Listen to Your Heart

Page 29


“It fell,” Diego said.
“Oh, right.” I had forgotten I’d dropped it when he first arrived. I reached down to grab it off the floor. When I stood, my temple whacked into the corner of my locker.
Pain instantly radiated from the point of contact. I threw a hand over it and winced.
“Are you okay?” Diego asked, stepping closer.
“Yes, I’m fine.”
“How bad is it?”
“Not bad. Just a little bumped.”
“Can I see it?”
I kept my hand at my temple, wondering if it was bleeding. I couldn’t feel any moisture. Diego reached up and lightly grabbed my wrist, moving my hand away from my face.
After inspecting it for a moment, he said, “Looks like you’ll live.”
“Thanks, doctor.”
He met my eyes, ignoring my joke. “I’m sorry.”
I shrugged it off, embarrassed at the attention.
Still holding loosely on to my wrist, he used his free hand to draw a V on my temple with his finger. “Valor. Do you know that word?”
“Yes … why?”
“We have that word in Spanish, too. When I used to get hurt, my mom would trace that word on my arm or my head or my back. It’s pronounced a little different but it means the same thing in Spanish as it does in English. ‘Valor. Courage.’ ”
I laughed a little. “Are you saying I’m courageous after my near death experience with the locker?”
“Well, it’s a noun, not an adjective. So it’s more like courage is being given to you.”
“Oh, so you’re saying I’m not brave and need some.”
He smiled and finished spelling out the word on my temple.
My skin seemed to heat up with each letter.
He shrugged. “It works better on seven-year-olds.”
“It worked on you?” I asked.
I could’ve sworn it was working on me, too. My head felt perfect. The bell rang.
He released my wrist. “I’ll see you around, Kate.”
“Yes, see you around,” I said.
He left and it took me a minute to remember what I was doing. I looked down at the history book I still held, shook my head, and shoved the texbook in my backpack.
“Kate!” I heard my name being called, and for one second, I thought it was Alana. Had she seen that whole exchange? Why had Diego done that? Because I’d just whacked my head on a locker. Diego was just being nice. He was nice.
I looked around but didn’t catch sight of Alana. Seconds later, Liza was pulling on my backpack. She was breathless and dragging a red-haired girl behind her by the arm.
“Kate. Wait up.”
I slowed down. “Hi, my cousin, do you not get enough of me at home?” I said.
“This is Chloe,” Liza panted. “She wanted to meet you.”
Liza’s friend had a huge smile on her face and was looking at me like I’d just handed her a hundred dollars. “Hi,” she said.
“Um … hi?” I gave Liza a questioning look.
“She’s a fan of yours,” Liza said to clarify, but that didn’t help at all.
“What?” I asked.
“The podcast,” Liza said, drawing out the words.
“You’re a fan of the podcast?” I asked Chloe.
“You, in particular,” Liza said. “She thinks you’re funny.”
“If I’m funny without trying to be, does that still make me funny?”
Chloe laughed. “I really liked your advice about Mrs. Pomroy. Someone asked for study guides in class and it helped.”
“Mrs. Pomroy? Oh! That wasn’t about her, it was about Mr.…” I stopped myself, realizing the offending teacher’s name had been edited out.
“Well, either way,” Chloe said, “it helped our class, too.”
Liza looked like a proud mother when she said, “See, your advice helps people.”
“That’s great,” I said. “Nice to meet you, Chloe.”
Chloe beamed at me, as if I were a real celebrity. Then the girls scurried off together. I watched them go, then turned to head to History class. This morning had been weird.
Are you coming to Liza’s tutoring session today? I texted Alana after school, once I was home.
Alana: I’ll meet you over there.
Before I left to go to Liza’s house, I stopped at Max’s bedroom door and knocked twice.
There was a mumbled reply that I interpreted as “Come in,” so I opened the door. Max sat at his desk, drawing in a sketchpad.
“Hey, I’m leaving,” I said.
“Okay,” he answered without looking up.
“Do you want to come with me?”
“You have a lot to say today,” I said. He’d been quiet on the ride home, too.
I picked up the nearest article of clothing on his floor, a green Harry Potter shirt, wadded it up, and threw it at the back of his head. Max threw it back. It landed on the floor in front of me, and I noticed it was ripped at the collar.
“What happened to your shirt?” I asked.
“It caught on a fence.”
“What fence?”
“The one around the baseball field.”
“Fences are just jumping out and grabbing you these days?”
“I took a shortcut through the baseball field after school and the gate was locked. I had to climb it.”
“Wow. Look at you being all athletic.”
He flexed his biceps, and then shooed me away.
I pulled the door closed and walked next door to my aunt’s house. I found Liza in her bedroom sliding her feet into a pair of ballet flats. The first thing she said to me was, “You’re totally famous now.”
“Because one of your friends thinks I’m cool?”
“It’s more people than thought you were cool yesterday.”
“You’re a brat.” I looked her up and down, realizing she’d changed her outfit since getting home from school. “Are you dressed up for Tommy?” I teased.
“This isn’t dressed up. I was just gross from school.” She picked up her backpack. “You ready to take me?” She was looking at my outfit now, like she thought I should go change.
I glanced down at my jeans, two-toned T-shirt, and Chucks. “What?”
“Nothing,” she said. “Let’s go.”
When we walked through the front door of the tutoring center, Diego was at the front desk.
“Do you work here every day?” I asked him.
“Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.”
Liza knew the routine now and walked past Diego to meet Tommy at the back tables.
The phone rang and Diego answered it, so I sat down in the waiting area. This time I’d brought my backpack and homework, but it didn’t stop me from checking out the magazines. There was another new one: Hobbies, it was called. I don’t know why I felt the need to note the magazines every time I came in now, but because I’d studied them so closely the first time, the new ones were easy to recognize.
Diego must’ve noticed me looking, too, because when he hung up the phone he said, “Do you read that one?”
“Hobbies? No. But it looks interesting.” I dug into my backpack and retrieved my Math homework for the day. “Alana would like it.”
Speaking of Alana, I looked over my shoulder. Where was she?
“Oh yeah?” he asked. “Why?”