I have butterflies in my stomach.
The problem with this is that I always drive way too fast when I’m nervous or apprehensive, having to concentrate hard on keeping my foot off the gas and unclenching my hands, because I’m currently hanging on to the steering wheel for dear life.
I haven’t seen Alex DiAngelo for three years. I was sixteen, shy, overweight and had braces and acne. Not that it would have mattered, because he’s fifteen years older than me – just five years younger than my dad – and completely oblivious to my existence, other than as his friend’s gawky daughter.
The thing is, Alex was my first crush. Although I only met him a handful of times, my younger self was tongue tied at the sheer maleness of him. The day I had first set eyes on Alex was the day I had started becoming aware of my own blossoming womanhood, and my capacity for desire. He was hot, and more than that, he oozed alpha male testosterone from every pore. It’s perhaps no wonder that none of the boys at college have ever managed to hold my attention. On some level they have all been compared to Alex, and all been found wanting.
I did try once. But he got fed up with only kissing and decided I was too much of a prude. It was fine by me, because I had already decided that my being a prude wasn’t the problem…the problem was that I didn’t want him.
Because he wasn’t Alex. I even thought about Alex during my first kiss, and while all my friends were fantasizing over movie stars and pop boys, I was fantasizing about Alex.
And now I’m about to see him again, and I’m nervous as hell. Of course, he will have no idea. I’m just his best friend’s daughter that he doesn’t really know. They met after my parents split up when he joined my Dad’s yacht club, and when I saw Dad on weekends it was just me and him most of the time. I mean, what teenage girl wants to hang out with her father’s friends? Except, of course, most teenage girl fathers’ friends are not Alex.
I check my dash, realize I’m speeding and ease my foot off the gas. See, even thinking about him gets me flustered. I loosen my grip on the wheel and tsk at myself in the mirror, telling myself to calm down. Yes, I’m about to spend a week at my Dad’s beach house in Florida with my father and Alex, but nothing is going to happen. He would never be interested in me. Okay, I look a lot different these days, thanks to a low carb diet, a skincare regime and the removal of my braces, but I’m still my Dad’s daughter, way too unsophisticated for him and Alex is far too good a guy to look twice at me.
But a girl can dream, right? Quite how I’m going to get through the next week without Dad realizing what’s up or making a total fool of myself in front of Alex I don’t know. If it was anyone else I’d probably be offended this was supposed to be a break for me and my father. It was only at the last minute that he announced Alex was coming too. Apparently he’s been having a rough time although my Dad didn’t elaborate. A woman? The last I heard he was single.
As I take the turn off for the beach house my phone rings. It’s Dad. I plug in my hands-free.
“Hey Dad. I’m nearly there, have you arrived?” I refrain from asking about Alex.
“Sweetheart, I am so sorry, but it’s going to take me a couple of days to get down to you. Nana’s kitchen has flooded and I have to go over and sort it out for her. I can’t leave until it’s sorted, you know how she gets.”
I have to smile at that. Nana is a battle-axe.
“So I’ll be on my own?” I try not to sound too disappointed about it.
“Alex was already on the flight down, he will be there this afternoon. I’m sorry sweetheart but I’m sure you can entertain him until I get there?”
Thank god I don’t have him on video call because I can feel my cheeks flaming. My heart is thudding in my chest. I’m going to be on my own with Alex.
“I’m sorry,” Dad repeats. “I’ll make sure I’m there for the holiday.”
I had been too busy thinking about Alex to even remember the reason for the beach house trip, it was the 4th of July in three days.
“It’s okay,” I reassured him. “I’ll be fine. Give Nana a hug for me and don’t let her terrify the plumbers.”
My Dad chuckles before we cut the call and I exhale slowly, checking my speed again.