“That is a terrible, horrible, incredibly foolish idea. Let’s do it and see what happens.” Why not? I pulled out my mental scary place checklist. Dark house? Check. Middle of nowhere? Check. Locked door? Uncheck. Who really needs to lock their door in the middle of nowhere? Car in driveway? Uncheck. We probably have a couple hours. This place is miles from town.
You’re probably really lost. Let me introduce myself and back up to this morning. I’m Jennifer Apegate. Great last name, I know. I woke up at 3:30am to a call from my sister, Jordan. She’s an older version of me. Well, technically, since she was born first I’m a younger version of her. We both have golden blonde hair and shining blue eyes. She’s slightly taller and slimmer than me. We’re both on the dimmer side of smart; although, I think I’m smarter. Anyway, back to the phone call.
“Hello?” I answered, after knocking everything around trying to find my phone.
“I need help. I’ll pick you up in 20 minutes. Get ready.” Then she hung up. Strange. What could she need help with at 3:30 in the morning? Oh well. I got up and got dressed, being as quiet as I could as to not wake anyone. I heard Jordan pull up just as i finished putting on my shoes. I grabbed my coat and rushed out the door.
“Where are we going? What’s so important that I had to get up so early?” I asked as we drove down the street. She was silent until we got to the edge of town.
“I found him.”
“No way,” I said, incredulous. She just looked at me and nodded.
“I know. He’s miles out of town. We should be there in a couple hours.” With that, she turned her attention to the road and cranked the music. I leaned my head on the door and fell asleep. I woke to her shaking me. I looked around. We really were miles from town. All around me was trees. There was only one way in and out. At the end of the dirt path sat a trailer with white shutters hanging off the side.
“Is this him?” I asked in a hush.
“It’s supposed to be. Come on. Let’s go.” She started to open the door.
“Wait. What if he doesn’t want to see us?” I was getting nervous, and not just because
we were in the middle of nowhere, because if anything happened to us, it would take awhile for anyone to find us.
“Come on Jennifer. It will be fine.” She got out and motioned for me to come with her. I opened my door and got out. I breathed out a sigh. “That is a terrible, horrible, incredibly foolish idea. Let’s do it and see what happens.”
After exploring for a half hour, we go back out to talk in the car.
“Is this really what we want?” I ask, turning in my seat to face her.
“I want it,” she responds, looking back at me with pleading eyes. “I need to meet him.”
“Okay,” I reply, sighing and leaning back in my seat. “Wake me up when he gets here.” I close my eyes and listen to the sound of Jordan breathing until I fall into a deep sleep.
“He’s coming!” Jordan shouts, shaking me out of my slumberous state. I look at the time; it’s been two hours. A car drives past and we duck below so the driver can’t see us. After he passes, we sit up and watch him pull into the driveway and get out. It’s him. We slowly and quietly get out. We wait until he’s in the house before we walk up to the door.
“You knock,” I gesture at the door. “This was your idea.” I step back and she knocks. I’m so nervous about this. We hear someone get up and walk to the door.
“Can I help you?” asks a tall, muscular man standing in the doorway.
I breathe out a nervous sigh. “Dad?”
The playground at an elementary school; Riverdate Elementary to be exact. That’s where I met the man of my dreams. It was a hot July day, and I was playing with my younger sister on the swings. The swing kept creaking with every swing back and forth. The squeals and laughter of the others kids could be faintly heard over the noise of the swing and the ringing in my ears.
“Kayti, who is that guy?” my little sister, JoAnn, asked, pointing at a guy sitting on the bench across the park. He had dark brown hair and he was wearing a light blue t-shirt with washed out blue jeans with an intense look on his face. He was staring at me, and I didn’t know how long he had been there.
“I don’t know JoAnn. How long has he been there?” I responded, concerned because he was kind of creepy. I pushed hard on the swing to give her an underdog. On the way back down, she responded.
“He was sitting there when we got here. He started staring at you when we played on the jungle gym.” She squealed as I gave her another underdog. I thought about what she said, and figured that he’d been staring at me for a good 20 minutes. I gave him a funny look and he got up and walked over to us.
“Hello. Can I help you?” I asked as he approached.
“Hi. I couldn’t help but stare at you. You’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen,” he replied with a dashing, but kind of creepy smile.
“And you would be….” I asked, my hands making a sweeping gesture, as if I could gather his name in them.
“Oh, my apologies. I’m Eric. We go to the same high school. I’m a grade above you,” he stuck out his hand for me to shake. I shook his hand and gave JoAnn another underdog.
“What do you want?” JoAnn asked when she had stopped swinging. “You’re creepy.”
“JoAnn, be nice. He just wanted to say hello,” I gave her a stern look, trying to convey that she was going to be in trouble if she was mean again.
“Actually,” he cut in, “I was wondering if you wanted to go on a walk with me tomorrow.”
“I barely know you, and I have to babysit my sister and her friends tomorrow,” I said with a shrug.
“You can bring us here, and walk around.” JoAnn cut in, smiling and wagging her eyebrows at me.
“Perfect! I’ll see you tomorrow at two.” He smiled and walked away, waving.
“JoAnn! I can’t walk with him! I barely know him.”
“Yes you can. Plus I know you like him already.” She stuck out her tongue.
“Really? How would you know this bit of information?” I replied smugly.
“Because you couldn’t stop smiling.”
“Let’s go home,” I said laughing because she was kind of right. We got home around five. I made her supper and we settled down to watch a movie. My parents were on vacation and wouldn’t be back for another week; it was just JoAnn and me. After the movie was over I put her in bed, locked all of the doors, and went to bed.
I woke up the next day to my sister saying that she was hungry and her friends were going to be here soon. I looked at the time and shot straight up in bed. It was already noon. JoAnn needed lunch and I needed to shower. My hair was sticking up all over, reminding me of Princess Anna in Frozen.
“I’ll get your food started and then I’m going to shower. We can go to the park when I get done. If you’re friends get here before I get out, just play some games or something.” I said, while getting the stuff out to make her a grilled cheese sandwich. I finished making the sandwich for her and ran to get in the shower. I got out 10 minutes later and could hear her friends in the living room. I quickly got dressed in a white t-shirt and blue bibs. I dried my hair and put on a little bit of mascara and lip gloss.
“Let’s go.” I walked into the kitchen and grabbed JoAnn’s shoes. I helped her put them on and tied them for her. Her friends all put on their shoes and grabbed coats for later. We walked to the park, and I got them all on the swings. “Okay, I’m going to go for a short walk. I should be back in a little bit. Be good and stay together. JoAnn can call me if you have any trouble. I have my phone on me.” I waved and turned around to see Eric standing right behind me. I jumped about a foot in the air and squealed.
“Hey. Sorry to scare you. Are you ready?” He asked.
“Yeah, let’s go.” I said and started to walk away. He followed and when we were out of sight he stopped me. “What?” I asked.
“I really like you,” he said, intently staring me in the eyes.
“I just met you,” I replied. “Let’s just walk, okay?”
“Okay. But, can I see you again sometime?” He asked, his eyes questioning.
“Sure, but again, let’s just walk for right now.” He nodded and continued to walk. I walked beside him and two minutes later he grabbed my hand. I let him because it felt nice, and he was super cute, like the man of my dreams. We walked back into the park 10 minutes later. Everyone was accounted for and it was time to go home.
“See you later.” Eric hollered as he walked away.
“Bye.” I hollered back over my shoulder, rounding up the kids and walking home. JoAnn’s friends were spending the night, so I made them all supper and we watched a movie. It was a daily routine for JoAnn and me, so I included her friends. They were all asleep before the movie was over, so I turned it off and got everyone blankets. I covered them up, locked the doors and went to bed.
A week later, JoAnn woke me up by jumping around my room in her Olaf footie pajamas screaming.
“Mom and Dad are back! Mom and Dad are back!” she yelled.
“Shhh. I know they are. We have to go pick them up at the airport in,” I paused to look at the clock, “3 hours. Get in the shower and get dressed.” I got out of bed and went downstairs to make breakfast. When I was finished I went to JoAnn’s room and knocked on the door.
“Breakfast is downstairs on the table. I’m getting in the shower. I’ll be done about 20 minutes.” I got in the shower and washed my hair, thinking about Eric. I hadn’t seen him since we went on the walk in the park. I finished showering and toweled off. I went to my room and opened my closet doors. A huge pile of shirts that were on the floor fell out. I sorted through them for a shirt. I pulled out a light blue cardigan and a black tank top. I opened my jeans drawer and pulled out a pair of dark blue jeans with sparkles in them. I put my clothes on and blow-dried my hair. I put on a light coat of eyeliner and mascara. I added a touch of lip gloss and grabbed my socks and shoes. I checked JoAnn’s room to see if she was getting ready. She wasn’t in there so I headed downstairs. She was sitting on the couch putting her shoes on.
“I’m going to stop by the bank and grab some money so we can have something for lunch,” I said as I sat beside her and put on my own lime green and purple fuzzy socks and shoes.
“Okay,” she responded, standing up and stretching. I stood up as well and headed for the door. I grabbed my coat and went out to the car. JoAnn followed me out and got in the passenger side. I went to the bank and grabbed $50 for lunch. We had half an hour to get to the airport. It was an hour away. I drove out south of town and got on the interstate. I sped all the way to the airport and made it just as the flight was unloading. We waited as Mom and Dad unboarded. After they got their things, they met us at the gates and we hugged and cried because we hadn’t seen each other in almost three weeks.
“We had so much fun, but I missed you girls so much,” Mom said, in tears. Dad nodded his agreement and hugged us really tight. After that, we all went out to the car and I drove us to a nice restaurant for lunch. We ate and talked all about their trip.
