Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Through Sophie's Eyes: Chapters 7 and 8

Chapter 7

            My life couldn’t have been any better.  My best friend was back, my job was amazing and I just plain out felt good about myself.  Today was no exception.  It was another Friday and work was a breeze. The weekend was right around the corner and it was going to be a good one. 

            JD and I finally made plans to introduce his friend Jessie and my girl Lacey to each other.  I suggested going to the club me and Lacey always went to.  JD also insisted on having dinner before that.  It was a date.  Well not a date for JD and me but a date for Lacey and Jessie.

“I can’t wait until tonight!”  Lacey was singing behind me as we left work.  She was also doing this weird dance along with it.  I couldn’t help but laugh.

“You’re funny.” I said bluntly.

“Thanks.” She said, “I hope this guy is worth it, Soph.  If you are about to hook me up with some slime ball there will be hell to pay.” She threatened.

“Lace, just trust me.  You will not be disappointed.  As far as I know he’s sweet, smart, and definitely not bad of a looker.”  I told her.

“Yea but what if he’s changed since the last time you saw him?” She asked.

“Granted I haven’t seen him since high school, I don’t think he’s changed much.  Besides, JD wouldn’t steer ya wrong.” I reassured her.

“I hope you’re right.”  She sighed.

I thought she was just nervous maybe because she had never been on a blind date before as far as I knew.  Either way she was going to be fine.  We headed to my house to get ready.

Dinner was at 7 and it was 6:45.  The guys were going to be at the house any minute. We were sitting in my room and I was sitting on my bed ready to go.  Lacey on the other hand was still deciding what to wear.

“I don’t know what to wear. Ahh!”  Lacey screamed from my closet.

“Calm down. You’ll find something.” I said calmly.

She came out with a sad look on her face, “Can you help me?” She asked.

“You want me to help you?” I asked shocked.  Usually it was her helping me.

“Well, yea. I’m desperate.” She answered.

“You’re lucky I love you otherwise I would have been offended by that remark.” I retorted.  I got up to help her.

“Thank you.” She smiled as she hugged me.

Fifteen minutes later she was dressed by none other than yours truly.  She was also impressed.

“You are a life savor my dear.” She complimented.

“I know.” I said with a laugh.

 Right on time the door bell rang.  Lacey practically sprinted to the window in my room to see if she could get a glimpse of Jessie.

“Would you calm down girl, everything is going to be fine.” I told her.

“Soph, you don’t understand. I hate blind dates. All the ones I have ever been on turned out to be complete disasters. That’s why I’m a bit iffy about this.” She admitted.

“First off, you’ve been on blind dates before and you didn’t tell me?  Second, I’ll be with you so no worries, k?” I said.

“Well, when you told me I got excited because we rarely go out so ya know how I am. Can u at least check him out first and then report back to me? I’ll wait up here.” She pleaded.

I couldn’t believe how nervous she was.  This was not the Lacey I was use to.  Usually she was confident and ready for anything.  I guess considering her apparent bad blind date record I could understand her hesitation.

“Ok,” I started, “I’ll be back in five.” I left her there and went to answer the door. I hope Jessie didn’t change too much from how I knew him.  If he turned into a complete jerk I will have to hurt him.  I would never set up my best friend with a jerk. I really didn’t think JD would steer me wrong anyway but you never know.

I answered the door to find two nicely dressed men. JD of course was looking good.  Aside from him Jessie was also looking pretty good.  He hadn’t changed much looks wise since high school.  The only thing that was different was the very little stubble left from his newly shaven face and he was a little taller than I remember. I think Lacey is going to like what she sees but it was up to her if she liked everything else.

“Hello darling.” JD greeted me with a short bow like he was in the presence of royalty.

“Really JD?” I laughed loudly at him. He gave me a sad look. I only laughed harder.

“Hey I’m trying to be a gentleman here.” He complained. At this point I was about to fall over with laughter. It’s the little things that made me laugh until I couldn’t breathe anymore.

“Alright Soph, breathe.” JD urged. In his attempt to help me he started laughing too.

“Ok, I knew you guys were close and all but I didn’t know you were both this weird.” Jessie spoke by the doorway. After that we both finally caught our composure. I walked over to Jessie to give him a hug hello.

“Sorry, Jessie. Don’t mind us.” I said.

“Its ok. I’ve seen weirder things happen.” He admitted.

“You’ve done weirder things.” JD interrupted. I just smiled at them.

“So Jes, how have you been?” I asked him.

“Pretty good Sophie. How have you been?” He asked back.

“Good.” I stated simply.

“Well let me tell you JD wasn’t lying.” He said.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“When he told me how ho…….” Jessie was cut off abruptly by JD’s elbow in his rib cage.

I raised my eyebrow.

“Well you look very pretty Sophie.” Jessie breathed out while composing himself.

I looked over to JD for a second and he just gave me a smirk.  Guys can definitely be strange at times.

“Thanks Jess.” I replied.

“So are we set to go?” JD asked, “Where’s Lacey?”

“Oh, um, yea.  I’ll be right back.” I said as I ran back upstairs.

Lacey was already waiting by the door.

“So…?” She questioned.

“I think everything is going to be okay.” I reassured her. “So, let’s go.” I grabbed her hand and we were off to the guys again. It was weird because usually I’m the one being dragged. The night was definitely going to be interesting.

When we got downstairs the guys were chatting on the couch. I cleared my throat to get there attention. Meanwhile Lacey still had a death grip on my hand.

“Sup Lacey?” JD asked. It was quite a different greeting from the one he gave me.

“Ok so how come you were trying to be a gentleman with me but with her you’re all casual?” I questioned.

“Well, could it be because when I was acting like a gentleman you laughed in my face?” He looked at me questionably.

“Oh yea that’s right.” I said nonchalantly.

 I heard giggles from the other two people in the room.

“Anyway, Jessie this is my friend Lacey. Lacey this is Jessie.” I introduced. Lacey finally let her grip off my hand to shake his.

“Hi.” They both said in unison.

The one thing about awkward silence is that it’s definitely awkward. Jess and Lacey just stared at each other for a minute.

“Ok, well let’s get going. I’m starved.” JD announced breaking the silence. I think he always liked being the first one to break any silence.

As we went to the car Lacey smiled brightly at me. 

“I call shot gun!” She yelled.  Jessie drove so go figure.

“Aww man.” I heard JD moan behind me.

