Original Work: You'll Always Find Your Way Back Home, Chapter 11, Part 2
Chapter 11, Part 2
Expertly, Joshua navigated his car out of the narrow alley way, managing to avoid bumping the dumpster or backing into the restaurant beside Ru San’s. We joined the flow of traffic (though the emphasis should be on the word traffic and definitely not on flow) and Joshua impatiently tapped on the stick-shift, grimacing at the constant shifting and downshifting that came from trying to maneuver a manual through traffic. Not that there was ever too much traffic in Independence but trying to get out of the parking lot after school had definitely not been my idea of fun, especially because I still had the tendency to stall out every time I tried to move the car forward.
“Is the beach far?” I questioned and realized too late that that was a question that Emilia would have known the answer to. The suggestion to go shopping and hit the beach had come from Emilia’s own mouth and even if it hadn’t, I was sure that my sister would have been more than familiar with the geographic layout.
The look Joshua gave me only reinforced the idea that I’d just asked a very stupid question. And one that I had no idea how to cover for or explain away. “No farther than usual.” Joshua replied with a smirk, as though he suspected that there was some sort of joke that he wasn’t in on.
I tried to smile like I was in on the joke too but I was too preoccupied with thinking about what Schapelle and Linda would say if I ruined their elaborate plan because I wasn’t thinking clearly around Joshua Beckett. Not that I wasn’t thinking clearly around him…I was thinking just fine, I just wasn’t thinking like Emilia. Though, it would have been a lie to say that I was thinking much past how ridiculously cute Joshua was and how the pictures in Jordan’s magazines didn’t seem to do his freckled cheeks and hazel eyes justice.
In an effort to change the subject away from my little faux pas, I remarked, “I would never be able to drive in all this traffic, I still haven’t quite mastered the not-stalling-out-phase.”
“It takes practice.” Joshua agreed with a little pride in his voice. “It wasn’t easy to learn but once I got the hang of it, it’s no problem.” He was making it look pretty easy.
I was wondering if he was really serious about his offer to help me perfect my own driving skills but my mind didn’t have to dwell on the topic for long before Joshua said, “Next time you have a free day you’ll have to come out to my parents’ place, I’ll give you a little lesson from the Joshua Beckett School of Driving.”
That had to be a good sign right? He was making future plans with me. “Hmm, I’m not sure I could survive that.” I remarked, teasingly.
Joshua gave me a very well executed faux-offended look. “You seemed pretty excited about the idea last night.” He pointed out and it seemed as though I hadn’t been as suave and nonchalant last night as I’d hoped I’d been. “Either you were looking forward to spending more time with me or you were willing to try anything to help with your driving skills.” He smiled and I knew that he was teasing me.
“Definitely the driving skills.” I replied. “I’m a danger to society.” Like I would actually value my driving skills over an excuse to see Joshua again. Not that he had to know that. “But I’m starting to wonder if maybe you were just using it as an excuse to see me again.
You’re the one who keeps bringing it up.” I raised an eyebrow, smiling as I waited to see what he had to say to that.
“I’m just trying to do what’s good for society.” Joshua replied evenly, as though he hadn’t even noticed that I was trying to beat him at his own game. “I drew the short straw, but I guess somebody’s got to do it.”
“Well, I’ll try to make it as painless as possible.” I assured him with a good-natured roll of my eyes. “Make sure that you get that gold star for helping the community.”
Joshua raised an eyebrow. “Well, if there’s a gold star involved I could always start the lesson right now.” He made as though to unbuckle his seat belt and motioned me toward the driver’s seat.
“Good idea, Joshua, though it would be a shame to ruin your prized possession.” I unbuckled my seat belt. “But, if you insist…” I shrugged, reaching for the door handle.
Joshua quickly snapped his seat belt back into place. “On second thought, it might be better to save the lesson.” He grinned and I couldn’t help but do the same. What was it about the smile of a cute boy that seemed to be so contagious? I couldn’t help but feel that the only thing I’d been doing since I’d run into Joshua on Rodeo Drive was grin like an idiot and try to refrain from pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t back in that sterile white room at Emilia’s house. But so far, everything seemed real and I seemed pretty awake, so I was managing to avoid pinching myself. But I hadn’t been able to do anything about the idiotic grinning yet.