So to lighten my own crazy tension, I asked a dumb question.
â€œAre you growing a beard?â€
He chuckled. â€œNah, Iâ€™ve just been too busy to shave. But Rayna thinks itâ€™ll make me look edgier. Do you like it?â€
Brain frozen. Arms jelly. Canâ€™t think.
Somewhere, a baby is crying.
When Joel spoke again, it was all breathy. â€œI wish you could go with us.â€
I wish I could, tooâ€¦I also wish I could speakâ€¦um, Fran? Hellooo? Say something, you idiot! Or kiss him, orâ€¦SOMETHING!
Iâ€™ll never know if I would have risen to the occasion or not, because stupid Alicia honked her stupid car horn outside. (I know; I shouldnâ€™t call her stupid. She was just being impatient. But STILL!)
Joel stepped backwards, his hands falling away from my waist.
â€œWell,â€ he sighed. â€œTake good care of Marcella. And yourself. And Iâ€™ll call you. Whenever I can.â€
â€œI hope so. And if you meet Llama Mama, make sure you get their autographs for me.â€
â€œI will. And make sure you put something warm on. Itâ€™s chilly outside.â€
â€œI will. Make sure you get a lot of rest, and donâ€™t forget to eatâ€¦oh, and take lots of pictures.â€
I stared at him meaningfully.
I hate Alicia.
I followed Joel outside, and he was right â€“ it was surprisingly cold. Ah, the joys of late autumn.
Because our hug in the house had been so rudely interrupted, Joel hugged me again. It was just a good buddies kind of hug this time.
Rico laughed at us anyway.
But Joel took it all in stride. â€œHey, Rico,â€ he said. â€œMy sisterâ€™s in the car if you want to give her a kiss.â€
Rico glared machetes at Joel and went into the house. I couldnâ€™t stop laughing.
â€œBye!â€ Joel said, waving. â€œMaybe Iâ€™ll be back in time for Christmas!â€
â€œThatâ€™d be awesome!â€ I yelled. â€œHave fun!â€
I sighed wistfully as he climbed into Alicia’s jeep.
He smiled at me out the window, and then he was gone. I shivered. It was really darned cold out.
Back inside, I gave Marcella a hearty greeting. The poor thing looked terrified. I think Iâ€™ll let her get adjusted before I try to pet her.
Hopefully Taz wonâ€™t try to eat her or anything.
And Iâ€™ll have to give Rico strict orders to stay as far away from her as possible. I don’t trust that boy. Come to think of it, I’d better tell Dad to stay away from her, too.
Oops, computer class is almost over. Mr. Zartman is making the rounds. Iâ€™ll write more later when I get home. We have two birthday parties tonight! Thatâ€™s right, TWO. I completely forgot that Weezy becomes a toddler tonight. Iâ€™ll have to get her a present after Ms. Ambassador forks over my paycheck.
And by the way, I went back and changed after Joel left. I wanted to make sure I was warm.
Iâ€™m ready for winter! And womrats. And phone calls from Joel.