So, I'm really sorry to have posted, removed and re-posted Chapter One, but...my scene separations weren't transferring and I hated it. And i forgot to say I don't own the characters, and that LuvJordan helped me with this a long time ago, which i am so grateful for. Then I went and rewrote the whole first scene, which I'm still not thrilled with...but the other ones are as they were. This is pretty much my first fiction ever and I would really appreciate hearing from anyone who enjoys it. And constructive criticism is welcome too.
"So, I just sat there in Jordan's car while we drove away from Brian and didn't say a word. I mean what was there to say? Brian Krackow, the nerdiest guy in the whole world, wrote me the letter that melted my heart when I thought it was from Jordan Catalano. I mean, how surreal is that anyway? And as for the fact that Brian has liked me all this time ...really liked me? I mean how could I have managed not to know that?...this is such a total disaster..."
Jordan looks over at her. "Angela, " he says, and his voice is soft and concerned, "Is somethin wrong?"
She looks up and feels herself coming back to him. When she gives her head a little shake no he takes her hand and holds it as he drives, and she forgets completely about Brian Krackow.
Jordan's face is as soft as his voice, and she can't help noticing that it's been like this since she kissed him in the hall this morning. He seems, like, honestly, happy to be with her. And when he looks over at her again, smiling softly, Angela smiles back, and just rests in the quietness of being with him.
"About the letter," she says gently, after a minute. She needs to hear what he has to say about it.
"Oh shit" he thinks, the letter –" was she talking to Brian about that?" And he's been wanting to tell her, trying..."Look, I've been trying to tell you...you know...all day that, um... I sort of, uh, didn't write it myself.."
She doesn't seem mad, and he steals a look at her, hoping she's really not. She's looking down at her lap. "I know." she says in a whisper.
"I was kind of upset when Ricky told me. For a little while I thought maybe it was some kind of bad joke" Angela says softly.
"And right then I had this like... I got that I didn't have to be mad at all, almost as if, you know, being angry at him was an easy habit, but I didn't need that anymore, I could just be with him instead, in the quiet, because that was more, like, honest" .
Jordan is still holding onto her hand and now he holds it a little tighter. "Angela" he says, sounding kind of anguished "it wasn't a joke. I, like, really wanted to say how much I, um, like, regretted, what I'd done. I like, hated it.
"And Brian wrote it for you?"
"I wanted to tell you myself... I just couldn't figure out, you know, how to say it. I asked Brian to help me..."
"I'm sorry is good" she interrupts him softly. "I'm sorry usually will work.. . but I think I'm starting to understand how it happened." It had more than a little to do with how Brian felt about her, she's pretty sure about that. She wonders if Jordan understands that part of how it really happened. She nestles into his side and he puts his arm around her.
"I didn't know what to do." His voice is husky. "I couldn't stand to have you hate me."
She reaches up and kisses his cheek. "So do you have anything else you need to tell me?"
Jordan doesn't answer for a minute while he pulls the car over next to a neighborhood park and shuts off the engine.
"Well yeah" he sighs finally, and then he turns to look at her carefully "but, um, how much do you want to hear right now?.. cause we're still, you know, having a nice time, I think. "
He really does seem to be taking this all seriously, Angela thinks, and she touches his arm encouragingly.
"Just what you think is important then, I guess" she tells him.
"Okay" he takes a deep breath and rests his head back on the seat, closing his eyes for a minute before he says "The prison thing and the wish thing that I said in the hall, and that, uh, undefendable thing too."
Angela's face turns red "Brian's?" she says. This is all starting to be too much. She tilts her head back to the same angle as Jordan's and tries to focus because this is even weirder than she could have imagined. Brian Krackow had been coaching Jordan on what to say to her? And how had she ever believed that Jordan had come up with those sentences in the first place? I must have been desperate to believe him, she thinks. And even stranger than all that is the fact that Angela thinks she is about to giggle.
