"If you ever forget how much you really mean to me,
Every day I will remind you"
-Count on me by Bruno Mars
It started in kindergarten, back in the days when my mom still picked out my clothes, which generally consisted of a pair of (what was then deemed fashionable) overalls. Back then my hair was constantly a head of frizzy, seemingly unmanageable curls and my heart a little tattered and worn. That's when I met Melissa. I sat in the back corner of the kindergarten classroom, flipping through the pages of a Dr. Seuss book, admiring the pictures and occasionally giving myself a mental pat on the back for being able to make out a word or two, and that's when an olive skinned girl with then, shoulder length brown hair, sat down beside me. Back then, Melissa's mother dressed her too. It's sometimes hard to remember Mel as the girl in the grey button down shirt and black pants who made a sour face at the sight of the pictured green eggs and ham. It's hard to imagine Mel in anything other than bright neon colours.
I remember coming home from school that day and telling my mom all about the girl who had sat next to me during playtime, who joined me in the sandbox during recess and sat across from me during snack time. I told my mom that the girl's name was Melissa but that all of her friends, presumably, called her Mel. I told my mom that Melissa had told me to call her Mel, because we were friends now. Just like that.
Those were the thoughts running through my head as I drove to the café where Mel was holding her eighteenth birthday party. We had known each other for over half of our lives, since that first day of kindergarten we had been inseparable, always leaning on each other, always relying on one another, telling the other everything that happened in our day to day lives and knowing that even the smallest accomplishment or joyful news would mean just as much to the other. That's why I knew, that even though today was her day, as was every March 2nd, as she had me memorize shortly after our proclaimed friendship by way of circling the date with red marker on my puppy calendar; she would be just as elated as I was when I told her about my kiss with Eddie last night.
Then it happened, it was out of nowhere, in the blink of an eye a blur of silver hit the side of my car, sending my wheels spinning and ramming me off the road. My entire body jerked forward, causing me to hit my head on the steering wheel and just as quickly my body jerked back harshly against the seat. It took a few seconds of stunned stillness for me to blink and register what had happened. Then, I slowly made my way out of my car and at the same time, two familiar blonde figures were climbing out of the sleek, silver car; Adriana and Kim. For some reason I wasn't surprised.
"Are you guys okay?" They both looked a little rattled, both wide eyed and jaws hanging open slightly.
Suddenly, Adriana's eyes narrowed in my direction, her arms now crossed over her chest though not in a tough or intimidating way, but rather in security and protectively. "Yeah, no thanks to you" she snapped.
I was a little taken back by her demeanor "You ran into me Adriana. You practically flew out of that alley way."
Neither of us really had the energy or mind set to continue the argument so we were both somewhat relieved when a policeman pulled up beside us about five minutes later. He took our statements and called a tow truck for both of our cars at which point I grabbed Mel's gift from my backseat and placed it on the curb.
When we tried to get a hold of our parents, neither were picking up and I wasn't all that surprised. I knew they were attending a gala of some sort and it made sense that they would have their phones on silent.
Adriana then began dialing number after number trying to find someone to pick her and Kim up. I tried my mom a few more times but when she didn't answer I tried Adam, whose phone went straight to voicemail. I didn't want to call Mel and interrupt her party. She deserved a fun, drama free night. Instead I called Eddie and when he didn't pick up I started to get a little nervous. Eventually Adriana got a hold of her and Kim's friend Natalie and within ten minutes the brunette was there picking both girls up. Not bothering to offer me a ride.
The policeman offered to give me a ride to the station until someone could be reached but I had one last number I could think to try and quickly looked up the number for the MK club on my phone before dialing.
"MK, this is Grace" the music in the background almost seemed to be in the foreground and voices were carrying like an over produced bass track.
"Hey Grace, its Loren, is Max there?"
"Yeah, just a sec" I heard the faint sound of heels clicking against a floor and then Grace's voice rang out once again, only this time it wasn't directed at me "Hey boss, it's for you."
I faintly heard Max thank Grace before his voice became clearly audible in my ear "Hello?"
"Hi Max its Loren, Eddie's friend?"
"Of course, how are you Loren?" His voice rose in pitch, obviously surprised by my call.
