Read ReCAP: A NORMAL Novella Online

Authors: Danielle Pearl

ReCAP: A NORMAL Novella (10 page)

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I stare after her for long
minutes in some kind of stupor. Her words imply that nothing has
changed – that despite Kendall's big mouth and my big deception,
we're the same as we were yesterday, but as I stare at the spot her
car just fled, I realize that nothing is the same, that nothing has
been the same since the moment I met her. These feelings I have for
her are not just a crush, not just a desire or attraction,
they're… something




Fooling Me

his trip is an opportunity. Not to
make a move
on Rory, as Kendall so
eloquently put it, because I'm fully aware that isn't an option.
But it's a chance to just be us. Removed from the social template
of high school, even with many of our friends here with us, I hope
Rory can let go and relax, and we can just enjoy each other's

Rory is the last to
arrive, and we all check in curbside while we wait. I notice Carl
on the phone, and realize it's Rory, so I tell her to go ahead with
Tucker and everyone else – that I'll wait for Rory. Five minutes
later, I'm alone outside of the JetBlue terminal at JFK, and Rory's
mother pulls up.

I open the passenger side door, unable to
help my grin. She looks adorable in her jeans and a hoodie, her
hair long and loose, fresh faced and tired-eyed.

"Ready?" I ask her not bothering to veil my

Rory yawns in response,
and I laugh. She's so not a morning person and it's early as

"Wake up, Pine. You can sleep when we get
back," I tell her as she climbs out of the car and heads to the

But I beat her there, and I grab her
suitcase as her mother greets me and reminds me to take care of her
little girl. I promise her I will, and shake her hand. I toss my
duffle over my shoulder and reach for Rory's bag.

"I got it," she yawns again. "It rolls."

I smirk. She's fucking adorable. "Why don't
you just focus on walking straight, sleepyhead, I'll check the

Thankfully she doesn't argue, and we head to
the counter to check the bags and get our boarding passes.

The security line is short, and even though
it's spring break, this early in the morning the terminal isn't
especially busy. I slip off my shoes, belt, and hoodie, and start
taking things out of my pockets for the X-ray when Rory gets tapped
for additional screening. I go through the metal detector, grab my
things, and hastily get myself together to follow Rory to where
some TSA agent is disinterestedly murmuring instructions.

I'm slipping my belt back through the loops
of my jeans when I glance at Rory, and stop dead in my tracks. Her
eyes are wide in terror, and it makes my pulse race.

Rory's saying something to
the agent, but she stops, and I watch her breathing grow quick and
shallow, and she starts to tremble.

I'm by her side in an
instant, firmly taking her hand in mine. This is my fault. I didn't
even consider she would have to endure a pat down from security.
How is she going to handle a stranger touching her like that? I'm
such a fucking idiot.

"Ror, it's okay. You're fine," I whisper to

But I don't know what to do. This is a
fucking airport. I have no power here.

"Excuse me, sir, you need to wait over
there," the TSA agent warns, and it infuriates me. Can't this woman
see Rory is fucking panicking?! I want to call her out for the
heartless, inept moron she is, but I stay in control of my anger. I
have to. Because that reaction would only make the situation worse
for Rory, and I need to help her, not hurt her.

"Can I have a quick word?" I ask, forcing a
respectful tone.

"I just need to do a security check and you
can both be on your way," the agent replies, and I grit my

"Just a quick word," I repeat.

The agent rolls her eyes, and I reluctantly
release Rory's clammy hand, and it kills me the way her fingers try
to grip after mine.

I gesture a few feet away, not wanting to
embarrass Rory any further.

"My friend has an anxiety
disorder. You can't touch her," I say, and I inwardly cringe at my
own choice of words. That's not the way to get what I want, and
when her eyebrows rise in challenge, I rephrase. "What I mean is… “
I glance at her ID tag. "Lidia, my name is Sam Caplan. And that's
Rory Pine. Rory has an anxiety disorder, and she gets panic
attacks, and they're triggered by certain things, including being
touched by strangers." I stare at her meaningfully, appealing to
her humanity, and at least the irritated look on her face has

"She is panicking right now. Just look at
her. There must be something else you can do," I plead with

"I'm sorry, sir, but our scanner is out of
service, and once a traveler has been tagged for screening, I can't
let them through security without conducting it," she replies, and
I do my best to hide my growing frustration.

"Can I at least hold her hand?" I ask.

She shakes her head. "That's against
protocol, sir."

I glare at her, resenting this fucking
standstill when Rory is six feet away doing all she can not to fall

Slowly, a look of sympathy passes over
Lidia's features. "Look, you're supposed to wait over there, but I
can let you come stand with her. You can't touch her though," she

"Can I grab her pills from her carry on?
Just in case she needs them?"


She accompanies the four more feet to where
Rory's bag sits and I grab them from the front pocket and make my
way back over to Rory as fast as possible.

Rory's eyes open and close, blinking, trying
to control her breathing, and my heart breaks at the sight of it.
But I'm also proud. Because she's handling it. She's struggling,
but she's handling it.

"Ror, take these." I press her pill bottle
to her palm, and her fingers close around it. I'm right beside her,
so close I could wrap her in a hug without taking a single step.
"Lidia here needs to pat you down." She's so focused on her
breathing she can't even look at me, but she's got this. I know
she's got this. "You're going to be okay, but if you need to take
one, then take one, okay?"

I wait for her to nod with understanding. "I
explained to her that you don't like being touched, so she's going
to make it as quick as possible, right Lydia?" I look at her
beseechingly, and am slightly relieved to find compassion in her

"It will take less than a minute," Lidia
assures us.

"I'm not allowed to hold your hand, but I'm
going to be two feet away, see?"

