Twist Me(4)

By: Anna Zaires

I would normally join in the conversation, but I’m too disturbed by seeing Julian, so I just sit there quietly. For some reason, I hadn’t told Leah about meeting him in the club. I only said that I had a headache and wanted to go home.

I don’t know why I can’t talk to Leah about Julian. I have no problem spilling my guts about Jake. Maybe it’s because it’s too difficult for me to describe how Julian makes me feel. She wouldn’t understand why he frightens me.

I don’t really understand it myself.

At Jake’s house, the party is in full swing when we arrive. I am still resolved to talk to Jake, but I’m too freaked out from seeing Julian earlier. I decide that I need some liquid courage.

Leaving the girls, I walk over to the keg and pour myself a cup of punch. Sniffing it, I determine that it definitely has alcohol, and I drink the full cup.

Almost immediately, I start to feel buzzed. As I had discovered in the past few years, my alcohol tolerance is virtually nonexistent. One drink is just about my limit.

I see Jake walking to the kitchen, and I follow him there.

He’s cleaning up, throwing away some extra cups and dirty paper plates.

“Do you want some help with that?” I ask.

He smiles, his brown eyes crinkling at the corners. “Oh, sure, thanks. That would be awesome.” His sun-streaked hair is a little long and flops over his forehead, making him look particularly cute.

I melt a little inside. He’s so handsome. Not in the disturbing Julian way, but in a pleasantly comfortable sense. Jake is tall and muscular, but he’s not all that big for a quarterback. Not big enough to play ball in college, or at least that’s what Jennie once told me.

I help him clean up, brushing some chip crumbs off the counter and wiping up the punch that had spilled on the floor. The entire time, my heart is beating faster from excitement.

“Nora, right?” Jake says, looking at me.

He knows my name!

I give him a huge grin. “That’s right.”

“That’s really awesome of you to help, Nora,” he says sincerely. “I like throwing parties, but the cleaning is always a bitch the next day. So now I try to clean a little during, before it gets really nasty.”

My grin widens further, and I nod. “Of course.”

That makes total sense to me. I love the fact that he seems so nice and thoughtful, so much more than just a jock.

We start chatting. He tells me about his plans for next year. Unlike me, he’s going away to college. I tell him I’m planning to stay local for the next two years to save money. Afterwards, I want to transfer to a real university.

He nods approvingly and says that it’s smart. He’d thought about doing something like that, but he was lucky enough to get a full-ride scholarship to the University of Michigan.

I smile and congratulate him. On the inside, I’m jumping up and down in joy.

We’re clicking. We’re really clicking! He likes me, I can tell. Oh, why hadn’t I approached him before?

We talk for about twenty minutes before someone comes into the kitchen looking for Jake.

“Hey, Nora,” Jake says before he goes back to the party, “are you doing anything tomorrow?”

I shake my head, holding my breath.

“How about we go see a movie?” Jake suggests. “Maybe grab dinner at that little seafood place?”

I grin and nod like an idiot. I’m too afraid to say something stupid, so I keep my mouth shut.

“Great,” Jake says, grinning back at me. “Then I’ll pick you up at six.”

He goes back to being the party host, and I rejoin the girls. We stay for another couple of hours, but I don’t talk to Jake again. He’s surrounded by his jock friends, and I don’t want to interrupt.

But every now and then, I catch him looking my way and smiling.

* * *

I’m floating on air for the next twenty-four hours. I tell Leah and Jennie all about what happened. They’re excited for me.

In preparation for our date, I put on a cute blue dress and a pair of high-heeled brown boots. They’re a cross between cowboy boots and something a bit dressier, and I know I look good in them.

Jake picks me up at six o’clock sharp.

We go to Fish-of-the-Sea, a popular local joint not too far from the movie theater. It’s a nice sit-down place, not too formal.

Perfect for a first date.

We have a great time. I learn more about Jake and his family. He asks me questions too, and we discover that we like the same types of movies. I can’t stand chick flicks for some reason, and I really enjoy cheesy end-of-the-world stories with lots of special effects. So does Jake, apparently.

After dinner, we go see a movie. Unfortunately, it’s not about an apocalypse, but it’s still a pretty good action film. During the movie, Jake puts his arm around my shoulders, and I can barely suppress my excitement. I hope he kisses me tonight.

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