38. Bailey

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"Happy birthday!" Abby yells as she bursts into my room with a dozen balloons in her hands.

"Ugh. What the fuck?" I hear Kelly groan from across the room.

Abby rolls her eyes but doesn't take her attention away from me. "Wake up, sleeping head! It's time to party!"

I look at the clock. "Abby, it's eight in the morning."

"I know, I know, but I have class all day and then have to work tonight, so I won't see you!"

I sit up in bed and take the balloon strings. "Thank you. You always know how to make a girl feel special."

She sits next to me. "So what are your plans today?"

"Well, I have classes starting at ten, and then Evan has something special planned tonight."

"Aww. You've got the sweetest boyfriend ever. I think you picked a good one."

I nudge her with my shoulder. "I think so too."

Abby eventually leaves for class, and I let go of the balloons, they hit the ceiling and scatter along it while I fall back into bed.

The day passes as most Wednesdays do. I go to class until two, and then do homework. I'm getting messages on all forms of social media from friends from high school and college, and from people that I haven't seen in years. That is always one of my favorite parts of my birthday--being reminded of everyone I've come across in my nineteen years on earth.

At exactly 4:15, I call Ian. This is our first birthday without each other, so I told him I would call him at our exact time of birth. Well technically, it was when he was born. I was five minutes later. I hope this can be our tradition every year from now on. Ian seems less enthused.

"Hey, twin," he answers the phone. We used to always call each other that when we were kids. He must be feeling nostalgic.

"Hi, twin," I answer back. "What are you doing today?"

"Some of the guys and I are going to a club. I haven't been there yet, but apparently they don't card. Should be a good time."

"I thought you'd be heading to a biker convention or something," I tease. He brings up that damn motorcycle every time we talk.

"Ha-ha."

I become serious. "Ian, be careful tonight. Don't drink too much."

I can actually hear his eyes rolling through the phone. "I won't. What are you doing today?"

"Going out with Evan."

"Boooring," Ian teases. "It is still weird to me that you have a boyfriend that I've never met."

"I know. It's weird for me too," I pause. "Have you talked to Mom and Dad yet? I'm heading there this weekend."

"Yeah, they told me you were coming. I bet you love being that close."

"Actually, it might surprise you, but this is only my second trip back since school started."

I don't blame him for thinking that. I thought I'd be home at least every other weekend before I got here. Once I found my own group of friends, and Evan, I realized that I didn't want to leave.

There is an awkward silence between Ian and I, which I hate. I've noticed that the longer we go without seeing each other, the shorter our conversations are. I don't like the distance that's building between us.

"Nick said hi, by the way."

"Oh, okay. Tell him I said hi when you talk to him next." I'm sure Ian was just being nice. I highly doubt Nick brought me up to him.

"Sure will. Well, I gotta go, Bai, but I'll talk to you later. Happy birthday, sis."

"Happy birthday," I say before I hear the line go dead.

I begin getting ready for dinner, trying not to think about the sadness I feel about my distance from Ian. I put on a dress that Abby and I found at Goodwill last week. It's black with elbow length sleeves and reaches my knees, but it fits me like a glove. It's not something I ever would have worn before I met Abby, and I love it.

I'm curling my hair when I hear my text message alert. It's probably Evan telling me he's on his way. I hurry up and finish what I'm doing before reaching my phone. When I see who the message is from, my heart stops.

Nick: Happy birthday, Bailey

Holy shit. We haven't had any contact in over three months, since the morning after the blackout. I throw my phone onto my bed like it's on fire. I don't know what to do, or what to say. Do I ignore him?

I should definitely ignore him. After Evan and I became "official", I put my picture of him at graduation in my drawer and have refused to look at it since. I'm starting to heal. I've stopped thinking about him constantly.

But, even if it was only for a moment, he was thinking about me today.

I feel ridiculous about caring so much when I hear on a knock on my door. I find Evan, my wonderful boyfriend, in a suit, and a bouquet of roses, my favorite flower. "Happy birthday, Bailey."

I take the flowers and hug him, before giving him a deep kiss on the lips, trying to get that text message out of head. I'm disappointed in myself by how I'm reacting to it. "Thank you."

I grab my purse and phone and follow Evan to his car. He brings me to the nicest restaurant in town. After the outrageously overpriced meal, he gives me my gift. I thought the meal was the gift.

I open the plain envelope and find a gift certificate for sky diving. My eyes go wide. I had mentioned a few weeks ago that it was something I'd want to do, but we hadn't talked about it since. Evan remembered.

"Evan! I love it! Oh my God!" I jump out of seat to sit on his lap, pulling him into a hug. I ignore the looks the other patrons are giving us.

He laughs before giving me a quick kiss. "You're welcome. I'm glad you like it. We go in a few weeks."

We spend the rest of the evening together at his house, mostly making out in his bedroom. I don't get home until after midnight.

As I lay down in bed, I turn and look at my phone one more time. I take a deep breath. Despite the great evening, I haven't forgotten.

Me: Thank you, Nick

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