Cole woke to the sound of his phone buzzing on the bedside table. He picked it up. Laney had texted over and over. He picked up the phone and started deleting them. He knew talking to her wouldn’t help. He was done. His phone rang while he was still deleting the texts. Laney. Reluctantly, he answered. She wasn’t going to stop.
“Laney, I told you not to call me. We’re through,” he said before she could speak.
“Cole…you have to give me another chance, I’m so sorry,” begged Laney. He could tell she was crying as she continued. “I know I messed up. I’m so sorry. It was stupid.”
Hearing her voice made him both angry and sad, and he wanted it to stop. “I don’t have to do anything. And neither did you. Go find Ryker, I’m sure he will keep you company. I gotta go.”
“I’m sorry, nothing happened Cole,” she choked out, “Was it Nicky? Did she tell you?”
That gave him pause. He didn’t have any idea who put the note on his locker or why, but surely Nicky wouldn’t have done that, would she? “No,” he said, “And something DID happen. You. Kissed. Him,” he said, angry now.
“Who told you? Dannie?” she asked again.
“Does it really matter?” he asked, “Bye Laney. Don’t call me anymore,” he added, not waiting for answer, he disconnected the call.
He felt like crying again and his hands were shaking. But then he remembered, he had a friend lunch date with Dannie in a couple of days. He barely even knew Dannie so why would she put the pictures there. Unless it was to break them up. And why did Laney keep asking it if it was Nicky? Now Laney got him wondering who did and why. The date with Dannie made him nervous now. But the fact that this was the last week of school before summer break cheered him a little. He wouldn’t be forced to try and avoid Laney everyday.
It was Saturday and school was blessedly out for the summer. Cole left Doc’s and headed across the street to the coffee shop for his friend date with Dannie.
As he sat and waited for Dannie he reflected on the past few weeks. It had been an emotional roller coaster. He was on top of the world before it almost came crashing down around him just a few days ago. He and Laney were together and couldn’t get enough of each other. He had been sure she was the one. Then, the one time he wasn’t available, she had turned to someone better, and pretended like it never happened.
Finding out about his test had been bittersweet. He had wanted to share it with Laney. He knew she would have been excited for him and they would have celebrated. Now he didn’t have anyone except his family and Doc that cared.
“Hi Cole,” said Dannie brightly, “have you been waiting long?”
When he looked up and saw Dannie, he couldn’t help the smile that took over his face. “Hi. No, only a few minutes. Have a seat and I’ll order for us. My treat, remember. What would you like?”
“Oh yes. Thanks,” said Dannie as she pulled out the chair across from him and sat down. “I think a caramel macchiato would be awesome.”
Cole got up and ordered then brought the drinks back to the table.
“So, how are you really?” asked Dannie, with a sympathetic smile. “I would imagine not too good.”
“Well, a little better now,” he said and smiled, “I actually got some really good news this week.”
She cocked her head. “You and Laney made up?” she asked.
Cole almost spit out his drink. “No…in fact she called me the next morning, begging for another chance…” His earlier smile vanished and his voice faltered as he thought about the sound of Laney’s voice. “But, I told her no. Dannie, she was all over him on the dance floor.”
Dannie looked sad now. He had forgotten Ryker was her ex. “I know,” she said.
“How? Did you see the pic…” then he realized she must have been there and saw first hand and amended his statement, “…you saw them?”
“Yeah,” she said, looking at her coffee.
Cole reached out and put his hands over hers. “I’m sorry. That must have been hard to watch.”
“Yeah, a little, but it’s okay. We had already broken up, but still, it was hard to see him forget about me so quickly. I should have known better.” She looked up at Cole and the smile was back, “But now I am sitting here with you, and it’s much nicer.”
With her smile back in place, Cole relaxed. Then he realized he was still touching her hand and abruptly pulled it back and grabbed his cup. “I haven’t told you my good news yet. I don’t know if you know why I didn’t go to the Prom with Laney. We weren’t fighting, well we weren’t fighting before I told her I couldn’t go.