When Lacey was by the car and out of ear shot Jessie slid passed me and whispered in my ear. “I love you.”

I knew this was going to turn out just fine.

By the time we got to the restaurant Lacey and Jessie were already talking up a storm.  He was exactly like I remembered him in high school.  He was funny, sweet, and a perfect gentleman especially with Lacey.  We all talked and laughed.  We all shared our interesting college stories with each other.  It was good to hear about JD and what happened in the years we missed.  

            Later that night, after dinner, we went to the club.  The guys loved it.  We danced, had a few drinks and the night was going great.  Lacey and Jessie eventually disappeared with each other.  All I could say was they were definitely having a good time together.  I’m glad they hit it off.  While they went off on their secret escapades, me and JD sat at the bar and chatted for a while.

            After a while my eyes drifted.  I looked across the club and saw a very familiar face.  I had to do a double take.  It was him.  It was the guy I had met a few weeks before.  I was thinking his name was Ryan.  I had to go talk to Lacey.

“Will excuse me for a minute?” I asked JD.

“Yea, sure, I’ll be here.” He said.

I walked off on my mission to find Lacey.  It was so crowded that it took me a bit longer than I thought to find her amongst the see of people.  When I finally did it, looked like her and Jessie were enjoying themselves.  I felt bad for interrupting but oh well. 

“Lacey!” I yelled over the music.  She was so caught up she didn’t hear me or even notice me standing there.  I grabbed her shoulder and she turned around quickly with a questioning look.

“I need to talk to you!” I told her.  She nodded and excused herself from the floor.  We wound up going to the ladies room to talk for a more quiet setting.

“What’s up?” Lacey asked.

“You remember that guy I met here a few weeks ago?” I asked.

“The really cute one you blew off? Yea.” She said still a little perturbed about that night.

I rolled my eyes. “Yea.” I said.

“What about him?” She asked with a raised eyebrow.

“He’s here.” I said.

“And?” She questioned with a grin.  She knew what I was thinking.

“Should I talk to him again? I feel bad.  Plus, he is really cute and was very sweet.” I admitted.

She smiled brightly and said, “Yes!”

“What if he hates me?” I asked unsure.

“Then it’s his loss.  Wait, what about JD?” She asked curiously.

“What about him?” I asked confused.

“Never mind.” She said plainly. “Go talk to what’s his face.” She said sternly.

“I believe his name is Ryan.” I said. She just pushed me along out of the ladies room.  As she went back to her dancing, I searched for my destination.

I looked everywhere.  At this point Ryan had either left or he was completely lost in the crowd.  I didn’t see him anywhere.  I was slightly disappointed.  I guess that’s what I get for blowing him off in the first place.  I went back to the bar to find JD.

“Everything ok?” He asked when I got back to the stool he saved or me.

“Yea, just wanted to talk to Lace.” I told him sparing the details.

“Oh. Is she having fun with her new buddy?” He asked with a laugh.

“Oh yea.” I emphasized blatantly.  “They definitely have each others attention tonight.” I said with a laugh too.

JD smiled.  Just as he was going to say something else, some girl came up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder.  She was cute but a little drunk and wore clothes that barely fit her.  I was amused.

“You want to dance honey?” She slurred to him.

“Um,” JD stifled. 

He looked over at me with a weird look on his face.  I felt a little devious at the moment.

“He would love to.” I answered the girl for him.

At first she gave me a dirty look.  Then after a second she smiled brightly and grabbed JD’s arm to drag him to the dance floor.  His face was classic.  His eyes were wide as he was dragged off.  He also mouthed to me “Payback is a bitch.” I just laughed.  I sat by myself for a few minutes just playing with my drink and laughing to myself. JD might kill me later but it was so worth it to mess with him.

“Sophie?” Someone asked next to me.

I turned to find just the guy I was looking for earlier.  It was Ryan.

“Hey!” I said a little too loudly as I gave him a quick hug. “How are you?” I asked.

“Good, you?” He asked.

“Good.” I said.

“It’s good to see you again.” He said.

“Yea, you too.” I said

I felt really bad about the first time we met.  Seeing him again was awkward but suddenly I felt bold.

“Ryan, I’m really sorry.  I didn’t’ mean to blow you off the first time we met.  I think I just panicked because I’m not much of a dater.  So it just came out that way.  The thing is you are very sweet and I enjoyed talking to you that night.  I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.  That would be great.  If not, I understand.  But I would really like it if you gave me another chance.” I confessed.

Okay now I was nervous.  I hope he didn’t think I was crazy.

After a few seconds he smiled brightly. “I think that’s plausible.” He reassured me.

I smiled back.

“So, how bout a date then?” He asked.

“I’d love to.” I answered.

            We exchanged numbers and he left early.  Ryan said he would call me to make dinner plans soon.  It felt good to be actually planning a real date. I hadn’t had one in the longest time.  It felt good.

            JD came back looking very distraught.  I couldn’t help but laugh.  He gave me an evil look and I laughed harder.

“You think this is funny?”  He asked annoyed.

“It’s hilarious!”  I stuttered through my laughter.

“I feel violated.”  He whined.

“Aww, you’re ok little buddy.”  I padded him on the head as I giggled.

Just then he looked to his left wide eyed.  I followed his gaze and saw the same girl from before stumbling toward us.

“Oh man, Soph, hide me please?” he begged as he ducked behind me.  She kept getting closer and closer.

“JD, I don’t think that’s going to help.  I’m a lot smaller than you are.” I said with sympathy.

“Can we get out of here then?” he asked.

“Ok, you were tortured enough.” I said with a smile.

“Yes, thank you.” He yelled in my ear.

“Ow!” I said holding on to my ear.  “Why does everybody always have to yell in my ear like that?”

“Sorry, come on.”  He said pulling me along toward the door.

“Whoa,” I stopped him, “What about the two horn dogs?” I asked.  Of course, I was talking about Lacey and Jessie.

“They’ll be ok.  I’ll call Jessie later to explain.  It won’t be a problem.” He said.

“Ok but if Lacey tells me he took advantage I’m blaming you.” I warned him.

We got out the door and stopped for a moment. 

He turned to me and said, “I don’t think she would mind anyway.”

There was a moment of silence between us.

I thought about it for a second and said, “Yea, that’s true.”

Then we headed to the car. Once we were in JD breathed a sigh if relief.

“You ok? Was it really that bad?” I asked.

