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Pen Your Pride

Chapter 15

Monday morning came too fast. My alarm went off and I casually hit the snooze button with my painted finger. My mom came in the room after five minutes to check on me.

"Avery Elise," she patted my back, " It's time to get up now, sweetheart." I feigned sleep and drew in a deep breath. "Avery, are you alright?"

I groaned, faking my sickness. I threw in some tossing and turning to show my discomfort even further. For dramatic effect, I threw myself off the bed, moaning all the way down.

"Avery, you're fine. Get up, now." she said in a less than amused tone.

"No, Mom!" I whined. " I can't even drive to school. I feel THAT terrible."

"I'm sorry, Ave. Nice try." Mom said a little too sweetly. "'Don't tell me you forgot. Jace is coming to pick you and Jordi up today. Your truck is in the shop. Remember? So you don't even have to worry about driving! Let Jace take care of you."

Let Jace take care of me...that sounds nice. Um, I mean, if he were Garrett...

I then remembered the last time I spoke with Jace... The way his heart broke in front of my eyes. The guilt consumed me. I got dressed in something cute, but not too cute. I didn't want Jace to get the wrong idea. Walking on eggshells and watching what I said around him was going to be difficult.

I put on some dark-wash jeans and white sneakers. I paired them with a teal v-neck and an orange, creamsicle sweater. Just as I slipped on my shoes, I heard a car horn blare outside my window. My mom called to me from downstairs and dismissed me with a kiss. Slinging my bag over my right shoulder, I looked up and spied Jordi in the front seat.

Thank goodness. One less potentially awkward situation to go through, today.

Jordi stuck her tongue out and I wondered if she was actually fifteen, almost sixteen. I shook my head and jerked the back door handle with brute force. That door has been sticky since he dented it on a pole he hit when he was fifteen.

"Where's your bike, J?" I said, trying to keep my emotions from spilling.

"At home. Your mom said you gals needed a ride, so I took my old car instead." he said, quietly.

"Oh" I concluded with much wit.

The rest of the short ride there consisted of Jordi talking to, well, us, but she was really just talking to herself. Her incessant chatter stopped when the engine did. The car didn't even slide into the parking space completely before Jordi was out and running to join her friends. She left us with a silence, but it was comfortable.

I climbed into the front seat, leaving my books in the back. They clashed together when I tossed them off of my lap. I felt Jace's eyes on me as I brushed the hair from my face, again. I glanced over at him and smiled a guilty smile.

"Heard you weren't feeling good today?" I looked at him, confused. "It's what your mom said."

"Gotcha" I nodded in understanding.

"So since you're not feeling well...Whaddaya say? Wanna ditch?"

I grinned mischievously. I leaned over the center console and hugged him tight.

"You know, you may dress like a prep, but you definitely don't go to school like one..." he teased.

It felt good to see him smile again. It released some of the pressure in my tight chest. I was able to breathe a little more. Tonight might not be so bad...

We left the parking lot before the final bell. That way, we were still allowed to leave campus.

That day, we did our favorite things. We drove through our favorite little Mexican restaurant, Pedro's, and got our breakfast burritos. We then drove the two minutes down to the beach and ate our breakfast, watching the waves. They were the perfect blend of chorizo sausage, eggs, and beans. Then, we washed or down with a tall cup of horchata (a yummy rice drink).

We didn't even need to talk. The silence only broke when my body betrayed me and let out a manly belch. I reddened immediately and turned to Jace. He had the most curious look on his face. He just busted up laughing and soon, I joined him. All of the tension was gone from the days before and we were back to our regular selves.

We went around town and did all of our favorite things that day. Most of it was spent at the local thrift store. We picked out outfits for each other and had a fashion show for each one. Jace sauntered down the "catwalk" and tried to work on his, what he called "swag". We earned some stares and glares in the store, but it didn't even matter. We smiled until our cheeks hurt, laughed until we cried and our sides cramped. I didn't care who was watching...I had my best friend back.

We ended our adventure in the park on those same swings where I told Jace about Garrett. A little tension seeped through our seemingly tight seams.

We pumped our legs until we achieved the maximum height limit. We then jumped off, attempting to stick our landings. We never did. Landing in the sand, we sat where we fell and just smiled at each other.

Being the idiot I am, I made things weird.

"So...why the sudden change, J?" I asked, mentally slapping myself.

"Well, I decided that as long as you were happy, and he treated you right, I'd stay out of it." he said, quietly and looked away.

"Jace, look at me... Are you happy?" I hoped he was. "With Sophia, I mean..." I coughed out the last part.

" Yeah, I guess.... We're not together, if that's what you're thinking." I cringed, guiltily. "She's nice to me. I like to hang with people who are nice."

"Okay, Jace. I trust you. Just be careful." I said, definitely trusting him, but not Sophia. If she breaks his heart, she has got another thing coming.

Now that that conversation was out of the way, we were able to have fun on the rest of our adventure.

We pulled into the same parking spot at the school just as 2:45 rolled around. We laughed and reminisced Bout our day as the kids poured out of the rooms and drained to the parking lot. Jordi strolled to the car and sat in the back, looking at us. We had just been laughing so hard that Jace snorted really loud. She rolled her teenage eyes at us as he started the engine.

The drive home was uneventful, and Jace decided to stick around until the festivities. We did our homework and waited for the rest of his family and Garret's to arrive. Me and my best bud, just chillin'. Life was looking up.

***Hey guys! I've uploaded yay! Not much to say except to expect the BBQ chapter tomorrow! It was supposed to be in this chapter, but as you can see, it clearly turned into a darling day with Jace. I love you guys and thank you for sticking with me! News is coming. -Maili

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