Without You: Book 1 of the Changing Hearts Series (8 page)

BOOK: Without You: Book 1 of the Changing Hearts Series
3.88Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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###

The next week at school, Lucas, Ariana, and Mayra were headed to lunch from Spanish class when Mayra saw some people she knew and left to go talk to them.
 

“I’ll be right back,” she said as she walked off.

Lucas and Ariana kept walking towards the cafeteria. Ariana stopped for her usual drink from the machines. Then they got in line, got their food, and headed to their usual table. Mayra joined them a few minutes later.

Ariana noticed Lucas kept staring at her throughout lunch, and she couldn’t figure out why. They talked along with everyone else, and sometimes just the two of them, but he kept fidgeting and tapping his foot.

“You okay?” she asked as he tapped the end of his fork on his lunch tray.

“Yeah.” He looked at her again and took a deep breath before putting down his fork.

Then the bell rang, and they exited the lunchroom. Ariana tried to get her mind off of Lucas and how different he was acting.

At the end of the day, she was walking to her car and enjoying the light breeze. It wasn’t hot anymore, but just a tiny bit chilly.
 

Her phone buzzed, and she took it out of her bag.

It was Mayra.

Hey. Staying after to work on social studies group project. Due tom. Ugh. Riding home with Kayla later.

Jimmy wouldn’t be riding home with her today either. He was staying for a basketball meeting, and she’d be back for him later. Her parents had agreed to let Ariana keep taking Jimmy like last year, but she couldn’t wait for him at school like before. She had to come home in between and check in with them.
 

Ariana switched to thinking about her presentation next week for her Business Principles II class. The DECA members of the class were already preparing for the spring state competition. She wondering if she should do business speech again when Lucas fell in step beside her.
 

“Hey,” he said.
 

“Hey. Don’t you have work today?” She looked at him as they walked.

“Nope. Not today. I’m off.”

She nodded. “What are you doing today?”

“Nothing. Just homework and relaxing at home.”

They arrived at her car.

She had taken her time walking to her car from her last class across campus, so most of the parking lot was almost empty by now. Even the buses had left.
 

“What about you?” he asked.

“Same.”
 

There was an awkward silence, and Lucas shoved his hands in his pockets and then took them out again.
 

She gave him a small smile, sensing he was nervous.

“Hey, I want to…ask you something.” His eyes shifted from the ground right to her eyes.

Her mouth fell open a bit. She screamed inside, wondering if he was about to ask her what she thought he was. She held her books closer to her chest.
 

“Here.” He took her books and put them on her car. Then he held both of her hands and looked right into her eyes.
 

“I know we haven’t known each other that long, but I really like you. I think about you all the time, and you’re just…awesome.”
 

He looked down and then back at her. He used his thumbs to massage her hands.
 

“Will you be my girlfriend?” Lucas said.

For a few seconds—or maybe minutes, Ariana couldn’t tell—nothing was said. She simply absorbed Lucas’s words, focusing on them, on him, on the feel of her hands in his. Saving the moment in her memory.

She looked at him. She hadn’t stopped looking at him. She nodded.

“Yes.” She made herself stop nodding like a bobble head. “I want to be your girlfriend.”

She couldn’t believe she had just said that. But he had. Lucas smiled the most beautiful smile she had ever seen. Before she knew it, she was in his arms, being lifted up, and pressed into his chest. She found herself hugging him back with her arms around his neck.
 

He put her back down. Their foreheads were touching. She readied herself for a kiss, but it didn’t come.

“You don’t know how long I’ve been wanting to ask you that.”

She smiled. “Really?”

“Couldn’t you tell how crazy I was, am, over you?” Her hands were in his again. They were oblivious to the cars and people around them.

“I thought I was just imagining things,” she said. She couldn’t believe how much had happened with him in just a few weeks of knowing him.
 

Lucas laughed and took her face in his hands. No kiss, though. She couldn’t help but close her eyes for a couple seconds. She looked back at him.

“I have to tell you something,” she said.

###

Ariana was home. She put her stuff in her room and came back to the kitchen. Her mom was in there. She had just gotten home and was defrosting some meat for dinner.
 

