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The summer of 1998. School had come to a close. I was an official graduate and I had few things that I wanted to accomplish with this break. The first was that I wanted to make the most out of my time with Leroy Lahey. The second was that I needed to convince his parents that I was worthy of his love and attention.

Leroy wasn't from Waco. He was from Archwood, Colorado. A month earlier, he was in Waco organising himself at Baylor where he would be starting college in September. We met at a frat party that I wasn't meant to be at, but I'd slept over at a friend's house, snuck out, met the gorgeous quarterback and in some turn of event, I'd allowed him to deflower me on the notion that it was love at first sight.

I'd been nervous that it was a mistake. That the football player would disappear back to his hometown and we would never meet again. But less than a week later, I received a letter in the mail, a love letter, from him.

Dearest Ellie.
I hope this doesn't startle you. I took a note of your address when I dropped you off at home after our incredible night together. I should have asked for a phone number, but I didn't think about it until you had dashed that pretty behind inside. You see, I'm a little senseless when you're in my presence. You're such a stunning vision, a whisper of perfection, a blossomed beauty. I hope that we can keep in touch. If you're interested, perhaps phone me? I don't want to lose touch with the girl who has stolen my heart. It may come across as strong, but I feel more than I ever believed I was capable of feeling when I'm with you. You're an embodiment of an angel and I'm counting down the days until I'm in Waco and close to you again, Ellie Livingston.

Sincerely,
Leroy.

At the bottom of the letter, was a phone number. A jumble of digits that set us on the course to a whirlwind romance. We spent hours on the telephone. We got to know each other through conversation that was distant, but the smoothness of his voice and the gentle tone of his sweet nothings made me feel so close to him.

By some miracle, my mother and father allowed me to spend the rest of summer in Archwood. More miraculous still, was that I was allowed to spend it with Leroy, in his home. Our parents had spoken on the phone and agreed that as long as we were in separate bedrooms and given a ten o'clock curfew, it was fine.

However, there was still the small matter of being accepted by his upperclass parents. His father was a retired NFL superstar. His mother, a news anchor for the top news channel in Colorado. I wasn't from a background of wealth and unlimited coin. My parents managed a small goods sports store that was owned and run by an absolute Scrooge who didn't pay what they deserved. I knew that there were people far worse off, but I still longed for a bedroom that was a little bigger, clothes that were a little newer.


"You sure you've got everything sweetheart?" Mom asked as I bounced on the spot, watching the boarding chart and waiting for my flight number to be called. "You didn't pack a lot for two months."

"Mom, I've got a secure system set up," I assured her, still not one hundred percent focused on her face or words. "As long as I can use the washing machine, and I'm sure that I can, I've got all that I need."

I was nothing if not organised. I had a rotation of outfits that could be mix and matched. Accessories to spice them up and seven different lipstick colours to ensure that I could pop a perfect pout no matter what the occasion.

"Please be safe sweetheart and I'd really appreciate it if you could give your future some thought." Mom pointed an authoritative finger at me, her brows furrowed with a stern expression. "I know that we couldn't afford to put you through college and I'm so sorr—"

"Don't start again," I cut off her endless apologies. "I'm going to take a small business course when I've got enough cash. And one day, I'll own a skincare line. I've told you all of this. There's no chance that I could work as a measly employee for the rest of my life — no offence."

Mom smiled, although it wasn't all that convincing. "I know that you don't want to end up like your father and I, but be realistic sweetheart. And don't base your future on this boy because these things are fleeting."

I frowned at the pessimistic woman that raised me. "I'm not basing anything off Leroy. I've wanted to run a business since I was a freshman. I'll do it with or without him. And what we have isn't fleeting. He loves me momma."

She didn't look convinced. She hadn't from the moment that I told her who his father was. She assumed that because he had wealth and status, he was merely using me for a good time and a non-committal summer fling. But she didn't know the conversations that we had shared. She didn't know that I'd given him a piece of me that I could never get back — that was probably for the best though — she didn't know that I was in love with him. All of him. His money, his name, none of it mattered. He had treated me like a queen from the moment that we met and I'd been holding on to my virtue for the right man. I wasn't delusional, I hadn't given it away on a whim. I'd felt something for him that I couldn't explain and I knew that even if he hadn't kept in touch, I wouldn't have regretted it.

The call for my flight rang through the airport and I squealed through a clenched jaw as I slung my backpack on and adjusted my Red Hot Chilli Peppers t-shirt; the summer sun was making me sweat like crazy. Mom gave me a few more 'words of wisdom' as I gave her a hug. It was almost impossible not to leap out of her embrace and make a run for the plane, but I returned her hug and promised to call her at least every other day.

The flight wasn't long, but it was my first and I attempted to appreciate it. I had saved every last dollar that I made from working at the local pharmacy after work and on weekends. The funds were going towards the business course that I planned on taking. But I withdrew a small amount for the tickets and spending money. I wanted to appreciate what I had paid for, but my mind was spinning with the knowledge that I would soon be seeing Leroy after an entire month of nothing but hearing his voice. It had kept me going, that's for sure.

When the flight landed, I ran a hand through my shoulder-length blonde waves, smoothing the frizzed mess down. My palms had become damp and I vigorously wiped them on my high-waist shorts before I stood and joined the cue to get off the plane. It felt like the entirety of travellers were going at a damn snail's pace and I felt a little spastic as I jumped up and down, staring over people's heads to gauge whether we were any closer to the exit or not.

Eventually, after what felt like a painful amount of time, I skipped through the electric doors and into the air-conditioned airport lounge. My eyes darted through the large crowd and I bit my lip as I stared at the conveyer belt. I knew that I had to collect my bag but I could barely focus on anything besides finding him. My heart thudded in my chest, my lungs inhaled faster than I could exhale and I almost wanted to scream at how close I was to seeing Leroy again.

And as I stood, my eyes moving with purpose so that I was sure that I wouldn't miss anything, a voice that I'd become so familiar with purred from behind me. I could feel his presence, I could feel an electric hum settling around me, a result of my heart working in overtime.

"Hello Ellie."



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