Esmée’s mood stayed cloudy with the chance of tears for the next days, upsetting her even more that her least favorite person in the whole world had been so easily able to do that to her so effortlessly.
In brighter news, Ethan and Brylee were officially a couple and it was hard to miss how head over heels they were about each other.
While Ezzy wanted to be happy for her brother and best friend, somehow all she felt was jealousy and a little disgust.
Did they HAVE to be so in-your-face with it?
And where was her happiness?
Preferably in the form of one Aaron Campbell.
It felt like the entire world was in love and in relationships – except her.
What was wrong with her that she ended up as some dating bench warmer?
“Yo Xena…” Ezzy heard a voice she knew all too well behind her, her blood pressure went up instantly as she turned around, already angry as she hissed
“What do you want, you … oh … hi Aaron.”
“Told ya. All it takes is two words and she is ready for combat! Total psycho.” Forrest told him, accompanied by Esmée shooting eye daggers at him.
“Must be you, man. She seems nice to me.”Aaron smiled that smile. That very special Aaron-smile and Ezzy felt the ground disappear beneath her
“I am.” was all she managed out, then forced a smile, hoping it was a good one.
“Oh crap, coach wants me. Try not to kill him, Xena, we got an important game coming up and need this guy.” Forrest walked off, leaving Aaron behind.
“Take it you two are not best friends?” he now said, while Ezzy’s eyes were shooting hearts at his, barely able to focus on the meaning of his words.
“Not in a million years!” she smiled, trying to sound casual, praying both was believable.
“How come I’ve never seen you around before? I know I would have noticed such a bae!”
‘Good question, Aaron, I have been asking myself that for months! And also – HE CALLED ME A BAE! Happy spasi-dance!!!‘ Ezzy thought, but said instead
“Just not the type to be … uh … in people’s faces that much.” Ezzy had been about to say something unflattering about the other girls but caught herself in time and went with trying to sound nonchalant.
“So you’re from the Bay?” he continued his small talk.
“Born and raised.” she smiled, and her cheeks started to feel numb from all that forced smiling.
“Cool, maybe I can get some tips about what to do here at night.”
“Ha, drive to another town is what you do here. Unless you like long walks on the beach till your feet blister, that is about all you can do here.” she laughed.
“Ha ha ha, you are funny! I like it. Are you doing anything Friday night? I am throwing a party, maybe you wanna come?” he asked, Esmée heard her dreamy crush inviting HER – not any of the other girls – to a party as HIS house and was torn between fainting and doing backflips.
“Sure.” Ezzy had to catch herself to not do cartwheels and hide her excitement.
“Awesome. Starts at 8.”
“I’ll be there with bells on!” she smiled as he winked and walked back to his teammates.
“Bells on?? With bells on? Wow, Ezzy, could you have come up with a lamer reply, you nerd? With bells on. Ugh.” she told herself.
Either way, she had a date with HIM. Esmée and Aaron. Even sounded right.Yeah, that’s right world, it’s Ezzy-time o’clock. Kicking butts and taking names. Ha. Names.
Aaron and Esmée Campbell.
Had a ring to it.
Her mood was very elevated now. A date. With him. With Aaron. The Aaron. Dreamy Aaron. Ha, eat your hearts out you little hos throwing yourselves at him all the time. He came to HER. No throwing needed.
The next day in school she saw Forrest shooting hoops by himself in the school’s basketball court, after some debating with herself, she went to talk to him.
“I never thought I’d ever say this, but: thank you!” she told him.
“What for?” his tone was the usual cranky one.
“You KNOW what for. That was pretty decent of you. Ha, who knew?”
“No idea what you are talking about.” his tone remained unchanged.
“Yesterday …” she said with urgency.
“My yesterday had about 24 hours. You have to be more specific.”
“Introducing me to Aaron.”
“Well, either way, he asked me to a party this weekend. So whatever you did or didn’t do, thanks.”
“Dude moves fast.”
“Well, just a party. We’re not getting married or something. From what I hear, half the school is gonna be there.”
“Yeah, cool. The good times.”
“Are you going?”
“Why do you care?”
“You’re right I don’t. But why do you always have to be such a douche, even when I only wanted to thank you?”
“OK, you want me to not be a douche, here goes: be careful with Aaron. He isn’t all that.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Bad-talking Aaron? Not on her watch!
“Pretty straightforward the message.”
“Yeah, be careful about what?”
“Don’t play dense, Esmée. He is a player. He is interested until he gets what he wants, then moves on. Just remember that about him.”
“Oh, look who’s talking. Jealous much because people actually like HIM?”
“Not one bit.”
“You are so insecure.”
“Me, insecure? Ha, look who’s talking.”
“Well, I don’t have to go around beating weaker kids up to make myself feel better or impress others.”
“Neither do I. But at least I am honest about who and what I am.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“I don’t fake being holier than thou. I am what I am. And I stand by that. You on the other hand …”
“I stand by what I am too … ”
“HA HA HA – good one! You are so prejudiced, yet you fake being nice to those ‘weaker’ kids I am supposedly sooooo mean to as you keep throwing at me, even though the only one I ever had a problem with is ONE, singular. The very same one who follows you like a puppy while you roll your eyes at him, fake being nice, then go talk bad about him behind his back, you mother Teresa, you.”
