Rule Number 18: Say It First

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Oh hey. Welcome to chapter 18. Enjoy. (And thank you to Little_Cupcakes for the banner ------>>>>)

Rule Number 18: If you love someone, man up and tell them. Make sure they know, even if they don't say anything at all. Don't wait for them to say it first. Not making it to the finish line is better than not making it to the starting line.

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I texted Eliza, asking her if I could come over, and twenty minutes later I was standing outside her bedroom, wondering what I could possibly say to her.It was like she, Carter, and I were in the middle of a turf battle and Eliza was my Helen of Troy. Oh hey, Eliza, wanna help me start WWIII with Carter? Yeah… right. This was going to be an interesting conversation.

I’d been seeing Eliza a lot over the past few days. The past few weeks, even. I could tell that a lot had changed between us. I hadn’t thought of her as ‘Carter’s sister’ for a long time, and I hadn’t thought of her as ‘that really really hot girl’ either. She was someone I could talk to. Someone I could flirt with and laugh with for hours on end. And wow, could she kiss.

In the way back of my mind, next to my pointless pre-calculus homework and 4th grade science projects, I remembered the conversation I had with Eliza in her basement after her date with Josh Daley. Okay, so maybe that conversation resonated with me more than the Water Cycle PowerPoint presentation I made when I was nine – even though I got a B on it. Anyways, I’d casually mentioned that I would go out with her if she wanted me too. She’d asked me if I meant it and I’d replied ‘no, not really,’ because at that moment, I would have picked Carter over Eliza. Now, as I stood outside her bedroom, I wasn’t sure who I would pick. I didn’t want to lose either one of them; I couldn’t imagine not being Carter’s bro in the future, and if I had to watch Eliza walk down the aisle towards some guy who can’t pull of a tuxedo half as well as I can, I’d probably kill myself.

"Hey," Eliza opened her door and shot me her special, exclusively-for-Nick-Maguire smile, causing a storm of butterflies to bombard my lower abdomen. By now, I was used to that excited, pleasurable sensation – I always felt like that around Eliza. It was awesome. I stepped inside her bright, cheery room, and tried not to laugh when I saw what she'd done to it. It looked like a hurricane had hit, followed by a stampede of elephants and four typhoons. There were chaotic piles of her clothes all over the floor, like she was trying to sort through them, and her drawing paper was everywhere: on top of the clothes, on her desk and scattered in miscellaneous corners of the room. All of it was very un-Eliza - she was one of the cleanest, most organized people I'd ever known.

I looked at her, taking in her appearance. She was wearing navy blue sweatpants and a pink, v-neck t-shirt. Even though it was 10:00 at night, when she hadn’t been expecting me to come over, she still looked like a supermodel. She shrugged and looked back at me, taking in my reaction. The only place for me to go was her giant, queen-sized bed, where she seemed to be set up with her favorite clipboard and some oil crayons. She moved to sit cross-legged on her yellow comforter and made room for me to sit next to her. I climbed onto her bed. "Are you redecorating or something?" I asked with a teasing grin; the kind I saved just for her

She bit back a sheepish smile. "I wanted to do a still life. Of my room being messy. My room's never messy," she paused, "And that's kind of the point of the drawing."

I switched up my position so I was leaning against the pale, yellow pillow at the end of her bed. Her back pressed against the wall behind her, and when I stretched my legs out, our knees were almost touching. "Nice. That's a cool idea.”

"I know, right?" She half-smirked and I winked back at her. Eliza let out her relaxed, genuine laugh and ran her fingers through her messy ponytail. My stomach surged. I loved that laugh. "Mrs. Davies, my art teacher, is trying to get us all to enter this showcase thing. I'm trying to practice my still life so it looks more like I tried, and less like I was having a seizure while I was doing it."

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