Choosing Henley(9)

By: Anne Jolin

“Thank you.” I smile at him. This one showing in my eyes.

When he starts to lean in towards me, my heart feels like it’s literally going to burst from my chest in anticipation. Then he moves past my mouth and his lips graze my ear. “Merry Christmas, Beatle.”

I squeeze my eyes shut as his soft lips kiss my cheek.

By the time I open my eyes, he’s already walking back across the parking lot. I whisper after him, “Merry Christmas, Jami.”

CHRISTMAS WAS LOVELY. Mom and I spent Christmas Eve with the Rhodeses, and on Christmas day, we enjoyed our time together. I didn’t have any siblings, so it was just Mom and me. Some people might think that seems lonely, but we’ve been doing it this way for so long, and I love it. Mom always makes us French toast before opening presents, and we build a snowman before cooking dinner. It’s the same way we’ve done it since my dad left.

Now, it’s Boxing Day, and the girls and I are driving down to Seattle to go shopping. I love Rock Falls, but it ain’t exactly shopping heaven if you know what I mean. Beth offered to drive, and since we are going shopping for New Year’s Eve outfits, Peyton has come with us too. It takes about five hours to get to Seattle from Rock Falls by car, so we left really bloody early. The malls are already going to be insane, and we want to be there as soon as the doors open.

“Oh God. Can we please change the song? What the hell is this weird-ass techno shit, Beth?” Hannah groans from the passenger’s seat.

“I feel like I’m going to have a seizure,” I agree from the back seat.

“It’s DJ Tiesto, you losers, and it’s good. If you two hillbillies listened to anything other than the country radio station, you’d know that,” Beth snaps. “But whatever. Change it then.”

You don’t have to ask us twice. Han takes the cord out of Beth’s iPhone and puts it in hers. A few seconds later, Sam Hunt’s “Leave the Night On” is pumping through the car.

“I love this song!” Peyton squeals from the back seat, and Hannah turns up the volume.

We’re all singing along and laughing. Such a catchy song. I’m glad we decided to do a girls’ day. I need to loosen up. My emotions have been all over the place after I bumped into Jami on Christmas Eve.

Something about this felt different. It was as if I suddenly felt like I was in a fight I was about to lose. My heart usually managed to settle into a dull ache after seeing him, but two days later, it still hurt like hell. I know I miss him, and I know I care about him, but to be honest, I try really hard not to think about it most of the time. It’s like window shopping when you know you don’t have the money to buy anything. Why torture yourself?

A few more songs and lots of car dancing later, we pull up outside the outlet malls. We stopped at a Tim Hortons before the border to get breakfast—or as Beth likes to call it, “shopping fuel”—and now, we were ready to go. The mall is packed even though the stores have just opened, but Beth is on a mission to get us all “hot as fuck” outfits for the black-and-white party.

Her first victim is poor Peyton. I probably should have warned her about Beth. She takes shopping very seriously, and if you’re not used to it, quite frankly, it can be a little intimidating. Peyton is a very modest girl. Although she is petite and has the body of a supermodel, she hardly ever wears revealing clothing. Beth talks her into buying a black, lace dress with dainty sleeves. It cinches around her tiny waist before flowing gracefully around her legs, suiting Peyton perfectly.

Next up is Hannah. She is used to her sister’s particular form of bossy shopping, and given that Beth can only choose between black and white, we figure that the result can’t be too awful. Hannah looks angelic in a white halter dress that ties behind her neck and dips low in the back. The entire thing has specs of gold running through it, and the material fits loosely around her body. Greyson is going to die when he sees her. Not only because she looks amazing, but because every other guy there is going to think the same thing.

“You better not let Hunnam see that until the day of the party.” I laugh as she’s paying at the till.

“Maybe I like it when he gets worked up.” She winks at me.

“Of course you do,” Beth snorts.

“Possessive, jealous Hunnam.” Hannah shudders. “Lord have mercy. I tell you.”

We all laugh—even Peyton and the store clerk.

Beth found a dress for herself in the same store and it is HOT. I have no idea who she is wearing that bad boy for, but she is going to be beating the men off with a stick come New Year’s Eve. It’s a black-and-white dress that fits her like a glove. Just under her chest, it has two large cutouts on either side, and it finishes dangerously close to the bottom of her ass. If any one of us could rock that dress, it is her.

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