“Actually I was studying for a placement test that was early on Saturday morning. I got in the top 3% and Doc is going to write a letter of recommendation so I can go straight to Vet School. I actually started interning with him this summer. Before I only observed. Now I will start learning to diagnose the animals, give vaccinations, take X-rays, just doing a whole lot more hands on to get even more experience.”
“Wow…where will you go to school?”
“Brindleton Bay. They have one of the best Veterinary schools in the country. I am really excited. It will be like a new beginning for me, it will be good to get out of Willow Creek.” Brindleton Bay was halfway across the country. Before he was sad because he would be so far from Laney. Now he had nothing at all keeping him in Willow Creek.
“That’s awesome Cole. You should be so proud. A new beginning sounds so romantic.” She sighed softly before continuing, “I will probably be stuck going to San Myshuno Community College. I doubt I can get into a four year school. My grades aren’t great. Too many extracurricular activities. Plus, I can’t afford to live far away. My sister and her husband live in San Myshuno. They said I could live with them.”
“Hey, if you do well at SMCC, then you can get into a University. What do you want to do?”
“Promise you won’t laugh?”
“I love to write. Maybe I will start out writing a column in a newspaper or something just to have a job, but what I really want to do is write books. And here’s the laughable part – I want to write romance novels.”
Cole couldn’t help the laugh that rolled out of him. It felt good to laugh. But when Dannie started laughing too, he laughed even harder. Her sweet laugh was infectious.
“I’m so sorry,” he said when he recovered, “I was just imagining you as a closet steamy romance novelist and it just seemed funny for some reason. You are so sweet. I guess it makes a little sense for you though. You know lots of people and they open up to you so easily. You must have a lot of material to draw from for your characters. Oh god, I can see Ryker being one of those shirtless guys with six-pack abs on the cover of your first book.”
She put her hands over her face to hold back the laugh. “Stop it! He would totally be the villain. And our hero – the mild mannered, sexy, blue-eyed veterinarian – would save the heroine from him and win her heart.” She put her hands over her heart and fluttered her eyelashes at him.
Even though she was teasing, Cole felt the blood rush to his face. “I don’t think I’ve ever been described quite like that. I’m sorry I laughed. I really think that’s a great dream.”
“Well, I think that’s my problem, I spend too much time daydreaming about plots and stories and not enough time studying. But when I get a story in my head I just can’t help it.”
“Hey, it’s your passion, I get it. Sadly, my passion cost me a relationship.”
Dannie gave him a warm smile. “And I gained a great new friend in the process.”
“Yeah. Me too.” he said. He found he really liked Dannie. She was sweet and easy going, sort of like Nicky, but with a self-confidence Nicky didn’t have, and she wasn’t at all pushy like Laney. She was so easy to talk to. And neither of them were looking for a relationship. It might just be a nice summer after all.
“They’re setting up a big outdoor screen this weekend at the park,” said Cole, “wanna go? I mean, just as friends.” Cole waggled his eyebrows. “Maybe you can get ideas for your first romance novel.”
Dannie giggled… “Cole, don’t you dare tell anyone about that! That’s our secret.”
Cole laughed again remembering Noah making him pinky swear when the old hermit literally scared the piss out of him. He wondered if there was an expiration on pinky swears and decided there wasn’t.
“Why are you laughing,” she said a little worried.
“Maybe one day I will tell you. But don’t worry Dannie. It’s our secret.” Then he grinned at her. “If you want, we can pinky swear.”
She crossed her arms in front of her and cocked an eyebrow at Cole who had already stuck his pinky out. “Okay. Pinky swear and I will go to the movies with you.”
Cole laughed. It was a total dare. “Deal,” he said and they hooked pinky’s. “I swear on the sacredness of all pinky swears, it’s our secret.”