Emerge, Book One(The Evolve Series)(7)By: S.E. Hall
I have four forms of myself perfected: uniform covered in dirt and sweaty, just woke up with sleep in the corners of my eyes, fished all day ponytail and smelly, and lastly, going to school ready. Tonight, my dark blonde hair hangs just past my shoulders with a slight curl. The neckline on my soft green shirt is a little low and my jeans a little tight, but Kaitlyn conceded to light makeup so I caved on the outfit. Plus, she let me wear my boots! This Laney needs a second opinion and I know the perfect polling subject and exactly where to find him…to the couch I go!
“Dad, how do I look?”
My father does a long, anguished appraisal. “Not much like my slugger, I’d say, but real pretty, honey. Real pretty.”
Is he still breathing? That whole throbbing vein in forehead thing can’t possibly be good for him.
“Daddy…don’t worry. I’ll be home before you know it, not really mine or Evan’s thing.”
“Well hell, slugger, why didn’t you tell me Evan was going before I looked at ya? Have fun then,” he says as he turns back to the baseball game on TV, vein in his forehead no longer visible.
I love how he trusts Evan, but not if it’s more than he trusts me! Oh well, he’s letting me go without a hassle.
Disaster averted, I head back upstairs where Kaitlyn is finishing up her own final touches and grab my phone to let Evan know it looks like we’re ready.
Laney: Hey, ready when u r
Evan: Born ready, just walked in
Evan seems “off” the whole ride to the party. Kaitlyn is chattering from the backseat and I’m chiming in an “uh huh” here and there and the occasional “oh really,” but Evan hasn’t spoken.
When I came downstairs, I thought I looked pretty tame, maybe even good. Hell, half his groupies wear more suggestive outfits to school, but the look on his face was one I didn’t recognize. Never before tonight did I notice how his Adam’s apple bobs when he swallows. And the tugging on his collar is definitely a new move. He seemed to want to say something, like “who are you?”, but never did, just guiding me to his truck silently. Was it disgust? Disappointment? I never should’ve let Kaitlyn dress me.
Second guessing myself, it seems to take forever to reach Parker’s. As we pull through the gate, I can see a makeshift hayride up ahead, perfect farm party transportation as many of the vehicles tonight won’t make it out to his back pasture. I’m quite familiar with the Jones’ farm; our families have been friends since before Parker and I were born. In fact, our fathers used to be fishing partners, so we were raised together. I’m quite comfortable with my actual locale; thank goodness, since Evan’s weird vibe is throwing me off a bit.
Evan lets us out, but not before he breaks his vow of silence to ask me to wait up for him to park. I stay put and wait while Kaitlyn runs ahead to the hayride, jumping in with the other waiting passengers. I glance ahead of her and do a quick inventory…everyone waiting is pretty cool, with the exception of Madison and Michelle. Ugh.
Not only are they captain and co-captain of the cheer team at school, they are also the self-nominated President and Vice President of the Evan Allen Fan Club. I lovingly refer to them as “MM.” Not only does it fit their names, but also “Malnourished Morons.” I’d never told Evan any of their backhanded comments; he seems to see their ugliness fine by himself.
“Laney Jo? No freakin’ way!”
Thanks, Parker, for not drawing attention to me.
He runs over, picking me up around the waist and twirling me in a classic Parker bear hug; he’s not a small boy. “How’s my girl?”
Starting offensive and defensive lineman, Parker is a gentle giant. He’s also a great ear and amazing friend; I’m feeling better and better about coming tonight.
“Hey, brother,” I say with a kiss on his cheek. “Thought I’d make an appearance."
“I am so pumped you’re here! I can’t believe it!”
Neither can I, Parker. Neither can I.
“I am sooooo getting you drunk tonight, Laney!” Parker gushes.
I secretly know he’s all talk, he’d never put me in harm’s way, nor would he ever allow anyone else to do so, either.