Read Fever Pitch Online

Authors: Ann Marie Frohoff

Fever Pitch (2 page)

              “I applied to NYU, and I’ve been talking to the girls volleyball coach there.” I blurted out and paused when Nadine’s voice cracked with a hack. “You’re the only one who knows.”

              Nadine coughed more and sat up, grabbing her Gatorade. She took a huge swig and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. “Wow. Does Jake know?”

              “It was his idea.” My hands trembled with nerves from hearing myself admit to what had been churning below the surface.

              My parents were going to shit a ton of bricks.

 

2

 

              I sat in front of my laptop with my wet hair wrapped in a towel. Jake finally sent me a text a few hours later than he normally did. He’d been in rehearsal most of the day with the band, for an upcoming tour through Spain and France. We had a Skype chat set up. It was just about seven in the morning for him. I pulled the towel from my hair and checked my image on computer screen. My heart raced from the excitement streaming through me. I couldn’t wait to talk to him. You’d think after all these years and all that we’d been through that I wouldn’t be reacting this way. Every time I heard his voice or thought about what it would be like to touch him again, my insides fluttered.

              I leaned back into my pillows and pulled my comforter over me. It was cold, the first of December, and Christmas was just around the corner. My big February birthday was just on the horizon. Jake kept asking me what I wanted for my birthday. He was beyond thoughtful. I didn’t want anything from him. Last year he’d surprised me with a Hermés watch. I totally had to lie to my parents, saying it was a knockoff I’d gotten in Venice Beach. I took in a deep breath, trying to calm my nerves. I only wanted
him,
and tonight I was going to tell him just that. I would inform him of my plans to visit him in London during our Ski Week winter break. My hands became damp just thinking about it, wondering how he would react.

              The familiar ping of Skype rang out, sending my heart into my throat. I took one last look at my reflection in my closet mirror and answered the call.

              “Hey Alycat.” Jake’s voice streamed through my computer. His eyes sparkled so blue, I was desperate to touch his unshaven face. He looked beyond hot, sitting there shirtless. I wanted to kiss every inch of him.

              “Hey you.” I giggled. “You better go put a shirt on. You’re killing me.”

              “Mmm. I think you need to take yours off.”

Touché.

              “How was practice?” I giggled, brushing off his pervy come-on.

              “Long and sweaty.” He smirked. He was trying to egg me on, and normally I would have bitten, but I was so anxious to share my surprise.

              I clasped my hands under my chin.
Here it goes
. “So I have something to tell you. I know what I want for my birthday.”

              “Ok, let’s hear it…and don’t tell me ‘nothing’, and leave me to my own devices like you did last year.”

              “Shush.” I teased, placing my index finger over my lips. “I want you for my birthday.”

              A sly, sexy grin spread across his face. “You already have me, Alycat.”

              I squirmed, shifting my legs into a new position. “Not
physically,
I don’t.” My heart thrashed in my chest, forcing the words to come out. “I want to feel your body next to mine and I don’t want to wait until summer. I’m planning on visiting you about a week after my birthday.”
Holy shit, I said it!
I’m not sure if it was surprise on his face or what.

              Jake leaned in closer to his screen. “Do you know how badly I want to kiss you? Do you know how you make me wanna do bad things to you, bad good things?”

              I felt the heat rise through my body and an ache penetrated every inch of me. It literally made me wet hearing him say those things to me. “You take my breath away,” I whispered, smiling at the screen. I reached out to touch the image of his face that smiled back at me. I wanted to melt into the screen. “Soooo, to continue,” I said quietly, trying to keep my composure, “I bought a plane ticket already. I haven’t told anyone of my plans, other than Nadine, and I’m gonna spring this on my parents as soon as I grow some balls.”

              He gave me a hearty laugh. “I prefer you without balls, but ok.” He winked at me and shook his head. “Aly I want nothing more than to have you with me, but I don’t know about this. Your parents already hate me…”

              “They don’t hate you,” I interrupted.
At least my mom doesn’t.