“You have no idea.” He said seriously.

“Oh, sorry.” I apologized.

“Don’t worry, one day you’ll gets what’s coming to you.  Like I said, payback’s a bitch.” He grinned evilly.  I raised my eyebrow at him.

“You don’t scare me.” I stated confidently.

“Yea, we’ll see.” He said.

Then we drove off to my place.

“You’re a piece of work you know that?” I said.

“Look who’s talking.’ He reiterated.

I just stuck out my tongue at him.

            The following Monday JD came by to visit me at work.  He surprised Lacey and I with some lunch.

            “Hey crazy, how’s work?” He asked as he came up behind me with a bunch of bags.  I raised an eyebrow at the sight.

            “Are you trying to feed an army?” I asked setting my camera down.

            “Honey, don’t even play like that.  I’ve seen you eat almost a whole pizza by yourself.”

            I frowned at his comment.

            “No way.  Soph, I didn’t know you were a little piggy.” Lacey chimed in.

            “I am so not.  Besides it was a medium pizza and that doesn’t count,” I whined.

            “Mmmhuh, lies,” JD said with a laugh. “It’s ok though, half this stuff is for me anyway.”

            I turned to Lacey, “See!” We all laughed.

            “Oh, before I forget I wanted to invite you guys to my place for dinner Friday night.  My mom and grandma are coming over.  Oh and mom’s bringing her boyfriend.”

            “It’s so weird to hear you say your mom’s boyfriend.”  JD laughed.

            “Yea, it’s a bit weird for me to say it.  Boyfriend is like a younger term.  Plus she’s like never had someone before, as far as I know, since my dad.  Maybe I should just say my mom’s man or something.” 

            “That could work.” Lacey added. 

            “Yea so I’m cooking.  I’ll take any volunteers for help,” I smiled sweetly. 

            “How could we refuse that face?” she said with a little sarcasm.

            “Haha.  You know if you help you could invite Jessie too, right?” I told her.

“Have I told you how happy it would make me to be of service to you?”

Lacey and I laughed.

“Good, you could help me cook, girl!”  I smiled brightly.

“Yay.”  She said with no enthusiasm what so ever. “Just kidding!  You know I’m down girl.”  She smiled brightly.

“Me too!”  JD chimed in with his mouth full of food.

I enjoyed my little lunch hour with my two best buddies.  We talked and laughed the whole time.  That was, until my client showed up and interrupted us.  It was that annoying, stuck up model that I wished would go bother some other photographer.  The truth was I didn’t need to work with her but I owed someone a favor so I was stuck for a little bit.

            “Excuse me,” She started rudely, “but I’m here so can we do this?  I don’t have all day ya know.”

            Lacey and I gave each other knowing looks.  JD just looked confused.  It took all my strength to remain completely professional and calm.

            “You’re a bit early.  Lunch isn’t over for another 15 minutes.”

            She gave me an annoyed look before she turned to see JD.  Her face quickly softened and she gave an almost sweet smile his way.

            “Don’t mind if join you then.”  It was more for a demand from her rather than a question.  Before I could protest in any way she took a seat right next to JD.

            “Hi, I’m Vicki,” she introduced herself to him.  So that was her name.

            The next fifteen minutes were torture for me.  I had to watch as Vicki shamelessly and blatantly flirted with JD.  Now, I was never one for violence but at that point I could have scratched her eyes out.  I had hoped he wasn’t falling for the act.  She was a Bitch with a capitol “B” and he could do a whole lot better than her cheap trashy ass.  My blood was boiling.  

            Lacey must have seen my eyes burning because she quickly interrupted their little pow wow.  She almost dragged Vicki away from the table so we could get back to work. 

            “She seems nice,” JD commented when we were alone.

            I laughed. “You’re kidding, right?”

            “I don’t know.”

            “Dude, seriously she’s completely self centered and mean.”

            “She was nice to me.”

            “Of course she was nice to you.  You’re hot!”  I accidentally blurted. “I mean she’s only nice when she chooses to be.  She was nice because she wants you.  She’s such a fake.”

            JD looked over to her across the room.

            “Please tell me you’re not going to go there,” I pleaded.

            “Well, she is pretty cute.”

            “Oh come on! Really?  JD, are you really going to try a hand at that when not only do I hate the girl but she’d a freaking ice queen.”

            JD laughed. “Relax girl.  I’m just playing with you.  Trust me I’ll take your word for it ok.  I know way too many people the same way.  I could spot them from a mile away.  I was just being nice because you have to work with her.  Don’t worry Soph, I’m not going to go there.”

            I breathed a sigh of relief.  “Why you got to mess with me for?  Anyway no matter how “nice” you are it will never make her be “nice” to me or anybody else.  Plus you could do a lot better than that.  She’s not good for you.  She’s not good for anybody.”

            He smiled at me and for a moment we just looked at each other.

            “Soph!”  Lacey shouted form across the room. 

            “Coming,” I yelled back. “You hanging around a little longer?”  I asked JD.

            “Yea, I’ll be around.”

            “K, wish me luck.”

            “Luck.”  He laughed.

            JD wound up staying the rest of the day.  He said they didn’t need him at work and he didn’t have anything else to do.  Of course, when he’s bored the first person he goes to is me.  I could have taken that as an insult but the truth was I liked having him around.

            Later Lacey and I got ready to finally get out of work and not have to deal with that girl.  I forgot her name again.  As I was grabbing my bag I saw “that girl” talking to JD again.  I hoped he really meant what he said to me about not going there.  I watched as she slipped him her number and left.  Before I could walk over to JD and give him a piece of my mind, he looked over at me with a grin.  He took the piece of paper with her number on it, ripped it up, and threw it in the trash.  I definitely needed to stop worrying so much. 

Friday Night Dinner

            It was the night of my family dinner.  It was very rare that I had the chance to have these get togethers being that everyone was always busy.  Since that was the case I liked to go all out for the occasion.  As much as I loved to do that, it was still very stressful.  Plus something always tended to go wrong.  Whether it was me burning the food or dropping a cake on the floor something was bound to happen.  That also added to the stress levels.  It didn’t help that I was cooking for more people than I usually did either.  I was cooking for seven rather than just the three that I’m use to.  Usually it was just myself, my mom, and my grandma.  Four more people were going to be a doosy.  Plus, three of them are guys.  You do the math.  It’s statistically known that men tend to consume a lot more food than women.  So technically I was cooking for, I would say about ten people.  Oh what fun…luckily I had some help.

