Time in Willow Creek: 4 months, 3 weeks, 5 days
Throughout Juliana and Hillary’s friendship, Hillary was always the director of social affairs. It was a natural role to fall into seeing as how Juliana was new in town and knew very little. However, as Juliana got comfortable with her surroundings and took interests in things beyond what Hillary could provide, Hillary began to look to Juliana for suggestions on what they should do. There was art museum that was soon to open in Newcrest. Juliana desperately wanted to see it, but she wasn’t sure if Hillary would want to go. It had nothing to do with Hillary’s interest, but Juliana had never asked Hillary to go anywhere before and somehow the thought made her nervous. It was strange. She was 18 ½ years old. In Willow Creek, she was considered to be a grown woman. At home, she was of a legal age as well, but she was still her mother’s child and was expect to do as she was told. It was hard to get used to the freedom and power she had in Willow Creek. However, one day Hillary came to Juliana and asked her if there was anything she wanted to do, and Juliana happily suggested the museum. It was an early Saturday evening. Hillary thought that was a good time to beat the crowds, and she was right. When they arrived, there was not a soul in the place. For a moment they thought the place was closed, but the doors were still open and they waltzed right in. They both enjoyed the smell of the newly painted walls and stained hardwood floors. Everything was so new and shiny.
Hillary did not have a creative bone in her body and never understood abstract art. But, this museum had classic pieces she could appreciate, and she did appreciate them with Juliana. There were landscapes, ancestors, and still life—things she could relate to. Some of them provoked memories and future dreams. When Juliana suggested this, Hillary was not excited about it, but she wanted Juliana to feel like they could do things she wanted to do as well. But, standing there, looking at the portraits, remembering memories and creating dreams, she was glad she came. After visiting a few pieces and admiring them, she asked if it was ok if they sat down. “I didn’t wear the right shoes for this.” When they were seated, she looked at Juliana who was very happy, and asked, “So you like coming to places like this?”
“Yes. Art make me happy.”
“I wish I could paint like you,” Hillary said.
“You can try.”
“Nah. I wouldn’t have any idea where to start. It would come out like gobbley gook!”
They giggled like schoolgirls. The front door opened, and a man came in. It didn’t take them long to recognize who it was.
Hillary smiled and spoke to Juliana through her teeth. “Look who it is, Juliana! It’s your boyfriend from the bar.”
Juliana hadn’t share with Hillary that they kept running into each other everywhere. “Not my boyfriend.”
“Oh good! I can have him then.”
“Uh huh! That’s what I thought. He’s coming this waaaay,” Hillary sang. “Smile pretty now.”
Hillary enjoyed teasing Juliana. She was the little sister she never had. “He’s looking at you,” she teased.
“Stop it,” Juliana said.
Although Hillary’s teasing made her a bit more uncomfortable than she should have been, Juliana was enjoying the banter. Back home, she was the oldest child, and she did the teasing. Living with Hillary gave her a unique opportunity to experience life on the other end of the spectrum.
“Good evening, ladies! Nice to see you again, Juliana. And…Hannah is it? It’s been a while.”
“Hillary. Have you seen each other recently?”
“We seem to keep meeting, yes,” he said.
“Ohhhh, is that so,” Hillary said giving Juliana a surprised look. “Someone has been holding out on me.”
“Oh, there is nothing to tell I’m sure.”
“Oh there is plenty to tell,” Hillary said still looking at Juliana who was avoiding eye contact.
The message notification went off on her phone.
It was a long text from Jesse.
Hello, beautiful. Is everything ok? I haven’t heard from you in a while, and you didn’t answer my last text. I hope I haven’t said something to offend you. If I have, can we talk about it? I definitely never intended to say anything to hurt you. It was the chick flick thing, wasn’t it? 😉 I knew I should have kept my mouth shut. 😛 Srsly though, I want to see you again. I can’t stop thinking about you! Please call me.
As much as she appreciated the message, it hurt. When she got home that night, after the date, she couldn’t sleep. She was up all night trying to figure out her next steps. She wanted so badly to move forward with Jesse. He was a great guy, and she liked him a great deal. Besides Jase, she had never met a kinder, gentler man who was genuinely interested in her. It’s what she always wanted. Part of her wanted to try and see what it would be like in a real relationship. How far could they get? Could she really overcome her demons? Not this time. The other part of her won. She told herself she would be bad for him. She couldn’t hurt him. True, he would be hurt by her sudden disappearance, but it wouldn’t be as painful as the turmoil she would put him through, she thought. She was destined to end up with losers for the rest of her days and wasn’t sure why she even went out with Jesse. Every now and then she would torture herself with a good guy, and each time she got cold feet. Being truly happy and normal was foreign and suspicious to her. She didn’t trust it, but she wanted it oh so badly. There was no way she was going to reply to his text.
“So have you been here long?” Kevin asked.
Hillary snapped out of her daze. “Uhh, no. Not long. I think we were about to go upstairs. Right, Juliana?”
“Ok,” Juliana said.
“I’ll tag along then, if you ladies don’t mind.”
The thought of hanging out with Kevin again made Juliana smile. The ladies got up and lead the way to the upstairs exhibit with Kevin in tow. Juliana kept straining her eyes as far as they could go to make sure he was still behind them.
The trio stopped at a painting and admired it. Hillary stood next to Juliana, and Kevin stood slightly in front of her. Hillary couldn’t pass up the opportunity to tease Juliana some more, especially with Kevin standing so near. She made a heart shape with her hands and batted her eyes at Juliana who gently elbowed her in the ribs. Kevin was clueless as to what was taking place behind him, so Hillary stepped it up a notch. “Juliana…I don’t know much about art, but…I dunno! I feel like this piece is speaking to me!”
Juliana rolled her eyes.
“What do you think it says?” Kevin asked innocently.
“I don’t know. Two hearts? Growing flames?”
“Hmmm…that very well could be,” Kevin said matter-of-factly. “I’m a little bit familiar with this artist. He often created love themed works, so you could very well be right!”
Hillary glanced at Juliana slyly. “Mmm hmmm… I probably am.”
Kevin’s phone went off this time, and he looked disappointed at whatever the message said. “Sorry, ladies. It seems I’m needed urgently. We should get together and do this again sometime. Juliana has my number.”
Hillary’s eyes widened with surprise at this new information. “I’m sure Juliana would love to do this with you sometime. She’ll call you.”
He missed it. “Excellent! Well, I hate to rush off, but I have to get going. I’ll see you all soon.”
“Bye,” the ladies said.
“Awww! Look at your face! Don’t look so sad. I’m sure you’ll run into him again soon. Or…you could just call him up!” She was having too much fun at Juliana’s expense. “Ok, ok, I’m sorry. I’m just teasing ya. What do you want to do now? Look at more stuff here?”
“There’s a cafe around the corner. You wanna go there?”
The pair walked around the corner to the cafe and ate. They had a cannoli for dessert. Juliana thought it was decent, but she said they were much better back home. The sun had set, and it was time for them to return home. Juliana had a fun evening. She had art, playful banter, eye candy, and good food that reminded her of home. When they arrived back at Umbrage Manor, Juliana was all smiles. Harriett met them at the door. “Hey puddin’! You had fun?”
“Yes,” Juliana said and brushed past her and went upstairs.
“Oooh! She is grinnin’ like the Cheshire Cat! What on earth did y’all do?”
“Oh, she saw her boyfriend,” Hillary said.
Harriett’s jaw dropped and forehead wrinkled. “BOYFRIEND??”