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“There are no hard feelings about yesterday. I’m happily in coupledom with you.” Iz remained seated on my bed.
“I deserve to feel guilty. There is a such thing as too understanding.” I removed my phone from its charger and deposited it in my pocket.
“I don’t want to be in a half-hearted relationship. If you want me, have me. If you don’t, let me go. It’ll hurt, but I’d rather have a passionate falling out than a bland stalemate.”
“I’m all in.”
“Then act like it.” She slid her hands up my chest and kissed me.
“I liked having you with me last night.” I put my hands on her hips.
“I know.” She rubbed her nose against mine. “Time for school.” She pushed herself away from me.
I kissed the back of her hand. I situated my backpack on my shoulders. We followed my suitemates to the dining hall. We split up; Morgan brought items that Iz needed to finish her morning regimen. Elle walked up to me with fury in her eyes.
“I could literally kill you.” She seethed beneath her breath as she stood beside me in the breakfast buffet line.
I scooted over a touch. “For what?”
She swiftly kicked my shin without restraint.
“She’s forgiven me.” I stifled a wince, clenching my eyes shut.
“Because she loves you, Dumb ***. I’ll do the honors of lashing at out you for her while she’s incapacitated. It’s my job as her bestie.” She discretely elbowed me.
“I surrender. What do you want me to do?”
“YOU want me to help you plan an epic first date for her because she deserves it.”
“I was going to take her to Guigino’s on Saturday. She likes their breadsticks.” I collected breakfast for Iz as well.
“No?” I looked over at her.
“No. That’s the place that everyone in this school goes to for their first dates. I’ve been to three dates there this year alone. Iz and I ate leftovers together and discussed how they went. That’s our tradition. Would you really like to be a part of that?”
“I don’t have any other options. That’s the nicest restaurant around here. She said she wanted to go on an actual date.”
“Do you trust me?”
I placed two bottles of juice on my tray. “I’m afraid to say yes to that question.”
“I won’t steer you wrong. I want her to know she’s loved.”
“She is. One fight doesn’t constitute the desecration of an otherwise very happy relationship.” We walked to our usual table together.
“I know how you feel. You’ll call the shots, I’ll work my magic to make it happen. It’ll be your plan. I’ll let you take all of the credit. Deal?”
“What’s in it for you?”
“Letting me help will patch up any damage that last night caused. You need to prove that she means more to you than the last one.”
“That shouldn’t be difficult. They are far from comparable.”
“Good boy.” She patted my shoulder.
I sat down across from Iz.
“Extra hungry today?” She looked up from the orange she was peeling.
“It was supposed to be for you, but I don’t mind eating it.”
“But I want it.” She poked out her bottom lip.
Her warm caramel eyes cast their familiar spell on me. I wanted to make her happy – do whatever it took to make her proud that she took a chance on me.
“It’s all yours.” I slid her plate over to her.
My attention shifted to Elle, who was occupying the seat beside her. I subtly nodded. She beamed before mouthing, ‘I’ll text you’.
In biology, each lab group was required to build a diorama depicting the biome we were assigned. We spent our 90-minute science cl*** doing arts and crafts. It could’ve easily been equated to torture.
“Sami, your tumbleweed looks like it’s giving me the finger.” Ryan helped me paint the bottom of our box beige.
“It’s supposed to BECAUSE THIS PROJECT IS STUPID. ” She raised her voice for Mr. Collin’s benefit.
“It’s this or dissections, Ms. Elkins. Take your pick.” He retorted with ease, typing at his desktop computer.
Izzie snorted to prevent herself from laughing. Sami nudged her. She released an unbridled giggle in response.
“What – is no one going to say anything about her dinosaur-sized armadillo?” She cried in exasperation, gesturing to one of Izzie’s main contributions.
“Too easy.” I shrugged.
Iz stopped playing footsie with me long enough to deliver a kick to my already sore shin. I slapped my hand on the counter to keep from crying out. I attracted strange looks from everyone around me.
“I forgot to call my mother for her birthday. I just remembered.” I refrained from making eye contact with all of them.
“Psssst.” Iz hissed.
I looked up at her.
‘Sorry. I love you.’ She mouthed, offering me a sweetly remorseful smile.
“How? She’s the definition of MILF.” Ryan replied with ease.
I pushed him.
Sami scoffed and rolled her eyes. “Freud developed many of his theories with people like you in mind.”
“Until you’ve seen her, you’re not allowed to judge me. Her face alone is a 9.8. Don’t even get me started on her body. – ”
“Better than Ms. Petrolia’s?“ She was genuinely interested.
“Uh, YEAH, and I don’t say that often. She–“
“Is my mother. Please refrain from discussing her attractiveness and what it makes you feel.” I interrupted.
“Fine. Get more paint.” He scooted the palette in my direction.
I went to the supply table in the back of the room. Just as I started my task of paint mixing, a fellow classmate joined me.
“This is the first time in three days you’ve been away from your friends.” Anna initiated small talk.
“I thought I articulated how I felt rather well via text message.” My eyes remained on my work.
“I’m not trying to start anything. I just wanted to thank you for helping me out during a bad trip.” She looked at me.
I didn’t give her the satisfaction of looking back.
“It meant nothing.”
“I know. It’s pretty obvious you’re in a relationship. She’s wearing your clothes. She’s everything I’m not. That appeals to the person you think you are now. I get it.” She made unnecessary faces of discomfort as she squeezed paint into a dish.
“All of my actions are intentional and I mean every word I say. You’ve expressed your gratitude. You no longer have a reason to talk to me.” I excused myself without warning.
I delivered the paint to my group.
“Regret using helpfulness as your escape route?” Ry questioned lightly.
“More than you could ever know.”
I multitasked for the remainder of the cl*** period – I juggled texting Elle and contributing to the project. I was determined to refrain from making the same mistakes I did in my last relationship. I didn’t want it to go down in flames because I was unwilling to be emotionally vulnerable with her.
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