“How was school?”

“Good.” She tried not to smile too much from what had just happened at school, but it was hard. “Mom, I have to tell you something.”

Her mom stopped unwrapping the meat package and looked at her.

Ariana didn’t know how to begin. She took a deep breath.

“Oh, God. You’re not pregnant, are you?” Her mom’s eyes looked like they were about to pop.

“What? No!”
 

“Oh. Okay. Then what is it?” her mom asked, now more relaxed.

“This guy I know…” Her mom pursed her lips. “He’s in one of my classes. And he’s a really good guy. He asked me to be his girlfriend today.” Ariana was fidgeting with her hair. She looked at her mom, who was looking down at the meat package.

“I don’t want to do what I did last time. I want you guys to know what’s going on. I’m going to be eighteen in less than two months. You can’t tell me that by then I’m still not allowed to have a boyfriend. Or when I’m at college.” She waited. “Mom?”

“Your dad will be here soon. We can talk to him about it when he gets home.”

She nodded and went back to her room. She lay down and got out her phone.

She had a text from Lucas.
 

I miss you already. How did the talk with your parents go?

She replied.
 

Dad’s not home yet so no answer yet. But I’m almost 18. What are they going to say?

Good luck
, he replied.

Twenty minutes later, her dad was home. She knew better than to talk to him before he had something to eat, so she waited a bit longer in her room, trying to focus on a paper that was due in a couple of days.

Finally, she walked into the living room where he was sitting.

She sat down next to him, and her mom joined them in the living room.
 

“I told your dad what you wanted to talk about.”

She turned to her dad, who was just staring straight ahead and grinding his teeth together.

“What do you think? Is it okay if I have a boyfriend? I’m almost eighteen, Dad.”

He exhaled loudly. There were several seconds of silence, but Ariana willed herself to wait for her dad to say something first.
 

“There will be rules,” he said finally. But she didn’t hear the rest of what he said because she was hugging him.

Her mom continued while her dad grunted. “You can’t go out with him by yourself. That would lead to all kinds of things. For example, sex, which can lead to pregnancy. And if you want to go to that college as much as you say you do, you don’t need to be risking anything.”

“I know. I’m not going to do anything dumb. He really is a great guy.” She tried not to scream or jump in excitement.

“You can go out with him only if Jimmy goes too,” her dad said.

She nodded. She could live with that. Or work her way around it.
 

“And we want to meet him,” her mom said.
 

That caught her off guard.

“Isn’t it a bit early for that?” She stared at them.
 

“No. We want to know from the start who you’re with,” her dad said.
 

Now that would be mortifying. But she was sure Lucas would do it for her. Carlos, probably never. But Lucas. He would do it. She nodded. “When?”

“Today. Tomorrow. The sooner the better,” her mom said.

“Okay. I’ll ask him.” She checked her phone. “I have to go get Jimmy from the school, but I’ll be back in about thirty minutes.”

“Don’t go around making any detours,” her dad said. She just smiled and shook her head.

###

Ariana called Lucas while she waited for Jimmy to come out of his basketball meeting. She was a couple of minutes early.

“Hey,” he answered.

“Hi.” She was sure Lucas could hear her smiling on the other end.

“What’s up? What’d they say?”

“They’re not in love with the idea of me having a boyfriend, but they said yes.”

“That’s great.” Now she could hear him smiling. Ariana thought of how much she loved the sound of his voice. Just a tiny bit husky.

“I never thought they’d say yes after… Anyway, they said there will be rules, like Jimmy has to tag along when we go out.”

“That doesn’t matter to me. I’m more than cool with that.”

“Well, Mayra could come too, so it’d be a double date.”

“That works. Like I said, all of that doesn’t matter to me. I’m just glad you talked to them about it.”

She smiled. “There’s one more thing.” She tapped the steering wheel and looked to see if Jimmy was out yet. He wasn’t.

“What is it? It can’t be that bad.”

“They want to meet you.” She exhaled.

“Seriously? When?”
 

“As soon as possible.”

“Wow.” She heard him breathe. “How about today?”

