“Come on, Teagan Jane. Let’s go.” Jarrett pulled me to my feet.
“Where are we going?” It was the last Saturday night of the summer. Senior year started next week.
“Let’s just go. I can’t be still anymore.”
I let him haul me from the fuzzy beige carpet where I’d been sitting against the couch in my white tank and cut offs. We were at his house, polishing off a pizza, planning to do our regular weekend movie marathon.
“No movie tonight then?” I slid my feet into my flip flops as he grabbed his keys and scribbled a note for his parents. Mine were normally next door, but tonight they were with Jarrett’s parents at a fundraiser for the hospital where both our dads worked.
“There are only a handful of nights like this left. I feel like this year is the last. The last of a lot of stuff.”
Jarrett was like that sometimes. We’d been friends since we were babies. I’d known him plenty long to know his moods. Tonight, he was pensive. Uptight. Thoughtful. Restless. He was a dreamer and a thinker. He was my best friend. I was happy he included me for the ride. I’d follow him to the moon. Jarrett in the Captain’s seat, Teagan the first officer.
The heat was like a slap in the face after the cool airconditioned living room. Humidity kinked my hair into little curls around my face and I tossed my long blonde waves up to feel any sort of breeze on the back on my neck.
Jarrett paused and patted the side of his old beat up Ford before he opened my door. It was half decrepit and ugly as sin, but he and his dad had lovingly restored it together. Sometimes I thought he held his truck in higher esteem than me.
“Up you go.” He offered me a hand in lieu of the missing running board. He held on a second longer than necessary and I glanced up to his cloudy eyes. Normally blue like the ocean, tonight they were a stormy grey.
“Jarrett?” His eyes snapped up to mine before he briefly shook his head. He was still thinking. Processing. He’d tell me when he was ready.
“So where to tonight, Captain?” I asked as he brought the beast rumbling to life.
“I want to see stars.”
“Well, drive on then, Kirk.”
A smile ghosted over his face. We were closet Trekkie nerds.
“Engage.” He pointed two fingers like Picard.
I kicked my feet up on the dash as he drove past the end of our subdivision and out onto the backroads where gravel, grass, and mosquitos waited for us.
He drove for miles, saying nothing. His eyebrows were low over his eyes, his fingers drumming on the steering wheel.
“What’s one thing you’re afraid of? What’s something that will be the last this year?” I ventured.
He startled and glanced over at me. Chewing in the inside of his lip he turned off the gravel road and into a field. We were out by WindFall Orchards. It was a beautiful spot in open meadow, the orchards farther back.
“Grab the blanket?”
I nodded and snagged the old quilt he always kept behind the seats. He came around and opened the door for me.
I squeaked when he reached in and grabbed me round the waist. It sent a hot rush to my face and butterflies massing in my belly. He laughed and poked me once in the ribs, earning him a swat across his stomach.
“Wanna boost?” he offered as he put the tail gate down. My cheeks were still red, but I couldn’t resist the offer. It hadn’t been all that long ago that I realized I liked Jarrett’s hands on me. I craved his touch. Needed his friendship. But found it still left me feeling empty. Because I wanted more from him. And that could never be. I refused to be in love with my best friend. He was my best friend.
Still, I memorized the way his hands felt as he scooped me up and tossed me into the truck bed.
We spread the quilt and stretched out on our backs and looked up.
“You wanted stars,” I whispered.
“Yeah. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow. I wasn’t sure if there’d be clouds tonight.”
“Not a one.” I was quiet. Waiting for him to answer my question from the truck. I knew he hadn’t forgotten. He was simply biding his time.
“I’m afraid of change, Teagan.” His voice was low and gravelly. I rolled to my side to look at him.
“Not all change is bad.”
“No.” He shook his head. “Some change would be good. Very good. But change hurts, too.”
“Are you worrying about college stuff?”
“Some.” He swallowed and that told me it was something more immediate.
“Nah. Not when I have your notes to go over.”
He cracked a smile and I did, too. We always studied together because my notes were more thorough than his. Although his memory was sharper.
We were quiet another few minutes.
“I’m afraid of missing you, Teagan.”
I faced him again and blinked. He was afraid of missing me?
“Why would you miss me? We’ll be together all the time, just like we always have been.”
His stormy eyes pinned me in the dark, moonlight washing over us.
“And then we’ll go to college. Meet people. Fall in love. Forget each other.”
My heart hammered.
“Jarrett, I will never forget you. You’re as much a part of me as my arms and legs.”
I heard him swallow.
“Senior year feels like the beginning of the end. And I’m afraid I won’t have another chance.”
“Another chance for what?”
His hand slid over my jaw, cupping my face. His face hovered over mine as his thumb brushed over my cheek.
“Teage,” he rasped.
“Shut up and kiss me, Jarrett.”
And he did.
AJ Skelly is a writer, blogger, and lover of all things fantasy, medieval, and fairy-tale-romance. As a former high school English teacher with a master’s in Creative Writing, she’s always been fascinated with the written word and has spent many years working with teenagers. She lives with her husband, children, and many imaginary friends who often find their way into her stories. Find more of her stories at www.ajskelly.com.