Tuesday, September 30, 2014

LbA: Faux Pas

I froze, warily looking at the hand, and quickly yanked my arm away.  I looked up to see Luke sneering at me, and Victoria standing behind him, peering at me sympathetically: as if I was a small child lost and trying to find its parent.

"Well, Aleah," Luke said, although it sounded like a question, as if he was anticipating a long awaited response to a significant question.  He let his eyes slowly wander down the curves of my body, causing me to blush uncontrollably, because I suddenly felt self-conscious as if I was provocatively dressed for a street corner instead of in my short athletic shorts, spandex top, with a zip-up hoodie unzipped over it.  As his eyes came back up, during the awkward silence, he let them rest on my chest and lightly licked his lips and then bit his bottom one.  My stomach churned at the thought of what we had been before I had known the truth.

"I've got to go," I muttered through clenched teeth, avoiding both of their stares.

"Why the rush?" Victoria sang at me, clearly enjoying how uncomfortable I appeared, though she had no idea the real reason why.

I clenched my fists and stared right into her eyes.  "Because I'm tired of your fiancee staring at my chest and trying to seductively lick his lips at me," I spat.

She narrowed her eyes at me and said, "We all know who the thirsty slut is here."  However, I saw the flash of insecurity and hurt on her face as she glanced at Luke, but then steeled her gaze back to me.  Too quick for Luke to see, but not fast enough for me to not see.  I smiled internally, knowing there was a crack I could chisel away at.

Since Victoria was still positioned behind Luke, she couldn't see him as he said, "It's okay, Aleah.  I really am sorry about hurting your feelings last year.  But you know I never could've slept with you.  I'm in love with Victoria."  His voice was dripping with empathy and concern, but the corners of his mouth were turned up into a smirk, and his eyes were cold and threatening, warning me to not utter a word.

"Really, I don't have anymore time to waste with you two, did you stop me for a legitimate reason?  If not, I'll be on my way."  I tried to sound confident and bored, although really I was terrified, as I didn't know what these two had up their conjoined, ever-looming sleeve.

Neither of them said anything, so I started to quickly walk away when I felt Luke grasp my arm again and lean down towards me.  His hot breath warmed my ear and cheek as he brazenly whispered, "You know, I think you'd have fun and we could help you relax if you were interested in joining us in bed later.  The things I would do to you..."

My eyes widened, disbelief clouding my face.  "You're sick," I muttered, but then loudly barked, "Why in the hell would you think I would have a threesome with you two, if I wouldn't even have sex with you when we were dating?"  I jerked away for good and took off jogging for my car.  I didn't look back until I was in my car, with the doors locked.  I saw Luke vehemently shaking his head no, and Victoria waving her arms in front of her as she spoke, in what appeared to be angry tones.  Her hair looked like a fire roaring around her head.  Although, superficially, I felt as if this was a victory, deep down, I knew it was just the beginning of the war.


Wednesday night came quickly, with no more run-ins with Victoria or Luke.  I had told Sarah was happened, and she told me to go get a protective order, again.  I felt like I didn't have a reason to, but I figured worse case scenario, I could go talk to Detective Stratton about it.  I wasn't going to have time until that Saturday in the morning, before the football game against McNeese State.  My family has season tickets, and I've only ever missed a game if I was gone for tennis.

When I had dated Derek, he had always complained that I overdressed for simple dates.  But I figured, if that was my worst trait, I was doing pretty good.  For my "typical date" date with Josh, I opted to wear an orange dress from Zara with sexy strappy sandal heels.  I straightened my hair and pulled it back into a sleek ponytail, and went with mascara and navy eyeliner, to match the shoes.  Subtle, but gorgeous. I happily appraised myself in the mirror before heading downstairs and outside.  It was nice out and I was ready early (for once... don't expect it again), and was going to sit on the bench outside our building for Chase to arrive.

I started scrolling through Facebook and saw that Zach was tagged in a picture by some girl named Beth. The picture was a too-close "selfie" that Zach looked totally plastered in.  Her face was pushed up against his, and she was kissing his cheek.  His eyes were half open and blood shot.  Huh.  Zach was never really the party type.  He would attend parties, with me, but he was always the sober, responsible one.  I couldn't get a good look at Beth because the picture literally was just of their faces.  And it was slightly blurry.  I looked up to see Chase pulling up.  I closed out of Facebook making a mental note to stalk this Beth girl later.

Chase got out of his car and walked over to the passenger side, opening the door.  He smiled broadly as I got closer, subtly checking me out.  I smiled back and we greeted each other with a warm embrace.  We had texted daily since our phone call on Sunday, but we hadn't spoken on the phone.  We took the opportunity to catch up on our weeks so far.

For dinner we went casual and ate at Ruby Tuesday.  I got the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich and salad bar.  He got some sort of burger.  Delicious.  Over dinner he was telling me about an out of control happy hour he had with co-workers the previous day.  I laughed at the funny spots, but was distracted.  My run-in with Luktoria and my curiosity of who Beth is, kept occupying my thoughts.  After dinner, as we were driving to the theater, Chase asked me if I was okay.

"Yeah, I'm fine.  Why?"

"You just seem... bored.  I guess."  I saw him shrug his shoulders.  I studied his profile as he was driving, before answering.  His blonde hair perfectly styled, his perfect nose, and his strong jaw line.  Blue eyes carefully studying the road.

I smiled, apologetically.  He glanced over at me, and then back at the road.  "Oh, not at all.  I really enjoy your company."  I finished with finality, "A lot."  I paused, unsure of how much of the Luke situation I should disclose, so early on.  We were at a red light, and he turned to look at me, eyebrows raised in question.

I looked down, and shyly said, "I really do like you, Chase."  I blushed at his smile, and continued, "I should probably tell you something, though."

"What's going on?"  His voice was laced with concern.

I took a deep breath before starting.  "I have kind of a crazy ex-boyfriend.  I thought our break-up was civil and mutual, but then found out a lot about him after we broke up."

