Chapter Eight - Somewhere Only We Know

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After I'd opened up to Jackson things slowly slipped in to place. I began to feel like a whole person rather than the shell of one. Being at school seemed to get easier too, and over two weeks I made more friends than I'd ever had in New York. It seemed that finally I was getting the youth I'd always wanted.

"Hey!" Daniel said moving in next to me one Friday in the school cafeteria at lunch time. He threw an arm over my shoulder as he placed his blue plastic food tray down in front of him. "Where is that cousin of mine?"

"On his way I guess." I mumbled grabbing a chocolate milk.

"So, thought about my offer yet?" Daniel said.

I knew what he was playing at, he had asked me every day without fail on a date. Every day without fail I categorically said no. I had to give it to the guy, what he lacked in substance he almost made up for in perseverance.

"What offer would that be Daniel?" I replied, playing dumb.

"The one where I take you out on a date."

"I've thought about it." I said shrugging his arm from my shoulder. "And I'm still not interested."

Daniel let out a short laugh and we continued to gather our lunch. We started to walk over toward the table where our friends sat. I smiled friends. Even the thought of having them was foreign to me.

"Is he bothering you still?" Kylie replied as we approached, she eyeballed Daniel and shook her head. "Leave her alone dweeb. Clearly the girl has brains and can see through your exterior."

"Ouch Kylie." Daniel smiled, he held his hand over his heart. "That hurt."

"Good." She rolled her eyes as she threw a tater tot at his head.

Before an all-out food war could break out, Jackson arrived. He placed his tray on the other side of me and sat down. I looked away from the warring pair and focused on Jackson. His blue eyes were soft, and he was smiling but I could still sense some tension.

"You alright?" I said

"Yeah. You?" he replied.

"I'm good. Turns out repeatedly shooting down Daniel's advances all the time makes me look super cool."

Kylie walked around the table and chucked her arm over my shoulder and grinned. "Denying Daniel is the number one way to becoming my BFF. So are you coming to David's party tonight?"

"Party?" I repeated. "There's a party?"

I looked at Jackson again, and It became clear to me he knew about the party.  His eyes flickered "I figured you wouldn't want to go after...." He stopped and looked down at his tray. "Do you want to go?"

I thought about it for at least five minutes. Kylie was already talking to someone else before I'd even made a decision. Truth was, I knew I was only going to be this age once. I had never experienced a proper party, not one where I knew anyone at least, or felt even slightly safe, and this time I'd have Jackson. It would be different. I owed it to my curiosity to check it out.

"I think I do." I mumbled finally surprising myself.

"Ok, well we can go. If at any time you need to leave, just let me know." He said as he gently pushed against me with his shoulder.

"You act like her boyfriend." Daniel laughed. "Are you guys in a relationship. Is that why you keep shooting me down... for him?"

I frowned, I turned and looked at Daniel, managing to hold on to my restraint by only a shred. He was supposed to be Jackson's best friend and cousin, but he was acting more like a jealous bully. I shook my head. "He's acting like a friend." I replied. "Which is more than I can say for you."

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