“Mom, can I come with you?” I asked my mother as she was getting ready to go to Hillside to photo shoot a wedding this weekend.
It became a regular thing in the past few years. At fist she just worked at the boutique but Patricia, the owner, eventually convinced her that her photos are beautiful and they should start offering her services in a package.
“Sure,” she smiled, “you miss Caroline, huh?”
I nodded and went upstairs to grab a few things I wanted to bring with me.
It’s been over a month since my friend and her family were here and I wanted to see her. She was working every day in the Hillside Daily newspaper while I was having a great time here with Kevin. I’m sure she can use the distraction.
We arrived to Hillside on Friday evening and our first stop was the Reece’s house. It’s funny how connected our families are. Uncle Dean with my dad were best friends since high school. My mom and aunt Nora were very good friends since she moved here over twenty years ago, but I think her best friend is still aunt Martha. Or maybe she has two best friends, nothing wrong with that. And then Caroline and I were besties basically since we were in diapers. If they had a son I’m sure he would be best friends with my brother, but they only had one child.
When we entered the house I gave a quick, friendly wave to Dean and Nora and ran upstairs to my best friend’s room. I couldn’t wait to surprise her!
I opened the door and found her exercising in the middle of the room. I don’t think I ever saw her work out before and I couldn’t help but notice how much thinner she looks.
Once she noticed me in the mirror she turned off the stereo, her jaw dropped and a happy scream followed.
“What are you doing here?” she gave me a sweaty hug.
“Surprise,” I smiled widely and nodded towards the spot where she was exercising, “what are you doing?”
“Nothing? You look amazing.”
“You think so?” she looked down on her body with criticism in her eyes.
“Girl I know so! How did you loose so much weight in a month?”
“I don’t know,” she shrugged her shoulders and it almost seemed like she got nervous, “just working out a lot.”
“Good for you, you really look great.”
“Thanks,” she said and changed the subject, “so how long are you here for?”
“Just the weekend, my mom is shooting a wedding tomorrow and we’re going back on Sunday morning.”
“I’m so happy you’re here. We are going to a party,” she dragged me to the computer and pointed on the screen with her Facebook page, “check this out. Party on the beach.”
“Cool. Who’s going to be there?”
“Um…just everyone from the school.”
“And Kyle?” I teased her. She had a crush on him since the seventh grade.
“Shut up, that’s not why I want to go.”
“Mmhmm,” I put my lips together and raised my eyebrows.
“Fine,” she spread her arms in the air in a gesture of resignation, “maybe I’m hoping that now when I’m thinner he will finally notice me.”
“Carrie,” I sighed, “do you really want a guy to only like you when you loose weight?”
“No,” she looked down, “I just finally want a boyfriend.”
“What are you talking about, you’ve had boyfriends before.”
“I’ve had flings, not boyfriends. I want a real relationship, like what you and Kevin have.”
The thought of Kevin made me sad. Now that I’m back in Hillside I realized that when the summer ends, I won’t see him. He lives two hour in the other direction from New Lakeshire which means we will be four hours away from each other.
“Yea,” I sighed sadly, “for now.”
“You guys are gonna make it, you’re great together.”
“I hope so,” I nodded and this time I changed the subject, “I don’t want to think about that right now. What are we wearing to this party?”
“Well most of my clothes is pretty big on me so I was hoping we could dig into your closet?”
“Oh my God! Fashion show in my room!”
We both stood up and started jumping and screaming out of joy. I missed my friend so much.
We spent the evening going through my closet, trying on dozens of outfits and posing for silly photos. My room was a mess with all the clothes hanging from the closet doors and purses and shoes all over, but we had a great time.
It was after midnight when we finally made it to bed.
“So,” Caroline got comfortable in my bed, “did you do it with Kevin?”
“What?! Shut up,” I was shocked with her direct question, but it was Caroline so I shouldn’t be, “no! Don’t you think I’d tell you?”
“I hope so,” she chuckled, “so why not? What are you waiting for?”
“Nothing. It just…didn’t happen. Plus I don’t know yet if Kevin is the one. What if I don’t see him after summer?”
“Well, at least you’d be sure you’ll never forget him. You know what they say – you never forget your first one.”
“That’s not a good enough reason.”
“It’s just sex, Em,” she slid under the blanket and turned off the light, “good night.”
“Night,” I said quietly.
I wasn’t ready to have sex, but I didn’t feel like explaining myself. Caroline didn’t think it’s a big deal, she lost her virginity last year and since then she did it with two guys she didn’t even really date. That wasn’t my style, I want to wait for the right one.
When we arrived at the beach, there was already a crowd of people gathered around a big bonfire. They were mostly future seniors like Caroline, some kids from my class and a few people I didn’t recognized. I haven’t seen my classmates since the school year ended so it will be nice to catch up with them.
Abby, a cute blonde girl who I went to school with since first grade, noticed me and immediately ran to me, bringing along a brunette girl I’ve never met before.
Abby is an older sister of my brother’s best friend, Melissa. The two are complete opposites. Melissa is a quiet loner like my brother and her sister is a party animal who loves to socialize with everyone.
“Emma,” she hugged me, “this is Leah, she will be going to our school, they just moved here.”
