Just Another Day in Paradise

The name of this story is based on the song of the same title by Phil Vassar. Thanks for reading Spoby-ites!


6:30 A.M. -

Is it me or did my alarm clock go off way, way too early this morning? I think the late evenings with Toby are finally starting to catch up to me. I smile though, because I know I wouldn't trade Toby's nightly visits for anything.

I roll over in bed and slap my hand down on the flaming red button, silencing the alarm's obnoxious peal. I pull myself to a sitting position and rub a hand down my face. The early morning sunlight streaming in through the slats in the blinds burns my tired eyes a bit. Am I turning into a vampire or something? Oh who am I kidding? This isn't The Vampire Diaries. For the record, I only know about that silly show because it's one of Hanna's favorites. She goes on and on about it and how "damn hot" Ian Somerhalder (wait, who?) is. I try to listen to her when she chatters about the series but my patience only runs so deep.

With a sigh, I reluctantly shove back the covers and climb out of bed. I have about a million and one things to do today so I'd better get a move on.

I hurry down the hall to the bathroom. After shutting the door, I slip off my blue nightie and pull back the shower curtain. Rachel Platten is crooning "Fight Song" on the shower radio as I wash my hair and everything else too.

Once I am back in my room, I finish toweling dry and move over to the settee where I had carefully laid out my clothes the night before. Today I am wearing a peasant blouse, black leggings and riding boots. The clothes have been thoroughly ironed of course.

I look at the dreaded alarm clock again as I pull a comb through my damp hair. It's almost seven-fifteen. I grab for my binder and stack of AP books just as my cell phone rings to the tune of Taylor Swift's "Our Song". It's so pedestrian and girly having a country number as Toby's ringtone but yet it makes me smile. Toby makes me smile.

I put the phone to my ear. "Hey, handsome," I greet him, unable to keep the excitement at hearing from him out of my voice. We just saw each other a few hours ago and already I miss him. That's pathetic right?

I don't even care. I'm in love.

"Hey, beautiful," Toby replies. His husky voice sends shivers down my spine just like it always does. "You off to school?"

"You know I am," I reply. "Are you heading off to work in that sexy uniform of yours?"

"Oh I get it. It's the uniform that's sexy. I am just chopped liver."

I giggle. "I would tell you exactly how gorgeous you are but I don't want it to go to your pretty head."

Toby chuckles. It's a rich, throaty sound in my ear. "Likewise."

"What are you plans for this afternoon?"

"I have another seminar to attend – this one is on how to act in the event of a hostage crisis."

"Grrr. I can't stand the thought of you being in the line of fire like that. If you got hurt – or worse…"

"Relax, Spence. I'm going to be just fine." Spence. Whenever he calls me that I instantly feel like everything is actually going to be alright. The nickname has this weird, soothing effect on me.

"Just be careful."

"I will be. You be careful too. With 'A' always watching –"

"'A' lost their power over me. I'm not afraid of her anymore."

"Why is that?"

"Because my boyfriend carries a really big stick," I joke and then I blush a bit.

Toby laughs. "God, Spencer, that was corny and sort of kinky too."

"Well that's me – Corny and Sort of Kinky Spencer Hastings."

"Well you're my Corny and Sort of Kinky Spencer Hastings."

"I wouldn't have it any other way."

"Me either."

My mom pokes her head in the room. "Spencer, it's getting late," she says, tapping her watch. "Tell Toby you'll call him later."

I sigh and nod. "Alright." She disappears out the door. "So see you tonight?"

"If I don't see you first," Toby replies. "Bye, Spence."

"Bye, Toby. Love you."

"Love you too, babe. Have a great day."

"I will," I promise. After all, any day is a great day now that Toby Cavanaugh is in the picture. We are beyond cheesy and sappy and so deeply in love that it makes all of our friends want to retch…

And we wouldn't have it any other way.


7:30 A.M.

I arrive at school, immediately spotting Andrew standing at the front entrance, obviously waiting for me. As always.

"Hey, Andrew," I say. "What's up?" But seriously, what's with the constipated look on his face? The one that never goes away? He's a pretty decent guy but he's also my biggest competitor here at Rosewood High and he never lets me forget it.

"Rumor has it that we are going to have a pop quiz in Renaldi's class today," Andrew says as we fall into step.

"Okay," I say with a shrug.

"Wait, what's with the casual attitude? Renaldi's tests are notoriously difficult." He eyes me critically. "Did you study last night? Did you know we were having a pop quiz?" He sounds so suspicious that it's almost kind of funny.

