Disclaimer: Anything you recognize, I don't own! Song credit to All Time Low
"Tonight we lie awake,
remember how the coffee made us shake
on those long drives for one more long night."
The first time I met Paul Noels was the best day of my life. I was five years old and my parents had finally decided it was time to bring me and my younger sister back to the place where they had been raised. We had lived in the city for the first five years of my life and away from the freedom of the tight knit community on the rez. That's why I was so excited as I bounded out of my parents dependable Ford Taurus and into my Grams' arms.
At five years old I was pretty sure that my sister and I were the only kids my Grandparents loved, or could love, considering the fact that my Dad had no siblings but after I pulled away from Grams I saw a little boy walk out of the house holding what appeared to be a stuffed dinosaur…a T-Rex to be exact. The same T-Rex I had been begging my parents to get me for weeks but because I was a little girl was not allowed to have. Instead I got the new Barbie that my sister had commandeered. It was in that moment, as I walked over to the little boy shyly, that I realized that this could be the start of a beautiful friendship.
Ten years later, and I knew without a doubt that asking to hold his T-Rex was the best decision of my life. At fifteen years old, not only did I know Paul Noels was my best friend but I had the biggest crush on him. In fact, I would say I was in love with him. Of course he had no idea.
The last time I saw Paul Noels was the last day of our freshman year of high school. The same day my parents were taking my sister and I back into the city to a better high school with a better chance of me making it into college afterward. I was devastated, my sister was mildly upset and Paul was beside himself. Although I wasn't sure why he was as upset as he was; to him I thought we were nothing but good friends. But when he pulled me aside after the last bell rang and carelessly pressed his lips down onto mine I knew that he had felt the same way as I had all this time. So I left him with a smile and his T-Rex that he had let me keep for ten years.
Present Day (Ten years later)
After ten years I was finally back in La Push and just as excited as I was twenty years ago. My face was pressed to the glass as my husband drove through town in the direction of my Grandparent's house. I already knew it wasn't going to be the same. Buck had died and only Grams was left to greet us today but that was the whole reason I had convinced Finn to move here in the first place.
Buck had died a few months ago, leaving my eighty year old Grandmother alone for the first time in about forty years. With my parents gone half way around the world most of the time, I knew it was left to me to care for Grams and I couldn't be happier about it. I had missed her a lot over the past ten years and although I had seen her at least three times a year, it hadn't ever been enough.
"You look like a little kid over there pressed up against the glass, Mar." Finn chuckled.
I looked over at him with a grin, "I feel like a little kid again. Yet again let me say how much I love you for agreeing to move in with Grams."
Finn smiled, "It's not like I have to stay in one location for my job."
That was true. My husband, Finn Donnelly, was a technical writer. Companies e mailed him information about their products and he produced the manuals used to help people figure out their shit. It was how we met actually; his agent was best friends with mine. I also didn't need to live in one specific place; I was a writer too; a fiction writer. I operated under a pen name that only Finn, Grams and my agent knew about. Everyone else, baby sister included, was out of luck.
As we made the short drive through town I happened to glance out the window just in time to see us pass by 'Noel's one stop shop'; the store Paul's Grandparents had owned since the 1950's and had passed down to his Father back in the 80's. I was happy to see it was still open and occupied by a whole group of large local guys.
"Did I ever tell you about the first time I met Paul?" I asked with a nostalgic smile.
"The T-Rex story of your first love?" Finn chuckled.
"Yes, and it really wasn't a first love…we only kissed once and it was a goodbye kiss."
"Does he still live around here?"
"Well, his parent's store is still in business, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything." I shrugged.
I honestly did not know much about Paul anymore. For the first year after the move we had stayed in constant communication that had slowly dwindled down to nothing as the years passed by. Occasionally Grams would have something to say about her favorite boy but lately she hadn't had much to say about him. Maybe he had left.
"I take it this is it if the huge 'Jameson' on the mailbox is any indication." Finn stated as he turned into Buck and Grams' house.
Anyone looking my way would have been blinded by the million watt smile I was sporting, but I was oblivious to everything as I unbuckled my seatbelt and launched myself out of our car and up the porch steps into Grams' arms.