Chase's expression remained neutral, and his silence prodded me to keep talking.  "I found out he was engaged to someone else, in his hometown out of state.  The whole time we were together.  Long story short, he made her believe I spent the whole time last school year pursuing him despite me knowing he was engaged.  Which I had no clue.  There were other issues as well, but now his fiancee transferred to UNL and so they're both here and seem bent on making my life miserable.  I had a run-in with them on Sunday."

"I see."  That was apparently all he had to say.

We arrived to the theater and went in and watched the movie.  He put his arm around my back half-way through.  But on top of my already distracted thoughts, I now felt sorrow for telling him about all of that.  Too soon, I suppose?

After the movie, he drove me home and walked me to my apartment door.  Outside of it, he wrapped his arms around me, giving me a tight hug.  When he pulled away he smiled warmly at me and said, "Thank you for coming out with me tonight.  I had a lot of fun."  His face turned serious then and said, "And Aleah, thank you for opening up to me.  I appreciate your honesty."

I studied his face, but only saw sincerity and compassion.  "Thank you for not freaking out.  I didn't really want to tell you about that, really.  I didn't want to scare you off..."

He waved that statement off and chuckled.  "It would take more than a crazy ex to scare me off.  Trust me, I have one of those, as well.  But, that's a story for a different time."

I smiled and went in for another hug, tipping my head up, hoping he would kiss me.  When we pulled away, his eyes darted between my lips and eyes, and I thought for sure he was going to do it.  He grasped my right hand with both of his, and leaned towards me, and brought my hand up to his face and kissed it lightly.  Electricity shot through my veins up my arm, and when he pulled away, I swore my hand was smoldering and on fire.  If Chase's lips touching my hand could cause that kind of reaction, I could only imagine what would happen when they touched my lips.

I watched Chase walk down the stairs and through the door.  He paused before the door closed, and turned back to look at me.  I blushed, that he caught me watching him.  He smiled and waved, and I did the same.

I walked into the apartment and collapsed on the couch next to Sarah, who appeared to be studying, since she had some thick textbook open on her lap.  I checked my phone and saw it was after 11 p.m.

"Hey girl, I'm surprised you aren't in bed, yet!" I teased, since Sarah acts like a grandma on school nights and is usually in bed by 10:30. 

She stuck her tongue out at me.  "How was your date?"

I sighed, happily.  "Oh Sarah, Chase is... A.Maze.Ing."  I continued to tell her about the whole date, including my faux pas of disclosing about Luke.

She laughed lightly.  "You want to hear about disclosing a lot really soon?  Listen to this."  She told me all about her second date with Matt.  

"What!?  Why didn't you tell me this sooner?" I exclaimed.

"We've both just been so busy.  I'm having Aleah-withdrawals."

"I know!  I only see you passing through my dreams anymore," I joked.  But seriously, I'm so sorry.  I know our schedules have been crazy.  Not this weekend, but the next weekend, September 12th or something like that, is my first tennis match of the season.  So, this Saturday, the McNeese game, want to come with me?  I don't have plans with Chase until Sunday.  We could go to the game, and then have a girls' night after that?  We can see if Maddie and Elena are free and go."

She brightened at my suggestion.  "Oh my gosh, yes!  But why do you guys have an extra ticket Saturday?"

"Because Tom's gone at college now.  All the way in Indiana.  Purdue, can you believe that?  Apparently that's where he decided on, I just somehow didn't find out about it until the week before he left.  He justified it by saying they have a great computer science program.  I think it's because he didn't want to be anywhere near us anymore.  Things have been cold between us ever since Miriam came around.  But whatever.  So you in?"

"Duh.  Maddie's out with the boyfriend, so we can ask her tomorrow."

"Ok.  I'll call Elena tomorrow, too.  I haven't spoken with her in awhile.  Hopefully she can pull away from the hubby for a night."  She closed her book and we got up, walking to the bathroom together, to brush our teeth.

"I'm so excited, Aleah."

"Me, too.  I've really missed you!"

"You already know."  She splashed water at me, and I returned the favor, then we raced into the bedroom to head to bed.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Life By Zach

