Chapter 1

 Elise McKenna walked home from the dance with Raymond, even though it was about 10 o’clock and 15˚ out. They didn’t care. They were in love, and Elise was as happy as a little girl on a warm summer day.
 They met the week before, and it was love at first sight. Well, love at the second impression. Elise was late for the bus, and Ray walked everyday, so they both walked. Elise wasn’t looking where she was going, so she accidentally bumped into Ray.
 “Sorry.” Elise said blandly, as if she didn’t care if he fell over.
 “Woah, watch where you’re going, blue-eyes.”
 “What did you just call me?”
 “Blue-eyes.” Ray repeated.
 Oh great, I miss my bus and I just bumped into a wierdo. Elise thought.
 “Bye, blue-eyes.”
 And he was gone. Just like that.

 Elise just kept walking, processing the events that had just occurred.
 Ok, so a cute guy I have never seen before is just walking to school, and I bump into him, and then he calls me ‘blue-eyes’. Weird, but very...I don’t know what to call it... Charming?
 The next day, Elise missed the bus, but on purpose. She wanted to find out who this mystery guy was. But what if he isn’t walking today? Elise thought, full of insecurity, but it was mostly anxiety.
 Sure enough, he was walking. This time, Elise, very bluntly, went up to him and said “Ok. Let me get this straight. You walk every day?”
 “Uh, yeah.” he said as he was turning around.
 “I’ve never seen you before. Where do you live?”
 “That’s for me to know and for you to never find out.” he replied, laughing to himself.
 “Tell me.” Elise demanded.
 “Ok, ok, don’t get all whiny. I live on Main Street. Second house down from the burned down one.”
 “You live there? I live next door to you then. I don’t know why I never noticed.” That was a huge house, and when Elise was little, she looked outside her bedroom window and fantasized about the people who lived there, all rich and proper.
 Man, he’s hot. And he’s rich, too! Elise thought to herself.
 “Really? I walk in front of your house every day.”
 “You don’t look like some rich fancy guy. Why don’t you go to private school?”
 “Oh, so now you don’t want to go to the same school as me?”
 “No, but I meant…”
 “Don’t freak out. I get it. I go to public school because people who go to public school are usually down to earth, and are nicer than snobby private school people.”
 “I’ve seen some of them. They do look snobby.”
 “Looks can be deceiving. Remember that.” He said with a wink, and he was gone, just like that. Again.

Chapter 2

 Elise walked yet again. She was feeling brave, so she went up to this mystery dude and said “What’s your name?”
 He jumped as she said this and replied “Woah! You gotta stop doing that!”
 “Sorry,” Elise said, “Now seriously, what’s your name?”
 “Raymond, but most people call me Ray.”
 “Oh. Ok.”
 “‘Oh. Ok.’? That’s what you call a pickup line?” Ray said.
 Elise could feel herself blushing, her cheeks turning a dark, turnip red, and she could feel raindrops sizzling against her skin.
 “So…ummmm…,” Elise said, trying to make conversation, “What are you doing after school today? Maybe we could…go out for coffee?”
 “Yeah, sure. Meet me at Starbucks then.” Ray replied, awkwardly.

 At school, Elise saw Ray twice. He didn’t see her, but she didn’t know that. She thought that Ray was ignoring her. She was wrong. Elise was all Ray was thinking about. Ray was warned twice about going to the Principal’s Office for zoning out in class because he was thinking about her.
 As the day went on, Elise was getting nervous. What if he doesn’t like me? What if he bails?
 The teachers also had to make Elise snap out of it. “Ms. McKenna, would you please demonstrate the problem on the board?”
 “Wh...Wha--? Oh, uh, yeah, sure.” Elise missed the A.P. class, but only by a bit, so she breezed through the problem. She was done in about thirty seconds, which was good, considering it was Algebra I.
 “You did a fine job, Ms. McKenna, considering that you ‘zoned out’, as they say these days.” Mr. Flat said. The whole class groaned. They all hated when teachers tried to act cool.
 Elise just looked down at her feet while she walked back to her desk. Selena Bauregaurd, who was in her class and sat next to her, passed her a note that said: Elise, you never zone out in Algebra. Wait, no I can’t say that anymore because Mr. Flat just made it...Yuck. Ok, you never SPACE out in Algebra. Why?

