Authors: Opal Mellon
Published by Opal Mellon.
Copyright 2012. Opal Mellon.
Cover design: Rockingbookcovers.com
Formatting: Polgarus Studio
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All characters in this book are fiction and figments of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
This book is dedicated to my husband, who makes it possible to envision happy endings because he’s given me my own.
Sweetheart, I love you.
icole sat on her bed, staring at old, mottled brown carpet. Today she’d leave everything behind: the small room with the small mirror and the bed with the sagging mattress. Everything faded and dirty.
She took her worn pink suitcase handle in one hand and the knotted top of a garbage bag in the other. They contained everything she had and weren’t hard to drag behind her. She stood tall as she walked through the dark, empty hall to the small foyer that was streaked with light from the front door windows. She looked outside through the glass for a moment, and then turned back to the house one last time. Empty. No one to stop her. She closed her eyes long enough to breathe in deeply, and walked out into the sun.
Her best friend, an eleven-year-old boy named Sean, waited on the curb. He ran to the porch to help her with her bags.
“When does your aunt Mary get here?” He grabbed the garbage bag and heaved it over his shoulder, only to sway back towards the curb.
“Five.” Nicole let her suitcase fall on its side and Sean dropped his bag next to it.
They sat together for a moment. Nicole looked at her watch. 4:48. Wind rustled the trees around them and smelled of dead leaves.
“I’ll miss you,” Sean said.
“I’ll miss you too.” Nicole took a mental photograph of the moment. The way his blue eyes looked in the sunlight, so big and so stark. She put a hand up to ruffle his hair. They were just two years apart, but she worried what this baby face would do without her to stomp out the playground bullies for him.
“I don’t see why you have to go.” He scratched at a hole in his jeans. “If you just tell me what’s wrong maybe I can fix it. Then you could stay.”
Never. She’d never tell him. “It’s not something you can fix.”
His head drooped. “Promise you’ll write.” He pulled a crumpled envelope from his pocket. “This is my address; don’t lose it.”
“I promise.” She put it in her own pocket.
“You lose everything.”
“I won’t lose this,” she said.
He put his face in his arms with a small groan.
“Don’t cry, you big baby.” She tried to pull his arms away, then stood. “I know!”
She went to her suitcase, unzipped it, and rummaged through the mess.
“Here, write it on me,” she said, holding out her inner forearm.
“Really?” He took the pen. “Are you sure? This is permanent.”
“I know. That way it won’t wash off.”
“Oh, true.” He leaned forward and wrote the address and phone number on her arm. “You still need to remember to put the address somewhere safe. Tell your aunt it’s important, okay?”
“I will.” She looked up to see a car in the distance that seemed to be headed towards them.
“Is that her?”
“I think so.” Nicole stood. This was it.
“Don’t go.” Sean hugged her.
“I have to,” she said. “But we’ll always be friends.”
“Unless you lose my address.”
“Listen to me.” Nicole pulled back so they were eye to eye. “I’m never going to lose this address.” She held out her arm. “I won’t shower for days if I have to.”
He scrunched up his nose. “You could just memorize it.”
“Oh, yeah.” She smiled. “I’ll write soon.”
“You had better.” He grabbed her hand, swung it a couple of times, then dropped it and reached for her bag.
“I can get them.”
“You stay here and watch me. I’ll feel special having my own goodbye party waving to me.”
“I’d rather meet your aunt and tell her not to lose my address.”
She studied him once more. Dark straight hair, small nose, serious face. She wanted to remember. “It’s easier if you wait here. I don’t want to say goodbye twice.”
She nodded. “I’ll see you around.”
“I’ll miss you. I—uh, I love you Sean.”
“I love you too. You’re my best friend.”
“You’re mine.” She turned to go.
He jumped forward to hug her one last time but let her go when she almost dropped the bags. He stepped back.
“I’ll be here waving.”
And that’s what he did. From the back window she saw him wave, then turn and walk slowly back home. She’d miss him so much.
~ ~ ~
Four years after Nicole left, Sean lay on his bed looking up at the
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle
posters on his ceiling. He imagined he was a superhero, someone that swooped in and saved Nicole from bad guys. Her most recent letter sat crumpled beside him on the bed. He was stirred up with anger, with testosterone, in that impotent, can’t do anything with it, fifteen-year-old way. He picked up the letter and read it again.
Sorry it’s been so long. I love your letters. Thanks for sending them. I promise we’ll have a phone call someday. My aunt is touchy about long distance and she says writing is good for you anyway.
Guess what? I’ve got my very first boyfriend!
Sean narrowed his eyes at the paper and read on.
He’s one of the popular boys too. His name is Jake and he came up to me while he was waiting for the bus. Aunt Mary said stuff like this would happen if I would dress like a girl for once. He asked me out and I said yes. He says we have to keep it secret for now though, which is weird. He says other girls would be jealous and tease me, so it’s for my own good. He wanted to start kissing right away. He wanted me to come get in his truck to go home, but I told him that I couldn’t. I don’t want to kiss anyone yet, especially a secret boyfriend. He said he’ll wait at least a week, but after that he’ll probably dump me if there’s no kissing. What should I do? This might be my only chance at a boyfriend.
