Time stood still and the world melted into oblivion as I stood there, Ian’s gentle touch my only link to the world I suddenly forgot existed. I felt as if I were in a dream, a beautiful, wonderful dream from which I never wanted to wake, and then, suddenly, everything changed. Objects in the room came back into focus, sounds of Mrs. Wallace making dinner faintly drifted in through the open door and air rushed back into my lungs so suddenly it made me gasp.
“Are you alright?” Ian asked, looking up from book he’d been reading.
Unable to speak, I nodded slowly in reply, my mind a befuddled mess. Hadn’t Ian been standing in front of me, just a second ago? I was pretty sure he had been, but if that were the case, how did he get back to his bed and his book so fast?
Ian sat there looking at me a second longer and then went back to his book just as if he’d always been there. His demeanor was so cool and collected that as I stood there, I began to wonder if the kiss hadn’t just been a dream. Was I really so obsessed with Ian that I could imagine something as amazing as that kiss? I didn’t think that were the case, but Ian was so calm, I began to wonder. I didn’t see how anyone could be so cool after a kiss that hot, unless maybe it was all in my head. If that were the case, it was a good thing I had the next two weeks off of school, maybe the stress was starting to get to me.
“I thought you needed to get home,” Ian pointed out without bothering to look up from the pages of his book.
“Um, yeah, I do,” I stammered as I struggled to find my voice.
“Well, then you should probably go.”
“Hum? Oh, right. Okay. Well, Merry Christmas.”
“Merry Christmas,” Ian replied, his nose still stuck in his book.
I drove home that night feeling like such a freak. I had just experienced my first real kiss and I had no idea if it were actually real. Weren’t people usually aware of when they’d been kissed? I’d always thought they were, but there I was doubting that the kiss had ever happened. Oh, the doubt in my mind was frustrating. If Ian had been like any other guy, there would have been no doubt about the kiss, but he wasn’t and there was and I spent the next week obsessing over a kiss I wasn’t really sure had happened.
Normally I would have called Maggie and Yuuki and asked their opinion on the situation, but I just couldn’t bring myself to call them, this time, because I already knew what they would say. I would tell them what happened, and how things had gone afterward and they would have laughed and told me I really needed to forget about Ian, especially now that I was hallucinating and fantasizing over kisses I thought were real. After a little debate I would end up agreeing with them and that would be the end of the conversation; the problem with that was that whether or not the kiss had been real, the memory of it was something I intended to cherish forever and I hated the idea of having that memory marred by the doubt of my friends.
I tried hiding the kiss from my mom but it didn’t really work, she could tell something was bothering me the minute I walked into the house.
“Lyla, honey, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” I insisted, hoping my mom would let it go at that. “What’s for dinner?”
“Tacos. Now why don’t you chop some lettuce and tell me what’s bothering you.”
“I told you, nothing. I’m fine, really.”
“You don’t really expect me to believe that, do you?”
“I was hoping.”
“Because it’s stupid,” I groaned.
“What is honey?”
“Boys,” I muttered.
“Usually,” my mom chuckled, “though they’re not all bad.”
“Maybe not, but they’re all confusing.”
“You’ve got a point there. So is there anything I can help you with? I’m no expert, but I may be able to help a little.”
“Thanks, but I think this is just one of those things I’m going to have to figure out on my own.”
“Well, if you need any help, I’m always here.”
“I know mom, thanks.”
After several days of thought and reflection, I decided that the best thing I could do was just forget about the kiss altogether. As wonderful as the memory of that kiss was, the fact that I wasn’t sure it had happened at all made me realize that it would be pointless to dwell on it. If the kiss had been real, Ian’s nonchalance afterward proved that nothing would change between us and if the kiss were just a dream, the results would be the same. I decided it was far better to be hurt by the cold silence that reigned between us than to expect a miracle and be bitterly disappointed so I did the only thing I could; I sealed the memory of that kiss deep within my heart. I hoped that in doing so, the memory would never resurface and I would be free from any pain Ian might try to inflict; the problem was that only time would tell if I had succeeded.