            Being the doll that she was, Lacey helped me cook.

            “It’s been a long time since I had a nice home cooked meal.”  Lacey said while making a salad.   “I’m kind of excited.”

            “I’m glad you are,” I started, “I feel like this may just be a complete disaster.”

            “Don’t say that Sophie.  It will all be fine.  You just need to relax.”

            “I’m just a bit nervous because I never had to cook this much food before.  Plus, Larry is coming and I want to make a good impression” I confessed nervously.

            “Sophie haven’t you met him like a gazillion times?  He’s barely a guest anymore.  He’s like family.”

            “I know Lace, but this is the first time I’m hosting.”

            She walked up to me and grabbed my face between her hands. 

            “You will do fine.  Just breathe.” She said as she demonstrated a breathing exercise.  I couldn’t help but follow her method. 

            “Who’s this Larry guy?”  Someone asked by the kitchen door.  Lacey and I jumped at the voice.

            “Jessie, you scared the living daylights out of us.”  Lacey told him a little annoyed.

            “Sorry, babe.”  He told her with a flirtatious grin.  She quickly got over and ran to say hello to him.

            “Um, Jessie?”  I questioned.

            “Yea, Soph.”

            “How did you get in my house?”  I was very curious to know because I’m pretty sure I locked the door.

            “Oh, JD has a key. Well found the one under the door mat.”  He explained.

            “Ooo…you were kind of freaking me out a little there.  I thought you broke in.”  I joked.          

            He just laughed. “Don’t worry, if I was going to break in anywhere it would only be Lacey’s place.”  Lacey poked him in the stomach for that one.

            “Where is JD anyway?” I asked.

            “He helped himself to the bathroom.”  JD answered himself as he walked into the kitchen.  “Smells good in here.  What we eating?”

            “Food.”  I said as I smacked his hand away from the pot on the stove. 

            “Hey you girls didn’t answer my question from before.  Who’s Larry?”  Jessie asked again.

            “My mom’s man.”

            “Oh ok.”

            “I finally get to meet the man who swept my future mother in law off her feet.”  JD over dramatized.

            “Mother in law?  Did I miss something?”  Lacey asked dumbfounded.  I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who caught that one.

            “Well, Sophia and I are engaged to be married.”

            He was definitely off of his rocker today.

 “Have you been drinking?” I asked him. 

“No, but I’m just saying if your not married by the time you’re forty then I got dibs.”

“You are out of your mind JD.”

He just smiled brightly.  When I looked over at Lacey she looked utterly confused yet completely satisfied with what he said.  I chose to ignore it and get on with the day.

While Lacey and I finished up the cooking the boys cleaned up and set the dining room table.  Not long after everything was ready my other guests arrived.  It was always good to see my family.  I tried to see them as much as I possibly could.  That was the most important thing in my life.  Family always comes first. 

My mom was so excited to see JD again.  She bragged about how handsome he was and talked about when JD and I were kids.  She mentioned how we always use to get in trouble together. She was proud of the both of us and who we’ve become.  She got a little sappy there.  It was refreshing though.  It was also great to see my mom so happy with Larry.

Dinner was great and it mostly went down without a hitch.  The only thing that went wrong was me knocking my drink over on the table.  Of course I had to have one spill with my accident prone self.  Luckily instead of getting upset I joked about it and we all had a nice laugh.

A little later after dinner we all sat down for some coffee and cake.

“Sophie, there’s something I have to tell you.”  My mom started.

“What?”  I asked nervously.  Everyone around the table looked curious too.

“Well, Larry and I…are getting married.”  She said excitedly.

I was completely speechless for a moment.  The room was silent like everyone was waiting for my approval.

“Oh my goodness.  That’s great you guys!!”  After saying that, the table erupted in excitement and congratulations.  I jumped up to give my mom and Larry congratulatory hugs and kisses.  I told JD to grab the champagne in the cabinet and we popped it open to celebrate.

I couldn’t believe it.  My mom was getting married.  I was unbelievably happy for her.  Plus, I love weddings and since it was my mother’s I got to help plan.  I couldn’t get the smile off of my face for the rest of the night.

Soon the crowd dissipated and I was saying good night to my family and my new step dad to be.  Actually I would much rather just call him my dad.  He was the closest thing to a real father than I ever had.  He was a great man and my mom was very lucky.

Lacey and Jessie helped clean up.  Right after we were all done they decided to call it a night and left together.  That left JD at my house, and ride-less.  I only realized that after the fact the two love birds left while JD was in the bathroom.  Jessie drove JD to my place and I had picked Lacey up myself. So JD’s ride was gone.  When he came out he didn’t seem to mind Jessie leaving him with me.  He plopped right on my couch with a big sigh.

“You ok?’  I asked curiously.

“Eh.”  He said simply.

“That’s not an answer mister.”

“I’m just a little stressed with work and all.”  He confessed.

“Oh. That sucks.  Anything I can do?”  I asked a bit concerned.

“Nah…I just have to deal with it.”

He seemed so sad at that moment.  I couldn’t believe he didn’t mention it to me all night.  He seemed pretty happy to me until everyone left.  Just then something popped in my head.

“Get your shoes on.  I want to show you something.”  I told him.  He raised an eyebrow but followed anyway.

We got in my car and drove a short distance to our destination. 

“You’re not going to murder me and throw me onto the side of the road, are you?”  JD asked jokingly.

“Haha very funny.  If I wanted to do that it would have been done already.”  I said seriously.  I looked over at him and giggled.  He just made a face.

We arrived to our destination.  I wanted to show him the place where I go when I needed to de-stress.  It was a little secluded area with a lonely gazebo.

“Come on,” I told him, “I come here when I want to get away from it all.  No one’s hardly ever around this place especially at night.  It’s just nice to sit back and look at the stars.”  I explained.

“This is kind of nice.”  He smiled, “Is this your secret place?”

“I guess you can say that so shhh, don’t tell anybody.” 

“Don’t worry your secret is safe with me.”  He said genuinely.

“Alright help my up.”

“Up where?”  He asked confused.

“We’re going to climb on top.”

“Well look at you, you little rebel.” 

“Shut up.”  I laughed.

We made our way onto the roof of the gazebo and laid there for a while just looking at the stars.