Anyway how are you doing, crybaby? You’re fifteen now right? Crazy huh? How is school going? If you ask someone out, don’t make her kiss you right away. Also, don’t make her keep it a secret. It will make her feel bad. Are you still watching too many cartoons? What do you do in your free time? Jake does karate. I think it’s very manly. Not like someone like me needs protecting, but it’s nice to know he could, you know?
My teachers say I’m good at English. My aunt thinks I should be a writer, like her of course. What do they even do?
I miss you. I haven’t had a friend as good as you. Remember how scared you were I would lose your address? I showed you. Well I don’t have anything else to say. I love you.
Sean went to his desk, opened the top drawer and took out his notepad. He propped his pillow up against the headboard just right and started to write.
I am doing fine. In my spare time I do lots of karate, probably way more than Jake.
still watch a lot of cartoons. I’m not sure how many is too much. I miss you, too. You are still my best friend, though I haven’t seen you in so long or talked to you. I think you would be a good writer because you make things up in your head all the time. Maybe like Stephen King, cuz you are scary. Just kidding!
I don’t want to be mean, but this boyfriend isn’t a good boyfriend. Why can’t you tell people you are dating? He should be proud to be your boyfriend. Don’t kiss him. Boys only want one thing at our age (yes, we are both teenagers now so you can’t call me crybaby anymore), and that’s not just kissing. He doesn’t sound like a good person. You are a good person. Don’t sell yourself short, as my mom would say. She would also ask how “that ragamuffin” is doing. I’m glad your aunt has you writing, but I wish we could talk. Even though I would be nervous that we don’t know what to talk about after so long. Four years is forever.
You don’t have to have a boyfriend if you don’t want one. My mom says that being popular in high school doesn’t mean anything later anyways, and that all the jocks will be working for nerds like me. We will see I guess. Write back sooner than last time. I miss you.
Sean read the letter over, folded it up, and went downstairs for a stamp and envelope. And to ask his mom to sign him up for Karate.
icole raised her hand to knock on Kyle’s door, but stopped, letting her fist hover for a moment. She could swear she’d just heard a woman’s laugh. That wasn’t possible. She knew what should happen. Kyle would open the door, sweep her into a hug, kiss her, and maybe ask for some money if he needed it. They’d talk about their day. Settle in to watch a movie he’d picked out. Maybe snuggle if she got lucky. He’d try for sex, she’d turn him down. It’d be a normal night with her boyfriend. Sean was wrong about this one. She knocked.
She definitely heard a woman’s voice this time. And Kyle’s right after. She knocked again, harder this time. She really wanted to show Sean she could pick a good one this time, but she was starting to feel a coldness along her neck and shoulders that made her doubt it. The door still didn’t open. She heard something brush the door and knew someone was looking through the keyhole.
Someone cursed. “She’s not supposed to be here for another hour.”
Nicole’s face started to burn.
“She’s black?” a woman said. “Wow, she’s cute.”
Nicole was going to show her cute if she ever got in.
“Kyle I know you’re there! Let me in!” she said, kicking the door.
“Alright.” A click signaled the deadbolt being released and the door started to open. Kyle stood in the small gap created, blocking the view of the room.
“I thought you weren’t coming over till six, baby.”
“I finished writing early.”
“She’s a writer?” a woman said.
“Who’s there?” Nicole tried to push Kyle back so she could see past him. He stayed wedged in the door.
“Nicole, this isn’t the right time.”
“When is the right time?” She stepped back, then pushed forward, shoving as hard as she could, knocking him back from the door and onto his butt on the floor. She toppled down after him and landed on her hands and knees, staring at a pair of pale feet with red toe nail polish. She looked up the legs to a towel. She pushed back a bit and looked up at the woman she’d been hearing. She was white, had red hair, and was naked except for the towel. Nicole growled, looking over at Kyle. He scooted away towards the couch.
“I’m sorry,” the woman said, backing away as well. “I’m sorry.
Nicole stared at her. She was already erecting walls and locks around her feelings so she barely heard the apologies. Her high heels and pencil skirt made it difficult to stand gracefully, but she pulled herself up. She brushed off her knees and hands, and looked at Kyle one more time. He shrugged, and she punched him, enjoying the shocked look on his face as he stumbled to the side. She shook her hand, turned, and walked out the door.
At home, with an ice pack on her wrist, things were clearer. No more dating. No more disappointments. Things hadn’t gone right with a boy since her first boyfriend tried to rape her in the school parking lot.
She opened an email and typed.
You were right. Kyle turned out to be scum.
But she didn’t send it. She stared at the screen for a while, and then refreshed her new mail. Junk mail, spam, and a wedding announcement. That threw a wrench in her no-dating plans. If only there was a way to have an escort to those things without any complications, without getting hurt.
The plan came to her in a moment. She googled her city’s name and a few other terms and clicked the first link for a place called Club Blue.
A page pulled up with a description and a handsome blond man winking at her next to it.
“Club Blue provides the perfect gentleman for that special date, for a little conversation, for a protective escort, or even as a boyfriend or fiancé to fool the family.”
She clicked on the FAQ link at the top of the page and scrolled down.