The Unexpected Way of Falling in LoveJessica Sorensen
The Unexpected Way of Falling in Love
(Unexpected Series, Book 1)
About the Author
Also by Jessica Sorensen
The Unexpected Way of Falling of Falling in Love
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Copyright © 2017 by Jessica Sorensen
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Sometimes I wonder if I’m cursed. Not cursed like by a witch or something magical. Although, my curse might be easier to deal with if that were the case. At least I’d know the source. But, nope. Unfortunately, there are no witches in my story. Just little old me, a girl who was cursed with the stupidity to fall for my best friend’s brother. I probably sound like a walking cliché right now, and maybe I am. That doesn’t make it any less true.
So here I am, admitting I have a problem.
I have a crush on Carter.
And that crush has gone on for years, ever since grade school when I first met him, which happened to be only a few minutes before I became friends with his sister Elodie.
I was pretty quiet back then. If I’m being honest, even now at eighteen, I still have a shy streak. For anyone who’s ever been shy, you’ll probably understand that making friends can sometimes be complicated. You know, since making friends usually requires socializing—the enemy to a shy person.
By the time I reached third grade, I started to wonder if I was ever going to make real friends. I was also beginning to question if maybe I did have cooties, like some of the kids at school accused me of. After all, I didn’t like brushing my hair, and it was always a tangled mess. Plus, my mom worked as a maid, and my dad has been MIA since before I can remember, so we were really poor and I wore a lot of oversized, holey clothes bought from secondhand stores. And, according to every third-grader I knew, those traits are what caused cooties.
So yeah, I was basically a lonely third -grader who frequently stressed out about having cooties. It wasn’t fun, and I worried life was never going to get better … until Elodie crashed into my life. And I mean that literally.
Our crash meeting happened during recess. As usual, I’d been swinging on the swings by myself when Carter came strolling up. Even back then, he was a flirt, constantly pulling girls’ hair then charming his way through an apology with a smile. All the girls in our grade adored him, including me. But Carter didn’t pull my hair. Carter didn’t even know I existed. At least, that’s what I thought.
That day, he was striding across the grass toward me with that smile on his face, the one that won all the girls over. He was wearing a button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up, a pair of nice jeans, and sneakers that looked brand new. Carter always dressed nice. Back then, I wasn’t sure what his dad or mom did for a living, but I thought his family had a lot of money, enough that they paid my mom to clean their house, anyway.
I stared at his shoes as he walked toward me, grasping the chains, afraid that, if I looked up, he’d realize he was approaching the wrong person. There was no other way Carter would ever talk to me. When I dared a glance up, though, he was right in front of me.
“Hey,” he said, that smile rising on his face. “You’re Ensley, right?”
I nodded, brushing strands of my tangled brown hair out of my eyes. My heart was pounding, and my palms were sweating against the chains of the swing. I should have let go of them, but I was afraid that, if I did, I’d do something stupid, like fall out of the swing. I did a lot of stupid things back then. I was a klutz, awkward, shy. I was everything that made being a kid complicated.
“Cool.” He stuffed his hands into his pockets and glanced across the crowded playground.
I tracked his gaze and spotted his friends hanging out near the slides, watching us and giggling. I wondered why. Was something about to happen? Something good, I hoped.
“So, I have a question for you.” Carter tore his attention off his friends and focused on me.
“Okay.” I was so nervous I was shaking.
“It’s actually a question from me and my friends.” He seemed a bit fidgety, too, but then that smile rose on his face again. “We have a bet going on whether you’re a boy or a girl.”
I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. He wanted to know if I was a boy or a girl? Wasn’t that obvious?
I opened my mouth to tell him I was a girl, but he continued on, that smile growing.
“Because, with how you dress, it’s really hard to tell.” He smiled like he was offering me some sort of gift. “I mean, you look like a boy most of the time, but some people think you’re a girl. Personally, I’m not sure. But since my friends and I made a bet …” He shrugged, like that explained everything.
“I have long hair,” I said stupidly.
“Yeah, so?” His brows elevated, that stupid smile remaining. “That doesn’t mean anything. Sometimes guys have long hair, and sometimes girls have short hair.”
Tears stung my eyes as I glanced down at my outfit, and then I mentally pictured what my face looked like. Did I look like a boy? Had I all this time?
He stood there, as if expecting for me to answer.
Looking back, I should’ve told him to get lost, but I was friendless, and any self-esteem I possessed had just been squashed.
“I’m a girl,” I say quietly, a few tears escaping my eyes.
“Really?” He shrugged. “Guess I owe my friends twenty bucks.”