"What?.." he opens his eyes and looks puzzled when a strangled sort of giggly sound comes out of her throat "You think it's funny?"
"No...I mean...I don't, ..not exactly..I think I'm just like, overwhelmed" "it is funny though" Angela thinks in some not so far off part of her brain "actually it's hysterical."
But when she sees Jordan looking perplexed and a little lost, something shifts again inside her and she's out of her brain and back to just being with him, wanting him to lose that worried look.
"I'm glad" she tells him, looking at him seriously "that you told me that."
And then, because that look hasn't totally gone away she reaches up and kisses him as sweetly as she can, trying to tell him all the things she can't say, and it seems to be working cause he's kissing her back and it feels like he's trying to tell her something too, the way his mouth lingers on hers, how he cradles her head so carefully in his hands.
"Angela?" he pulls back a little and whispers.
"I thought...this is important..." he pauses for a second and she can tell how difficult for him this is "when I saw you with that guy Corey.. I thought I'd lost you...and I thought it was because, you know, he's smart, and maybe he wouldn't push you, like I did, about sex."
"You're smart" she says, turning to look straight into him so that he knows she means it.
"Yeah" he says in a low voice, brushing her cheek with the back of his finger, and then he's quiet for a minute, looking down. "Anyhow" he continues "that's how it happened with Graf,..me thinking I'd lost you and both of us drunk."
There's a minute where neither of them says anything, but something is waiting to be said and Angela just kind of stares out the window at the park like maybe whatever it is could be out there somewhere.
"I guess I don't want to talk about that anymore, okay?" she says finally, still looking out the window, "I mean, I can't even stand to think about it. And I know you're sorry about it, and that we can't, like, change what's already happened... But the sex thing.." she s turns back and looks at him, hoping she's not about to spoil everything, "well, I haven't changed about that...I don't think I'm any more ready for it now than I was before."
But Jordan just looks back at her and shakes his head.
"That's not the most important thing to me anymore" he says, taking her chin in his hand and running his thumb softly around her mouth. "I mean, of course I, like, want to, but being with you is more important" He bends in to kiss her and she can feel herself wanting to melt into him, when he stops and says "I don't want to push you about it...Angela,.. I just want... can we just be together?"
"like you're with me and nobody else?"
"Doesn't that usually work both ways?"
"And you won't push me about sex?"
"I'll try not to...I won't."
"Okay" she whispers. She buries her head in his chest and he wraps both arms around her and she can't remember ever being so happy. For a while she rests in his arms and then her brain kicks in and starts to process the previous information.
Jordan can feel her thinking "What?" he says, giving her a little squeeze.
"The Corey thing – that hurt you?"
He doesn't answer and she knows that's because the answer is yes.
"I did it...well, a part of it...on purpose...not to hurt you...I didn't think...I just wanted you to notice, to maybe be jealous."
He's stroking her hair now. "It worked" he murmurs.
"It made a huge mess."
"You had help."
"And then I got something really important that I can't even explain really, like how people, even Jordan, are so tender somehow, and how easy it is to hurt someone, and it kind of just broke my heart open, but in a good way, you know?"
"We need to try to talk about stuff, you know, when it happens.."
"You mean like, try to figure it out together?" he ducks his head down and kisses her. "yeah, I guess that makes sense."
Angela feels her heart lift. "You amaze me." she says,
He tucks his finger under her chin and turns her face up to look at him.
"Yeah?" he says, "just wait" his voice is flirty now and he's looking at her with that really cute sexy smile of his.
"Just wait what?" she's laughing again.
"Cause I'm gonna really amaze you" he says, pulling her up and kissing her.
