What’s stronger? True love, or soulmates?
Strings
CHAPTER
34
I’m Falling For Your Eyes
The bell rings and everyone stands up in a big rush.
“Winter break! Finally.” Ruby says, to me as we push out of the class room, flooding the hallway.
Liam and Leo fall into step with us as we walk—or rather push—our way through the hall. We all catch sight of August and Liam waves him over. We all burst outside into the still humid air.
“We should all go somewhere.” Leo says.
I shake my head. “I can’t, Riley’s last fitting is today and I have to pick up my bridesmaid dress.” I say.
“Oh right, forgot about that.” Leo says, “tonight then?” Everyone nods in agreement as we start down the sidewalk.
“I can’t wait for the wedding.” Ruby says, smiling at me, and I grin back. Then I look over at August, sheepishly.
“You could come.” I say. “It’s in four days.” I say.
August shakes his head. “Don’t feel bad, I couldn’t make it anyways.” He smiles.
“So what are we doing tonight?” Liam asks Leo.
“Why are you asking me?” Leo asks, nearly tripping on a rock on the sidewalk.
Liam laughs and shrugs. “You suggested it.” He points out.
“We could all go to Bella’s.” Ruby suggests.
“Sounds good.” I agree.
“Bella’s?” August asks.
Ruby gives him a funny look and I laugh. “He lives under a rock, he’s barely explored Santa Cruz.”
“Bella’s is the best bakery ever.” She says, grinning.
“Alright then, see you guys there, I’ll look up directions but if I’m late I’m probably lost.” He says, grinning, and we all laugh.
“Okay, Charlotte, you ready to go?” Riley asks, grabbing her car keys.
“Definitely!” I say, hoping up from my place on the couch.
We climb into the car and I turn on the radio and open the windows. Despite it being December it’s still at least 60 degrees.
“I don’t think I’d survive anywhere but California.” Riley says, smiling wistfully.
“Same.” I laugh. “Everywhere else is too cold.”
“Exactly!” Riley says in agreement. “I mean don’t get me wrong I love snow but I could never live somewhere where it gets cold in the winter.” She says.
We stop in front of a white shop with a sign that says The Blushing Bride it was really cheesy but endearing in a way.
We walked in and the woman at the desk seemed to recognize Riley because she stood up, smiled, and held up one finger in the one-second gesture.
A few minutes later she emerged from the back room holding a dress in a cover. She handed the dress to Riley and grinned. “Here you go, dear, you know where the changing room is.”
Then she looked and me and smiled. “You must be Charlotte.” I nod. “I’ll go get your dress.”
A minute later she handed me a dress in a cover and pointed to the back. All the way back to the left, there’s a sign, you can go change.” She says, pointing a manicured finger towards the back of the shop. I nod and walk off.
All the way back and I turn left and see a sign that says Changing Rooms I walk into one and unzip the dress cover and get my first look at the dress. It’s forest green and two pieces of fabric crisscross in the front and go up, forming the sleeves. I slip it on and it falls just above my knees. It’s beautiful.
When I walk back into the main room Riley is standing in the middle of the room, and she looks amazing. The dress is navy blue, the sleeves are long but very lacy so they don’t look like they’d be too hot. The dress is low in the back, and the skirt is kinda puffy and big, but not too big.
“Oh Charlotte, you look amazing!” Riley says, catching sight of me.
“I look amazing? You look amazing!” I say, grinning.
“Aw, thank you.” Riley says, smiling.
“That dress needs altered in a few places.” The woman says, looking at the dress. “I’m Marylin, by the way.” She says, smiling and walking up to me. She makes me stand in front of several mirrors and starts places a few pins in the dress.
I’m sure it’s irrational but I feel like I’m about to be stuck by one of her pins, which makes it hard to stand still.
“Are you scared?” I ask Riley.
“About the wedding?” She asks, and I nod. “I think I’d call it butterflies,” she says, smiling. “I was scared before, and right after the engagement, but now I’m just excited.” She says, “at least I feel like I am. I’ve gotten pretty good at realizing that in a lot of situations I’m excited rather than afraid.”
I nod, “Is it bad that I like you better than my father?” I ask.
Riley laughs, “I don’t think you like me better so much as in a different way.” She explains. “Your father tires very hard but he’s not as open a person as I am.”
I nod again, because this makes sense. “I guess I’ve never really thought of it like that.” I say.
“Your friends are all coming to the wedding, right?” Riley asks.
I nod. “Ruby, Liam, and Leo are all coming together.” I say.
“That’s good.” Riley smiles.
“I’m meeting up with some friends at Bella’s, see you later.” I say to Riley as I tie my running shoes.
“Okay.” She says, smiling, she’s been smiling even more than usual lately.
Bella’s is only a few minutes walk from Riley and dads house so I get there before everyone else. I order two cinnamon rolls and find a seat in the back. I think about the last time I was here. It’s been awhile, but the last time I was here Leo was telling me about his date with Cadence Thompson. I remember how crushed I had felt and laughed, so much has changed.
The little bell above the door rings and Ruby and Liam walk in. I stand up and wave them over.
“Hey.” They chorus.
“What do you want?” Liam asks, Ruby.
“Cinnamon roll, thanks.” She says, smiling.
Liam walks off and Ruby turns back to me.
“How’d the fitting go?” She asks.
