“It’s that here I am teasing them when we are only moments away from really being able to have each other fully. I’m thinking it’s funny and laughing about it.” I wring my hands. I always do this when I get upset about something or can’t find the answer to a question. “It’s mean. I’m a brat. They are so good to me and here I am making things hard on them.” As the night wore on, I felt worse by the second. Levi had practically run from me; his face looked so pained.

“Okay, I can see that. I hadn’t thought about it that way, but now you see it and you’ll stop doing it.” She sits up too. “Besides, isn’t your birthday only a couple days away.”

“Only one, really, if you consider I turn eighteen at midnight, which I do. Finally!” I groan. I’ll still have to wait though. I have classes first thing in the morning. I also have a feeling it isn’t only my birthday they’re waiting for. I’m not sure if tomorrow will even be the day, but after how last night went, I’m not going to push them. It wouldn’t be fair.

Erika snorts, putting her hands in the air as if she is about to tell me something really important. A revelation of some kind. “Wait! V-day,” she corrects through laughter and I can’t help but join her. It’s so stupid it’s funny.

“I only have to stay away from them for the rest of today.” I glance at the clock, knowing it’s going to be a long day. Then maybe we can at least touch each other more. I need to be closer to them. This ache inside of me is only getting worse each day. It’s almost painful.

“Fine, since we’re now best friends, as you so kindly informed me, I’ll take one for the team.” Erika gets up from her bed and pulls something out from under a stack of books. I recognize the paper immediately when I see the bear on it.

“You stole that.” I point at the sheet of paper.

“I was kinda hoping you’d forget about it.”

I hop off my bed and grab the paper from her hand. “We can make it!” I shout. The event doesn’t start for thirty minutes. “Maybe helping the bears will help my guilt.”

“Not sure that’s how that works, but I guess we can give it a go.” Her face scrunches.

“We don’t have to.” I hand the paper back to her. I don’t want her to do something she doesn’t want to. I already forced the party on her. I forced myself on the twins. Maybe I’m pushier than I know.

“No, we’ll go. I need to get out more. I can’t hide away forever,” she mutters, but she still doesn’t sound okay about it. I know she only offered to be nice. Now she’s backtracking and I’m not going to let her. If she thinks she needs to get out more, then I can help with that.

“How about we go, and if it’s awkward or sucks we bail?” I offer. “We can even have a code word to let each other know.”

“I’m going to have to find my swimsuit.” She glances towards where her clothes are. “It probably has dust on it.”

I laugh and go in search of mine. I slip on the too-bright pink bikini and pull on shorts to cover it. I grab the shirt I’d had made with Levi and Zeke. I may not be hanging out with them, but I can have this. I pull it on over my bikini top and slip on some flip-flops. I pull my hair up into a messy bun and I’m all set to go.

When I turn back around, Erika is sliding on a shirt over her one-piece black bathing suit. She digs in her clothes again to find a pair of shorts and pulls them on. Her shirt hangs past them, almost making it look like she doesn’t have anything on under the shirt, but I don’t tell her that. It reminds me of the dress shirts that are in style now and she looks super hot.

“Let’s do this.” She slips on her own flip-flops and we head out. It isn’t until we’re almost there that I realize I didn’t bring my purse or phone.

“Crap.” I stop walking and look at Erika. “I forgot my purse and my phone.”

“It’s cool. I have mine. We’ll only need it if we want to grab some food after.” I nod in agreement. It’s probably for the best so I don’t keep checking Levi’s and Zeke’s location like a stalker. Maybe we all just need some time to cool off. This will do us all some good. I’m going to make the best of today and enjoy my girls’ day with Erika. I push the twins to the back of my mind and set my mind to saving some bears.

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