Graham pulls his car up into the driveway and sits in it for a moment. It's been a couple weeks now since Halle told him that her engagement was off and he still somehow hasn't mentioned it to Patti. He just doesn't want her to be more uncomfortable with the situation than is necessary, he tells himself, and it's true. He has to admit there's an attraction there, that's been innocent so far. But tonight's hug – well, Halle would have let it be more, maybe even wanted it to be. "I'm skating on thin ice," he thinks. An understanding wife, a combustible and possibly too available business partner – and his restaurant, his chance to make something of his own. He has to make this work. He's going to make this work.
He walks into the kitchen looking happy and grabs Patti from behind at the dishwasher.
"Graham" she turns and faces him "congratulations"
"Yup" he says, kissing her " it's for sure now...we'll be opening in a month."
"Oh my god."
"So there's a thousand details to take care of...Halle can deal with a lot of them, but I'll have to take care of the menu, food, kitchen supplies, equipment...I know we can't afford a sous-chef at first but am I going to get some kind of kitchen help, maybe prep? ... it's going to be crazy, but I'm up for it."
"It's really happening." Patti is beaming.
"Yeah, what a night ... so Tony Poole, huh?" Graham asks "any restaurant wisdom there?"
"Well, as it turned out" Patti frowns "he didn't make it."
"Wait...I thought you said he was just the same."
"I know... but what I meant was, I finally met Jordan Catalano...your close personal friend...he came by for Angela and while he was waiting for her to get back we ended up talking and I gave him something to eat...so it was a lot like being with a seventeen year old Tony."
"Wait a minute..Jordan was here waiting for Angela?"
"Yes and, for the moment, I think it's safe to say they're an item again." Patti smiles. "We had a pretty serious conversation and he really does seem to care about her."
Graham isn't smiling though. "I hope so...what did you think of him anyway? I have to say he didn't strike me as too trustworthy... or too bright either."
"Really?" she's surprised "maybe it was the three adult to one kid ratio when you met him then...he seemed pretty sweet to me...bright enough...and hungry...mainly hungry."
"So Angela's out with Jordan for a while?
"And Danielle's asleep?"
Patti nods with a big smile on her face - "race you upstairs" she says.
"I have to help with the stage sets after school" Angela tells Jordan , as she puts their English books back into her locker, "just one more time, for an hour...but if you could wait for me or pick me up after, we could go to my house. "
"You have to help out?" he looks a little hurt.
"I promised Ricky,.. I shouldn't not show up... Is is cause of Corey?"
"Um," he says, looking down "kinda"
"You shouldn't...I mean ..you know who I care about." He has the sweetest smile in the world, she thinks. "You could come help.. it would be more fun for me if you were there. You might actually like it."
Jordan thinks about it. It's nothing he would normally do, and he doesn't care about the play. Plus he's not sure if he can be in the same room with Corey. But maybe he'd rather be there than think of her there without him...even if there are going to be other people around. "Maybe" he says, leaning in and kissing her "or see you after."
Twenty minutes into trying to study he's given up, leaves the library and walks onto the back stage where Ricky and Corey are leaning over a stack of styrofoam slabs that have been coated with glue and sand.
Ricky looks up "Hi...Angela said you might come."
"You're Jordan?" says Corey, straitening up and turning to look at him.
"Yeah," Jordan nods, hanging back a little and totally poker faced.
"I'm Corey.. want to give us a hand with these gravestones?"
"Yeah, whatever, where do you want them?"
Angela comes around the corner carrying paintbrushes and breaks into a huge smile.
"You came" she says, reaching up to kiss his cheek.
He puts his arm around her and she moves in close to his side. She's making it very clear that they're together, and he knows she's doing it to make him feel secure. Its a little over obvious, but he doesn't care because its working. Ricky and Corey are trying not to stare.
"Good"says Corey "We need all the help we can get. Let's work on these together, try and finish them up" and for the next half hour they're busy painting gravestones.
"You cut these with a jigsaw?" Jordan asks.
Corey nods "Yeah...we're going to bend rebar and then fasten them down to plywood with plumber's tape and screws."
