Too Young

Ireland's parents had always told her and her brother that love doesn't exist, which led to the rule of them not being allowed to date. Choosing to disregard her parents decision, she finds the first person who makes her feel special, Declan Johnson. But, while looking for the love she's never received, she becomes a victim.

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4. Chapter Four;

"Ireland, wake up," Nolan whispers, shaking my shoulder viciously. "Ireland, listen, you're in serious trouble."

I sit up, still slightly dazed, "Whaddizit?" I blink rapidly, trying to focus on Nolan's face in the darkness of the night.

"Ireland, look here. Mum knows," Nolan says seriously, snapping his fingers at me. I look to where the noise is coming from, and see the flashlight of Nolan's phone suddenly shining directly at me.

"God, Nolan, put that away," I groan.

He shushes me. "She knows that you went out last night. She met Declan's mom at that church thing that dad had going on last night, and she had mentioned your name. About you two being on a date."

I shake my head in disbelief, looking toward my alarm clock and noticing that it is almost four in the morning. Firstly, I didn't actually fall asleep until nearly three, so now I'll be very tired at work. And, secondly, Nolan and I are not allowed to date, as a strict rule. Nolan hasn't introduced Emily to my parents and she only comes around when my parents aren't home. Mostly, Nolan goes to Emily's house, or they go out. I always had a feeling that my mom suspected that Christian and I had some sort of thing, but since we always hung out in our tight group of four, she never said anything. "Shit," I mumble. "I'm in deep."

"I've covered for you already. You were out with Declan, me, and Mathis. Okay? That's what I told her, but it didn't seem like she believed me much. So, make sure you tell her that, too."

I nod and he quietly exits my room, closing the door sneakily. I mentally slap myself for taking Declan to somewhere where so much of my family could see us, and know that it was in fact only me and Declan on this date. If Declan's mom told my mom that we were on a date, does that mean that he told her that? Does that mean he considered it a date? 

I look back at the text message he sent me, Goodnight, beautiful. That had to mean something. I realize that I had been far too nervous and confused to reply to him last night, and send him a text saying, Thanks, Declan :).

To my surprise, he reads it nearly immediately and responds, Took you long enough to reply ;)

I was sleeping, I text back, thankful in that moment that my read receipts are turned off, so that he can’t see that I read that message a long time ago. I can see that he is typing, but I send another text anyways, curiosity taking over. What are you doing awake? 

My heartbeat quickens as I await his response. I try to tell myself that I don't really like Declan, or, that I can't really like Declan, because I hardly know him. But, I know that this is a lie that I’m feeding myself so that I don’t have to face the reality that I do really like Declan. My phone beeps again. I never really sleep.

Smiling to myself, I type out a response. I’ve always had trouble sleeping, too. I lay back down, finally, hoping to catch a little bit of sleep before my shift tomorrow morning.

Can we meet up, then? My heart beats more quickly and I can feel my face getting really hot. As much as I’d like to, I do need some sleep. I have to work in the morning. Raincheck?

His response comes right away; I’m going to hold you to that. Goodnight, Ireland. :)  I reply with my own goodnight and lay back down, awaiting the morning time in which my mother will come questioning me.

I walk downstairs, fully dressed and ready at 8:20, and seat myself beside my mother, as I typically do Saturday mornings before going to work. She has pancakes sitting in the center of the table and is reading her new edition of Smalls Magazine, a cheap subscription for average-American household items!. "How was your night out?" she asks, casually enough that had Nolan not warned me, I would have been thrown off guard and stuttering. Probably mostly because she never talks to me in this small amount of time that we spend together. It would either end up with cold, tense glares or in a massive fight. Almost every time that we speak to one another, that’s what happens.

"Great," I say, truthfully. "We went to dinner and showed the new boy around the town," I say, not as truthfully.

"Who is 'we'?" she asks, knowingly, hoping to catch me and Nolan in some sort of a lie. I don’t understand why she thinks that we shouldn’t date, simply because she doesn’t believe in love. I know some other kids who aren’t allowed to date because of religious reasons, but church was my dad’s thing, and this was her rule. I have never understood what her problem with us dating is. Not that I’ve ever had any boy interested in dating me. There were definitely feelings between me and Christian, but we seldom spent one-on-one time together.

"Me and Declan and Mathis and Nolan," I state firmly.

Her facial expression does not change. "Better eat so that you have enough time to get ready before work." She never looks at me, not enough to notice that I am, in fact, already ready to go to work. She buys the story, for now, but I know that I’m on her radar for the next few days.

I pull two pancakes onto my plate, wearing the tiniest of smiles on my face. Not only because she doesn’t know that I was on a date (it’s decided, if Declan’s mother thought that it was a date, then it had to be one), but because I had beaten her this time. Nolan must notice this, because when he comes down and takes his seat, he gives me no discernible questioning looks, and also there would have been much more fighting if his story had not held up with me. I quickly eat my food and run upstairs to brush my teeth before my 9 AM shift at the pharmacy begins.

I arrive at work just barely two minutes early, which is harsh because it does not give Mathis and I- the typical Saturday workers- enough time to properly open the store before people come in to pay their bills and have their prescriptions filled. Mathis seems a little annoyed that I’m not earlier, because we almost always are both here at 8:50 AM. Still, even more sadly, I'm earlier than the actual pharmacist, who hasn’t been on time for a shift once since I started working here last summer.

Mathis and I were hired at roughly the same time last year. The boy who worked here before was in an accident on the first day of school last year, which meant that our school had to deal with two accidental deaths within two weeks of the school year starting. The girl who worked here was his girlfriend, and as she sunk into depression, which the whole school could tell, she just kind of stopped working. Harold needed two new workers, and hired the first people that put applications in.