              “I know they don’t think too highly of me.”

              “They’re actually proud of you, Jake.” My mom was, but my dad had no idea what Jake was up to. Jake’s eyes softened and his mouth clamped shut. “I bring you up every now and then, you know. They’re very aware of all your accomplishments.”

              He sighed, running his hands through his hair. His image became pixelated to match his mood. “I’d love to be a fly on the wall when you tell them what your plans are.”

              I laughed nervously. “I know, right?”

“So when do you think you’ll do it?”

“I don’t know, but the longer I stare at you, the braver I get. Sooooo?” I hummed and propped my chin in my hand. I leaned in closer to the computer. My question lingered, and he just stared back at me, dreamy and perfect.

              “So, the
so
is I want to touch you so bad.”

              “Ditto,” I purred.

              “I want to kiss you all over.”

              His words made the butterflies swarm. “Mhmm. What else?”

              “I wanna make you…”

              “
Alyssa
?” I heard my mom’s voice squeeze through my door, and it nearly launched me to the ceiling. My heart thundered like I’d been shocked by a defibrillator and little white dots floated in my vision. My immediate reaction was to slam my laptop lid shut. Oh my god! Did she hear us? Fuck. The doorknob rattled. “
Are you alone
?”

              I was beyond agitated. What was she still doing up? It was midnight. “Yes, Mom!” I hopped off the bed and grabbed the doorknob, unlocking it. I stalked away getting back in my bed, pulling the laptop back on my lap. “What’s up?”

              She stalled, blinking twice. “Are you okay?”

              “Yes, Mom,” I growled. “I was watching YouTube. What is it? Shouldn’t you be sleeping?”

              She gave me a stern look to quit it with my attitude.

              “Mom, I’m sorry. I was just starting to nod off and you scared me. You’re usually asleep by now.”

              “I forgot to tell you that the doctor called and rescheduled your physical therapy appointment to five-thirty tomorrow. I’m leaving early in the morning and didn’t want to forget.”

              I sighed, leaning back into my pillows. “Ok. Thanks.” She eyeballed me a little longer, like she was about to call me out or something. Then she shut the door without another word. I opened my laptop and began to write Jake an email. I was too fearful that my mom was lingering at my door to try for another Skype session.

 

Jake,

              OMG! I am soooo sorry. My mom came knocking at my door and I freaked out. I thought she heard us, but she didn’t. Thank God. I would have died. Ugh… you have no idea how bad I want February to be here. I think about you every moment of every day. I dream about what it’ll be like to feel you again. I can’t wait to kiss you. I can’t wait to feel your body against mine.

              Love you madly, Aly.

 

             
I hit send and stared at my screen. I kept hitting the refresh button, hoping that he’d answer back right away. He finally did…fifteen minutes later.

 

             
Hey Alycat – Oh man... I needed to cool off anyway ;) You have no idea how bad I want you. You really don’t. I don’t think words or songs or anything can truly describe my feelings for you. I have to show you, touch you...send me your flight info so I can pin it to my wall or somethin’.

              You’re my everything. J

 

3

 

              A week later, I sat nervously at the kitchen counter, taking stealthy glances at my mom while she prepared dinner as I pretended to study. I’d decided to tell her first, to feel the whole thing out. Well, it wouldn’t be feeling it out. It would be going in the back door, avoiding my dad. I closed my Calculus book and pushed away from the counter.

              “Do you need any help?” I offered. My mom was cooking spaghetti sauce, with whole tomatoes that stewed all day. She’d gotten into cooking right around the time of my Jake meltdown. She was tediously chopping away at an onion, blinking and wiping away tears with the back of her hand. “Why do onions make you cry? I think it’s the craziest thing,” I said, feeling lame about making small talk.

              My mom stopped chopping and laid the knife down on her wooden cutting board, blinking three more times. “Alyssa, what is it that you want?” She turned and stepped to the sink, rinsing her hands under the water.

              I sighed and got light-headed. Here it goes. “I have to tell you something, and there’s no other way to say it, other than to just say it.”