“This is very nice.  I’m honored to be a part of your secret.”  JD confessed.

“I’m glad you like it.”

“I can’t believe your mom is getting married.”  He started a new conversation.

“I know.  It’s great though, ya know.  She’s so happy.”  I smiled brightly.

“Yea it’s awesome.”

Silence overtook us.  I don’t know if it was the silence or what but for a moment I felt a little nervous to be lying next to JD.  We just laid there without a word listening to each other breathing.  I almost felt like I could do it forever just us two together in complete silence.  My brain decided to break the silence.

“We should play 21 questions or something.”  I said randomly.


“You first.”  I told JD.

“Isn’t it supposed to be ladies first?”  He questioned.

“Exactly so you go first.”  I laughed. 

JD just gave me a weird look. “Fine, what’s your biggest regret?”

“That’s easy.  Not going to prom in high school.”  I admitted.

“I thought you didn’t care about prom?”  He asked curiously.

“I don’t know.  It’s like it wasn’t a big deal but it was. I can’t really describe it.  I just wish I would have gone.”

“Hey I offered…”  JD started.

“I know, I know.  What’s done is done.  It was my mistake.  Can’t take it back now.”  I said sadly.

Before JD could say anything else about it I asked the next question.

“Do you think there’s one person for everyone?”  I asked JD seriously curious what he thought. 

“I’m not too sure,” he started, “Considering today’s divorce rate a lot of people play the field there whole lives.”

“Well, I mean from your experience and your opinion.” 

“Considering both our track records over the years, it’s hard to tell.”  He stated.

I laughed. “Speak for yourself mister.”  I joked.

He laughed too.  “Nah, but seriously I don’t know. I may wind up alone.”  He confessed sadly.

“Aww, don’t say that.  If there’s anything I’m sure about it’s that you will find someone very special one day.”  I told him genuinely.

“Really?”  He asked. 

I couldn’t believe he doubted himself so much.  He was a great catch and girls absolutely adored him.

“Yeah man,” I said, “One day someone will come along and blow you away.  You’ll know when it’s the one you want to spend the rest of your life with because you’ll actually be able to picture a wedding in your future.” I laughed.  “You’ll picture this woman walking down the isle looking gorgeous and you will have the goofiest smile on your face.  People will probably think you’re crazy but you won’t care because you’ll know you’re completely and utterly in love.”  I liked over dramatizing sometimes so I made sure to emphasize my words and gestures as I spoke.

“Okay.” He said simply with a laugh. “You have quite the imagination.”

“Haha!”  I said sarcastically.

“But you might be right.”  He admitted.

Chapter 8

            The next night I had spent two hours getting ready for my date with Ryan. He had called me in the middle of the week to make our plans.  I couldn’t remember the last time I had a date before him.  That fact alone made me nervous.  Dating was not my forte.  It seemed every time I went on one something would go wrong.  I had a tendency to always think that way with everything.  I was prepared for disaster. 

Of course, Lacey came by to help me get ready as per usual. She was more enthusiastic than ever.

“Oh my goodness, I cannot believe my Sophie is actually going on a real date.  How long has been again?  Five years?” She asked trying to be funny.

“A year, thank you very much.” I shot her a peeved look.

“Oh well excuse me.  May as well been 5.” She remarked.

I frowned. “Lace, this is not that big of a deal.  It’s just a date.  Who knows what’s going to come out of it.” I said trying to hold in my nervousness.

“It’s just a date,” she mocked, “Don’t give me that b.s.  It’s totally a big deal.  Plus, Ryan’s totally hot.  If he didn’t like you I would have totally moved in on him already.” She babbled.

“Speaking of  totally hot guys, how’s it going with Jessie?  You guys seemed pretty cozy at the club last weekend and at our dinner last night.” I changed the subject quickly.

“Nice change of subject,” She started.  She knew me too well. “But I don’t kiss and tell.” She said.

I looked at her completely confused and said, “Yes you do.”

“Whatever.  That’s not the point.  It’s a convo for another day.  Right now it’s about you and Ryan.”  She said.

“But…” I started.

“No buts missy,” she interrupted, “No offense but I’m surprised you’re even going out with him.” She completely turned the discussion around.

“Why?” I asked curiously.

“First off you blew him off the first time. Secondly, I totally thought you had a thing for JD.” She looked at me also curious.

“What!? No way.  How many times do I have to tell you we’re just friends?” I asked surprised by her comment.

“Until you’re blue in the face. Anyway, you look perfect.  I do a nice job of cleaning you up if I do say so myself.”  She stated confidently.

“Yea, yea.” I said trying to ignore her sly comments.

“Ryan is going to melt into a puddle of mush when he sees you.” She assured me.

“You are a walking over-exaggeration.” I smiled.  As much as she could be annoying with her comments I still loved the girl.  She always knew how to make me feel good and confident. Plus she was very honest. So when she said you looked good, she meant it. 

“Alright,” she started completely ignoring my comment, “I’m going to get going. Have fun and I’ll be waiting to hear all about it tomorrow.” She gave me a hug goodbye and I was alone waiting nervously for the doorbell to ring. 

            So despite me telling Lacey the date wasn’t a big deal, she and I both knew it was.  Ryan was definitely someone to be nervous about.  He was cute, sweet, funny, and pretty much everything anyone could ever want in a guy.  So all I could do was hope I didn’t mess everything up. 

Through my thoughts I heard my doorbell ring.  I took a deep breath before answering it.  When I opened it I was surprised to see JD standing in my doorway.

“JD, what are you doing here?” I asked a little annoyed.

“Whoa, what’s with the hostility?” JD asked curiously. 

“Nothing, it’s just I have plans.” I said.

“Oh, my bad. You and Lace hittin the town?” he questioned.

“No, I kind of have a date.” I told him shyly.

“Oh, with who?” he asked.

“A guy I met.” I answered simply.

“What guy?” he asked another question.

“A guy. What’s with the third degree?” I asked curiously.

“Sorry, just curious.” He said.

There was a minute of awkward silence.  I wondered why he was asking so many questions and hoped he didn’t ask more because Ryan was going to be there any minute and I didn’t have time for this. 

“Ok well, you got to go because he’ll be here any minute.” I urged him to start heading out the door.

“You’re kicking me out?” he said shocked. “Sophia Rose Mckenzie I’m offended.  Don’t I at least get to meet the poor guy before you physically harm him?  We’re like family.  Do I embarrass you or something?”  He put his hand over his heart over dramatically with a sigh. “I think I might cry.”