I don't laugh though because that would be rude.

"Yes, I studied last night but then I always do. No, I didn't know there was going to be a quiz though. The question is, did you study?"

"Yes," Andrew says quickly. "Studying the Renaissance era – well, not to brag, but it's sort of my thing. I am quite sure I will ace this quiz."

Not to brag, I mock him in my head. He loves to brag. "I don't know Andrew, I am pretty well-versed in that time period too. I am sure I will be getting a hundred percent, which will help bump my A-plus in the class up to an A-plus-plus."

Andrew's eyes get very wide. He sneers. "May the best man win."

"Or woman!" I say with a quiet laugh as he rushes off, no doubt to pour over his notes and flashcards. He is intent on besting me and admittedly, I try to do the same to him. We're sort of friends but sometimes we both get really competitive with each other. Competition has always been my downfall.

The first bell rings as I move over to Hanna, Aria and Emily. Aria has a dreamy look on her face and is sort of sagging against the lockers with one hand pressed behind her as if it's the only thing holding her up. "Okay what's with the –" I gesture to Aria –"look of uh, contentment on your face?"

Before Aria can answer, Hanna butts in. "You mean her 'O' face?" She says. "Aria slept with Ezra - again."

"Aria!" I screech. "What are you thinking?"

Aria shakes her head. "It's … well, we reconciled."

"What is this now – reconciliation number 909? But seriously, did you forget that he stalked us with cameras and followed our every move just so he could write a trashy book?"

"I haven't forgotten," Aria said. "It just … it felt right."

I roll my eyes. "It always does."

"Hey now, Spencer. Hanna's knocking boots with Travis; Emily's doing the same with her new boss Talia-"

"She's not my boss," Emily interjects.

Aria sighs and presses on. "And we all know you and Toby have the most active sex life like, ever. I mean you don't really talk about it but we know. Maybe I want to be with someone too."

I should scold her for that but it's true that Toby and I do have a super-active sex life. I don't exactly want it broadcast around the whole school though. I give her what I hope is a commanding look. "Time to take another emotional selfie, Aria. You're back sliding."

"It sounds more like Ezra was sliding into her," Hanna says with a smirk. I glare at her as the second bell rings. My friends seriously exhaust me, as much as I love them.

"I need to get to class. I'll see you three at lunch." I look at Aria sternly. "This talk isn't over."

I shake my head at my friends and hurry off to first period, AP Chem.


Noon

The first four classes of the day pass by rather uneventfully. I ace Renaldi's pop quiz; only clash with Andrew twice and only receive one mocking text from our "dear" friend A. All in all, it's been a good day. Actually, I have a lot of good days now that Alison's locked up in a cell where she belongs.

I walk out to the quad and slide into a seat beside Aria. She is busily texting – or should I say, sexting – Ezra. I roll my eyes. She is incredibly hopeless. I start to lecture her but she just makes an excuse to go to the vending machines instead. "I'm craving potato chips. I think I'm PMSing," she says, scurrying away.

Emily slides onto the bench next to me. We chat a bit about this and that and then our eyes go wide when we see Hanna. She has backed her new boy toy Travis Hobbs up against a window and they are devouring each other whole.

"Did she just swallow his tongue?" Emily asked, making a face.

"If she did, he's not getting it back," I say in return. A teacher passes by and immediately chases Hanna and Travis to the guidance office where they are sure to receive a lecture about not engaging in PDA on school grounds. I do happen to notice residual steam on the windows they were pressed up against. While I think Hanna should reign in her ardor a bit, at least it appears that she's happy again.

I turn back to Emily. She is smiling. "Can you take a picture of me, Spence?"

"What – why?"

Emily blushes. "Just take it, okay?"

"Oh I get it," I say. "You and Talia are in that stage."

"What stage?"

"The 'I want to know what you're doing every second of the day because I can't live without you' stage."

Emily shakes her head. "Oh like you and Toby haven't been there. Or actually, still are there." She points ahead. "There's your other half now."

I brighten up immediately but try to play it cool as I turn around, straddling the bench. Toby walks over to me, looking sinfully delicious in his uniform. I want to rip it off him right there, I seriously do. I guess I better stop condemning Hanna for ravishing Travis all the time when I want to do just the same to Toby.

"Hey, Spencer; hey, Emily," he greets us. He leans down and gives me a chaste kiss on the lips that still manages to make me tingle all over.

Emily waves. "Hey, Toby, what's up?"

"Not much. My seminar got out early so I thought I'd swing by and see if you girls would like to eat lunch with me."