“Hi Leah,” I smiled a the new girl, “welcome to Hillside.”
“Her house is amazing, they have a pool and everything,” Abby said excitedly, “it’s on your street actually! The new house.”
“Oh, no way!”
I knew exactly what house is she talking about. It’s two steps away from mine. My mom and my aunt Nora hate it. They keep saying it doesn’t fit with rest of the neighborhood. It’s too tall and too modern looking.
“So where have you been all summer?” the blonde girl asked. She was the type that loved to gossip and wanted to know everything about everyone. That’s why I’m not surprised she’s already friends with our new classmate.
After she got all the answers she wanted, she ran to another person that arrived. I noticed Caroline is having a good time with people from her class and I ended up just chatting with Leah on one of the benches.
“How do you like Hillside so far?
“It’s alright,” she said casually, “not as busy as New York so it’s kinda nice.”
“You’re from New York?” My eyes widened, “that’s so cool. I hope that one day I’ll be able to pursue ballet there. So many opportunities.”
I nodded, “since I was seven. Do you?”
“No,” she chuckled, “you wouldn’t want to see that. I have no rhythm.”
She tuned out to be a great company. Her father passed away and her mother decided to start over somewhere else. They sold their small house in New York and built a big house in Hillside.
She comes from triplets, but she is the only girl. So she has two brothers that are exactly the same age, but they all look different. It’s pretty cool if you ask me.
“Oh, there is my brother,” she said and waved him over.
The boy started walking toward us with a smile on his face and a cup of beer in his hand.
“Hey ladies,” he said confidently and nodded his head towards me, “who’s this?”
“This is Emmalee,” his sister introduced me, “Em, this is one of my brothers, Caleb.”
“Hi,” I said shortly.
“Emmalee,” he repeated slowly, checking me out from top to bottom and winked at me flirtatiously.
No surprise there. Everybody knew that New Yorkers are cocky. I already disliked him and had no desire to hang around.
“I’m gonna go find my friend,” I jumped off the bench.
“Nice to meet you,” Caleb yelled behind me sarcastically.
He annoyed me so much that I rolled my eyes as I was walking away.
I was making my way through the crowds, looking for Caroline. We split up right after we arrived and I haven’t seen her since.
It took me a few minutes but I finally found her. leaning against a tree. She obviously had too much to drink.
“Oh boy,” I grabbed her arm and wrapped it around my shoulders, “let’s get you home.”
“Heyyyy,” she said in a high voice when she recognized me, “I don’t wanna go.”
“I think you’ve had enough, girlfriend.”
“But I’m having so much fun,” she protested and then lowered her voice, “and Kyle kissed me.”
“Good for you,” I laughed, “I hope you will remember it tomorrow.”
“I think I puked on his shoes.”
Caroline kept mumbling as I was leading her away from the beach. I still had to figure out how to get her home. There is no way she can walk all the way to my house.
I was standing on the small parking lot, looking if I see a familiar car of someone who could drive us.
“I’ll take you home,” a voice behind me said. When I turned around, still supporting Caroline, I saw Caleb, obviously amused by the situation I found myself in.
I scoffed, “no thanks. We’ll figure it out.”
“Come on. You clearly need help with your friend. I have a car so what’s the big deal.”
“You were drinking.”
“It was soda. I never drink and drive, my father died that way.”
“Oh,” I was speechless. What do you say to something like that.
“Come on, let me drive you home.”
As much as I hated it I had no other option. I sighed, “fine.”
We got Caroline on the back seat of his car and I was praying she doesn’t throw up again.
“I got it from here,” I said and dragged my drunk friend towards the front door but she was heavier then she looked and there was no cooperation on her part.
“Yea I don’t think so,” Caleb chuckled as he watched me struggle and then wrapped Caroline’s other arm around his shoulders.
“Thank god my mom isn’t home yet,” I said, actually grateful for his help.
“Where is she? Do you only live with your mom?”
“No, my dad and brother are in our cabin. My mom needed to come here for work this weekend so I came with her.”
“I’m glad you did,” the corners of his ridiculously cute lips raised up in a smile.
I said nothing.
We finally got Caroline in my bed and I put a trash can on the side, just in case. I didn’t bother to take off her shoes or cover her up with a blanket. I was glad she was finally sleeping.
“Thanks for your help,” I turned to the boy who was now waiting by the open door to my bedroom.
“No problem, I’m glad she’s ok.”
“She’s ok now, I will kill her in the morning though,” I shrugged my shoulders and he laughed quietly, trying not to wake her up. Like that was possible. She was out cold.
“I should probably…” he looked down the hallway towards the front door.
“…go, yeah.” I finished his sentence and we just stood there as if we were waiting for something else to happen, something else to be said.
“Alright so…I guess I’ll see you around,” Caleb finally broke the awkward silence.
“I guess so,” I nodded.
“Bye,” he started walking away and I watched him leave until I heard the door lock click when he closed the door behind him.
“Bye,” I said quietly, even though I knew he can’t hear me. He was gone.
I was trying to wrap my head around how completely different he acted from the guy I met on the beach couple hours ago. It definitely left me baffled. Not what I expected after the first impression he made on me.
I think I might be in trouble if I see this guy at school every day…