Oh, I was just thinking about how I have to meet some guy after school at Starbucks that calls me blue-eyes and thinks I’m a complete spazz. Which was totally true. But she could never tell Sel (her nickname [she had many, which included Selly, Sel, S, and something else that wouldn't really be appropriate.]) that. Elise actually wrote: Oh, I, uh, have something in L.A. next period that’s due and I forgot to add something really important so I’m thinking what I’ll do when Mrs. Stevenson yells at me.

You’re lying.

No, I’m not.

Yes, you are.

Fine, you caught me. I met this guy on the way to

 But she didn’t get to finish her sentence because Mr. Flat came up to them and said “Anything you would like to share with the class, ladies?”
 They shook their heads silently. “I thought so.” Mr. Flat said with a not-so-attractive-sneer.
 When class was over, Mr. Flat called them back to his desk. It was cluttered with papers and prunes. (Mr. Flat was OLD.)
 “Yes, Mr. Flat?” Sel and Elise said at the same time. Sel was about to say ‘Jinx’, but Elise elbowed her in the stomach before she got the opportunity.
 “I would like to know what you girls were writing about,” Mr. Flat said in his old man voice, “if you would like to tell me. If you do not wish to share, then I suggest you get ready for some more writing after school.” Elise shot a Man, this dude is strict look to Selena.
 “Oh, we were just writing about how, uh, good your, uh, tie looks today. Yeah, I just love that tie!” Elise said, obviously lying. The tie was hideous, with clowns all over it. It was weird just like all of this other ties, but he didn’t need to know that.
 “Oh, you really think so? Well, not many people appreciate clowns. Today they are often seen as murderers, with bloody knives. What time has done…” he trailed off, not bothering to finish his sentence.
 “Yes, I just love clowns. I loved going to the circus as a little girl.” Selena said, and flashed her fake, but dazzling smile. Elise always thought that Selena would make a great actress, but Sel wanted to be a pediatrician. “What’s the point in that?” Elise asked on a brisk autumn day.
 “I’d make, like, a TON of money! And I like to be with kids.”
 “You’d make tons of money as an actress! You’re a total idiot.”
 Elise hated Sel for that, but they were still friends.

Chapter 3

 In the hallway on the way to L.A. (they had the same schedule, except for 8th period, block classes.), Elise told Selena about Ray and her going for coffee. “DUDE! Are you talking about Raymond Venthouser? ‘Cause that dude it TOTALLY HOT!”
 “Well, yeah…”
 “OMG! You guys have to totally get together!”
 “Whatever. Hurry, that’s the bell.”
 The day went by slower than Elise thought humanly possible. She hated it. Seriously. In P.E., Elise ran faster, hoping to make time go faster. She never ran fast. AT ALL. EVER. The closest she got to running was speed walking.
 The teacher didn’t even care. She just sat in her office all day, looking out of the window occasionally, after she told them what to do. She usually was too lazy, so she just wrote what they were going to do for the day on the marker board.

