this was the safer option.”

“Well if you’re taking me out to kill me, why would it matter?” I asked, crossing my arms tighter around my chest. Despite the cold, I was too curious to see exactly what Luke had planned to suggest we turn around. So instead of hesitating I followed blindly after him. Now that we were within the forest though, my footing became more haphazard. I kept stumbling over hidden tree roots so much that I reluctantly uncrossed my arms and latched onto trees as I passed by to keep myself upright.

“Shh,” he breathed. I barely heard him as I stumbled over more hidden roots and frozen ground. When I fell into him, he had to brace himself against a tree to keep us both upright. We hadn’t made it too far into the forest, wearing black I couldn’t see him, only a flash of movement that unnerved me even though I knew it was him walking ahead of me.

“I can’t see for shit,” I groaned, and I heard him laugh as I bumped into him again. He had stopped on the trail and I sniffled, trying to bring life back into my nose. The smell of water was always something I noticed, whether it was the strong chlorine smell, or a fresh rain against hot asphalt. The snow wasn’t any different, all I could focus on was the cold, the darkness, and the smell of moisture in the air.

“The clouds are breaking,” he said, and I jumped when I felt mittened fingers reaching for my crossed arms. “There’s a full moon tonight.”

“I don’t see how that makes any difference unless you’re a werewolf,” I countered, finally understanding that he was trying to uncross my arms. Allowing him to, he took both my hands in his, unlike me, he had on mittens and I could instantly feel the warmth from him, even if I couldn’t really see him.

“You’ve watched movies all day, haven’t you?” He asked, snickering as I squinted against the darkness. I could just make out his shape now and when I glanced up, I could just make out the clouds above the dead canopy.

“Yeah,” I answered, shrugging. “What have you done all day?”

“Caught up on all my missed work,” he answered, and I could hear the smile in his voice. “Got Mom off my back a little.”

“Well you do know she’s subbing in for the Freshman English teacher, right?” I asked, frowning at the thought of having Cindy prowling the halls. Even if I had behaved lately, I’m sure she would still find things to get me for if I let her.

“I didn’t think you would be so scared of the dark,” he said, changing the subject. “Your eyes are darting everywhere.”

“You can see me?” I asked trying to focus.

“Even out your breathing,” he instructed, his voice barely a whisper. “Don’t try to focus on everything around you, just pick something out, let your eyes adjust to that.”

Frowning and wanting to go back inside, it took me a while to stop looking around me. Instead I picked him, with my teeth chattering I searched out his face, trying to match my breathing to his since it was the only real sound in this place. Just then, though, the clouds broke enough for the moon to shine through and it illuminated everything, even the snow on the ground began to sparkle.

“Well now I can see,” I grunted and he smiled, still holding on to my hands.

“Good,” he said smiling.

“It doesn’t help calm me down though, how are you not scared?” I countered glancing around at the stillness. Everything was dormant being winter, there were no leaves or moss on the trees. There were no squirrels or birds, nothing making a sound apart from Luke and I and all we were doing between talking was breathing and shuffling around in the snow to keep warm.

“We’re the biggest things out here,” he answered, shrugging. “Come on, we still have a ways to go.”

We walked for a while. The light of the full moon made it easier when it wasn’t being covered by stray clouds. All of the undergrowth was dead and shattered as we walked through it, thorns and wild rose bushes didn’t even snag on our clothes. The snow was still too frozen to fall from the trees, but every now and then I’d grab a smaller tree too hard and shake loose clumps of it and I would cuss and shake and dust off my coat trying to get it off before it found the weak spots in the collar. I hated being cold, but this seemed important to Luke as he kept marching our asses to wherever he was going.

Then Luke led me out of the forest, it was such an abrupt end to it that I had to blink against the sudden brightness a couple of times to take it all in. We had stepped out onto a large clearing. For some reason this unnerved me more than being in the woods, so much so that I felt myself take an involuntary half-step back.

“Here we are,” he said, holding out both of his arms like he was showing off something spectacular, then he let them fall back to his side. Swearing under my breath I walked around to stand beside him.

With nothing preventing the full moon from reaching us, the place looked brighter and endless, and dead. I quickly scanned the area hoping to see something more, but when I didn’t I turned and looked at him. He was still looking out at the empty field not paying me any attention. I was close enough to see a smile and it was even light enough to see his breath coming out in small, quick bursts of barely contained excitement.

“What is it?” I asked hating that I was missing something.

“My field,” he answered, turning to glance at me. “I found it when I was little out exploring. It belonged to some old guy that died with no heirs to give the land to. There used to be a small shack, but Dad and I knocked it down one summer and burned it. Dad bought the land from the bank.”

“Oh,” I said, still missing the excitement of the place. The only thought that had crossed my mind is that it was so far out of nowhere we could have had some big assed parties out here. Bigger than even Toby’s dad would have allowed.

