Read Things I Know About Love Online
Authors: Kate le Vann
Tags: #Adult, #Arranged marriage, #California, #Contemporary, #Custody of children, #Fiction, #General, #Loss, #Mayors, #Romance, #Social workers
I still like my hair this morning. I’m looking at it now, but I just slept on it and bits are sticking up at the back. Hmm, but it brushes back into shape so easily. Yes, I still love it. Now, I need to finish off yesterday’s entry.
Okay: there was cold coffee, me, Krystina, and Adam. I thought I’d mentioned him to her and hadn’t
that I was interested in him, but things were moving too quickly! Adam came right over and a thought suddenly crossed my mind: if Krystina’s here he’s going to forget I’m in the room. But it was me he was looking at, smiling his little half-smile. He said, “Hey, how’s your holiday going?”
“Hi. I love it here,” I said—when I’m nervous I seem to be able to
myself talking and my voice always sounds high, like a little kid’s. “Do you two know each other, then?”
“Er, yes,” Adam said. “We’ve met a couple of times… through your brother, actually. Krystina?”
Krystina smiled and nodded but didn’t say anything to him, which seemed strange when she’d just called him and asked him to come along. And why didn’t he seem to be sure of her name?
“How’s everything going?” Adam asked me. “The hair is… Wow, your hair’s great. Looks really good.”
“Thanks,” I said. “It’s a lot easier to manage now. Less hot.”
Come on, brain,
I was thinking,
be funny, be witty. Think of something good to say.
“So, can I get you both another coffee or something?” Adam asked, hopping from one foot to the other and rubbing his palms together sideways—he looked a bit nervous and very cute.
“Oh, yes, please,” I said. “Just a small peppermint tea, please.”
“Green tea for me,” Krystina said. “Thank you so
When he’d gone, I said, “What? Why did you ask Adam to come? Does he know I fancy him?”
“I didn’t ask
to come—I barely know the guy,” Krystina said. “He just walked in. Princeton’s a small town. You really ‘
’ him?” She seemed amused by the word. Is it just a British word?
“Yeah, I’m starting to—I mean, I’m starting to
“Huh,” she said absently, nodding. “But I thought you’d decided to have a fling with a foreigner.” I glanced over at the line. Adam was looking down at his sneakers. I love his legs.
“I love his legs,” I said out loud, without thinking, but Krystina didn’t seem to hear me. It was probably such an incredibly crazy thing to say that she ignored it. “He was once really lovely to me, back in England, but I didn’t know him, and I didn’t think very much about it. But I feel that, you know, our paths crossing again all the way out here, that’s weird, isn’t it? And maybe it means something and maybe…Oh, gosh, wait, you said you’d invited someone along? Who was that?”
“My brother,” Krystina said, and her face had brightened, but she was looking past me. “Kyle. He’s just coming now. There he is.”
A perfect, tanned blond jock walked past the coffee-shop window and pushed open the door. He quickly spotted Krystina and flashed us both two rows of the same ridiculously white and even teeth that his sister uses to break my brother’s heart.
“Heyyyy,” he said, striding across to us in two steps. “You must be Livvie. My sister’s already told me you’re a lot of fun.”
You know what, I think you never want to be described as a lot of fun to anyone, particularly a boy. I think I’m
a lot of fun for one thing, and even if I were sometimes a
of fun, “a lot” is too much to live up to.
“Well, I’ve been having a lot of fun with your sister,” I said. “Oh, wow, you really look like each other.”
“Hah-hah-hah-hah-hahhhhh,” Kyle laughed, grabbing the spare chair and turning it backwards, then sliding himself into it, all in one graceful movement.
I looked up at Adam, who was still in line but was now talking to the server and not watching us. The place was full and I couldn’t see any spare seats, and
as bloody usual
, as soon as I had the chance to speak to Adam, another bloke had popped up to sit in his place.
But Adam hadn’t come in to see us, so maybe he didn’t want to sit with us anyway. Still, as I watched the server laughing at whatever Adam was saying to her, I was growing more worried about the lack of space at our table when Adam came back. I’d stopped listening to Kyle and his weird giant’s laugh, which seemed to come at the end of all his sentences. And at the end of all of my sentences. The laugh had a kind of “fee fi fo fum” quality.
“Do you want to have dinner with us tomorrow?” Kyle asked. “We’re thinking of going to the Fish ’n’ Chip shop. You can talk us through the menu.” He said this in a ridiculously bad English accent that made me giggle. Kyle was encouraged by my giggling, adding, “Hah-hah-hahh!” I turned back to face him.
“I think Jeff is going to take me to the pictures tomorrow evening,” I said, shrugging.
? Do you live in the nineteen thirties? Hah-hahhahhhh!” Kyle laughed.
“Er, I…,” I said.
“To the ‘picture show’? Hah-hah-hahhhh!”