“The island was beautiful. There were birds flying all round in the sky and the ocean was a clear, bright blue. You could see the fish and other sea creatures swimming around. We went scuba diving and snorkeling with this other couple. They were really nice and we hung out with them the whole time. They have kids about your ages,” Mom went on with the details of the trip. She talked about it for the whole hour we were at lunch. When we got back in the car, she drove and turned the conversation to us. “What did you girls do while we were gone?”
“Kayti started dating a boy,” JoAnn blurted before I could speak. Mom glanced at me in the rearview mirror.
“Really? Is he nice?” she asked.
“Yeah,” I looked out the window as we drove the rest of the way home, blocking out the noises. I thought about Eric and a future I might have with him.
“Thank you so much ma’am!” the woman said as she clutched my arm, frightened. “I would have been squashed by that bus if it hadn’t been for you running out there to save me.”
“It was nothing,” I said, blushing and trying to get away from the crowd. I had acted on impulse, not wanting her to get killed, but also not thinking about the crowd we were drawing with the whole endeavor.
“Oh deary, what can I do to repay you for saving my life?” she inquired. I blushed more and shook my head.
“Oh it’s fine,” I said, ducking my head and tried to pull away. “It was nothing.”
“You’re a lifesaver!” someone shouted from in the crowd. News travels fast because as they said that, a news van pulled up.
“Breaking news, a teenaged girl just saved the life of this older lady!” the news reporter pointed to me and the woman. I tried to break away, again, but the reporter came over to talk to me. “What’s your name ma’am?” She shoved the microphone in my face. She, and everyone watching, waited for my reply.
“M-Megan,” I stammered. “Megan Stockworth.”
“Well, Megan, you’re a great gal. Not many would have done that. What went through your mind? Why did you jump out in front of the bus to save her?” the reporter asked eagerly. It seemed as if everyone was leaning in to hear my reply and I was feeling a bit dizzy.
“I didn’t think. I just k-knew that she needed my help.” I shrugged and looked at the ground.
“Remarkable. You’re an amazing person. Such a role model.” the reporter said to me. She turned the camera from me to the older woman, and I was finally out of the spot light. I waved a small goodbye to the woman I had saved and pushed my way through the crowd of people. I broke through the crowd and immediately felt so much better. Standing there, in the middle of everyone, made me feel like I was locked in a box. Now that I was out, I felt like someone had opened that bock and set me free. I rushed home to do my work. The whole way I was thinking about what those people had said. Was I really a lifesaver? Did I have the confidence to save someone? I thought I might, but being in the spotlight about it made me nervous. Maybe someday I would be able to get used to it. I was like Batman, saving lives while in the shadows. It sounded cool, and the thought stuck with me as I got home and did my chores before eating supper and going to bed. As I shut off the light to go to sleep, I smiled. Maybe I really was amazing and a role model; shy, but a role model nonetheless.
“This sucks. I wish I had someone to be my Valentine.” Jewel, my BFF, sighs as she walks down the hall. Well, more like she glides down the hall because she’s the most beautiful person on earth. Yup, I’m totally in love with her. I want to tell her, but I’m too scared that she’ll shoot me down. “Josh! You’re not even listening to me!”
“Sorry,” I respond, giving her my full attention, “What were you saying?”
“I said, this sucks. I wish I had someone to be my Valentine,” She yells, right in my ear.
“Uh huh,” I whisper, overhearing a couple exchange luv you’s and gifts. I glimpse a girl’s phone as she types ILU to, I assume, her boyfriend. I hate when people don’t spell it out, but I guess it’s not any of my business. I glance at Jewel and sigh. She is as beautiful as her name suggests. We settle into a comfortable silence as we shuffle to our first hour. We have five out of eight classes together, not including lunch, which we also have together. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Jewel straighten her hair and stand upright like a pin. I search the halls to see who she has spotted. All of a sudden Ethan appears in my line of sight. He’s gigantic at 5 foot 8 inches tall. He always wears a black v-neck t-shirt and washed out jeans or jeans with rips in them. Today he’s sporting the ripped jeans and the black shirt. He’s also sporting a huge bouquet of roses and handing one to every girl that passes by.
“For you,” he says, handing a rose to Jewel and winking at her. She practically melts into a puddle at his feet. I scoff and keep walking. That boy is so popular and he makes me mad. No, this has nothing to do with the fact that he’s everything that I’m not. He’s tall and handsome; I’m short at 5 foot 3 inches tall, and I have glasses. I bet he has 20/20 vision because he’s so perfect. I wish that I could have that effect on Jewel. I dream of the day she straightens her beautiful hair and stands straight like a pin for me, but that day will never come. We reach first hour and I head to my seat, still thinking about Ethan’s effect on Jewel, and how different and awkward I am compared to him.
“Okay class. The day has started. Let’s open your books. The assignment is on the board. It’s due tomorrow.” With that announcement, my Chemistry teacher, Mr. Gifford, sits at his desk and props his feet on the table, pulling out his newspaper. He does this almost every morning. Occasionally he will actually teach us enough that we can do the eight assignments that he assigns for the rest of the week. I spend the entire class period staring at Jewel from the corner of my eye. I’ll do the homework tonight or tomorrow morning.
“Psst. Josh!” Jewel whispers, trying to get my attention.
“What?” I whisper back.
“Are you free tonight?” My heart skips a beat, but then I figure that she’ll just want help on the homework.
“Yeah, why?” I sound completely lame because it’s Valentine’s Day and I have nothing better to do than go home.
“Can you help me with my homework?” I nod, figuring that’s what she wanted. She would never go for a guy like me, only in my dreams. “You’re the best!” She returns to her attention to her desk and starts to write something on a paper. I lean over a little, trying to catch a glimpse of what she’s writing. She sees me trying to peek and she snatches the paper away. I grin and lean back over to continue staring at her from the side. The rest of the day drags on and every time I step out into the hall, I’m bombarded with couples saying I love you and giving each other gifts. I rush home at the end of the day, texting Jewel that she can come over at five if she wants to eat supper with my family.
“Hi mom! I’m home.” I holler when I get home. I go straight to my room. I’ve got a great plan, but I’m super nervous about it. I want to ask Jewel to prom. We’re seniors and this is the only chance I have because we’ll be off to college next year. Plus, since I have to wait to do my homework until Jewel gets here, I have time to work on the poster. I already went to the store and bought some candy to go with the poster. I also bought her a Valentine’s Day gift, but I didn’t want to give it to her at school.
“Knock knock.” My mom says as she opens the door.
“Yes?” I question.
“Do I need to set an extra plate out for supper tonight?”
“Yeah. Jewel said that she will be over around 4:30.” I pull out my markers and poster paper.
“Whatcha working on?” She comes over and plops herself down beside me.
“I want to ask Jewel to prom,” I say, bashfully.
“Aww. That’s so nice. Well, I’ll leave you alone so you can get to work on a beautiful poster. I hope she says yes.” Mom smiles and leaves me alone to work.
My brilliant idea is to write It would be sweet if you would be mine. Prom? I’m going to tape some Sweet Tarts and little boxes of the conversation hearts to the poster because they are her favorite candies. I’m so busy working on the poster so it can be perfect that I don’t even comprehend who my mom is talking to and telling them that I’m in my room.
“Knock knock.” Jewel sticks her head in the crack of my open door. I scramble to hide everything before she knows what I’m working on. “Can I come in?”
“Yeah,” I reply, “Just let me finish putting this away and get my homework out.” I quickly put away the rest of my belongings and grab my bag. “Okay, come on in.” I sit on my bed and she comes and sits beside me.
“What were you working on?” she inquires with a sparkle in her eyes.
“Absolutely nothing of importance,” I state, breathless from moving so quickly.
“If it was nothing, you would have let me see it, and you wouldn’t have moved so fast to hide everything,” she remarks smugly.
“Okay, fine. It was something, but it’s not done yet…. And you aren’t allowed to see it because I don’t want the surprise to be ruined.” I cross my arms and glare at her.
“Oh come on! You can tell me anything. I tell you everything.” This is very true, which is why I can’t tell her about my poster. Well, that and the fact that I’m way not ready to ask her to prom yet.
“Maybe later. Now, let’s work on homework. Supper will be ready soon so we need to get a lot done before you go home.” I pull out the Chemistry homework. The time flies by as I try to explain quantum mechanics to her. Mom knocks on the door just as we are finishing up.
“Supper is ready. Hope you got a lot done.” We head out to the dining room as my mom sets the food on the table.
“This smells delicious Emily.” Jewel delicately sits in a chair and I push it in for her, like I always do because my mom taught me manners. My father does the same thing for my mom. We eat pretty much in silence until my mom asks me a question.
“Did you get your poster finished before Jewel got here Josh?”
“What poster?” My dad asks, looking at me. “Is it a school project? I thought you were only working on homework when Jewel came.”
“No dear. He was working on a poster to ask…” I glare at my mom, praying that she doesn’t say anything more about it. “...someone to something.” Mom winks at me. I shake my head and stare down at my plate.
“Ooh. Who are you asking? What are you asking?” Jewel sits straight up and fixes her hair. The day I’ve dreamed of is finally here. She has finally fixed her hair and straightened up for me. I’m not taking advantage of it though because I shoot her down.
“Nobody. It was for a friend.” I lie.
“You’re a bad liar Josh,” Jewel teases, poking me in the sides. I see my mom smiling and tap Jewel’s hands away. My mom thinks it’s just the cutest thing ever. I can tell by the sparkle in her eye. My dad, however, is eyeing me with suspicion. I think he’s onto me. We finish up supper and I start to head back to my room, but my mom stops me.
