Chapter 34

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Chapter 34

I continue to stare at my phone's home screen for a few more seconds and then press the green answer button hesitantly.

"Hello?" I say, pressing the phone up to my ear.

"Hey Nora, it's me. Asher."

"Oh hey Ash. What's up?" I reply, pretending that I wasn't expecting to hear his voice on the other end.

"I was wondering if you wanted to hang out," he asks, not bothering to mask the eagerness in his voice.

"Uh sure, when do you wanna hang out?" I ask him.

"Right now actually. If that's cool with you," he says.

I hear him clear his throat lightly and for a second I can't help but wonder if he's nervous. Did it take a lot of courage for him to call me? Now that was something I never would've thought could happen.

"Sure, sounds great! I'm actually still at school right now because I missed my bus. I was just about to call Lizzie and ask her for a ride but since we're going to be hanging out you might as well come and pick me up, right?" I say.

"Of course I'll pick you up! Stay where you are, I'll be right there at the front entrance!" He says and before I have a chance to thank him he hangs up.

I move my phone away from my ear and suppress a smile. It was such a relief to know that Asher and I could be friends again. I wonder what he has in mind for us to do.

When we were together, Asher always took me to this ice cream place called Twisty Treat on Friday nights. Both of us would have chocolate and vanilla swirl in waffle cones and after we were finished with our ice cream we would always ride on the carousel next door to the ice cream place. I remember one funny incident in particular, the summer between my freshmen and sophomore year, when there was only one seat left on the carousel and Asher took it from this screaming little kid. He had felt bad about stealing the poor kid's rightful seat so he decided to climb on the seat that I was on and he practically fell off in back of me once the carousel started up. The two of us were laughing hysterically by the end of that crazy ride and I almost peed my pants from how hard I was laughing. Thank God that didn't actually end up happening. That was the first time I had really been able to fully be myself around him and once that night had ended, I was no longer afraid to act crazy and a little out of the ordinary around him. I remember lying in bed that warm summer night in August, not being able to fall asleep because of how excited I was to see him again, so I could finally let my guard down around him. I no longer felt the need to act cool and calm around him whenever we hung out. He accepted me for who I really was and at the time, I was convinced that nobody else could ever make me feel so content and comfortable in my own skin. Now, all I wanted was to feel that way again when I was with him, even if it meant just being friends and nothing more.

A few minutes later, I spot a dark blue car ambling up the school parking lot entrance and sure enough, it pulls up to where I'm standing on the curb and I see Asher's face inside it as he rolls down the window.

"Hey, hop in!" He calls out to me, grinning from ear to ear.

I beam back at him and open the passenger side door, slipping into the seat beside him. I feel his eyes on me as I buckle my seatbelt and set my backpack down in between my knees.

"So, where do you wanna go?" He asks me, turning down the volume on the music playing from the radio.

"Anywhere is fine with me. Actually, do you want to stop by the beach?" I keenly suggest to him.

"Sure, great idea!" He exclaims, flicking a few of his dark curls out of his eyes and shooting me a bright, close mouthed smile.

I feel slightly timid all of a sudden as I awkwardly smile back at him. I watch his hand hover mid air for a moment, as if he might just place it delicately on my knee or something, but instead he places it quickly back on the steering and starts to drive again. I turn away from him a little and gaze out my window as we drive down the street in the direction of Daytona beach. It was stupid of me to think that he would actually try to touch me like that, liek we were together again. Even when we were together we never had moments like that, where he would just touch me innocently on the knee or the thigh, or even on the hand or my back. It was always Daniel who did that; those comforting, affectionate gestures that always gave me the chills.

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