Alissa has to move to Wilmette, Illinois with her aunt and meets her new neighbor: the unconventional Pete Wentz. Romance blooms. I'll be slowly adding to it over time so stay tuned.
“Alissa, I left late last night to beat early morning traffic. I left you a sandwich and some snacks in the lunch bag on the counter for you to bring on the plane. Call me on your way to the airport, love you.”
I smiled at the cheesy heart he drew in the corner. My dad cared for me, I knew that. He was just a bit… absent-minded. He was always running off here and there for “business” and whatnot, but now that I was seventeen I think he knew I could take care of myself, mostly. I put the note down and walked into the living room and turned on my speakers and hit the shuffle button on my ipod CD and turned up the volume, the whole house was being serenaded by a talented Jonny Craig. I hummed along with him as I headed upstairs. I washed my face, brush my teeth, and cleaned my plugs and lobes. I walked into my room and pulled off my comfy t shirt. I pulled on my taupe J. Crew knit sweater and dark wash American Eagle super skinny jeans. I sighed as I looked at my room for possibly the last time. I wouldn’t bother putting on makeup today, it was already packed.
I grabbed my suitcases and loaded my bags into the trunk of my car. I slipped on my black Doc Marten lace up boots and grabbed the lunch bag my dad had left me. I slipped into the car and my keys clacked as I turned them in the ignition. My engine raced as the car started and all the lights turned on. I immediately reached for the heat as the inside of my car was even colder than the cold fall air; I imagined it to only be colder in Wilmette. I chatted with my dad on the way to the airport and he told me a little more detail about my arrangements, my aunt had rented out a car for me to use for the next few months or more depending on how long my dad was going to be gone which I knew he wasn’t sure of – he was never sure of anything, so I figured there was no point in asking.
I finally arrived at the airport forty-five long, nervous minutes later. I ended up barely making my flight. I boarded the plane and sat in a seat alone. I was really surprised that there weren’t very many people on the plane at all or at least that I got a pair of seats to myself. I laid back and plugged my earphones into my phone, then into my ear. I fell asleep for the first hour then fiddled around with the magazines on the plane and looked out the window and sketched the rest of the time. We landed in Illinois around three in the afternoon. I watched out the window as the plane hit the landing strip and my stomach got that odd feeling that I always sort of secretly enjoyed.
As I walked into the terminal I was greeted by my mid-forties, once a model; now my widowed aunt.
“Alissa!” She sweetly smiled at me and opened her arms for a hug.
We walked back to her car as we made small talk about life and the weather. She was nice, and I could tell she was excited to have me here. My cousins where a lot older now and had a house and family of their own, and her husband died four years ago; she was lonely. I didn’t mind being her friend for a while, beside, I was going to need one too.
We arrived to her house twenty minutes later. It was a two story house, a little bigger than mid-sized. She hadn’t moved out since her sons left. I stumbled around with my stuff in the car as my aunt got out and started unloading my suitcases.
As I opened the door I heard the voice of some guys that sounded to be about my age. I cocked my head around to see a group of, yes, boys walking out of the house next to the one I was about to be staying in for the next few months. This would be interesting. I squinted at them to try to get a better view without my contacts in. Luckily for me they didn’t seem to notice me stare. They got into a car and drove off as I walked into toward the house, I didn’t end up getting to see their faces but they looked a little older than me. One had shoulder length, scruffy brown hair, the other had a hood over his straight black hair, and the third had a trucker hat on over his light brown hair with really prominent sideburns. Sadly that’s all I got to see. I didn’t think much of it after that and stepped into my aunt’s house. It smelled like a Bed Bath and Beyond; really scented, but not in necessarily a bad way. It was a little cold and unoccupied, maybe even lonely. It was the first day of December and my aunt already had lights up around the fireplace and a Christmas tree right next to it, also fully decked out for the holidays. I vaguely remembered being here when I was in elementary school. She showed me around a bit then left me to get situated in the guest bedroom she had also went all out with decorating. It was hard not to judge her sometimes –I could tell she was really into looks and what people thought about her, which is the opposite of me. Luckily, she wasn’t hard to get along with. That was one good thing about her; she didn’t hover and mostly left me on my own. I sat on the guest bed, left with my thoughts. I wondered how spending Christmas without my dad would be. Although he traveled a lot, he rarely left me on my own for the holidays. Now that I’m older I guess he thought I could handle it and I suppose time will tell if he is right. My dad was my best friend, and I wasn’t going to be able to talk to him over these next few months which would be hard but I’d be okay. I liked being on my own.