By the time I walked up the Wallace’s drive, the following Monday, I was back to my normal self. I thought of nothing but my lesson as I rang the doorbell and paid more attention to a few softly falling snowflakes than I did to Ian when he answered the door. Mrs. Wallace appeared a second after I stepped inside and my lesson began immediately. With the holidays essentially over, Mrs. Wallace insisted I get back to my recital pieces, which I was more than happy to do. The recital, which was scheduled for the end of April, I was reminded, would be here before I knew it, and I still had a long way to go before I was ready. Mrs. Wallace informed me that until then, I would be working on nothing but my recital pieces.
“It’s not enough to just know the notes,” she informed me, “anyone can do that. No, to play well, you must feel the passion of the music and you must play with your heart.”
I nodded in silence as Mrs. Wallace droned on and on about music and passion and the power of music. It didn’t take long for my mind to start wandering; it wasn’t that I wasn’t interested in what she was saying it was more that she was saying things I already knew. Not long after my mind wandered, my eyes began to wander as well, wandering first around the room before venturing into the hall beyond. I was just beginning to enjoy the painting that hung just beyond the door when something out of the corner of my eye caught my attention and I glanced to the side, locking eyes with an annoyed looking Ian. He rolled his eyes dramatically as he flashed me a quick half-smile before turning his attention to his mom.
“Hey mom, are you finished yet?”
“Ian, what on earth are you doing? You know better than to interrupt a lesson.”
“Yeah, but I think you’re going to have to cut this one short.”
“And why is that?”
“Look outside,” Ian instructed coolly.
Curiosity got the better of me as Mrs. Wallace sat there, glaring at her son, and I went to the window, pulling back the rich, heavy curtains to see what could possibly warrant such an unexpected interruption.
“Oh no,” I gasped as I stared out at the heavily falling snow that blew violently against the window.
“What is it dear?” Mrs. Wallace asked, her voice a hundred times more gentle than when she had addressed her son.
“I’ve got to go home, now,” I announced as I grabbed my things and headed for the door.
“Oh my,” Mrs. Wallace sighed from the window. “I didn’t think we were supposed to be getting any snow until tomorrow.”
“Yeah, well, it’s here now and they’re saying it’s not going anywhere for the rest of the evening,” Ian informed us, “it’s all over the news. They’re telling everyone to stay indoors and off the roads, if at all possible.”
“Lyla, honey, what are you doing?” Mrs. Wallace cried as I threw on my coat and started for the front door.
“I’ve got to get home, my mom’ll be worried about me.”
“Didn’t you hear what Ian just said? You can’t go out in this!”
My phone rang before I could say anything else and I pulled it out of my pocket knowing there could only be one person on the other end of the line.
“Hey mom,” I answered “what’s up?”
“Lyla, where are you, are you alright, you’re not driving are you?”
“Um, no, I’m still at my lesson. Why?”
“The weather, it’s just crazy! I left early to run some errands and slid right past the bank. I just barely managed to make it home.”
“Are you alright?”
“I’m fine, but I don’t want you driving in this, not in that old car of yours,” my mom announced, her voice suddenly taking on her stern ‘I’m the mom, do what I say’ tone.
“No Lyla, it’s too dangerous.”
“But I’ve driven in the snow a zillion times…”
“I know, but you’re not driving in it today, now, is Mrs. Wallace there?”
“Give the phone to her please.”
Annoyed at my mom for playing the mom card, I told Mrs. Wallace my mom wanted to speak with her and then handed her my phone. I knew what my mom was going to do the second she asked to speak with Mrs. Wallace and the one-sided conversation I overheard confirmed all of my worst fears.
“Uh-huh,” Mrs. Wallace nodded. “Oh, absolutely. Oh, I know, I understand completely. Oh, it’s no problem at all. No, we’d love to have her. Oh no. Now don’t you worry, we’ll take good care of her. Yes. Uh-huh. Alright, here you go.”
Mrs. Wallace handed me the phone, beaming and I took it, knowing what my mom was going to say the second I said hello.
“Hey mom,” I growled.
“Lyla, this is for the best. It’s too dangerous for you to be driving.”
“But mom, it’s only…”
“Lyla, no. You’re not driving home in a blizzard and that’s final. Mrs. Wallace has assured me you’ll be well looked after…”
“As if I really needed that,” I muttered.
“And you can come home as soon as the roads are clear tomorrow.”
“Lyla, you’re staying and that’s that.”
“Fine,” I grumbled in defeat.
“I know you don’t like this but you’ll be fine. Mrs. Wallace is a very nice woman and you’ve got her son there to keep you company. Really, I don’t understand why you’re so upset about this arrangement; haven’t you had a crush on that boy for years?”