And So It Begins

“Babe I’m hungry! Let’s go get some breakfast!!”
Babe? What in the world happened last night? My head was still spinning from the beer and whiskey, and of course the fact that Beth was in my bed and all I had were fuzzy memories of kissing her on the dance floor. This is NOT me.
“We can go to EggHeaven across the street, its such an adorbs little place!” Beth said.
“How is she so enthusiastic right now?” I thought as a wave of nausea washed over me. I glanced at the clock on my dresser. It was already 10:30, which in college time is brutally early, but for me, a bit late since I would have been up and at the gym by 9. The thought of working out made me nauseous all over again, however, the idea of a big plate of greasy eggs and bacon gave me hope for relief. 
“Uhm, yeah, ok. Let's go eat.” I muttered, trying to speak as quietly as possible, since every word felt like a tiny jackhammer in my head.
“Good thing I always keep a pair of flats in my purse babe. I totally wouldn’t want to look like a skankasaurus doing the walk of shame to breaky hahaha!”  Beth laughed as she pulled her mass of hair into this side braid thingy, applied some make-up and jumped off the bed.
“Babe again? Skankasaurus? Breaky? Am I going to be able to have any kind of normal conversation with this girl?” I thought grumpily as I pulled on my jeans and a faded grey T-shirt.
My roommate Brady was not home, clearly he had already made it to the gym.  Brady is pre-law but thinks he is already a lawyer, so he takes the whole “where were you last night between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. and who can confirm your whereabouts” to a whole other level. Normally this routine kind of irritates me, especially when I am in a hurry, but today Brady's incessant questioning would have really come in handy to help me piece together how in the world Beth got the idea that we have gotten to the calling each other "babe" stage already.
EggHeaven was pretty crowded when we got there, mostly with similarly situated college students attempting to cure their hangovers amid a pile of greasy eggs, golden hash browns and mugs of steaming coffee. Just the smell of something fried was already making me feel better.
We found a table and sat down, and quickly ordered coffee. I looked over the menu, but I knew what I was going to have. Two eggs over easy, bacon, hash browns and toast and side of pancakes. I have this habit that everyone I know considers gross, but I LOVE! I pour syrup all over my eggs and hash browns and ketchup on top of that whole mess and then soak up the egg yolks with my pancakes. The sweet and tangy mixture of the syrup and ketchup is pure heaven to me. I love it, even though I know it sounds pretty awful. I dare you to try it.
“I’ll just have the fruit cup.” Beth requested after I ordered.
“Fruit cup? That’s it, nothing else?” I couldn’t believe it.
 I like a girl that eats. My mind travelled back to my trip to New York with Aleah, and the delicious meals we shared there. She always ate with such enthusiasm, savoring every bite and constantly trying to sneak food off my plate too. Even though she ate just as much as I did, her body was incredible and I know she worked very hard, playing tennis and running and going to the gym. I always loved that drive about her, which was something that she and I had in common. But I also loved that she was always willing to indulge in a delicious meal with me. 
“Toats babe. I have yoga later and don’t wanna be bloated. That's not like, Zen at all.” Beth explained wisely.
I wonder if Beth knows what Zen means. But that's besides the point.
“I see. Yeah ok, whatever works. So, uhm…last night huh?”
 I didn’t really know what to say. I have never really been much of a player. My father has been an incredible example for me of how a man should act. He treats my mother with respect and love, they seems as much in love now as ever. They still hold hands, he opens the door for her, compliments her and brings her flowers. On top of that, my father has always told me to put my career and education first in life right now, so that I can provide a good home and stable life for my family. Both my parents encouraged me to choose a partner that is as driven and motivated as I am, someone that supports my personal growth and success and someone whose own career and future I will support and wish to see flourish as well.  Encouragement and respect seem to be key in a good relationship, so a person is fulfilled within themselves and not searching for fulfillment thorough someone else.
Because of those values, I have never really been able to treat women as disposable items to be used and discarded, even though that seems to be the norm among many of my peers these days.
“I knowwwwww. Intense huh? I’m so glad we finally got together. I mean, it’s only right. You and me. You’re like super-hot and well, I am too, so why not right?”
Hmm. Beth’s assessment of our mutual appeal wasn’t exactly rocket science, but my breakfast was taking me to such a better place that I went with it.
"Right,” I agreed. Breakfast brain. Apparently can get you in trouble.
“I gotta go to the bathroom. BRB!”
As Beth rounded the corner to the ladies room, I tried to pull myself out of my hangover and breakfast haze and thought maybe I should re-connect with the world.
I pulled out my phone, which I had pretty much ignored since last night, and  scrolled aimlessly through Facebook and Instagram.
Suddenly, my eyes caught a picture that made my heartbeat speed up once again.  Aleah at Elena’s wedding. My God she looks beautiful. I don’t know if she knew someone took a picture, but it captured a genuine moment of what looked like pure joy. She was obviously having an amazing time; she was one the dance floor with some guy, smiling that incredible smile of hers, her beautiful hair cascading down her back as he twirled her around mid-spin. She looked as though she did not have a care in the world, happy, relaxed, and enjoying the moment. With this guy.
Immediately my mind started reeling with questions. “Who is that guy? Was he her date? Her boyfriend? Why didn’t she invite me to be her date? Would I have even been able to go? Did she miss me?”
My headache, which had begun to dull, started throbbing again.
"Oh man," I thought to myself. "Why am I still wondering?" I closed Instagram, set the phone on the table and made up my mind.
"Screw it. I'm going for it."
I'm going to go for this thing with Beth, I am going to see where college life takes me.
But first, I am going to take a nap. Because naps always make things better.

Monday, September 22, 2014

LbA: A Welcome Distraction

Thanks for coming out with me last night.  I had a lot of fun, and would really like to see you again, soon!

I read and re-read the text from Chase over and over again.  Every time, smiling.  He had sent it Saturday morning.  If that text had been a teddy bear, I would've held it to my chest and giddily smothered it from excitement.  Yeah, I'm that girl.

It was now Sunday evening and I was working up the courage to call Chase to tell him I'd like to plan our next date.  He was so thoughtful with the details of the first one, I wanted to try to pay him the same courtesy.  Even though I already knew he was just as into having a second date as I was, I still was nervous.  I always felt guys should do the pursuing.  I'd been lectured from various friends about it being 2014 and taking the bull by the horns and making the move if that's what I wanted, but I was still pretty old fashioned when it came to dating and guys.  I expected to be asked out, I adore chivalry, and I couldn't imagine having a one night stand.  Not to say it may or may not happen at some point in my life, but right now I definitely couldn't imagine it.  And I wouldn't ever ask a guy out on a date prior to date number 3!

Growing up, I was blessed to live in a two parent home where my father set that example before me daily with my mother.  Tom and I had a babysitter every other Friday so my parents could have date night.  On all special occasions my father would leave early in the morning and come home with either a corsage or bouquet of flowers for her, depending on the event.  And he always held the door open for my mother, walked on the outside of the sidewalk, and readily handed over his jacket if she even unconsciously showed signs of being cold.

And then, I dated Zach, who was the epitome of a gentleman.  His dad and mom were from the same old school of relationship thought.  They taught Zach the correct way to be, and I know if he had ever even not held a door open for me- let alone any female- that his parents would've made it known how disappointed they were in him.  And he probably would've been forced to apologize for being a scoundrel and make sure to emphasize that he was "raised better than that."

I sighed, thinking of Zach, and returned my focus to Chase.  To call him and ask him on a date seemed out of character for me, but I also wanted to surprise him, and was excited to do so.  I quickly hit send on my phone, before I could talk myself out of it.

He answered on the second ring.  "Hello?" I smiled, just hearing his smooth voice.  It was quiet in the background.