I looked at him not amused. “Your’e insane.” I said. I grabbed a tissue on my side table by the couch and handed it to him. “Here, now get out and go cry somewhere else.” I told him unsympathetic to his fake pleas.

“Fine be that way.” He said as he crossed his arms over his chest and stuck his nose in the air.

“Ok well get out and I’ll call ya tomorrow.” I said as I pushed him out the door.

“Don’t I get a proper goodbye?” he asked before I could fully push him out the door.

“JD!” I said annoyed.

“Come, on.  I need a proper good bye. Ya know a hug or something.  Maybe a little make out session...” He rambled.

“Get out!” I yelled with a slight laugh.

I closed the door in his face and looked out the window to make sure he was heading to his car.  He was laughing the whole way there.  When he got to his door he saw me in the window and blew me a kiss.  I just shook my head at him.  He gave me a sly smile and left.  I laughed to myself.  He always knew how to make me laugh.

            I almost forgot what I was doing until my door bell rang again.  I hoped it wasn’t JD bugging me again or there would be hell to pay later.  I opened the door with a little hesitance to find Ryan standing there with a single rose in hand.

“Hey Sophie.” He greeted.

“Hi.” I smiled.

“You look beautiful.  This is for you.” Ryan commented handing me the rose.  I silently thanked Lacey for helping me get ready.

“Thank you.” I said blushing.

“You ready to go?” Ryan asked with a smile.

“Yea.” I answered.

With that we were on our way.

            We headed out to I don’t know where.  Apparently Ryan had a plan that he didn’t want to tell me.  It didn’t sound so great to be surprised on a first date.  I was a little uneasy about it but at the same time it all seemed kind of sweet.  I guess the only feeling I should have had was excitement.  I was going to try my hardest to make sure it was a good date unlike all the others in the past. 

We pulled into an almost empty parking lot.  It was a small restaurant but it was cute.  Ryan led me out of the car and toward the front door.  When we walked in, the place was beautiful.  From the outside it didn’t look like much of anything but on the inside was a totally different story.  There were only a few tables present.  The lights were dim and candles were lit everywhere throughout the room.  There was also music playing and a small dance floor.  It had a very intimate setting.  What was strange to me was that we were the only people there other than the employees.  We were led to sit at a table in the middle near the dance floor.  Ryan pulled out the chair for me to sit.  Apparently he was a gentleman too.

“Thank you.”  I told him politely.

“I hope this isn’t too overwhelming or weird. I know the owner of the place and pulled some strings to get the place to ourselves.” He explained.

“Oh, that explains a lot.” I laughed. “This place is perfect.” I reassured him.

“I’m glad you like it.  Wait until you taste the food.” He said excitedly.

We smiled at each other.

            The night was perfect.  We talked, we ate, and we danced.  He was right, the food was awesome.  He was a perfect gentleman the whole night.  He was amazing.  I’m glad I knocked some sense in my head and went on the date.  Surprisingly everything went smoothly and without a hitch.  The only down side was how quickly it was over.  Before I knew it, he was walking me to my door. 

“I had a really great time.” I told him with a smile.

“Me too. I’m glad we ran into each other again and got to do this. You think we might be able to do this again?” Ryan asked.

“Definitely.”  I said.

“Great so I’ll call you.”  He said.

“Okay.” I responded.

You know that slightly cute awkwardness at the end of a date?  You know, the part where you and your date are standing at the door kind of looking at each other anticipating the next move?  That’s what happened at the end of this one.  I wasn’t sure if he would go in for a kiss or if I should have made the first move.  I got so nervous I could hardly feel my legs.  Then finally he moved in closer and after a few seconds I felt his lips touch mine.  It was one of those kisses that were so simple yet so amazing.  Our lips were pressed against each others for about five seconds.  It felt like forever.  Even though it wasn’t a big kiss it still made my toes tingle.  When it was over we smiled and said our good byes.

When I got inside my house I had to lean against the door for a minute to hold myself up.  This guy was perfect and I couldn’t believe he liked me of all people. It was too good to be true.  One date and I was already blown away.  I couldn’t wait for the next one.  That night I went to sleep with a big smile on my face and good dreams.

In the morning I was awakened by my doorbell ringing like it was going out of style.  I lifted my head hesitantly to look at the clock.  It was 11:30.  I usually get up pretty early but it didn’t matter that day because I had a good night prior.  As I rolled out of bed the door bell kept on ringing.  I stumbled to the door.  Guess who it was.  It was JD again.  He’s the only person in the world who loved to bother me in the morning. 

“Must you bother me when I first wake up?” I asked him irritated. 

“Yes.”  He said nonchalantly.

I groaned and walked the other way to head to the kitchen. 

“Hey, I called your cell many times.  I didn’t get an answer so, you know how I do.”  JD said as he closed the door and followed behind me.

“Uh huh.”  I noised.

“Anyways, how come you’re up so late? Usually you’re up at like 9 or something.” He asked.

“I was out late last night.” I said.

“Oh yea, the date.  The one you wouldn’t let me meet.”  He remembered.

“Yep.” I told him as I grabbed some cereal form the cabinet. 

“Did you have a good time?” he asked curiously.

“Yep.” I answered as I ate.

“Did he treat you nice? Cause you know I’ll beat him if he don’t.” JD stated looking at me seriously.

“Uh huh.” I said still eating.

He raised an eyebrow at me.

I raised mine right back.

“That’s it? No details? No stories? No accidents?” He asked.

“Nope.” I answered simply.

“Really? That’s a first.” He said.

“Thanks for the vote of confidence.” I said sarcastically.

“Wow more than a one word answer?” He asked teasingly. “Sorry, you know you don’t have the best track record of things going perfectly on a date.” He stated the obvious.

I gave him a face and a slight grunt.

“Anyway, so what’s the deal? Is there going to be a second date?”  He asked.

“I’m pretty sure, yea.” I answered.

“Well in all seriousness just be careful.” He told me genuinely concerned.

I smiled at him and said, “JD I can take care of myself.”

He gave me a knowing look. “I now you can, Soph, but still just watch yourself. And know if anything, I got your back.” He said.

I looked at him sincerely. “I know, JD, and I appreciate it.  You’ve always had my back and I’ll always have yours.”  I told him seriously.

