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When I'm GOne; Chapter 14
Chapter 14-August 14, 2001 (Claire)
I sighed and looked into my closet. I ran a finger over all of the shirts, trying to decide what to wear. I felt awkward in my sweats and tank; I kept running my hand up and down my bare shoulder.
“Would you stop fretting,” my brother complained as he flopped on my bed. I looked over at him and stuck out my tongue.
“Sorry,” I apologized. “I just don’t know what to wear. I mean, he said it wasn’t a date.”
“Hold up,” he interjected. “When a guy says it’s ‘not a date’, then he is just covering up for the fact that it is a date.”
“Really? Okay then.” I paused and sucked in a breath. “He said we will be going somewhere nice so I don’t know what to wear.”
“A dress?” Alex suggested as if it was obvious. I rolled my eyes and looked back in my closet. I found a black lace dress and pulled it out, holding it up to my body. Alex nodded his approval.
“I don’t know,” I muttered and turned to put it back on the rack. Alex grabbed it out of my hands and stepped away from me. I scowled at him and he just laughed.
“Wear it,” he ordered. “It is a date and you are going somewhere nice. Wear it with some red or black heels.”
“I didn’t know you were so into fashion, Alex,” I teased and reached over to ruffled his hair. He chuckled and handed the dress back to me. I took it graciously and laid it on my bed.
After Alex left, I drug out a pair of strappy red heels. I slid on the dress and laced up my shoes.
Before leaving, I glanced in the floor-length mirror on my door. My dress was a little short, but it would have to do. The shoes popped out on my tanned skin and gave a splash of color to my outfit. I checked my make-up making sure that my liner was even on both sides and my lipstick wasn’t smudged. I ran a hand through my newly straightened hair and smiled at my reflection.
Why am I so nervous? I asked myself as I walked out of my room.
I glanced at the clock; it was only 1:55. I was already ready for my first classes the next day and I had packed up ten minutes ago. I was perched on one of the stools, trying to tug my dress down without making it too low on the top. I grabbed my compact mirror from my bag and reapplied my lipstick, blotting it afterwards.
“It’s just a friend outing,” I warned myself. “It isn’t a date.”
I slid my mirror back into my purse and uncrossed my legs. I stood up and walked around my room, taking in everything I saw.
The chalkboard wall was newly cleaned and I had written my name in big loopy letters in the center. I smiled and looked over at the desks. They were lined up in rows, waiting to be covered in paint and other miscellaneous streaks. I was running my hand over my new smock when there was a knock at the door. I looked at the clock; it was two o’clock sharp. I sucked in another breath.
“Come in,” I called out and smiled slightly.
He was dressed in nice slacks and a light blue button down with a sports coat slung over his shoulder. His usually dark eyes seemed brightened and the corners of his mouth were upturned in a smile as he took in my outfit. His black hair had been recently washed and still looked damp to the touch.
“You look great,” Michael murmured and walked over to me. Heat flooded my cheeks and I laughed.
“You don’t look so bad yourself,” I shot back and plucked at his collar. He laughed nervously, placing a hand on my shoulder. I shrugged out of his touch and looked down at my shoes.
“You ready to go?” I heard his voice crack with anxiety. I nodded silently and let him lead me out of the school.
Outside, a bright yellow taxi was idled at the curb. The anxious driver glanced at his watch and shot a cold look at Michael. We slid in and Michael gave the driver directions. I swallowed nervously and glanced over at him. He was watching me adoringly, as if I were a precious jewel waiting to be bought.
“Please tell me we aren’t going to Waffle House today,” I burst out sarcastically. Michael’s eyes lit up and he chuckled.
“I thought you liked that place,” he said. I rolled my eyes and shoved him.
“I don’t want to go to Waffle House in a dress and heels,” I explained gesturing to my outfit. Relax rolled off his shoulders and he shrugged carelessly.
“Why not?” he suggested. I stared at him.
“Michael,” I said with a serious tone.
“Claire,” he repeated with equal seriousness. Then he laughed. “Actually, I thought we should go to somewhere a little nicer.”
“Good,” I stated and turned away to watch the city pass by.
“We’re here,” Michael commented and nudged my shoulder. I looked to his side, where he was opening the door. I eased out behind him and looked at the building in front of us.
A large sign stated the name, 21 Club. It was a large building; maybe two stories. Michael led me inside and I gasped. Inside, the restaurant was exquisite. Table-clothed tables were pressed up against the walls and in the far back, I could see a bar. In the center of the building, rested a large, open dance area. Couples were pressed up against each other, moving to the beat of the music blaring out of the speakers.
“Claire,” Michael called out and tugged on my arm. I looked over at him; He was walking towards an empty table in the back. I followed closely behind, aware of how close we were pressed up against each other. I could smell a spicy scent ovepowering his body.
I flopped into the cushioned chair, grateful for a break of walking. Michale smiled at me and I grimaced back. Shock flashed in his eyes and I shrugged.
“This is pretty cool,” I said-actually I had to yell. The music was punding over the speakers and I could barely hear myself speak.
“Yeah,” he agreed. “Let’s go ahead and order before it gets crazy.”
“Okay,” I replied and glanced over my menu.
“You guys ready or what?” A waitress sauntered over to us, a bored expression on her face. Once she caught sight of Michael, her expression turned to a flirty one and she turned away from me. I looked her up and down, jealous of her slim figure outfitted in a short black skirt and white button down.
“Yes we are,” Michael told her and smiled. Something tugged at my heart and my eyes widened. I could feel jealously start to take over my mind.
How can I be jealous? It’s not like we’re together. God, I need to stop worrying, I chstised myself. Michael ordered for both of us and the waitress left. I watched him warily as he stood up.
“Want a glass of wine?” he asked and I nodded gratefully. He left and I placed my head in my hands.
“What is going on with me?” I whispered in agony.
“That was so much fun,” I exclaimed as we burst out of the restaurant. Michael chuckled.
“It was wasn’t it?” he asked and whistled for a taxi. I leaned onto his shoulder and giggled mindlessly. I could feel him smiling as he placed a hesitant arm around my shoulder.
“You need to stop being so careful,” I scolded. He froze and looked down at me. “I’m just a girl. It’s not like you haven’t had a lot of us around you.”
“What are you talking about?” he inquired. I stared up at him, shocked.
“I mean, like that waitress in there.” I pointed towards the restaurant as a taxi pulled in to the curb. We got in and Michael gave the driver another set of directions.
“What about the waitress?” He was still staring at me in bewilderment.
“She was flirting with you nonstop all night. That’s why I dragged you to the dance floor. I was pretty sure you were flirting with her,” I explained quickly. Recognition dawned in his expression and he smiled.
“I thought we aren’t on a date,” he said. I shook my head in denial.
“We aren’t,” I stated. Michael laughed.
“Oh, so you were jealous,” he managed between chuckles. Blood pooled in my cheeks and I frowned.
“No,” I started.
“Yes, you were,” he interrupted. I glared at him and he stared back with a knowing look.
“No I wasn’t,” I proclaimed.
“I think you were,” he stated. “And I’m not arguing with you about it anymore.”
I opened my mouth and then closed it again. Turning away, I once again watched the city pass by through the window.