“I …. ” Ezzy wanted to protest but he was right, angering her more. Ouch. It took her a few seconds to catch herself, then she came back swinging.
“So, since you have all the answers, Forrest Dumb, what do you suggest in your infinite wisdom? Stand up Aaron and go out with Benny instead?”
“No, go and get to know what Aaron is really like, that’ll knock the rose-colored glasses right off your head, but don’t tell me I didn’t warn ya.”
“No worries there! Warn me? YOU of all people? You?! The one who picked on innocent kids, only because of something their dad or grandpa did?! Puh-leeeease!”
“More prejudice. That’s what my parents told you. And you just ran with it. I never said that was the reason. And it isn’t. He knows what he did. And he knows he deserved what he got. Benny is another one of those who seems oh-so innocent, until you take a closer look. No wonder you two get along. If only he were a little hunkier, huh? You’d be in his lap 24/7.”
“You are so stupid! You do not know me AT ALL. You think you got me figured out, but you are wrong. And what reason could a guy like Benny have given you to warrant being beaten in the school hallway?”
“None of your business! Now go run along and bother some of your pretty and proper white friends before any of them see you talking to me.”
“Excuuuse me? You did not just pull the race card!”
“I did and slapped it in your face along with the reality check. You think I don’t see what’s around me? This backwoods village is one of the worst places my parents could have moved me to. Instead of enrolling me in a school in San Myshuno, with diversity, they enroll me in some rural cowtown where there are a handful of token non-white kids trying to make the best of it, knowing they are not going nowhere fast here.”
“OMG – you are so deranged. And everybody just hates poor lil Forrest for no good reason. Sure, must be because you are bi-racial, not because you are an insufferable asshole! Seriously, you throw your little pity party here, attendance:1. I am out. But for your info, there are a LOT more bi-racials in this town and also a bunch of different races everywhere. If you weren’t so self-absorbed you would have noticed!”
“So you would go out with a black kid? Bring him home to mommy and redneck daddy?”
“If I liked him, sure.”
“Laughable, but keep telling yourself that.”
“Look, Malcolm ZZZ, my family has its flaws, a lot of them, but THAT one isn’t one of them.”
“Sure. You just watch yourself with Aaron.”
The day of the party finally came. Ezzy was excited, nervous, hands sweaty and shaking to the point that she was sick to her stomach and close to chickening out.
Ethan and Brylee were going as well.
When she got downstairs, they were in the living room making out on the couch.
She hated herself for being jealous of them, but man, they were cute together. She wanted to be cute with a guy too, just like that. Maybe she and Aaron would be sitting on that couch soon stealing kisses, giggling, whispering.
Esmée pictured herself walking into school with him, holding hands.
Eat your hearts out girls! Every single one of you. All mine!
Her daydream made her smile.
And that Forrest would end up eating crow. She’d happily spoon-feed him every single bite of it.
When they arrived, the party was already in full swing, teens lingering around everywhere, outside, in the halls, the kitchen, it was crowded and loud, reeked of BBQ, sweets, sodas and probably alcohol as well as something that Ezzy suspected to be weed.
Aaron looked amazing when he opened the door for them.
Oh well, it wasn’t her party, her house and she didn’t have to drink or do drugs.
Looking around, watching the others interact her heart began to beat at a normal pace again.
She’d just have fun with … where was Aaron anyway?
Finally he came back handing her a red solo cup. She smelled it, and realized it was spiked with something alcoholic. Not wanting to look like a party-pooper she took a tiny sip and had a hard time keeping from frowning, but smiled up at him.
They laughed, danced, small talked, she dumped the contents of her cup into some poor plant when Aaron wasn’t looking and at some point he pulled her along with him to some empty bedroom.
Her heart was racing.
Her first kiss ever would happen here and now.
Oh boy, hopefully her breath was okay.
He came closer, her heart was about to beat out of her chest. This would be the most memorable, most romantic moment of her life.
He smiled, gawd he was dreamy, his face neared hers, he whispered in her ear how pretty she was, the most beautiful girl at that party and her knees almost gave out, then he kissed her.
Strangely, the butterflies were all gone, probably fled from his terrible alcohol breath.
Ezzy tried not to let the disappointment show, the kiss wasn’t at all how she had imagined it. His lips were weirdly wet, the kiss sloppy and left a gooey film on hers.
Was it supposed to be like this?
Looked much better in the movies.
He pulled her over to the bed, they sat next too each other and he began kissing her. She went along with the making out, but it didn’t feel nice at all, she stiffened and pulled away fast when she felt his hand creeping under her shirt.
“What?!” he sounded irritated.
“I … just … not yet.”
“Not yet? Huh?” he didn’t seem nice at all now.
“Can we just … talk?”
“TALK? You are kidding, right?” he asked annoyed.
“Umm… we can … like … snuggle …?”
“Snuggle? How old are you? 12?”