We really had a genuine moment because we both knew it was true.  No matter what we would always have each others back. 

“So what you up to today?” he asked quickly changing the subject.

“House cleaning.” I answered.

“Eww.” He commented with a fowl look on his face.

“Yea.  It’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it.” I said.

“You want some help?” he asked hesitantly probably hoping I would say no.

“Don’t you have a life?” I laughed.

“No.” he said sadly.

I smiled. “Alright, let’s get to it.”  I demanded.

JD and I cleaned my whole house together.  Usually I hated cleaning but somehow having someone else help made it somewhat fun-tertaining.  It was even better especially since that someone was JD.  He always made the best out of everything. 

            A few hours later we were almost done cleaning.  While we were finishing up my phone rang.  I had almost forgotten Ryan was supposed to call so maybe it was him.  I left JD to the cleaning and picked up my phone in the other room.

“Hello.”  I answered the phone hoping it was Ryan.

“Hi, it’s Ryan.” I heard on the phone.

I kept my excitement inside.

“Hey, how’s it going?” I asked.

“Pretty good. How are you?” he asked.

“Good.  Just finishing up cleaning my place.” I told him.

“Sounds fun.” He laughed sarcastically.

“Yea.” I laughed along with him.  He had no idea I actually did have fun.

“So, I know its last minute but do you have any plans tonight?” He asked.

“Not that I know of.  Why do you ask?” I questioned.

“Well would you want to go to down the shore?” He asked hopefully.

“Sure!” I said a little too excitedly.  I hit myself in the head for that one.  I didn’t want to sound desperate.  I guess Ryan didn’t seem to mind because he just laughed a little at my enthusiasm.

“Okay, I’ll pick you up around 5.” He informed me.

“Sounds good.”  I said with more composure.

“Ok see you later Sophie.”  He said.

“Later.” I said as I hung up.

I went back in the other room to see JD standing there with a stern look on his face.

“Who was that?” He asked.

“Ryan.” I said simply.

“Who?” He questioned.

“That guy I went out with.” I said.

“Oh, what did he want?” He questioned even more.

“Am I going to get the third degree every time I go out with a guy? We’re going out later.” I told him.

“Oh, well for your question yes.  Secondly, where ya goin?” He kept on with the questioning.

I stood there with my hands on my hips annoyed.  He did the same mocking me just to get on my nerves as always.

“He’s taking me to the beach.” I answered.

He loosened his stance and gave me a look I couldn’t figure out until he opened his mouth.

“Cool, sounds like fun.  Its just going to be you two?  Aren’t those kinds of things more for group dates?” he asked raising his eyebrows and grinning.  He was trying to get at something. 

“They could be but not really.”  I said ignoring his pleading looks.  He wanted to go.  He knew I couldn’t resist that face he was giving me.  That’s why I was trying to avoid it.  Then I made a huge mistake and looked his way.

“Ok fine. Let me ask him first. But you could only come if you can bring someone with you so you don’t bug me the whole time.  Also be nice to Ryan.  Don’t overwhelm him or I’ll hurt you.”  I threatened innocently.

“Deal.” He said happily.

            I called Ryan to see if it was cool with him.  He was down for it and he said it would be cool to meet some of my friends.  He had no idea what he was in for.  

            Later that night around 5, we were all off to the beach.  When I say we, I meant myself, Ryan, JD, and Lacey.  Lacey of course was a last minute decision because JD couldn’t find anybody else that could go.  It’s hard to believe that the guy, who could pretty much get whoever he wants, doesn’t know of any other girls that could have gone.  So he asked me to ask Lacey, and Lacey agreed to go because she couldn’t miss out on an opportunity to be nosy in my love life. It was going to be an interesting night.  I had my two best friends who could potentially embarrass and annoy me to no end on this outing.  All I could hope for was that they behaved in front of Ryan.    

            We arrived there around 6.  I was relieved we took two separate cars because I was avoiding JD and Lacey’s mouth.  Ryan and I went in his car while the other two went in JD’s car.  I couldn’t imagine what they were talking about in private.  Then again I probably didn’t want to know.

            We all wound up finding parking quicker than we thought.  Then we were ready to have some fun. 

As we were walking up the boardwalk Lacey came up behind me and wrapped her arm around my neck.  She was practically choking me with her death grip. 

“Can’t breath.” I said barely audible.  She eased up when she heard me.

“So, which ride first?”  She asked with a big smile.

“Whatever one you want, dear.” I smiled back. 

“Rollercoaster!!!”  She screamed right near my ear.  I should have started wearing ear plugs with these people.  If it wasn’t Lacey blowing out my ear drums, it was JD.

She grabbed my hand and we started to practically run to the rides.

“You guys might want to keep up or you won’t find us for hours.”  I warned the guys before Lacey took me too far.  I laughed when I saw them speed up a bit. Lacey dragged me everywhere while Ryan was left with JD.  I don’t know how good of an idea that was.  Every once in a while I glanced at them and they were talking.  It looked like it was going okay but with JD I could never tell. 

            We all went on a few crazy rides and then took a slight break to check out some games.  So far I hadn’t had alone time with Ryan at all.  I took this opportunity to see if the two of us could get away from the other two for a little bit.  Just as I was trying to figure out how to do that Lacey and JD walked off together and left me and Ryan behind.  Actually it was more Lacey dragging JD to go with her.  I guess she read my mind.  I silently thanked her. 

“Hey.”  Ryan said as he nudged my arm with his.

“Hey.”  I smiled at him.

“You having fun?”  He asked shyly.

“Yea, you?” I asked back.

“Yea.  Your friends are interesting.  I didn’t think Lacey was ever going to let you go.” He laughed.

I laughed along with him. “Yea, she’s a piece of work.”

“You up for some games?” He asked.

“O yea!” I said excitedly.

“Ok then, you ready to get your butt beat?” He challenged.

“In your dreams, buddy.” I answered.

“Oh really?  I think I feel a little competition coming on.”  He looked like he was up for it.

“You have no idea.  Let’s get it on!”  I yelled a bit loud.  I looked around me and saw a few people giving me weird looks at that comment.  Then I turned to Ryan and his eyes were wide.  I must have turned beat red after I realized what was implied.  I smiled weakly.  “It’s just an expression.”  I said loudly so everyone heard me.  Good thing Lacey and JD weren’t there.  It would have been worse to get the flack from them after I said what I said.  Through my thoughts I heard someone laughing hysterically.  Ryan seemed to get a kick out of it all.

