Everything in Harley Trento's room was perfectly symmetrical. Along the far wall, dead center in the room was her bed. Identical nightstands were on either side, both with identical small lamps with identical lampshades. An alarm clock was on the left side nightstand, and the right side nightstand always had whatever book she was currently reading. The rest of her collection, alphabetically ordered by authors last name, was on shelves in her closet, along with her alphabetically ordered CDs, in the back of the room, next to her entertainment set.
There were two sets of bureaus in Harley's room, one on the right wall and one on the left wall. Her mirror hung from her closet door. As the rest of Harley's room, each bureau had an equal amount of objects on the left side as on the right, for there was perfection in symmetry, and in that perfection, Harley found beauty.
It was a Friday night in late April when Harley stood in front of her mirror wearing a pale pink sundress with a white cardigan. Her light brown hair framed her face, which she tilted slightly to the left because she thought her eyes were uneven. She was always self-conscious about her green eyes. Firstly, they never stayed the same color. One day they appeared to be a bright green, the next a dull ugly green; and then hazel, and sometimes even a very light brown or gray. Secondly, her left eye always seemed just a tad bit higher on her face then her right eye, and although her mother and friends continuously told her there was nothing wrong with her eyes, Harley always tried to even them out by tilting her head since she was seven years old.
Harley nervously pulled at the hem of her dress. Tonight was a big night. It was her third date with Andrew Roberts, and the third date was crucial. In the perfect dating system Harley designed, the first date was always a double date. The guy brought a friend with him, and Harley brought a friend with her. They would go out to dinner at a local diner and then to a movie, and if that all went well, ice cream was next. The second date was the first alone date, which she let her date decide the activities. If she approved of the outing, and had a good time, the all-important third date was a go.
The third date had to be perfect. It had to involve a nice dinner at a respectable restaurant, and something romantic, like driving a half hour down the shore to walk on the beach, or just parking somewhere to look at the stars. Of course, she never told her date this; it was up to him to figure it out. Then, when it was time for Harley's date to bring her home, he would walk her up to the door, and they would share their first kiss.
If the kiss were bad, Harley would let the guy down easy. But if it was good, two or three follow up dates occurred before she could decide whether or not the boy was worth being serious over, and while Harley was only two months away from graduating high school, no one had made it past the sixth date.
But Harley had a feeling about Andrew. After all, whenever she talked to him on the phone, she had to sit because her legs would get weak, and she thought about him constantly ever since she met him a mutual friends party. It was all so strange for Harley, partly because he was different then the other boys, and not just because he wore jeans and tee shirts instead of sweaters and button-up shirts like she normally demanded. Maybe it was because he was older and he didn't need to prove anything to anyone, and he was always comfortable with himself. Andrew was sarcastic and he challenged Harley, which she wasn't used to. Whatever the reason, Harley liked him and this third date had to be perfect.
A knock on her door drew Harley from her reverie. "Hey, kiddo," her mom said. "Date number three, huh?" Laurie Trento said, wiggling her eyebrows with a sarcastic smile. Harley rolled her eyes. Sometimes having a younger mom was cool, but not when she teased her only daughter.
"Did you need something?"
Laurie laughed. "Only to remind you that you're to be at your fathers not later than one-o'clock on Sunday."
"Mom, I thought we agreed you were going to forget to remind me," Harley whined as she compulsively began combing her hair for the third time.
"Yeah, well, you're father's left five messages in the last two days, and you know if you don't go I'll have to hear it." Harley sighed. "Oh, Harley, you won't have to stay long. And you can bring a friend."
"Why don't you come with me then?"
Laurie placed her hands on her hips. "Do you really think that would be appropriate?"
Harley pursed her lips. Her father, Joshua, had an affair with mother when she was eighteen, and he was twenty-three and married with, he later found out, a child on the way. Harley's family life was not exactly Leave it to Beaver. "They all hate me and don't want me there," Harley said.
"That is not true. Your father does not hate you; and Jenny doesn't hate you, and I'm sure if you miss her birthday party she'll be very upset."
"Yet," Harley argued. "She doesn't hate me yet. Remember, Christa didn't hate me when she was her age either." Harley had three half-sisters from her father's marriage. The eldest, Kate, was born only three months before her and was a miniature of her mother, both of whom hated Harley. After all, she was the mistake in the family that nearly destroyed Nancy and her father's marriage.
Nancy cast her eyes down for a moment, and Harley immediately regretted arguing. Her father and his family were a difficult topic for Laurie and Harley knew it was not fair of her to continue the conversation. "Maybe Andrew will go with me."
The corners of Laurie's lips turned up. "Maybe," she murmured.
Harley began to sigh as Laurie left the room, but a loud banging on her window caused her to jump. She whipped around and saw a hat bobbing in front of her window, facing the driveway, and she relaxed. Andrew backed up so Harley could see his face and offered her a sarcastic smile. She shook her head as she made her way to the front door, calling a goodbye to her mother over her shoulder.
Andrew met her halfway in front of the yellow rancher. "Hi there, beautiful," Andrew said, and Harley could not stop the smile that spread across her face.
"Hi." She drank in his red tee shirt and jeans and she knew she should have been annoyed.
"You look amazing," he said in a softer tone reaching for her hand.
Nevertheless, all she felt was a rush of excitement.
* * *
Dinner had been perfect. Everything had been perfect; even though it was not the third date she usually expected.
The music Andrew played in his car was vastly different from anything she normally listened to, but she found herself enjoying. They ate at a small, casual Italian restaurant that she had never been to and talked for nearly three hours about anything and everything. Harley couldn't remember the last time she was comfortable enough with a guy that she could lose herself in conversation with him. She didn't even realize Andrew had nothing specially romantic planned after dinner because all she thought about as they left the restaurant was getting to her door so she could be kissed.
"So, what are your plans for Sunday?" Harley timidly interjected in a lull in their conversation while driving back to her house.
"What's the matter, you didn't get enough of me tonight?" Andrew asked slyly.
"Whatever," Harley responded. "You probably shouldn't go anyway. It requires a taste in dress."
"And what does that mean?" he asked, feigning offense.
"It means that my half-sisters birthday party is Sunday and you have to wear a button up shirt and khakis."
"Oh, I see. You're just going to use me as entertainment at a boring party."
"Yep." Harley glanced at Andrew from the corner of her eye and held back a laugh at his comical expression.
"Ugh, well… I can give you the button up shirt, but no khakis."
"Oh, c'mon," she whined.
"Hey, you have yet to tell me what I'm getting out this service I'm providing to you anyway," he argued.
"You'll be spending the afternoon with me! Isn't that payment enough? Hey!" Harley whined when she saw the look on Andrew's face that clearly said: "Oh please."
"I'll think about it," he said as he shifted into park.
"Think about going or about wearing the khakis?" she asked teasingly as she got out of the car.
Andrew laughed as he grabbed her hand. They slowly walked up the porch steps and they were in front of the door. Harley's heart skipped a beat as he turned and faced her.
"Thank you for dinner," she said quietly.
"You're welcome, I hope you enjoyed it."
Harley licked her lips and started closing her eyes when the door flew open.
"I thought I heard a car pull in! C'mon in, Andrew," Laurie said ushering him into the house.
Harley did everything in her power to stop herself from stamping a foot and throwing a temper-tantrum like a three year old. Not once since she began dating had anything like that ever happened. "Unbelievable," she muttered to herself with annoyance.