“Yeah, ha-ha, so I’m afraid I’m going to have to —”
“What are you seeing?” Krystina asked.
“The new Matt Damon film,” I said, but my eyes had already traveled back to Adam, who was walking towards us now balancing the three drinks.
“I really want to see that, too!” Krystina said. “We can go in Kyle’s car. Why don’t we take you both?”
“Well, I could talk to Jeff about it….”
Argh, this was too much pressure—I didn’t like making decisions for other people, or turning people down. I really wasn’t warming to Krystina’s brother, Kyle. He seemed to be sort of an idiot; he was
loud, and he was making fun of me for being British all the time. By now Adam had come back with cups stacked on top of one another for me and Krys, only to find a big, yellow-haired boy sitting in between us.
“This is Krystina’s brother,” I said, as an explanation, not an introduction.
The boys both said “hey” to each other. Adam looked around for another chair, but I knew there wasn’t one. Kyle started telling a long story about a friend of his getting drunk last week and just left Adam standing there, while I looked helplessly at him and didn’t know where he’d go or what I should do. Could I have stood up next to him, leaned on a wall, and carried on where we’d left off before Kyle had turned up? Kyle was just going on and on, not seeming to notice the seating problem, or even that Adam was there.
I asked Adam if he wanted my seat. “I’ve been sitting for ages,” I said.
Adam looked embarrassed. “No, no, I have to go actually, I just, you know, was on my way to the counter and saw you, so…”
“Oh,” I said, nodding. “Well, if you have to go…” I didn’t want him to go! He stood there for a minute, his eyes not leaving mine, and I couldn’t think of anything else to say. I was feeling mortified that Adam had had to buy us drinks and then we hadn’t
to him, just thanked him and carried on listening to Krystina’s brother telling his stupid story about drunk guys doing stupid things. I didn’t know if Adam was going because he felt he was in the way, or whether he was upset or angry with me, or whether he only came over and bought us both drinks because I’d waved and smiled when he came into the coffee shop because I’d thought he was the person Krystina had invited. The perfect girly day had turned into a disastrous boy day. And I was sad that I didn’t like Krystina’s brother as much as her, because I like her so much. Shopping with her yesterday was fantastic fun. I must try harder to like Kyle.
I might talk to Jeff about some of this when he wakes up, although I shouldn’t tell him how I’m beginning to feel about Adam—they’re friends, it’d freak him out. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful morning—at this time of day, before it starts to get really hot, the sun is clear and the daylight is a sort of shell-pink color. Everything seems shiny and clean and unspoiled, and it’s easy to hope the things I did yesterday that were messy will just be swept away today.
IT’S NOT exactly unexpected that someone as attractive as Livia is going to be surrounded by blokes, but she is
always surrounded by blokes.
I walked into the coffee shop yesterday and she was there. I thought I’d get a chance to have a bit of a chat with her and her friend, maybe try to be a bit funnier than I was the last time I saw her, stretch out the old Adam charm, you know. It is there; it’s just resting. So I went to get her a drink, and by the time I’d got back—we’re talking three minutes?—some Brad Pitt is sitting on a chair the wrong way round and laughing at her jokes. The weedy English bloke at the gallery was one thing, but I’m starting to think she’s well out of my league. The fact is, I don’t know if she’s into either of them, so I’m not going to give up. Anyway, I’ve already e-mailed Jeff to ask if they fancy coming out this evening. Jeff said they’re going to see a movie at six but he and Livia can be back in town for about nine. So that’s good, right?
getting ready for Krystina and Kyle to turn up to take us to the pictures—trying to straighten my hair to get it as shiny as Krystina’s—and Jeff came in eating a carrot like Bugs Bunny and said, “Oh, hey, I told Adam—d’you remember Adam, that bloke you —?”
“Yes, of course I remember Adam! What?”
He chomped on the carrot for a few annoying seconds. “Oh, yeah, I told Adam we’d maybe meet up with him for dinner after the film, if that’s okay with you. If you’re tired, it’s no problem. It’s just I’ve had to turn down seeing him a bit recently and I’d like to catch up. But it’s totally up to you.”
“No, that’s fine,” I said coolly. “Yeah, it’d be nice to see more of him, sure.”
“I’m going to get another carrot. You fancy one?”
“We won’t be eating for hours.”
“I’m fine, thank you.”
“Mum keeps asking me if you’re getting all your fresh veggies, you know.”
“All right, give me a bloody carrot!”
I spoke to Mum this afternoon, just before she went off to work. It’s more than a week since I saw her, and I’ve never spent so much time away from her. She was on the webcam and I’d never seen her on it before and not been in the same room. She was there in the corner of my screen, smiling at me, thousands of miles away. I know that I’m coming up to the point in my life where I will properly leave home—but thinking about that still makes me very nervous and sad…and panicked, as if I suddenly might forget how to make my heart keep beating. Anyway, she was putting on a lovely, sunny voice, and telling me funny stories about the people at work, but I could hear a kind of strain in her voice, as if she wanted to cry. I love it out here, but I wish I could just go back every couple of days (sometimes, I wish I could go back every night) and hug my mum.
