The sun was bright as a florescent lemon as it blazed down, almost blinding me. I tapped my foot trying to think of what to do.
Jordan sat down on the curb, and strummed his guitar absently.
He didn’t seem to be worried, but I was terrified. I’m just a girl, who’s never really been on her own. College was supposed to be a form of “cutting the cord” from my parents, but they paid for everything and called to check in neurotically. I was basically chauffeured and sheltered my entire life.
My mother warned me about boys like Jordan. They were off limits, often described as delinquents. She would freak out if she knew I was stuck in the middle of nowhere with some deviant.
“…And girl, you’ll be a woman soon…” A sultry-raspy voice sang.
I turned slightly, and Jordan looked up at me as he continued to strum. I just stared. If Jordan was a delinquent, no wonder Mom worried. His fingers touched the guitar so gingerly; his mouth was a work of art as he sang. Somewhere deep down I wanted this; to be free; to be lost; to not know. I was stranded with a complete stranger. They make horror movies about this stuff, but then again, they also make porno films about it. I smirked at the thought, and I guess I was still staring.
“See something you like?” Jordan asked, a smile playing at his lips.
I cocked my head to the side and folded my arms.
“You sound pretty good.”
“A compliment?” he asked, and I remembered my cold shoulder that was rapidly heating up.
“Don’t get used to it,” I stiffened.
Jordan laughed quietly and put his guitar back in its case.
“So, what do we do?”
“Well, considering you’re broke…I guess you’re stuck,” Jordan said as he stood up.
He stretched his arms over his head, his tank top lifting as he did so. I noticed another tattoo just above his jeans. It was some kind of Celtic symbol. Jordan packed up his guitar and started to walk away with his things. My eyes widened at the realization that he would leave me deserted.
“You’re just going to leave me here?!”
My voice was high-pitched and whiny, which I hated myself for sounding. Jordan turned slightly.
“Relax, sweetie. I’ll help you as much as I can, but what are you going to do for me?”
He raised an eyebrow and my mouth just gaped open. How do I answer that?
“I’ll repay you with interest,” I decided.
Jordan rolled his eyes, “Don’t worry about it. Come on.”
He waved me on and I followed, letting out a breath of air.
Call it naiveté, but I was worried he wanted some other form of repayment, or maybe I hoped. What did my boring life subject me to? Here I am hoping for someone to want my body in exchange for a favor.
Then again, it isn’t just someone…it’s him.
“Maybe I should just call my parents…” I stuttered, clumsily walking over the gravelly road behind him.
Jordan turned toward me and pushed his hair back; my knees buckled just a bit.
“There’s a payphone,” he pointed.
I must have made a face because he rolled his eyes.
“Sorry princess, I don’t believe in cell phones. You’re going to have to put that germ infested phone against your pretty little ear.”
I placed my hand on my hip, and rolled my eyes before starting toward the public telephone.
“Who doesn’t have a cell phone nowadays?” I mumbled as I heard Jordan following me.
Stepping up to the telephone, I took a deep breath. Jordan leaned against the metal casing around the phone and held a quarter out to me. As I picked up the receiver, I imagined what my parents would say.
“Don’t talk to strangers!” Mom would squeak.
“We’ll send a car for you. Don’t go anywhere with that boy,”
Dad would insist.
Then the lectures would start about how careless I was to lose my wallet and my phone and get on the wrong bus!
“They’ll think I’m an idiot,” I sighed aloud.
I looked over at Jordan.
“I mean, don’t you?”
“Idiot wouldn’t be the word I’d use.”
Jordan smirked; an expression of his I was becoming familiar with. I ignored his comment.
“They’re already over-protective,” I explained.
“Don’t tell them,” he shrugged.
“And where should I say I am? I’m supposed to be home in two hours,” I laughed.
“Change of plans?” he flashed a smile and winked.
Why is it men look so damn good when they wink? It’s such an old-fashioned, cheesy gesture, yet it’s still so sexy when the right person does it.
I put the quarter into the slot and dialed a phone number I was lucky I remembered. Nowadays, I barely knew anyone’s number since everything was programmed into my cell phone, which I’m probably never getting back. It wasn’t like I had any important information programmed into my phone, though.
“Tasha Torres, dancer extraordinaire at your service,” she piped through the receiver.
“Haley? What number are you calling from?”
“A payphone. Long story, but I’m stranded in…”
I pulled my mouth away from the receiver and scrunched my nose at Jordan.
“Where are we again?”
I relayed the city to Tasha.
“Where the hell is that?”
“Uh, Rhode Island, I think.”
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah. Well, no –I’m broke. My wallet and phone are gone. I don’t want to call my parents. I rather just get home on my own, and tell them my bus is delayed or something.”
“You really don’t want to risk them sending Christian, do you?” Tasha laughed.
“You know they will!” I laughed as well.
“I can wire you money.”
“Really?” I asked, trying not to sound too desperate.
“Of course. I’ve got your back, don’t worry. I just hate that you’re all alone in Rhode Island,” Tasha said with disgust.
“Well, I’m not exactly alone,” I glanced up at Jordan for a nanosecond, and then back down before I could even meet his eyes. I’m sure he was smirking at me, though.
