I stared at the book, the number sitting there as a perfect taunt. Dad wanted me to call him. I looked at my cell phone; it was kind of late. I looked at the ceiling as I fell back on my bed.
Nine wasn’t really that late.
I sat up, dialing the number. I kept my eyes closed as I counted the rings. He’s not going to pick up. Just as I was about to give up, he answered.
“Hey, I’m sorry to call so late–“
“It’s not late–how are you? What happened?”
I ran my hand through my greasy hair. I hadn’t showered yet.
“Something came up,” I replied as my stomach rolled.
“I kind of got that. Where are you now?”
“When was the last time you ate?”
“Where do you live?”
“Sunrise Circle,” I replied.
“My sister is asleep, so I’ll see if my neighbor can come over for a bit to make sure she doesn’t wake up,” Trent explained, and I heard the jingling of his keys.
“No–Trent, you don’t–“
“I’ll be there in half an hour. You like pizza?”
“Hawaiian,” I caved.
“See you soon, El.”
I put my phone down, staring at the screen as it went black. I looked down at myself before shooting up. I needed to change–no, I needed to shower.
Trent was coming over.
I went to my closet, ripping shirts off their hangers. I didn’t want to look like I was trying too hard, after all, it was nine. Nine twenty five now.
Crap. Just pick something.
I grabbed a black t-shirt, pulling it off the hanger and the first pair of pants out of my drawer. Yoga pants? My phone buzzed on my bed.
Trent – Be there in twenty.
I squeezed my eyes shut before bolting out of the room and going to the bathroom. When the door bell rang I had just pulled my hair into a messy pony tail at the top of my head.
“Hey,” I said opening the door. I was greeted by the strong smell of pizza and Trent’s warm smile.
“Hey,” he said, looking down at my shirt. “Parkway Drive?”
I closed the door behind him, and we settled on the couch. “Yeah, they’re one of my favorite bands.”
“No shit,” Trent said as he opened the box and handed me a slice. “I wouldn’t have pegged you for a metal girl.”
I bit into the pizza, leaning back into the cushions as the cheese hit my tongue. “What kind of girl did you peg me as?”
He shrugged as he chewed. “Something more calming…Nick Jonas or something.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Hell no. I do like Maroon 5, though.”
“Now, I can see that…” he looked down at his pizza, smirking.
I elbowed him. “You like them too!”
He laughed. “You caught me.”
Silence filled the room as I finished my piece and Trent handed me a bottle of soda.
“Thanks for doing this,” I said after I took a sip.
“So…” he said, rubbing his hands over the top of his jeans and looking over his shoulder at me. “Are you going to tell me why you disappeared?”
I stared at the soda as I screwed the cap back on.
“I get if it’s private, El…but you had me worried.”
I locked eyes on him. “My dad…he’s sick. Cancer.”
“Is he okay right now?” Trent asked, putting his hand on my knee.
I breathed in through my nose, putting my hand over his. “Yeah, for now.”
“I’m sorry,” Trent whispered, and I looked up at him before leaning in and letting him wrap his arms around me. He put his hand on the back of my neck, pulling me tighter into his embrace, and I let his cologne drift over my senses, fogging them.
“Every day I wake up wondering if he’ll be okay…if this will be the day they tell me he can’t take any more treatments…that there’s no reason to fight anymore.”
Trent nodded his head. “You shouldn’t have to deal with this all alone.”
I pulled away, and Trent slipped his hand into mine. “There’s no one else…my mom was killed in a car accident by a drunk driver when I was sixteen.”
“I get it…it’s just my sister and I. My mom has drug issues, and my dad left right after Allie was born. When I turned twenty one I fought my mom to get custody of Allie…Then we moved as far away as we possibly could. She was just two. I know it’s not the same, El–but I do get where you’re coming from in a way.”
“You’re a lot braver than I am,” I replied, looking down at our hands. “I can barely take care of myself, let alone anyone else.”
Trent’s hand tilted my chin. “You’re just as brave, El.”
“No, you’re strong…truly strong.”
“I try to look like it,” he responded. “I just did what I had to do.”
“My dad told the doctor to give me a speech about my eating habits,” I admitted, leaning forward and taking another piece of pizza.
Trent grabbed another piece himself. “Tell your dad I’m going to fatten you up.”
I laughed through a full mouth. “If you bring me pizza on a regular basis I will be.”
“So tomorrow, why don’t we have a real date?” Trent asked.
I looked over my shoulder at him, smiling. “I’d like that.”
“My place, some real cooking and a movie?”
“I’d like that,” I replied.
Trent finished his soda, looking down at his watch.
“You should go,” I commented, seeing it showed it was ten thirty. “I’m sure your sister will be upset if she wakes up and finds your neighbor is there and not you.”
“Are you sure you’ll be okay?” he asked, cocking his head.
“Yeah,” I replied. “This really helped, thanks.”
He wrapped his arms around me when we reached his truck, and I closed my eyes as I breathed him in, memorizing the comfort he wrapped me in. He pulled away, kissing my forehead. “I’ll text you my address. How does tomorrow at eight sound? My sister will have gone to bed, so it can just be us.”
“Sounds good,” I replied, my heart beating hard in my chest as he stared down at me. I gave him a smile and finally pulled away as my brain clicked back on, telling me that logically, he wasn’t going to kiss me, and I wasn’t brave enough to do it myself. I waved as he got into his truck, and he winked at me, waiting to pull into the street until I had the door to the house open. I closed it behind me, pressing the back of my head against it as I shut my eyes. I pulled my lips into my mouth as I breathed in through my nose. The calm left me and I found myself squealing before dropping onto the couch and pulling the blanket over me. I stared at my phone, suddenly wishing one of my girlfriends was someone I could share this moment with.
I shook the thought from my head as I sunk deeper into the couch and turned the television on.
I couldn’t wait to tell Dad.