“Great,” I say, enthusiastically. “My dress is awesome.”
There’s another ding and this time Leo walks in, accompanied by August. Leo walks over and August goes to the counter to buy something to eat. I hand Leo his cinnamon roll as he sits down.
“Is it okay to wear running shoes to a wedding?” He asks, popping a piece of the cinnamon roll into his mouth.
“Dude, even I can tell you it’s not.” August says, walking over, Liam by his side.
“I don’t have anything else. My dad said I could wear some of his work shoes but they’re really uncomfortable.” He says.
“Your running shoes are lime green and they light up.” Ruby says, shaking her head.
“So it’ll look really cool when I dance then.” He says.
“Your shoes light up?” Liam asks.
“Yeah, they’re so childish.” I say as Leo stands up and shows Liam.
“Where did you get them? They’re awesome.” Liam says.
Ruby and I share a look and August starts laughing.
“Hey, remember when we went to the beach at night and you ran around making your shoes light up and some random person called you a little kid?” I ask, smiling at the memory.
“To be fair we both got called childish at that fair last year.” Ruby points out.
Liam shutters. “I hate fairs.” He says.
“Why?” August asks.
“You’re not allowed to laugh.” Liam says, mostly to Ruby and I.
“Okay, now we’re definitely going to laugh.” I says, smiling.
Liam sighs. “Once when I was eight I went to a fair with my dad and we got separated. I like freaked out and when I finally calmed down I figured I’d ask someone for help. And so I’m walking through the fair looking for someone I can ask for help and then someone taps on my shoulder and I turn around, and it was a clown. At that age I was terrified of cl0wns, like terrified. And I . . . I fainted and then my dad found me because he heard someone shouting about a kid who had passed out when a clown tried to talk to him.” He says the last part in a rush like he’s trying to get it over with.
Ruby, August, Leo, and I all burst into fits of laughter.
Liam sighs and buries his head in his hands.
“Hey check this out.” Leo says, balling up the napkins and tossing them in the air. He only manages it for a few moments but he does juggle, and then they all drop to the ground.
We all laugh and Leo takes a mock bow and ducks to pick up the pieces of paper.
Half an hour later we spill out of Bella’s laughing and gasping for air because we’re all laughing so hard.
“See you later.” I wave to August, Ruby, and Liam.
“Bye!” They chorus back.
Leo and I start walked down the sidewalk, still smiling.
“I’m going to ask you a question,” Leo says, “and I’m only asking because I think it would be good to talk about, and we can get through a lot Char, not relationship is without it’s fights.”
I look at him, “okay, now I’m a little scared.”
“What will we do when you meet your soul mate?” Leo asks. “Just ignore them?”
“Leo . . .” I whisper.
“Char, I want to talk about it.” Leo says.
“And I want to too, but it’s not exactly what you think.” I say. Leo stops walking for a moment.
“What do you mean?” He asks.
“My soul mate is August.” I say. “He doesn’t know.” I add quickly.
We turn into an empty park and Leo stops, looking at me in a mixture of shock and something I can’t quite place.
“What?” He asks. I open my mouth to say it again but he stops me. “No, no don’t say anything.” He says, and I close my mouth. It feels like my heart has just falling off a skyscraper. Down, down, down, crashing into the pavement below.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” He asks, slowly.
“I was scared.” I say. Leo shakes his head. “Leo,” I plead. “No, Char, it’s just . . . I need some time to process it, okay?” He says.
“Okay.” I whisper.
“He doesn’t know?” Leo asks, and I shake my head. “But he knows about the strings.” He says, and I nod. “Char, you’re doing to him what you did to me. You’re not telling him about his soul mate.” He says.
“You want me to tell him?” I ask, slightly surprised.
“I want you to understand that yours aren’t the only feelings in the game.” He says, and I remember what he said on the beach that night that everything changed. I guess I just never knew that love is never a game.
“I don’t think that!” I protest.
“You don’t mean to, but you don’t think about it.” Leo says, and I can’t really argue with that.
“Leo-“
“Listen, I’ve got to get home to help my dad with dinner, I’ll talk to you tomorrow, okay?” He asks.
I nod, “okay.”
He turns around to leave and then he turns back to me. “This wont be the end Char.” He says. “Nothing is without fault.” And then he kisses me, and leaves.
Ten minutes later I’m home and sitting on my bed. It’s not my home home but in the week I’ve had to spend here it feels more and more like it.
“Hello?” Ruby says, when she answers my call.
“Leo and I had a fight.” I say.
“What happened?” She asks, and I smile, what would I do without Ruby?
“I told him that August is my soul mate.” I say. “It went kinda badly. He says he doesn’t want this to be the end but I know I hurt him by not telling him.” I say.
“Okay, and not to make the situation worse but did you see the way August was looking at you at Bella’s? It was only once or twice but I noticed. I mean, it could’ve been nothing I just thought I’d tell you. I mean, maybe he likes you, do you like him?” She asks.
“I don’t want to.” I say.
“But you do?” Ruby asks.
“I might . . . “ I say, thinking of how hard he’d made me laugh at the beach, and how much fun the concert had been with him.
“You can’t build your life on mights,” Ruby says. “Don’t panic.” She says, then adds, “not yet.”
“Comforting.” I laugh.
“You know me, Char.” She says, and I can tell she’s smiling.
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