“Can you help me clear the table Josh?” Mom asks. Jewel is already picking things up. I nod and help Jewel and my mom carry things into the kitchen. Jewel heads back into the dining room to grab more dishes when my mom stops her. “It’s okay. Josh and I can clean up the rest. Why don’t you go wait for him in his room. It shouldn’t take more than a minute.” Jewel nods and goes to my room. Totally forgetting that my poster is in there and she saw me put it up, I shrug and grab more dishes. We finish up and I remember that I got Jewel a Valentine’s Day gift.
“Mom, I need you to get Jewel out here and entertain her. I have something to give her.” My mom raises her eyebrows questioningly. I shake my head no. “It’s a Valentine’s Day gift. It’s in my room and I don’t want her to see it when I grab it.”
“Okay sweetie.” She goes into my room and Jewel bounds out after her. She grins at me and my heart drops. What if she looked at it? What if she saw the poster? I smile back and run to my room. The poster is where I felt it, seemingly untouched. I grab the gift and scamper into the living room.
“Here,” I shake as I hand her the gift. It’s a teddy bear and a heart-shaped box of chocolates.
“Thank you!” she takes my gift and pulls out a wrapped gift of her own. “I wasn’t sure what you like so I just got you this.” She hands it to me and I unwrap it. It’s a drawing book. I love to draw so this is perfect. “I always see you scribbling on your homework so I figured that you might want somewhere to keep all of your creations.” She smiles and hugs the teddy bear.
“Well, this is cute. Are you two done with your homework?” My dad breaks the silence. I shake my head and absentmindedly flip through my new drawing book.
“Will you be here all night Jewel?” Mom inquires.
“I don’t know. We have a lot of homework, but I’ll have to ask my mom.” She pulls out her phone and calls her mom. “Hey mom, can I stay at Josh’s house tonight? We have a lot of homework to do yet.” She pauses as her mom responds. “Yes mom, I’ll be good. I promise.” She pauses again. “Okay mom. I’ll miss you too. Bye.” She gets off the phone and nods. “Mom said I can stay.”
“Okay. Just don’t stay up too late. You have school tomorrow. Do you have clothes for tomorrow?” Mom asks.
“Yeah. I have an extra pair in my car for emergencies. I’ll go grab them.” She runs out to her car.
“Be good Josh. No doing things you aren’t supposed to.” Dad winks at me and Mom smiles.
“Only you two would think I would ever do such a thing.” I laugh and Jewel returns with clothes.
“Thanks so much for letting me stay. Let’s go work on homework.” We head back to my room and start on our history assignment.
We work early into the next morning. I wake up to my alarm going off at 6:00 a.m. I don’t remember falling asleep, especially with Jewel laying on me. I turn the alarm off and look down. She is curled up on the bed beside me with her head on my chest and her arm curled around my midsection. I smile because this is about as close as I’m going to ever get to her, and she would never fall asleep in bed with me on purpose. I attempt to quietly slip out from under her to go shower. She stirs a little bit, but I make it out okay. I look back down at her when I stand up. Her hair is all over and stuck in her mouth. Her clothes are rumpled and her shirt is riding up a little bit. I pull it down and cover her up with my blanket. I grab some clothes and head to the bathroom.
I finish showering and get dressed. I look in the mirror and think that I look too much like Ethan, so I take my shirt off and walk back to my room. Forgetting that Jewel is in there, I walk right in on her changing.
“I’m so sorry,” I say backing out and shutting the door. My face is bright red as I stand outside my door holding my shirt, waiting for Jewel to finish. She comes out a minute later and slips past me and heads into the bathroom. I walk back into my room and find a different shirt to wear. Jewel walks back in, takes one look at me, and shakes her head.
“No. You need to wear a different shirt with those jeans. They’re too light colored to go with that shirt.” She start rummaging through my shirts and pulls out the one I just put back. “Try this one. It will look better.” I shake my head and start to protest, but she’s already trying to take my shirt off me and put the other one on me like she’s my mom. I laugh and struggle away from her. I effortlessly slip my shirt off and hold my hand out for the other one, keenly aware that I am shirtless and Jewel is now staring at me, dumbfounded. “You have abs!” she exclaims, slowly handing me my shirt.
“Yeah, and you have legs,” I snatch the shirt up and slip it on. “Quit looking at me like that please. You’re making me feel like an alien that you’re dissecting.” I shuffle out the door and downstairs for breakfast. About a minute minute later, I realize that Jewel hasn’t followed me down. I bound back up the stairs. I tiptoe to my room and peek inside. I don’t see Jewel so I tiptoe in and look around. My closet door isn’t standing open like I left it. I slip over to it and slowly open it, a little scared that something might jump out at me. Nothing jumps out at me, but someone is in my closet. Jewel is sitting on the floor with my poster in her hands. She looks up at me questioningly.
“Who is this for?” She holds up with poster like it’s a prize.
“Uhhh, you….” I can feel my face turning bright red and I look away from her intense gaze. She jumps up and squashes me in a gigantic hug. I awkwardly pat her back and she releases me. I look at her, hope shining in my eyes and fear building up in my heart. “So will you… go to prom with me?”
“Absolutely! This is amazing! AND, these are my favorite candies. You’re the best friend I’ve ever had!”
“Yeah, the best friend,” I whisper as she bounces out of my room and downstairs. “The best friend,” I whisper again as I make my way downstairs as well. That might be all I am to her, but at least it’s something, and at least she said yes.
The biggest, brightest rainbows are nothing compared to the radiant smile on her beautiful face, her long and golden hair, and gorgeous blue eyes. I stare dreamily at her while she laughs and goofs around with her friends on the nice autumn day; the leaves blow softly in the wind and drift down to the ground like little orange stars descending to earth. The swing creaks as her friend pushes Emily as high as she can get at 5 feet 5 inches, and as she swings back, her laugh is breathtaking.
“Dude. It’s freezing. Stop daydreaming about Emily and let’s go!” Jacob pulls me back to the present. We can hear the girls laughing and talking on the swings. I roll my baby blue eyes and stand up to my full 5 feet 8 inches, brushing the dirt and grass off of my pants, and running my hands through my sandy blonde hair.
“Please, it was your idea to follow them. Always trying to see what your girl is doing.” I grin because this always makes him mad. He scowls and his bright green eyes narrow as he also runs his hands through his dark brown hair before throwing them in the air, walking up to me thinking that his 5 feet 6 inches broad frame is intimidating, and whisper-yelling at me.
“She’s not my girl! Yet. Besides, you daydream about Emily way more than I do about anything.” Jacob crosses his arms.
“Oh enough you two! You fight more that an old married couple with cats and dogs!” Adam pulls us back and we crouch abruptly. There are no more noise coming from the swings. We all peek through the bushes and can’t find the girls. I hear breathing coming from the other side, and I jump up.
“Go go go!” I bolt with the others following me. We’ve been caught. I can hear the girls laughing behind us and I run faster, all the way to Nash’s house. He lives closest to the school, and the park. We are all spending the night at his house. Taylor, one of the girls we happened to be spying on, lives right across from him.
“We have to stop doing that! This makes the 4th time we’ve been caught. One day they’re going to call the police. I bet they think we’re crazy!” Nash gasps as his long-legged 6 feet 2 inches barrels into his room. We laugh and follow him through, throwing our bags on the floor and flopping onto his bed. I kick my shoes off and relax back onto the mahogany headboard as he continues to rant. “Miles, this is your fault! If you hadn’t pointed them out, we wouldn’t have to bolt here every day.” He narrows his dark green eyes at me and sits at his desk, his red hair blowing up from the mini breeze he creates.
“Hey! This isn’t my fault. I wasn’t the one who said we should follow them. That was Jacob.” I laugh and shake my head. “Now, homework or posters?”
“Homework, and after supper we can work on posters,” Nash replies, “I don’t want to get in trouble for not having my homework done.” We all nod and work on our homework until supper time. After supper we spend the rest of the night working on posters. Jacob is the only one who finished. His poster is super cool, but his idea is going to be kind of hard to do. He needs to sneak into the house and do it, which is not an easy task with locked doors. Having no clue where the bathroom is, I call Sally, one of the girls at the park who happens to be spending the night at Taylor’s, and ask if she can help us and not ruin the surprise. She agrees and lets us into the house.
“What are you guys going to do?” Sally whispers, helping us get the balloons into the shower. “Who are you asking?”
“Taylor. She’s about this tall,” Jacob holds his hand up to about 5 feet 4 inches, “ with long, dark hair and brown eyes. You need to make sure that she showers first. I don’t want to scare one of the other girls,” Jacob admits shyly. He pulls out his poster, which is really fantastic. It says “It would be a shower of fun if you’d go up to prom with me. Yes? No?” Sally takes us to another room and we stay there waiting for morning, which is in a couple hours.
“Okay. I’m going to get her up now. Go get ready,” Sally whispers excitedly as she bounces up and down before skipping out the door to get Taylor. We go back into the bathroom and climb into the shower. It’s a tight fit, but we all make it. Jacob holds his sign, and breathes out a nervous sigh.
“What if she says no? We went through all of this work.”
“Dude,” Nash looks at Jacob sideways, “she’ll say yes. You’re awesome. Now shh because she’s coming.” We could hear Taylor opening the door. We all inhale and stand as quietly as possible as she opens the shower curtain.
“AHH!” Taylor screams and jumps back as the balloons fall out. “You sca-” she stops as she looks up. “Oh Jacob, yes!” She jumps and hugs him. We all stand there, awkwardly squished in the shower, smiling and clapping. “Okay, now out because I need to get ready.”
“No! Pictures. I need lots of pictures.” Sally’s entire 5 feet 7 inches bursts into the room, her dark brown eyes sparkling with excitement, and fire engine red hair flying behind her, to make Jacob pose with Taylor. After taking about a million pictures, Taylor pushes us all out so she can get ready. We leave and go get ourselves ready. We all walk to school together.