I eventually got bored with my thoughts and decided to explore Chicago on my own a little.
“I’m going to go… get some food. I’ll be back later.”
“Do you want me to come? It’s almost six o’clock there’s traffic out now! You don’t know your way around here yet!”
“I’ll be fine.”
And shut the front door. I kind of felt bad for being absently rude to my aunt, but I figured I should quickly ease her into the fact I wasn’t much for small talk and company. Better now than later.
I didn’t know if the person was talking to me and I wasn’t about to embarrass myself. I looked around; I was the only person in distance.
It was one of the boys from earlier I suspected. He had on a black hoodie and dark skinny jeans with some big skater shoes. He was cute. Okay, really cute. He stood there with his hands in his jean pockets.
“Are you the new girl? I think my mom’s friends with your aunt or something…”
He trailed off as he walked toward me. I just stood there like an idiot; I was really awkward with new people.
“Oh uh yeah I guess I am. My name’s Alissa.”
“Cool, I’m Pete.”
He smiled as he reached his hand out to me and I shook it, he had big rough, hands. The contrast of my freezing hands to his warm ones shocked me a bit; I impulsively jerked my hand back.
“Well nice to meet you. I’ve gotta go now.”
“Didn’t you just move here? Where are you headed?”
“I’m not sure yet.”
And with that I turned around and walked back to my car, leaving Pete in confusion. As I turned the keys, I watched him thoughtfully walk back into his house. I felt mysterious, it was fun. I wondered what kind of impression I’d made on my cute neighbor.
I drove around for about an hour, aimlessly. I screamed along with Sufjan Stevens and thought about life. I stopped at a random Taco Bell and grabbed a burrito before going back to my aunt’s; I remembered a lot about that place, but fond memories of her cooking weren’t included. I walked in and headed into the living room.
“So I heard you met Peter?”
“Peter? Oh, Pete… yeah. Wait how did you know that?”
“I had some tea with his mom after you left and he asked his mom about you I guess. Do you think he’s cuuuute?” She cooed.
“What did he say about me?!” I immediately realized I said that a little too excitedly.
“He just asked where you’re from and whatnot.”
“Oh, interesting. Yeah, I guess he’s alright. I think I’m going to head to my room.”
“A-alright honey get some rest. Tell me if you want me to turn the heat up-“
And with that I shut the door to my room and plopped onto the bed. I laid there for a moment before getting up and slipping on my dad’s old forest green pajama pants and some random grey crew neck sweater – my comfiest sleepwear. I lit the candle that sat on the night stand beside my bed and sat down, opening my book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Yes, it was my fourth time reading it, but I didn’t have anything new to read yet and besides, I liked it. My dad never understood why I reread books and re-watch movies all the time. I guess I never really did, either.
I woke up the next day late afternoon. I was surprised at how long I’d slept; I’m usually a relatively early riser. Maybe the time change fucked me up or something. Speaking of getting fucked up I was going to have to find a new drug dealer for weed in town all over again. I got up to the smell of pancakes and bacon wafting through the kitchen. Although the smell was to die for, I was never a big breakfast eater and I wasn’t exactly looking forward to letting down my aunt the news. I was starting to get the feeling that I was making the impression of some apathetic, anti-social teenager. Who knows, maybe in all honestly, I was.
“Are you hungry, honey? I have a big afternoon planned for us!”
“Oh no, thanks though. Sorry! And that’s cool I can’t wait.”
She frowned for a moment, and then turned back to a smile.
“Alright that’s fine. How about you go get showered and dressed then we’ll head out, okay?”
“Yeah that sounds fine- I think I’m going to go on a little morning walk… clear my head or something…“
“Oh alright! I’ll meet you in the living room at 12.”
I nodded and headed back into the safe haven of my room.
I threw on a t shirt and jeans and put my hair into a messy bun. I washed my face and brushed my teeth then headed out the door. I pulled my hoodie on as I aimlessly walked down the sidewalk.
“You again. Hey, what’s up?”
“I was just getting groceries for my mom she’s having friends over today or something.”
“Haha, cool. Later.”