I released the swing’s chains to wipe away the tears dripping down my cheeks. I wanted him to leave, a strange feeling since I had a crush on him.
He didn’t leave, though. Instead, he offered me that smile again.
“Don’t worry; I’m sure you’ll—”
A girl came out of nowhere and shoved him hard. He tripped back, almost falling to the ground. As he tumbled backward, he snapped his arm out and snagged ahold of the girl’s arm. The girl jerked out of his reach, though, and gave him another push, making sure he fell all the way to the ground. Then she lost her balance, tripped over his feet, and crashed into me, knocking me out of the swing.
I blinked as I landed on my back in the dirt, then glanced around. Not
only was I lying on the ground, but so was Carter and the girl.
“What the heck, Elodie?” Carter grumbled as he stood and dusted grass off his jeans. “You’re such a freak.”
“Yeah, well, you share the same DNA as me so that makes you a freak, too,” she quipped, kneeling up and glaring at Carter.
That’s when I realized they had the same blond hair and green eyes. Were they brother and sister? I didn’t know for sure since I’d never been in the same class as Elodie.
“I’m not a freak. I’m, like, the opposite of a freak.” He threw a scowl at her then stormed off to join his friends.
I wondered if he would tell them I was a girl. I wondered if they would laugh.
“I’m sorry about my brother,” Elodie said, turning toward me. “He’s such a jerk sometimes.”
“It’s okay.” I pushed to my feet and brushed the dirt off my jeans, but the mud stains on my knees wouldn’t wipe off. It didn’t really matter, though. The fabric was already stained, anyway.
“No, it’s not.” She stood and frowned down at her blue dress that was now covered in dirt. “My mom is going to be so mad I got my dress dirty.”
“I’m sorry.” I felt like it was my fault.
“Don’t be.” She smiled. “It’s one less dress she can make me wear.”
“Your mom makes you wear dresses?”
“Sometimes. She’s kind of crazy. Like Carter.”
I giggled, my tears drying.
“I’m Elodie, by the way,” she said.
“Carter’s sister?” I asked.
She nodded. “His twin sister, actually. Not by choice.” Then she smiled again, and it made me want to smile. So, I did.
“That’s a cool name.”
“Thanks. So’s yours.”
She frowned. “I don’t know. It kind of sounds like I’m a faerie or something.”
“Faerie’s are cool, though. And really pretty. Plus, they have magic dust.”
“But I don’t have any magic dust.”
“We could try to make some. My mom has a lot of glitter at home, and I have this book on magic. Maybe there’s something in there.”
Her smile grew. “You know what, Ensley? I think you and I are going to be good friends.”
I didn’t really believe her. I’d never had a friend before. I wanted to believe her, though, really, really badly.
“You don’t believe me,” she said, as if reading my mind. “Well, I guess I’m just going to have to prove it.”
And she did.
The next day, she brought us friendship bracelets, hung out with me at recess, and invited me to a sleepover. And just like that, I had a best friend. It made it easier to deal with being teased and made life a little less lonely.
Over the years, Elodie and I remained BFFs, and we still have the friendship bracelets, even now when we’re seniors in high school. Elodie remains the sort of friend that will knock someone down for being a dick, although she has ditched the dresses and likes to rock a lot of dark clothes and combat boots, something her mom gives her shit for every day. And I’m still the same girl who wears grungy clothes and doesn’t have a lot of friends. My clothes are a little more stylish, though, but not name brand—I still can’t afford that. I comb my hair now, too. And I no longer look at myself as that sad, lonely girl who sat on the swing set by herself. Occasionally, I do still question if I look boy-ish. I hate that I do it, but sometimes, words leave behind wounds, and I haven’t been able to figure out how to get rid of that one yet.
I also haven’t figured out how to get rid of my crush on Carter, which I know sounds pathetic. And it is. But it’s just a crush that I’m sure I’ll one day get over. Besides, it’s not like the crush is going to end up being anything more.
Carter is still Carter. That much hasn’t changed.
I have a problem. A serious problem. Well, I probably have more than one, but let’s just focus on the problem I have right now, okay?
My problem has to do with staring. I stare a lot. Like, I’m-a-freak a lot. And generally, my staring problem centers around one person in particular.
“You’re doing that staring thing again.” Elodie lightly smacks me on the side of the head. “Stop it.”
I tear my gaze off Carter, rubbing my head. “Dude, that hurt.”
She grins, flipping her long, blonde hair off her shoulder. “Good. Maybe after a few more smacks, you’ll realize my brother’s a douchebag and finally move on to a guy who deserves your attention.”