“Your assignment is on the board. It’s due tomorrow,” Mrs. Hertz, my Spanish teacher, points to the board and sits down. “You have the remainder of class to work on it. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.” Instead of working on the homework, I pull out my poster and work on it. I finish it by the end of class. I quickly put it back in my bag as the bell rings.
“I need to go to Emily’s locker. Are you coming?” I ask the guys when I meet them in the hall. They nod and we all head over together. Emily is already at her locker, so I stop and pull the poster and a four leaf clover pillow out of my bag. I hand my bag to Nash and we walk over to her locker. I show her the poster which reads I would be a lucky man if you’d go to Prom with me. The four leaf clover pillow has yes taped on one side and no taped on the other. I hand her the pillow and she hands it back with the yes side facing me, and a big grin on her face. She hugs me as everyone standing around to watch claps and cheers. Jane looks mad, I think, as I pose with Emily so she can take a picture. I shrug it off and we all walk together to our next classes. Jane pulls Emily aside and I slow down to eavesdrop.
“You know I like Miles! Why would you say yes?” Jane whines, her emerald eyes brimming with tears. Her shiny black hair shakes as she stomps her feet. She looks like a 5 feet 6 inches baby when she does that, I think, holding my hand to my mouth to stop myself from laughing.
“Get over it Jane. He asked me and I like him. Besides, why should I say no? Just so you can have him? We aren’t even friends. The only reason I talk to you is because we are both friends with Taylor,” Emily replies, haughtily, while rolling her eyes. I walk back to the group and pretend like I didn’t hear anything. That would explain why Jane looked mad, I think as she and Emily rejoin the group. The rest of the day goes by fast and at the end we meet up by the front doors.
“Hey, do you guys want to go to a movie next Friday?” Adam asks.
“Sure. What movie are we going to see?” Taylor replies.
“We can decide that next week right? Let’s get ice cream right now,” Emily cuts in.
“Sounds great!” Adam exclaims. We all start to walk out and Adam pulls Jane aside. “Hey, do you want to go to the park with me?”
“Sure. Right now?”
“Yeah, if you’re not busy.” Adam replies, bashfully, lowering his hazel eyes to look at his 6 foot frame, his jet black hair hanging in his face, cheeks tinged pink. I can’t believe he’s doing this on his own, I think. We skipped class to decorate the park so I hope it goes well! I wish I had the guts to have asked Emily by myself.
“Yeah, sounds great! Let’s go.” They walk off toward the park and the rest of us continue in the other direction, toward the ice cream shop. After we got ice cream we head to Taylor’s house to hang out. The rest of the week flows by in a blur of excitement until Friday.
“What movie are we watching? I need to get the tickets,” Taylor asks.
“I’m paying tonight. My treat to a group of great girls,” Nash responds, mostly looking at Sally.
“You’re so kind Nash!” Sally exclaims. Nash blushes and mumbles a thank you. “Let’s watch Beauty and the Beast.” I groan and Nash elbows me.
“Great. I’ll go buy the tickets. You guys get the snacks. Sally can you help me?” Sally nods and she and Nash go buy the tickets while the rest of us order our snacks and drinks. They join us again after a couple minutes and pass out the tickets.
“I’ll have a box of Nerds please,” Sally points to the box, “and a medium Pepsi.”
“I’ll have a large popcorn and a medium Pepsi,” Nash states, pulling out his wallet.
“Are these together?” the worker asks. Nash nods yes and the same time Sally shakes her head no.
“I’ll pay,” Nash replies.
“Okay. That will be $21.75.” Nash hands over the cash and the worker hands him the snacks and Sally the drinks. They join the rest of us and we walk into the movie room to pick a spot. The movie ends and it is pretty good, even though it’s more of a kid movie.
“That was a good movie,” Taylor says, standing up to stretch. She heads over to the trash and throws her garbage away.
“Yeah, it really was,” Jacob says, following her to the trash. They smile at each other and hold hands. The rest of us throw our trash away and follow them out.
“Hey, Miles,” Nash whispers, grabbing my arm.
“What?” I ask, slowing and turning to face him.
“I’m scared to ask her. Will you back me up?” Nash pleads, shaking because he’s really nervous.
“Of course dude. I’ll always have your back,” I playfully slug his shoulder and he smiles.
“Thank you,” he takes a big breath, “I’m going to ask her right now.” We run to catch up with the group and he pulls Sally back. I slow down to stay and support him. “Hey, Sally,” he blows out a shaky sigh, “will you go to Prom with me?” He looks so hopeful. He’s the softest of us guys, I think.
“Oh Nash, of course I will!” Sally grins and jumps into his arms squealing. Nash blows out another sigh and spins her around with the biggest grin on his face.
“That’s so sweet,” Emily says, walking up, wrapping her arm in mine, and smiling at me with her beautiful rainbow smile.
“Yeah, he’s the softest of us all,” I grin and we glide away, like a princess with her prince.
“Oh, I’ll be right back. I need to talk to Jane a minute,” Emily unlinks her arm from mine and skips over to Jane. “Hey Jane, can I talk to you?”
“I guess. What do you want Emily?” Jane replies, a little sassy.
“I want to apologize for last week. What I said was wrong and mean. I really am your friend, hopefully, and I hope you can forgive me,” Emily looks down bashfully, waiting for Jane to reply.
“I forgive you,” Jane says, hugging Emily. They embrace for a minute and then pull apart. “I found someone else.” She looks adoringly over at Adam and smiles. He’s acting like a doofus, dancing around and singing a song from the movie with Jacob. We all laugh and continue shuffling to the car with the cold night breeze blowing around us.
“I thought he was never going to ask,” Sally whispers right behind me, making me jump.
“Yeah. He was really nervous about asking you, but he did good,” I smile and we continue to the car in a peaceful silence. We all pile in and drive to Nash’s house.
“Are you girls going to stay the night, or are you staying with Taylor?” Jacob asks as we pull into the driveway.
“We’ll stay here, if that’s okay with Nash,” Taylor replies, snuggling into Jacob.
“That’s fine. You girls can stay,” Nash responds. We all pile out and head into the house. We stay up for a little bit longer, but soon the girls all fall asleep and we cover them up and settle in ourselves. The month flies by and pretty soon it’s Prom Day.
“Come on! We need to hurry. The boys will be here any minute!” Taylor shouts from the bathroom at Sally’s house.
“We would if your poky butt would hurry up and get out of there. You’re hair is fine,” Jane jokingly yells back. Taylor comes out of the bathroom, laughing and shaking her head. The rest of the girls rotate in to look at themselves in the mirror and make everything perfect. The doorbell rings and they all look at each other. “I’m not going to answer it.” Jane crosses her arms and shakes her head. The other girls look at each other and shake their heads as well.
“Hey Mom,” Sally yells, “ will you get the door?”
“Sure sweetie!” her mom yells back. The girls all stand at the top of the stairs, just out of view from the living room. They can hear the boys coming in and Sally’s mom taking them to the living room. “Okay. Here comes Jane!” Jane glides down the stairs in her light blue, slightly puffy and ruffled, ankle-length prom dress with matching high heels.
“You look amazing,” Adam breathes, taking her hand. They stand off to the side to wait for the other girls. She really does look good, but I bet Emily is just stunning, I think.
“You look beautiful honey,” Sally’s mom states. Turning around she calls, “Okay, Taylor’s next!” Taylor floats down the stairs in her dark purple, ankle-length mermaid prom dress with black high heels.
“Gorgeous,” Jacob states, taking her hand and going to stand by Adam and Jane.
“He’s right,” Sally’s mom agrees, turning around to call the next girl. “Okay, now it’s Emily’s turn!” Emily breezes down the stairs in her light pink, knee-length flowy prom dress with matching high heels.
“Stunning,” Sally’s mom states, and I nod my agreement, totally speechless. She looks better than I could ever imagine. I’m so happy that I got a girl like her, I think. I take her hand and we stand by the other two couples. “Best for last,” Sally’s mom winks, “Sally’s turn!” Sally descends down the stairs and Nash just about falls. She looks great in her darker pink, knee-length prom dress and matching high heels. Sally ducks her head as Nash whistles at her and takes her hand. “Corsage time!” Sally’s mom claps and grabs the boxes off the table, passing them out according to color. We slip them on the girls and take a bunch of pictures before leaving. There’s a long line for walk-in when we get there, but it’s worth the wait. The rest of the families show up and take a bunch more pictures of everyone.
“This is really fun,” Taylor smiles and snuggles into Jacob as they dance to a slow song. We are all out on the dance floor dancing.
“Yeah, it really is,” Jacob smiles as he rests his chin on Taylor’s head and glides around the room with her. We all nod and continue dancing. Emily and I glide over and dance beside Adam and Jane.
“Hey, I’m really glad that you’re happy with Adam,” Emily whispers to Jane when the song ends.
“Me too,” Jane replies, smiling and skipping over to the drinks. Soon Prom ends and After Prom is being set up.
“You guys want to get out of here and go get ice cream?” I ask, adjusting my tie because it’s starting to choke me.
“Please,” Sally sighs, leaning on Nash and rubbing her feet where the blisters are from her shoes. We all laugh and go over to the ice cream shop.
“I’ll pay this time,” Emily says after we all order. “I’ve got money in my purse.”
“No. I’m paying. This was my idea,” I pull out my wallet. Emily nods and steps back. Normally she would have commanded that she pay. Maybe she’s just tired, I think, handing the cashier a $20. I get my change and we head to the park.
“It’s cold,” Sally complains, huddling closer to Nash.
“Here, you can have my jacket,” Nash says, taking her ice cream, handing Sally his jacket, pulling her close again when she gets it on, and handing back her ice cream.