I smile at Mathis as I begin to balance the registers and he starts to wait on customers- who are already seething at him because they don't have their prescriptions back within two minutes of handing their bottles to him. While we try to calm the customers, explaining that we cannot fill their scripts, Harold- the pharmacist- comes in. "I'm sorry! Traffic, you know!" While the customers are still steaming, they at least lower the volume of their grumbling so that I can't hear them anymore, which is good enough for me.

When the rush dies down, as it always does after not too long, seeing as many people try to get here right in the morning to get their business out of the way for the day, Mathis brings up my date last night. "Nolan told me that I was with you, so that's what I told my mom. Apparently your mom goes off the deep end about that shit." It’s more of a question, but I’m not sure if it’s a “What were you doing last night?” or “Why is your mother crazy about you being out?”

I sigh as he chuckles at himself. "She's crazy. Says love isn't real and all of that. Doesn't want me or Nolan dating. I cannot wait to be out of there." I pause to actually think about Declan. We had a pretty good time last night, and he definitely has a thing for me. But, as of now, I'm really unsure of my feelings for him. I get nervous and giddy and smiley around him, but we haven't actually found enough substance in one another to actually like each other yet. And god only knows that I won't be going to his house anytime soon, because I guarantee that I'll be in my mother's sight for the next few weeks. Remembering her attitude this morning, I pull out my phone and delete the messages from Declan, in case she decides to go through my phone at any point. Thankfully, Lily and I mostly talk on the phone, so there’s nothing to really be deleted there.

But, suddenly, I remember her trip this week. And my dad's! I feel an immense wave of relief wash over my entire body. Because, now, I might be able to spend some quality-time with Declan, without being criticized by my parents. I wonder slightly that if I tell them I just need sex, they would be more accepting of me going to Declan's house. After all, judging by the fact that they have two children, whether or not they believe in love, they believe in sex.

Mathis pulls me out of my thoughts. "There's a little hangout tonight at my house," he says coolly, in a way that I realize that boys can pull off almost effortlessly. "It'd be chill if you came.” He pauses for a brief moment, “and Declan could come, too. He’s clearly got a thing for you.”  I wonder if that’s the sort of thing that boys can just tell. “Nolan is already coming so it should be fun." 

I'm not sure why I feel so strangely, and by that I mean, my stomach begins to tingle, about Mathis inviting me over. After all, we've sat and talked and laughed at lunch all week and we always talk when we're working. I decide that it's probably best to try to have friends now that Lily isn't around. But, strangely, I don't miss her nearly as much as I did a week ago, and I think that Declan might not be the only reason why.

"That sounds great," I say, truthfully. "I'll text Declan now." 

I find it strange that not even eight hours later, I'm sitting in between Declan and Nolan, on a crowded floor, playing The Odds Game.

"Ireland," Emily coos, slightly drunk, as most of the people here are, "What are the odds that you'll kiss Mathis?"

I think about this momentarily, looking around the small living room, when my eyes finally land on Mathis, almost directly across from me. I wish that we had spent more time talking tonight. He's quite attractive, to be fair, so kissing him wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. He's got that mousy brown hair that nearly always looks as though he’s just gotten out of bed and piercing green eyes. Slowly, I look back at Emily, "Nine," I say firmly. We had decided on twenty being the highest that anyone could go. I decided on nine because I would be able to spare both Declan and Mathis's feelings.

Nolan begins the countdown, "Three," pause. "Two," pause. "One."

"Eight," I blurt as Emily says six.

I'm quite relieved at this, because I should be kissing Declan tonight. I feel him drape his arm loosely around my waist, so subtlety that I don’t think that anyone else notices, clearly also relieved that I would not be kissing Mathis this turn. Maya catches my eye, giving me a slight wink, causing me to chuckle.

I turn my head to face Nolan, and he wiggles his brows, causing me to giggle a little bit. He and I are the only ones not drinking, and no one questions this, though I feel as Declan may be, within his own mind. "Nolan, what are the odds of you picking up the phone right now and telling mom that you are here with your girlfriend?"

Immediately, he responds with "Twenty, obviously!" He gives Emily a quick kiss, so that she understands that it's not her fault. But before anyone can start the countdown between Nolan and I, Declan speaks up, "Wait, why wouldn't your mom know you're with Emily? Aren't you allowed to be out alone together?"

Nolan and I both laugh. "We," he says, pointing between himself and me, "are not allowed to date at all. Ireland nearly got pummeled this morning for going on that date last night." Nolan laughs but Declan does not.

In fact, he seems to tense up at this, and promptly excuses himself from the game. I sigh, rolling my eyes at his dramatic exit, and follow him out to Mathis's kitchen, only now wondering where his parents are at.

"What's wrong?" I ask, as he takes a seat at the island, putting his hands over his face.

"Well, I'm kind of into you," he states, in an obvious tone, as though I didn’t understand this.

"Yeah," I say in an equal tone, challenging him, "I'm kind of into you, too. I thought we were pretty solid on that."

He sweeps his hair over with his hand, sighing as he does so. "Well, I can't exactly have a normal relationship with you if you're not allowed to date me."

I roll my eyes, "Nolan and Emily do just fine." I shrugged as though it is simple, and, to me at least, it is.

"Maybe I would like to do normal couple things," he says, clearly getting irritated with me. He sighs once again and faces me straight on, "Let's just go back out there and enjoy tonight. We'll worry about this tomorrow." He exits the kitchen and I find myself stunned. I didn't think that we had to worry about anything.

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