I tumble out of bed and drag myself out of my bedroom and into the hallway. When I push open the bathroom door, my eyes widen at what I’ve stumbled upon. Claire is standing next to the toilet, holding her new cell phone over the toilet bowl. Her lips are pressed together in a hard line across her delicate face.
“What the fuck?” is the first thing that slips out of my mouth.
“I don’t want this thing anymore.”
“Please don’t drop it in the toilet.”
“What is the point of having a cell phone if you never answer it?”
Oh, shit. She’s had this phone two months and it’s turned her into a crazy person. I don’t dare say this out loud, but I’m beginning to wish I’d gotten her something else for her birthday.
If I don’t call her back within a few minutes, she accuses me of playing games. If she doesn’t call me back right away, it’s because she was busy. I don’t think she even realizes how insane this sounds.
“What do you want me to do? Just tell me what you want and I’ll do it.” I inch closer to her and she smiles when she realizes she has my attention. “You want me to promise I’ll never wait more than five minutes to call you back? Would that make you happy?”
She loses the smile and purses her lips. “This phone has turned me into an addict. I look at it every two minutes to check for missed calls and texts from you. It’s sick!”
I reach for her wrist and slowly move my hand down until the phone is in my hand. I place it gently on the bathroom counter, then I look her in the eyes.
“Babe, you’re not addicted to your phone. You’re addicted to me.”
“Shut up!” she smacks my chest and I try not to laugh too loud.
I wrap my arms around her waist and pull her against me. She’s breathing hard as my lips hover over hers. “Don’t you have to get ready for school?”
“It’s a late day. I don’t have to be at school for two and a half hours.”
I smile. It actually makes me happy that I can’t remember what day is a late day anymore since I quit school. The only regret I have about quitting school is that Claire is alone now. With Jake and Rachel graduated, and Tristan hanging out with his new girlfriend, Ashley, Claire says she spends most of her time outside of class reading.
“Good, ‘cause I have plans for you…. I gonna text you for two hours straight.”
“You’re such a jerk!”
She tries to push me away and I lean in to kiss her. At first she closes her mouth, but she laughs when I plant a loud kiss on her cheek. And I seize the opportunity to kiss her hard.
Seconds later, we’re lying on my bed, the sheets bunched up beneath her and my hand easing down her waist to her hip. She grabs my hand to stop me and I smile as I move my hand up. I trail my lips over her smooth jaw and plant a soft kiss on her neck. I hear a sniffing noise and I quickly pull my head back, afraid she’s crying.
“Oh, my God. You smell so good,” she says, leaning forward so she can sniff my shoulder.
She grabs fistfuls of my T-shirt and brings them to her nose as she inhales. “Yes! Is that some kind of cologne or something?”
“No, it’s laundry soap and you use the same one.”
“No, it has to be something else.”
I reach up and lightly drag my fingertip across her jawline. “Yeah, it’s laundry soap and my pheromones, which you obviously can’t get enough of. Addict.”
“What? There’s nothing wrong with that. I can’t get enough of your scent either.” I bury my face in the crook of her neck and she lets out a soft gasp when I lick her skin. “You smell sweet and salty at the same time, like raspberries with a hint of the beach. It’s fucking intoxicating.”
“Really?” she breathes. “That’s what I smell like to you?”
I nuzzle my nose against the sensitive spot behind her ear and she giggles softly. “See what you do to me? I can’t get enough of you.”
I kiss her neck and her skin is so soft, I want to devour her. But I respect her boundaries. So minutes later, we’re on my bike on the way to drop her off at school. As usual, she plants a kiss on the front of my helmet, leaving a kiss mark on the glass. Then she bats my hand away when I try to grab her ass as she walks away.
Something about this feels too perfect. I keep waiting for my mom to tell me that Claire’s being moved to another foster home. Or that my mom will find out about us and Claire’s caseworker will have her removed from our home.
Something bad is coming. It could be next week or next year. All I know is that this can’t continue the way it has. It’s too perfect. Nothing in my life has ever been this good or easy.