I got back about a half an hour later and walked back into my room. I took a shower and got dressed then blow dried my hair. I decided to do my makeup nice today since I really didn’t know what was in store. I wore a natural eye shadow with mascara that made my lashes look thick and long, and a bold red lip with a little gloss to finish the look off. I looked casual, but put together. I put on my grey New York & Company pea coat and waited in the foye as my aunt put on her shoes. She looked like she had put the same amount of effort into her look as I had, so I was hoping I was dressed appropriately for the situation. I slipped on the same boots I’d worn yesterday and we walked out the door. I started to walk toward the car.
“Where are you going, Hon? We’re just going next door.”
“Oh. Uh, what’s next door?”
She gave me a look that said ‘shut up and follow me’ so I did, down the side walk as we approached a big dark red–brown brick house with big blackish blue shudders on the windows. It was Pete’s, or at least I assumed he lived there since he was always happening to come in and out. We walked up the steps and she knocked. We were greeted by a short, tan woman. She looked mixed raced, with shoulder length very dark, thick hair and wearing a stereotypical mom outfit. A purple cardigan over a white t shirt with mom jeans and Christmas socks, she was adorable. And really nice!
“Hello, Alissa! I’m Mrs. Wentz, but you can call me Dale! Would you like anything; water, tea-“
“--Mom? Oh, I forgot you where having friends over today.”
I looked up to see Pete in a pair of black and red plaid pajama pants and no shirt enter the room from stairs that led downstairs. I had yet to see him without a big hoodie hiding his figure, and tattoos! He looked so good, and the tattoos – I couldn’t resist. Pete’s mom interrupted my internal lustful thoughts over her son.
“Yes. Pete you can put a shirt on now, you’re scaring this girl; just look at her!”
I ripped my glance away from Pete’s lower abdominals and looked up to realize everyone was talking about me. I could feel my cheeks getting warm and red.
“Yeah; put a shirt on, cootie boy.” I hoped the last joke would remove the attention from my embarrassed self.
“Hey, at least that’s the most you’ve said to me since I met you!” Pete smirked at me and puffed out his chest a little, catching onto the fact I was caught checking him out, and I was just still hoping his mom and my aunt didn’t notice. Pete’s mom rolled her eyes at him and started
“Pete why don’t you go put a shirt on then hangout with Alissa for a bit, eh?”
I blushed again at his mother’s comment about his lack of clothing and the thought of being alone with this guy I barely even knew and was, to be honest, a little intimidated by.
“Yeah mom, we’ll go chill in the basement or something, c’mon Alissa.”
I glanced at my aunt and she gave me an approving look and playfully shooed me downstairs behind Pete. I followed him into his basement, it smelled like pizza, febreze, and weed. It was really cozy and homely; I liked that kind of thing. I pulled off my boots and took off my coat to reveal a tight-fitting deep red colored v neck long sleeve Hollister shirt. I smirked at the thought of what Pete was thinking while he watched me pull off the layers to reveal my curvy body. I know I sounded cocky, but I was. I was never really one to be down on myself. I looked up at Pete and he quickly turned his head as if I’d caught him doing something naughty. I plopped onto a couch in front of the TV and crossed my legs. Pete slipped on a tight grey t shirt and sat next to me. I was the first to break the silence.
“So how long have you had those tattoos?”
“I got them a few years ago. You like ‘em?” He smirked at me. I blushed, he sure had a way of making me do that a lot. I reached over and grabbed his arm, I think he was a little surprised at my forwardness. Silence filled the room as the song on his laptop came to an end and I studied his tattoos. I wondered what they were for, what they meant, but I figured I’d save that for a later conversation and dropped his arm and returned my curious hands back to my lap. I piped in and stopped the stare off that seemed to be starting between me and Pete.
“It smells like weed.”
“Oh , haha yeah, Nobody really comes down here except me so… do you smoke?”
“Yeah, well I did before I came to my aunt’s, but I can’t exactly bring paraphernalia across the country in an airplane.”
“That reminds me, tell me why you came here?”
“My dad went on some trip for a while so I’m staying with my aunt. Usually I can stay by myself for a few days, but I guess he’s going to be gone a little longer this time…” I trailed off at my own thought as I wondered myself exactly when my dad was going to be back.
“Oh so you’ll be here for a while, even through the holidays?”
“Yeah its looking that way.”
“Well luckily for you, I’ll be around to keep you company.”
“That sounds good, actually.” We exchanged a smile.
“Is that a Taylor acoustic you have over there?”
“Yeah – well an electric acoustic. And it’s my friend Patrick’s but I mean you can mess around with it if you want.”
