Welcome: 2P America and Reader: Commission:
The town was small enough that you could walk everywhere. A trip to the grocery store, the post office, or the bank only took thirty minutes depending on your business. It was easy to fit in at the schools because you grew up with most of the kids there, spending time together at summer BBQ’s and at Christmas parties, or bumping into each other at the small park.
But when someone moved in it was a whole other story. For a while they felt isolated in the small town where the only real highlight for kids was the large lake slapped in the middle of the park. This was the place where the school held its annual skating party in the winter and where people had picnics in the spring and family reunions in the summer. Thus the town had been dubbed Lakeville.
You had experienced this isolation for a while, not understanding why people were so distant and seemed to shift uncomfortably when you or your family appeared. At first you thought it was rude, but you understood when a moving van pulled in front of the house right across the street from the local library where you worked. The library was an equally small place with cozy reading chairs. You had spent a lot of time there when you first moved to Lakeville.
The moving truck appeared like crop circles in a corn field, unexpected and not welcomed. You felt a twinge of pity for the people moving in. It might take years for them to be accepted. People hadn’t started to warm up to you until you started working for the library making an effort to memorize every name in town and knowing what books they liked.
Maybe you would make them feel welcome. If you worked up enough courage you would go over and ring there doorbell, welcoming them to the neighborhood. It took most of your work day to work up the courage. Your hands shook as you clocked out. You gave your fellow employees a quick but nervous smile but they were too busy to notice; eyeing the moving truck as it drove away leaving a thick cloud of smoke in its’ path.
You sprinted across the street, butterflies going wild in your stomach as your heavy breathing turned into clouds of mist in the cold air. Your boots crunched through the snow on their sidewalk, deciding it was rude to cut across the lawn, unlike the movers that had scrapped that rule and caused massive craters in the snow covered yard.
For a moment you considered turning back. They had just moved in that day and were probably unpacking. You didn’t even have a welcome gift, but you still pushed the button. At least you had a friendly smile for them.
But it faltered when the ring of the bell was interrupted by what seemed to be boulders tumbling down the stairs. Well it sounded like boulders tumbling down the stairs, along with loud shouts and a few cuss words. You thought you had stumbled into a house full of rambunctious five your olds.
That was also short lived as the door swung open and a blush spread across your face. You averted your eyes when a young man about your age, swung open the door with a cocky look on his face, shades over his eyes, and wearing only an undershirt and boxers.
“Lucky me, girls are already lining up at my door,” he mumbled, lifting his glasses to look you over with his dark red eyes and a pierced eyebrow. His smirk grew and you watched as the upper chin piercings stretched across his face. Turning back to the house he called out, “Hey Matt! I told you the ladies love me! There’s a girl at the door!”
You backed up, trying to stutter a welcome before you ran for your dignity, “W-W-Welcome to the Lakeville,” you said, stumbling back into the snow.
Another guy his age appeared. At least he was dressed, wearing a plaid shirt and heavy duty pants. He had a large container of maple syrup in his hand with the cap removed. He also glanced at and to your horror he took a swig from the maple syrup bottle.
“Congratulations,” he mumbled sarcastically before he disappeared back inside.
Now you were left alone again with this weirdo who watched you like an amused but hungry lion stalking an injured wildebeest. Well, you quickly decided that this injured wildebeest was going to live another day and limped away.
“It was nice meeting you,” you mumbled, quickly turning to run back home and ignore the flirtatious and cocky goodbye he shouted back at you.
Since you had met Al, the cocky and indecent boy who had moved in across from the library, you had made several secret assumptions about him. So far most of those had been right.
The first was that you were doomed to have him at your school and sure enough a week after your encounter he was walking down the halls of Lakeville High. You had hoped that the other teens wouldn’t like him or his brother Matt. But when they joined the small town school where almost everyone got along, it quickly became something straight out of a high school drama book as the nerds divided from the more athletic kids and groups were formed.
The athletic, now popular, kids had taken Al and his brother in immediately, impressed that they had driven up in a beat up truck, because they claimed Al’s motorcycle was in the shop. You had not expected that to happen, but now made sure to sit at the “neutral” table with your friends who wouldn’t stop taking about the upcoming skating party.
Another assumption you had made was that Al wasn’t very literate. That one was correct and had no loose ends. The library quickly turned into your little sanctuary from Al and his newly found gang and you took as many extra hours as possible, working extra hard so you could get your mind off of school. But your grades started to fall and you were starting to feel a bit anxious. School had been something to look forward to, you could see your friends and hang out during lunch, but now lunch and free periods were full of studying and homework. You were surrounded by more books than people and had nothing to look forward to but more work.
