“And yeah, Tobi said I could invite a friend, if I want, so… Ah! Shit shit shit!” Clara pounded the buttons in front of her furiously, completely losing her train of thought.
Beside her, Lena laughed gleefully as she wiggled the joystick with a few easy flicks of her wrist. “YES!” she cried as the ‘Game Over’ screen flashed in front of them. “That’s three out of three!”
“Damn it! You bitch!” Clara laughed heartily as she stepped away from the arcade machine.
Her friend smirked at her. “Anyway, you were saying?”
Clara returned to the table where she and Lena had been sitting earlier. The other girl followed along beside her. “What I was saying is that I can invite a friend, and since I only really have one of those… Do you wanna go to this vow renewal thing next month?”
Lena shrugged. “Sure, why not? It seems pretty pointless though, doesn’t it?”
“Yeah, kinda.” Clara agreed. “But they never had a real wedding… So I guess this is their chance or something? Plus, I guess they deserve a little celebration for making it through marriage counseling in one piece.” She added with a laugh.
“Hmm… I guess that is pretty impressive. I kinda figured they were headed straight for splitsville.” Lena confessed.
“Me too, for a while. I guess I’m happy it all worked out for them.” Clara paused for a moment. “But hey, enough about my stupid Bruder. Wanna grab another coffee?”
With a nod, Lena rose to her feet. “Y’know what? I really missed this.” Her voice was sincere. “I was seriously starting to think you were gonna be under house arrest for the rest of your life.”
Clara laughed. Today was the first day that her parents had let her leave the house unsupervised in weeks. And, as annoying and frustrating as it was, Clara secretly understood why. Still, it was a relief to finally have a bit of freedom back.
“I missed it too.” She said at last, smiling. “I mean, you know me… I’m basically a freaking hermit, but it’s nice to mingle with my fellow humans every now and then.”
As they waited by the drink counter for the barista to fill their order, Clara felt her friend nudge her sharply in the ribs.
“Hey,” Lena whispered, “Isn’t that Lucas’ friend over there? Florian?” She nodded across the arcade. “Because he’s totally checking you out, FYI.”
Clara felt her cheeks turn red. “What?!” She whipped her head around, locking eyes with the young man across the room. He gave her a small nod of acknowledgement before turning his attention back to his friend’s dart game.
“Oh my God, Lena, it’s not like that!” She hissed. “I know exactly why he’s here… Mama put him up to it. I know she did.” Clara shook her head. She should have known her mother wouldn’t entirely trust her yet. Damn it, it was too good to be true…
A small sigh passed her lips. “Still, if Mama’s gonna send someone to spy on me, at least she picked me some decent eye-candy.”
“HAH!” Lena threw her head back. “I knew it.”
“Yeah, don’t get all excited.” Clara rolled her eyes as she grabbed her drink and headed back to the table. Beside her, Lena did the same. “Trust me, I’m swearing off guys for a while. A LONG while. Maybe forever.” She joked.
“No more guys, huh?” Lena raised an eyebrow at her. “Hmm… Sorry, Clara. You’re gorgeous and all… but not really my type.” Her friend winked.
Clara simply rolled her eyes again. Gorgeous? Pfft. Yeah right. She thought, taking a sip of her drink and letting her eyes wander back toward where Florian sat.
And speaking of gorgeous… The girl shook herself mentally. Stop. No more guys. Especially not OLDER guys…
Without meaning to, Clara found herself thinking of Julian again. Her heart sank as his face and name suddenly entered her mind. It was still so painful to think of him. She’d really, truly believed that he loved her… And that she loved him, too. But she was fooling herself. Only looking back on it now did she realize just how horribly he’d manipulated her. How he’d used her. It made her feel sick.
“Lena.” Her voice was barely above a whisper. “I don’t think I ever said it… But I’m sorry. I should have listened to you way back when I told you what was happening with Julian. I just didn’t want to listen.” She shook her head. “Guess I’m too damn stubborn.”
“You are.” Lena agreed. “But hey, so am I. That’s why we’re friends.” She smiled softly. “And I’m sorry I didn’t do anything about it when I found out what was going on.” Lena confessed somewhat awkwardly. “I mean, you probably would have murdered me if I did, but… Maybe I should have told your parents or something.” She shrugged.
Clara shook her head. There was no point in either of them dwelling on the past. Not anymore. “Nah. You’re right. I probably would have killed you…” Her lips curled into a small smile as she spoke. “Not worth the risk, trust me.”
That was the last they spoke of it. The two girls spent the rest of the afternoon gossiping, talking, and laughing together. Clara felt so normal, so free for the first time in months.
And she promised herself that she would never take this feeling for granted again.