“Come on, there’s a pond with a small dock over here,” he said pointing off to his left. I followed him and after a couple of yards I could see the dock and when we stepped up on it, I looked out across the frozen pond. It didn’t have much of a bank to outline it, if I didn’t know there was supposed to be a pond out here and the snow a little deeper to hide it better, I could see myself walking my ass right out onto it.

“You could have waited to show me this in the Spring when I’m not freezing to death,” I countered crossing my arms. “Or at least in the daytime.”

“Quit complaining,” he said laughing. “Look up.”

Looking up I saw that most of the clouds had left the sky. I also saw more stars than I ever saw in my life. It was something I took for granted, growing up, I just never cared for it. There was always a bonfire or a beer that caught my attention. Out here, other than Luke standing close enough to touch on a dock half-in a frozen pond, I had to admit it was beautiful. The moon was also fully visible just above the treeline now.

“What was all this about?” I asked turning to see him still looking up at the sky.

“Can’t you just enjoy nature?” He asked, smirking as he turned towards me. “The quiet, the distance away from everyone and everything.”

“I guess,” I answered, shuffling my feet against the frozen boards of the dock hoping it wouldn’t break, I blindly stepped up onto it, trusting Luke with my life.

“You’re impossible sometimes,” he said shaking his head.

“Well yeah, you’re weird all the time,” I countered turning to smirk.

“You’re missing why I brought you all the way out here,” he said, and I was standing close enough to see him bite his bottom lip.

“I still assume you’re going to kill my ass,” I answered, letting my hands fall to my side, but my heart began to race and despite my ears hurting, my nose betraying me as it threatened to start running, and not being able to feel my toes I felt myself building up to something. The thought finally hit me that we had walked well out of earshot of anyone. There was nothing out here, no one to answer to but the moon and Luke and he was standing right there looking at me with a half-smirk playing on his lips.

Then without warning he reached up and found the back of my head, knocking my hood back. His mittens were cold against my skin, but I only had a moment to shudder against his touch before his lips met mine. They were dry and I felt him pull back to lick them so I took the chance and licked my own, bringing life back to them before kissing him again, my hands finding his sides I took a half step towards him as my mouth moved with another kiss, our breath warming our faces between them.

A few more kisses in I felt him smile against my lips, his teeth grazing them. A soft laugh escaped him, and I opened my eyes, not knowing when I had closed them. I felt him leave me, the dock groaning against his footfalls as he darted off it and back into the field. I had to blink readjusting to the moon against the snow as I looked around for him.

“What the fuck are you doing?” I asked, finding him a few yards away standing a few yards from the treeline.

“Catch me if you can,” he said, and he waited for me to backtrack off the dock before he took off again.

The snow was just deep enough to threaten to knock me off balance and more than once I had to take a couple of stutter steps to keep myself from falling. Luke looked like a damn deer moving through the snow like he was made for it. It was almost painful to breathe in the cold air as I attempted to keep up with him. I thought I’d be able to outlast him, remembering all the times back in the warmth of last summer when Rick had me jogging around the track as he drilled the football team.

“Come on,” I whined when I thought I made the right move to cut him off, but I only managed to momentarily hold the bottom of his coat before it slipped out of my grip.

“Not so good on dry land, are you?” He asked, coming to a stop a few yards away.

“Shut up,” I huffed, taking a step forward grimacing against the burning in my lungs with each breath of air I took as I bent forward placing my hands on my knees to help hold me up. When he took a half step back I groaned again.

“Really, I thought you would have caught me by now,” he said, and I looked up. He was just too far away for me to tell if he was smirking, but I knew he was by the tone of his voice.

“Fuck you,” I said between breaths. “You’re like a damn rabbit.”

“Truce then?” He asked, but I noticed he hadn’t taken any steps towards me.

“Yeah,” I answered standing back upright. My breathing had begun to even out and it surprised me that I felt sweat droplets on the back of my neck. It sent a shiver through me, but I held out my hand hoping he would take it. I never did truces, Derek and Toby knew that, but I didn’t think Luke and I ever entered into any of those.

“Alright,” he said hesitating momentarily, but then he took a couple steps forward. When I thought the distance between us was closed enough for me to get the jump on him, I grinned and launched myself towards him. I heard him let out an amused squeal as my hands caught him by his sides as he tried to turn and run. The force of our collision knocked us both off our feet and we crashed onto the frozen ground snow flying up then falling back on us, every inch of my exposed skin feeling the cold pinpricks until the snow melted away.

“I knew it,” he breathed underneath me. “You suck.”

“Well I caught you,” I said smiling and pulling myself half off of him to hover above him.

“You cheated, asshole,” he said, shaking his head.

“It got the job done,” I countered, feeling his breath against my cheek. “I’ll take this win, you should have laid some rules out.”

“Everyone believes in truces, it is what separates us from the animals,” he added laughing.