“Oh so you think that’s funny?” I asked him with a serious look.

He stopped laughing immediately. “Uh, sorry.” He said with worry in his eyes.

A smile slowly grew across my face and realization hit him.  We both started laughing together.

“You should have seen the look on your face!” I said through my laughter.

“You should have seen yours.” He reiterated. 

            We laughed it out as we walked around the games.  We must have played for about an hour.  I won some and he won some so we were pretty much giving each other a run for our money. 

            After our gaming escapades we decided to take a walk on the beach.  Ryan grabbed my hand and led the way.

“I didn’t know you were so competitive.”  He stated.

“Yea I get pretty into it I guess.” I said a little embarrassed.

Ryan laughed at my embarrassment. “Well, I thought it was cute.  Other girls would just stand around and make a guy win them stuff.”

“It’s cool when guys do that but I would rather participate than stand around.”  I said.

“That’s what I like about you.  You’re not just a girly girl that lets the guy do all the work.  You take charge and you’re independent.”  He confessed.

“Thanks.”  I blushed.

“I hope you’re having a good time.”  He said with a hopeful smirk.

“I am.” I smiled.

            We took a stroll down the beach hand in hand.  It was a beautiful night in more ways than one.  After a while, we stopped walking and sat in the sand watching the waves crash on the shore. 

“It’s a beautiful night.”  I said.

“And I’m with a beautiful girl.”  Ryan practically whispered in my ear. 

I turned my head and our faces were inches apart.  We both leaned in and our lips touched.  As the kiss got deeper I forgot everything around me and just enjoyed the moment.  I didn’t want it to end but after a few minutes it had to.  My phone interrupted us.  It was JD.  I didn’t want to answer it but I had to.  Him and Lacey would inevitably be looking for us and waiting to leave.  Plus I didn’t want them to worry either. 

“Hello.”  I answered a little irritated hoping JD didn’t notice.

“Hey, where you at?”  He asked.

“On the beach.  What’s up?”  I asked.

“Well, you coming back to the games?  I got to get going.”  He asked impatiently.  He sounded weird on the phone.  He sounded a little upset or something.

“How come?”  I asked.

“Something came up.”  He said quickly.  I knew something had to be up. His tone just wasn’t right.  I decided not to pry any further.

“Ok, meet us by the b-ball game then.” I said.

“K.” He hung up quickly.

 I looked at the phone and wondered what had happened to make JD upset.  It was the weirdest thing.  When Ryan and I left him and Lacey he was fine.  What could have changed in the time we were separated?  It just wasn’t like him.  I just brushed it off for the moment.  He would probably tell me about it later anyway.

“Everything okay?”  Ryan asked beside me.  He must have seen the worry in my face.  I turned to him and smiled to make sure he didn’t think anything was wrong.

“Yea, it’s time to go.”  I said a little disappointed that Ryan and I couldn’t stay on that beach just a little while longer. 

We headed to meet up with JD and Lacey, hand in hand.  It felt good holding Ryan’s hand.  When we finally made it over to them I saw that JD has a perturbed look on his face. 

“Everything good?” I asked looking at JD.

“Yea.” JD said quickly avoiding eye contact.

I looked to Lacey for an explanation but she just shrugged her shoulders. 

“Ready to go?”  JD asked plainly.

“I guess.” I hesitated.

We walked to our cars in awkward silence.

“Hey, Soph?” I heard Lacey ask.

“Yea.”  I said.

“Is it cool if I come home with you guys?  I think JD has something personal to take care of.  I don’t want him to go out of his way, ya know.”  She asked.

I looked at Ryan for approval. “Yea, no problem.”  He answered with a little hesitance.

“Hey JD.” I called to him.  He was walking in front of us the whole time.

“Yea.”  He turned to me.

“We’re all going to go in Ryan’s car so you could take care of what you need to.”  I told him.

“Ok.”  He said simply.

JD hugged me and Lacey goodbye quickly and shook Ryan’s hand.  Then he was off.  Ryan drove me and Lacey back to my place.  When we got there she went in the house while I said goodbye to Ryan.

“Thanks for tonight.  I had a great time.  Sorry for leaving early though.”  I told him.

“Me too.  And don’t worry about it.  Stuff happens.” He smiled.

We kissed each other goodbye.

“Have a good night.”  He said.

“You too.”  I smiled at him.  He waved as he took off.

I couldn’t believe I had such a great night.  Still, something irked me.  I went in the house to talk to Lacey about JD.  She was sitting on the couch watching TV.  I plopped down beside her to start my prying.

“So what’s up with JD?” I got right to the point.

“I don’t know.  He was acting weird the whole night.”  She answered honestly.

“He didn’t say anything to you?”  I asked curiously.

“Nah.  To be honest I don’t think he would want to talk to me about something personal.  We don’t know each other like that.  That’s your department.”  She stated the obvious.  When she said that, I felt a little stupid, because I should have known that in the first place. “All I know is he seemed upset about something but I don’t know why?” She added.

“Did he get a phone call or run into anybody or something?” I asked trying to figure it all out.

“Not that I know of.”  Lacey answered.

“Oh.” I said simply.

“Maybe he was just jealous.”  She looked right at me when she said that.  I raised an eyebrow.

“Jealous? Jealous of what?”  He had nothing to be jealous of so why would she bring that up?

“Duh,” She said like the answer was supposed to be obvious.  I continued looking at her with a confused face.  “You and Ryan.”  She looked me in the eyes hard.

“Yea, right.  There’s no reason for him to be jealous.  That can’t be it.”  I said with disbelief. 

“Suit yourself.  Is it cool if I crash here?”  She changed the subject easily.

“Sure.” I said still in a bit of shock from her ludicrous assumption.

“K, well I’m pooped so see ya in the morning.”  She said as she hopped off to my room.  “Night!” She yelled.

“Night.”  I said lightly as I stared into space.

I couldn’t believe Lacey thought JD was jealous.  There’s no way, no how, that was why he was upset.  All I knew was that I was going to find out sooner or later what was up with him.  I was done thinking for the rest of the night.

            I looked around the living room and totally forgot Lacey had left to go sleep in my room.  That meant my bed was about to be taken over before I could get to it.

“Lacey!!”  I screamed as I ran to my room. 

“HaHa!!” I heard her laugh.  It was time to fight for room in my bed.

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