“I met this guy on the bus–”
“Is he hot?” Tasha asked with excitement.
“Uh, maybe,” I answered, blushing furiously.
“Is he standing right next to you?”
“Yes,” I blushed even more.
I felt like Tasha could see my red cheeks through the phone. Jordan could see them for sure.
“Look, if your friend wants to talk to me, fine,” Jordan said before snatching the receiver out of my hand before I could object.
Jordan began to talk to Tasha and I watched him, curiously. He answered questions about himself and about ten minutes later, he was laughing before he handed the phone back to me.
“Hay, he sounds totally cute!” Tasha gushed, “His voice is sexy. Does he look the way he sounds?”
“I definitely approve of this little road trip. He passed my personality test. Go make out with him!”
“Tasha…” I laughed.
When I hung up the phone, Jordan was smirking at me still.
“What were you saying about me?”
“Nothing,” I shrugged and began walking to the bench at the rest stop.
Jordan followed behind.
“So, what now?” he asked sitting down next to me.
Jordan told me he was headed to New York City for a battle of the bands competition tomorrow night. I wasn’t surprised he was in a band. The guitar and the crooning ability tipped me off a bit, not to mention the tattoos and bad ass attitude. His face lit up when he talked about his music. Despite his laid back nature, he was all business when it came to his band. He reminded me of Tasha when she talked about dancing. I want what they have badly. To do something that makes me feel so alive, so free; something where I can be me without any consequences.
I snapped out of my own world and smiled at him.
“What?” he asked.
“I’m just surprised.”
“About my band?”
“About you,” I gulped, “I presumed you were someone who–”
“Was a slacker?”
“Join the club,” Jordan said taking a cigarette out of his pocket and lighting it up.
“That’s a disgusting habit.”
I was especially repulsed since Tasha wanted me to make out with him.
“Deal with it, Mom,” he blew out a puff of smoke close to my face and I coughed.
About an hour later, Jordan and I were in a cab to the nearest Greyhound station. Tasha had wired the money through Western Union down the block from the rest stop. To my astonishment, she wired way more money than I needed to get home. It was practically enough to buy a new car. I didn’t quite understand why she sent that much until we were in the cab. Jordan and I were quiet on the ride to the bus station; probably since we were practically strangers, and weren’t sure how much we wanted to know one another.
Tasha had left a note with the money and I took the silence as an opportunity to read it.
I’m sure you’d only need $100 to get home, but in case you change your mind, here’s some of my savings. I don’t need you to pay me back. I have more than enough money. What I really want you to do with it is take that summer adventure you want to happen but always say it won’t. Make it happen, Haley! Your parents will get over it. Keep in touch and be careful.
P.S. Take pictures!
Tasha wants me to run away for the summer with her money! Her savings account probably had over a million dollars by now. Her parents add to it every month and Tasha is not someone who lives above her means. In fact, she lives quite modestly for someone of her wealth. Her father is a well-known corporate mogul and her mother was the owner of a high-end boutique in Los Angeles. They lived bi-coastal, but Tasha insisted on remaining on the East Coast all year long.
I thought about what Tasha wanted me to do once more. I glanced over at Jordan and imagined myself bumming around New York City with him and his band. It certainly would be unpredictable of me. Who’s to say Jordan wants me around, though? We could always go our separate ways once we’re in New York. I could shop and see some Broadway shows. I even have a friend or two on the Upper East Side. Then again, I wouldn’t call Leslie and Bippy friends. They reminded me of Blaire Waldorf in Gossip Girl only meaner and richer.
Tagging along with the upper class snobs is surely not how Tasha would want me to spend my summer or her money. I once again looked at Jordan and, this time, he looked over at me.
“Did your friend give you enough money to get home?”
“Oh yeah,” I nodded.
“Must be nice having rich friends,” Jordan smirked.
“Tasha isn’t just another rich girl. She’s so unlike anyone I know,” I explained. “She doesn’t think I should go home this summer.”
“What’s waiting for you back home?”
“My parents and an internship at my father’s law firm.”
“You’re going to be a lawyer?” Jordan practically laughed.
“I’m being polished to become one, yes.”
“Following in Daddy’s footsteps? How noble,” Jordan said picking at the ripped leather of the seat in front of him. “What did the note say?”
“Tasha wants me to go to New York and have fun this summer.”
“Are you going to do that?” Jordan asked me.
I glanced down at the note, and back up at him before shaking my head.
“No, my parents would flip out.”
“You wouldn’t want to upset them, right?” he antagonized me.
I just smiled, “You think you know me so well…”
“Prove me wrong then. Come to New York with me, and see what the world is really like.”
I just stared at Jordan and didn’t say anything.
“I dare you, Haley.”
“You dare me?” I laughed. “Do you triple dog dare me?”
I’ll admit I like being challenged. It gave me a sense of adventure.
“Yeah, I do.”
“Fine, I’m going to New York.”
“We’ll see,” Jordan said as the cab pulled up to the Greyhound station. “There’s still time to back out.”