“I won, just say it,” I countered smiling. “Now what do I get?”

“You don’t get anything for that,” he argued trying not to laugh, but when I looked down, I saw that his teeth had begun to chatter. Being more in the snow than me, I rolled completely off him and stood pulling him up with me.

Alright, if you want to be sore about it,” I said still holding us both into place in the mess of snow. So much for it looking untouched and peaceful. I could imagine if anyone stumbled on this in the morning before more snow fell or it melted that something strange had happened overnight, I doubt they would suspect two dumbasses chasing one another in half a foot of snow in the middle of the night would ever cross their mind.

“Fine,” he said and what I thought would be another round of kissing turned out to be him feeling around in his pockets for something. Seemingly annoyed with his oversized mittens he pulled one off and reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a small box. It wasn’t wrapped and it was too dark for me to see what color it was. Glancing up I saw that the moon had drifted slightly behind the treeline. It was smooth to the touch, not the velvety feeling of jewelry boxes. When I opened it though I felt the strand of what felt like small rocks in a line. In the darkness I couldn’t see what it was and when I glanced up at Luke, he had taken out his phone and was fumbling with it. When he finally located the flashlight, he held it up. Blinking against the sudden brightness I glanced back down to see a black puka necklace with a sharp angled letter J in the middle of it that looked like it was carved from a stone.

“Woah,” I said as I took it out of the box.

“For some reason puka shell necklaces remind me of swimmers,” he said, still holding the flashlight slightly in my face. I couldn’t see his expression, but I could sense some apprehension in his voice. “The J is carved obsidian.”

“And all I got you was fucking lame ass socks,” I groaned holding out the necklace for him, he traded me his phone to hold. “Can you put it on me?”

“Yeah,” he said, trying not to laugh as I took the phone from him so he could see how to fasten the necklace. I turned my back to him and when I felt him release the necklace I turned back around handing him back his phone. He quickly turned the flashlight off and shoved it back into his pants pocket.

“I mean really who the hell buys socks aside from soccer moms,” I said, feeling the cold stones against my neck.

“Shut up,” he said, sighing. “I guess we need to get back, I’ve been gone too long to just be walking.”

“Come back to my house,” I said, not wanting this night to end.

“You know I can’t,” he countered smiling.

“Just fuck it and come on,” I pushed feeling something wash over me that I couldn’t explain as I hadn’t felt anything like it before. It was in the back of my throat threatening to catch my breath. I felt pulled towards him and firmly planted in one spot, in front of him, not wanting to be anywhere else. Every muscle in my body was tense and I felt like I was about to run headfirst off a cliff. I was scrambling with something to say, anything that would push all of this energy forward as I looked at him and him, me.

“Don’t, you know I want to,” he said, his voice barely a whisper.

“Fine,” I said, frowning as I watched him slide his mittens back over his hands then he held one out for me to take. Grabbing his hand, he led me towards the treeline. We didn’t hesitate before plunging back into the darkness of the dead forest. We followed our footprints back to our usual spot between both our houses barely hidden by shadows and trees.

Still feeling what I felt back at the open field, I let him kiss me and say his quick goodbye. I watched him disappear from me before I walked out of the forest on my side. Walking back through the snow to the front porch I opened the door and closed it behind me. Mom was still awake, as I knew she would be. The warmth of the house hit me as soon as I closed the door behind me. I quietly pulled off my boots and my coats. I hung them to dry on the coat rack beside the door and tried my best to ignore Mom, not wanting to talk. I was afraid of what my voice would sound like if I did.

“Where did you go?” She asked her reading glasses in her hands having just taken them off to look at me.

“With Luke,” I answered then grimaced knowing she already knew that. “I mean a walk with Luke.”

“Oh,” she said, trying not to laugh.

“Goodnight Mom,” I said as I passed by her still seated on the couch looking over papers. I watched out of the corner of my eye as she watched my slow walk to the bottom of the stairs. I was two up before I heard her telling me goodnight and when I got to my room, I closed the door behind me. I quickly slid my pants off, I realized they were uncomfortably wet. Then I slid off my shirt, feeling the necklace fall against my chest I glanced down at it before I pulled the covers down and slid into bed not glancing at my phone or at my digital clock. After sliding into bed and pulling the covers up over me, I turned my nightstand lamp off and laid back against my pillows absentmindedly fiddling with the necklace staring towards the ceiling as my mind raced over and replayed everything that happened tonight still struggling until one realization, one that was there all night, maybe had been back there for a while if I had stopped to think, finally decided to climb to the forefront of my mind.

“I fucking love him,” I whispered suddenly, and this foreign feeling I felt back in the snowy moonlit field seemed to fall into place.

Copyright © 2017 Krista; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

Such beauty in the way you let Jaxson and  Luke play in the moonlit snow. They’re lovely to read about. Luke’s gift made me smile, even more than the “practice child” comment. Thanks for a wonderful chapter. 

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