"Why, hello, Chase!" I rolled my eyes at how cheesy I sounded.  I quickly said, "How are you?"

"Oh, just living the life.  How are you?"

"I'm doing well.  What are you up to?"

"Well, currently I'm talking to this adorable girl that I just recently met, but before that I was just studying?"

"Studying?" I asked, completely missing the compliment he threw my way at first.  "I mean... who is this adorable girl you speak of?  Competition?"

"Yeah, she's pretty hot.  She's got this beautiful smile, piercing eyes, golden glow from the sun, killer personality, and sarcastic wit.  So I'd say you've got some competition, unless you can do better?"  I could hear the smile in his voice.  And I blushed, hearing his words drip over me, and surround me with their authenticity, despite the joking manner.

"Hmmm... I don't know about that.  She sounds pretty amazing.  But... just hear me out... If you like an overly competitive, outspoken, food lover, who sleeps best during thunderstorms, then I could totally put up a good fight for your affection."

He laughed.  "That does sound pretty appealing."

"So, what are you studying?  I thought you had graduated a couple years ago?"

"Oh, I did.  I'm studying for the CPA exam."  He paused, and added, "Certified Public Accountant."

"Ah.  When is it?"

"In a couple months."

I raised my eyebrows, even though he couldn't see me.  I could never fathom studying for a text days in advance, let alone months.  "It must be hard," is all I could think to respond with.

"Yeah, it's pretty intensive." He sighed.  "So what do I owe the pleasure of this phone call today?"

"I'm sorry to keep you from your studying!  I was actually calling because I'd, uh, I wanted to know if you... I mean, I know we talked about going on a second date, and I'd really like to plan it for next Sunday and surprise you this time, if that's okay?"  I stuttered through that horribly.  I shook my head and closed my eyes, thankful that he couldn't see my pained expression.

He chuckled warmly.  "Aleah, firstly, you don't need to apologize.  You are a welcome distraction.  Secondly, of course I would love to go on a second date with you.  However," my heart stopped along with his words, and then he continued, "I really would like to see you before then."

I smiled broadly, "Oh!  I mean, I would, too.  Like you see you before then, not me.  Just, what I have planned would work better next Sunday than in an evening when I got off practice."

"Well, how about this?  I'd like to take you out, this Wednesday after your practice.  And assuming you can still tolerate me, I'll let you plan the third date, for Sunday.  Is that fair?"

"Oh yes!  Of course."  I tried to keep joy contained in my voice, but couldn't.

We got off the phone shortly after, agreeing to a traditional date of dinner and a movie Wednesday.  I did a happy dance and decided to get something to eat.  I perused the fridge and settled on making taco dip, although we didn't have any tortilla chips.  I made the dip first (cream cheese/sour cream/taco seasoning topped with lettuce, tomato, black olives, shredded cheese, and green onion).  I had just put saran wrap over the glass dish when Nellie entered the apartment.  "Hi, Nellie," I said shortly.  We hadn't spent much time together, and I really was trying to be friendly when I ran into her.

"Good evening, Aleah," she wandered over to me, peering over her glasses at the dip I was about to slide into the fridge to keep cool so I could run to the store and get chips.  "Well, that sure looks good!"

"Thanks."  She was looking at me expectantly, and that's when it dawned on me, the conversation I'd had with Maddie, about Nellie and her diet of not eating unless being offered food.  She was fishing.  "I agree, and I can't wait to eat some.  I need to run and get some chips, though.  We don't have any."

She started talking almost before I could finish my sentence, "I can come with you, if you'd like!  I'll even pay for half!"

"Uh, that's okay."  I cocked my head at her.  "I mean, it's only a few bucks, you don't need to help me pay for my chips.  I can swing that.  Why don't you just get a bag for yourself, too?"

"Oh, well, I mean, I could, but I don't have that delicious looking dip to eat with them," she shamelessly countered.

I pursed my lips, willing for the laughter that was bubbling up inside of me to disappear.  "Oh, it's really easy to make.  I can give you the recipe if you'd like."

A look of disappointment crossed her face.  "That's okay.  I think I'm actually just going to do some homework and go to bed."  She crossed through the kitchen and entered her and Maddie's room and closed the door behind her.

I immediately felt guilty.  Normally, I would've offered my food to anyone (assuming I had more than 1 serving), but didn't because I knew her plan.  I started to go to her room to tell her she could have some, but changed my mind, deciding that her "diet" was stupid, and she needed to eat, just healthier.  And she shouldn't put the power of her food consumption in someone else's hands.  With that, I decidedly nodded my head to myself, slipped on some flip flops, grabbed my keys and purse, and walked out the door.

I was rummaging through my purse looking for my phone so I could call Sarah to see if she needed anything, and was about 3 cars away from mine, when I could sense somebody in front of me.  I didn't look up but started stepping to the side to go around them, when a large, strong hand grabbed my upper arm, stopping me in my tracks.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Life By Zach Something New

