Learning to Let Go

Annalise is a volleyball all-star. One who will have the ability to go to the Olympics. It's just a natural talent. At 15, two years ago, she got involved with Seth. A sweet guy, really. But she stopped focusing on volleyball. After breaking up, she swore she wouldn't date until making the Olympics. So much for that, now she's got a new crush, one that she's trying to keep hidden. It's bad enough she has one problem, but she's moving down the block to a bigger house. Why? Because three years after her father's death, her mom is ready to marry again, to Ryan Kennedy.The worst part? Annalise has trouble getting along with Dylan, Ryan's 14 year old son.


6. Plural

We pulled up to the gym and I grabbed my bag which contained my clothes for practice. 
We walked in together, holding hands, and Vanessa, Carrie, and Julianna gaped at us.
After I had come out of the bathroom from changing into volleyball clothes, they pulled me aside.
"So I guess you two really hit it off or something?" Julianna asked.
"Way more then really hit it off," I said and told them how right it felt for us to be together. "But I still barely know him, am I plunging head-first too fast?" I asked.
"I would say to follow your heart, it's what I do!" Vanessa said a little sheepishly.
"My heart seems to be telling me to be cautious," I moaned.
"That's because you've listened to your head for too long," Emily said walking in.
Phew. Wise-Owl was here.
"Annalise," she said. "Block out all the negative thoughts about dating. Just listen to your heart, and your heart only."
I wanted to sob. I've been listening to my head for years, telling myself to stay away, and now to listen to a new voice? Try teaching an old dog new tricks.
"Annalise," Emily said, sensing I was having trouble. "Picture them both, dating and not dating, and see which one you can picture more naturally."
I tried. I really did. But I just couldn't do it. "I...I can't..." my voice trailed off.
Emily bit her lip and put her hand on my shoulder. "Block out all the thoughts from your head. Shut it off. Turn it off, and turn to your heart."
I tried. I started to cry a little bit and Emily hugged me, saying, "I know you can do it."
I tried to look deep past my brain and what it was telling me and listened to what it really wanted. I really DID want to date Derek... I swallowed.
"I think my heart's telling me to date," I said slowly.
The girls cheered. "Now let's get back to practice," Julianna said.
I felt so relieved with out the burden of my head on my shoulders (haha) that I played better then I'd ever played before. IMMENSELY better. A hundred times better.
The best part: I was good enough to go to the Olympics BEFORE.
I went to bed that night, and for the first time I actually felt really, truly, happy. 

~ ~ ~ ~

"What did you want to show me?!" I squealed at Derek, who had me blindfolded and was leading me around the mall somewhere saying he had "something to show me."
"You'll see!"
He had called me after school, practically begging me to meet him at the mall. I got there, dressed in jean shorts and a t-shirt tied up to reveal a sliver of my stomach, with my tote bag and phone in hand, and he had blind folded me.
"Der-ek," I complained. "I wanna see where we're going!"
"Just a second, aaaannnddddd take off the blind fold."
I ripped it off to see myself standing in the doorway of the pet store.
"This isn't what I wanted to show you," he said, leading me over to the dogs. "Those two are."
"Oh. My. Cow." I said, staring at the two twin puppies Derek was pointing to in the room across from us. I looked through the large glass window and pretty much forgot how to breathe. They were so tiny, and adorable. They were mutt puppies, really adorable mutt puppies.
"I thought you would like them," Derek said, watching my expression. "Do you want to adopt them together?"
I looked at him. "YES?!"
He smiled and an attendant got them and put them in a meeting pen. Derek and I sat down, waiting for the puppies to come to us.
At first they stayed in a corner, scared. But eventually the girl got curious and cautiously came over, sniffing at me and Derek, and the boy followed. 
All of a sudden, the girl plopped down in my lap! Then the boy did the same to Derek.
"I guess we know who's adopting which," Derek said, laughing. I laughed and got up, upsetting the puppy.
I left Derek in the pen with the puppies and went to get dog food, leashes, collars, and dog bowls. When I got back, the little girl was pawing at the gate and whining.
"She missed you a lot," Derek said dully.
I laughed and got in the pen, setting down the puppy. "I think I'm gonna name you Rosy," I said.
"I'll name him Rover," Derek said.
I cracked up. "You can't be serious!"
"But doesn't he look like a Rover, though?!"
"He does!" I smiled.
We checked out and brought the puppies to a park.
Derek and I laughed at the sight of the puppies trying to bight each other's ears off.

"This was the best day," I said 3 hours later as Derek drove me home, the puppies in on my lap. We had been to Fauna's and the boardwalk, just getting the dogs used to our company. "I bet the pups had fun too."
He smiled and kissed me, a short little kiss, no longer then 4 seconds.
I smiled and placed got out of the car, Rover staying in my seat.
Rosy looked at me reluctantly, torn between going with her brother or going with me.
"It's ok, Rosy," I said. At the sound of my voice, she cocked her head. "You'll see Rover again. Come on now, time to meet your new home."
She trotted off after me and Derek drove away, down Wild Berry Road, off to his house.
I opened the back door, Rosy at my heels, and walked into the kitchen.
Once upstairs in my room, I pulled some old blankets from my closet and placed them in the corner of my room, making a little bed for Rosy.
I climbed into bed, and turned the lights out. A minute later Rosy scratched the bed frame, whining to get up. She was scared of the dark!
I smiled and picked her up, placing her onto the pillow next to my head. She snuggled down into my body, and soon we were both fast asleep.

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