Taking You For Granted

Oliver had always been around, and so he would always be around... Just, as a friend. That's all he was, she swore to herself. But, when something terrible happens she's forced to take a new look at her longest standing, never changing relationship.


12. control, difficult to keep

It had gotten cold when the show was over and the café was closing up. Oliver found a sweater he'd left in the backseat for me to wear. It smelled a little grungy and he seemed embarrassed, but I didn't mind. I pulled it over my dress. The sleeves were way too long and flopped around my hands.

We got into the Jeep to drive back home. We weren't ready for the date to be over when we got there, though. As soon as we entered the house that would be it.

Why is it that on a perfect night you seem to forget that tomorrow exists?

Instead, we parked the Jeep and he helped me hop the fence before clearing it himself. We climbed up into the treehouse and turned on the flashlight on my phone to light it up.

"I'm sorry that sweatshirt was all I had," he apologized for the millionth time.

"Oliver, its fine," I assured him for the millionth time. "It's doing its job and keeping me warm."

"So it's doing my job for me then?" He asked to which I rolled my eyes, but I crawled over to him and sat with my back to his chest.

He wrapped his arms around my waist and rested his chin on my shoulder.

"Same date tomorrow?" He asked.

"I don't think I can do Italian again," I said. "It makes me feel sluggish."

"Concert at the café though? It was fun."

"Oh, yeah, that was definitely fun," I smiled. "And the drinks were good. I'd go back in a heartbeat."

"Then it's settled," he smiled. "We'll figure the food out later."

I nodded.

He turned his head slightly and kissed my neck, then stopped. Like he was waiting for me to stop him and scold him. Or, maybe he stopped because I had flinched a little bit. It surprised me.

I had never had a real boyfriend before. I think part of me had been waiting for Oli after all. So I hadn't experienced too much in the way of romantic physical contact beyond what I had done with him. Oliver hadn't been my first kiss, but he'd been my first kiss with tongue. He'd been the first person to hold me like this. So I was nervous. Not scared, just nervous.

I was also mad.

Mad that those weren't the only firsts that he wouldn't have.

I wanted to erase the blurry memory of Eddie climbing on top of me, touching me anywhere, pulling at my clothes.

I wanted to replace those memories.

Oliver's chin returned to its perch on my shoulder.

It was probably for the better. I wanted us to share those moments in our own time, not just because I was in a hurry to purge something else from my memory.

But then he leaned his head down and kissed my shoulder and it felt so nice.

I didn't flinch, but I did shudder beneath his lips.

I turned my head towards him. He kissed my lips. His hands were warm on my stomach.

He pulled away, his breaths measured.

"We should go inside, huh?" He asked as if providing me with another opportunity to escape.

"I'm okay," I smiled.

He leaned in and kissed me again. I turned on his lap to be able to face him more, my arms winding up around his shoulders. He kept his hands steady on my waist. One of his hands slid down to my leg, just at the hem of my skirt. It stilled.

He pulled away from the kiss again.

"My mom would be pissed if she found us up here making out at this time of night," he sighed.

I nodded. Carolyn was very cool, but she would definitely put us on lockdown if we went too far.

"I'd hate for her to demolish this tree house," I said. "It's definitely a good place to escape."

He kissed me again, suddenly like he couldn't help the impulse, then moved his hands to flatten them on the floor.

I left his lap and leaned against the opposite wall of the tree house.

He smiled at me and I smiled back.

The next day was spent much the same, except we were more careful not to cuddle too much or kiss too much. The last thing I wanted was to betray Carolyn's trust after she'd taken me in.

We invited Hedy and Will to go with us to the show that evening. I wore a hoodie with my shorts and tshirt, prepared for a chilly spring evening.

We met with Hedy and Will outside of the café, just a bit before the music was set to start.

The band was legitimately good tonight, but the crowd was smaller. There was plenty of room. The owner, a lanky guy in his twenties, pulled the girl with pink hair out from behind the register and started to dance with her in front of the counter. Oli took my hand and spun me. Hedy and Will joined us in dancing, too.

Before we knew it, the six of us were dancing and laughing in a circle. A few more people were dancing at the edges of the room. The band was having a good time, talking with the crowd from their little stage and making jokes between songs.