Life By Zach
Something New
The light streaming in from the window pierced my eyes like a sword.
“Ugh,” I mumbled, trying to sit up.
My mouth felt dry, my head was exploding, and waves of nausea hit me with full force.
“What happened last night?” I thought to myself. I squinted around, thinking I haven't felt this awful in...well, ever really. And then, I felt a hand on my knee. I looked over at the blond hair spilling onto the pillow next to mine and it all came rushing back.
Ohmygosh. Beth Simpson happened.
After I talked to Ben in the quad yesterday, I walked back to my apartment slowly. I knew deep inside I would end up going to this party, even though the idea of being with someone new was difficult for me to swallow. I know that’s what college is all about. I know I should be living the way Ben is:  without a worry in the world, with a new girl at my side every weekend.
But what holds me back is knowing that I have already found the perfect girl. Yet the doubts that have been nagging at me late at night remind me that Aleah and I are not together, and that this is my time, and that I should not hold back by looking into the future and forgetting what is right in front of me. If I hadn’t opened my eyes to what was in front of me, I may have never seen Aleah as anything other than my neighbor, so I knew I would have to just give into the moment and see where this whole ride would take me.
I finished up the paper I had to turn in on Monday, studied for my Chemistry II test, and finally peeled myself off the couch and took a long, hot shower.
“I can do this,” I thought as I gazed in the mirror, my blue eyes staring back at me with determination. “Get a grip man, you got this.”
I threw on my favorite pair of Diesel jeans and a blue and white plaid button down (seems to be the look the frat boys are going for these days, so I figured, when in Rome...). I usually leave my face a little scruffy; I’ve been told before that I have somewhat of a “baby-face” due to my bright blue eyes and dimples so the hint of a beard makes me feel a lot more manly.  My light brown hair has gotten kind of long, but I usually just run some pomade through it and the waves stay where they are supposed to. Girls are constantly telling me I am some kind of Chace Crawford look-alike, but I’m not sure I want to look like some dude that was on Gossip Girl. Although, Aleah loved Gossip Girl.
 “No thinking about Aleah tonight,” I reminded myself as I headed out.
The party was in full swing by the time I arrived. Ben said to be there at 10 but it was more like 11:30 by the time I got there.
Even though summer was quickly coming to an end, the weather was gorgeous and warm tonight, and the party was in full swing. The party spilled out into the backyard and deck, which was decorated with tiki torches and string lights and there were people everywhere.
I found Ben right away; he was not hard to miss having decided to wear overalls without a shirt underneath and was sloshing around his red solo cup with enthusiasm as he animatedly told a cute little red-head a story.
“Dudeeeeee, you made it!!!!!” he yelled when he saw me. “Rachel this is my boy Zach, Zach meet Rachel. She’s a mermaid!”
“Oh boy.” I thought to myself. “Ben’s hammered already. This is going to get interesting.”
 I said hello to Rachel the mermaid and then made my way to the keg. I usually don't drink with abandon, but tonight I was on a mission. I filled my cup and wandered around the house chatting with people from my classes and enjoying the buzz that was kicking in quickly. After a couple more beers and way too many shots of whiskey with Ben, I was feeling pretty good.
“I really should do this more often. I work so hard to achieve my career dreams, why not let loose a little?” I mumbled to myself as I refilled my beer yet again.
"Talking to yourself?" I heard a voice behind me.
I turned around, knowing who I would see. 

"Hey Beth, you got me.." I smiled at her as I took in her long blond hair, gleaming smile and short, short skirt.

“You look handsome,” she purred.
“Thanks. You look good too. Have you been here long?"
"Long enough. I'm glad you're finally here though. It’s good to finally see you out. You know what they say…all work and no play…”
“Yeah, I know. I’ve been busy. So, what’s been…” Before I could finish my sentence, Beth grabbed my hand and dragged me to the makeshift dance floor, which was more like a tiny square in the living room where couples where grinding against each other in a sloppy attempt to dance.
“OMG it's TayTay, I love this song!!!” Beth squealed as Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” blared from the speakers.
Normally I am NOT the kind of guy that dances to Taylor Swift music, but tonight, I just didn’t care. I grabbed Beth by the waist and swung her around as her arms found their way around my neck and she threw her head back with laughter.
“I knew you had it in you, Zach,” she whispered.
“Had what in me?”
“The ability to know see what’s right in front of you.”
Her words shook me out of my drunken euphoria for just a minute when I realized I had been thinking about exactly that just days before. Not missing out on what is right in front of me.
I locked eyes with Beth, her green, smoldering eyes sparkling at me.
Her pink pouty mouth curved into a smile, and for a moment I didn’t feel quite so unable to appreciate what was right in front of me. I didn't stop her when she moved her head closer, and I didn't stop her when her lips found mine.
I mean, why not have some fun? Live a little? What could possibly go wrong??

Monday, September 15, 2014

LbA: Smitten

It was like Code Red in my apartment after the discovery of Victoria residing in our building.  Elena had somehow managed to become really tight with the Dean of students.  When we informed her of Victoria finagling into the building, she agreed to try to find out how.  Because new students, whether freshman or transfers, were always housed in one of a few specific buildings, unless they lived off campus. 

I had agreed to let Chase pick me up from our apartment, because he had insisted.  I swooned, because of how chivalrous he was already acting.  After practice, I rushed home and showered.  Maddie met me there because she had previously offered to do my hair for me.  So there I sat perched on a kitchen chair we had pulled into Maddie and Nellie's (Maddie's new roommate) room in front of their full length mirror, so I could do my make-up at the same time she was spiral curling my hair. 

"So how's Nellie in bed?" I asked, giggling.

I caught Maddie roll her eyes.  "Lame, Aleah.  She snores.  She's nice, though, just strange."

I had rarely been at the apartment because of working at the racquet club, and classes, and practice.  So I really hadn't had the full affect of spending time with Nellie, yet.  "Strange how?  I mean, aside from her choices in clothing."

"Well, she's on this new diet..." Maddie trailed off.

"Diet?" I thought about Nellie, and she was chubby, but I didn't think a diet needed to occur.  I'm sure if she just exercised a little, that excess weight would come right off.

I leaned in closer to the mirror, to focus on my eyeliner, causing Maddie to yank on my hair to pull me backwards.  "You can't get that close, the cord on the curling wand is maxed."  I sighed.

"Soooo... tell me about this diet she's on."

"It's so weird!  She will only eat, if someone offers her food."

I guffawed.  "What!"


I rolled my eyes and moved on from the Nellie topic.  I finished my make-up (from a distance) and Maddie and I caught up on the past week, since we hadn't seen each other much.  I put together my outfit, and Maddie nodded her head in approval.  She started giving me many compliments, I think because she could tell I was nervous.  I hadn't been this nervous or giddy since... since a date with Zach.  I shook my head slightly, erasing the thought of Zach.  Right then, there was a tentative knock on the door. 

