Pebbles ricochet off my windowsill. The blinds are drawn, dimming the sound of the consecutive tapping. Tap tap. Pause. Tap tap. Pause. What does he want? It’s two o’clock in the freaking morning. Mom’s actually sleeping at a normal time for once too, and the last thing I want is for Parker to wake her. I don’t know what’s worse, her lack of sleep, or waking her up from the precious sleep she gets.
“What are you doing?” I whisper-yell. I can’t decide yet whether to be amused or annoyed. I guess it depends on the answer.
“Get your butt down here, Lei. And put some pants on, for God sakes. It’s freezing out.”
Excuse me for wearing shorts and a T-shirt.
I stick my tongue out at him, shutting the shade so it softly slams against the sill.
“Are you coming?” Parker yells.
I run downstairs and out the back door. Immediate goose bumps tickle my legs as soon as I’m outside.
And now I’m leaning towards annoyed. The fact that Parker is just standing there stupidly with this huge goofy grin on his face makes me even more annoyed.
“What do you want? You can’t just show up at my house in the middle of the night and throw rocks at my window for old time’s sake. My mother was actually sleeping. Sleeping. You know how often she sleeps soundly? Almost never. You could’ve woken her up.”
He stuffs his hands in his pockets. “Shit. Didn’t think about that. Did she?”
I sigh. “No.”
He folds his arms over his chest, the goofy grin returning. “See, no harm done.”
I cross my arms. “You still have explaining to do. Hurry up before my legs freeze off.”
“I did tell you to put some pants on.”
“You did. But that’s beside the point. What is the point anyways?”
Parker has this glint of mischief in his eyes. Almost like the old days.
He shrugs. “Oh, never mind. You’re such a buzz kill, your lack of proper attire a total distraction and therefore you are not in the mindset to hear what I’m about to say. Maybe tomorrow.”
I just stand there with my mouth hanging open, watching him walk away. I’m immobile until he reaches the tire swing, and then my brain starts working again and I run after him.
“You better tell me, asshole!”
He faces me, laughing. Like this is all a game to him. It has to be about the journals, right? Is he making it some big joke? Is he taunting me?
“You might want to sit down,” he says when I reach the tire swing. I sit, deciding to listen rather than making everything more difficult like I do. Parker takes off his UCLA sweatshirt that he’s wearing and hands it to me.
I take the sweatshirt, placing it on my lap. I’m still able to feel the warmth radiating from it.
“So,” I start, with no clue how I’m even supposed to approach all this.
“So, when did I used to throw rocks at your window?”
“Parker, if you don’t get to the point, I’m going to kick your ass.”
He laughs, clearly having way too much fun with this.
“Okay, if you don’t remember why, I’ll start. There was that time when I was in sixth grade and thought it’d be funny to color all over your Barbie Spa Deluxe. And then your first day of middle school, when I promised I’d sit with you on the bus, but instead ditched you for the coveted eighth grade back seat. Then sophomore year when I forgot to walk you home from rehearsal.”
I plaster on this big fake smile. “Oh, yeah. All the times you were a total asshat and had to beg for my forgiveness.”
He clears his throat. “Also known as the times when I was wrong and you were right. It doesn’t happen too often, but hey, I’m only human.”
Parker looks like a kid on the Christmas sugar high, about to start bouncing up and down. And it’s like he expects me to get the big joke too. Like I’m meant to deliver the punch line.
Wordless, he leans over and grabs something leaning against the tree trunk. I can’t tell what because it’s so dark. Then, a moment later, the journal is back in my hands.
And he’s wrong.
Oh my God.
It clicks the moment before he says it.
My eyes widen and I’m already blinking back tears. He better be saying what I think he’s saying.