Thanks to whoever is continuing with me! There aren't a lot of reviews but this is fun to write and I have to remember it isn't the good 'ol days of IEWIS so I'm coping, haha.
Chapter 4 - Some Nights
"Booooo," Jess chants from the bowl chair. "Double booooooooo."
I pout and nod my head to agree with her disapproval.
I am on the Love Sac, smushed next to the bowl chair as I lean my head into her lap. I look down at the computer I'm holding and tap my finger against the side in frustration. There, filling up my Mac Book's screen is a picture of Mike and Lauren at a country music concert. I haven't even read the caption to see what band they were seeing because I don't really care even though I also really care all at the same time.
When I look at it I basically just see a few key things. Both of their smiling faces. Her beautiful blonde hair. His stupid happy expression all over his stupid attractive face. And of course the arm he has wrapped around her much shorter frame.
"Whatever," I say as I click to the side of the screen, forcing Facebook to shrink it back to thumb nail size. "I knew something like this was coming because they were ridiculously obvious on the camping trip."
Jess pats my head and doesn't say anything because there's not really anything to be said that will help me. And it's true, I knew something like this was inevitable.
"I mean, when we were loading up the cars he was giving her piggy back rides all over the camp site," I say with a roll of my eyes. "Like she couldn't walk from table to table on her own legs to collect trash."
Jess sort of laughs at my despair because I'm shifting into dramatics. To distract myself from going into full blown woe-is-me mode, I click through the rest of the pictures Mike recently posted.
It's the Thursday after the camping trip and since Jake's video camera broke the only Lost documentation we have is from Mike and Alice's still photos.
"That one is really good," Jess says as she points over my shoulder to a particular photo.
I smile to myself and click on the photo she's pointing at to enlarge it. It is our only official "Lost Photo" where we are all posed as our characters on the cliffs of the beach. It's pretty funny to all of us because everyone dressed fairly close to their characters and Mike has captioned it "Promo Photo for Lost, Season 7". Edward has already left a comment about the various plot lines the photo indicates and it's started a long list of funny observations from everyone.
"Edward's funny," Jess observes. "I haven't been on Facebook a lot lately but he comments a lot and it's always witty."
"Yeah, he's got a clever side to him, for sure," I agree as I nod with her and close Facebook. "He's going to start working on projects with Jake and I. Writing scripts and stuff."
I push my laptop from my lap and lean against her legs again, wanting to bring up the next subject but also not wanting to.
"So… how is the grand semester abroad shaping up?" I ask as I look up at her.
She pats my head again and says, "It's going very well. There's a new development. But you're not going to like it."
I sigh and laugh a little and wave my hand in the air in a "go ahead" motion.
"I'm officially going to New Zealand," she states with a little cheer and a large smile.
I sit up to high five her and give a little cheer myself. I'm genuinely happy at this news because that's where she really wanted to go and for a while it looked like all of the slots for New Zealand were full.
"That's amazing, Jess. I don't like any of this, really, but if it must happen then you better be going somewhere you really want to. But I thought it was full? Did they open up more spots on the trip?"
"It was full and they closed it but someone dropped out last week so they contacted me. I still don't have all the money that's needed but my mom said that she would put up more on the front end if I worked while I was there and then paid her back. So not only am I a world traveler to be, I'm also a nanny now!"
She shrugs a little bit and I laugh because Jess has never really been around kids but apparently she's landed a job in a foreign country doing just that.
"When do you leave?" I have to ask, because now that she knows where she's going I guess it feels more like it's actually happening.
"Um, beginning of September. I know, I'm going to miss your birthday." She frowns and I wave my hand at her again, this time with a "stop it" motion.
"I'm just going to stop celebrating after you leave anyway," I joke. "There won't be any point in trying to get anyone else even close to your depth of understanding of the importance of my birthday."
We both laugh and she heaves a big sigh. I'm relieved we're talking about her trip and that my heart hasn't dropped to my feet. Not yet, at least.
"I'll just leave Mike with some very specific instructions on how to make your birthday the celebration you deserve, don't worry," she says with a wink.
I kind of laugh at that and then give her a sad smile. "Don't worry about that, he's probably only going to be concerned about Lauren's birthday from now on."
"Yeah, well, regardless of who Mike is being stupid with, I'll leave someone with instructions on your proper birthday proceedings. Perhaps Jake. You spend a lot of time with him. Just make him the new me."
I roll my eyes and push her legs a little bit as she laughs. "Um, no. Jake is no you. Jake is just… Jake." I have no other words for him because he's just a big, silly guy and truly one of a kind. Don't get me wrong, he's cute. Any other girl would be lucky to have him but he's like my brother at this point. We've already had the "just friends" talk anyway, since we spend so much time together editing videos every now and then. As Jake said, "It had to be done"
"How much do you think he'd love hearing about my Mike sorrows?"I ask with a small laugh at the thought.
It really is absurd to think of me sharing my boy troubles with Jake. He's so straight forward and silly at the same time, I'm sure my advice from him would be a long the lines of, "Bella, this is gross. Just jump him or move on".