Letting out a heavy sigh, my face scrunched up from embarrassment "I'm so sorry to bother you I just didn't know who else to call, my mom and step dad aren't answering their phones and it's Melissa's birthday so I don't want to bother her, I tried calling a friend but he had his phone off and I tried Eddie but he didn't answer and I was in an accident and my car-"
"An accident, are you alright?" His concern ran blatant.
"I'm fine, but my car's getting towed right now and I can't get a hold of anyone to come pick me up." My free hand rose to my forehead as a pulsing pain shot through it.
"Where are you?"
"I'm in North Hollywood about five blocks from Tujunga Ave" I said as I walked over to the curb and sat down, the police officer's eyes locked on me.
"Alright, stay put, Eddie's actually around here somewhere so I'll grab him and we'll be on our way."
If Eddie was at MK it would explain why he didn't answer his phone, he probably didn't hear it ring. "Thank you so much."
"Of course sweetheart" we both hung up and I informed the officer that my ride would be here shortly. He insisted on waiting with me which I was actually a little grateful for. Being a young woman on the side of the road, at night in Los Angeles was not the safest of situations.
About twenty minutes later a familiar black car pulled up beside the crash and as soon as the car came to a stop the passenger door swung open and before I could even really blink I was on my feet, wrapped in Eddie's arms. "Are you okay?" I could feel Eddie's heart racing in his chest as he held me. "You're shaking."
Was I? I hadn't noticed. "I'm okay it was just kind of scary."
"Who hit you?" It was Max who asked the next question. I hadn't even noticed him get out of the car.
Eddie pulled away slightly, leaving one arm around my waist, holding my body close to his. Max seemed to take notice. "It was my step sister, Adriana. She flew out of the alley over there" I pointed to the back alley behind the row of small stores. "I didn't see her car until she hit me."
As the Duran boys looked in the direction I had pointed, my hand shot up, once again, to my forehead as I took a sharp intake of breath. Eddie's gaze fell back on me instantly "What's wrong?"
I met his worried filled eyes, "I hit my head on the steering wheel I'm fine though."
The officer then spoke up as the tow truck drove away "You'd better get that looked at ma'am." But his eyes weren't on me instead they seemed to be set on Eddie. "Are you Eddie Duran?" He didn't wait for Eddie to respond, obviously already knowing the answer "My girlfriend is a huge fan. Do you mind if I get an autograph?" He pulled out a note pad and pen.
"Sure" Eddie reluctantly left my side and scribbled on the piece of paper before handing it back to the officer. He then took a stance in front of me, cupping my face in his hands "We should take you to the hospital to get checked out."
I shook my head, allowing my hands to rest on his "I'm fine, I promise. I'll have Don check me out tonight when he gets home but I really have to get the café. It's Mel's birthday and I'm over an hour late."
Eddie looked to his dad, obviously unhappy with my response. Max sighed and ran a hand over his face "Eddie why don't you drop me off at the club and then you can go with Loren to the party and keep an eye on her and take her home afterwards. Stay with her until her step dad looks at her though okay?"
I knew I didn't have a say in any of this, but I was grateful for their concern and I wasn't honestly going to complain about Eddie being by my side all night.
Max got out of the car when we pulled up to the club, but before heading inside he had me roll down my window and give him my cell phone at which point he programmed his cell number. "If you ever need anything, like tonight, don't hesitate to call me again okay?" I couldn't help it; I climbed out of the car and gave him a hug, whispering my thanks for his kindness and generosity. His response was simple "You're important to my son, therefore you're important to me" he whispered.
During the drive to the café, Eddie continuously seemed to glance in my direction. His eyebrows pulled together in concern, waiting for me to say something, waiting for me to assure him, once again, that I was okay. "I'm okay, really." I was beginning to understand that no matter how many times I said that, I wasn't going to be believed. "I'm fine" I stressed, as Eddie's glance once again was removed from the road.
Pulling up in front of the café, Eddie shook his head "Are you sure you don't want me to take you to the hospital?" His question didn't dignify an answer in my mind, I decided, as I stepped out of the car, grabbing Mel's present from his backseat. "Fine" he sighed, finally admitting defeat "but at the first sign of faintness I'm hauling you there kicking or screaming."