“Really?”

“I mean, it’s not going to be easy. When is something like that ever easy? But if that’s that they want, I’ll do it. Besides, I have to work the rest of the week. I want to be able to see you this weekend.”

She smiled and wished he was with her so she could give him a hug. “Can you be at my house in twenty minutes?”

“It’s the one at the end of the street, right?”

“Yep.”

“At least I’ll get to see you.”

Ariana saw Jimmy come towards the car with his bag in tow. “I can’t wait. See ya later.”

They hung up, and Jimmy got in the car.

“Who were you talking to?”

“Lucas.” She turned on the car. He nodded.

She turned the car on and maneuvered out of her spot. “Mom and Dad are going to meet him in twenty minutes.”
 

Jimmy did a double-take. “You mean…”

“He asked me to be his girlfriend, and I said yes.” They left the parking lot. For once, she couldn’t wait to get home.
 

“And Mom and Dad are cool with this?”

“Yep. I talked to them about it just now. Told them I’m almost eighteen, and they said there will be rules, but honestly, I don’t care.”

“Good for you.” He had a huge smile on his face.

“Why are you all happy?”

“Because I get to meet him too.” He laughed, and Ariana groaned.

chapter seven

As Ariana’s car went around the street corner and their house came into view, she could see that Lucas was already at her house. She parked near the mailbox since they were short on space in the driveway. Lucas was just getting out of his car, and he smiled as Ariana got out of hers. Jimmy was right behind her.
 

“Hey,” she said. She turned around and glanced at Jimmy. “This is my brother, Jimmy. Jimmy, this is Lucas.”

They shook hands. Jimmy was taller than Lucas, of course, but Lucas had a bit more bulk on him.
 

“What’s up, man?” Lucas asked.
 

Jimmy nodded. Ariana just stared at their male ritual. “Shall we go inside?”

She led the way. She opened the front door, and they all went inside.
 

“We’re home,” Jimmy announced, putting his book bag and gym bag in the hallway before heading to the couch. Her mom and dad were in the living room, waiting. She had called them on the way home saying Lucas would be coming over. Her dad looked as serious as ever, and her mom had some drinks ready.
 

“Mom, Dad,” she said in Spanish. “This is Lucas.” She looked behind her, and Lucas stepped forward with his right hand out.

“Nice to meet you,” he said in Spanish to each of her parents. Her parents stood up, and he shook each of their hands. Her dad nodded, and her mom smiled.
 

Ariana didn’t know what to do so she sat in the empty sofa next to her parents, where Jimmy was already sitting. Lucas joined her. They didn’t hold hands or anything. Lucas glanced at her, and she smiled.

“Tell me who you are,” her dad said. “Where are your parents from?”

Ariana saw Lucas take a deep breath. He began speaking in Spanish.

###

Over an hour later, her parents were finally done talking with, or rather interrogating, Lucas. They had asked about his family, his grades, his job, his goals for the future. Ariana was surprised they hadn’t asked if he had a retirement account or something. Then they’d gone over all the rules of their relationship and what would happen if he didn’t follow them. Lucas had looked terrified and even sweaty nervous at one point, but he had survived, and now she was walking him to his car. As they went out the front door, Jimmy followed them for a bit, and Ariana hugged him.
 

Lucas walked ahead of them. “I can tell he’s a good person,” Jimmy whispered.
 

“He is. He really is,” she replied, letting go. Jimmy closed the front door as he went back in while Ariana followed Lucas to his car. It was dark out already. They conveniently went around to the other side of his car, where it would be hard for someone inside her house to watch them.

“What’d you think?” Ariana said with a smile.

“A little scary, but I think they liked me. Right?”
 

“Not completely sure either. It’s hard to tell with them, mostly my dad, but I think they did.” She looked up at him. He pulled her close and wrapped his arms around her. She leaned her head on his chest and closed her eyes. Lucas breathed deep and began stroking her back. She shivered a little. She didn’t know if it was from the chill outside or from Lucas’s hands on her.

BOOK: Without You: Book 1 of the Changing Hearts Series
3.88Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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