Brandon’s face softens with surprise when he sees me. “Luce! You’re home!” He smiles widely.
An instant wave of relief washes over me when I realize that no, he's not mad at me or avoiding me, and I’m suddenly giddy. “Yeah! Hi!” I cry, and before I realize what I’m doing, I throw my arms around him in a huge, tight hug.
Brandon chuckles. “Whoa! What’s up?” He pushes back slightly, and I take an awkward step back. “Why were you knocking all frantic and everything?”
My face flushes. “Oh, you know… I dunno… I just…”
Suddenly, loud rock music starts to blast out from somewhere in Brandon’s house. “Brandon! Hurry up!” someone calls out – I can’t tell if it’s Taylor or Tommy.
“Hold on!” Brandon turns back to me and rolls his eyes. “Sorry – we’re playing Rock Band. So what’s up? Tell me.”
I sigh, giving in. “I tried to call you last week, and today, and you never picked up.”
“Oh man, yeah, sorry about that.” Brandon pulls his curly brown hair behind both ears. “Stupid Tommy ran over my cell with his bike. It’s like, totally ruined.” He gives me a lopsided grin. “Why, d'ya miss me?” he asks slyly.
My heart stops. Literally.
And then Brandon reaches forward and playfully punches me in the shoulder. “Nah I’m just kidding Luce. Seriously – were you mad?”
“Ha, ha,” I force out, swallowing hard. “Um, no I’m not mad. I mean, I wasn’t mad and I’m not mad. I was just bored. I wanted to know what was going on.”
Brandon shrugged. “Oh, well in that case, be prepared to be disappointed. It’s been super boring. Rained like five times.”
“Really? Nothing new has happened? At all?” My voice sounds a pitch too high. But I’m suddenly back to feeling giddy. Surely Brandon would be all too excited to tell me if--
“Braaandon!” a new voice calls out from inside in a sweet whine. “I can’t get this song right! Help meee!”
And then I deflate. Unfortunately, this voice I can recognize.