I started to walk towards the door, grabbing my Coach bag, and throwing my keys and cell phone inside.  But Maddie raced to the door and flung it open.  "Oh, hi Chase!" she exclaimed overly excitedly.  I rushed over, before she could embarrass me, because I figured that was what she was about to attempt. 

"Hey," I smiled shyly at him.  "I'm ready."

I saw him try to nonchalantly check me out, unsuccessfully.  He grinned back at me.  "You look gorgeous."

I blushed, and then took all of him in.  He was wearing dark wash jeans, a "bright berry" button down, and a pair of beautiful Salvatore Ferragamo shoes.  "Thank you.  You look equally as nice."  He smiled his thanks and we said goodbye to Maddie.

As we walked outside, I giddily asked, "So where are we going?"

He placed his hand on the small of my back as he opened my car door and said, "I guess you'll find out soon, won't you?"  He smiled mischievously at me.

His car smelled manly.  Like, good manly.  A deep silky cologne smell.  The leather seats were the perfect temperature for the weather.  He had a modest car that was loaded and well taken care of.  It was sexy, just like him.

He slid in and he started driving.  We chatted easily about our days, and the best family vacations we had ever been on, on our way to our destination.  We arrived at a romantic sushi restaurant, and I was ecstatic.  I could tell he was paying attention to our multiple emails and telephone discussions, as I had mentioned in passing that sushi was one of my top favorite foods. 

Dinner went by smoothly.  We split 4 different rolls, so we could have a plethora of them.  Neither of us had been to this specific restaurant, so we wanted a nice sampling.  There were no silences, awkward or not, as we talked and joked throughout the evening.  Neither of us drank alcohol.  I didn't know his reasoning, but I didn't because I wanted to be able to fully concentrate and remember everything he was telling me.  One thing I really don't like is having duplicate conversations with people.  I feel stupid when I repeat myself, and I get annoyed when others keep repeating themselves.

After dinner, I didn't know what to expect.  I wasn't sure if he was taking me home or not.  When he started driving, I saw he was heading back towards my apartment.  I felt disappointed, as I thought we'd had a wonderful time.

But he passed the turnoff to my apartment and kept driving.  As he pulled into the parking lot of our next destination, I beamed.  Mini golf.  I thought back to a conversation we'd had earlier in the week.  He had asked me what one of my guilty pleasure activities were, and I told him miniature golf.  I had probably spoken for a good 8 minutes about how much I love it, how I hadn't been since I was in high school, and how it allowed me to have fun, but still to bring out my competitiveness. 

To me, he had planned the perfect first date.  He asked me about my parents and what they do, and I told him.  I was usually guarded regarding personal issues and my family, but Chase's genuineness made me want to be open.  I didn't go into details, but I briefly told him about my dad having cancer, and how his prognosis was looking good, as of now.  He was very empathetic, and didn't once tell me that he understood.  Which I was pleased about.  I always hated when people told me they understood, when there is no way they could if they'd never been in my shoes.

I then asked him about his greatest fear.

He looked at me, his eyes penetrating mine, as if to find out if I was worth disclosing that kind of information to.  He seemed to relax, as he searched my face.  "Failing."

I cocked my head at him, pausing before swinging my club again.  "In what way?"

"Failing myself and others."  He paused, looking thoughtful, then continued.  "I have very high expectations for myself, in everything that I do.  And I don't ever want to not only let myself down, but especially not anyone else, either.  What about you?"

"Mmm... I think being vulnerable.  To me, that is scary, opening up to someone like that.  When you become most vulnerable, is when you are opening up the most to be hurt."

"Are you usually closed off in relationships?"

"Oh, no.  Maybe at first I'm a little protective of myself, but only for a little.  I also know that the best relationships are the ones where you are most vulnerable.  Those are the deepest, richest relationships."  I looked up at him through my eyelashes, and he was gazing back at me.  The eye contact was intense, but pure.  I quickly looked back down at the ball and tapped it with my club. 

"Hole in one!" I jumped up and down.  Chase strode over to me and gave me a high five.

"Awesome job!"

We had played two 9 hole games.  I won the first one, 30-31; and he won the second, 29-32.  We went to turn in our clubs, and I claimed my free game for the hole in one on the last hole.  I waved the slip of paper in the air at him, excited.  Tentatively I said, "You know, we will need a tie breaker."

He grinned at me, "You aren't okay with a tie?"

I backtracked, "I mean, if you are, that's totally fine, I can always bring Sarah, or Elena, or someone..."

"Oh, no!" He quickly cut me off.  "I didn't mean it like that.  I was just teasing you.  If you were fishing to see if I wanted to see you again, the answer is of course."

I blushed at him calling me out like that, but was also appreciative how upfront he was.  "Well, the feeling is mutual."

He drove me home and walked me up to my apartment.  The awkward moment.  He said, "I had a really great time tonight."

"I did, too."

"I'll call you soon."

"I'd like that a lot."

"Goodnight, Aleah," he said, leaning in and wrapping his arms around me.  He pulled me into a tight hug.  No kiss attempt, and that was okay.  It was the perfect ending to a perfect evening.

I walked into the apartment and shut the door behind me.  I leaned back against it and sighed, smitten.

Friday, September 12, 2014

LbA: Victoria

"Victoria," I muttered, through clenched teeth.

She smiled sneakily at me, and casually said, "Oh, hello Aleah.."

I looked at her, unsure of whether I should keep walking, or acknowledge her.  I also glanced around to see if there was anyone close by.  Just in case.  Of course, there wasn't anyone within 50 yards.

"It's really so great to finally get to meet you," she said, her voice laced with sarcasm.

Flatly, I responded, "Really, the pleasure is mine."  I turned to walk up my apartment when I felt her hand grip my upper arm.  I jerked away in surprise and whipped around to face her.  "Don't ever touch me.  Ever."

