Author's Note: Hi guys! So, I'm hoping you all enjoyed Chapter One. I don't exactly know how long it's going to be, but not that long. This chapter is Juli's POV. Hope you like it. Please read and review!
Bryce smiled at me, squeezed my hand gently, and let it go. I looked into his blue eyes, eyes that sparkled, that dazzled me like they had always seemed to. The dazzling made my heart stop for a moment. Because it was a sign, a message sent that meant that Bryce was worth fighting for, that my affection for him all these years hadn't been for nothing. The boy with the dazzling eyes, he had a way to go, but he was worth it. I smiled to myself at the notice. It was true, I supposed.
I thought back to my mother's words. She had said that a boy who tried to kiss a girl in front of all his classmates didn't seem like a coward to her. That wasn't cowardly to me either, I had to admit. I also had to admit that I didn't know any other thirteen year old boys who would plant a tree for a girl in front of their yard. My brothers wouldn't have done it, not boys at school, even nice ones like Jon, and certainly not Garret Andersen. That soothed my feelings in a way. Part of my heart soared with hope. He had planted the tree for me. He had tried to kiss me. So maybe, he really did care, after all.
But I still cautioned myself. Bryce and I had a long way to go before we could be more than friends. We've never had a proper conversation that wasn't awkward or small talk. I wasn't lying when I had told him I just wanted to be friends. For now.
But now that Bryce and I had agreed to start over, I was unsure of myself. Looking into his beautiful blue eyes framed by such dark lashes, it was hard to remember why I didn't just jump into a relationship with him. He was so handsome. Always had been and probably always will be.
I abandoned that train of thought quickly. It wouldn't do any good. My days of obsessing about Bryce's looks were over. My father and Chet, they had taught to me to look at what's inside a person, not just how they look on the outside. Mr. Loski was the perfect example of this. Sure, he was a good looking man, but his personality was revolting. He and Garret were no different, but he was undoubtedly worse because he was an adult, not an immature eighth grader with preteen insecurities. He was the type of person who always looked down on others when they didn't conform to society's expectations of them, yet he was jealous of these people, because they were genuinely happy. My father may not make as much money as Mr. Loski, but at the end of the day, he makes enough, and he's happy. My mom may get down sometimes, but she's happy too. I can't say the same for the Loskis.
I felt really proud of my parents at that moment. And I wondered if I would find someone who I could be completely happy with. Would he follow his heart and do the right thing? I couldn't help but glance at Bryce, who was staring at me intently. He smiled when I looked his way, and I couldn't help it, I melted a little inside. Never had Bryce Loski seemed so happy to see me and now he couldn't stop smiling at me. It was a change. I liked to think that he could be that man one day.
I glanced at his clock and noticed the time.
I rose from my seat, and watched as Bryce did the same. I told him "Well… I guess I'll see you at school tomorrow. It's getting pretty late, and I don't want to worry my parents. I told them I'd be right back. I'll show myself out." I waved goodbye then started to walk towards his room door.
"Juli, wait! I… I'll walk you back." Bryce told me. I started to protest but he shook his head and quieted me with the words "I want to, Julianna."
My stomach dropped. I can't remember Bryce ever calling me Julianna. My named rolled off his tongue so smoothly, and shocked, I didn't notice that he'd reached around me and opened the door.
"Okay, Bryce." I muttered. We turned into the hallway and bounded down the stairs. His parents were in the living room watching TV, along with Chet.
"Mom, I'm gonna drop Juli home." Bryce told his mother. Mrs. Loski nodded and said "That's fine sweetheart. Goodnight, Julianna. Feel free to visit whenever you would like to." Chet murmured "Goodnight Juli." He looked toward Mr. Loski who looked agitated.
"I don't see why you need to do that, Bryce. Her house is right across the street. She can walk herself home, can't she?" He told Bryce, leveling a hard stare at him. I stood there, dumbfounded. While it was true, I didn't understand why Mr. Loski would object to Bryce walking me home. Wasn't it the gentlemanly thing to do? I turned back to Bryce to tell him that his father was right, wanting to avoid awkwardness. It was already deadly quiet, as Mr. Loski's words sunk in. Mrs. Loski's eyes had bulged and she was turning completely red. Chet stared disapprovingly at Mr. Loski. I expected Bryce to recant his offer.
But Bryce surprised me. His brilliant blue eyes had flattened and dimmed with anger, and he leveled an even colder stare at his father. "I want to walk her home, Dad. I'll be right back, Mom." He said defiantly, completely disregarding Mr. Loski who was staring at me with disgust. Bryce continued walking towards the door, and held it open for me.