I jumped at the chance; I was forced to leave my baby at home and hadn’t been able to play in what seemed like forever. I picked it up and threw the straps around my shoulders. I missed the feeling of my fingers pressed up against the strings as they moved up and down the neck of the guitar. I missed the feeling of moving the pick up and down ever so slightly then harder, more passionately up and down the base as my voice sung along in harmony.
“Do you mind?” Pete nodded and I started playing. Due to my lack of humility and shyness, I started passionately playing the guitar and singing along, almost yelling. It was impossible for me to describe how it felt to make a song with an item and my voice all in harmony. I looked up at Pete’s reaction as I strummed and sung; I almost forgot it wasn’t just me and the guitar in the room. He smiled as he watched my fingers glide around the guitar, doing something I was purely passionate about. I stopped playing and he stood up and playfully applauded and yelled Bravo! Bravo! I took my bows and put the guitar back where I found it.
“What song was that?” I didn’t really think he was going to ask me about it, one thing I was definitely shy about was my music writing, I never really had shared it with anyone.
“Oh uh, I wrote it actually.”
“Wow, you wrote that? The lyrics were, like… amazing.” I was really flattered. I half expected this guy to be some cocky punk kid, a few years older than me in technicality, but not in maturity. I didn’t expect a compliment out of him at all.
“Thanks, do you write, too?” I asked hopefully. This guy was gorgeous, and a great personality would be the cherry on top of my perfect guy.
“Oh, me; Yeah I write, I’ve been into it for a while now.”
“Let’s see it!”
Pete hesitated and looked down thoughtfully then got up and walked to the corner of the room and picked a notebook up that was sitting by a pile of clothes on the floor. He walked back to me and sat surprisingly close to me on the couch. He rested one arm around the back of the couch behind my shoulders. He smelled so good like some kind of cliché scent you’d want to smell when curled up in a guy’s arms…
He passed me the notebook and I gingerly opened it, eager to see what was inside, but as a fellow writer I knew that a seemingly simple notebook could be the very most important thing to a person. There were random little doodles in the corner, and among other drawings around the words, I kept seeing a reoccurring one on a lot of the pages; the silhouette of a bat with a heart in its insides. I read through the lyrics. This guy was deep; and not even the cliché coffee house jazz playing snap, snap bullshit. He had real substance; something I really admired in people and didn’t see too often at all. I smiled as I flipped through the pages and felt my heart melt as I looked into Pete’s soul through a notebook. I knew what it was like to pour your every being into a piece of paper; it was freeing… it was something that can’t really be explained. He wrote every word so dry and eloquently and shameless and… raw. I closed the notebook and looked up at him.
We were facing each other criss-cross applesauce on the couch. He leaned into me and I followed. He rested his hand on my knee and I mirrored his movements. His lips brushed mine and we both started breathing a little heavily at the thick tension that entered the room as we both came to the realization of what was happening. I leaned back, cleared my throat, and stood up. Pete followed.
“Well I think what you’re doing is amazing and all, I’m tired though I think I’m going to get back to my aunt now she’s probably wondering what we’re doing or something…”
“Oh sure, I’ll walk you up…” I grabbed my coat and we headed upstairs into the living room to see Pete’s mom and my aunt chatting.
“Oh honey I was just about to come get you! Are you tired?”
“Yeah I think I’m going to head home now.”
“I’ll walk back with you in a few minutes, sweetie! Let us just finish up our tea.”
“Nah I don’t want to rush you guys, I can walk home by myself…”
A concerned look crossed Pete’s mom’s face as she chimed in.
“Peter, walk her home.”
“Oh you don’t have to I’ll just-“
“No sweetie it’s fine.” She turned her attention toward Pete. “Peter.”
“Okay mom chill out.”
“Thanks for having me!” And with that we were walking down his front porch steps.
“Sorry my mom gets so-“
“Nah; I get it, my aunts kind of crazy, too.”
“So… when can I see you again? It’s supposed to snow tomorrow and my friends Patrick and Joe and I were going to go sledding or something if you want to come?”
I was excited and surprised Pete wanted to see me again. I was really used to boring people, not many guys especially where I’m from cared much about books and art and music.
“Yeah that sounds awesome actually.”
“Cool. We know this awesome place… I’ll pick you up at three.”
We exchanged a smile and with that he turned around and headed back toward his house. Gosh, this guy was such a gem. I was surprised at myself for liking someone this much, I usually wasn’t usually interested in people. And I honestly couldn’t wait for tomorrow.