Paths - Chapter 20

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I tried to keep my cool as I sang in front of the mob of screaming girls. There were three different cameras taking in the "unplugged" show CHET was performing live. To the other lads, this was just another show, but they knew what was at stake. I imagined Taylor, lying on her bed in her room, attempting to be preoccupied as Libby watched our show. The purpose was to surround her with CHET. This way she would be forced to think about me. Libby tells me that she hasn't been herself since we broke up. She assumes that Taylor will crack. So to reach that goal, we booked a bunch of signings, shows, and interviews.

"So?!" Henry asked his girlfriend as she walked through the door. We decided to have a strategy meeting after our "unplugged" show.

"She glanced at the TV maybe twice?" Libby told us effortless.

"We need to get her there in the flesh," said Charlie, plotting from the chair. "We have to get them in the same room, otherwise she will just keep turning the other way."

"Well, how are we supposed to do that?" Libby questioned his plan.

"Easy, the Snowflake Charity Ball." He shrugged.

"But, we are performing at that one, Charlie." Henry tried to dismiss the idea. But, he caught on. "We are performing!"

"How will we get her there?" Timothy leaned against the wall, crossing his arms.

"Easy," Charlie smirked, accepting the challenge.



"Good morning roommate," Libby walked in with coffee and muffins for two.

"Good morning," I sit up in bed smiling at the treat she brings me. "What's this?"

"Breakfast for the best roommate a girl can ask for." She beams, handing me my coffee. However I hesitate.

"What's the catch?"

"Okay, fine." She takes down the fake front. "Well, there's this ball that some of the ballet dancers put on, they do it for their whole school, but since we can't have dances on campus, we have to do it downtown. Henry is busy tonight with an interview, so I will have to go solo, and I was curious if there was any chance I could beg my best friend to go?" She gave me a big smile after her speech. I considered it for a long time.

"Well, I guess it wouldn't hurt to go for a little while. What would I wear?" I take a bite of muffin in front of me. Blueberry, my favorite.

"You can borrow one of my old red carpet dresses that Cindy gave me." She squeals out of excitement.

After seven hours of Friday classes, then two hours of Libby prepping me for my first real social outing since the breakup, I walked with Libby to a car that was waiting outside.

"Libby?" I glance over at her confused, "Why were none of the other girls ready to go to the ball?"

"A lot of them come later." She explains easily to me.

"Oh," I nodded as if I understood, but the truth was, I couldn't figure out why everything felt so off. There was a piece of the puzzle that was missing. I tried to ignore the feelings that attempted to ruin Libby and my evening.

As we drove down the brick streets, I watched the snowflakes dance from the dark clouds above. There were children with marshmallow coats that swallowed them whole. They wobbled around creating small barriers in the snow. I drifted off into my thoughts. Mother was at the stove making hot chocolate for Jason and me as we sat in front of the television. Our eyes were big as we nibbled at our cookies in shapes of pine trees, candy canes, angels, and snowflakes. The channel 7 Christmas special was a tradition at my house. It featured: "Frosty the Snowman", "White Christmas", "Holiday Inn", and "It's a Wonderful Life". Mother would get in the habit of wearing ugly sweaters that embarrassed Jason and me, every time we were in public with her. The Christmas tree that towered over me, even at my age now, was always real, causing the whole house to smell like forest. The natural outdoors odor would always blend well with any holiday candle that she purchased at the Hallmark store.

My heart ached at these old memorable scenes. It was where I'd always been at this time of year. However, this year, they would have to go on without me. I hadn't made enough at the Cafe to buy a plane ticket home for Christmas.

When the car jolted to a stop, it pulled me back to reality.

"Let's go!" Libby excitedly pulled at my arm. So, I stepped out to the London winter night in a purple full length dress that was made of silk. Due to the fact that it was winter, I wore a black jacket, that a man helped me remove once we walked through the door. Watching him hang up my coat made me feel like this wasn't just a high school dance.

"Libby, are you sure we are in the right place?"

"Of course I am." She hooked arms with me, pulling me into the elegant looking ball. Above the stage hung a big sign saying, "Snowflake Charity Ball". However, that wasn't the first thing that caught my eye, or should I say ear? The angelic voice coming over the speakers was just beginning to sing, "All I want for Christmas is You". I slightly gasped and let my hand cover my mouth, as if to hold back my expression. I hated the drops of water that streamed down my face.

"You lied to me." I whipped around at Libby.

"You're welcome." She calmly nodded. As much as I wanted to be furious with Libby for deceiving me, I couldn't, because she just pushed me in the direction I always wanted to go, but I was too stubborn to go. So, I turned around slowly and made my way up to the stage. The dancing celebrities surrounding me didn't even look in my direction. That was okay though, because my attention was focused on Elliot who was taking the whole song as a solo while the other guys sang "Oo's" to back him up.

I finally caught his eye, changing his whole expression. I stood four feet from the stage's edge. Our eyes were locked through the entire song. When it was finished, he told the audience they would be having a quick break. With that the DJ played some more music, giving Elliot the right to come down from the stage. For a good amount of time, Elliot and I just looked at each other, not needing to say anything.

"I've never known love. I've never even known those feelings you get for a girl. The kind that gives you butterflies in your stomach, or make you want to kiss her every second of every day. Or the feeling when you're aware of every movement that the girl makes because you don't want to mess up anything, because you want to know everything you can about her... Taylor, I messed up. I was selfish and treated you as though you were an item. I feel horrible. Even though it's been a month since we broke up, I can't get you off my mind, because I still love you." I could hardly believe what I was hearing. I was stunned to silence. He anxiously glanced around before pleading me, "Say something, please?"

"I never stopped loving you either." I smiled, letting him quickly pull me in for a kiss. I felt as though he had said it all. I agreed with every word because I felt the same way about him.

He was the only one I wanted and needed.

And for a couple, that's all we needed.
Published: 8/13/2012
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