“I don’t ‘snuggle’? We all graduated from that when we started high school. Or at least we all SHOULD have. What the fuck is with you, Ellie? I thought you were a cool chick.”
“Ellie? My name is Ezzy!”
“Ezzy then. Quit playing the prude. You’ll like it. I promise.”
“Uh, no. Thanks.” Ezzy had enough and rushed out of the room.
What was that? she thought as she was running down the stairs.
That was NOTHING like she had imagined it would be.
She hung around downstairs for a while, then decided she needed to talk to Aaron about this.
Firstly because it bothered her to no end. Especially the part where he didn’t even get her name right. And all that other stuff.
And secondly because deep down inside she hoped for some misunderstanding.
Maybe he didn’t realize … something and once he did, all would be better. Somehow. Just like it always worked out in the movies.
She ran back upstairs, but the room they had been in was now occupied by another couple. Blushing she pulled the door shut, then tried another. Two girls making out.
By the third door she was in luck.
She opened and saw a couple making out, mostly undressed and Ezzy was about to quickly shut the door again, but froze when she realized three things simultaneously:
1) the guy was Aaron,
2) he wasn’t alone and
3) the girl he was about to get hot’n’heavy with was Brylee. Ethan’s Brylee!
Esmée could not move, even when she heard him curse and Brylee scramble away from him, in her underwear.
As soon as Brylee moved to sort out her clothes, Ezzy slammed the door shut and ran downstairs, out of the house, down the street.
It took her two hours to get home on foot, blinded by tears and in shock.
Worst night of her life!
Aaron was horrible.
And Brylee. Her best friend!
Her brother’s girlfriend.
Ethan would be heartbroken!
How could she do that to him?
Luckily when she got home, her parents had fallen asleep together on the couch with the TV on, waiting for their teens, so Ezzy snuck upstairs, took a shower to wash off Aaron’s touch, then went to her room, saw light shine from underneath Ethan’s room door – evidently he had made it home too, so she went to bed, even though she was too shaken up to sleep.
Ten minutes later she heard her mom enter, Ezzy faked being asleep, barely able to keep it together when she felt her mom gently stroke her cheek, then kiss her forehead whispering
“Goodnight my beautiful angel. I love you.”
As soon as the door shut and her mom’s footsteps faded, Ezzy cried like she had never cried before.
The next day, Saturday, Ezzy was on the verge of tears all morning, stayed in her room for most of it.
Luckily her parents went to work early on Saturdays, it was just her and Ethan at home, and he slept in late, probably hungover from that “fruit punch” they had at the party.
A knock on her door, then it was just opened and Brylee slipped in.
She must have come over and Ethan must have let her in.
“Hey stranger!” she chirped.
Esmée only glanced up at her wordlessly, then turned her back to Brylee.
“You didn’t reply to my texts or answered your phone. Look, I know you are pissed, but you have to …”
“I have to nothing! Did you tell Ethan? If not, I give you an hour, then I will.”
“Ezzy, pleeeease don’t. You’ll ruin everything. One little mistake, that meant nothing. You have to understand…”
“Ethan does not deserve that. If it is nothing, as you say, shouldn’t be a problem. Fess up to him and he’ll forgive you.”
“You know how guys are. He wouldn’t understand. But you do, don’t you? I mean, you saw it too, Aaron is soooo amazing. Just a little slip-up. Won’t happen again. Just please PLEASE don’t tell Ethan. Promise?”
“No! Not unless you tell him.”
“Esmée, don’t be like that. I made a mistake. We all mess up. I am your best friend. Don’t destroy my life over nothing!”
“You are also my brother’s girlfriend. He is crazy about you! Still you did who knows what with Aaron. Oh, my gawd. Who are you even these days!?”
“Don’t tell.” Brylee begged as the door opened and Ethan walked in, smiling when he looked at his girlfriend, but his smile faded quickly.
“Everything okay in here?” he asked.
“Nothing is okay. But good that you are here. Bry has something to tell you.”
“Ezzy! Don’t!” Brylee hissed.
“If she doesn’t, I do!” Ezzy ignored her plea and warning.
“Don’t do this!” Bry warned her friend.
“Don’t do what? What is going on here?” Ethan had enough of the cryptic exchange.
“She made out with Aaron at the party, probably even more than that.”
“WHAT!?” Ethan thought he must have misheard.
“You bitch!” Brylee told Ezzy.
“Is that true?!” Ethan asked his sister.
“I would never lie to you about something like that.” she told him sincerely.
“She is just sore that he ditched her. Now she flings shit at me.” Brylee tried to save herself.
“Did you or didn’t you?” Ethan asked her directly.
“No! She is lying!” Brylee told him.
“I am not! Ethan, I saw them!” Ezzy insisted.
“What the…. okay, I cannot handle this right now!” Ethan stormed out of the room, obviously livid.
“You are going to be sorry you did that. You’ll pay for this!” were Brylee’s last words to Ezzy before she ran out too.
Little did Esmée know then, how true those words would be. Brylee’s anger was only the beginning and far from the worst of it all …