"I'm sure he's got mounds of boy advice just bubbling under the surface," Jess jokes as she wiggles her fingers over her chest. "You might have a whole bundle of untapped wisdom there."
"I could hijack our first video meeting with Edward and turn it into a 'Solve Bella's Unrequited Love' meeting instead," I say with a little laugh as I imagine Edward's eyes going into deer-in-headlight mode if I were to do that. Jake could probably handle it but Edward would probably hate being involved in the dramatics of my heart.
"Welcome to the video team, Eddie, I'm a wreck!"
We have a good laugh over that and I just shake my head at the thought, certain that I will never share boy troubles with the likes of Jake or Edward, ever.
A few hours later I am driving from the college group at church to Mike's house and my mood is quite good. Outside of our Tuesday night hang outs it's become customary for the group to head to Mike's house after the group ends. We normally watch the latest episode of the Office and hang out for far too long into the night.
When I arrive at the house Edward is also just getting there and I wait for him outside of my car while he gets out of his truck.
"Did we beat Mike here?" he asks as he walks over to me.
"I think so. I think we beat everyone here," I observe as I notice none of our other friends' cars are on the street in front of Mike's house.
"You drive too fast, Swan. It's not safe," he accuses with a dramatic wag of his finger at me.
"I'm sorry, but you got here like a second after me so…"
"So nothing, I'm a great driver. I can handle it."
I scoff at him and shake my head.
"I've seen you whip around in that thing," I point to his truck and he looks offended I called it a thing. "There's no way you are the shining example of responsible driving."
I fold my arms and look at him straight in the eye but his only retort is to shrug and say, "It's a shame you feel that way. I was going to be a good friend and offer to carpool to church from now on. But forget that now."
"You were not going to offer that," I chide with a laugh.
"No, I really was," he says with more seriousness. He looks at the ground quickly and then back up at me. "I just thought it would be better for both of us since we both come from the same direction." He runs a hand through his awesome hair and I probably look at it for a second too long, but I don't think he notices. "I was going to text you earlier today but I got caught up at work and forgot. By then it was too late to pick you up and make it to the group on time."
It's cute that he's thought of this and I smile at him in thanks. But before I can actually say anything the sweet, friendly Edward is gone and he smirks at me.
"But if you refuse to get into my alleged super dangerous vehicle then forget it. Because I am not riding around in that. It's the truck for carpooling or nothing."
He points behind me to my VW Beetle like it's the worst thing he's ever seen and I fake offense. Yeah, it's a girly-ish car but mine is white with a black top. It's not like it's bright pink or anything.
"There is nothing wrong with my car, Edward."
"No. Not if you have boobs."
His statement takes me by surprise and I lose all of my fight, instead just falling into laughter. I kick him lightly in the chin and he leans against the car next to me. As he pulls out his iPod he says, "You'll cross over eventually. I'll get you in that truck, yet."
I roll my eyes and look at him to make sure he sees that I've rolled my eyes. By this time he's got the iPod on and he's scrolling through a playlist full of music I recognize. Music I love.
"Admiring my collection?" he says with a smile, catching me watch the names scroll by on the screen.
"Yes, actually," I say somewhat defiantly as I look up at him, proving I don't mind that he caught me ogling his music choices. "You've got good taste, it seems."
"Damn straight," he confirms with a cocky smile.
I pull out my phone for something to do with my hands and see that Alice texted me to let me know everyone else is on their way. A few of them had to stop for gas on the way over and that's turned into Jasper buying snacks for everyone. I nudge Edward and show him the text on my phone so he's in the loop. He nods and goes back to his scrolling.
"You really like all these bands?" Edward asks after I finish texting Alice back.
"Damn straight," I confirm as I put my phone back in my pocket, making him chuckle. "I have my father to thank for that. He brought me up on good movies and good music."
"Ah, that's how you know about Star Wars," he says with realization.
"Yep. And the Stones."
He hums his approval and puts the iPod back in his case and then into his pocket. He folds his arms and sighs as he looks at me.
"I made that playlist for Tanya because she doesn't know about any of that."
"It's not really a surprise at this point," I say as I lean my head back on the car and look up at him. "She doesn't know what a lot of quality entertainment is."
"Bella, she actually asked me to lend her any Led Zeppelin music I had because, and I quote, she 'heard that his music is good'."
I laugh one sharp, loud "ha!" and shake my head. "That's hilarious. Did you correct her or does she still think that Led is one guy?"
"Oh, I corrected her. I couldn't not even though it may have been more entertaining to let her continue assuming Led Zeppelin is a guy and not the name of the full band. We were walking on the beach after eating lunch the other day when she brought it up and I started grilling her about all classic rock music then and there. Hence the reason for the entire playlist - she knows nothing. I cannot have one of my friends unaware of the power of The Who. I just can't allow it."
At that moment Mike pulls into the drive way right next to my car. I continue laughing to myself and I think that Edward may be using the word "friend" sort of lightly when it comes to Tanya. The last time a boy made a playlist for me he was a silly rebound from Anthony, who I genuinely liked, but who was not making me a special playlist just to make our friendship stronger.