She shifted her eyes around quickly, to make sure no one had witnessed what had just happened.  When she saw she was in the clear, she visibly relaxed and said nonchalantly, "Oh Aleah, don't be silly.  I just wanted to tell you how excited I am that we are living in the same building!"  She sneeringly stared at me, clearly anticipating my response.

I wasn't sure what response she wanted, but I prayed I wasn't about to give it to her.  I smiled sweetly at her and said, "Oh really?  That's so great!  I was really looking forward to getting to know you better this year.  I wanted to tell you all about my ex-boyfriend, Luke.  He's quite the asshole."  I leaned in close to her, as if to confide in her, and whispered, "I heard he cheated on his fiancee with me!"  I finished my statement with a wink and took a step back, unsure if she would come at me.  My heart was pounding, and my palms sweaty.  I didn't mind confrontation, but not if it involved me either getting in trouble or possibly getting knocked out.

Her facial expression didn't change.  She icily smiled, but her eyes were shooting fire-ridden daggers at me.  She blinked twice and said, "Bitch."

"Oh, we're resorting to calling names now?  How very middle school of you."  I rolled my eyes and started backing away, almost scared to turn my back to her, but fully aware there wasn't anyone too near that could help if she did attack me.

I gripped my shoe bag tightly as I kept backing up.  Victoria just stood there, staring at me.  Creeper. 

Luckily right then I heard a car door shut.  Sarah was jogging up from the parking lot, appearing to just be getting home from somewhere.  "Sarah!" I shrilly called out to her.

"Hey!"  She immediately noticed the distressed look on my face and her smile disappeared.  I shifted my eyes towards Victoria.  I knew Sarah had seen her and Luke one time over the summer when she was in Kansas, but I didn't know if she'd remember who she was.  Sarah glanced at her, a look of recognition crossed her face and she finished jogging over to me.  She linked her arm through mine and started walking with me up the sidewalk to our building, loudly asking me about classes and what I bought.  When we were safely (and securely) locked into our apartment, Sarah asked me what the hell she was doing here.

"I told you about the message she sent me.  She's coming to school here."  I dropped my purse, tennis bag, and shoe shopping bag by the door.

"No, no, I know that.  I mean, what was she doing HERE here?"  She demanded of me, pacing the room.

I sighed, heavily.  "Apparently she somehow lives in this building."  I started mindlessly opening and closing kitchen cabinets, looking for something quick to eat.

Sarah narrowed her eyes at me.  "You're joking."

"If only."  I shrugged my shoulders, defeated.  "She's infiltrating my life.  She and Luke are probably conspiring to make my life hell."

"Get a protective order."  Sarah walked over to the couch and flopped down.

"For what?  For being creepy and staring at me?  This has been my only interaction with her, aside from the Facebook message.  She didn't even threaten me."

"Well, we'll just have to be careful.  And I really don't think you should be walking around at night by yourself out here anymore."

"Good grief Sarah.  Or should I call you mom?  I don't need a babysitter.  They haven't done anything to me."  I settled on a Chicken, Broccoli, and Cheddar Lean (Hot) Pocket, and stuck it in the microwave.

She looked at me, and I could see the concern flooding her eyes.  "I know.  I just want to make sure you're safe."  I softened towards her, then.

I crossed the room and sat next to her, wrapping my arms around her.  "I will be.  I promise."


Author's Note:  So I've decided until I'm officially/permanently moved and settled in (probably late October/November) I will post every Monday evening sometime (expect like 10 p.m.ish, as I wait until my little one is sleeping).  Any other posts, like this one, will be bonus.  Yay!  So I'll see you all on Monday again!  Once I'm moved, I'll up my postings again.

Reminder to come back on Wednesday mornings for Life by Zach posts to this page.

And also check out Sarah's life and POV:  lifebysarahxo.blogspot.com

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Life By Zach - Living in the Moment