"Noted" I replied as I pulled the café door and held it open for him. Eddie, however, being the gentleman that he was, took hold of the door and gestured me inside first.
When we entered the café, conversations seemed to cease and all eyes fell on us, or rather Eddie. Mel scooted out of the booth that she was currently seated in and raced over to us, throwing her arms around me "It's about time. I was about to alert the nation guard." She pulled away from me, a questioning look ablaze on her face but then her eyes shifted behind me, taking in Eddie's presence and the look on her face softened, a small smirk gracing her lips as a knowing, pensive look took over her features "But I guess I don't need to ask what kept you."
My lips hardened in a straight line at the accusation "Actually, I got into a car accident and Eddie and his dad had to come pick me up."
Suddenly Melissa's entire demeanor changed, "What? Are you okay? What happened?"
"Adriana happened" with Mel, that was enough said.
"I hate that girl."
Pushing all negativity aside, I draped my arm over Mel's shoulders "So what presents have you gotten so far, any ponies?"
With a long dramatic sigh, Mel shook her head "No, but I did score a few H&M gift cards and Adam burnt a CD for me. Cali and Carissa bought me a bunch of nail polish." Mel's eyes were suddenly glued to the wrapped box in my hand "But I have a feeling none of that will compare to whatever is in there."
I smiled and handed the box over to her, at which point she placed it on one of the tables and tore the wrapping paper off, then opened the box that held her gift. As her hands disappeared in the box, grasping the gift, her eyes widened in shock or disbelief and her jaw came unhinged. "Lo" she let out a small breath of air as she said my name. "No." Apparently it was disbelief.
Mel lifted the gift out of the box, revealing an HD video camera, "Yup, it's all charged up and ready to go. All you have to do is press record." I let out a small laugh as Mel threw her-self at me, engulfing me in a one armed hug, the other resting the video camera on the length of her forearm.
"Thank you! It's beautiful!"
"You're welcome" I replied, giving her a tight squeeze before we both pulled away "my mom pitched it too, so it's from the both of us."
A look of sheer gratitude softened her t-zone, "Thank her for me too."
"I will" and then the video camera was pointed at my face. "What are you doing?"
As if that was the most idiotic question Mel had ever heard, she let out a scoff, "It's my eighteenth birthday Lo, I need to commemorate the occasion to have for when I'm old, wearing power pink lipstick way off my lip line, a proud owner of a reindeer Christmas sweater and don't remember my grandkids names. Now, say something wonderful about me and keep in mind that this is going on my blog."
I shook my head at my best friend's antics "And I assume you'll just edit the explanation out of the beginning?"
She nodded "Movie magic" she sang. "Now compliment me!"
Growing a little self-conscious as I noticed all attention was on me, waiting for me to speak, I looked into the camera and while at a loss for words I sang; "Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Melissa, happy birthday to you." Then I blew a kiss and said "Happy birthday Mel, I love you."
Seeing as how I never really sang for Mel, discounting singing along to Katy Perry in the car of course, I knew that singing for her meant a lot to her and that was confirmed when a tear slipped past her water line and began a slow journey down her olive cheek as her free hand was placed on her heart.
"My turn" Adam announced as he forced Mel to turn the camera towards him and then pointed to Den "give me a beat!"
Den began drumming on the back of a chair allowing Adam to commence his happy birthday interpretive dance, therefore catching everyone's attention.
It was then that I made my way over to Eddie who was seated at one of the tables near the door, beside a window. "How are you feeling?" He asked as I pulled out a chair beside him and took a seat. My head was still hurting a little, but other than that I honestly felt fine and that's exactly what I told Eddie. "If you start getting dizzy or-"
I rested my hand on Eddie's knee under the table, mindful of the fact that nearly twenty people were around. "I'll let you know, I promise." Eddie's hand then rested on top of mine, filling me with a warmth and a sense of security.
"Hey Loren" managing to tear my eyes away from Eddie's for a moment, I turned to see Cameron standing beside the table, his eyes questioning but his smile appearing to be inviting and kind. "Nice to see you again Eddie" Cameron reached across from me, extending a hand towards Eddie.