“This is the best night ever!” I yell, throwing my arms wide and spinning around like a child. Everybody nods in agreement and we settle in and hang out at the park until it’s too cold, and we head to Nash’s house to sleep. This has been amazing, I think, cuddling with Emily. I’m so lucky that I got a girl with a radiant smile brighter and more beautiful than the biggest, brightest rainbows. I drift off to sleep pondering the rest of the year with Emily.
With her backpack banging against her, Willow bounds through the forest glancing back every few seconds to see if the police are still following her. Her heavy breathing and hammering heart muffles the sounds of men yelling and dogs barking. She glances back again and, when she turns around, she slams into a branch that is hanging down. Stumbling around, she trips over a fallen tree and her backpack goes flying. Willow scrambles to get up, whipping around to find her bag. Giving up, she looks back to see how close the police have gotten. Not seeing them through the tree branches, but still able to hear their pounding footsteps, she turns around and runs again. She stumbles onto a road and sees an oncoming car. Willow sticks her thumb out and the car slows to a stop.
“Hey there, do you need a lift?” asks the nice man behind the wheel of a blue Chevy pickup truck with rust around the bottom. He’s wearing a nice cotton button up with faded blue jeans. Willow nods and climbs in the truck. “What’s your name, kid?”
“Willow Jones, sir,” Willow responds, staring longingly out the window through the forest to her old town.
“Jon Anges. Nice to meet you. Where you from?” Jon inquires, glancing sideways at her.
“Corinth, Mississippi,” Willow turns to look at him.
“That’s a ways from here girlie. This here is Tennessee. I don’t suppose you want to tell me what happened? What’s a pretty girl like yourself doing in the woods? You running away from you agent?” Jon keeps driving as Willow studies his face. What is it about this man? He reminds me of Dad, always asking questions, she thinks, her eyes brimming with tears. I miss them. “Hey don’t cry. I had no right butting into your personal problems. My apologies.”
“It’s okay, and I don’t have an agent,” Willow sniffles, wiping her eyes, not aware that she had started crying. “Where are we going?”
“Back to my place, if that’s alright. I figure that you’ll need a place to stay, being as you probably don’t have any money to stay in a hotel.” Jon nods at Willow and her little belongings. She looks back and gives her consent. “You’re a very pretty girl. Maybe I can get you a job in my business.” Jon smiles and finally pulls into his driveway. They hop out of the truck and Willow stares up at a tall light blue two-story house with elegant white pillars, a front porch and a beautiful balcony on the top.
“This is amazing. You must be good at what you do,” she revels at the marvelous house. Turning in circles, she takes in the rest of her surroundings before being ushered into the house by Jon. “Oh,” she exclaims, stopping short in the entryway, “there are more girls here. Does every girl you give a job to live with you?”
Jon laughs and nods. “You could say that. Now, let’s get you settled in. Sandy, would you please show Willow to her room? Make her comfortable.” An elegant woman walks forward. She is tall, about five feet seven inches, with long ebony hair and dark chocolate eyes.
“Absolutely, Jon,” she purrs, pulling Willow with her. “This way hun. Your room is at the back, being as you are the last girl we are getting here.” She winks and opens the door to a large room that already has a bed and desk in it. “Unpack your things.” she pauses, looking Willow up and down, “or maybe not, being as you didn’t bring any. I’ll leave you to get comfortable. Oh, by the way, I’m Sandy. Sandy Lewers.”
“Hey, what kind of business is Jon running? He told me I could be in it.” Willow inquires, grabbing Sandy’s arm. Sandy smiles a seductive smile.
“You’ll see real soon honey.” With that, Sandy twitches out and slams the door. Willow leans her ear against the door to listen to the other girls talking in the hall.
“What’s she like, Sandy?” some girl asks.
“Like all confused girls Jon brings home, Baylie. I bet she thinks that he’s going to make her a model. She’s no clue what she’s gotten herself into.” Sandy laughs.
“You should be nicer about her Sandy. You were her once, remember?” a younger voice rebukes.
“Oh shut up, Annabelle! You were the last one before her, and you have nothing to say to me. You cried like a baby for days, you little ginger.” Sandy and Baylie snicker and saunter away. Annabelle knocks on the door and Willow opens it a crack.
“What? Do you want to make fun of me, too?” Willow snaps, making Annabelle jump.
“No. Can I come in, please?” Willow eyes her suspiciously, but nods and opens the door enough to let her through. “You know, it’s going to get harder. And no matter what Jon says, don’t believe him. He’s not a good person. I’ve been here for three years now.” Annabelle plops down onto Willow’s new bed and sighs, leaning back against the wall.
“Three years? That’s a long time. I overheard you girls talking in the hall. Sandy said you were the last one before me and now I’m the last one ever. What does she mean?” Willow sinks down next to Annabelle.
“She means that we aren’t getting any more girls while we’re in this house because there isn’t any more room. The whole upstairs is filled with junk that Jon and Patrick had to move when us girls started moving in. Don’t listen to half the things Sandy says, either. She was the first one here and she got all of Jon and Patrick’s attention before Bailey showed up. They’re best friends. Bailey is the other girl that was in the hall, by the way. She’s just like Sandy,” Annabelle shrugs and closes her eyes. “Oh, when Patrick gets back you have to do a photo shoot. We have clothes for you.”
“Thanks for the heads up. By the way, you never told me. What’s your name?” Willow sits up and turns to look at Annabelle.
“My apologies. I’m Annabelle Kater. I’m seventeen and extremely dumb.” Annabelle opens her eyes and winks at Willow.
“Dumb? No you’re not.” Willow cocks her head to the side.
“I know, but everyone else thinks so. It works to my advantage because I can learn a lot about stuff and everyone thinks I don’t pay attention.” Annabelle smiles.
“That’s awesome. Can we be friends?” Willow smiles shyly.
“Of course! You’re going to need at least one friend here.” Annabelle sits up and hugs Willow. They hear a door shut and they break apart. “Patrick is back with the other girls. Let’s go say hi.” She jumps up, pulling Willow with her.
“How many other girls are here?” Willow asks, stumbling to keep up.
“Five, including me.” They stop in front of the entryway, standing with Sandy and Bailey.
“Is that one Bailey?” Willow whispers, pointing to the girl with short, curly blonde hair. “She’s kind of short.” They both laugh.
“She’s about five feet four inches. I like her style though. The long, dark shirts really go with the colorful flower leggings she wears.” Willow nods. “Who are the other girls?”
“The other two are Elizabeth Winks and Natalie Brown. Everyone calls Elizabeth Lizzy though. She’s the one with long, blonde hair. Natalie is the one with the short, midnight black hair. Patrick is obviously the guy with the brown hair and glasses.” Annabelle points each one out and waves when they turn around.
“Newcomer! How’s it going, shortstack?” The girl called Natalie ruffles Willow’s hair.
“Hi. I’m not that short. Five feet five, thank you,” Willow glares and flattens her hair. I don’t like her already, she thinks, shooting a glance to Annabelle.
“Natalie, be nice. You know I told you to welcome all of the new girls with a cheery smile,” Patrick scolds Natalie. “I’m so sorry. I’m Patrick Herson. Who are you dear?”
“I’m Willow Jones. Jon said that I could be in the business. Is it modeling?” Willow responds.
“Well, nice to meet you Willow Jones. You certainly can be in our,” Patrick pauses and glances at Jon, “modeling business. Let’s go have a photo shoot right now! Maybe someone will bite and we can get you set up tomorrow!” Jon and Patrick escort all of the girls to a room off to the side of the living room. There are pictures of the other girls on every wall. “Tonight after we finish, your picture will get to be here, too,” Patrick whispers in Willow’s ear. He pulls her to the closet and motions for Bailey to come too. “Pick her out something beautiful, Bailey.”
“Let’s go with these dresses,” Bailey yells, emerging from the closet after five minutes of rummaging. “They will go great with your baby blue eyes and wavy blonde hair.” She thrusts the clothes at Willow and ushers her into the bathroom attached to the room to change. Willow emerges a few minutes later wearing a floor-length, tight-fitting, sparkly gold dress. Everyone gasps and Jon smiles. Sandy grabs a pearl necklace and puts in on Willow’s neck. They take a few pictures and then rotate dresses. This goes on for almost the whole night. Once they finish, everyone heads to their separate rooms for bed.
“Hey, thanks for being my first friend,” Willow whispers as she and Annabelle head to their rooms.
“You’re welcome. Now, get some sleep and I’ll see you in the morning at 5:00,” Annabelle replies through a yawn. She smiles and turns into her room, which is opposite of Willow’s.
“Rise and shine, sleepy!” Annabelle yells in Willow’s ear. Willow mumbles and slowly opens her eyes, letting them adjust to the light. “We’ve got to get you showered and dressed for the day. Come with me.” Willow sits up and looks over at Annabelle, who is showered and fully dressed in a light pink mini skirt and a black tank top. She pulls Willow to the bathroom, handing her a towel and some hygiene products. “You have half an hour before breakfast.” Annabelle leaves and closes the door, leaving Willow alone to shower. She starts the water and climbs in. About 20 minutes later, Willow is out and toweling off when Sandy bursts into the room without knocking.
“I have clothes picked out for you. I went shopping yesterday when Jon said that we had a new girl. I hope they fit. I hung the rest up in your closet, if you don’t like the outfit I picked for you.” Sandy paused, “also, don’t run today. You’ll only get yourself in trouble if you try.” With that, she tosses Willow a small smile and leaves. Willow nervously finishes drying off and goes to her room. She puts on the outfit Sandy had picked out, not wanting to be rude even though it was nothing she would have ever picked for herself. She glances at herself in the mirror. She gasps because the girl wearing the black crop-top and red, high-low skirt is not the same girl that wore sweatshirt and sweatpants that got into a fight with her parents over wanting to be a singer instead of a farmer. She heads to the kitchen for breakfast. After eating, Jon and Patrick round all of the girls up and squeeze them into a black SUV. Jon gets in the driver’s seat and Patrick climbs in the passenger seat, looking back at the girls.