Life By Zach - Living in the Moment
I remember the first time I saw her. I mean, really saw her. We’d known each other for as long as I can remember; we grew up next door to each other, rode our horses and ran around the woods like kids do. But the day I really saw her, was also the day I knew she would have my heart forever.
There are a lot of first moments that have stayed in my heart and mind when it comes to Aleah, but none that have made me feel the way I did that day.
We were both in high school, and Aleah had just finished a tennis match which I guess did not go as well as she had hoped. She’s always been an amazing athlete, I mean, she got a full tennis scholarship for college! But something was off for her that day. I usually tried to go to all of her games, as we had an unspoken pact that I wouldn’t miss a single one. But that day, I wasn’t there. I don’t really know why anymore. I got distracted, I had a rough football practice, and my college applications were due soon. Things were piling up and I had to take the time to make sure I had my ducks in a row. College was important to me, I have dreams and goals and I really wanted to make sure I made the right choice.
I was sitting at my desk struggling with my personal statement when Aleah and her mother pulled into their driveway.  She got out of the car and slammed the door, stood there for a moment just staring into space. I watched her, realizing I had never really noticed how long her legs had become, or how her hair had these tiny gold highlights that sparkled as she moved. Yeah, I said sparkled. Oh man.
Anyway, she looked up and caught my eye, then turned and ran to the stables. I knew where she was going.  I did not even stop to wonder whether I should follow her, I just did.  When I got to our spot in the woods, our spot we rode our horses to countless numbers of times, our spot where my dad and I spent a whole summer building a cabin together, she was sitting on the porch swing, throwing pebbles into the bushes.  Her hair had come out of her braid and was falling down her tanned shoulders, catching the light. She looked up at me and neither of us moved, we just locked eyes and in that moment, Aleah wasn’t just my little kid neighbor anymore. I knew the feelings that started in the pit of my stomach and crawled into my heart were much more than just the way I would feel about a friend. My heart was literally aching at the thought of her being upset, all I wanted to do was hold her, comfort her, make her feel better, yet we’ve never been more than friends. What if she didn’t feel it too? I walked over and sat next to her, and in what felt like slow motion, took her hand into mine. My heart was pounding so loud I thought surely she could hear it.  She didn’t look at me, but when I glanced at her face, she was blushing furiously and she was biting her lip nervously. Relief flooded over me. She felt it too.  Nothing else happened between us that day, but the unspoken words were there. We weren’t just friends anymore, we were more. We found love, right there, in front of us this whole time.
When I think about it now, we were both so young. We had no idea what was ahead for us, all we saw were the moments we had, the moments right in front of us. In a way, that really was a better time. People don’t enjoy the moment anymore, we spend so much time thinking of the past, or yearning for the future, when the present has so much to offer.
They say some people are not meant to stay in your life, but I’m just not sure. I’m not sure of anything anymore.
“Head’s up!!” I heard as a football came crashing into the side of my chest.
“Ouch Ben you big jackass,” I grumbled, and playfully punched him in the shoulder.  Ben was my best friend at ASU, and a total goofball.
Ben wasn’t quite sure yet what he wanted to do with his life, not at all like me. But he WAS sure he wanted to win every beer pong championship he encountered, date as many sorority beauties as he could, and party the night away as often as possible. Ben was definitely living in the moment. His fraternity was throwing a party that night, and even though I did not join it, I had pretty much become an honorary member.
“Dude! I made sure that Beth Simpson is going to be there tonight. For you. You’re welcome.” Ben raised his hand for a high five, his face splitting into the biggest grin imaginable.
Ahh, Beth Simpson. One of the most coveted girls at ASU. I’m not gonna lie, Beth is hot. She’s got that look to her, she’s confident, but deep down inside she craves validation. She’s always wearing the trendiest clothes, her hair is always the perfect combination of perfect, but messy. She’s got this sexy voice that purrs into your ear and travels down your spine right into your pants. Basically, she exudes sex and every guy on campus has the hots for her.
Beth has flirted heavily with me every time I have seen her, yet for some reason I just never pulled the trigger.
“I don’t know man. I gotta study. You know I have a lot on my plate,” I wanted to stall Ben as long as possible. It’s not that I didn’t want to go to this party. It’s not that I didn’t want Beth. I know I can get my work done in time.
I guess it’s more complicated. I'm kind of embarrassed to admit this, but I haven’t hooked up with anyone since Aleah and I were in New York. I know I can, nothing official is holding us together. But that trip meant so much; SHE means so much. But I've been having so many doubts lately. What does it all mean? What am I supposed to do? And isn't college a time for me to find some answers? Find myself?
“Come ON! Don’t give me that crap. You’re coming. End of story. Be at the house by 10. I mean it bro.” And with that, Ben ran across the school quad and disappeared.

The doubts I have been feeling began to take over as I wondered if maybe I should just go. Beth is ridiculously hot.
Maybe it’s time I let go.
Maybe it’s time  I take a chance and just live in the moment too...

Monday, September 8, 2014

Nervous Giggles

My heart started thumping, as I saw the number pop up on the screen:  Chase.  Throughout our e-mail exchanges, we had provided each other with our numbers.  The whole week we had sent one email back and forth per day.  He consistently emailed me every morning, which I discovered is when he first got to work.  He likes saving money, so he doesn't have Internet at home.  And I would return his messages in the evening when I would be home, and when I could relax and focus on every word he wrote.  I was mesmerized by his diligence and pursuance. 

I cleared my throat then slid the green touch button to answer his call.  "Hello?"

I heard his throat clear on the other end.  "Um, yes, hi, is this Aleah?"

Giggling nervously, I responded, "Yeah, it is.  Chase?"

"Of course!  So how was your day?"

We exchanged simple pleasantries back and forth and covered our days.  Since it was my first day of classes, I talked to him a little about how I thought this semester was going to go, and what classes I still hadn't attended, but would the next day.  Although I knew he was a tax accountant, that we had discussed the night of the wedding, I didn't understand what all that meant, and how someone can be a tax accountant year round.  He tried explaining it to me, but I thought it sounded horribly boring.  I told him that I was glad there were people in the world who liked numbers, because I couldn't do it.  He laughed and responded that it isn't for everyone.

We talked for a few more minutes before there was a slight pause.  Then quietly, Chase started, "So, Aleah, I was wondering if you'd do me the pleasure of going on a date with me?"

I (too) quickly responded, "I'd love to!"  Then smacked my forehead with my palm, regretting saying the "L word," even if it wasn't directed at him.  I recovered, "I think that would be really great."

We agreed on the upcoming Friday, August 29th around 7 p.m.  He said he would plan the entire date.

When we said our goodbyes, I squealed and did a little happy dance that consisted of prance-stomping and pumping my fists in the air.  I went to text Elena my good news, and looked at my phone and realized I hadn't hit the "end" button and the call was still going.  "Nooo!" I moaned as I hit the end button and threw my phone on the couch as if it was on fire.  I silently prayed he didn't hear my screeches of delight and at least he had hung up.

I heard my phone text tone go off, and grabbed it, seeing a text from Chase:  Looking forward to Friday.  P.S. I gave a shriek of joy, too ;)

I blushed, embarrassed he had heard me, but laughed, too.  I responded:  I'm not, and I didn't ;)

The next couple of days flew by, as I was anticipating my date, and was so nervous.  The day before my date, I decided to go shopping after practice.  I had no idea what we were doing, so I asked Chase to give me a hint so I knew how to dress.  He wouldn't give me a hint, but told me classy comfy.  I teased him, that some girl must've given him that term.

I had already checked the weather and the high was in the low 70's.  I knew if we were going out in the evening it would be cooler.  I elected on a black quarter sleeve flow-y long tunic shirt, and black and white chevron leggings.  I was going to add a red, layered bead necklace.  All I really needed were shoes.  I found some red studded flats that, in my mind, paired perfectly with my chosen outfit.

I got back to my apartment and grabbed my bag and started walking inside, daydreaming of the next night when I heard my voice being yelled from behind.  I stopped mid step and spun around. 

I found myself face to face with Victoria.