I look at Emily, hoping she will say no to the invite. Fortunately, she does. She must know I want Toby all to myself. She shrugs. "Nah. I'm going to take some selfies around school, I think. Bye, guys." She strides away.

"Selfies?" Toby echoes, pulling me into a tight hug.

"Yeah, you know those photograph thingies people take of themselves with a camera."

"Ha ha, Miss Smart-Ass. I mean why is she taking them?"

"Well, Emily and her new girlfriend are in that cutesy stage where they send pictures and texts back and forth constantly. 'Oh look, here I am sitting on a tree stump… Here I am buying a cup of lemonade from the cafeteria lady with the big hairy mole…'"

"We used to do that," Toby says. "A lot. Oh no!"

"What?"

"We don't do it as often anymore… So does that mean that the romance between us has died?"

"No, it just means that we've grown up. That we're more secure and comfortable with each other. The romance between us is far from dead."

"Good because I was a bit worried there for a moment," he teases. He leans down and captures my face in his hands. We begin to kiss. His teeth nibble my bottom lip. I know that we should put on the brakes on right now but it's so hard when I'm so in love with this guy.

We only come up for air when I spot the same teacher who busted Hanna and Travis charging our way. "Come on," I say and grab his hand, yanking him down the path.

"What are you doing?" He asks with a laugh.

"Hiding out," I say. "That teacher thinks she's the chastity enforcer at Rosewood High or something."

We laugh when we successfully dodge the old woman by venturing behind the school building. A long alleyway stretches out before us and fortunately none of the usual stoners are squatting there today.

I pull Toby to me and slide my arms around his shoulders. "Now were we?" I ask with a smile. I kiss his neck.

"Yeah, yeah I think we were about right … Oohhh … there… Oh yeah…"


1:00 P.M. -

The school bell rings all too soon, cutting our intense make out session short. My lips are bruised and puffy and I smear Burt's Bees generously on them as Toby walks me to my fifth period class. I am spent really and sad to realize that I still have three classes left to attend today. Then there's lacrosse practice. I won't see Toby again for hours and it kind of makes me sad so I grip his hand a little tightly.

"We'll see each other soon," he says, as if he reading my mind. "Don't fret, my pet."

I laugh in spite of myself. "Did you seriously just say 'don't fret, my pet'?"

"I think I did." He winks at me. "Anyway, I should let you go."

"No, you shouldn't. Let's play hooky instead."

"As much as I would love that, I can't. The cap will kill me if I skip out on patrol duty. Besides, you love school."

"It's alright," I say grudgingly. The truth is that I love Toby so much more than school. Hell, I love him more than anyone and anything. All I want to do is spend time with him, locked in his strong arms, being peppered with his hot kisses, but I have to get through this long day first. I know that. We both know that.

He kisses my cheek. "I'll be around at the regular time. I'll be the one throwing pebbles at your window," he says with another wink. "Bye, babe." He waves to me and then zips off as I head into the class and slip into my chair at the front of the room, trying to be attentive when my thoughts are planted firmly elsewhere.

Sometimes I wish I wasn't such a stickler for order and pretense. If I wasn't, I would run out of there right now.


3:30 P.M.

The last bell of the day rings and I slide out of my seat after picking up the homework assignment sheet. I study it as I walk out of class. I have to read eight chapters and write a two-thousand word essay on the principal of supply and demand as well. I hate econ. I really do. Not to mention that all of this homework is going to seriously cut into my time with Toby.

Once again, I think of running screaming from the building but instead head to the locker room to change. It's lacrosse time. Can you just tell how giddy I am right now?

Not.


5 P.M.

Coach makes us run a mile and a half as punishment for our uninspired plays today. I am simply exhausted and smelly and sweaty as I slink back to the locker room.

I have no sooner stepped out of the community shower when Carla McGraw, the assistant editor of our school paper, comes charging over to me. I tighten my green towel around me.

"Spencer!" she gasps. "Oh god. Something went wrong with the print order. Our issue is supposed to come out tomorrow and we only got fifty issues instead of the five hundred we ordered!" Did I mention that Carla is extremely excitable?

"Slow down and take a breath, Carla," I say. She's making me dizzy. "How can I help?"

"Come to the office and help us figure out what to do!" Carla cried.

I sigh and look at the clock on the wall. "Okay," I agree.


5:45 P.M.

