I am almost disappointed when we finally reach Atlas’s dark blue jeep wrangler. Once I convinced myself into relaxing a little, it was nice not having to hobble around everywhere. I think it’s safe to assume that my theories were right and that Atlas is mega ripped. He managed to carry me the whole way here and we took the back way which means no one saw us.
“Ok, Altas you can put me down now,” I command.
“Why of course your highness,” he says with a sly tone, putting me down next to the passenger door.
It seems that Atlas has gained some major confidence. His early stutter is gone, replaced with a confident and nonchalant attitude. I guess you gain some confidence when you carry a girl all the way through your high school. This is the Atlas that I know, all swagger and confidence.
I stand on one foot, one hand against the car, while Atlas opens the passenger door for me and helps me awkwardly hop into the car.
“Such a gentleman!” I say.
“I try my best.”
He shuts the passenger door, but not before winking jokingly at me.
Am I really going to let Captain Colossal pay for my ankle? I don’t want to be in any debt to him, but on one hand, it would be pretty satisfying to know that I cost him something, even if it is barely a drop in his massive treasury. Plus, I want to get “closer” to Atlas, and this ties us together even more. As much as I don’t want to admit it, the pros outweigh the cons.
Atlas climbs into the driver’s seat and starts the car up.
“Thanks for taking me Atlas. It’s really sweet of you.”
“Hey, it’s no biggie. It’s the least I could do,” He says, backing out of the spot.
“But seriously, what can I do to repay you? I feel really bad.”
“Don’t feel bad. Just check in with me every so often and promise me you will listen to the doctors so you can heal.”
That’s a lot harder to say than to do. I kind of have a problem with doing what others say to do. Authority and I don’t really mix very well. But I guess I could try.
“I promise,” I pouted.
“Wow, you really like being independent don’t you.”
He has no idea. I turn toward the window, watching the school disappear behind us.
“Well, I’ve made it this far being independent. If it’s not broke don’t fix it I guess!” I say, trying to make it sound as cheery and not give away the underlying hurt.
I think I accidentally gave myself away. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a contemplative frown appear on Atlas’s face. He glances at me, presumably trying to get a read on me. I put on my steel face so he can’t.
An awkward silence falls over the car.
“Nixie? Are you ok?” he says, cautiously.
“I’m fine!” I say, forcing a smile.
“By the way Nixie, I never asked how you hurt your ankle.”
Shoot*. I didn’t prepare for this question. Atlas was trying to steer the conversation away from the one touchy subject and accidentally stumbled upon another touchy service. Why can’t he stop digging and just put down the shovel? It’s not that hard.
“Ummm…That information is confidential. If I tell you, I’ll have to kill you,” I joke, giving him a nervous smile.
“Come on Nixie, work with me here,” he says, not even cracking a smile at the joke.
I don’t answer, just stare down at my ugly, black and purple ankle.
“Fine. Just answer this-Did someone cause it?”
Technically, yes. But I don’t think that’s what he’s implying.
“God Atlas! No I am not being abused, if that’s what your asking!” I snap, getting more annoyed by the second.
At this rate I am way over the whole sugary, sweet good girl act.
“Thank you,” he says softly.
Silence falls. After a few minutes, I think he’s going to say something, but instead, he reaches for the car stereo and turns on the radio.
****. There’s one thing I can’t resist, music.
Bruno Mars’ “That’s what I like” is on. ****.
Atlas turns the music until I can feel the bass vibrating through my body.
His hand is tapping to the beat on the steering wheel and it is so hard for me to fight the music running through my veins.
He sees what the music is doing to me and decides to take it up a level. He starts singing along. Oh no. I’m screwed.
“Jump in the Cadillac, girl let’s put some miles on it!” he sings. Of course he sings too. He fights crime, is the hottest guy in school, the most popular, the school’s star quarterback, and he sings. What can’t Atlas Rivero do? He is now driving one-handed, the other hand is now a makeshift microphone.
“Come on Nix! We both know you want to!”
“I’m not done being annoyed with you,” I shoot back.
And since when am I Nix? Only two people have ever been allowed to called me Nix. Selene and my father. I haven’t decided if I’ll allow Atlas too.
No way I am letting him get his way that easily. Plus, he sounds really good, I’m not going to ruin it with my horrible voice. I scowl at him, fighting the smile that I feel coming on.
He doesn’t give up. He keeps singing and it gets harder and harder to resist.
I make it to the second verse before I finally give in. I join in with Atlas and Bruno.
“There you go Nixie!” Atlas triumphantly cheers.
He rolls down the windows and the harsh wind makes my hair whip all around me. After Bruno, Cardi B’s Bodak Yellow comes on and Atlas surprises me when he knows all of the words. I didn’t peg him for a Cardi B fan. It stays this way, me and him jamming out all the way to the emergency room. Me, Atlas, and the music.