“Remember, we pick you up after half an hour. If you want to stay later, and they are okay with it, as long as they pay and you are good, you can stay. Willow, as for you, you can’t stay longer than half an hour today because it’s your first day. I had some people call last night about you. We’re dropping you off first. We’ll be back in half an hour.” They pull into the driveway of a trailer court, the houses all painted an off-white with siding that is falling off.
“I thought this was supposed to be modeling. Why would any agent live here?” Willow whispers to Annabelle, who is sitting beside her.
“It’s not modeling. It’s sex trafficking,” Annabelle whispers back.
“Why didn’t you warn me?!” Willow exclaims quietly. Jon and Patrick are ushering her out of the SUV before Annabelle has a chance to reply. They shut the door and walk up to the house. A guy answers, wearing a stained white shirt and boxers. He hands over the cash and they hand over Willow. Jon and Patrick walk back to the SUV.
“Half an hour, no later or you pay more!” Patrick yells out the window. They drive away and the guy pulls Willow into the house, her struggling to break free the whole way. Half an hour later Jon is back to pick her up. All of the other girls have been dropped off. When he opens the door to the house, Willow shoves both guys and takes off running. Jon bounces back and sprints after Willow, catching her in a few strides. He grabs her by the hair, yanking her back to the SUV. He throws her in and slams the door, stomping around to the driver’s seat. He floors it out of the trailer park and all the way home.
“That was a stupid move, girlie. Now you’re going to be in serious trouble,” Jon growls once they get to the house. He throws her out of the SUV and shoves her into the house. Once inside, he whirls her around and smacks her. “Don’t you ever run again, you hear? Next time it will be worse!” He continues to beat her until she can’t move. He drags her to her room and kicks her onto her bed. She lays there crying silently. “I have to go pick up the other girls. If you aren’t here when I get back, I’ll hurt your family next.” Jon storms out of the house to get the other girls. Willow stays like that for the rest of the night, not daring to move an inch. Annabelle comes in to visit, bringing her supper.
“Thought you might be hungry,” she sets a tray of food on the bed, “I should have warned you not to run, but you didn’t seem like the type that would.” Annabelle sits on the bed next to Willow and helps her take a drink.
“Sandy warned me, but I didn’t listen,” Willow wheezes. Annabelle tries feeding her a bite, but Willow pushes it away and groans. “Not hungry. I just want to sleep now. Will you stay with me?” Annabelle nods and puts the tray on the floor. She gently climbs into the bed next to Willow, trying not to jostle her and make her hurt more. They both fall asleep within minutes. Sandy walks into the room, takes the tray and covers them up. She gives Willow a motherly kiss on the forehead.
“I tried to tell you,” she whispers, “but you didn’t want to listen. I guess I can’t blame you. I did the same thing. It’s only going to get worse.” She smiles and slowly tiptoes out of the room, shutting the light off and closing the door. Days pass and Willow slowly heals from the beating. Once she is fully healed, Jon makes the decision at breakfast that she is going back to work. She showers and gets dressed in a white tank top and flower-print shorts with a cardigan and sandals. They head out and she gets dropped off at a nicer, brick house with a cherry wood front porch and a welcome mat in front of the door.
“Remember, run and it’s worse,” Jon whispers as they walk to the door. Willow nods and promises that she won’t ever run again. Jon knocks on the door and a guy wearing a nice suit and tie answers. “Half an hour. I’ll be back.” Jon gets back in the SUV and Willow walks into the house.
“Want something to drink?” the guy asks. Willow shakes her head and sits on the fluffy off-white couch. She leans forward to play with the flowers sitting on the glass coffee table in the middle of the square. There is one more couch and two chairs, all matching the couch she is sitting on. There is a TV hanging on the wall broadcasting a basketball game. “So, what’s your story? How did you wind up doing this?” they guy inquires, walking back into the room, sitting beside her.
“I’m not here for you to ask questions. I’m here because you paid them for sex with me,” Willow crosses her arms defiantly. The guy laughs and shakes his head.
“Oh, you have me mistaken,” he replies, still laughing.
“Really? Then what am I doing here?”
“I’m a cop,” he flashes her a badge with a photo ID that says his name is Miles Rosoffe, “I work to get people out of sex trafficking. Just started working this case.”
“Wonderful,” Willow replies sarcastically, “you look like you’re 20. How could you possibly be a cop?”
“Easy. I went to college for two years after graduating, and then completed the academy. Good guess, by the way. I am 20, but I will be turning 21 in a few months. What’s your name? How old are you?” He leans back and causally crosses his legs.
“I’m Willow Jones, sixteen,” she replies leaning back as well.
“So how did you wind up here, doing this?” he pries.
“I got into a fight with my parents. I want to be a country singer, but they want me to be a farmer. I ran away and a guy picked me up on the highway. He promised me a job and I thought it was modeling. It was fun the first day. I got to have a photo shoot and dress in pretty clothes. The second day was a nightmare. I had to go to a house, and I tried to run away, but I got caught and taken back to the place where I’m staying.” she pauses and takes a deep breath, “they beat me because I ran. I had broken ribs.” She lifts up her shirt, showing Miles the dents where Jon kicked her. “He made me promise to never run again.” She starts sobbing and Miles pulls her into a hug, smoothing her hair and whispering comforting words.
“I promise, I will save you. It might not be right away, but I will inform my boss later when I go to work, and something will be done. I promise. We better get you cleaned up now because you have ten minutes until he comes back.” Willow nods and cleans herself up. They sit there for the remainder of the time watching the game. When the doorbell rings, they get up and Miles pulls her close. “I will see you again. I promise that I will get you out as soon as possible.” Willow nods and is returned to Jon. She doesn’t run, but just climbs into the SUV and looks back at Miles. She smiles slightly and waves goodbye. They pull out and she goes to 10 more houses before going back to Jon’s house and collapsing into bed, exhausted.
Weeks pass and she has been there for months now, with no word from Miles. Every day she does the same thing: get up, shower, get dressed, eat, go to houses, come back, eat, and sleep. She is friends with a couple of the other girls. Sandy is being nice and she hasn’t tried to run again. One day, Jon drops all of the other girls off first. On the way to the house where Willow is going, Jon finally says something.
“This is a repeat house. He said you were amazing and he wanted to see you again.” Jon pulls in the driveway to the house with the cherry wood porch. Willow hides her smile and climbs out like it’s any other house. “Patrick will pick you up later because I have to run an errand,” Jon calls as she shuts the door. She holds up her thumb so he knows that she heard him. She walks to the door and Miles opens it without her even knocking.
“Eager to see me?” she teases, smiling and giving him a hug.
“Well, someone is in a good mood,” he teases back. “It’s going down today. I’ve got police stationed in other houses on the block and there are two with us. Let’s go through my plan.” Willow nods and they sit on the couch. Miles walks her through the plan. “When he comes to pick you up, you needs to act like everything's normal and walk to the car. When I give you the signal, you are going to run back into the house and hide. He will, maybe, get out and come for you. The two police are going to be waiting behind the door. When he gets to the door, I am going to let him in and the cops are going to arrest him. Hopefully there will be no violence. Do you think you can handle this?”
“Yeah. What’s the signal? What if he doesn’t get out of the car?” Willow worries, standing up to pace. Miles grabs her hand to stop her and makes her face him.
“I’ll probably just yell and then you run back to the house. If he doesn’t get out, then he doesn’t.” Miles shrugged, “either way, we are going to get him. We can get him out of the car here, or at his place.” Willow nods and sits back down. They hear the sound of a car pulling into the driveway and Miles squeezes Willow’s hand. “It’s going to be okay. Just relax. It won’t work without you being relaxed.” Willow sighs and heads to the door.
“Are you ready for this?” asks one of the cops by the door.
“I think so,” Willow shakes her hands out and stretches before opening the door.
“Maybe I can request you again,” Miles winks when Willow turns around. She smiles and walks to the car. “Now!” Willow bolts back to the house.
“Hey!” Patrick jumps out and runs after her. Miles stops him at the door. “Move now. She needs to come with me. She has more people to see today.” Patrick tries to shove Miles out of the way.
“Fine, come in and get her, but,” Miles pauses, moving out of the way, “you aren’t going anywhere with her. She’s done visiting other people.” The cops jump out from behind the door and cuff Patrick. “You’re going to jail and she’s going somewhere safe.”
“I have rights!” Patrick yells from the floor, struggling against the cops, making the cuffs leave a red mark on his wrists.
“Fine,” Miles leans down to look him in the eyes, “you have the right to remain silent. Anything you say or do can and will be used against you. Now, anything to say?” Patrick shakes his head. “Good. You are going to take us to the house to get the other girls I know you have there. Get him up boys and put him in the back. Let’s move!” The cops hoist Patrick off the floor and haul him to the police car. Once everyone is settled in, Miles and Willow get into Miles’ car. Patrick gives the address and directions to the police officer.
Blue and red lights up the streets as police car after police car heads to the house. They surround the house that Willow briefly thought of as comforting and beautiful. Now it’s a big house of horror, she thinks and shudders. Miles gently holds her hand, as if she is a fragile flower. Jon walks out with a gun pointed at Sandy.
“Let me go and I won’t hurt her,” Jon yells as the police hide behind their doors and await Jon’s move.
“Willow, what is this guy’s name?” Miles asks, all traces of the earlier teasing gone.
“Jon. His name is Jon,” Willow whispers, clinging to him, shaking in terror. “Please don’t hurt him.”