Fortunately the great printing crisis of 2015 was averted. I went to the newspaper office, immediately got onto the phone with the local printers and gave them a firm talking to in my most stern and authoritative voice. Aria calls it my "Principal Voice". By the time I was done reading them the riot act, they had promised they would have the remaining 450 issues delivered into Carla's hot little hands within the next two hours.

Finally I get to head home. Home. Wait, what is that again?

I am almost to my car when my cell phone rings. There is no ringtone with this call so at first I think "A" is up to her old tricks but fortunately, no, it's my mom.

"Hey, Mom, what's up?" I ask.

"Hey, Spencer," Mom replies. "I just got off of work and you know, I really don't feel like cooking tonight so what do you say we head over to The Grille and have a nice meal together?"

"I say-" What do I say? I am super tired, have piles of homework yet to do, and need to get a little dressed up for when Toby comes a calling tonight. He actually doesn't expect me to get all gussied up for him, but I like to do it anyway. After all, Hanna has drilled it into my head that no boy should ever see his girlfriend without makeup and nice clothes and freshly brushed teeth and all of that…

But in the end I reply, "Sure." She's my mom after all, and I love her. Plus, she's really taking this separation from my dad pretty hard. We all are actually. As much as I want them back together, I am not sure it will happen so for now, it's my job to play dutiful daughter.

"Meet you in twenty?"

"Works for me," I say. We disconnect and I stifle a yawn as I walk the rest of the way to the car. Very slowly, mind you.


7:30 P.M.

Mom and I spend a good amount of time eating and talking at the Grille. Talking, of course, about anything and everything but my father. I tell myself that's okay; that it's the new normal.

Mom picks up the check and then we walk outside. She tells me she'll see me back at the house. I agree, thank her for dinner with a fierce hug and head to my car.


8:00 P.M.

When I get home, I immediately sequester myself in my room after telling my mom goodnight. Toby will be there in about an hour and a half, and I am running way behind. The hair and makeup production will have to wait. Hanna will just have to understand.

I grab my Macbook off my desk and sink down onto my bed. The warm covers beneath me invite me to sleep but I resist. I need to do my homework. I must do my homework.

I crack open my gargantuan econ text book and begin to read.


10:05 P.M.

I wake up in a darkened room. At first I am not totally sure where I am. Then I blink and realize it's my own room. My limbs feel heavy; my eyes are watery, and I'm still so drained.

I blink furiously and spot a familiar back. Toby is peck-pecking away at the keys on my laptop. "Toby?" I ask. "What's going on?"

"Hey," he says, turning around to face me. "How do you feel?"

"Tired, but otherwise alright." I shift on the bed a bit and notice an afghan has been carefully placed over me. I instinctively burrow into it its warmth. "What are you doing?"

"Well-"

"Toby, what are you doing?"

"When I came in here an hour ago, you were passed out on the bed."

"Oh no. Was I drooling?"

"Yes, but it was sort of cute," he says with a chuckle.

"Oh god," I say. "What time is it anyway?" I crane my neck to look at the dumb alarm clock. "Ohmigod. It's almost half past ten and I haven't typed up my notes for my essay! It's due tomorrow."

I start to move off the bed but he holds up a hand to stop me. "It's okay, Spencer. That's what I'm doing."

"You mean you're typing my essay?"

"Yeah, all the information is here in your notes. Your writing is fairly legible too so I just thought I'd help out."

"Oh god, Toby, you are so sweet."

He blushes a bit and it's adorable. "You seriously don't have to do that though."

"I seriously want to do it."

"You're amazing."

"Thanks. You are too."

"Oh please."

"It's true… Anyway, I can tell you had a long day."

"The longest."

"Okay, so why don't you close your eyes and get some well-deserved rest?"

"I already slept," I protest weakly. "I really need –"

"To sleep," he reiterates. "Everything else can wait."

"I feel so lame though. You came over here to be with me and instead I'm off in la-land so you're forced to type up my essay for me."

"Stop beating yourself up, okay? I want to help. You do so much for so many people. Just let me do this one thing for you."

I know it's useless to fight Toby when he sets his mind to something. After all, he's even more stubborn than I am. "Fine," I say with a sigh. "But I owe you – big-time."

Toby just smiles. He stands up and moves over to me. He leans down and knocks a soft kiss to my forehead and then one to my lips. He rests his mouth against my ear. "Goodnight, Spence."

I smile up at him and then yank the covers up to my chin. "Goodnight, Toby."

As much as I hate the idea of him slaving away over my essay, I can't fight the exhaustion any longer. My eyelids flutter shut. Tomorrow I'll make it up to him and then some. For now, I will sleep and get ready to face another day.

THE END.