Her past won’t define her future...
When Nicole meets Xavier at her favorite coffee shop, he feels like a fantasy come true. But so did her boyfriend. Last year, Jake was everything Nicole wanted. Now, at the beginning of senior year, they have something real. But how real is it when their forbidden love forces them to keep their relationship a secret? And how much is the sexual abuse of her past influencing the choices she is making today that will shape her future?
An empowering story about becoming the person you were born to be, Inside Wants Out will inspire you to be the architect of your own destiny.
The guy I’ve been discreetly watching gets up from his table, picks up his laptop and backpack, and strides over to me.
“Do you know if anyone’s sitting here?” he asks.
I take a beat before I look up from my notebook. Super casual. As if I didn’t notice him the second he walked in the door. As if something about him in no way gave me an electric jolt I couldn’t explain. Or like I haven’t been aware of him sitting three tables away for the past hour.
“Um.” I glance at the empty chair at the table next to mine. The girl who was sitting there just left. Didn’t he see her leave? “I think she left.”
“Thanks.” He drops his backpack on the floor and puts his laptop on the table. When he sits down, we’re almost facing each other, separate but close at our tiny tables. Why does it feel like my favorite New York City fantasy of meeting a cute boy at a coffee shop is finally playing out?
I pretend none of this fazes me. But my reality has entirely shifted. It was one thing when he was over there. Now he’s like right here.
My extra sweet caramel mocha has crossed the tolerant temperature barrier into cold territory. I was thinking about getting up for a fresh drink (extra sweet hazelnut mocha this time). Now it would seem like I’m posing or using coffee as an excuse to show off my new sparkle miniskirt. Or would it? Would he even notice? Maybe I’m blowing this whole thing up into something it’s not. But then why did he move over here from his old table?
Okay, this is stupid. A girl needs her mocha. I’m getting up.
The first thing that happens is I bang my leg against the edge of the table. Hard. The second thing that happens is cold mocha spills everywhere. I yank my notebook and pen off the table before they get soaked.
He stops typing on his laptop. “You okay?” he asks.
“Yeah. Just clumsy. You can’t take me anywhere!” Great. So now I’m awkward on an array of levels.
“Let me—” He gets up and goes over to the counter, grabbing a wad of napkins. “Here.” He holds some out to me. He blots at the spill with the rest.
“Oh, you don’t have to do that.” I’m kind of mesmerized for a second. I just stand there, watching him clean up my mess. Then I snap into action.
“Guess you could use a drink!” he jokes.
“I was actually getting up for another mocha.”
“Perfect timing.” He smiles. Is he only talking about the spill? Or does he feel like there’s more going on here too?
I smile back up at him. He’s several inches taller than me. Which is something I always notice, given that I’m 5’ 7” and enjoy hiking it up in the big-girl heels. Or these Doc Martens I’m wearing to set a defiant tone for the sparkle mini (with fishnets, of course).
“Do you need anything?” I ask him.
“Do you—I’m getting another coffee, so…do you want anything?”
“Oh, no. I’m good.”
And you’re kind. And tall. And I feel like I already know you even though we just met.
“Okay. Could you watch my stuff?”
I go up to order my mocha, telling myself not to yank on my skirt, wondering if he’s watching. Feeling way too self-conscious when I thought I’d finally reached a point in my life where I’d scraped together some confidence. What am I doing? This is crazy. I’m acting like a crazy person. He’s just some boy in a coffee shop being nice to the clumsy girl. By the time I’m back at my table, I’m ready to focus only on my work.
You’d think I was doing homework, seeing how it’s the second week of senior year. But what I’m writing is way more important than anything I could possibly be assigned for school. My career goal is to be an indie film writer and director of my own screenplays and the work of other strong women. This notebook is crammed with story ideas, scenes, and pieces of dialogue overhead everywhere. I call it my spy notebook because a.) the idea for it came from Harriet the Spy and b.) I’m totally spying on people all the time and recording observations about their mannerisms, what kind of energy they bring to the room, anything about their style that’s unique…whatever stands out as different about them. I want to create characters who are outstanding because they stand out. Constantly spying on kids in class or strangers in coffee shops or girls on the street trying to decode recent bad boy behavior (aka BBB) brings a steady flow of story inspiration. Like right now, for example. A middle-aged couple is at the table on the other side of mine. She is wearing one of those drapey tops that’s so billowy you can’t even tell where the sleeves are. He’s in a charcoal hoodie. An argument is simmering between them.
“I don’t understand why you’re even friends with her,” she accuses.