“Honey, after everything he did to you, I can’t promise anything,” Miles opens his door, “now please stay here where it’s safe. Hide under the dash please.” He climbs out and Willow follows him, ignoring his protests.
“I want to help. Maybe I can convince him. Please, let me try,” Willow begs.
“Absolutely not. He could shoot you!” Miles yells. A few officers look over at them and he waves them off. “We have a professional that goes to talk to people like him. I don’t want you anywhere near him.” Not liking being bossed around, Willow crosses her arms and narrows her eyes. “Please, I implore you to not go over there. I don’t want anything happening to you. It would hang over my head for the rest of my life if you got hurt.”
“I have to,” Willow whispers, turning her back on Miles. She takes a deep breath and starts walking, but Miles stops her. “What?”
“I’ve got your back. Please don’t say anything to upset him. I know you won’t listen to me and stay so the only thing I can do is help you.” Miles shrugs and Willow smiles.
“Thanks,” she walks up to Jon and inhales deeply. “Please Jon,” she whispers, “let Sandy go. She has nothing to do with this. I’m the one you should be mad at. I ruined everything you had and I deserve to be punished, not her,” she begs and sees Jon’s grip falter. Sandy sinks to the ground and crawls back into the house to the comfort of the other girls. He points the gun at Willow and starts to pull the trigger. There is a loud gunshot and Jon’s eyes open wide as red blooms on the left side of his shirt. Willow takes a shaky breath and falls to the ground next to Jon. She pulls his head onto her lap and moves the hair out of his face. “Oh, Jon,” she whispers, “this should have ended differently.” She reaches up and wipes at the tears streaming down her face. Miles rushes over and pulls her away, letting Jon’s head thump on the ground. She turns and buries her face in his shirt, letting herself go to the sobs. An ambulance shows up and the crew starts to load Jon onto a stretcher.
“Shh. It’s okay. He can never hurt you again. Nobody will ever hurt you again. I will keep you safe.” Miles rubs her back as she sniffles out the last of her tears. She looks up at him with shining, hopeful eyes.
“Thank you,” she says, standing on her toes and kissing him on the cheek. “Can we get the others and get out of here please?” Miles chuckles and nods. The police usher the other girls out, leaving all of the belongings in the house. Everyone gets a fresh start, she thinks, smiling and leaning into Miles. The girls come up to Willow and Miles moves away to give them some privacy.
“Hey thanks Willow,” Sandy utters, “what you did back there was really brave.” She gives Willow a hug and moves away to talk to the police.
“Yeah, you were amazing,” the other girls agree. Willow smiles and ducks her head bashfully.
“It was nothing. I just didn’t want anyone to get hurt,” she blushes and they all laugh.
“Can I talk to you for a minute?” Annabelle asks, shooing the other girls away. Willow nods and they walk a short distance away from the house. “Thanks for saving us. I know it wasn’t easy, Trust me, I was you once. I tried to get help from the police, but the one I talked to was in on it. I’m just so glad that you found someone to help. Plus, I think he might have a thing for you,” Annabelle wiggles her eyebrows and winks. They burst out laughing and Willow shakes her head.
“You think so?” Willow turns to look at him, “I don’t know. He’s definitely cute though,” she smiles at Miles and turns back to face Annabelle. “He’s really sweet and I like him a lot, even though I didn’t think it was possible that I would ever want a man in my life again.” They nod in agreement.
“Let’s go join the others,” Annabelle announces, linking her arm through Willow’s. They stroll back to the others and everyone piles into different cars. The ambulance crew puts Jon into the back and heads to the hospital. The girls are taken to a safe organization to recover, and everyone leaves except Miles.
“Hey Willow,” Miles calls.
“Yeah?” she asks, turning around to talk to him. He scratches the back of his neck and rings his hands.
“Um, so..” he pauses, looking down and clearing his throat, “oh man. This is harder than I thought. Um, I was wondering if maybe you would like to go on a date sometime.” He looks up at Willow with hopeful eyes. She smiles and nods.
“I would like that very much. Call me sometime. They have phones here,” she hugs him and pulls back to catch up with the other girls.
“Okay. I’ll call you every day. See you when you get out,” he replies.
Months later Willow walks out and breathes in the fresh scents of summer. She looks around and smiles as she catches sight of her boyfriend. She runs over to Miles and jumps in his arms. He spins her around and she laughs for what feels like the first time.
“I missed you so much,” she exclaims.
“I missed you too. Now, how about that date you promised me?” Miles teases. They walk hand in hand to the car and drive off, never looking back.
Years later, Willow graduates from the academy and she joins her husband Miles and their two-year-old daughter Annie after the ceremony. A few months after that, she is working in the field to bust sex traffickers. She lives with Miles and has a little yorkie dog. A year later, she has a baby boy named Braxton and lives happily ever after.
“That was a good story mommy. They had the same names as us,” Braxton yawns and curls into Willow. Miles smiles beside her and Annie snuggles in close. “Did she ever talk to her grandma and grandpa again?”
“Every day,” she smiles and winks at Miles.
I hope she loves this, Zach thinks, cooking the hamburger for spaghetti as the water for noodles boils. I hope I don’t screw up trying to ask. I’m so nervous. His hands shake slightly as he drains the grease out of the pan and dumps the hamburger into the sauce. He adds the noodles and finishes everything just as the front door opens from across the house.
“Hey babe! Sorry I’m late,” Chloe hollers, shutting the door.
“Hey honey,” he replies, going to help her with her things. “Oh, you got dinner. I was making something for us.”
“Oh. Well, why didn’t you tell me? I could have saved the time and money,” she sets her things down in a huff.
“I’m sorry. I wanted it to be a surprise,” he reaches his hand up to touch her shoulder, but she shrugs him away. “Oh,” he whispers, dejected, “I think I’m just going to sit in the library room for a while then.” This didn’t go as planned. Zach sulks into the library room, with tears pooling in his emerald green eyes, and plops onto the couch, grabbing a book. His shaggy, wavy black hair flops into his face and he pushes it away with one long, slender finger. He hears the floorboards creak and the door squeak open. Immersed in the book, he pays no attention as one end of the couch sinks. A hand appears at the top of the book and lowers it, revealing Chloe with bright red cheeks, tears streaming down her face, and more unshed in her bright blue eyes. He puts the book down and she turns to face the window. Her hair is blown back by a gentle breeze coming through the open window on the warm, summer night.
“Zach, I’m really sorry. I saw the table all set. It was beautiful,” she whispers.
“It’s okay. I should have told you,” Zach responds, softly clearing his throat.
“Do you remember when we first met?” Chloe inquires, hesitantly.
“Of course I remember,” Zach replies, absentmindedly combing his fingers softly through her long, wavy blonde hair. “How could I forget? It was on this very beach when I first laid eyes on you. You were so adorable, with that beautifully big smile at five years old,” He smiles, reminiscing about that day. It was about like today; the sun was just above the horizon, making the ocean a gorgeous turquoise color, and a warm breeze blew just enough to make the palm trees sway.
“It was, wasn’t it? I remember we used to build sandcastles together right over there when when we were little,” Chloe points to a spot just down from the house. “It’s also where you wrote your first song on the guitar when we were in high school.” She hums a small part of the song and gets up to dance around the library room.
“I wrote it just for you,” he stands up and waltzes her around the room. “Oh, and babe, I have a question.”
“Yes?” Chloe responds, curiously.
“I know we haven’t been together for very long. It’s been about two years, but I was-,” he’s cut off as her phone starts ringing.
“Hold on,” she pulls her phone out and answers it, “Hello?” She pauses as the other person speaks. “Yes this is her daughter.”
“What’s going on?” Zach whispers. She waves him away and sits heavily on the couch.
“Yes thank you for calling. I will be there as soon as I can.” She ends the call and hangs her head in her lap, tears streaming down her face.
“What’s going on?” Zach repeats, sitting beside her.
“My mom just died from lung cancer,” she turns, sobbing into his shoulder.
“I don’t understand. I thought she was in remission. The doctor told you she had a great chance of living,” he hugs her tight as she sobs into him. “We have to go to Nebraska and see the rest of the family. We’ll pack tomorrow.” She nods and they stand up.
“Can you start packing tonight? I want to leave tomorrow,” her voice trembles as she speaks. He tries to pull her out of the room, but she resists. “I want to stay in here for a little bit longer.” Zach nods and reaches down to pick up the book.
“You know, this was the first book that we read together,” he smiles and wipes her eyes, handing her the book. “Maybe you can read it and feel a little bit better. I’ll go start packing. I love you.” He slowly shuts the door behind him and goes to their bedroom to pack everything they’ll need for the trip. That night after he is finished packing, he goes back to check on Chloe. Gently opening the door, he peaks his head around the corner. The book open to a page resting on her stomach, Chloe is fast asleep. The sound of her deep, peaceful breathing calms Zach. He tiptoes in and slowly eases the book out of her grasp. After putting it back on the shelf, he grabs the fluffy pink quilt and places it over Chloe to keep her warm. “Sweet dreams beautiful,” he whispers, kissing her on the forehead. He slowly backs out of the room and returns to their bedroom, exhausted. He flops down onto the bed and falls into a deep sleep.
“Get up. Come on! We have to get going. We need to get a flight,” Chloe shakes him, and he rolls over, slowly opening his eyes.
“What time is it?” he asks, groggily.
“It’s about 4:30 in the morning,” she replies, plopping onto the bed beside him.
“Let me sleep for a few more hours. I’m exhausted,” he whines, closing his eyes again.
“My mom died. You don’t have a few hours. Get up please,” she shakes him again.
“It’s not my fault. I didn’t kill her. Leave me alone,” he complains, pushing her hands away.
“Oh, you’re right. It’s not your fault she had cancer! She did it to herself, right?” Chloe shoots off the bed and glares at Zach.