Yeah, Elodie now knows about my crush. I managed to keep it a secret for a couple of years, but the girl’s a freakin’ ninja when it comes to wiggling secrets out of me. Seriously.
After catching me staring at her brother for too long one day, she managed to get the truth out of me in less than a minute. She wasn’t upset I was crushing on her twin brother like I thought she would be. She was pissed.
“No, no, no. Just no,” she said. “You can’t like him, Ens. You’re way too good for him.”
“I think you might be the only person on the planet who sees it like that.” I dared another glance across the cafeteria at Carter, who was sitting with his friends, laughing with someone, probably at the expense of someone else’s feelings.
She swatted me across the head then, too. Not hard enough to hurt, but with enough force to startle the crap at me. It was the first time she’d done it, but definitely wouldn’t be the last.
“Ow,” I whined, rubbing my head. “That was mean.”
“Well, someone needs to smack some sense into you.” She popped a fry into her mouth. “You need to get over this whole ‘I’m-a-loser thing.’ It makes me sad you can’t see how great you are.” Her gaze flicked in Carter’s direction, her lips twitching in irritation. “And I hate that my asshat of a brother is part of the reason your brain’s so messed up.”
“My brain isn’t messed up,” I argued, opening my soda. “I just know what I am and what I’m not.”
She rolled her eyes. “You’re so clueless sometimes.”
“And you’re mean.”
“You know, normally when people call me mean, I show them just how mean I am.” She popped her knuckles.
I rolled my eyes. Sure, Elodie had gotten into some fights, but I wasn’t afraid of her. She was my BFF, after all.
“Are you rolling your eyes at me?” she questioned, her lips threatening to turn upward.
I rolled my eyes again. “No, not at all.”
She shook her head, smiling. “Oh, fine, I won’t kick your ass.” She casted a glance in her brother’s direction again. “But I am going to smack you every time I catch you gawking at Carter.”
She’s made good on her threat, too. Obviously.
The person next to me slams their locker, jerking me out of memory lane.
“You know, I think I have a permanent goose egg from all the times you’ve smacked me.” I bump my locker shut while slinging my backpack over my shoulder, fighting the urge to glance down at the end of the hallway where Carter is chatting with his friends and flirting with half the girls in the Carter fan club. And no, I didn’t make that name up. People actually refer to the girls who follow Carter and his friends around as members of the Carter fan club. And Carter eats the attention up like yummy chocolate.
“He’s such an attention whore,” Elodie comments, knowing exactly where my thoughts are.
And just like that, I lose all control of my gaze again, my eyes wandering down the end of the hallway at Carter.
He’s wearing a black button-down shirt, topped with a vest, a red tie, a pair of jeans, and brand new sneakers. His blond hair hangs in his eyes and flips at his ears, and he has on that smile that can charm his way out of just about anything.
He looks good, which sucks, and might be the bane of my existence.
When he glances in my direction, a half smile tugs at his lips, his brows knitting.
Crap. I’m usually more careful about getting caught. I cringe, worried this will come back to bite me in the ass.
Jerking my gaze away, I focus back on Elodie. “Who’s an attention whore?” I feign dumb to avoid getting another head smack.
She rolls her eyes. “You know, one day you’re going to move on from this crush and Carter will just be a blip in your memory.”
She says that a lot, and while I want it to happen, I worry I might always be stuck with a crush I never should’ve had to begin with.
“Maybe he already is,” I lie as we make our way down the crowded hallway.
She snorts a laugh. “Sure he is. Just like I’ve moved on from chocolate, coffee, and shoes.” Her voice drips with sarcasm as she clicks the heels of her one-of-a-kind, lace-up boots together and pops a piece of chocolate into her mouth. “And I fully plan on picking up my second coffee of the day after school.”
I shake my head, but I can’t help smiling. “Fine. Maybe I’m not over him. That doesn’t mean I need a daily dose of him. I just like to look at him.”
“So, you just think he’s hot?”
“Yep, pretty much.”
“Well, that’s awfully shallow of you,” she teases.
I smirk at her. “Says the girl who had a crush on a drummer for three years straight because his mohawk was sexy.”
“Mohawks are sexy,” she insists, looping arms with me. “Way sexier than blond-haired, green-eyed, rich dicks.”
“You know you basically just described yourself, right?” I say with a joking smile. “Well, except for the dick part.”
She crooks a brow. “So, what’re you saying? That you think I’m hot?”
I come to a stop, step back, and eye her over. “I think you would be, if I was into girls.”
She grins. “Man, I so wish we both were. Then you and I could stop worrying about guys so much.”
“Yeah, but we might just end up worrying about girls instead.”
“Not if we dated each other.”