Annoyed, unable to understand what exactly had just happened, I told them all "Goodnight, everyone. Thanks for the offer, Mrs. Loski." Mrs. Loski smiled, more for my benefit, than out of genuine happiness. Bryce ushered me out of the door.
It was a short walk across the street, a silent one as well. Bryce didn't say one word to me; he never even looked at me. He kept his head down and his hands in his jeans pocket. I suppose he didn't want to talk about his father, so I tried to let it go. But there was more to that story than what I had just seen. Something was seriously wrong in the Loski household. By the time we had reached my door, I didn't know what to say about Mr. Loski's rudeness, so I decided to lead Bryce to talk about it. If we were going to be friends, then I needed to know how Mr. Loski felt about me, right.
"I hope you're not going to get in trouble, Bryce." I said to him.
For the first time in five minutes, he looked at me. His eyes had turned to ice, and they glittered in anger. It was disconcerting, to see Bryce angry. I'd never seen him angry before.
"I don't care if I get in trouble. You're worth it. And he is not going to stop me from seeing you. But I'm sorry, that you had to see my Dad like that. We had a… disagreement, earlier. He's still mad." Bryce told me sharply.
I knew that wasn't the whole story, but it was all I was getting, and for the moment, that was fine.
Standing at the door, I nodded at Bryce's apology for his father's rude behavior. But it wasn't necessary. Mr. Loski's attitude was his own.
I started to open my door. Bryce stopped me with a quiet murmur.
"Juli? Are you… riding your bike to school tomorrow? If you are… maybe I could join you? You could show me the route that you take. We could… I don't know, have that talk you wanted to have. Can I ride with you?" He whispered shyly.
I paused. Bryce wasn't shy! Well… he was a bit awkward, well, only with me, but never shy. Were his feelings for me really that serious? Then I thought about his request. 'Ride bikes with me?' I was surprised. No one had ever volunteered to bike with me to school, not even once. It was a long ride out to Mayfield Junior High. But here Bryce was, the boy who had tried to avoid me for so long, asking me to ride with me, willing to take that ride with me. Frankly, I was shocked. It was a long ride. Not one that many kids were willing to take. Yet, he was willing to accept the length of it, and take that ride with me. Feeling as though it couldn't hurt, I nodded slowly, swallowing lightly to bring my voice back.
"Bryce, that would be wonderful. I'd love for you to ride with me. It would be nice to have a companion for once. We could even race up the biggest hill, if you're willing… Are you sure you're up for it though? It's a long ride."
He grinned and nodded. "I'll be fine Juli. It's not a problem, as long as it's not going to rain tomorrow."
"It's not." I assured him quickly, not wanting him to cancel. A bike ride with Bryce Loski. I never imagined it could happen. I smiled at that thought.
Bryce smiled at me and said "I'll see you tomorrow, Juli. I'll meet you here at 7:10. That okay?"
Unable to help myself, I smiled at him again and nodded. "That's more than enough time. I'll see you tomorrow, Bryce. Goodnight." I finished softly. I opened my door, hearing him mutter "Goodnight, Juli."
Once again, I was mentally unhinged by our role reversal. In the old days, I would've been the one wanting to do things together, defending him from others, and being unsure of myself. Yet Bryce was in my shoes now. Still, it was strange to hear Bryce volunteer to spend time with me. The bike request had left me a little giddy. I was so happy. We hadn't even really started talking but we were already planning to spend time together. I thought about how he'd stood up for me in front of his father and disobeyed his father, for me. I didn't want him to get into trouble, but seeing him stand up for me was so different from the old Bryce, the cowardly Bryce who had laughed with Garret, instead of telling him the truth. But now, he was defending me from his father, who was really an overgrown, insensitive Garret clone. Seeing him behave in that way gave me hope, because I was sure that Bryce was changing, or at least, being true to himself.
My father had said "proper lighting is everything." Perhaps, with Bryce no longer trying to save face, I would see what was truly inside him. Maybe I was finally, finally going to see him in the proper light. My heart beat faster at the thought. And that could only mean one thing.
I don't know how long I stood against my closed door, holding my hand over my heart. A heart, I was now completely sure, still held feelings for the boy with the dazzling blue eyes.
SO, that's the end of the second chapter. I hope you guys are enjoying it. Hope it didn't take too long, either. For the most part, this story will detail their relationship up until graduation, with an epilogue with a time-skip. In essence, it'll move more slowly than the books. So, please continue to read and review.
And in advance, I'm sorry if updates will be scarce. I go back to college this weekend, and I'll be pretty busy getting readjusted.
I hope you're enjoying the story. And please, let me know what you think!