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Authors: D.J. Pierson

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BOOK: Forever Altered
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“Hey,
Alyssa.  Better get over here and get some of this while it’s still hot,”
Shane says giving Rocco an odd look. 

For
the next couple of hours, we eat, drink, and laugh as though we’ve all been
friends forever.  Never once did I worry about what happened earlier
tonight, what will happen tomorrow, or what will happen later in the
future.  Tonight, it was just about letting go, if only temporarily, with
friends that would be there when I needed them.  Friends that were right
here.  Right now.   

Chapter
Six

Alyssa

 

 

In
the morning, I wake up to the sound of Leah getting ready for her class. 
She’s rummaging through her closet trying to find something to wear.  There’s
really no reason for her to stress so much.  It’s Friday morning.  No
one really cares what you look like on a Friday morning.  Not to mention,
she has spent plenty of nights with Tyler wearing old t-shirts and
boxers.  His opinion is the only one she should be worrying about. 
She doesn’t know I’m awake until I reach over and grab my cell phone to check
the time.  She has plenty of time before class. 

“I’m
sorry for waking you up,” my roommate whispers.  “Go back to sleep. 
I’ll try to be quieter.”

“No
biggie.  I want to get up anyway.”  I sit up and get out of
bed.  “I’m going to get ready and head home for the weekend.” 

She
turns to me.  “Why?”

“What
do you mean why?” I was on my way to the bathroom but stop and look over at her
confused at why she would ask that.

“Are
you really going home?”

“Where
else would I go?”

“What
day is it today,
Lyss
?”

“Friday?”
I answer but it comes out like a question.

She
is smiling now. “Really?”

“Leah,
can you please stop speaking in riddles.  It’s too
friggin
early for me to think and I have a headache from drinking beer last
night.  That shit is disgusting, by the way.  Why does everyone like
it so much?  Remind me to stick with vodka next time.”

“For
the last month, you’ve been waking up telling yourself how many days it’s been
since, well, you know.  Now you are telling me that today is
Friday.” 

Now
that it’s clear what she is talking about, I understand why she is questioning
my sudden announcement of heading home.  She was afraid that I was going
to go see Jeff.  “No, I’m really going home.  My dad was asking me
yesterday to come home for a couple days and I need to get some warmer clothes,
anyway.  You guys deserve a weekend free from worrying about me. 
Don’t you agree?”  I shrug my shoulders.  “Besides, you’ve barely
spent any time with Tyler.” 

“I
see Tyler all the time.  You know he doesn’t mind spending time with you,
Lyss
.  He loves you just as much as I do.”  She
throws her shirt on and stands in front of the mirror on the wall checking how
it looks from the front and back.  “Don’t you ever think for a second that
you are some kind of burden on
us.
  Do you
understand me?” 

“Honestly,
I just want to go home and clean out my bedroom.  There are lots of pictures
and other crappy mementos that need to be tossed.  I’ve been purposely
putting it off.  I miss my dad and Jill, too.  They’ve been worried.”

“Are
you really okay?”  This question has been asked too many times.

I
sigh.  “I’m better than thirty some days ago.  I’m still upset about
it, especially after Jeff showed up here last night.  I also know there is
no way I could be with him again.  It doesn’t matter that he was once my
best friend before he was the love of my life.  Or at least that’s how it seemed. 
It’s going to take a while to heal, if it’s even possible.  Some people
might think I’m overreacting, but I was so sure the rest of my life would be
spent with him.”

“You
are dealing with it the best way you can.  No one thinks you’re
overreacting.  Shit, I’m surprised you’re doing this well.  I have no
idea how I’d handle walking in on something like that.  Not to mention
you’re also still dealing with losing your aunt and uncle.”

“I’m
just going to deal with things day to day.”

“Hey,
do you want me to come home with you?  We could leave right after my class
and I can help you clean out your room.  Then we can go to that restaurant
your dad always takes us to.”

“Thanks,
Leah.  This is something I need to do on my own, though.  It will do
me good.”  I smile at her. 

