“Are you sure this is gonna work?” Maple and I were hanging out in my room this morning. He had come up with a plan to get Clover to be friends with Tulip, and I wasn’t entirely convinced it would work.
“Of course it’ll work. It’s impossible to hate anyone at a festival.” He said like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
“I hope you’re right. Things are getting kinda tense around here.”
“I’m always right.” He fake scoffed. “Get dressed, we’re leaving soon.” He sprung off my bed and left.
That guy really was something.
“So, whose ready for some festival fun?” Maple cheered. Clover groaned from the backseat and Tulip and cheered too.
“This’ll be fun.” Tulip told Clover.
When we got there, Maple went to park and left me alone with both of the girls.
“So, what’re we gonna do first?” The festival was practically empty, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves.
“How about a water balloon fight?” I offered. Even though it was winter, Maple said this would be a good idea and I trusted him.
“I call River for my team.” Clover insisted.
“How about guys against girls? It’ll be interesting.”
“I’m down with that.” Tulip smiled at her and she rolled her eyes.
“You boys ready to get slain?” Tulip trash talked from the other side of the arena.
“Yea right! We’re gonna kick your asses!” Maple shouted back. I think they liked trash talking more than they did actually playing.
“Let’s just get this over with.” Clover complained.
I made a silly face at Clover to try and get her out of her foul mood. She laughed at me, and made a face back. Maybe this plan might actually work.
“Ahh!” Tulip took the first hit of the night. “Get him Clover!” She shouted.
Clover nodded and picked up a water balloon and faced me. Uh oh.
Luckily, I was able to dodge it.
“Rats! Get Maple!” Clover shouted at Tulip. They were actually working as a team.
The game was pretty intense, but we totally beat the girls team. They were soaked, and we were just damp. It was pretty awesome.
“You guys cheated!” Tulip accused.
“Nah. We’re just good.” Maple laughed and I gave him a high five. She pouted and pulled herself off the ground.
“Screw them, we did awesome.” Clover hugged Tulip, and Maple glanced at me and smirked.
“Yea we did.” They laughed.
“Hey girls, you guys wanna go to Hogan’s?” I offered.
“Sounds awesome.” Clover replied and ran over to me.
“Oh hey River, funny seeing you here!” A familiar voice said from behind us.
“Hey Gardenia, how is everything?”
“Everything is great! I wanted to thank you again for the other day, you did a great job.” She remarked, and Clover grabbed onto my arm protectively.
“River, who is this?”
“I’m Gardenia Rico, nice to meet you.” She scoffed.
“What did you do for her?” Clover ignored her and spoke to me instead.
“Just an odd job at her house, why?”
“Are you sleeping with her?” She accused.
“Babe, of course not.”
“Oh, so this is your girlfriend. Nice to meet you.” Gardenia said in a very condescending tone.
“You’re a bitch.”
“You’re the one making something out of nothing!” I wanted to stop them but I didn’t know if that would make it worse or not.
“How do I know you’re not sleeping with him?” She screamed. I’m glad everyone else at the festival had left.
“Um, maybe you should trust you’re boyfriend a little more, Sweetie.”
“Don’t tell me what to do!”
“Look, all I wanted to do was thank him for his work. You’re fucking crazy.” Gardenia scowled at her.
“Yea right, you probably want to steal him away from me.” Clover was getting angrier by the second and it was starting to scare me.
“Yea, no thanks.” She retched and turned to me. “No offense, you’re not really my type. This is bullshit so I’m gonna go, thanks again River.”
“Don’t come back.” Clover growled.
“I won’t if you’re around.” She laughed and left the park.
“So, we’re going to Hogan’s right?” Clover asked happily.
“Uh, yea. C’mon guys, I’ll drive.” I called out to Maple and Tulip who were leaning against the ice rink.
The fight at the festival was completely forgotten by all but me once we got to the diner. Something about that gave me the chills whenever I thought about it.
“Hey Tulip, what’s up?” She was outside looking through the telescope in broad daylight.
“Nothing really, why?”
“Well, Clover’s busy today, and I was wondering if you wanted to hang.”
“Will she be okay with that?” She pulled away from the telescope and gave me a quizzical look.
“Yea, you guys are cool now, right?”
“Let me grab my purse.” She laughed and took off into the house.
“So where’re we going?” She asked as I drove my truck down the street.
“Anywhere you want.”
“Anywhere?” She giggled, and I rose an eyebrow and glanced at her.
“Yes, but then we do what I want later.”
“Okay. Make a left here.”
“What is it supposed to be?” I asked her a few minutes after we got to the art museum.
She sighed and responded with “River, it’s abstract. It’s not supposed to be anything.”
“I really don’t understand art.” I shook my head.
“I do, and this is awful. Everything in this place is awful. Look around.” She spun around in a circle with her arms outstretched.
“I mean look at that, that’s a chair! That doesn’t deserve to be in a museum. This is bullshit.” She pouted.
“We can go now. This was a bad idea.” We both started laughing, drawing the attention of an older couple on the other side of the room.
“Come on, lets go get some food.”
“That was fun, River. But we never did what you wanted to do.” Tulip and I had just gotten home from dinner, and now we were hanging out in the back of my truck.
“This is what I wanted to do. The sky is so pretty at night.” I said quietly.
“It is.” She changed positions, and now she was lying right next to me. “Do you ever wonder what else is out there?”
“You mean in space?”
“No, in the world. All we know is Sunset Valley. But are there other places out there? Or is this all there is?” She asked, her voice light and airy.
“I don’t know.” I whispered back.
“Wouldn’t that be cool? Like, different places to see and visit. You’d never know what you’ll find next. Like a movie or a video game.”
“There could be, Tulip. We don’t know. Maybe we should try and find out.”
“What do you mean? Like an adventure?” She beamed.
“I’d really like that.” She intertwined her fingers with mine. I didn’t even mind.
“What about Clover?”
“She could come with us. Maple too.” I offered, and she frowned. “What?”
“Nothing.” She sighed and looked away.
“No, what’s wrong.”
“It’s nothing, I promise.” She caressed my hand with her thumb, and I believed her.
“It’s getting late, we should go to bed.” I offered. She nodded, and I helped her out of the truck bed.
“Night River.” She whisper-yelled in the hallway outside my bedroom.
“Night Tulip.” I replied in the same tone. We both laughed quietly and headed to our respective rooms. I really liked spending time with her.
“How was you’re day yesterday babe?” Clover was having a good day today and I was avoiding anything that would set her off.
“It was good, I missed you though. How was your day?”
“It was boring. I had to do some articles at work. I missed you too.” She looked up from her book and grinned at me.
“Well you don’t have to work today. What do you want to do?”
“Maybe we could-” She started to say but was interrupted by Maple frantically entering the house.
“River, put on channel seven, now” He demanded, out of breath.
“What’s going on?” His panicking was worrying me.
“Just do it, please.”
I turned off the video game system and put on the channel.
“-has been reported missing. Sources say she hasn’t been home or heard from for days. Her car has been found outside of her workplace, with her purse, wallet and cellphone. If anyone has seen or heard from Gardenia Rico is the past day, please contact the police. Thank you.” A human news anchor reported from our TV.
Gardenia was… missing?