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   Chapter 5 What's the Number for 911

Cuddle Application By Anna Rae Characters: 16777

Updated: 2018-01-09 13:18


"A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for."

~William G.T. Shedd

~~~

"Molly bear, " I cooed, pulling back the long, silk curtain from the window and peeking behind it. The material was thick in my hand and a hiding space just small enough to fit a young girl. Nothing.

I walked across the plush, white carpet and glanced behind the couch. Nothing there, either. Hands on my hips, I surveyed the room. She wasn't in any of her normal hiding spots.

"I'm going to find you, Mol, " I said, tiptoeing on silent feet through the living room and into the kitchen. Walking around the island, I peeked into the large cabinet under the sink. An empty trash can, but no Molly. Every other cupboard was childproofed, so I skipped the kitchen and walked into the office room through an open archway, checking behind the big wooden desk.

Nothing.

"Come out, come out, wherever you are, " I sang, turning in a circle. Then I spotted a rainbow-striped sock jutting out from under the wooden dining table. I grinned. "Where, oh, where could my little Molly be?"

In a quick maneuver, I jumped down, grabbing her little feet and letting out a playful monster rawr. Molly squealed, delighted, her curly pigtails bobbing up and down from between the legs of the dining chairs. I laughed, watching her chubby face get closer to mine as she crawled towards me, finally resting her nose against mine. She got so close that the focus switched and her two eyes combined into one.

She giggled, "You have one eye, Sky!"

I laughed. She plopped into my lap, playing with the silver locket around my neck. My mother came into the kitchen, her black high heels clacking on the wood, the sweet aroma of her perfume trailing in behind her.

"Sky, " she started, her voice smooth and authoritative, "could you please stir the pasta while I go upstairs and change?"

My mother was a part time lawyer in a big law firm the next town over. She only worked half the week so she could stay home with my four-year-old sister, Molly, on her free days.

Today was a work day, so my mother was dressed in a tan woman's suit and straight hair that reached the small of her back.

"You look nice, mom, " I said with a smile. She looked up from her cooking and gave me one in return.

"Thanks, hon, I got this new suit and wasn't sure how it worked with the shoes." She moved her foot in a pair of brown, leather shoes so I could examine it.

"No, I think it works, " I replied, moving to take the wooden cooking spoon from her so she could go upstairs and change.

Mirroring my mom, my little sister, Molly, and older brother, James, got the "tall, dark, and handsome" genes. The odd one out, I got everything from my father's side - the same sloped nose and brown eyes framed with strong eyebrows. He was tall, and I didn't fall far behind, a good two inches taller than any of my friends.

As if on cue, my father entered the kitchen from the door to the basement, giving me a smile as he walked in. "Something smells good."

He worked in the same Law Enforcement field as my mother, employed as a cop in the surrounding area. All of my friends tended to steer clear of him because of this.

"How was your day, Sky Bird?" my dad asked, using the nickname he'd given to me as a baby.

"It was fine, " I said, thinking about how un-fine it had really been. I thought of telling him of the weird blind date, but knew he'd only want to hear the back story, and decided against it. "Nothing out of the ordinary."

"Oh, your life is so boring, " he groaned teasingly, leaning against the island countertop. "And, hey, have you seen your brother?"

I shook my head no, but he was most likely hanging out with his girlfriend. My brother, James, was a year older than I, and a senior at the same school I attended. When we were younger, he always ignored me or found ways to make me suffer with his endless pranks, but we'd grown a lot closer since starting high school. He was friends with Park and that was part of the reason Cora and I had gotten so close.

"He's probably with Ashley, " my father mused, drawing the same conclusion I had. "What do you think – should we make him come home for dinner?"

I stirred the pasta. "Nah, let them have their fun before they both graduate and drive half way across the world from each other."

The thought of my brother moving to college in three short months made me sad to think about, and I was glad when my dad changed the subject. "So you really have no interesting stories to share?" he prodded.

I laughed hesitantly, uneasy by how much he was asking, and drew a shape in the condensation that was building up on the microwave from the steam in the pot below. There was no way he could possibly know, but then why was he so curious? "Nope, " I said. "Nothing."

"You liar!" he said, throwing out an accusatory pointer finger and laughing. "You think I don't know?"

My heart rate sped up. He couldn't know – there was no way. I lifted the corner of my lips, trying to smile as a way to distract my father from whatever conclusion he'd discovered. However, maybe he being a cop allowed him access to special search engines, resulting in him finding my drunken profile.

I bit my lip nervously.

"Your SAT scores came in!" My dad finally exclaimed. "Did you honestly think I wouldn't find out?" I let out a sigh of relief. I'd totally forgotten the test scores had been released that morning. I'd been so distracted at school that I hadn't even bothered to look. "We'll have to look up what you got later and start looking at some college options." His brown eyes gleamed with hope. James was smart, so much so that he was going to graduate at the very top of his class. My parents had just as high hopes for me, and I didn't want to disappoint them.