 The day was finally over. Elise was walking to the coffee shop. Once she got there, she saw Ray, leaning on a support beam for the building, looking totally hot in his American Eagle jeans. She went up to him and said “Hi…”
 “Oh. Hi. Stop sneaking up on me like that!” Ray said, surprised to see her.
 “Sooooo…” Elise stretched out the ooooo to fill in the empty gap of silence.
 They walked up to the counter and Ray said “Large cup of black coffee, please.”
 “Decaf?” the cashier said.
 Elise ordered a “Medium mocha with...ummm...chocolate sauce, extra marshmellows, and make that a large, please.” Elise was really run-down.
 “Decaf?” the cashier repeated.
 “Yes, please.” Elise didn’t want to get any more worked up than she already was. (Yes, she had a lot of sugar from the chocolate sauce and marsh mellows, but the sugar didn’t have much effect on her.) Weird. she thought after she drank it. I always go hyper when I have sugar.
 As they sipped their ‘hot stuff’, as Ray called it, they talked about all of the usual stuff like school, homework, teachers (especially Mrs. Gym Teacher), and then it got awkward. Ray asked Elise “Do you have a boyfriend?”
 Ummm, no, but I would be happy to have one. You. That’s what she wanted to say. She said “Well, that’s an awkward question…but no, I don’t.”
 “I’m surprised. Someone like you looks like you would have one.”
 “Someone like me? What do you mean by that? You’re the one who looks like he should have one. I mean, a girlfriend, not a boyfriend.”
 Akward… Elise thought.
 Nobody talked for a while. They stared at random things like their coffee or wrote a text to the other saying ‘I like you.’ But they quickly erased it to make sure the other one didn’t see. After about 10 minutes of this, Elise accidentally pressed the SEND button. “Oh, crud!”
 “What?” Ray answered, his voice curious.
 “I, uh, sent a text to you that wasn’t meant for you. Here give me your phone.”
 She tried to grab Ray’s iPhone (an iPhone, of course) but failed. The familiar beep of a text went off. “NOOOOOOO!” Elise shouted. Everybody in the shop just stared. “...I mean, the text said ‘noooooo!’. Yeah, and it um, just, yeah. You can erase it now.” Elise said, trying not to yammer on.
 “No way am I erasing something that you’ve been making this big a deal out of.” He checked his text. Again, he stared. She stared, trying to think of what to say.
 “I’m sorry. I better just go now.” Embarrassed, Elise made a beeline for the exit, but Ray was faster.
 “Do you mean that?”
 Elise stopped. More staring. “I don’t,” Sniffle. “know…” Trying to fight back tears, Elise (speed) walked out of the store, ‘so embarrassed that I could die’, and that was that.

Chapter 4

 Elise was lying on her bed. All alone, quiet, thinking, but still focused. Her pillow had soaked up at least, if not more, tears in the last couple hours than Amy did when her parents started fighting. There’s a shocker. From her knowledge, Amy cried in class.
 Mrs. McKenna came up to Elise’s door and said “Elise, are you there?”
 Elise could only whimper “Yes.”
 “Do you need anything?”
 She whimpered again. “Yes.” And Elise started to sob once more. Her mother came in, sat on her bed with her, and started to massage Elise’s back as she did when Elise was 5 and she fell off of her bike.
 “Mommy, can you fix it?” Elise asked when she fell, tears streaming down her face like raindrops on the window outside.
 “Yes, honey. It’s going to be all right.” Mrs. McKenna said in her soothing, motherly voice.
 “Ok. If you can fix my boo-boo, can we play doctor? I’ll be the patient.”
 “Of course honey.” And Elise’s mom smiled her big smile. That was the only thing that would cheer Elise up. And Elise smiled right back.

