The group spends their evening at a romantic firework show at the park.
The sun was beginning to set and the day's temps were disappearing with it. Clouds dotted the sky like wispy paint strokes and the moon was barely a silver.
Cheyenne kept up with Kayla, who was practically jogging to the park while Robin hung farther back.
"Who are you meeting here?" Cheyenne asked more out of curiosity than anything.
"Just someone. He said he'd be here tonight."
Cheyenne quirked an eyebrow. "He?"
Kayla pursed her lips and gave Cheyenne an exasperated look. "He's cool. Just a friend."
Two blocks from the park, cars parked the curb along every side street. People walked in groups toward the city center, their hands and arms overloaded with coolers and picnic baskets and folded lawn chairs.
When the girls reached the park, they wound through the lawn chairs and blankets spread out on the grass. Children ran around the playground, screaming and laughing, their parents following closely behind.
The air smelled like barbecue and hot dogs and spent fireworks.
"So where are we going exactly?" Robin asked, catching up to Cheyenne and Kayla.
"I told Fred that I would meet him near the fountain." Kayla said.
Cheyenne gave Kayla a glare.
"Look! There's Fred!" Kayla said, pointing to a tall dark haired man standing beside a taller blond fellow.
"Why are you meeting Fred here? It would have been just as easy to ask Tom."
Kayla shrugged her shoulders. "Tom's gonna be here, too. Just, I didn't want to ask him and make it seem like i was asking him on a date or something.."
Cheyenne rolled her eyes. "But you would be asking tom on a date. Isn't that what you want? I don't see why you have to meet Fred here."
"Kay?" Tom came up behind Kayla, running his fingers over the small of her back.
She turned and gave him a friendly smile. "Hey."
Cheyenne looked at Tom, admiring his beauty.
Tom looked about their age, maybe a year or two older. Along with the shimmery black scarf around his neck, he had on a pair of black cowboy boots pulled over the bottom of his skin-tight leather pants. Silver wing earrings dangled from his ears and a ring was worn around every finger. "You look nice tonight." Tom said, glancing down at her.
Kayla's lip parted as she was about to respond to Tom's compliment when she felt a hand grab her shoulder.
"Kayla, I have something to show you." Fred said to Kayla, then turned to the girls. "Can i steal her? If you girls don't mind?" Fred nodded his head towards Tom.
"Go ahead," Cheyenne said.
The two of sauntered off, Cheyenne and Robin and Tom watching them leave.
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Excitement floated on the air like the fire sparks, but Cheyenne just couldn't catch it. Cheyenne didn't feel like being here, let alone smiling and flirting and pretending everything was okay. She just wanted to be home right now, curled in bed, reading a book with a bowl of popcorn by her side.
And more importantly, she wanted to be alone. it wasn't anything against Eric or her friends. She just needed some Cheyenne time while she tired to sort some things out. Maybe she'd get that time tomorrow, go out somewhere with her sketch book and pencil.
"Need anything?" Eric said, holding her hand tightly as if he were afraid that he'd lose her if he let go.
"Actually"- she plopped down on one of the swings, abandoned by the little kids now that darkness had settled in- "could you see if you can find an elephant ear? i smell them, but i don't see them."
Eric nodded, raked his fingers over her back. "I thought I saw someone selling them by the back entrance. I'll head over there."
He disappeared into the crowd and Cheyenne clutched the swing, resting her head against one of the chains and closing her eyes. The noise of the park was nearly deafening. Conversation mixed with the sound of fireworks screeching and popping. Kids screaming, parents hollered. A headache blossomed at the base of her skull. She groaned.
Cheyenne felt a presence take a seat on the swing beside her and begin to swing. Not opening her eyes, and figuring Eric had returned with an elephant ear, she said, "You're back already?"
"Back from where?" Tom said, curling his legs beneath the seat of the swing as the wind pushed him back.
"Oh, I thought you were someone else." Cheyenne let out a heavy sigh.
"You okay, Cheyenne?" Tom dragged his boots against the sand, slowing down the swing to a complete stop.
"I just have a headache, is all."
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Kayla leaned back on her elbows on the blanket Fred had spread out for them. It was fleece, blue at least queen-sized. He'd also packed a cooler of Pepsi and water with some brownies on the side. He was so damn perfect that Kayla could have married him that very second, if she wasn't in love with someone else or if it hadn't been for the whole lack-of-chemistry thing.
"You good?" Fred asked, leaning back on his side.
Kayla nodded. "You did great."
"Really? Because you seem... I don't know... somewhere else."
Kayla finally looked at him. The cotton material of his T-shirt strained against his arm, hugged his toned chest. His shirt crept up just a little bit so that Kayla could see a sliver of his stomach and the waistband of his boxers.
She really was somewhere else mentally, but could have kicked herself for it.
She wanted to be there, focused on nothing but Fred. But all she could think about was Tom.
Why did Tom say she looked good tonight? She obviously hadn't put much effort in getting dressed for this occasion. Her Aerosmith T-shirt had wide holes in the bottom hem, strings hanging lose from the tears in her jeans.
Someone tall and dark-haired swung slowly on a swing just twenty feet from where Kayla sat. A red burst of fireworks lit his face, and Kayla's stomach tingled.
Next to Kayla, Fred sighed. She tore her eyes away form Tom.
"What?" she said.
Fred sat up. "You are somewhere else, aren't you?" He nodded in Tom's direction.
"Oh.." It was a good thing darkness had begun to set in. Kayla's face felt hot as embers. "Tom... he's just a friend."
"Kayla." Fred turned to her, shaking his head in disapproval. "I know that look. The way you look at him."
She started to shake her head but instead looked at the blanket, ran her fingers over the soft material. It would be so easy to stay here, to stay with Fred and force herself to like him because she knew that Tom would never like her back.
That would be the easy route, she thought.
But she didn't want to.
What she wanted to do was get up and run over to Tom and then... Well, she wasn't quite sure what she wanted to do. What could she do?
"I came here with you," she said to Fred. "and i like hanging out with you."
As a friend, she thought.
More fireworks boomed in the sky, lighting Fred's face now that the darkness was thicker. He grabbed her, pulling her closer. Her heart panicked in her chest. Was he trying to kiss her now? After she just implied that she wanted to just be friends?
"There's this poem.." he said, "love is the wild that runs through the forest." His eyes focused on Kayla's face. "You see the wild, Kayla, you run after it. Don't let it get away." He pulled back, looking Kayla straight on.
A purple firework blossomed in the darkness. Kayla looked up, seeing Tom off in the distance. He leaned against the swing chain, watching the fireworks half heartedly.
Fred caught her staring then. He straightened, lifted a few fingers in an almost imperceptible wave.
"He's my friend..." Kayla heard herself say. "I couldn't tell him how I feel. If he doesn't feel the same way, then I'm screwed!" Tom looked over to them, laying close beside each other on a blanket.
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