              My mother turned ashen and looked like she was going to pass out. “Please don’t tell me you’re pregnant.” Her words rushed out so fast and urgent it took me a second to comprehend what she’d said.

              “No!” I practically screamed. My mother grabbed the kitchen counter to steady herself and I rushed to her side, grabbing her elbow. “Oh my God, Mom, no! That’s not it. I swear.”

              She gulped and closed her eyes. She was reacting this way because of my sister, Allison. My mom didn’t know that I knew my sister had gotten pregnant when she was still in high school and how it almost killed her. She didn’t know Allison told me in an attempt to dissuade me from dating Jake when I was a freshman, fearing history would repeat itself with me.

              My mother looked so much smaller than me in that instant. My heart cracked a little, knowing how much I’d put her through with the whole Jake thing. And now I was about to start again. I contemplated not going forward with telling her of my plans, but concluded I had to get it over with. I was nearly an adult, and needed to act like one.

              She shook her head and smiled at me softly, squeezing my hand. “Alyssa,” she said quietly and paused. Her mouth hinged open, about to say more.

              “Mom, I already know,” I blurted out. She just stared at me, unblinking, and her eyes began to pool with tears. “Hey, it’s nothing to get all emotional about, Mom. I’m a big girl and it was a long time ago. Allison told me years ago, and we don’t need to talk about it.” I wanted to make her feel better. “She’s about to graduate college, Kyle is practically married, and we’re all ok. Stop it,” I said, trying to reassure her that she’d done a great job raising all of us.

              She sighed deeply, nodding. “It’s my worst nightmare, Alyssa. I don’t know why Allison’s situation popped in my head. I guess it was your tone...and your approach.” She took a deep breath. “What is it that you wanted to say then?” She forced a happy face and patted my hand and released it.

              It was my turn to sigh in an attempt to exert my built up anxiety. “Well. Jake and I have been talking, for a while now…again.”

              She nodded at me in understanding and held my stare for a moment longer—she wasn’t surprised at all.
Huh?
“I kind of figured that because of the Jake updates.” She reached for her glass of wine and took a huge gulp. “And is he coming home soon?”

             
You’re gonna only wish it was that simple
, I thought. “And I’m planning on visiting him in London after my birthday.”

              Her eyebrows rose high on her forehead. “I see.” She knocked back the rest of her wine in an instant and licked her lips. Her eyes bounced around my face. “I’m not really sure what to say about this, Alyssa. Your father won’t be happy to hear this.”

              “Are you?”

              “No.”

              “Why does it bother you? I’m not going to ask for anything. I already bought my ticket.”

              “You’re going to miss school? And that’s okay? I don’t think that’s a wise idea.”

              “First of all, it’s our ski week. We don’t have school.” I announced. “And my grade point average is over a 4.0. I know what I’m doing.”

              “You’re going to have to tell your father this.”

              “Don’t worry. I will.”

 

***

I roamed my room, stewing. Waiting for my father to get home. My nerves were prickling, and all I could do was pace back and forth in front of my closet mirrors. I kept glancing at myself, waiting for my reflection to tell me it was all gonna be okay. Why wouldn’t it be? There’s nothing wrong with this scenario. I was a great student. I had my choice of colleges to attend on a full ride scholarship. I’d held a part-time job and kept up with all the bullshit in my life. But still, I knew it wouldn’t be good enough. My father would still be disappointed that I wanted to be with Jake. No matter how successful Jake was, he wouldn’t be good enough for me…or him. Would Jake ever be?

My hands went numb when I heard the deep tone of my father’s voice drum up the stairs and foyer walls. He was calling my name. I took a deep breath and stared at myself calmly in the mirror. Bending forward at the hip, I laid my palms flat on the floor, breathing in deeply. I stretched my arms out wide in a sun salutation, a basic yoga move. I did this three times before I walked down the stairs. Coming around the corner into the den, my father was bending over my mother, kissing her cheek. He didn’t hear me and I cleared my throat.

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