Listen to Your Heart

Page 10


“Impressive,” he said. “What about you, Kathryn? Any magazines on our table that you read?”
“Aside from outdated celebrity news?”
“Aside from that.”
The phone behind the counter rang, and it took a moment for either of us to react to it. Then it was like we both realized at the same time that Diego worked here. I pointed to the phone while he simultaneously hurdled the coffee table, slid around the counter, and picked it up.
“A-plus Counseling, Diego speaking.” After a moment he said, “She must be off exploring somewhere.” He rolled his eyes. “No, I got it. Dora and Diego are cousins. Yep. It was funny. How can I help you, sir?”
I cringed. Diego turned to the computer on the counter and began scrolling through some screens and typing. “How about Wednesdays at four thirty?” He waited for a response. “Okay, I have you on the schedule. Thanks.” He hung up the phone and looked at me over the counter.
I bit my lip. “Full disclosure in the spirit of honesty?”
“Okay,” he said warily.
“I thought of Dora when I first heard your name.”
He laughed. “I’m glad to know you are unoriginal. Thanks for clearing that up.”
The phone rang again and he gave me a smile and picked it up. “A-plus Counseling.”
I got my phone out of my pocket and texted Alana: You’ll never guess who I’m staring at right now.
She texted back right away.
Alana: Someone famous?
Me: Only famous in our world.
Alana: Like a local newscaster or something?
Me: No! Do you even know what they look like?
Alana: Who then?
Me: Diego.
Alana: You’re stalking him? For me? I appreciate it!
Me: He tutors at the counseling center where Liza goes.
Alana: Awesome! Now you have a legit reason to spy on him and give me intel.
Me: Yep. I already found out that he likes to cook. I think you should challenge him to a cook-off as a way to spend time with him outside of school.
Alana: Good idea. I will try to work that naturally into a conversation.
Me: I have faith that you can do just that.
Alana: Hey, find a way to say something nice about me while you’re there.
Me: He’s on the phone now, but as soon as he gets off, I’m on it.
Alana: Thank you!
Only he didn’t get off. Two more phone calls came in. While he was on the third call, Liza came around the counter to where I’d been sitting.
“I’m done,” she said.
“It’s been an hour.”
“It has?”
She raised her eyebrows, looked at Diego and then back at me.
I stood and pocketed my phone. “Do you need to schedule your second session?”
“Nope, they’re every Monday at the same time.”
“Okay … I guess we should go, then.” I gave one last glance at Diego, thinking I could wave or something, but he had his elbows on the counter and was glued to the computer screen. He didn’t even look our way when the bell on the door signaled our departure.
Once outside, I asked, “So how did it go?”
“It wasn’t bad. Tommy is nice,” Liza said with a small smile.
I gave her a hip check. “Older guy, huh?”
“No, it’s not like that. Whatever.”
However it was or wasn’t, Liza didn’t seem to be as concerned about who might or might not see her on the way back to the car. So Tommy must’ve said something to make her realize going to tutoring wasn’t a bad thing. I’d have to thank him for that next time. Because Liza wanted me to come back with her again. And I would. For her.
“He likes to cook?” Alana said when I called her as soon as I got home.
I shut my bedroom door to keep my little cousins out—not that a shut door would stop them—and filled her in on the interaction I’d had with Diego.
“See, isn’t he amazing?” she said. “And I can ignore that fishing thing. That’s more a solo activity anyway, right? I knew we were meant to be.”
“I haven’t fished in forever,” I said, flopping down onto my beanbag chair.
“Even you, lover-of-all-things-lake, know it’s boring.”
“I didn’t say that.”
“Now, we need to somehow use these tutoring sessions to my advantage. He and I have established we are good at flirting with each other, but flirting doesn’t always lead to a relationship.”
“Really?” I said. “He’s passed the Alana test? He’s ready to move past the crush phase?”
“Yes! And we need a plan before you go to Liza’s next session.”
“Okay. Let’s work on that.”
My door flew open and the handle banged into the wall, most likely adding to the dent that was already there.
“Kate!” Cora cried, dashing inside.
Cora was my youngest cousin. She was four and a half and right now had chocolate all over her face.
“Did you eat pudding?” I asked.
“What?” Alana responded. “No, but that sounds delicious.”
Cora was now circling my room, running her hand along the walls.
“Not if you saw it in its current state,” I told Alana. “I have to go before this ends up all over my stuff.”
“Okay, see you at school.”
“Cora, come here.” I scooped her up and took her to the bathroom across the hall. “Did Aunt Maggie give you pudding or did you get this yourself?” I held her up to the sink, turned on the faucet, and used my hand to scrub her face.
“No, I got it myself cuz I’m four.”
“That’s what I thought. You need to stay at the table when you’re eating, Cora.”
“I did! But then I finished.”
She had me there. I dried her face with a towel. “Well, good thing you’re so sweet.” I plopped her back on her feet and she took off like a windup toy.
I sighed and went back to my room. I really wanted to take a WaveRunner out. But I knew there was something I’d been putting off for too long. I needed to listen to more past episodes of the school podcast. Wednesday was coming faster than I wanted it to, and I didn’t feel ready.
Listening to old podcasts only served to let me know how horrible I was going to be at hosting. The past hosts were so outgoing and clever and quick on their feet. I was not any of those things.
On Wednesday, Ms. Lyon stood in front of the production crew in our school’s recording studio. She was giving us a summary of how the day would go. I kept eyeing the big glass window to my right. Soon, I would be sitting behind it.
“This is the school’s podcast,” Ms. Lyon was saying. “So even though we encourage callers and listeners from the whole community, we are expected to promote school activities. Sequoia High’s big fall fund-raiser is coming up in about a month. The Fall Festival. After your opening, talk that up a bit. Okay?” She looked at me and Victoria.
“Sounds good!” Victoria said, hopping to her feet. “Can we start now?”
I had hoped Ms. Lyon would want to prep us some more. Unfortunately, she nodded and gestured toward the door to the sound booth. Victoria bounced through the door and took her place on one of the stools waiting for us.
Alana, who’d been sitting next to me, whispered, “You should probably follow her.”
“Should I?”
She gave me a playful shove.