When the show was over, most people left in good spirits.

The owner asked our group to hang back. He flipped the closed sign on the café door and pulled out a chair for himself at our table and introduced himself as Jude. The girl with pink hair started to clean up.

"You guys were here last night, right?" He asked.

Oli nodded.

"I thought so," he smiled. "Man, that was a lot of fun out there tonight. I just wanted to get a chance to hang out with you cats a bit more."

He called out to the girl, "Lucy, quit mopping. We'll get to that later. Bring over a pot of coffee."

She put on a pot, but kept mopping.

"I'm not rushing to do this in the morning tomorrow before we open," she said. "I'll just be a minute more."

"I'll do it in the morning," he said.

She shot him a look that dared him to say that again.

"Fine," he raised his hands in surrender, then turned back to us.

"We're having a private party here on Saturday night," he said. "You guys should come. We're going to have karaoke and dancing. It'll be fun. I'm fairly new to town still, so it'll mostly be Lucy's friends."

"We can't," Hedy frowned. "Will's grandma is having us over for dinner."

"What do you say, June?" Oli asked me.

I was a bit thrown by the abrupt invitation by a random guy, but Jude and Lucy seemed like really nice people.

"Sure," I said.

"I've got a bit of an agenda, too," he admitted. "My little sister is not doing so great at making friends at school. I'm trying to convince her that there are some cool people in this town."

"Who's your sister?" Hedy asked.

"Her name is Lewellen," he said. "She goes by Lew. Tiny, blonde pixie haircut, often in black clothes. She's a sophomore."

"Oh! Twiggy-" Hedy covered her mouth in regret.

We knew of this girl, and we also had heard she wasn't fond of the nickname. Not that it was an insult. Twiggy was the original supermodel. But, coming from jocks and cheerleaders, it wasn't necessarily said as a compliment either.

Jude simply smiled.

"I knew she wasn't as invisible as she claims," he said.

"We'll be there," Oliver said. "Sounds like fun."

We drove home and parked in the driveway. Carolyn's car was already there, but so was someone else's.

Mr. Evans was sitting at the dining table across from Carolyn. They were both smiling more than either would have if this was purely about business.

They both jumped when they saw me and Oli enter the doorway.

"Kid's!" Carolyn exclaimed awkwardly. "Mr. Evans came by to tell me that he's convinced the principal to lift your suspension, Oliver."

"That's great," Oliver said. "Thank you. You didn't have to come all the way over here to say that, though. A call would have been fine."

I could tell he was uncomfortable.

"Oliver," her tone was warning.

"It's also a bit late," Oli added.

"We had dinner while we waited for you two to come home," she said. "And you're right. Isn't it a bit late for you two to just now be walking in? Don't be rude, and don't be hypocritical Oliver. Mr. Evans has been incredibly supportive of you and June."

"You're right, I'm sorry," Oliver said and I squeezed his hand.

Mr. Evans stood, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to impose or to upset anyone. Carolyn, we'll talk later?"

She nodded.

Mr. Evans left.

"Mom, are you and Mr. Evans seeing each other?"

She frowned, "Don't be ridiculous. I only met the man earlier this week."

"So?" He asked and she shook her head.

"I'm allowed to date, you know," she stood from the kitchen table. "I'm allowed to be happy. I'm allowed to move on from..."

She stopped speaking.

"I know that you're father leaving us was hard," she said. "And I've spent everyday since then making sure that you were my first priority. I hoped you'd understand that I need to... Oliver, you're grown up now. When you leave, I'll be alone."

Oliver went to her side and hugged her.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I just don't want some guy to hurt you again. And I'd hoped, if you did date someone, you'd tell me first and I wouldn't just stumble into finding out."

"Like I found out about you two?" She asked wryly, but she was smiling.

"To be fair, it had just become a thing in that moment," I piped up. "So, you were the first to know.

She smiled at me and waved me over. I stepped closer and she pulled me into her hug.

"I love you kids," she sniffled to keep herself from crying.

"You like him, thought, don't you?" Oli asked and she laughed.

"I'm that transparent, huh?" She asked.

"Mom, I didn't know you were a cradle robber!" Oli teased.

"Oh please," she smiled. "Like five years is a big deal in this day and age."

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