I wait for her to manage eye contact, and
with some effort, she does. I take one step back, making sure her
gaze doesn't waver. "Keep looking at me, Ror," I encourage her.

She does. I'm sure I don't
blink even once as Lidia conducts her pat down, letting my eyes say
everything I can't. That I'm here, that I won't let anything hurt
her, that I care about her more than she'll probably ever

"You're done," Lidia says,
and then waves me over, and I'm back at Rory's side in a

"See? You're fine," I promise her. "And you
didn't even take a pill." I can't help the pride swelling in my

Rory whimpers, and it grips me right in that
fullness in my chest.

"Oh, Ror," I murmur, pulling her against my
chest and wrapping my arms tightly around her. I press my face to
the top of her head, breathing her in, and we stand like that for
long minutes while Rory catches her breath and pulls herself

I don't rush her. I'm in no rush. I could
hold her like this forever.

Finally, she pulls away.

"Thanks," she murmurs, and
it pleases me that there's no shame in her voice – that perhaps
she's beyond embarrassment with me by now.

"Anytime, Ror. What

"Friends for, I know," she grumbles
adorably. She's finally getting it.



I'm having one of the best nights of my
life. The day was pretty damn awesome, too. I'm barely even
drinking, busy keeping my promise to look after Rory. Not that it's
a burden. In fact, I'd say it's the best fucking job in the world.
But I do take it seriously. I promised her a fun, safe spring
break, and I'm determined to deliver.

That incident with TSA was
a snag. I blame myself – I should have anticipated it – and ever
since I've been racking my brain, searching for any and all
potential triggers that can get in the way of the carefree vacation
I promised her. But she got through it, without even taking a pill,
and her nightmare on the plane, and by now I'm convinced that that
girl can handle fucking anything.

The rest of the day on the beach and by the
pool went down without incident. Except for that one guy who
grabbed her arm when he hit on her, the night has gone smoothly as
well, and at our third bar of the night, Rory's about as drunk as
I'm going to let her get. She pouts when I tell her she's cut off,
but she doesn't argue. She's the most adorable drunk I've ever

I suspect most of the guys out tonight think
we're together, and I've been happy to let them think that. I
cringe to think the kind of attention she'd get otherwise.

When I found her outside her room before
dinner, she literally shocked me into silence.

Rory's gorgeous on any
day. She's just got a natural kind of beauty that doesn't require
cosmetic enhancement. But seeing her all done up like some
supermodel made me feel like I was fourteen again, struck dumb by a
hot girl. Her hair is all curled and tousled, and her already dark,
thick lashes look even more so with mascara. It makes her eyes look
impossibly large and round, and it's hard not to get lost in them.
The shine on her lips makes my gaze fall to them even more than
usual, and I've found myself fantasizing about pulling one into my
mouth all night. And seeing her in a skirt for the first time is
taunting me in ways that are completely inappropriate for a

Andy and Tina left to go
back to the hotel a few minutes ago, and Dave and Lily are making
out in the corner of the bar. Carl and Tucker are shouting at each
other, between make-out sessions, and I decide to call it a

I take Rory's hand and lead her toward the
exit, and when the crowd gets dense, I pull her to my side and tuck
her under my arm so no one can accidentally touch her. She giggles
randomly and I raise my eyebrows. She looks giddy, and I'm loving
this side of her.

"You, my friend, are drunk," I tease, and
she giggles again as I hail a taxi.

"So are you," she replies.

I slip my arm around her waist to help her
walk straight and she cuddles into me. It feels so damned good.
This is what I wanted. Just an opportunity to let everything else
go, and enjoy each other.

I laugh. "Actually, I'm
not," I tell her. "I only had a couple, and I can hold my liquor
better than

I help her into the cab and get in behind
her. She looks me over appraisingly, and then lets out another
adorable giggle.

"You're a cute drunk," I murmur.

"You're cute all the time," she retorts.
This captivates me. Rory has never expressed any interest in my
appearance, and I'll admit it's been a bit of a bruise to my
otherwise pretty healthy ego.

"Yeah? You think?" I don't even care that I
sound like an insecure chick right now.

Rory narrows her eyes as
if suspicious of me, and pouts.
, I want to taste those

"You know you're gorgeous.
You ain't foolin’ me," she replies confidently, and I can't help
but laugh a full-belly-chuckle. Her accent has emerged more and
more throughout the night with each sip of alcohol, and I fucking
love it, and I want to keep her talking.

"I didn't know you thought so, Rory.
Anything else you want to share while you're feeling generous with
information?" I prompt her. She's honest and forthcoming, when she
wants to be anyway, but it's always a careful, calculated decision.
Right now, she's just letting her thoughts flow out of her mouth,
and I can't help but take advantage.

She bites her lip, which means she's about
to think something up. It doesn't necessarily mean she's going to
lie, but she's not going to tell me the whole truth either. But
then she frees her lip, and she looks meaningfully at me, and I
think maybe she actually is going to tell me something real.

"I love Carl," she says, and my eyebrows
shoot upward. Not what I was expecting, and I feel a strange mix of
disappointment, and lust as I let myself indulge in that particular

"Is this where you tell me
you like girls?" I ask her, only half kidding, because in truth I
have no idea what the hell she means. "'Cause I won't

"No, shh, don't interrupt!" She chides, and
I take an invisible key to my lips, and lock any further
interruptions away, but I can't hide my amusement.

"I love Carl," she
repeats, "she's been a real good friend to me, but… you're my best
friend. Not her,

Warmth floods my chest. It's probably the
most beautiful thing I've ever heard. I smile down at her, at a
loss for what to say, because there are three little words floating
around in my head, and not for the first time, and they're
completely inappropriate to say to a friend.

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