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   Chapter 17 It's Not the Same as Riding a Bike

Cuddle Application By Anna Rae Characters: 19327

Updated: 2018-01-10 14:43


"I bet you didn't see that coming."

~Me, after I rapped the entire Baby Got Back song at a Halloween party last weekend

~~~

"Oliver."

The word tumbles from my lips like six fallen marbles crashing onto the wood floor. My eyes are as big as planets, my cheeks two suns, hot and flushed. His presence has all but taken my breath away. I push my brain to comprehend the situation, but it's too occupied with the topic of kissing. Kissing Park. Kissing Oliver.

Heck, I might as well go out and plant giant smooches on stranger's lips while I'm at it.

I shake my head lightly, trying to knock away the clutter inside. My eyes focus back on Oliver, who gives me somewhat of a suspicious look. I barely notice Cora beside him, who's looking at me as if I've lost both my mind and the ability to speak - which I have.

I blink and look back to Oliver.

In his regular fashion, he's dressed in a white band tee, "The Hush Sound" printed in big block letters out front. I suddenly have the urge to make him show me all of these bands; make me listen to the music he portrays on his chest in such an espousing way.

My heart pulses with conflicting emotions.

Oliver's face carries an ever-present smirk as he lightly licks his bottom lip, widens his mouth into a full on grin, and yells, "Daddy's home."

And it only goes downhill from there.

~~~

While Oliver unpacks - he's staying in the room on the top floor, the one Cora, Lina and I used to share - I go looking for Park. He's not under the stairs, not in the kitchen. I open every door in the house, which takes a good amount of time considering all the rooms, but no Park.

I pass Lina in the second floor hallway, nose buried in her phone.

"Lina!" I say. She looks up, mutters a, "Yeah?" and resumes texting.

"Have you seen Park?" I lean against a glass door leading out to the balcony above the garage. "I've looked everywhere."

She taps her thumbs against her phone screen, rapidly, before mumbling, "Uh... yeah... he said something about-" type, type, type, type "-about taking on of the jet skis out."

I stare at my best friend and raise my brows. "Okay, " I say, drawing the word out questioningly. When she still doesn't look up, I yank the phone from her hands. "Lina, what are you doing?"

She gives me a wide-eyed look. "Skylar! Give it back!" I hold the phone above my head and she jumps for it, or rather tries to, but I have a whole four inches on the girl.

She stops jumping and stomps a foot. "I'm trying to throw the best party this town's ever seen, okay? Now, please, phone."

I chuckle. Yeah, tonight was going to be a rager.

"Here, phone addict, " I say, handing it back and heading for the stairs.

Park, come out, come out, wherever you are.

I race down the steps, through the hallways and kitchen and out onto the back porch. It's a long, expansive deck that borders an infinity pool that drops water into a smaller pool below. Further down the hill is the massive dock that houses the speedboat, pontoon, and half a dozen jet skis. I slide on my flip flops that sit next to the sliding glass door.

"Hey, Sky, " Cora yells. Her and Brandon lounge on the large cushion that sits by the pool. She waves a manicured hand and I walk over. "Where's Oliver?"

Where's Oliver? Where's Park? It seemed I couldn't keep track of anyone.

"Uh, " I start. "Last time I checked he was unpacking?"

Cora narrows her brows from beneath large sunglasses. "Why does it sound like you don't want him here? I thought you liked him."

I sigh. "I do like him, Cora. It's just... complicated."

She pushes her sunglasses further up her nose and lets her head drop back onto the cushion. "So un-complicate it."

Working on it.

I head down to the dock and wonder what I'm even trying to do. It feels like I need to talk to Park - but to say what?

Sorry I let you kiss me. Sorry I sort of kissed you back. Sorry I don't really feel that way about you. Sorry I have no real idea how I feel.

I guess I'd always known how Park felt about me, I'd just chosen to deny it. That wasn't to say I knew it all - I certainly didn't know how much he liked me or for how long. I suspected it was a fairly new development brought on by boredom and lack of other interesting conquests.

The smooth wood of the dock was warm beneath my bare feet. I counted the jet skis and noted that one was missing.

Park could be gone for five minutes or two hours. It was always hard to gauge when he was upset, so I didn't know if he was out trying to clear his head or just out for a leisurely ride.

"Skylar."

I jump in response to the voice behind me. Turning, I notice Oliver sliding smoothly down the steps and onto the dock.

