Thanks for reading, everyone! I appreciate all your great comments and enthusiasm while reading my story. Not sure when the new one will be posted, but I'll try to make it soon.

Chapter 20

I can't sleep. I feel like too much of an idiot after what happened to get any rest. As I lay in bed, eyes wide open and sleep miles away, I hear rustling coming from Bianca's room. She's probably putting tomorrow's outfit together. I throw the blankets off of my body and slide out of bed. I knock hesitantly on Bianca's bedroom door, because I'm not sure why I'm even there.

"Yeah?" she asks, the long day wearing on her voice. I open the door a little bit and peek in. Dressed in one of her many pairs of flannel pajamas, she is standing in front of her full length mirror running a brush carefully through her hair. I open the door all the way and quietly saunter over to her bed. She looks at me in the mirror.

"What's wrong? You look grumpier than usual," she says. I take a deep breath and forget to let it out, "Why are you back so soon? Didn't you leave with Patrick like a half hour ago?"

"I told him I loved him." I finally let that breath out. Bianca stops brushing her hair and turns to me with the stare of a future People Magazine journalist who just got her big scoop of the week.

"And?" she demands.

I shrug. "And what?"

"And did he say it back?" she questions eagerly. I avert my gaze downward, "He didn't?"

"Well….he might have if I hadn't cut him off before he even had a chance," I reply regretfully, "I apologized immediately after saying it."

"Did you mean what you said?"

"Bianca," I say, disappointed in how little she knows about me after all these years, "of course I meant it."

"Then why'd you apologize?"

"Because I shouldn't have said it. We've only known each other for four months and-"

"But it's the way you feel," she says, "so why apologize for the way you feel? Why try to hide the way you feel and pretend you don't care?"

I don't have a response to those questions. Seeing that she has helped me as much as she can, she sits sets her hairbrush down on her nightstand and pulls the blankets on her bed down until I get in her way. Catching the hint, I return to my own bedroom.

The wait seems shorter tonight, probably because the oversized jacket that hangs on my body is doing its job and keeping me warm. I watch as Patrick nonchalantly parks his bike by the curb and starts walking across our lawn to where I stand. As he nears me and sees that I am wearing the jacket that he let me keep, he smiles and nods approvingly.

"It adds something," he comments. I smile, looking down at my new ensemble and shrugging humbly, "So what was so important that you requested this meeting? Two nights in a row isn't our usual-"

"Look," I interrupt, unable to stand here and act like I just called him over for a make-out session, "Last night, I got caught up in everything and told you I loved you and I felt stupid so I lied and said I was sorry…but I'm not."

"Hmm." He nods, encouraging me to continue.

"I unapologize. I meant what I said," I say, confident and glad to be back to that person who doesn't give a damn what anyone else thinks. I'd lost it for so long in his presence. "I love you, okay? You litter. You need a haircut and have for months. Your motorcycle alone is probably responsible for half the town pollution, but I still love you."

I don't know how to describe the expression that he is wearing. At first it looks apprehensive, and then confused, and finally it settles on something resembling delight. He moves closer and I think he is going to kiss me, but he doesn't; he just studies me for a moment.

"You yell at me for littering. You make fun of my hair, which I don't plan on cutting until it poses a threat to my driving abilities, and I offend you with nearly every statement I make, but I still love you." And then he kisses me and all the anxiety that I felt about this conversation seems silly now that I have seen just how simple it all really was.