I closed my eyes, the smell of Bryce's cologne invading my senses. It was musty and manly and smelled so good I just wanted to bury my face in his neck.
"Would you both like to listen to some music?" the driver asked.
"Yes please," Bryce answered, and soon the cabin of the vehicle was filled with soft music. Within minutes, the song had changed on the radio, bringing me to the next one that I remembered from my teen years and reminding me of a memory I hadn't thought of in a long while: the night of Mary McGuire’s party.
It was the last party of the summer. Grant and Bryce had both graduated two months earlier and were packed and ready to leave for their respective schools. The following week, they would be gone. My brother was supposed to have gone to the party alone, but when I found out Bryce was going to be there too, I begged him to taking me. I knew this would be one of the last times I would have to hang with Bryce, and that was the only reason I had wanted to go. I'd had a huge crush on him since my brother brought him home in the tenth grade. Bryce never looked at me in the way I had hoped he would, even though I had tried so hard to get his attention.
Over the years, he spent many overnights at our house, and I would parade around him in my short shorts and tiny tank tops, praying for a glance, a look, anything. I would conveniently put myself beside him when he and my brother were watching a movie or beg to go to the theater with them, but Bryce never gave me a hint that he was remotely interested in me. In fact, he rarely if ever even noticed me.
During the summer before graduation, Grant, Bryce, and Chase did nothing but hang out around our pool. I had quickly gone from a one-piece suit that summer to a two-piece, and I would lie around and sun myself, reading books or magazines, while the boys played in the water.
At first, I received no attention, and just when I was about to give up, I started to notice Bryce watching me when no one was looking, his eyes skimming over my body.
The past school year, Bryce's interest continued. He would occasionally bump into me in the hallway between classes and sit and study with me during his spare in the library, claiming that none of his friends had a spare at the same time. Then, about halfway through the school year, Grant and Bryce had some sort of falling out, and he didn't come around to the house often. Almost instantly, he stopped sitting with me during spare. They had just started hanging out again at the end of summer, and once again he was back to ignoring me.
Grant and I had arrived a little after 9:00 p.m. The party was already in full force. "Really, Mia, I don't know why you even want to be here. You don't know anyone!" he said as he walked in front of me.
"That's not true. A few of my friends are here. I'll be fine. Just go and find your friends," I said, pushing him away.
Just like I wanted, Grant went off to find the boys, and I went to get a drink, quickly losing sight of my brother in the sea of people.
I wandered aimlessly for a couple of hours, looking for anyone I may know, getting new drinks along the way, until I finally spotted Bryce heading up the stairs. With my heart in my throat, I fought my way through the people, careful not to trip as I made my way upstairs.
I planned to make Bryce mine once and for all tonight. After all, I had seen the way he had looked at me.
As soon as I got up there, I noticed that most of the bedroom doors were shut. Lots of people lined the hallway, but Bryce was gone. I slowly opened each door in search of him.
The first door I opened, I interrupted a couple who were almost having sex. Behind the second door the couple were making out on the bed. I knew he had come up here, so I shut the door and continued my way down the hall. Finally, I got to one of the last bedroom doors. It was cracked open and the light beside the bed was on, so I peeked through and saw Bryce standing there with his eyes closed.
I swallowed hard and finally, after I got up the courage, I pushed the door open a little and was just about to say “There you are” when he stepped forward and grabbed two hands. He pulled the owner of those two hands close to him, and that was when my breath caught in my throat. He was holding my best friend.
She stepped toward Bryce, and their lips slowly met. My eyes burned as I stood there. I didn't know what to do, except watch as every dream I ever had of kissing him shattered right before my eyes. I was frozen to the spot, so I couldn't move, and that was when Bryce opened his eyes and saw me standing there in the doorway. The look in his eyes was forever burned into my memory. That was when Kate turned and saw me as well. She had shouted something to me about being sorry and to wait, but I tore myself from that spot and ran with tears burning in my eyes. Halfway down the stairs, I felt my stomach start to turn, and I was now not only fighting the tears but also trying to stop the contents of my stomach from spewing everywhere.
I ran down those stairs, bumping people and getting dirty looks as I went. I just needed to get away. I didn't want to hear Kate’s excuses. She knew how I felt about Bryce. How dare she do that to me?
I continued fighting my way through the crowd until I ran into someone’s chest. I felt a firm hand grip my shoulders, stopping me. I blinked and looked up to see my brother standing there, and that was when the tears started to spill down my face.
"Mia, what happened?"
"Nothing, Grant. Just take me home please."
I ripped from his grip and bolted out the front door, running toward our parked the car. I pulled open the back door and crawled in, curled up into a ball, and waited for what felt like ever for my brother. He wasn't too far behind, and he drove me home, asking me repeatedly what had happened and whose ass he and his friends needed to kick. I never said a word, and I never said anything to him about that night, and I never mentioned Bryce again to anyone. I had never even thought about him…until now.