“Sorry, honey, I just couldn’t resist. Now be good and I’ll see you tomorrow. I love you.”
“Love you too,” I muttered before hanging up.
“Well,” Mrs. Wallace sighed with a smile as I shoved my phone back into my coat pocket, “now that that’s all settled, you might as well come in and make yourself comfortable. Ian, why don’t you move Lyla’s car into the driveway before the snow gets any worse, you know you can’t leave a car on the road in weather like this.”
“I can move my car,” I insisted.
“Nonsense, Ian can do it while we get you settled. Now hand him your keys and come with me.”
Without any other choice, I gave Ian my keys, mouthing a silent “sorry” as I did. Ian just shrugged as he took the keys and donned his coat and boots.
“Come with me dear,” Mrs. Wallace instructed as Ian stepped out into the swirling snow. “Oh, and if you don’t mind, would you leave your shoes here, in the foyer.”
I left my shoes as I was instructed and followed Mrs. Wallace as she gave me a tour of the house, leading me first upstairs where she found me a pair of pajamas for later. After the tour of the upstairs bedrooms she led me through the main floor of the house which consisted of not only the music room and formal living room but also a formal dining room, an enormous kitchen, a breakfast nook and a small sitting room. From there she led me downstairs where we were greeted by the booming of explosions and the rat-a-tat of machine gun fire.
“Colin,” Mrs. Wallace cried as she led me into the semi-dark of a room illuminated by the glow of an enormous television.
“Yeah?” Dr. Wallace’s voice called from the other side of the massive leather sofa.
“Would you mind turning that off for a moment, we have a guest.”
“We do? Ah, so we do,” Dr. Wallace smiled as the TV screen went black and the lights turned on above us. “Good evening, Lyla, isn’t it?”
“That’s right. Good evening Dr. Wallace.”
“Colin, I’m going to show Lyla her room and then I’m going to go start on supper, would you mind helping me?”
“Certainly, my dear,” Dr. Wallace answered with a grin, “and what are we having this evening?”
“Spaghetti, oh, unless of course, you’d rather have something else, Lyla dear. I’m so sorry, I didn’t even think to ask you what you’d like to have for dinner.”
“Spaghetti’s great,” I assured her.
“Wonderful,” Dr. Wallace smiled, “I’ll go start on the salad.”
Dr. Wallace headed up the stairs as Mrs. Wallace showed me to one of the two guest rooms situated just off the family room. The room I was to sleep in felt more like the room of some chic hotel than the guest room in someone’s house. Mrs. Wallace placed the pajamas I was to wear on the foot of the overstuffed queen sized bed and then proceeded to turn down the sheets and draw the curtains. If the room itself didn’t make me feel like I was in a hotel, the turn-down service of Mrs. Wallace did. From there she led me into the bathroom where she pointed out everything I would need for the night.
“Please feel free to make yourself at home,” she instructed as she placed a pile of clean towels next to the enormous jacuzzi tub, “and if there’s anything you need, just let me know. Alright?”
“Thank you,” I smiled, amazed at the luxuriousness of my surrounding.
“Well, I’m off to work on dinner. Feel free to watch TV or there are books and magazines in the family room if you’d rather read.”
“Do you need any help?”
“No, no, you’re our guest. You just enjoy yourself and I’ll call you when it’s time to eat.”
In a flash, Mrs. Wallace was gone and I was left trying to figure out how I was going to survive an evening at the Wallace’s. It wasn’t that I wasn’t thrilled by the prospect of spending an entire night with Ian, I mean being stranded in a blizzard with the guy you like is the stuff most girls would kill for, but things with Ian were so complicated that spending the night at his house was bound to make things even more difficult. Ian had a way of being a completely normal human being, when he wasn’t at school, and I figured that in the comfort of his own home, he’d either be even more likeable or be furious that I had invaded his only place of refuge. For a second I pictured Ian as Superman, sitting in his fortress of solitude, undisturbed by the world and then suddenly I appear, much like Lex Luthor, and ruin everything. Not wanting to actually fulfill the role of evil villain, I decided to remain as unseen as possible. I knew that joining the family for dinner was unavoidable but until then and for as much of the night as possible, I’d keep to the basement and hope I was forgotten.