"Marilyn, you look so beautiful." Grams smiled as she pulled away to inspect me.
"I look the same as I did last time you saw me, Grams." I smiled back as I Finn walked up behind me and opened his arms to Grams. She smiled at him before she pulled him into a brief hug followed by an inspection of his person. After declaring that he was handsome she led us inside where a huge bowl of grape salad sat waiting for us at the dining room table.
I turned and grinned at Grams before I dove into the grape salad hungrily, moaning as the sour cream and cream cheese sauce hit my tongue. How I had missed this. There were days when Paul and I would devour the entire bowl together; we always regretted it an hour later when our stomachs hurt but never while it was going down.
"I remember when you and Paul would sit there and eat that whole bowl between the two of you." Grams smiled. "I still haven't forgiven that boy for puking on my favorite chair."
"Is he still around, Grams?" I asked through a mouthful of grapes.
Grams quirked an eyebrow at my un-lady like behavior but answered the question anyway as Finn scooped himself some of the salad, "Of course he is. His parents just gave the store to him. In fact, he comes around almost every day to check on me and make sure everything is running well here."
"Really?" Finn asked curiously.
Grams nodded and I replied, "Paul's Grandparents died when he was a baby and because Buck and Grams were best friends with his Grandparents they took him under their wing and treated him as one of their own."
"Wow." Finn sighed.
"I wish I could have been here to do that for you Grams."
"I'm glad you weren't, Marilyn. Nothing makes me happier than to know you got your college education and have a thriving writing career."
I smiled, "Which is supposed to be a secret."
"I haven't told anyone and I'm not going to. Now, when is the truck with your stuff going to get here? I had Paul help me move all my stuff out of the master bedroom and into the bedroom down the hall."
"Grams you didn't have to do that." I protested feeling my love for my Grandma grow even more if that was even possible.
"Yes, I did. You two are a married couple and deserve a larger room."
"Thanks Grams and the truck is supposed to arrive tomorrow."
"Good, I'll have Paul and some of his friends come over to help you guys move your stuff into the house."
My ears perked up at that; I really wanted to see Paul and hopefully start up a friendship again. Even after making many new friends in high school and college, I knew that Paul was the best friend I was ever going to have and I wanted some of that back. Of course I wasn't stupid enough to think that it would be exactly the same.
"Finn, could you bring in our bags and take them upstairs before it gets dark?" I asked sweetly looking over to where my husband sat shoveling the last of his grape salad into his mouth.
Once he was out of the house, Grams turned to me a grin. "Now what's in store for your next book?"
"I'm not sure yet. I haven't been struck with inspiration lately which is okay since I just put a book out. Actually, right now I'm focusing on something else."
"What's that?" Grams asked curiously.
"Finn and I are trying to have a baby."
I nodded with a smile, "We just started trying a few months ago and so far nothing has happened, but I already knew this was going to take a while. You don't mind do you?"
"Why would I mind?"
"Well, if I do get pregnant and we have a baby there will be a loud demanding baby in the house."
"Sounds wonderful to me." Grams smiled.
"I love you."
"I love you too, Marilyn."
The first night sleeping in what had been Buck and Grams' bed was a little awkward. Finn seemed oblivious to it all as he snored away beside me, his bony arms flung out across the pillows. He didn't like to cuddle when he slept and I usually tended to keep my distance considering that I had been punched in the face from one of his flailing limbs on our wedding night.
I had to get past the awkwardness though, because Finn and I were in the baby making business at the moment and that meant having sex in my Grandparent's bed. I wrinkled up my face at the thought and thanked God that Finn and I were having our own mattress delivered tomorrow.
I sighed heavily, rolled over and tried yet again to fall asleep. After a few minutes of laying there in annoyance I finally got out of bed and walked out of the room, not too concerned if I made too much noise. Finn was the heaviest sleeper I had met in my life. Seriously, he had to set four alarms and have me shake him awake in order to wake him up.