“We’re not friends,” he insists. “We work together.”
“But now you’re spending time together outside of work.”
“It’s still for work. It’s a work event.”
“It’s drinks and karaoke. That’s social.”
He sighs. “Do you not want me to go?”
“Why did she call you?”
“How should I know? You won’t let me call her back.”
“Go ahead and call her.”
“Why, so you can yell at me some more?”
I sip my mocha as I stare down at the page, pretending to be oblivious. Lots of interesting potential here. But do I really want to write about middle-aged married people? That demographic is foreign to me. Everyone knows you’re supposed to write what you know.
Top Five Things I Know:
The guy I should be completely ignoring is banging away at his laptop. I wonder what he’s working on. Does he live around here? Is he in college? I’m in here all the time and this is the first time I’ve seen him. I would know if he was a regular. Not only do all the baristas know me, a couple of them even have my number from when we went to a Parsons design and technology exhibit together.
I scribble a few lines about two people staying in a relationship because it’s safe and reliable instead of fun and exciting. Then I sneak a peek at him.
His eyes catch mine.
My heart literally skips a beat.
“What are you writing?” he asks.
“A screenplay. I mean, I’m developing some new ideas.”
“Nice. What’s your genre?”
“I’m obsessed with contemporary realistic.”
“Me too. Jason Reitman is a genius.”
“I know! I just watched Men, Women and Children for like the fifth time.”
“Thank You for Smoking was brilliant.”
“Up in the Air? How good was that?”
“What indies do you like?”
“Do you know Welcome to the Dollhouse?”
“Are you kidding? I was obsessed with Welcome to the Dollhouse. I saw it six times at the Angelika when it was featured in that juvenilia throwback festival.”
“The one last summer?”
“I saw it there too.”
“I will not shut up.”
Wow. So now he’s kind, tall, familiar, and he has excellent taste in film.
The woman in the drapey top slams her mug down on the table. She snatches up her bag and stomps out.
I stare at my notebook page, clicking my pen on and off. Part of me wishes I’d heard the last part of their fight. Another part of me tells that part to mind her own business.
The man in the charcoal hoodie doesn’t go after her. He stays to finish his coffee.
Story idea: A couple has a fight. She storms out. A few angry blocks later, she runs into her old camp counselor she had a huge crush on. He just moved to New York City—right here in the West Village—and doesn’t know anyone. He says how good it is to see her. Maybe she could show him around sometime?
I’m so engrossed in writing this scene that I don’t even notice when Charcoal Hoodie leaves. That’s when you know what you’re writing is good. When it’s taken on a life of its own. When you’re in the zone and the rest of the world, including time, vanishes.
The guy I tried to ignore but obviously can’t is still on his laptop.
“What are you working on?” I ask.
“A paper for class. Happiness.”
I snort at his sarcasm. “I hear you. Papers are the worst.”
“No, that’s the class. Happiness. It’s all about the science of well-being.”
“Where do you go?”
“I’m a sophomore at NYU.”
“Sweet. NYU is my top choice.”
“You’re a senior? In high school?”
“You look…I thought you were in college. I thought I might have seen you around. Do you live in the Village?”
“No, I’m on the Upper West Side. But Joe is my favorite coffee shop. I’m here a lot.”
He sticks his hand out. “I’m Xavier.”
“Nicole.” We shake hands. It feels grownup, like I’m out in the world meeting new people all the time. The truth is I’m usually shy around new people. “So what’s something interesting you’ve learned in your happiness class?”
Xavier scoots his chair over a little towards my table. “The primary factor in determining happiness is where you live.”
“Oh, definitely. Can you imagine living anywhere else?”
“Nope. I plan to live in New York for the rest of my life.”
Xavier smiles. I let myself take him in for a second. His caramel skin. His dark hair, short on the sides and a bit longer on top. The warmth and intelligence in his brown eyes.
“I like your…” Xavier gestures to the side of his neck. At first I don’t know what he’s talking about. Then I remember that I dyed my hair black from dark blonde before school started, I’m straightening my hair now to get rid of those waves that were never really me, and I put an electric blue streak down the right side. He likes my streak.
Later when I’m waiting for the 1 train to 72nd Street, a pang of guilt stabs me. Xavier and I ended up talking for two hours. When I was getting ready to leave, I had a feeling he was going to ask for my number, so I flew out the door before he could say anything. But that’s not why I feel guilty.
I know we only talked. I know people meet people in coffee shops all the time.
I just don’t think my boyfriend would understand.