Chapter 6: Twenty-One Days Left

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She wasn't going to hide from me anymore. It'd been ten days since she actually let me in, and not just into her home. Meeting her family had been an eye-opener, and part of me marveled at the fact that she hadn't shut me out. That she hadn't hid her siblings from me, or the fact that she was taking care of them. We hadn't talked about her parents, but no one seemed inclined to divulge that information. We had about eighteen more days before Willow's party, but Lani still hadn't fully opened up to me. She was still a mystery to me. Given, I hadn't told her much about myself besides the boring obvious stuff. What my major was (business management), where I grew up (Los Angeles), what my parents did for a living (my father owned Hayes Incorporated, my mother was a stay at home mom) and if I had any siblings (four younger siblings). Unfortunately, the only things I got out of Lani so far were what her major was (Master's Degree in Art History, with a concentration in Medieval and Renaissance Art History as well as a Master's in Museum Studies), when she'd moved to Niles, California (about four years ago) and how she'd met Willow. That was definitely an interesting story.

Apparently, Willow had rescued Lani when they were in 5th grade from a bunch of bullies. Claiming Lani was her new best friend seemed to work as a good tactic to scare off the bullies because no one wanted to be on Willow's bad side. They'd been inseparable ever since. It amazed me—but made me very glad—that Willow had stuck up for Lani. But Willow wasn't like the normal girls at the 'top of the food chain'. She actually seemed to care. I could tell that they were as close as sisters, but something was going on. The few times that I had been over at their apartment since that first day and Willow came in they'd barely spoken to each other. In fact, besides the first day of initial shock from Willow about me hanging around, they hadn't spoken to each other at all.

I wanted to find out what was going on, but I wasn't sure if it was my place yet. I knew that Lani and I were a lot closer than I thought we would be, but did that constitute me sticking my nose in their fight? All I wanted to do though was help Lani. To make sure that she understood I was here for her, and that she could tell me anything.

"Hey beautiful." I smiled widely at her. Lani had seemed to have gotten a little more accustomed to me calling her that and escorting her to each of her classes. She'd even agreed to wait for me if mine ran late.

"Morning Xavier." She sighed and shook her head at me, but she was smiling the whole time. That was one of the reasons why I said it every day. She deserved someone who told her that, and I wanted to be that person. I wanted her to know that she was more than she thought she was. And that I wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. I just...hadn't gotten to that last part of the plan yet. I knew, though, that it was going to take a little more time to get there. Lani was a private person, but it seemed that she was letting me in. Slowly, perhaps, but she was still letting me in. And I would take whatever I could get, because being with Lani was like letting the sunlight in. Finding all the dark corners and crevices and shining bright light onto them.

I just hoped that she realized that I had already let her in completely. And I already didn't want to let her go.

"I brought lunch for us." I tell her now, smiling wider as I grab her back pack again while showing her our packed brown bags. It wasn't anything hugely romantic, but with Lani, every little thing counted. She smiled at me, seeming genuinely excited as she eyed the brown bags.

"You know how to make your own lunch?" she asked in a mocking tone, but winked at me. "I'm honored you'd learn just to prove to me you're not as useless as I thought you were." She laughed at me and I felt it throughout my body, as if bringing everything to life within me again. I smiled at her and laughed.

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