“If
you’re sure?”  I nod at her.  “I’m going to call Ty to see if he
wants to go home, too, then.  Just let me know if you are going to come
back before Sunday and I’ll meet you here.”

Since
it’s so early and there’s no rush to get home, I crawl back into bed while Leah
gets dressed.  The amount of energy she puts into getting ready every day
is exhausting.  When she’s finally satisfied she looks perfect, it’s
almost time for her to go to class.

“Damn
it!  There’s no time for me to eat breakfast now.”   

“You
had plenty of time to eat.  You just spent it in front of the mirror.”

“Oh
shut up!”  Leah throws her brush at me.  “Not all of us can pull off
throwing their hair up the way you can.  I really hate you for it!”

“Yes,
if looking like a slob implies pulling it off,” I say back sarcastically.

“A
slob?  Really?” She’s shoving her notebook into her bag.
 “Girlfriend, do you think you would have landed such a handsome
lab
partner
if you looked like a slob?”

Not
this again.  It’s time to get out of bed and pack my stuff to go
home.  “Do we need to discuss this again?”

Leah
is laughing now.  “Did you not see the way he was looking at you last
night?  There’s no way it’s only about feeling bad you had to do some
assignment alone.  No guy is that nice.” 

“Whatever. 
This conversation is getting old.”

“Seriously,
Lyss
.  Everyone noticed but you.  Even his
friends were talking about him acting different when he was too distracted with
you to hear what they were saying.  Maybe Julia was wrong about him the
other day.  I’ve seen him around campus ruthlessly flirting with other
girls, but last night was different.”

“Leah,
please,” I don’t want to hear this crap anymore.  “No more, okay?”

She
sighs in defeat.  “Fine.  Will you still be here when I get back?”

“I’m
going to try to leave within the hour.  This way I’ll have some time alone
before my dad and stepmom get home from work.  No point in them watching
me clean the shit out of my room.”

She
comes over to give me a hug.  “Be careful driving.  Call me if you
need to.”

“I
will.  You, too.  Enjoy your weekend.  Don’t do anything I
wouldn’t do.”  I wink at her. 

“It
will definitely be a great weekend if I follow that rule.”  We both
laugh.  “See you Sunday.”

“See
ya
.”

It takes
me less than an hour to get a shower, pack my stuff, and eat breakfast. 
Right before leaving my apartment, I call my dad at work to let him know my
plans.  Erin and Julia either aren’t here or are still sleeping, so I
leave them a note on our message board by the door, before walking out to my
car.

About
half way through my two hour ride, my cell phone rings.  Leah’s name
appears on the display, so I answer using the hands free device my dad insisted
on being in the car I purchased two months ago.  “Hey.  You miss me
already or did I forget something?”

“Of
course I miss you, but that’s not why I’m calling,” she says.  “Where are
you?”

“I’m
just about to get off of the New Jersey Turnpike.  What’s up?”

“Don’t
kill me for telling you this, but I thought you’d want to know.”

“Know
what?”

“Someone
just stopped by to see you and was awfully disappointed to hear that you
weren’t here.”  Something tells me I don’t need to ask to know who she is
talking about.

“Rocco?”

“The
one and only,” she announces.

“Did
I forget to give him a copy of the lab or something?”

“Oh
my God, Alyssa!  You still think this is about some assignment?”

“Give
me the damn phone,” Julia is saying in the background.  “Alyssa, get your
head out of your ass.  Rocco Matthews is totally into you, big
time!”  Julia’s voice is now screaming through my speakers.  “You
should have seen the look on his face when Erin told him you went home for the
weekend.”


Gotta
go,” I’m saying.  “My phone is breaking up. 
I’ll talk to you guys later.”

“Alyssa
Adler, don’t you dare hang up on…”  I hit the
END
button on the display and blast my favorite CD, ignoring my friends as they try
to call me back. 

