Emerge, Book One(The Evolve Series)(4)

By: S.E. Hall

His scholarship offers have been rolling in for months; mine haven’t. My dad and I live paycheck to paycheck, he can’t afford college for me, and I’ve already been too much of a burden on one parent. A good scholarship is vital to my future.

“Ah, Laney, you’re way too hard on yourself.”

Maybe he’s right, but thankfully we were home, so I don’t have to decide right now.

We only live three houses apart, so Evan parks my truck in my driveway and turns in his seat to look at me, pulling a piece of paper out of his back pocket, his blue gaze a new shade of serious. “I thought you were gonna tell me if this didn’t stop?” he asks, handing me the note.

I don’t have to open it really, they’re all the same, but I do anyway. This one says Great game tonight, Laney. You’re amazing.

Who is this freak? Why not just walk up to me and say “Hey, I like you” or “Hey, wanna grab a burger?” Surely it would be less trouble than sneaking around, leaving creepy notes and presents. Maybe we could have had a normal friendship before it got weird.

At first, I’d just thought it was a cute secret admirer, especially since we were so young when it started, but now we’re adults and it’s creepy. Evan begs me all the time to tell my dad, but there are some things you just don’t tell the single father of an only daughter; he would stage a manhunt. One promise I’ve always made to Evan, that I will keep, is if there’s ever a threatening tone to the notes or a personal encounter, I’ll report it immediately.

I sigh, not really wanting to talk about this now. “It’s been a while since the last one so there was nothing to tell you. Besides, you found it, not me. I don’t suppose you saw anything?”

He just gives me that “really, Laney?” look. Of course he hadn’t seen anyone; they’d still be lying in the parking lot, beaten to a pulp, if he had. “Alright, well, make sure you stay alert, Laney. I can’t always be there and I worry about you.”

“I know, Ev, I will.”

We climb out of the truck and he grabs my stuff out of the back for me, tossing my keys with a “heads up.” After we hug, the way we always say goodbye, he heads to his house, walking slowly, of course, always making sure I get inside okay. He calls over his shoulder on the breeze, “night,” to which I smile and give a small wave, knowing I’ll talk to him again at least once before going to sleep.

I’m barely out of the shower when my text dings. I know it’s Evan before even looking.

Evan: You ok?

His thoughtfulness sparks a grin despite my slightly dismal mood.

Laney: Of course, always am eventually. Hot shower helped.

Evan: So this wknd, let’s do something.

Why he has to clarify this, I’m not sure. I can’t remember the last weekend night I didn’t spend with Evan, but I’ll play along.

Laney: K…?

Evan: I meant let’s do something different.

Laney: Like?

Evan: Idk, maybe a nice dinner out?

Laney: Evan, are you asking me on a date?

Of course he’s not, Evan and I aren’t like that, but I love to tease him.

Evan: Maybe.

Laney: Maybe you should slide me a note tomorrow and I can check the box yes or no.

Evan: Huh?

Laney: Come here please.

I’m leaning out my open window when he saunters up. He’s changed into black basketball shorts and a grey t-shirt, no shoes. He runs one hand through his hair as he walks up to me, a sure sign he’s nervous. Why?

“Hello again, Mr. Allen. You could have stopped to put on shoes.” I nod to his feet and laugh.

“Nah, I’m good.”

“I guess you’re wondering why I’ve called this meeting.” I have to really try to keep a serious face but he’s smiling.

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Well, should a young man wish to take a young lady to dinner, he should probably ask her in person. There are certain things still not textably acceptable.”

He laughs; I love that sound. He really is the most adorable guy alive. No wonder the girls at school make fools of themselves over him.

“I mean, I know it’s not a date date, but still…humor me.”

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