"Geez, Taylor, your hair has gotten really long!"
It was the second week of September, and I had taken the bus all the way into Boston to meet Todd at a diner near Harvard for lunch. The random meeting had been his suggestion; he had emailed me out of the clear blue suggesting that we meet up. He was going to be in Boston visiting friends for the weekend and asked if it was a possibility for me to meet for lunch.
"Yeah," I said, blushing. He was every bit as cute as I had remembered. I hadn't spoken to Allison since that morning in Chicago when she had hung up on me, and I wasn't sure if Todd had told his sister he had made plans to see me. "How was your summer?"
"My summer was boring," Todd insisted. He had gotten to the diner before me and was already drinking a black coffee. "I drove around, saw movies, same old."
We had a great lunch, one that lasted over two hours. I told him all about touring the country, and my dad's house in New Jersey, and what it was like to meet my grandparents in Minnesota. He was completely smitten with the International Relations department at UConn and was already thinking about trying to secure an internship at the UN in New York City for the summer. He couldn't wait to see the leaves change color, something that Angelenos never get to experience.
What was best about our conversation was that he barely asked me about the band or being a celebrity. He seemed genuinely more interested in how I was doing and what it was like for me to be back in school.
"Are they going to offer you Drivers' Ed this year?" he asked.
"No, of course not," I laughed. "If anyone of us had a license and a car, we'd all drive away as fast as we could."
"I miss my car," Todd claimed with a fake sob. "My parents made me leave it with Allison. God only knows what will be left of it the next time I go home."
"What about Nicole?" I asked cautiously, wondering what had ever happened to their hot summer romance. I was enjoying myself so much with Todd that I genuinely wanted to know if there was another girl in the picture.
"Nicole Farley?" Todd asked, surprised. "We saw two movies together over the summer. She's a total airhead. Not my type."
I felt like jumping out of the diner booth and dancing down the aisle. I had forgotten how easy it was to get lost in his sleepy blue eyes.
I mentioned to Todd that I was practicing night and day for my junior symphony concert the following weekend, and he asked if he could attend.
"Uh, sure," I said. "I mean, I can't promise that it's going to be good or anything, but I can send you a ticket."
We paid our bill and stepped outside. Todd was staying with friends who had an apartment in Cambridge, and I had to catch my bus back to school.
"It was really great to see you, Taylor," Todd said, hesitating awkwardly outside the diner. "I mean, it was really weird the last time I saw you, with your mom and everything. I thought about you all summer."
I nearly jumped out of my skin when he said this. Todd thought about me? Not only did he just think about me once, but all summer?
"Thanks," I said. "I'm doing really well now, I think."
Todd reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a small wrapped box. "I brought you something. Tomorrow is your birthday, right?"
I was stupefied. The next day was, in fact, my sixteenth birthday, but I had no idea how or why Todd would have remembered this. And yet, he had remembered it. I accepted the gift and held it in my palm, afraid to open it. "Todd, how did you ever remember that it's my birthday?"
Todd chuckled and looked up at the blue sky for a second. "Taylor, I've known you practically your whole life. Of course I know when your birthday is. Don't open it now, I'll be too embarrassed."
"Okay," I agreed, tucking the gift into my blue Coach bag.
And then, just like magic, he leaned over and kissed me softly on the lips. It was just perfect. A better birthday present than I ever could have asked for.
The next morning, Sunday, I was awakened early in the morning by my cell phone ringing. Jill had gotten Kelsey up at the crack of dawn to sing Happy Birthday to me over the phone. There were boxes waiting for me in the dormitory mail room, and jealous glances were cast in my direction as I hauled them up to my room using a wheeled cart.
I still hadn't gotten used to my new status at Treadwell. Anyone who hadn't been aware of my dad's identity last year was certainly aware this year. Emma Jeffries had even said hello to me on dormitory move-in day. I tried to overlook the fact that she had been wearing a scarf loosely tied around her hips when the event occurred. It was the best I could do to give her the benefit of the doubt and open myself to the possibility that perhaps she was unaware of the trend beginning with me.
|Travis Fimmel||as Jake|