We enter the house and the normal Thursday routine ensues. Emmett laughs ridiculously loud at The Office and multiple references are made to Mr. Zeppelin. Jess has to leave before everyone else because she has an early shift at the museum the next morning but other than that everyone hangs out sort of absurdly late.
These nights tend to blend together but there are a few things that stand out to me on this night. The first one is how obvious it is that Tanya likes Edward. After our discussion about the play list I'm just naturally paying more attention to their interactions all night. From what I've observed, I'm not sure he is reciprocating one hundred percent at this point. But he did mention that lunch-slash-beach walk and the playlist does exist so maybe he's just not as obvious about it.
This leads me to think that perhaps I could have a confidant in Tanya regarding my Mike situation. The thought of bonding over unrequited crushes with her isn't a bad one and I selfishly hope Edward doesn't like her so I have the chance at companionship in my despair. She's definitely a better option than Jake.
The second thing that stands out to me is a lovely thing. Lauren isn't anywhere to be found.
No one brings it up all night and it feels nice to not have to watch it unfold right before my eyes. I spend a lot of the night sitting between Mike and Emmett and it's much more normal for me to have as much interaction with Mike as I am. He does silly things that he doesn't do to other people, like balance his phone on my head and steal my bracelets to see if they look good on him, too. I think they do, but I am biased.
Much later that night, possibly even early morning the next day, Alice is sleeping on Mike's couch, as she is known to do. Emmett leaves to take Rose home, Jake leaves to edit a wedding video he filmed a week ago and the Tanya/Edward duo start to listening to the playlist Edward made for her by sharing headphones, one ear bud each.
I find myself on the other side of the room, sitting on the floor with Mike and Jasper. We are completing a puzzle that Jasper brought over last week but it's slow going and I honestly couldn't care less about it.
I have one thing on my mind and I decide to just go for it.
"So… what band did you and Lauren see?" I ask as casually as I can manage, which I think turns out to be pretty dang casually.
"Oh, it wasn't anyone big. It was just a show her dad had tickets to. Her parents couldn't go but they had already bought the tickets so she asked me." He shrugs and it seems like that's that, which is no good because I pretty much just want to know every single thing about if it was a date and if they fell in love and if that's the case then what is up with her absence this evening?
Before I have to decide how to get that information while not seeming like I care too much about her whereabouts, Jasper takes care of it for me.
"Did it not go well?" he asks without looking up from the piece he is so determined to place. Jasper does puzzles on piece at a time, literally. When he picks one up he devotes himself to finding at least one other piece it connects to before moving on to another.
"The concert was great," Mike responds with another shrug.
"But did you talk to her?"
Talk to her? About what? About what?!
"Yeah, I did," Mike sighs. He turns to me and clarifies, "I didn't want to lead her on by going to the concert with her so I decided to talk to her about my intentions and all that on the drive home. I really did like her, but with school and everything I'm not ready to date, you know?"
I do know. I so awesomely know. And I so awesomely love that little rule he's apparently made for himself. And suddenly his school is now my friend and no longer my enemy. It may have taken him away from me on Tuesdays, but it's now seemingly took Lauren away from me forever.
"It makes sense," I agree with my faux casual nature continuing on. "I'm sure she appreciated that you were honest."
"Yeah," Jasper says with a laugh, "Clearly she wasn't into the rest of us. We got dropped really quick after Mike pulled the plug. After we shared Lost camping with her and everything."
He shakes his head and Mike rolls his eyes towards me but also laughs.
"You guys are good friends. Whoever my future wife is will know that. I just haven't met her yet."
Jasper checks out as he finally finds a place for the puzzle piece he's been holding for at least ten minutes so Mike looks at me with a very happy smile and now I'm supposed to respond to that last statement. I try to mirror his joy but I'm not sure how good of a job I'm doing.
It's not like I thought that he was ever considering me as more than a friend but statements like that just suck. Some nights it's easy to speak to him about things like this and some nights it's not.
I just haven't met her yet.
That sentence hangs out in my head and repeats over and over as I exit Mike's house, pretending to be going home because I'm tired. I'm not tired in the normal way, I'm just tired of being in my head with these stupid feelings.
I have to figure out how the hell I'm going to get over Mike because I am completely over feeling like I do as I leave his house. I wave to Edward and Tanya as they both head out to their cars as well.
I don't cry on the drive home or anything like that. Some nights I would, but I just don't have it in me tonight, I guess. I sigh a lot and turn up my music extremely loud and follow Edward's tail lights almost all the way home.
As I turn off of a main road and onto my street, leaving his truck to continue on without me following right behind I realize he's right, we do live decently close to each other. I pull into the driveway and decide to end my night with a happy thought so I pull out my phone and text him.
Two seconds later the return text arrives and when I get into my room I pull out my phone to read his reply.
He just sends me the winky face and for some reason it makes me smile. I can't ever really tell what's going on in my friend Edward's head, but it's almost always something interesting. At least I have confirmation that carpooling with him would involve good music. Maybe I'll revisit our car situation with him next week.
There we go, friends :)
So much more left to go.
Thanks for reading - a review would be fun!