Before
long, my car is parked outside of my house.  Suddenly, my nerves have me
second guessing the decision to come home so soon.  It gets even worse
once I’m inside the house.  Instead of going upstairs to clean out my
room, I drop my bag at the bottom of the stairs and decide to hang out on the
patio in the backyard with my favorite book.  The weather is a little
cool, but it’s so calming out here that it doesn’t bother me.  I make it
to the middle of the fifth chapter when I hear my stepmom calling my name from
inside the house.  She comes out to sit with me when she sees where I am.

“Welcome
home,” she says giving me a warm hug.  Jill is the sweetest person I’ve
ever met.  Since she started dating my dad about 5 years ago, we have
gotten along great.  She never had children of her own and my mom left us
when I was about three years old.  We’ve been more friends than
anything.  Jill didn’t pretend to be my mom even after they got married
which was just fine with me.  After over a decade without one, I wasn’t
looking forward to anyone to fill the role.

“Thanks. 
It’s good to be home.”  Now that she’s here, it really does feel good to
be here.

“We’ve
been worried about you.  I’m really sorry about what happened.”  I
only nod and look away out into the yard.  “Do you want to talk about
it?”  She isn’t trying to be a meddling parent.  She really just
wants to help. 

“Not
really.  It happened.  We’re done.  I’ve been pretty upset, but
I’m working on it.”

She
acknowledges me with a nod, then adds, “One day, he’s going to realize what a
horrible mistake he made.  You may not think so right now, but it’s a good
thing this happened before…”  She stops talking because she didn’t mean to
say that. 

I’m
assuming they knew what he was planning on doing.  “I know that he was
going to propose at the party next week.”  The sympathy in her eyes is
unmistakable.  “Jeff showed up at my apartment last night.”

“Oh
my.  What happened?” 

“Long
story short, we fought.  I said goodbye.”   

“Good
for you.”  She brushes her long blond hair out of her face.  The
light breeze seems to be picking up since I first came out here.  “Do you
mind coming with me?  I want to show you something.”  Finding my spot
is never a problem, but I slide the bookmark into place before following Jill
inside.

“Your
dad asked if you wanted to go out to eat or if you’d rather we stayed
in.”  She’s heading up the stairs.

“Think
he’d mind if we stay in?  I’ve been craving something on the grill.”

“I
thought you might say that.”  She looks at me over her shoulder.  “I
grabbed some steaks on the way home.”  We stop outside my bedroom
door.  “We thought that you might need a change.  I hope you like
it.” 

She
pushes open my door and I’m completely speechless.  The bright blue walls
are now a light sage.  My old, plain blue comforter has been replaced with
a white, fluffy new one and is covered with sage and white pillows.  My
two dressers were cleared of any picture or other reminder of my former
boyfriend.  What is there is a picture of me with my aunt and uncle who
passed away nine months ago in a car accident.  I smile as I look into the
eyes of the two people who always treated me like the child they never had.

“I
love it!  Thank you so much!”

“All
of your stuff was put away.  We didn’t go through it, it’s none of our
business what to keep or get rid of.  Your dad thought maybe you’d want to
do it later.”  Jill seems a little more relaxed. 

“This
was so nice of you guys.  You really didn’t have to.”

She
smiled.  “Your dad didn’t want you to be uncomfortable in your own home.”

“My
dad is the best,” I say and she agrees.

“I’m
going to start dinner.”

“I’ll
help,” I follow her back downstairs.

“You
are more than welcome to come and talk to me, but no helping.  I’m making
dinner for you tonight.”  When we get to the kitchen, she ties on her
apron over her work clothes while I climb up on the stool that overlooks the
counter she will be working at.  “How are Leah and the girls?” she
asks.  “They need to come for a visit again.  We had so much fun the
last time they were here.”  I tell Jill all about how everyone’s semester
is going, how their boyfriends are doing, and how Cell Bio is getting a little
better.  Why it’s getting better isn’t a subject we discuss.  We were
laughing and having such a good time that we didn’t notice my dad was home
until he called my name coming through the door.


Lyss
?”

BOOK: Forever Altered
7.49Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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