"Yeah, for sure, " was all I said. Relieved that my impromptu date earlier that day was still a secret, I allowed myself to relax. "So what did you do today, Mr. Cop, Sir?" I asked my dad.

He went on to tell a story about a man in the jailhouse that didn't speak English and spent his days writing swearwords with his fecal matter on the floor of his cell. A lovely story, really. I continued helping with dinner, Molly crawled over and ended up in my father's arms, and eventually my mother came back down dressed more casually. We ate dinner and by the end of the night, I was cooped up on my bed, surrounded by blankets, and pulling out my homework.

My calculus was screaming to be completed, but the sound was pretty easy to ignore over the pinging of cell phone notifications. I unlocked my phone screen, met with an inbox full of seventy three messages. Rolling my eyes, I knew most of them were most likely my group chat with Cora and Lina.

I clicked the text box and read message after message of them asking questions about my date. Lina apologized for the deception and Cora decided that she, however, was not sorry for setting me up with "the delicious eye candy." And so it went on scroll after scroll. The most recent text read, "I think Skylar might be dead, " written by Cora. I began typing.

Me: I'm not dead

Cora: Thank GOD. Are you still being a lil hoe and being mad at us or are we good?

I thought about it. Yes, the day had been incredibly stressful, but at least it was over. Besides my short choking episode, no harm had been done and I really just wanted to forget the whole thing ever happened. I hadn't met Oliver prior to that day, and I probably would never see him again, so there was no point in dwelling on it.

Me: Ugh, I guess. But because of the emotional trauma you caused me today, I'm going to need you to send me the calculus homework, por favor.

After two years of taking high school Spanish, I was fluent. Fluent in saying "por favor, " at least.

Leaner: Yay! We are forgiven!

A picture popped up of Cora's math homework and I started copying it down, responding periodically while Cora and Lina talked. The sun had gone down and the moon casted an eerie glow through my window. I reached over to the nightstand next to my bed and switched on the radio, bobbing my head to the pop music that came on.

Cora and Lina wanted to know everything that had happened at Fran's – every word spoken, every slight pause, every intake of air. I gave the simplest of responses.

Cora: U

gh, Skylark, you're no fun. We want details!

I was in the middle of responding when my phone rang, the shrill ringing interrupting the Twenty One Pilots song that was playing. The screen went from a white text box to black, with green and red buttons, giving me the option to accept or decline the call. I didn't recognize the number right away.

"Hello, this is Sky."

Expecting a friend from school, or a prank call, or even a robotic voice calling about some sort of election, I was beyond surprised when a male voice spoke. "Oh, I'm sorry, " he said. "I think I have the wrong number. I'm calling for a girl named Sorry – know where I could reach her?"

Time stopped. I blinked once, twice, three times. My heart was beating in my chest, so hard I thought for sure it was going to hop right out of my ribcage.

"Hello?" came the voice from the speaker.

I pulled the phone away from my ear and threw it across my bed, the screen landing face down on my comforter. I took a sharp intake of breath and held it, not sure what to do. My eyes blinked to the left and to the right, not sure if this was real. My phone was five feet away already but that wasn't enough, so I tucked in my legs and slid until my back hit the headboard.

It was Oliver.

I finally exhaled.

But it couldn't be.

His name filled me with unexplainable terror and annoyance – a strange combination along with the thoughts swirling through my brain.

How was he calling me? How had he gotten my number and how – who – why was he calling?

What did he want?

I stared at the phone, listening to the blood pump through my ears. This had to be the work of Cora. She just couldn't help herself. She hated my boyfriend so much that she had to go to this length of setting me up with someone else.

Anger burrowed itself in my chest. I could make my own choices. I'd said I didn't want anyone else, especially not Oliver, and yet there he was on the other end of the phone.

I could hear a faint "hello?" on the other end of the phone, muted by my blankets. I bit a fingernail, trying to decide whether or not to answer. In the short time I had met Oliver, I already knew he wasn't the type of person to just go away. Ignoring him was not going to make him stop.

I sighed and allowed myself to inch forward, getting closer and closer to the phone until I was almost on top of it.

"Sorry, are you there?"

I picked up the phone in two pinched fingers, like it was a piece of smelly garbage. Finally, I took a deep breath and put it back up to my ear. "What?"

"Oh thank God, " Oliver exhaled. "I thought for sure you'd passed out from excitement."

I made a face. "What?"

"It wouldn't be the first time someone's fainted over the excitement of getting a call from yours truly."

My mouth fell open. I'd almost forgotten how cocky he was. I wasn't even sure what to say, but I was definitely starting to regret ever answering his call. "Why are you calling me? No, better yet, how are you calling me?"