The house was quiet and dark as I made my way downstairs and into the living room where I curled up into Buck's chair. I turned my head into the upholstery and sniffed deeply; it smelled of gasoline and oil just like him, but only barely. My eyes welled up at the memories his smell brought to mind; the rides in his huge van full of tools that smelled of gasoline and oil, with people passing us on the road because he drove slow. I let out a little chuckle as I remembered the day I actually counted how many people passed us on the way to Forks.
I wiped the few tears I had shed away and glanced up at the mantle where Buck and Grams' wedding picture sat in the middle surrounded by my parent's wedding picture and my own. I was still looking as Grams approached and looked up at the pictures as well.
"He was very proud of you, Marilyn." She whispered.
"He told me just a few days before he died that his favorite book of yours was your very first."
"Really? I've always thought that was my worst."
"It is, but that's why he liked it so well, Marilyn. Because you didn't let that stop you from trying again and succeeding. That's what truly made him proud of you, not how many books you sold."
I nodded, unable to say anything otherwise I would start crying again and I didn't want to do that in front of Grams. I didn't want her to see me so sad about it even though I knew she wouldn't mind. I guess I was sick of crying about it because it wasn't going to change anything anyway.
"Thanks Grams. Thank you for letting us move in."
Jamie Jameson sure could be loud when she wanted to. I loved my little sister, but at the moment I wanted nothing more to hang op on her. Was it my problem that our globetrotting parents hadn't paid her grad school bill? No, especially when I had been told I had to pay for grad school by myself if I wanted to attend.
"Jamie you're twenty two years old, you should be able to handle this yourself. How big is the bill anyway? Don't you have enough in your savings to pay?"
Jamie sighed loudly, "That's their job; they told me they wanted to pay for it. Meanwhile they're off gallivanting around the world spending all of their money."
"Maybe you should just pay for it yourself."
"I'd have to get another job and I don't have time for another job, Mar!"
"You are so spoiled, Jamie. Listen; just to shut you up I'll pay the bill this time since your student status is in jeopardy. But next time you have to figure it out on your own. And I'm serious, you should think about doing this yourself."
She sighed again, "Alright. Thanks Mar, I really appreciate it. Tell Finn and Grams I say hi."
And with that she hung up. That right there was the result of my parent's laziness. After raising me the way Buck and Grams considered the 'right' way they had decided it wasn't worth their while the second time around and raised my sister the opposite way I had been raised. While I had been forced to get a job at the age of sixteen, Miss Jamie had gotten her first car bought for her.
I tried not to hold it against Jamie, it wasn't her fault she was a brat. It was my parent's fault; they were lazy and liked to act like they didn't have responsibilities. That was why after Buck died Finn and I had tied up all his loose ends so Grams didn't have to worry about it; a job that my Father should have done considering it was his Father that had died.
"Looks like you just got done talking to Jamie." Finn laughed as he walked into the kitchen where I stood next to the sink, telephone still in my hand.
"We have to pay her tuition bill, my parents forgot and her student status is in jeopardy." I informed him. Finn only nodded and ran a hand through his sandy blonde hair. He didn't say anything even though I knew he wasn't thrilled with the idea of paying Jamie's bill. Another reason why I loved him; he understood my sense of responsibility. Enough that after grabbing a cup of coffee he jumped on the computer and logged into my sister's grad school account to pay the bill.
"Best husband ever."
"I'll remember you said that when you're upset at me later." Finn said over his shoulder.
"Who says I'll be upset at you later?"
"I'm just keeping that one in my arsenal, like a 'get out of jail free' card."
"Hmm I'll have to remember that." I replied. "Oh and Jamie said hi for what it's worth."
"It's worth a lot." Finn sighed pointing to the amount of the bill online.
I ran a hand through my hair, "Sorry Finn, I already told her there is no next time with us."
"Good, if we're going to have a baby we need to keep all the money we can." Finn stated. "Which reminds me that we should christen our mattress here in the house tonight."
I rolled my eyes and walked out of the room leaving my husband to deal with the bill and his bed time notions. I found Grams in the living room working on a crossword puzzle and was just about to join her when there was a knock on the door.
"Paul must be here." Grams stated.
"I'll get it."