"Oliver, " I respond.

He walks until we're a few steps apart, what feels like a world and a million unspoken conversations between us.

"Wanna do something adventurous?" He asks.

I suddenly realize that that's what makes Oliver so different and intriguing. He never started with, "Hello, how are you?" or any other formalities. He said what he wanted to say and didn't always care if the answer was, "No."

I can't help but smile. "What kind of adventure?"

A sly smile stretches across his face. "A dirty one."

The wind tousles his messy hair. He's still wearing his band tee, but he's changed from shorts to blue swim trunks.

"But it involves a jet ski, " Oliver continues, "so please tell me you know how to ride one."

"Ride one, or drive one?" I ask to clarify.

"Good. You sound cocky enough that the answer is both." He steps up to the nearest jet ski, a fire red one that Park calls, "Ginger." Untying it from the dock and hopping onto the cushioned seat, he turns the key and revs it. Smiling, he comments, "Just like r

rst time I mentioned it, whispering the possibility to Cora's mother the morning after a sleepover. I received a slap across the face for such a "suggestion, " and wasn't allowed to see Cora for a month. I did see her at school, though, and couldn't help but feel responsible for the bruises around her wrists. I didn't make such "suggestions" anymore.

I wander through the crowded house, surprised at how many unfamiliar faces I saw. Not a single person looked in any way familiar.

Maybe they go to a different school.

I still feel slightly disoriented as I push my way into the kitchen. It's even fuller than the living room, kids lining the walls and dancing on the island counter. Booze covers a table against the wall and kegs sit on the floor, surrounded by people. One girl's lifted into the air and flipped upside down, and she chugs from the keg, unfazed.

"Skylar!" A drunken voice greets me. Cora crashes into my chest, blonde hair flying. "I'm so glad you could make it!"

"Yeah, " I mutter, patting her on the back. "I drove all the way out for this one."

She smiles widely and kisses me on both cheeks before skipping back to where her boyfriend leans against the fridge. He hands her back her drink and she downs it in a few chugs.

"Skylar!" comes Lina's voice from my right. A beer is pushed into my hand. "Drink! No more sleeping the day away!"

The music gets even louder as someone turns up the speakers.

This is possibly the last place I want to be, I realize.

"Jessica, honey - I'm gonna need you to chill for like four fuckin' seconds, " comes a loud voice from the living room. Something shatters and no one else in the kitchen seems to notice. I set down my unopened beer and rush down the hallway.

Two girls stand with their hands in the other's hair, pulling. They scream insults, scratching and tumbling across the carpet. A chant erupts throughout the crowd - a loud, "Fight! Fight! Fight!" - and fists start to swing.

"What the hell-" I start to say, before my arm is tugged and I'm pulled backwards out of the crowd.

"I need to talk to you, " Park says, eyes dark and serious to match his unamused frown.

"Park, where have you been all day?" I ask first. "And why is that girl so pissed at Jessica?"

"Out, " Park answers simply. "And Jessica slept with her boyfriend." He pulls me quickly out of the living room and down another hallway, pushing passed rows of bellowing kids and red solo cups. I turn back to the crowd, my arm still stuck in Park's hold, and wonder if this whole crazy thing is all a dream. What kind of party is this, I wonder as we stop in front of the door that leads to the garage.

"Park, what are you doing?"

He opens the door, double checks to make sure no one's inside, and pulls me in after him. My eyes struggle to adjust to the darkness, and everything goes black as he slams the door shut behind us.

"Park, the party's inside, " I say as he searches the wall for the light switch. He clicks it on and the room appears. It's empty, just six unmarked slabs of concrete with a garage door on the opposite wall.

"Skylar, " he says shortly.

I run a hand through my hair. He's about to talk about our kiss, I can feel it. "If you want to pretend it never happened, that's fine with me. Things are a little complicated right now, and I'm not sure why it happened, but -"

He holds his hands out, stopping me. "Skylar, this isn't about-" he pauses. He can't say it. "-that. Well it is, but it isn't. Like it sort of relates, but it's not why I'm telling you this-"

"Park, " I interrupt. What's with the blabbering? I'm becoming slowly concerned. "What are you trying to say?"

He takes a deep breath, licks is bottom lip just once, and says it. Eyes wide, voice shaking slightly, he confesses, "Oliver is lying to you. Your relationship is fake."

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