Listen to Your Heart

Page 23


“I’ll try.”
He hung up and it took everything in me not to whip off my headphones that moment and race out of the booth toward Alana. I was proud of myself for sitting through two more calls and Victoria’s closing spiel. I even added a “Yes, thank you” at a point where I was almost certain it made sense.
When we shut down the equipment, before I could run out, Ms. Lyon came into the booth.
“A word,” she said to me and Victoria.
We exchanged a look. Were we in trouble?
Ms. Lyon cleared her throat. “A caller wanted to be anonymous today, and you didn’t allow that to happen. We’ve promised the callers anonymity.”
“I know, I’m sorry,” Victoria said. “I made sure I didn’t say her name after just recognizing her voice. Only after she shared all those personal details. Everyone would have thought it was weird if I didn’t recognize her after that. Tina’s one of my best friends.”
Ms. Lyon crossed her arms. “So I shouldn’t have tomorrow’s lab edit all of that out?”
“I can talk to her and make sure,” Victoria replied, “but I think in the end she thought it was great.”
“Okay,” Ms. Lyon said solemnly. “Please let me know tomorrow in class.”
Victoria nodded, then hooked her arm through my elbow. We walked out of the booth and through the otherwise empty outer room together. When we arrived outside in the hall, we both laughed.
“I thought she was firing us for a minute there,” Victoria said.
“I did, too.”
“And you didn’t seem relieved about it.”
“I would’ve been when it sunk in.”
“Kate!” Alana called from where she was waiting at the end of the hall.
“See you tomorrow,” I said to Victoria.
I walked as fast as I could until I collided with Alana.
“So?” I said as soon as I reached her. “It sounded like him, right?”
“Why is he changing his voice?” Alana asked.
“Maybe he doesn’t trust us,” I said, and laughed.
“He’d be right not to,” she said.
“But if it is him, he’s right, you are sending him mixed messages.”
“I don’t think I am. He’s probably just not used to having to work to get a girl. He’s going to have to try a little harder with me. I have faith in my ways.”
I rolled my eyes.
“Or I could just tell him that I know he’s been calling in to the podcast,” Alana offered.
“No! You can’t do that,” I said.
“Ms. Lyon made a huge deal about the whole anonymity thing just now. We got a stern talking-to.”
“About how Victoria outed her friend?”
“Yes. But Victoria smoothed it over because her friend had given lots of clues to her identity.”
“Diego hasn’t given any clues. He could literally be anyone. So be patient. If it’s him, he obviously likes you. Just make yourself available. Hang out with him more. It’s only a matter of time. He’ll either kiss you, like Victoria told him to do, or wait for it to happen naturally, like I told him to.”
“Why did you tell him that?” Alana asked.
“I wanted my advice to help others, too. Do you honestly want guys just walking around kissing all the girls they like if the girls aren’t into them? I just saved all of girl-manity.”
“Or at least the ones here at Sequoia High.”
“Well, if I can’t tell him, then I’m shifting to DEFCON 1 on the flirting. Time to up my game.” Alana gave a decisive nod. “I’m asking him out.”
“Are you having Cousins’ Night tomorrow?” Alana asked me. It was Thursday after school and we were walking down the hall toward the exit.
“Yep. It’s the second weekend of the month and it’s my family. We will have Cousins’ Night until the end of days.”
“You sound like this one is more of a cruel and unusual punishment than normal.”
“No, it’s the normal angst. You know I secretly love it.”
“Yes, I do. And it’s fun and weird and when I asked Diego if he wanted to do something tomorrow night and he said he was watching his niece and nephew, I may have invited them all to your Cousins’ Night.”
I stopped in the middle of the crowded hall and turned toward Alana. “You what!”
Someone bumped into me from behind and Alana tugged on my arm to move me forward again. “This is all part of my DEFCON 1 flirting phase,” she explained calmly.
“Inviting him to my house?”
“I know. Are you mad?”
“Um … I’m trying to decide.”
My family was … well, my family. Outsiders had a hard time understanding our living situation. Even Hunter had always thought it was a bit odd.
Alana and I pushed through the doors and walked outside into the parking lot. I let out a breath.
“You know, Samantha and Tami would make fun of you for this idea of a first date,” I said at last.
“Who are Samantha and Tami?”
“From the podcast you recommended? First Dates.”
“Oh. Right. Well, Diego thought it sounded like a lot of fun and that his niece and nephew would love it.”
“So you’ve already prewarned him about the Bailey family situation?”
“I kind of had to.”
“Okay.” I stopped at my car, accepting the reality of the situation. “So I guess there will be guests at my Cousins’ Night, then.”
Alana gave me a kiss on the cheek. “Thank you, thank you!”
Cousins’ Night was in full swing—popcorn everywhere, video games on the big screen, comic-book action scenes being acted out in the corner, and my energy nearly drained—when the doorbell rang. Levi, my seven-year-old cousin, who was closest to the door, answered it while I worked my way around the couch cushions dotting the floor.
“Kate, the carpet is lava!” Cora said.
“Oh, right.” I jumped on a cushion and continued my journey to the door.
“Are you guys cousins?” I heard Levi asking when I hopped off the last cushion and onto the tile entryway.
Alana and Diego stood there, along with two kids.
“They are honorary cousins tonight, Levi,” I said, pulling my young cousin aside. “You know Alana.”
Levi shrugged and ran off.
“Hi, guys,” I said, opening the door wider.
Alana had a big smile on her face. “This is Camilla, and that’s Samuel.” She pointed to the two dark-haired, brown-eyed kids standing with Diego. The little boy looked like a mini version of Diego. He was adorable. They both were. But they also both looked a bit apprehensive.
“Hi, I’m Kate. How old are you guys?”
Diego put his hand on Camilla’s head and said, “Seven.” Then he moved his hand to Samuel’s. “And ten.”
“Nice. Levi is seven, and my cousin Morgan is ten.” I stepped aside. “Come in. There are snacks in the kitchen, comic-book acting in that corner, video games in that one, and board games in the dining room.”
Liza, who’d been hanging out with Max in the comic-book acting corner, strolled over to see what was happening. “Diego?” she asked in surprise.