There was a short laugh on the other end and Oliver took a deep breath before saying, "You see, Miss Short Bus, there are these things out now – you may be familiar with them – called cell phones. Now a cell phone –"

"I know what a cell phone is, " I snapped, blushing. "And my name is Skylar. Not Sorry, not Miss Short Bus, not anything – just Sky."

The phone was silent for a moment on the other end. I rubbed the bridge of my nose and closed my eyes. Boys in general were frustrating, but this one – this one was a flat out pain. Oliver didn't answer at first and I wondered if he'd hung up the phone at my little outburst. I hoped that was the case. Not everyone could handle the signature Skylar sass.

Then, much to my dismay, Oliver spoke. "Okay, I'm confused, is it Skylar or Just Sky, I don't know, you're giving a lot of options and I just want to be clear –"

I held back an angry scream that was threatening to burst through. "Okay, " I interrupted harshly. "I'm done. Goodbye, Oliver, please do not call me again –"

"No, no, " he said, sobering, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I got too carried away, and I actually did call for a reason, I promise. I'll answer whatever question you have, just please don't hang up."

I paused. I hadn't expected him to say that. Hearing him apologize was almost worth the torture – but not quite. "You're sorry?" I repeated questioningly.

"Yes, I'm sorry."

I bit my lip. Don't do it, Sky, don't do it. I paused. "I thought I was Sorry."

And then Oliver started laughing a laugh that crawled up my back and warmed my whole body. It started soft and slow, the kind of laugh you give to a knock knock joke, before it grew louder and stronger until he was laughing so hard that he must have taken the speaker away from his face to do it. I couldn't help but smile as he laughed and I had to remind myself to stop.

I had never before heard a laugh quite like his.

"Wow, " he said after he'd collected himself. "She does have a sense of humor."

The corner of my mouth turned up.

"Okay, back to the topic at hand, " Oliver said, "now that you've forgiven me. I'm calling to invite you to a party this weekend. Consider it our first date."

Just as quickly as my smile appeared, my mouth straightened back into a line. I sighed. "Oliver, I told you already, I have a –"

"Boyfriend?" he finished, stopping me. "So you've said, but just because there's a goalie in the net don't mean you can't score, baby doll."

I didn't even bother correcting him with my name. I tapped my bottom lip, deciding.

"What kind of party, " I asked slowly.

He chuckled. "The only kind kids our age go to." And that answered the question well enough for me. It'd be at a big house, the parents gone on some sort of vacation, booze stocked to the ceiling. Cora and Lina would kill me for turning down an invitation.

I debated. "Who's hosting it?"

"Another kid from Pemberson."

He'd said "another kid, " confirming my suspicion that he also attended the school rival to mine. I knew he didn't go to Helaci High, but before, I hadn't been certain he even lived in Helaci.

"Okay, " Oliver said after a pause. "You don't have to go with me. You can go those nice friends of yours, or even this mysterious boyfriend who's probably fake and probably from Canada." I was about to say something about the realism of Canadians when he spoke again. "Just come."

I debated. What could be so wrong about going to a party? I'd be with my friends, and maybe Josh would want to come. I wouldn't even have to speak to Oliver – wouldn't even see him if the party was like any of the other ones I had been to recently.

Take a risk, part of me was saying. Don't play it safe.

"It could be fun, " I said slowly. Oliver started cheering and I cut him off short. "But this isn't a date, and I'm not going with you. In fact, I will be avoiding you at all cost."

"That's alright, Princess, " he said. "I'll just have to break out my grade A Bear Level Boy Scout detective skills to find you."

"You won't, " I stated, confident in my skills of going unseen. "But in case you can't find me, I'll give you a clue: I'll be hiding behind a tall, attractive guy who's neither fake nor Canadian."

"It won't be very hard to find you if you're standing behind me, Baby Cakes."

I almost growled. Like an animal.

"Ha ha, " I deadpanned. "But I was actually talking about my – "

"Boyfriend, " he finished. "I'm aware. But even he can't ruin my good mood. See you Friday." And then he ended the call.

I immediately groaned. This time, it hadn't been Cora and Lina that got me into a mess with a boy named Oliver – this had been all me. I regretted agreeing to the party almost as soon as I lowered the phone from my ear. I'd gotten too caught up in challenging Oliver – too busy trying to prove I had someone else, that I walked blindly into the trap he'd set.

But maybe the situation wasn't all bad. The silver lining being that maybe Oliver could finally be knocked into place. Maybe if he saw Josh and me together he'd finally realize how hopeless it was to pursue me – for whatever strange reason he was doing it to begin with. All I knew was that I couldn't back out. I was going to end this once and for all, and there was only one way to do it.

Well, I thought, I guess I'm going to a party.

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