 The next day at school, Elise tried to lie low and be as little known as possible, but that was hard to do on tie-dye Friday. Selena and Ray were the only ones trying to look for her, the people that she didn’t have anything to say to. When Sel finally found her, she said “How’s it going, coffee-girl?”
 “Get away from me!” Elise was now starting to get that lump in her throat.
 “Why the fudge-y attitude, Lise? Your date not go so well?”
 “I don’t want to talk about it. And it wasn’t a date.”
 “Oh, so he told you that he has a girlfriend? Well, being the most popular boy in school that’d be kinda obvious.”
 “No, it was my fault.”
 “No! Calm down, geez. I accidentally texted him that I liked him.”
 “Wait, you WHAT?!”
 Elise then told Selena about how awkward it had been and what happened.
 “Wow. I really missed a lot.” Selena said.
 “Hide me! He’s coming towards us!”
 Selena opened her locker and hid Elise behind the door. Ray came up and asked “Where’s Elise? I need to talk to her. It’s something important.”
 “Oh, uh, she’s, uh, in the bathroom, yeah, in the bathroom, uh, doing her hair.”
 Elise didn’t see the point in hiding anymore, so she just came right out and asked “What do you want?”
 “Oh, hi. Selena, can me and Elise talk in private please?”
 “Sure. ‘Kay Elise, see you at lunch.”
 “Bye.” Elise said as she waved.
 “So, Elise about the other day…”
 “Yeah, I know. You want to know if I really meant it. Your answer is yes, I did mean it. I was just afraid you’d make fun of me because I’m just…well, me. You’re the captain of the damn baseball team! Why would you wanna go out with me?”
 “Wait, so you do like me?”
 “All the girls I know do.”
 “Well, they’re not as lucky because I bought 2 tickets to the Winter Dance, and I want you to come with me. Before you say anything, yes, you are pretty enough, yes, I do like you, and no, I’m not dating anyone else.” Then he flashed his brilliant smile that made Elise melt into a puddle of gush. I’m so in love with him! She thought.
 “Sure, just as long as my dad says it’s ok.”
 “Then it’s a date. I’ll call you tonight.”

 Everything seemed perfect, until it happened. Steve, aka Elise’s stalker kidnapped her and threatened to kill her in order to make sure he didn’t get caught for smuggling illegal drugs from Mexico. In the end, Steve got turned in to the cops, after a big ordeal with Elise’s friends Amy, Narissa, and Phil.
 But then there was this problem with her dad. After Steve, her dad didn’t want her going anywhere.
 “But Daddyyyyy!!!!!! You can’t make me NOT go!!! I have a life you know!!!”
 “I know, and you almost just about lost it because of lousy parenting. You’re not going.”
 “But what if I have a body guard? I have about $200 saved up in birthday money, and I could get one!”
Awkwo silence. Thought Elise.
 “ could interview my date! Yeah! My date Ray from next door might have a body guard! He’s rich! Or…he could hire one!”
 “Who is this Ray kid?”
 “He was the blond kid from your baseball team with Phil, remember? The one who could always get home runs? Not Phil, but Ray.”
 “Him? Well, if it’s him I might be able to just interview him…”
 “YES, YES, YES, YES, YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
 “Calm down, sweetie. Fine, I’ll interview him, I choose the questions, and if he doesn’t pass, then you don’t go.”
 “Sweetie, calm down. It’s just a date.”
 “Just a date? He’s like, the hottest kid in school!!!”
 “Tell Ray that the interview will be tomorrow night at 7 at our house."
 “Yayyy! Again!”

Chapter 5

 The interview went...well, awesome. Ray passed almost every question.
 “...will you make sure she gets home safely?”
 “By 10?”
 Elise pouted, quite noisily, really. “What? Why can’t I stay out until 11?”
 “Curfew. You’re lucky I’m letting you go.”
 “Fine.” Dang it…
 “Most importantly, there will be no PDA. Not even in private.”
 Ray started to open his mouth to protest, risking ever going out with Elise.
 “Yes, Mr. McKenna.”
 “Well, Raymond, you have passed every question. You seem like a fine young man. You may go to the dance with my daughter.”
 “YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES!!!!!!!”

 The dance was wonderful. There were snowflakes all around, glittering, shimmering, translucent in the light. Of course, it was in a gym, but you could never tell. Tables set out with blue and white table cloths, with plastic bags cut up into tiny pieces to make it look like snow.
 They met their friends, laughed, talked, joked. Then, finally, in the corner of the gym, they kissed. Of course they wouldn’t tell their parents, but it was a moment to remember.
 They were dancing, slowly, but awkwardly (they were far apart), when somebody pushed them into the corner. (Selena) They were inches apart, moments away from them finally locking lips. They were unsure of what to do at first, but it just came naturally, like knowing how to talk.
 When it was over, it did get awkward. Ray asked “So, how about them Bears? I heard they won the play-off game yesterday.”
 They then laughed, and ran to the dance floor.
 Maybe it was fate, maybe it was an accident, but at that moment, they knew. ❤