“That’s not what I meant. You’re being overdramatic and you need to calm down,” he sighs, rolling his eyes.
“Yeah, calm down. That’s exactly what I’m going to do! You’re unbelievable,” she yells and stomps out of the room. Oh boy, Zach thinks. These next few days are going to be stressful. He crawls out of bed and gets in the shower. Half an hour later, he climbs out and goes to get dressed.
“Chloe?” he hollers, cautiously.
“Oh, nice of you to get up and shower,” she sneers, walking into the room already dressed for the day in a white t-shirt and black skinny jeans.
“Yeah, I’m sorry about that. I was just really tired. What should I wear today?” He holds up a light blue shirt and a black shirt.
“Wear the black one. It makes your eyes pop. Now hurry up because we have 20 minutes to get to the airport,” she remarks, perambulating back out into the living room. After Zach is finished getting ready, they head to the airport, just in time to miss their flight. “Great! This is just great! Do you see now why I wanted you up so early?” Chloe yells at him, throwing her arms everywhere and sitting in one of the hard, black airport chairs in a huff.
“Don’t worry. There has to be more flights leaving soon. That couldn’t have been the only one. I’ll go talk to someone at the desk,” Zach reassures, walking to the ticket counter. “Excuse me, ma’am. Do you have any more flights leaving soon, like maybe in the next hour or so?”
“I’m sorry. Our next flight out is in about four hours. Would you like to buy tickets? There are only a few left,” the girl behind the desk informs.
“I’ll go check and be back in a few minutes,” he pauses to read the nametag, “Halee.” Zach strides back over to Chloe to deliver the news. She looks up from a game on her phone as he approaches. “There are no flights leaving in the next hour. The next flight is in about four hours. What do you want to do?”
“I want,” Chloe states, her voice laced with venom, “you to get your butt over there and buy us tickets to the next flight out of here! Maybe you can redeem yourself.” With this, she returns to her game and he ambles back to the counter. Out of the corner of his eye, Zach sees Chloe hunch over in pain. It’s probably just cramps, he thinks, ignoring it.
“We’ll take the tickets to the flight that leaves in four hours,” Zach states to Halee.
“I’m sorry, sir. We just sold the last tickets to another couple. We do have other flights though,” she apologizes.
“It’s fine. We’ll figure something out,” Zach dismisses, trudging back to Chloe.
“Well, did you get the tickets?” she inquires as he approaches. Shaking his head, he sits down in defeat. “Wonderful. Let’s just go home and try again tomorrow,” Chloe stands and starts gathering their belongings.
“Can’t we just drive there?” Zach asks, making her stop and sit again.
“Drive? Do you know how long that would take? We live in California. That would take almost a whole day!” she shouts, stomping her feet and flinging her arms everywhere.
“Settle down. It’s better than waiting 24 hours to get on a flight that’s going to probably take another few hours. We’ll get there sooner,” he argues.
Chloe huffs and sits back, crossing her arms. “We could have been there in a few hours already, but you didn’t want to get your lazy butt out of bed,” she counters.
“Yeah, whatever. This is all my fault. Now let’s go before we waste any more time,” Zach stands, and gathers their things, heading for the door.
“Have a great day!” one of the employees chirps as they exit the airport. They pack everything back into the bright red, V8, convertible top Mustang, and head for Nebraska.
Halfway there, Chloe hunches over in her seat and wraps her arms around her stomach again. “I think I’m going to be sick,” she whines, covering her mouth with both hands. Zach pulls the car over to the side of the interstate beside the Welcome to Cedar City, Utah sign and runs around to help her out. She sits on the side of the road and he holds her hair back. When Chloe’s done, Zach helps clean her up and get her back in the car.
“Are you going to be okay, or do we need to stop somewhere for the night? It’s already almost 8:00 p.m.,” Zach worries, pulling back into the interstate traffic.
“Can we find somewhere to stop for the night, please? I don’t want to chance it,” Chloe whimpers. Zach nods and starts calling around to the closest hotels to find a vacancy.
“Yes, there are two people,” he replies to the person on the phone. “We only want one room. You have a vacancy? Great! Thank you so much. We will be there in about half an hour.” He hangs up and looks over at Chloe to check if she is still okay. “I found a hotel. They’re about half an hour away. It’s the Marriott. The front desk clerk said that the hotel would be on the left side if we come in from the southeast side of Richfield.” Chloe nods, leaning her seat back to curl up and fall asleep.
“Honey,” Zach whispers, gently shaking Chloe, “we’re here. I’m going to get the bags out, if you want to go check in.” Chloe slowly stretches out and nods, rubbing her eyes. Zach helps her crawl out and she goes to check in while he grabs a few bags out of the trunk.
“We’re in room 26. The lady said it’s on the second floor. Here’s the key,” Chloe hands him the shiny plastic card and they head up to find their room.
“Zach,” Chloe whispers the next morning, shaking him, “do they have breakfast here? I’m really hungry.”
“I think they do. Otherwise we could always go somewhere to eat,” he replies, tiredly. He sits up, stretching his arms above his head and yawning.
“Ooh, going somewhere to eat sounds great. Do they have a McDonald’s around here?” Chloe claps her hands and bounces on the bed excitedly.
“Yeah, I saw one on our way here. We can go back to it and then get going again.” They get ready, check out, and go have breakfast. “Are you sure you’re okay now?” Zach asks, concerned, when they get back on the interstate.
“Yeah, I think it might have just been the stress of yesterday,” Chloe replies, dismissing it with a wave of her hand.
“Okay, if you think so,” Zach agrees, still slightly skeptical. Hopefully she doesn’t have the flu or something. I wish she would tell me what’s wrong.
“I think I’m going to go to sleep again. Let me know when we reach Nebraska and I’ll help navigate to my sister’s house,” Chloe states through a yawn. She curls up and goes to sleep, her head resting just slightly off the edge of the seat.
“Chloe,” Zach reaches over and gently touches her arm, “we’re in Nebraska. How do I get to your sister’s house?”
“Okay,” she readjusts herself into a sitting position and pulls out her phone, “you have to turn right…” Twenty minutes later, they turn into her sister’s driveway. There are already more family members and friends at the house. They get out and are greeted by everyone with hugs and condolences.
“Amber!” Chloe yells, catching sight of her sister in the crowd. She squeezes her way out of the mass of people and greets her sister with a big hug.
“Oh my! You look amazing,” Amber gushes, looking Chloe up and down. Her smile drops when she notices the sad look on Chloe’s face. “What’s wrong sweetheart?”
“I miss mom. I wish I could have been here for her. I had no idea,” Chloe sniffles and Amber pulls her in for another hug. “Where’s Trevor?”
“Oh, you know our little brother. He just can’t be bothered when he’s on vacation,” Amber retorts, making them both laugh. Zach and Chloe stay at Amber’s house for the rest of the week, attending the visitation and funeral three days after arriving.
“I’ve got everything packed and in the trunk, whenever you’re ready,” Zach says, coming back into the house a week later.
“Okay, I’ll just be another minute. Wait for me outside,” she turns back to Amber and giver her a hug. “I’ll miss you. Please call sometime.”
“Absolutely. I’ll call. Oh, and don’t wait to tell him too long please. He needs to know,” Amber squeezes her tight and kisses her on the cheek. “Don’t hesitate to come visit anytime you’re around.” Chloe nods and smiles, heading out to the car. They wave goodbye as Zach pulls out of the driveway for the ride home.
“I think I’m going to need to buy new clothes,” Chloe remarks, getting out of the car at their house.
“Why’s that?” Zach wonders, grabbing their bags and lugging them inside.
“Look at how big my belly is getting,” she replies, rubbing her hands on her belly.
“Is this a trick, Chloe?” Zach inquires, looking at her belly.
“No, this isn’t a trick. It’s an announcement,” she gives him a knowing look.
“No way,” he shakes his head in disbelief.
“Yup. I went to the doctor’s when you were at work. I didn’t want to tell you just yet,” she smiles. “We’re having a baby. He’s due in six months.”
“That’s great!” Zach celebrates, embracing Chloe. “I think now is the perfect time.”
“The perfect time for what?” Chloe asks, curiously.
“This,” Zach steps back and gets down on one knee. “Chloe Rae Stryker, I’ve been in love with you since the moment I saw you. I want to be with you for the rest of my life and I want to raise our child together. Will you marry me?”
Tears of joy pool in her bright blue eyes and run down her cheeks as she covers her mouth and nods, her wavy blonde hair bouncing up and down. She pulls him up and throws herself into his arms. “Of course I will marry you,” she whispers in his ear a thousand times.
They set the date for the next year on July 18th. The whole year they plan for the wedding and it finally arrives. They decide on an outside wedding at the spot where they met with chairs decorated in ivy and roses. The altar is a blue arch decorated with matching ivy and roses. The colors are blue and white.
“I’m so excited for you guys!” Amber exclaims, hugging Chloe.
“Thanks sis,” Chloe says, breaking the hug when James, Amber’s husband, walks over carrying Chloe’s baby boy.
“Hi my little man,” Chloe smiles and kisses Ajax, her and Zach’s six-month-old son.
“You ready? Zach’s waiting for you,” he informs Chloe. She nods and gets ready to walk down the aisle. The wedding goes smooth and they are married within the hour. After the wedding is over, they pose for pictures with their families. The reception after is at their house. They have a three tiered wedding cake and a catered meal.
“I love you, Chloe,” Zach announces, “and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you. A toast, to my new wife and child!” Everyone raises their glass in a toast and cheers to the new couple.
Texte: Kayla R Weber
Bildmaterialien: Kayla Weber
Lektorat/Korrektorat: Kayla R Weber
Übersetzung: Kayla R Weber
Tag der Veröffentlichung: 01.02.2017
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