Kyle is a weird driver in that he goes slowly but you never feel safe. He shouts a lot at other drivers, and surely you don’t usually find that many people driving that badly on a fifteen-minute drive? He also constantly turned to look at me when he was talking to me—I was sitting in the passenger seat, Jeff and Krystina in the back—and I wished he’d keep his eyes on the road. Behind us, my brother and my new friend seemed to be getting on a lot better. They were talking in low voices, Krystina giggling at whatever Jeff was saying. I realized that to give Jeff some time to impress her, I’d have to do my best to get on with Kyle, and “take one for the team”—Jeff started using that expression when he first came out here. He and I
a team. I’m so happy about this: his friendship is one of the best things in my life.
I was relieved, though, when we pulled into the cinema car park and joined up as a four again. Jeff bought the tickets to thank Kyle for the lift. Kyle bought a gigantic bucket of popcorn for us all to share. I ended up sitting between him and Krystina—Jeff was on Krystina’s other side—and we passed the popcorn up and down our little line the whole time, which became a bit distracting when I was trying to follow the film. But there was something more distracting than popcorn to contend with. Kyle had laughed a lot in the coffee shop, but that turned out to have been only been a small hint of what he was capable of. Here in the cinema, Kyle laughed his giant’s laugh at every single joke and—just for fun—at lots of lines that weren’t jokes at all. On my right, Krystina was leaning the other way, her head resting on Jeff’s shoulder. I sat up very straight.
“So, you seemed to like the film,” I said to Kyle, as we were walking out together.
“Not that much, not really,” Kyle said. “It was full of clichés, old jokes, kind of predictable. It was okay, nothing special.”
Right, exactly how insane is he? Who laughs like that at a film they don’t like?
I was hoping we’d be able to lose them when we went to meet Adam at the Indian restaurant as we’d arranged, but I knew Jeff wouldn’t want to say good-bye to Krystina so early, so we all piled in together. Adam was already sitting down at a big table, and I felt embarrassed about coming in with Kyle. I wanted him to know we hadn’t come
, but as far as I knew Adam didn’t care one way or another.
“How was the film?” Adam asked me, shuffling along the bench to make more room for me. I sat down right next to him. I just had a clear, selfish moment, where I thought:
No one can stop me and I want to sit here.
And I was suddenly close to him for the first time since working out how I felt about him, and my heart started beating heavily. So how
the film? I’d spent most of it thinking about Kyle’s embarrassing bellowing laughter.
“It was quite a …
experience,” I said, glancing at Kyle and emphasizing it a bit crazily, hoping Adam would pick up that I wasn’t talking about the film.
“Are you talking about the film…or the
?” Adam said, with the same emphasis and also glancing at Kyle—so he had!
“The audience,” I said, and checked to see that Kyle wasn’t listening to us. He was on my other side—the three of us were sitting opposite Jeff and Krystina—but Kyle was caught up with telling the other two about the last time he’d come to this restaurant with some friends, and one of them got drunk and behaved badly. He didn’t seem to have noticed I wasn’t listening, because he turned round to smile at me while he was laughing at one of his own jokes.
“Talking through important scenes?” Adam said.
“No, not talking,” I said. “Although, it was quite disturbing.”
“Was it…laughing, maybe? Could it have been quite loud laughter?” Adam said, and at that exact moment, Kyle exploded with his usual giant’s mirth. I waited for him to stop.
“Yes, that was the exact problem,” I said. “So, as you can imagine…”
“…it was quite hard for you to concentrate,” Adam finished. And then he smirked and I smirked, and his dark eyes were full of mischief, and even though I’d known for days that I’d been tumbling head over heels for him, this was the very first moment that I knew he and I were thinking the same thing, and he liked me, too.
We didn’t flirt or anything after that—Adam was talking to Jeff a lot, Kyle was telling long stories that he didn’t like to be interrupted in the middle of, Krystina was telling me how great my hair looked. But when we all walked out to go our separate ways, Adam put his hand on my arm and gently pulled me back.
“Are you free tomorrow?” he said.
“Yes,” I said. “I have no plans all day.”
“Meet me for breakfast,” he said, but not like it was a question, and I just wanted to
“The Student Center, nine o’clock.” And then he smiled. “You’re really going to come?”
“Yes,” I said, and then I skipped ahead to get level with my brother and Krystina, and he turned and went in the other direction.
Things I know about love.
1. Nothing that happens between two people is guaranteed to be private.
2. People don’t always tell you the truth about how they feel. And the truth is, it may not be the same as how you feel.
3. Strangers are called strangers because they are strange. Duh!
4. I think you can get over a broken heart. If you start getting obsessed with someone else, you forget that it hurts.