"You too" Eddie replied, shooting me a quick, weary glance before shaking Cameron's hand.
"So Loren, are you going on that trip over spring break?" Spring break was still about a month away but some kids from school were already planning a trip to Mexico.
Personally, I didn't understand the hype about the whole thing, "No, I'll just hanging around here over the break. What about you?"
Cameron shrugged "Same here." And then the silence kicked in, the awkward silence to be more specific.
That said I was incredibly relieved when Mel showed up at the table, camera in hand waving it between Cameron and Eddie "I think you two should give me a birthday shout for my blog. Remember to stick to the fabulous things."
Eddie simply smiled at Mel's assertiveness before looking directly into the camera "Hey guys Eddie Duran here, and I want to wish my good friend Melissa a very happy birthday. You guys should definitely check out her blog, she's going to a huge director one day so you should get familiar with her work now; happy birthday Mel."
After Eddie finished Mel lowered her camera, a wide set grin on her face and her eyes winded a little beyond normality "That was awesome. I'm going to get so many hits when I post this, thanks Eddie."
"No problem and happy birthday."
I felt Eddie squeeze my hand as Mel's grin spread even further "Thank you. That means a lot." Then Mel's camera was on Cameron, just as he had begun to walk away "Now you. Come back here and say something." Mel followed Cameron to the counter, her camera fixated on him.
When I realized we were alone again, or as alone as we could be in this café, I turned back to Eddie "Thank you for that, I think you made her year."
My one hand was now encased by both of Eddie's, his fingertips tracing the length of mine "She's a good friend to you. It was the least I could do." The florescent lights sparkled in the reflection of his dark brown eyes, the light almost dancing across his pupils. It was enchanting and made the urge to lean forward and kiss him that much harder to bite back.
"I'm sorry about tonight" I said suddenly, causing Eddie's eyebrows to pull together, the soft and sweet stare we had just been exchanging now broken in a moment of confusion and curiosity. "You were at MK when I called your dad and I'm sure hanging out at an eighteenth birthday party in the Valley wasn't exactly your idea of a stellar Saturday night."
At my explanation, Eddie's lips pulled upwards in a soft smile as he pulled me to my feet and out the door of the café into the cool night air, the soft wind tangible against my skin. I followed him wordlessly down the sidewalk until he slipped behind a small building "What are you-?"
And just like that, his lips were on mine. His hands held my face, his body trapping mine between him and the brick wall of the building, my arms wrapped around his neck. Coherent thoughts escaped my mind and instead of listening to the nagging, over processed and over analyzed echoes in my head I listened to the rapid pattern of my heart beat. I listened to the fire that spread through my body as Eddie's hand traveled down my neck and arm and eventually rested on my waist, gently grasping it and holding me closer to him.
Something was different about this kiss, and while I didn't have much experience in that field I felt pretty secure in that deduction. His lips moved against mine in a hurried, caressing manner. Anytime he seemed to notice his hold on me loosening he would tense and pull me closer once again, trapping even the wind from being able to pass through us. This kiss, as wonderful and as intoxicating as it was, it was also full of worry, full of desire, full of self assurance. It was as if he was proving to himself that I was really with him, in his arms, kissing him back, holding him just as tightly as he held me.
My arms slowly unwrapped themselves from around Eddie's neck, my hands instead resting on his cheeks and gently pushing his face away from mine just enough so that our lips were hovering instead of touching and our noses grazed one another's.
Four brown eyes were now staring into each other as we both took in the heavy gasps of air, "What's wrong?" The words barely escaped my lips as a whisper.
Hey everyone, I know it's been quite a while, some personal things came up and unfortunately it's been hard for me to find the time and drive to write. However, I want to thank everyone found this story during the small hiatus and began to follow, favourite and review it. Every email made me so unbelievably happy! Not to mention, I've passed 200 reviews! What?! That's crazy! THANK YOU ALL!
Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed the HH finale as much as I did! I cried, screamed, shrieked, squealed and laughed. It was a fantastic episode. If there is no season 2, they at least ended the series on a high note. Though I really hope there is a season 2, there is still SO much that can be done with that story. (Leddie proposal anyone?)
Stay classy, and until next time (I'll try for Sunday but if not for sure early next week.)