Jordan stepped out of the car and I followed quickly as he retrieved his things from the trunk. Now I was determined to prove this guy wrong about me. I don’t know why I cared at all, but Jordan’s stereotype of me gave me enough ambition to defy my parents for the first time in my life. With Tasha’s support behind me, I was channeling her inner free-spirit and decided my time was now.
I couldn’t help but think of The Goonies at a time like this. It was the one popular movie I watched as a kid; that is until my mother told me that kind of television would rot my brain. I was on a strict TV diet of PBS. People wonder why the sight of Big Bird still drives me insane to this day.
“You really think I won’t get on that bus with you?”
Jordan seemed amused as he shut the trunk and paid the driver.
“I don’t think you have the guts,” he said before walking toward the building.
“Goonies never say die,” I gritted under my breath as I quickly followed him.
We walked into the Greyhound station and my face twisted. This station was even grimier than the one in Boston. We both walked up to the window and purchased our tickets.
“Um, there’s a problem with your ticket,” Jordan said, folding it back a little. “It says New York.”
“Oh, there’s no problem,” I smirked.
“Come on, this has gone far enough,” he laughed. “What are you going to do in New York?”
I shrugged, “It’s the city that doesn’t sleep. I’m sure I can find something to do.”
“You’re going to hang around a busy city alone all summer?”
“Wait a minute,” I had to laugh at him. “Suddenly, you don’t think it’s a good idea?”
“I just don’t think it’s a smart idea.”
“Well, I have my ticket, so looks like New York City, here I come,” I grinned.
Jordan sighed, “I did not ask for extra baggage on this trip. I just want to play my music and be done,” he said as we walked to the line for our bus.
I had to admit I was offended by Jordan’s words. I was extra baggage?
“Listen, I am not your baggage. I don’t care what you do once we get to New York. Go off with your band and I’ll go my way.”
“Here’s the deal, Haley,” Jordan said. “I know if you go off on your own, you’ll wind up staying in a ritzy hotel and shop your summer away. Do you really think that’s the adventure Tasha wants you to have? You can do that in Fuckersfield, or wherever it is you’re from,” he waved his hand in the air.
I rolled my eyes at him and folded my arms.
“Okay, now you’re doing it because you’re annoyed, right?” he asked.
I quickly dropped my arms and huffed as he laughed.
“So, what do you want me to do?” I asked. “Stay in a dump motel and play the bongos in the subway?”
“Now, that’s an adventure,” he smiled.
“Ugh, you’re impossible,” I threw my hands in the air.
“Stick with me and I promise we’ll have an adventure every day.”
“I’m not going to sleep with you if that’s what you mean,” I said, looking at him with disgust.
“You wish,” Jordan pushed his hair back as he laughed. “Why don’t we treat this as a learning experiment? You see how I live and I see how you live.”
“After you just told me I was extra baggage? I don’t think so…”
“You have a better plan? Are you going to hit up some A-List clubs with Bippy Reynolds?” he rolled his eyes.
I looked at him funny.
“How do you know Bippy Reynolds?”
“I’ve seen her in some tabloid,” he shrugged. “I’m right, aren’t I? You know her?”
“Yeah, we’re acquaintances.”
Jordan laughed, “You are so predictable.”
“Shut the hell up already. I’m sick of you talking.”
I was beyond frustrated.
“Why is it the truth always hurts?” he asked. “You’re afraid you’re just like all the rest of the uptight snobs, aren’t you?”
I pretended to ignore him as he talked. He just kept moving closer to me until I could feel his breath on my cheek.
“Prove me wrong, Haley. Prove your parents wrong. I’ll be in New York for two weeks.”
I turned my head and looked him dead in the eyes.
“What do you get out of it?”
“The satisfaction of liberating a sheltered, rich girl is my reward,” he smiled.
“I can’t believe how much I hate you,” I shook my head at him.
The line began to move and we handed our tickets in. We didn’t speak to one another as we boarded the bus. We didn’t even speak once we were seated. My i-Pod had died on the last bus trip, and I was too tense to sleep. I wasn’t very good in enclosed spaces, either. Arguing with Jordan offered a huge distraction, but now he was quiet.
I grabbed my laptop out of my knapsack. I opened it and turned it on. I glanced over at Jordan, and his eyes were closing. My journal was open within minutes and I looked at the two lines I wrote this morning.
Another summer back in solitude, back where I’m invisible. I am just another girl who does what is expected of her.
I sighed before adding to the entry, finally pleased with something in my day. I wrote until the sky turned dark and my eyes began to hurt. Jordan woke up just as I was shutting my laptop. He looked at me from where he was slouched down. His posture at that moment was much different than mine. I was sitting with my back straight and tall against the seat, my hands folded in my lap.
“Relax, you’ll be fine,” he smirked.
“I know,” I nodded, trying to sound convincing.
The truth was: I was scared out of my mind. I was afraid I would get lost in New York. I was afraid of being robbed of all the cash Tasha sent me. I was afraid what my parents will say or do once they find out I’ve gone AWOL.
Most of all, I was afraid I would end up killing Jordan by the end of the day. I was still confused why I was allowing him to get to me, and yet I keep coming back for more.
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