A/N: Hey, everyone, I know it’s been months, but I’m back now and I have a bunch of chapters ready for you! And since it’s been so long, I went and re-read the previous chapters so you don’t have to. Here’s a quick summary of past events:
Teenage Etta’s got a job at a café, partly for the experience, partly to help out with finances, because she felt bad her dad worked so much. And it was somewhat justified, since her father had an exhaustion collapse shortly after that. Etta’s brother Amon got dumped out of nowhere and he decided to get over it by hooking up with as many girls as humanly possible. Together with his best friend Dante Lothario, they are known as the biggest womanizers in school. And it complicates things, because, of course, Etta has had a crush on Dante since he started taking music lessons at their house. In the last chapter, Etta had a huge argument with both her brothers and she was also invited to Dante’s party.
I hope that helped refresh your memory a bit! Enjoy!
Etta was freaking out. She stared at her reflection in the mirror and she didn’t know how to calm the chaos in her mind. How on earth was she supposed to face Dante, the most gorgeous, radiant, stunning guy in the world, while wearing only a bikini? She had no clue how to gain enough confidence for that.
And she still suspected her sister forgot to mention the party was a pool party on purpose.
Etta rolled her eyes and tried to focus, but her stomach was making backflips at the mere thought of the party. With Tori’s help, she somehow managed the preparations, but she barely remebered it afterwards. It was like she fell into some kind of a trance.
And it didn’t get better when they got there. Quite the opposite.
Etta noticed the swimsuits – especially on pretty cheerleaders who constantly followed Dante around and stared at him with dreamy eyes.
‘I don’t blame them,’ she thought to herself with a light heart but it quickly sank when she realized she never talked to any of the cool kids there. Once again, she felt totally out of her element. She couldn’t think of anything fun or interesting to say as they mingled, so she stayed stubbornly quiet and followed Tori around like a lost puppy.
Stella really was nice. And talkative. And Etta was starting to feel less tense as she talked to her about swimming and movie adaptations and summer plans.
Unfortunately, Etta’s fragile bubble of safety quickly burst, when someone else desired Stella’s company and called her name. The girl apologized and left and the silence she left behind was deafening.
Etta slowly sat back, a small smile she offered Stella still lingered on her lips as she looked around. She didn’t know any of the people around her and she suddenly felt awkward and intrusive just sitting there listening to their conversations, even though they seemed to be paying no attention to her.
As she leaned against the hot tub shell, she realized she was sitting next to a quite attractive, athletic guy.
And he was looking right at her! It immediately made her self-concious and even more nervous than before. Afraid she’d embarrass herself, she chose to stay still and queit.
But the boy noticed the quick glance she threw his way. He smiled confidently as he took his eyes off of her and then he spoke to her nonchalantly.
Etta’s stomach jumped and all the blood in her body rushed to her cheeks as everyone in the jacuzzi laughed. She froze, unable to find an acceptable response to his remark and after a few mortifying seconds of absolute silence, she decided to leave. Fast.
Determined to find her sister, she roamed the garden, only to spot Tori dancing her butt off on a dance floor, while another girl cheered her on.
She didn’t want to ruin her big moment, so she headed for a bar, instead.
Unfortunately, Carlie Fyres was hanging around there, too.
Carlie sputtered and scowled angrily.
Etta didn’t like it, she didn’t like it one bit, but she knew Carlie. Last thing she needed was to fight with her and make a scene. And Carlie was notorious for causing the loudest, most dramatic scenes on any occassion.
She took the drink and sat on a sofa next to Carlie. She knew her cousin wouldn’t let go once she set her mind to something. They kinda had that in common.
Etta sighed and drank the stupid cocktail while Carlie watched – it wasn’t bad, but Etta didn’t like it. She was dissapointed and upset and hurt and just wanted to leave already.
As soon as she finished the drink, Carlie stood with a triumphant smile on her face.
And then, thankfully, she walked away. Etta didn’t understand what was Carlie’s problem – why would someone do such a thing? Her preference for non-alcoholic beverages was not interfering with Carlie’s drinking in any way.
Confused and bothered, Etta had enough of the party. She decided to hide inside until Tori was ready to leave.
She walked into the house only to find herself right in the kitchen. And without even thinking about it, she decided to prepare something to eat. It was her favourite thing to do to pass the time and she had barely eaten that day.
Pancakes were half way ready when his voice interrupted her.
Dante was standing right there, looking confused but dashing in his tight shirt and curious smile on his lips.
Etta stopped when she felt her breath shorten and tears building up in her eyes as emotions took over her. Maybe it was alcohol, maybe it was just too much for her, but she knew that if she spoke one more word about any of it, she’d totally lose it. And she was definitely not going to cry in front of him.
Dante had to have noticed the fragile tone in her voice because he let it go.
Etta shrugged and lightened up a bit.
Dante smiled and she returned the smile shyly, pretty sure she gushed too much and too enthusiastically.
He took a step forward and reached for her, his eyes intense and gentle before he closed them and pressed his lips against hers.
Etta was sure she was dreaming. It wouldn’t be the first time – but this was so much better than those dreams. She could hardly believe it.
She took a deep breath and to avoid awkward silence, she grabbed the plate from the counter and smiled.