Jordan's impressed. Sitting with Ricky and Corey and Angela, watching and listening as they talk and make stupid little jokes while they work, is a completely odd experience to him, pretty innocent, but kind of all right too. Angela is watching him shyly, almost protectively. They've never really been with other people and she wants him to be comfortable. Mostly he's being pretty quiet but she likes it that he and Corey seem to be interested in the mechanics of things...they're talking now about how they can make some of the tombstones lean at an angle...and they seem to be getting along well together, in a boy sort of way.
"Ricky says you're in a band or something?" Corey asks
"What do you play?"
"And he sings" says Angela proudly "and he writes songs too."
"You playing anywhere around?"
"We're supposed to be at Vertigo again in a couple weeks" says Jordan
"I'll check it out" says Corey
Something makes Jordan ask "Do you play?"
"Not really... I fool around on guitar a little...my dad is the real musician."
Jordan doesn't say anything but he's interested.
When the front stage rehearsal breaks and the cast starts coming back, Rayanne waltzes up behind Ricky and wraps her arms around him "Ah, the cold gray styrofoam graveyard, she purrs dramatically, "a metaphor for Liberty High."
Ricky rolls his eyes and smiles and Angela smiles a little, looking down, but Jordan feels sort of uncomfortable...he's thinking of heading outside for a cigarette and turns his head towards the door when he sees something that really surprises him. Corey is looking at Rayanne Graf like she's the sweetest, prettiest, smartest girl in the world. There's no mistaking it, but Jordan seems to be the only one who sees it.
He wonders if Corey knows about him and Graf. He's even more surprised because that kind of worries him. He's feeling pretty friendly towards Corey, who seems like an all right guy. Interesting too. He's not like any of Jordan's friends, but he's not a nerd or a jock or a smart class kid either. He's obviously smart. He paints and makes things, and has a father who is a real musician.
When they start to put things away Angela and Ricky head off with the brushes and Jordan and Corey lay the wet gravestones up against the back wall.
"So I saw how you were looking at Rayanne." Jordan can't believe he just said that.
"I don't think anyone else noticed." Now he feels really lame.
"She doesn't seem to" Corey says evenly.
They look at each other...a checking it out, acknowledging it, sort of look.
"I've been pretty jealous of you" Corey says.
Jordan really can't believe that they're about to have this conversation. "Me and how many other guys" is what he thinks, but what he says is "because of her?"
Corey nods. "I don't usually pay attention to gossip" he says "but I kind of had a front row seat for this."
"This is.. ironic" Jordan almost stutters "I've kind of wanted to kill you."
They smile confused guy smiles, looking down and away and finish putting the gravestones away in silence.
"What's he doing here? Being the perfect little boyfriend now?" Rayanne is practically spitting out her words as she and Ricky leave the backstage area.
"Rayanne, I think he came because Angela wanted him to, maybe because he was jealous of Corey... he's always been nice enough to me."
"Oh yeah, nice Jordan Catalano who does after school projects with his girlfriend. He and Corey seem like best buddies now."
Ricky nods "There was definitely some male bonding going on there.. what do you care though?"
"Male bonding, hrmphh" Rayanne snorts contemptuously, "maybe you should be taking notes or something. He's gotten further with Corey than you have at this point."
"My point being, Rayanne" replies Ricky in a chilly voice "what do you care?"
"I don't, not really" she says, looking a little remorseful, "It's just not fair that they go around holding hands but she can't bring herself to talk to me."
"She's not mad at you anymore and that's something...I want you to be friends again too, but you can't force it."
"I can't do anything. That's the problemo. Good thing I've got the play to obsess over...dress rehearsal Thursday and then -" her arms go up in the air and she makes a little imitation ballet spin.
"Are you nervous" Ricky looks at her "Because you don't seem nervous."
"No, for some reason this feels natural...Angelica was right about this one..." she shakes her head and grimaces, "Who's a better liar than me?"