You didn’t know why you wanted to avoid Al so desperately. Maybe it was his introduction that had startled you into your shell. But there was also the fact that he was a first-class jerk who most people thought of as funny if he smiled with an orange peel covering his teeth. Maybe it was the fact that the townspeople were opened to the new obnoxious and loud, unlike when you moved in and they had rejected you.
You let your eyes slowly drift closed. No, the hard wooden library chair was not the best place to take a nap, but you had spent most of the night studying for an upcoming test and wanted five minutes of peace before you had to head out into the jungle halls of high school, filled with loud and chattering students that rivaled the noise of anxious monkeys; and exhausted teachers that made gorillas look like kittens.
Suddenly you heard the familiar clank of wood against wood and you sleepily peered over at who had sat across from you, turning attentive when you saw it was Al. He was looking cocky as he rested his elbow on the table and his chin in his palm, his eyebrow rose in amused curiosity.
“Why are you in the library all the time?” he asked, digging through his pocket for a box of raisins, a part of his vegan diet.
“Because I work there,” you said groggily, in no mood from witty banter or bad manners.
He threw back his head and ate the entire box of raisins in one gulp. Apparently, that was supposed to impress you because the next thing he said was, “Are you going to the skating party?”
Your cheeks flushed involuntarily and embarrassing thoughts went through your mind. How was it his business if you were going to the skating party or not? It would be better if you used that day for studying anyway.
“Probably not,” you said, gathering your scattered items from the table and stuffing them in your bag. Maybe he would take the hint that you wanted this to be a short meeting.
His cocky grin turned into a frown, “Why not?”
You were ready to leave, slinging the pack over your shoulder. You began your march out of the library. “Because I don’t want to,” you snapped.
“Well then will you can at least help me with my skating?” he blurted.
You froze. Turning back to him you saw a look you had hoped to see when you had first introduced yourself to him, a little bit anxious and nervous, unsure of his new surroundings, instead of looking cocky in his underwear. So with a sigh you agreed. You had signed up for the welcoming committee when you had first rung his doorbell, wanting to show new neighbors that the town was friendly, and you were going to stick with it.
Your boss had agreed to let you have the day off and had actually gushed about how hard you had been working lately, saying you deserved the break.
You had expected that, but what you didn’t expect was Al when you got the lake. At first you thought it was part of another big trick to make you look stupid, thinking that he had lied about needing help with his skating. But when you got there he was sitting at the very edge of the lake, not yet changed into skates. His heavy duty boots centimeters away from the frozen lake and looking as nervous as a toddler on his first day of school.
“Where are your skates?” was your hello, your own pair slung over your shoulder in you back pack.
“I was waiting for you,” he snapped, shoving a black back-pack from his lap and opening it to reveal skates of the same color.
You were already on the ice when he finally got his skates on, working on your backwards skating and doing a few twirls here and there before you slid in front of Al. Raising an eyebrow, you asked one of the questions that nagged you. “Why do you want to learn how to skate?”
Al still sat on the ground, head bent, grinding his teeth in frustration as he had tried to stand on the ice several times, only to fall into the snow. “There might be cute girls at the party,” he said, trying one last time to stand before you skated over to him and offered your hand.
Any other girl would’ve been angry that he wanted skating lessons just to impress other girls. You were slightly perturbed, but the rest of the lesson made up for it. Al was a horrible skater, cursing when he fell down, which was a lot, his feet always tripping him up and not being able to stop until he tripped over to the edge of the lake, falling into the powdery snow below.
“Having fun?” you teased when Al had tried again to skate in a straight line, but had somehow veered off the path to land in a crater he had created moments before.
“No, why are you such a horrible teacher?” he snapped, standing and brushing the snow off. At least he could stand.
You crossed your arms, more for warmth than hostility. “Why did you want me teach you?” you retorted, smiling in triumph as he remained silent.
He skated over to you, his ankles wobbling, looking angry and determined to skate in a straight line, but failing and grabbing onto your arm. The next thing you heard was a yelp of surprise coming from your mouth and a sharp icy pain shooting through your leg as you and Al tumbled to the ground. You had successfully landed on Al, and his arms were wrapped around you, his eyes scanning over you as if he was checking for injuries.
“You okay?” he asked, his trade mark smirk making an appearance.
“I’m fine,” you muttered, trying to stand thinking he was going to let go, but he didn’t.
“Are you sure? Your lips look a little blue,” he said. You bit your lip, panic setting in as you realized what was happening. As he leaned in closer, you tried to scoot away. “Come on. You know you want it,” he whispered, his hot breath tickling your ear and sending a shiver down your spine.
You let him press his lips against yours. They were surprisingly soft and he started gently until in a few minutes his hands began to roam and he pressed you closer, smirking every time you decided to break, finally saying, “We need to get off the ice and into my car.”
You nodded breathlessly; face warm and bright red in the cold night air, you had more than a friendly smile for the new neighbor.